Glossop Heritage Trust

Theo Walter Ellison's Glossop Dale Reminiscences.


1. The Ownership and Development of the Glossop Dale Estates by the Dukes of Norfolk, continuation (published 4 January 1935).

Bird’s eye views of the Glossop Dale Estates are readily obtainable from surrounding hills. The area covered the most northerly corner of Derbyshire, adjoining Yorkshire and Cheshire, bounded by the Pennine Range and the River Etherow, extending from Crowden alongside the moor and farm lands flanking the Longdendale Reservoirs on the Derbyshire side, through the hamlet and townships of Padfield and Hadfield, thence by the Hague to Broadbottom, Simmondley, Dinting, Chunal and Whitfield to Glossop. The dividing line on the summit of the moors is indicated by posts or stakes, and dykes. These hamlets and townships with Hayfield and New Mills and Chapel-en-le-Frith constituted the Parish of Glossop until the passing of the Local Government act of 1888 – when new Parishes were created. Intermixed with the estates were parcels of freehold moors and farm lands which had either been sold or originally granted to other owners.

There was a family named Hadfield, themselves owners of property, some of whom were architects and surveyors, and who came into prominence with the estates.

The name 'Hadfield' appears with much frequency in this district, several important families bearing that name. Old title deeds speak of a Captain Hadfield de Hadfield, and of Samuel Hadfield and Moses Hadfield, at one time the owners of the Old Hall, Mottram-in-Longdendale, adjacent to these estates. The architects and surveyors hailed from Glossop and Mellor, traced by C.M. Hadfield to be descendants of John Hadfield, a schoolmaster in Glossop, registered at Brazenose College Oxford, afterwards ordained, and curate of Mellor Parish Church from 1736 to 1781. He married Elizabeth Garside, their son, the Reverend Joseph Hadfield, B.A. Oxon being Vicar of Knutsford from 1771 to 1785, who died in the Old Vicarage there described in Mrs Gaskell’s ‘Cranford’. Another son Charles Hadfield, of Charlesworth and Lees Hall was the father of Joseph Hadfield, also of Lees Hall, who owned mills in Glossop, and married Mary Ellison (a daughter of Matthew Ellison), by whom he had 13 children, including Matthew Ellison Hadfield, F.R.I.B.A., surveyor at Sheffield, and Charles John Hadfield, Lord Howard’s surveyor at Glossop. Important buildings were designed by these surveyors, who also constructed roads and bridges and surveyed lands, mills and houses for leasing.

Incidentally, the Ogden Trust, under which Glossop receives charitable benefits, was founded by descendants of this family, Mary Simpson (formerly Hadfield) having married Samuel Ogden, of Charlesworth, the ancestors of the ‘Ogden’ family at Wellgate Cottage, Charlesworth.

Reference has already been made to the Town Hall and Market Hall and the Glossop Market Act of 1844.

In the development of the estates, an important feature was the regulation and application of the streams of water to motive power. In 1837 fifty gentlemen interested as proprietors of mills and other buildings obtained an Act of Parliament appointing them as Commissioners of the Glossop Reservoir, and empowering them to construct three reservoirs, one each on the Shelf Brook, the Hurst Brook and the Chunal Brook, for impounding the water in times of flood and rainy seasons and delivering the same out in regular diurnal supply for the use of the mills and works. The names of Ellison, Hadfield, Kershaw, Marsland, Potter, Robinson, Shepley, Sumner, Sidebottom and Wood will still be familiar to many.

Owing to insufficiency of funds only one reservoir – the Hurst – was provided, costing over £6,000 raised by subscription and loans on mortgages. Rates have since been, and are today, levied under this Act on the occupiers of the mills as far as Stockport to meet the cost of maintaining the reservoir and the interest on the loans, which have not yet been repaid.

In 1844 the building of the two reservoirs on the Shelf and Chunal streams was under consideration, but finally abandoned. From a statement then prepared, the names of the owners and occupiers of the mills is obtainable, and a list for those in Glossop is appended to this article. The three streams merge into one called the Glossop Brook, which flows into the Etherow at Brookfield. The Etherow and mills in Hadfield and Padfield were not affected by this act.

Names of MillsOwnersOccupiers
SHELF BROOKThe New MillRobert Bennett’s ExecUnoccupied
The Old MillThomas Ward, EsqUnoccupied
Knott’s MillRobert Bennett’s ExecWilliam Bramhall
The Warth MillRobert ShepleyRob & James Shepley
The Corn MillThe Duke of NorfolkJonathan Brooks
Mill Town MillJohn Wood and Rob
Bennett’s Exec
Samuel Wood
Shepley MillThe Duke of NorfolkAbraham Jackson
Wren Nest MillFrancis SumnerFrancis Sumner
Dinting MillJohn VaudreyTh Cornes & Co
Brookfield MillSamuel ShepleyJh & Wm Shepley
HURST BROOKHurst MillJohn KershawJohn Kershaw
Cow-Brook MillJohn HadfieldJohn Hadfield
The Silk MillRobert ShepleyWilliam Walker
Hadfield’s MillJohn RusbyIsaac Linney
CHUNAL BROOKBurymewick MillSamuel KershawSam Kershaw & Co
Charlestown MillJoseph HadfieldGeorge Fox
Whitfield MillGeorge R KershawSam Kershaw & Co.
Turn Lee MillSamuel Kershaw & Co.Sam Kershaw & Co.
Bridgefield MillG Wardlow and
W Whittaker’s Exors
Joseph Howard
Primrose MillJoseph HadfieldJoseph Howard

NOTE – Mills in Hadfield and Padfield are not included in this list for the reasons mentioned above.

