Following some of the quarterly meetings of the Trustees, John Hearle kindly agreed to provide an update on the activities of the Mellor Archaeological Trust. Thank you, John.

Quarterly Update January 31, 2013

Quarterly Update January 31, 2013

At the Trustee meeting on 15 January 2013, the following were among the items discussed.

Bob H-T’s presentation on Mellor Mill at GM Archaeology Day had been well received. There had been good interest and book sales at Melandra Open Day and Winter Wonderland in Marple Bridge. It was good to see “Mellor faces” at the GM Dig at Wood Hall, Stockport, where Maxine Wild’s pencil drawings were much admired. The Christmas lunch at Roman Lakes was a great success.

The annual accounts show a balance at year end of ~£22,000 in the general account and ~£7,000 in the fund for the Visitor Centre at Roman Lakes. Major sources of income (apart from the rest of the AIA grant for the wheelpit) were: from Friends (plus Gift Aid) ~£1,900; from donations (mainly for talks) ~£1,200; from sales of books and DVDs ~£3,300. Major items of expenditure were: for work on the British Archaeology Report (BAR) on the OV site ~££4,600; wheelpit (from MAT funds) ~£3000; website ~£1,500; new DVD ~£8,000. For 2013, in addition to “routine items”, major costs are £5,000 for the development stage of the “Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy….” project, ~£4,500 for the OV clay pipes report (if it ever comes), and possibly ~£5,000 for the BAR ( less if we can secure a grant from the Marc Fitch Fund), ~£2,000 for work on Mellor Mill and ~£1,000 for the website, which be less in future as Chris Walters becomes expert and does not need to call on the services of Mark Whittaker. The current prediction is that we could end 2013 with ~£10,000 in the general account.

A trio led by Maxine Wild will look into sources for T-shirts with the MAT logo. A public appeal is being launched to secure £3,500 to purchase the original painting of Mellor Mill by Joseph Parry. The new DVD by Chris Mann with the full story of the OV excavations and presentations at the final conference is available for £12, A leaflet folded from A3, “Samuel Oldknow, Mellor Mill and the Peak Forest Canal” is being designed by Neil Mullineux.

John Hearle and Bob H-T reported on good progress with the “Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy….” project (see report to be put on the Mellor Mill section of the website)..

Future events include a three-day Greater Manchester Industrial Archaeology Tour and a Promenade Theatre round the Mellor Mill area. A dig at Shaw Cairn from July 8-23 will be joined y students from Sheffield and Manchester Universities.

Talks continue to be given to a variety of groups.

Quarterly Update October 18, 2012

At the Trustee meeting on 17 October 2012, the following were among the items discussed.

The Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation had requested lists of equipment that could be borrowed by member groups.  This led to a discussion on updating the list of MAT equipment and its location.

Following news of demand for an ACE tour of industrial archaeology in Staffordshire, it was agreed that, subject to a good financial prediction, MAT should organise a three-day tour in Greater Manchester and nearby areas in association with the Centre for Applied Archaeology at Salford University.

Orders for "Mellor through the Ages" had been received from a book distributor and was dealt with by Anthea Nicholls, who is now handling book sales (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

The HLF application for "Revealing Oldknow's Legacy: Mellor Mill and the Peak Forest Canal in Marple" was successful at stage 1. Development of the application will run to May next year. John Hearle and Bob Humphrey-Taylor from MAT and Nick Smith and Fiona Turpin from Canal and River Trust had a very useful meeting to discuss the way forward with Nick Herepath, the HLF grants officer for the project,. Afterwards, Bob and I took Nick H to the Mellor Mill site; his reaction on approaching the viewing platform was "Blimey! Wow!".  At the Trust meeting Bob reported on the interesting discoveries at the front to the mill and the tunnel for the drive shaft from the Waterloo Wheel.

A programme of school visits to the Old Vicarage site will be offered starting next spring.

A Christmas lunch at the Roman Lakes is planned for early December. For next year, three speakers have agreed to give talks.

