Read (or watch) more and discover what makes our village so unique and special.
We are delighted to offer our village book (and DVD’s) as mail order items. Simply send us a cheque to 12 Rock Mill, Stoney Middleton Hope Valley S32 4TF. Include a mailing address and we will post them free of charge.
Accomplished author and local resident Graham Armitage presents his village book. 4 years of meticulous research and writing has produced an outstanding book, telling the story of the village from the earliest settlers to the modern day.
The book is a large 24 x 17 cm format with a lovely glossy cover. Over 200 pages telling the fascinating story of the village. Its light and informative, packed with stories told by the elders of the village and numerous old pictures. The price is just £12.99 including postage and packaging (UK). Read a sample below.
The DVD’s are documentary style professionally filmed and presented the first is 35 minutes long and follows the heritage trails around the village whist locals are interviewed to present individual aspects of village history. the second concentrates solely upon the well dressing tradition explaining the complete story. They are available for only £8.99 including postage and packaging (UK). Watch the preview
Cheques should be made out to Stoney Middleton Heritage Centre Community Group please.
INTO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Having ended the years preceding the 20th century by looking at how events in Stoney Middleton reflected what was developing in the wider world, we move into that century itself, Tom Carter provides us with some interesting snapshots of ordinary day-to-day life.
Anyone looking back at this period as an idyllic time of eternal sunshine needs to be aware that Tom had an Aunt Sarah who lost four children to fever in the space of a week and that his grandfather on his mother’s side, a stonemason by profession, had died at the age of 52 due to excessive inhalation of granite. Some of this gentleman’s work still
adorns nearby Calver church.
Tom also describes his parents’ home being kept clean by the use of sand. Tom was responsible for collecting the sandstone and a sand crusher was retained at the door. At weekends a hearthrug was put down!
It appears that when the family first moved into this property it was only partly habitable, whereas the premises next door were ruined. On one occasion Tom looked up at the window and saw a sheep poking its head through after the animal had apparently come up the stairs.
Equally, Tom’s father had started work in an Eyam boot factory at age eight and, as we shall see elsewhere, Tom himself left school to begin work at age 12. Strictly, of course, this would put his leaving year at 1890, but this fact and the other pieces of information above give a clear picture of a very hard life indeed as the new century began; it featured more than its share of illness and early mortality, extremely long working hours and a considerable time to wait before expressions such as ‘Health and Safety at Work’, even entered the language.
Unsurprisingly, morality was strict and uncompromising; if a girl ‘got into trouble’ she might have to leave the village. This did not prevent people having large families, although historians of the period rightly point out that infant mortality was so high that it was often necessary to produce many children as a good number would not survive. [A couple of points of general interest can be added here: contrary to what one might expect, opinions challenging this viewpoint were not a thing of the distant future; a significant Women’s Rights movement, pursuing not only the vote but also greater sexual equality generally, was fairly active, (Vera Brittain, hailing from Buxton, was to become seriously involved,) but unfortunately for the female population of Stoney Middleton,
its influence was felt much more in major cities than in the countryside.
The phrase, ‘getting into trouble’, the euphemism of choice for my parents’ generation, seems now to have largely departed from the language, alongside its implied assumption that women somehow get pregnant entirely on their own.]
The Evils of Drink
Another popular bête noire around the turn of the century was the evils of drink. Tom, who regarded this as a curse, took the Temperance Pledge and joined the Band of Hope. Members were identified by the wearing of a Blue Ribbon, with the addition of a narrow white band if the wearer also abstained from tobacco.
Temperance Meetings did, in fact, attract a very large following, including a friend of Tom’s called Jack Outram, who once concluded a meeting by praying that everyone should ‘Go away like giants refreshed with new wine’. An interesting choice of metaphor. So how severe was the problem? Well, there is a full section on Stoney Middleton pubs elsewhere but Tom tells us that there were six in existence at the time: The Moon, The Royal Oak, The Grouse, The Bull’s Head, Lover’s Leap and The Stags Head. They were open all day. Strictly speaking, the usual opening hours were in fact 4.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. There are interesting aspects to this: firstly the incredibly early start, reflecting how early
many people started their day and the fact that drinking early in the day was apparently not frowned upon in those times as it generally is now. Secondly, it is fascinating to note how things have swung in one direction and then back again. When I started drinking in the 1970s opening hours were generally noon to 3.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. in the evening (generously extended to 11.00 p.m. at weekends).
Obviously, in the last 20 years or so things have become much more liberal, and ‘all day’ can actually mean precisely what it says. On the more wholesome side, Tom also states that he and his friends regarded the nearby village of Edensor as a ‘paradise’. This was mainly due to the presence of a place called Emperor Pond – an area of water alive with all forms of wildlife in general and a wide variety of birds in particular.
It has perhaps become something of a cliché to talk about the loss of the ability to take pleasure in simple things but I do feel that Tom’s generation had an appreciation of the natural world that children brought up on virtual reality games are lacking.
Tom also introduces us to a character named George Bradford. George’s father was a professional horse-breaker, a very necessary profession at the time. George himself was, apparently, a compulsive poultry thief, serving several terms in prison for persistent offending. Given the impossibility of getting away with such a crime in a small village where
everyone knows everyone else and where anyone finding themselves unexpectedly short of a few chickens would have instantly known where to look, it seems likely that George might well have been regarded as, ‘a suitable case for treatment’, in the modern era. This view is supported by the fact that George, on one occasion, went into High Fields police
station and gave the sole policeman present, ‘a good hiding’, for no obvious reason except, perhaps, that he associated the uniform with people who kept locking him up for doing what came naturally!
For the constable, who was apparently fairly substantially battered, the situation was exacerbated by the fact that he wished to issue a summons against George but was prevented from doing so by his chief who feared that embarrassment would fall upon the police force if the incident were made public.
On a more tragic note, Tom mentions a family called Bradshaw, who initially moved to the village in the late 1800s. One family member, Joseph, had formerly been mayor of Sheffield; a younger member, Albert, took part enthusiastically in village activities including teaching in Sunday school and becoming chapel secretary. He met a local girl
and was due to be married. On their wedding day, his bride and her father were travelling to church via a horse and carriage only for the horse to bolt causing a crash and the death of the young lady.
Subsequently, Albert was to marry a Scottish schoolmistress and enjoyed a few years of happiness before he himself died suddenly whilst the couple were holidaying in Paignton.