Glossop Heritage Trust

Theo Walter Ellison's Glossop Dale Reminiscences.

Local Government (continued), The Municipal Corporation (published 18 January 1935).

Before narrating the incorporation of the Borough of Glossop, a brief review of the conditions then existing is desirable. The advent of a resident ground landlord in the person of Lord Edward Howard, in or about 1851, followed soon afterwards by the appointment of an Agent exclusively for the Glossop Dale Estates, opened a new era of development. Mr Francis Hawke, who was already in the estate office, succeeded Mr Michael Ellison, who resigned the agency for the Glossop Estates about 1860.

For the next fifteen years the policy of leasing land for mills, the opening of roads and the provision of a water supply was continued.

The abnormal situation created by the closing or partial stoppage of the cotton mills during the ‘cotton panic’ called for special efforts. Liberal financial assistance was forthcoming from Lord Howard and the mill owners, and useful employment in the works of construction supplemented the reduced earnings and ameliorated the prevailing distress.

Relief to a considerable extent was also given by the authorities from the rates. An exodus of 64 of the inhabitants to America occurred in 1864. The grievous blow created by the Cotton Panic to the chief mainstay of the inhabitants was fortunately of a limited duration. A good recovery followed.

Meanwhile, improvements had been proceeded with. The public streets of Glossop were lighted with gas in 1861, an event which (it is recorded) was celebrated by a dinner at the Norfolk Arms Hotel.

By 1864 the Swineshaw Reservoir had been completed and Lord Howard had commenced the construction of three small reservoirs at Barbour Clough, between Spire Hollin and Windy Harbour. The Glossop Waterworks Act, 1865, mentions the construction of the reservoirs in connection with Blackshaw and Blackshaw Clough streams which for some time past had supplied the town of Glossop or part of it with water and that there was no Local Authority constituted, and it was expedient that the Authority should be empowered to become the purchasers of the undertaking and to raise money by borrowing. The impounding of the water of the Blackshaw stream and one half of Blackshaw Clough was authorised, the other half to be for supply of the mills as compensation, and gauges were to be provided for dividing equally the waters, and the mill owners were given power to inspect to see that they had their due supply

These arrangements have been altered in later years by agreement between the Corporation and the millowners. The Glossop Waterworks undertaking was not, however, sold to the Corporation until fifteen years later in 1880.

In 1860, the Clerk to the Peace had purchased land for lock-ups. Amongst its amenities the town included the Glossop Cricket Club formed in 1833, with Thomas Ellison, chairman, and Francis J. Sumner as vice-chairman, and also celebrated by a dinner at the Norfolk Arms, and in 1861 a Gentlemen’s Club was established in Ellison Street, but this apparently did not last long, for the premises were sold to Mr T. M. Ellison in September 1869, and used by him for offices, but have again reverted to their former use and are now the premises of the Social Club. Amongst the magistrates were Edmond Potter (1853), and John Hill Wood and Francis J. Sumner (1857).

The principal mills had been considerably extended. The population in 1865 was about 14,000 but had fluctuated owing to the disastrous effects of the cotton famine in the districts. The requirements of the now populous and progressive town merited, in the opinion of the principal inhabitants, no less an authority than a Municipal Corporation, and this very important object was achieved by the combined efforts of the Noble Landlord and the property owners and the Grant of a Royal Charter, in 1866.

The Charter is an interesting document under the Seal of the Privy Council, dated the 19th day of October ‘in the 30th year of our’ reign and commences ‘Victoria by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Defender of the Faith To all to whom shall come greeting’. Then follow a number of recitals referring to the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835, and the power to grant a Charter on a petition, and that the Town of Glossop for the purposes of the Glossop Market Act, 1844 shall, by that Act, comprehend so much of the Parish of Glossop as was comprised in a circle to two miles diameter, of which circle the Town Hall of Glossop should be the centre, and that a petition by the inhabitant householders of the Hamlets of Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Dinting, Hadfield, Padfield and Chunal including the Town of Glossop, to grant a Charter of Incorporation, was presented, and on the 14th March 1865, ‘Our Privy Council did proceed to consider the petition and having since resumed consideration thereof’ and advised the Grant of a Charter of Incorporation for the district thereinafter described situate within the said Hamlets and comprising parts thereof. Then follows (as was then the mode) a meticulous verbose description, which is a good illustration of how to describe by words a circuitous, indefinite and varied boundary without referring to a plan. It may be that this mode of description led to the custom in some Boroughs of ‘beating the boundaries’ every year, the members of the Council perambulating the confines of the Borough, having in company small boys who were beaten or 'bumped', at a number of points, so as to forcibly impress the particular situation, and produce facility to recall them for many a long year.

Briefly, the Borough is comprised in a circle, with a projection on one side, and is shown on the Ordnance and other maps, the boundary extending from a point at Lanehead, Glossop, to the Hayfield Road, thence to Gamesley, Woolley Bridge, Hadfield and Padfield, returning to Lanehead. The area is not mentioned in the Charter, but is generally stated as 3,062 acres.