The Mellor Heritage Project 2007-9 finally ended with a formal handover of the viewing area to the Mayor as the representative of the people of Stockport. A simple agreement has been signed for MAT volunteers to carry out routine horticultural maintenance of the Roman garden and viewing area with Greenspace Stockport being responsible for the infrastructure.  For the whole 1998-2009 excavations, the archives have been taken from the Old Vicarage cellar to Stockport Museums, where they will be catalogued. Meanwhile Peter Arrowsmith and John Roberts, with Steve Bellshaw providing drawings, are completing a full British Archaeology Report.

Chris Walter, webmaster, reported that the new website was now open for viewing and had attracted good comments – and one spotting of a homophone error in the old website!

Quarterly Update July 27, 2012

At the Trustee meeting on 23 July 2012, the following were among the items discussed.

A new trainee has started at Stockport Museums and will be helping with cataloguing the finds and archives from the Mellor Old Vicarage excavations.

In the revised Trust deed, Norman Redhead will become a representative Trustee for the Greater Manchester Archaeology Advisory Service.

Maxine Wild presented several logo designs, which were based on the decoration on Mellor Church font. The Trustees chose:

Trust choice of logo

At long last, an agreement has been signed to transfer the area comprising the Roman garden, the bridge over the Iron Age ditch and the viewing area with interpretation boards, which is a gift from the Hearle family, to the people of Stockport.

The bid to HLF, jointly with British Waterways, for "Revealing Oldknow's Legacy: Mellor Mill and the Peak Forest canal in Marple" has been submitted.  The application includes a map of the area of the project, drawn by Neil Mullineux and including the boundaries of Oldknow's estate (see end of note).

This year's dig at Shaw Cairn was hampered by bad weather.  There are plans for a bigger dig next year involving Sheffield and Manchester Universities, as well as Mellor volunteers.

The following events are proposed for next year:

March/April 2012

Study Day: Mellor and the Textile Industry 1700 - 2004

May/June 2013

Oldknow "fact and fun" day

Oldknow's legacy map

Quarterly Update May 15, 2012

On 30 April 2012, the items discussed included the following.

Changes to the Trust were agreed, subject to approval by the Charity Commission.

The Trust Deed dating from 17 January 2000 had as its objects:

To promote the investigation, interpretation, and preservation of the archaeology of the area surrounding Mellor Church and of other parts of Mellor, Stockport, in the County of Greater Manchester, and to organise displays, educational activities, or other means of bringing information on the history and archaeology to the notice of the public.

The excavations in The Old Vicarage garden were completed in 2009. Although more work could be done in the adjoining fields, this would probably only dot i’s and cross t’s (unfortunately, we are not allowed on the fields to the east, where there might be new features near the top of the hill). There was a small excavation in the triangular field in 2010 but nothing more is planned. Interest has shifted to Shaw Cairn on Mellor Moor and the Mellor Mill site. It is proposed that the objects should be changed to:

To support research into the archaeology of Mellor, Stockport, in the County of Greater Manchester, and to advance the education of the public in particular by promoting the investigation, interpretation, and preservation of the archaeology of the said area.

The four residents close to the OV site were named as ex-officio Trustees.  One of them, Peter Jenner, has now left Mellor and the Vicarage is empty.  It no longer seems appropriate to have these localised ex-officio appointments. The clause defining the Trustess will be changed as below. We can co-opt to reflect areas of interest, both geographical and functional. George Burgess from Shaw Farm was recently co-opted;  Rachel Sewart from Roman Lakes and Chris Walters, who looks after the website and newsletter, have been invited to be Trustees and both have agreed to serve. The present Trustees are: three ex-officio, John Hearle (re-elected as Chairman for the next year), Stan Bannister, John Hodgson; four nominated, Chris Baker, SMBC, Bob Humphrey-Taylor, Mellor Society, Ann Hearle, Marple Local Histroy Society, Andrew Sanders, Mellor Curch PCC; nine  co-opted, Norman Redhead, Donald Reid, Miranda Galloway, Frank Galvin, Maxine Wild, Hilary Forrest, Paula Whittaker, George Burgess, John Roberts.  The ex-officio members will be co-opted as Trustees after the change