Mention was made in the first article of this series of the Glossop Water Act of 1865. The water supply for domestic and manufacturing purposes had been previously supplied from the streams and from reservoirs constructed from time to time. The Glossop Waterworks undertaking and the powers under the Act were purchased by the Corporation in 1880 and will receive consideration with the other Municipal properties. Hadfield and Padfield continued to be supplied by the owners of the estates until the Corporation recently (so I learn) acquired the water rights for that part of the Borough.

Another important step in the programme of development was the provision of lighting both for the town and the mills and houses. Forty-four of the principal inhabitants were incorporated as the Glossop Gas Company by the Glossop Gas Act, 1845, including Edward George Fitzalan Howard, and well-known names of Buckley, Booth, Dalton, Michael, Richard and Michael Joseph Ellison, Reverend Theodore Fauvel, Greaves, John and Joseph Hadfield, Hampson, Kershaw, Oates, Platt, Robinson, Sykes, Shepley, Tomlinson, T.P. Wreakes, Williamson and Wake.

The preamble recites that the Town and Township of Glossop were places of considerable trade, had of late greatly increased and were increasing in population, and it would be a source of great advantage to the inhabitants and to the public at large if a good supply of gas were provided for lighting the town and township, and the streets, roads, lanes and public passages and places, and the mills, shops, inns, taverns, private houses, warehouses and other buildings. It was, however, years before the streets were efficiently lighted.

The immense improvement and transformation of Glossop Dale thus gradually effected is an entrancing topic to those interested in the industrial development. To give detailed descriptions and to do full justice to these undertakings, the foundation and extension of the mills and works, the notable personages by whom achieved, the success and failures, destruction by fires, discontinuance or expiration of leases, strikes and stoppages, conditions for the operatives and kindred matters, might well fill many pages, but these reminiscences must be confined to reasonable limits. Citizens who rendered yeoman service in public affairs and local government will, if possible, receive more particular attention later.

One reliable source of information as to ownership of property may be here mentioned. When special Acts of Parliament were obtained for the construction of Turnpike Roads, the Railway, the Water and similar undertakings, the promoters deposited with the Clerks of the Peace of the Counties in which all property to be affected was situated, a map or plan of the lands, called the ‘Deposited Plan’, and a ‘Book Of Reference’ describing the properties, and stating the names of the owners and occupiers. Quite recently, in order to settle a dispute as to a small piece of land which adjoined a Turnpike Road more than a hundred years ago, I inspected the deposited plan and book, and from the information obtained was able to effect a settlement of the dispute.

Genealogical and historical researches have a peculiar fascination. Lingering in old world churches and burial grounds, copying quaint inscriptions on tombstones, entries in ancient registers in Parish Churches, Doctors Commons, Somerset House, and similar depositories, revelling in musty, ancient parchments and reconstructing the lives and properties of families of bygone days, occasionally has unearthed a curious will or a treasured letter, as for example the following amusing comments in a letter written in 1785 by the Reverend Joseph Hadfield, Vicar of Knutsford, to his brother Charles at Lees Hall, referring to his brother clergyman :- ‘He is so nervous, tho’ Gigantic, yt he cannot get a glass of ale to his mouth without spilling some part of it, tho’ better in health than he was in ye winter. I wish for ye sake of his numerous and increasing family yt he might attain to ye age of three score years and ten, but much doubt it: his Plan is against him. Liquor is pernicious to him but he cannot refrain from it, tho’ he has enough of ye old Parson in him to deny ye charge however greatly he is guilty of it. Trust in a Person (Parson) yt is fond of liquor is a rare virtue. I hope you took a hint last year from me concerning ye Rum bottle, it is full of nothing but deadly poison, if it be fled to as a remedy, and will infallibly curtail life of yt man yt drinks it as a Cordial; like a false friend it smiles you in ye face, and stabs to ye heart, trust to no such enemy. But trust to my sincerity when I assure you yt I am at all times your affectionate and well wishing, &c., Jos. Hadfield’.

The pleasure on discovery of such gems may be compared to the keen appreciation of sound and mellow wine from forgotten dust covered bottles on the demise of a beloved ancestor or of and old and valued friend.

To Follow: The expansion of the industries in Glossop Dale, the Municipal Corporation and Municipal properties.


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Page last updated: 25 September 2017.
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