The inhabitants of the Town of Glossop and Districts before described were ever thereafter after declared one Body politic and corporate in deed, fact and name to be called the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Glossop, with perpetual succession, and all the powers, authorities and privileges held and enjoyed by the Boroughs named in the Act of 1836 as if this Borough had been included under the Charter. The Council consists of a Mayor, six Aldermen and 18 Councillors, and the Borough is divided into three Wards ‘All Saints’, St James and Hadfield, the areas of which are also described without reference to a plan, and each Ward is to return six Councillors. The district of each ward may be gathered from the Electors lists and is well known to those who take part in the elections.

Then ‘Our trusty and well beloved Thomas Michael Ellison Gentleman, was to make out and publish the Burgess list’, and ‘Our trusty and well beloved Francis Sumner Esquire and John Wood Esquire Justices of the Peace for the said County of Derby or either of them’ were appointed to revise the Lists; the first elections were fixed for the Councillors on 21st December 1866, and for the Aldermen on the 26th December. And on the same day the Mayor to be elected from the Aldermen and Councillors. ‘Our trusty and well beloved Francis Hawke Esquire’ was appointed to act as Returning Officer at the election of Councillors, or failing him ‘ our trusty etc. William Wardlow Howard Esquire’ and provision was made also for election of Auditors and Assessors. The Charter concludes: ‘In witness whereof we have caused these letters to be made patent: Witness our self at the Palace of Westminster in the 30th year of our reign By writ of Privy Seal – Cardew

The following is a list of those elected in December 1866:

MAYOR Francis Sumner

ALDERMEN All Saints Ward Francis Sumner, Daniel Wood; St. James Ward Joseph Stafford, Joseph Woodcock; Hadfield Ward William Shepley James Sidebottom.

All Saints Ward Frederick Buckley, John Hadfield, James Shepley, Samuel Robinson, James Rhodes, Joseph Mellor.
St. James’ Ward John France, George Woffenden, Levi Jackson, John Ashton, Thomas Peacock Wreakes, Charles Collier.
Hadfield Ward Edward Platt, Thomas Platt, Thomas Rhodes, Robert John Lees, George Eastham, Timothy Holroyd.

AUDITORS John Hampson and William Bramhall

REVISING ASSESSORS John Wood and Thomas Bennett

All Saints’ Ward Thomas Hamer Ibbotson and William Bramhall
St James’ Ward John Hampson and William Smith
Hadfield Ward William Platt and Samuel Wood


All Saints’ Ward Richard Hole and John Wood Bowden
St James’ Ward William Smith, Shoe Dealer and John Handford
Hadfield Ward John Barber and William Bradbury

Town Clerk Thomas Michael Ellison
Treasurer Samuel Wood
Chief Constable Samuel Kershaw

The votes recorded for the Councillors were from 75 to 201, the highest number being obtained by Frederick Buckley.

There were five Committees then appointed: General Purposes, Finance, Sanitary, Watch and Lighting.

The operations of this Municipal Corporation, representative of the Aristocracy, Cottonocracy and Bureaucracy, in conjunction with the County and Borough Justices of the Peace, the Board of Guardians, Overseers of the Poor, the Glossop Reservoirs Commissioners and the Burial Board, and their respective officers, supplemented and supported by a number of Societies and Associations, and acting in harmony with the noble estate owners, present a record of a volume of work performed, for the most part voluntarily, regulating the affairs of the Borough for a period of 68 years from 1866 to 1934.

For the first fifteen years of that period down to 1882 my reminiscences depend upon youthful impressions and traditions handed down, but during a period of 40 years to 1922, my association with the Council, Justices, and other bodies, and some of the commercial undertakings, enables me to speak with a more confident recollection.

Entering the office of my father, Mr. T.M. Ellison, in April 1881, I have seen and conversed with almost all of those to whom I shall have occasion to make reference.

Of the first Lord Howard of Glossop my personal knowledge is necessarily very limited, as he died in 1883. As our family pew was at All Saints’ Catholic Chapel in the gallery, I often saw him there, but only conversed with him when attending with my father at the Hall to attest his execution of an important document. He was regarded by all as a most thorough gentleman, upright and conscientious. Of his son, Francis Edward Lord Howard, with whom I had a more intimate business relationship, I shall speak later.

Francis James Sumner, our first Mayor, merits particular note. He also attended the same Chapel, having a pew close to my father’s, as had also the Daltons and the Hadfields (of Holly Mount). Mr Sumner was rather nervous and fidgety, of good appearance, though he wore cotton gloves, which, the ladies uncharitably said, were ‘darned’; and he wore side whiskers the colour of which the ladies thought too youthful for his age. A more substantial and agreeable source of my recollection was, what every schoolboy values so highly, his gifts of half-crowns drawn from a money bag which he habitually carried, when we were fortunate enough to meet him as we were returning on ‘Black Monday’ after the holidays. I also waited upon Mr Sumner many times to have documents signed, both at his house and at Wren Nest Mills, and as his history is even today of much interest to many inhabitants, I will give a short account.

TO FOLLOW: Sumner, Wood, Partington, and other notable Personages in public life – Municipal Administration, Corporate possessions.

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Page last updated: 25 September 2017.
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