Glossop Heritage Trust

Theo Walter Ellison's Glossop Dale Reminiscences.


Local Government (published 11 January 1935).

Systems of local government were formerly of spasmodic growth resulting in overlapping and complication which has been described as chaotic. The Justices nominated by the Lord Lieutenant gradually acquired the management of the affairs of the County, having superseded the Shire-moot, which consisted of landowners, presided over by the Sheriff.

Glossop was a Petty Sessional Division including Charlesworth, Ludworth, Mellor and Marple Bridge. Mellor was subsequently transferred to New Mills, and the Justices held their courts at the Glossop Town Hall. Originally, the ‘lock ups’ were at Old Glossop, as also was the ‘Pound’ or ‘Pinfold’, opposite the Queen’s Arms, and I well remember my father sending some sheep there which had trespassed upon his fields. Readers of Dickens will remember how Pickwick of immortal fame, was wheeled in a wheelbarrow and deposited in a ‘pound’ at Eatanswill, to the delight of the villagers.

Parish meetings were held in the Parish Church or the Vestry, presided over by the Parson or Vicar. The land owner had no power over the Parish meetings, but had his Manorial Court presided over by his steward or agent, and a ‘Court Leet’ was held at Glossop until the Glossop Dale Estates were sold. This court determined questions concerning the estates, of the tenancies, and matters appertaining thereto.

At the Parish meetings, which were often of a lively character, the Parish business was performed. Surveyors of Highways and Overseers of the poor (now abolished) were nominated and submitted to the Justices for appointment, and rates were assessed to be allowed by the Justices.

Unions were established in 1834 and Boards of Guardians elected, and the workhouse provided for the relief of the poor, with accommodations for casual paupers, and a Relieving Officer appointed.

A Burial Board was appointed under the Burial Act, 1852, which provided the burial ground at Allman’s Heath, known as the Glossop Cemetery, which in 1894 was transferred to a Joint Committee appointed by the Town Council of Glossop and the Rural District of Charlesworth. The County Police were under the control of the Standing Joint Committee appointed by the Justices at Quarter Sessions, and Glossop was, for many years, ‘policed’ by the County Police, until it possessed its own Police Force.

The Public Health Act, 1875, the Municipal Corporations Acts, and the Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894 effected radical alterations and improvements in Local government. The powers and duties of the Vestry, Surveyors of Highways, and Overseers of the Poor were transferred to Parish Councils, Rural and Urban District Councils, Town Councils and County Councils. Recent legislation has partially consolidated these, and we are promised other measures to effect retrenchment and centralise the work of the smaller governing bodies, whose achievements fail to retain the confidence of the inhabitants or the approval of the Central Government.

All credit must be given to those individuals – employers and operatives who have given of their best in the public service – and to those who by their generous benefactions have enriched the municipal possessions, upon whose work and generosity I shall presently comment. Many of these I have known personally, and the recollections of my associations as I write these lines on this, my 70th birthday, afford me much pleasure.


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Page last updated: 9 May 2017.