  1. The body of trustees shall consist when complete of   up to nineteen persons being:
    four nominated trustees; and  up to fifteen co-opted trustees.
  2. The nominated trustees shall be one trustee appointed by each of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Marple Local History Society, the Mellor Society, and the Parochial Church Council of St Thomas, Mellor. Each appointment shall be made for a term of four years at a meeting convened and held according to the ordinary practice of the appointing body. The chairman of the meeting shall cause the name of each person appointed to be notified forthwith to the trustees. The person appointed may be, but need not be, a member of the appointing body.
  3. Co-opted trustees shall be persons who are able by virtue of their personal or professional qualifications to make a contribution to the pursuit of the objects or the management of the charity. They shall be appointed for a term of five years by a resolution of the trustees passed at aspecial meeting of which not less than 21 days' notice has been given.


After seeing two suggestions, a vigorous discussion settled on a third: a man on horseback taken from the carving on the font in Mellor Church. Maxine will be producing the design.

Basis for new MAT Logo

School visits

There have been several enquiries about school visits to the Old Vicarage site. These were excellent when we were funded by HLF, but now SMBC only offer sessions at Stockport Story Museum. Pauline has offered to run visits in Mellor. A small group will meet to plan how to organise these.

Mellor Heritage Project

Two final pieces of the Mellor Heritage Project 2007-9 are heading to fruition.

The terms of the handover of the public viewing area, which includes a bridge over the Iron Age ditch and interpretation boards, have been agreed between the owners, the Hearle family, and SMBC Greenspace. The formal documents should soon be signed.

A full academic account of the archaeology of 12 years of excavation on the OV site is being prepared for publication as a British Archaeology Report by Peter Arrowsmith. This will put the story of Mellor in a wider context. It will include not only a record of the trenches, but also all the many specialist reports. More finds will be drawn. Fortunately, the Trust has built up sufficient funds to cover the costs.

Mellor Mill

The opening of the wheelpit was attended by around 150 people. Since then, there are frequently up to a hundred visitors dropping in each Saturday and Sunday and saying “Wow!”. A collecting bucket is providing income divided between the Trust and the fund for the exhibition centre at the Roman Lakes. Plans and costings are being developed for the centre.

Work is continuing to clear the five sets of stairs leading from the wheelpit. Exciting discoveries are being made below the main entrance to the mill. A keen-eyed volunteer found a token to be used for purchases in the “truck shop” and bearing the name of John Clayton, mill manager. A cobbled surface is the floor of a stable, which is reached through arches under the steps to the front door of the mill. Visitors could leave their horses there while they conducted their business. Donald and Maxine have been uncovering more of the wall at the north end of the mill.

  The token and the mill entrance, arch to stables on left.

The token and the mill entrance, arch to stables on left.

John Riley drawing of wheelpit entrance 

John Riley’s drawing of the wheelpit and entrance area.

Much more could be done with more volunteers. Bob Humphrey-Taylor (07710 964 046, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), who is directing the work, writes:

The work down at Mellor Mill is progressing and lots of exciting things are being discovered about the building and how it worked.  However, we are just not getting sufficient support to really get going this spring - do come on down and spend a few hours any weekend between 9am and 3pm Saturday or Sunday.  We are now working on the main foundations of the mill and beginning to make sense of the building footprint.  Of course, over 100 years things changed and the information we have from paintings and maps is not necessarily the way it all was on the day of the fire.

 The bid to HLF

On March 16, John Hearle had a phone call from Charlotte Hazlewood of HLF to say that our application, Mellor Mill and Oldknow’s Legacy, was unsuccessful. There was severe competition for limited funds. Our bid was regarded as very strong and was recommend for acceptance by the grants officer. We might have been successful if British Waterways had not put in for a project “Enriching Marple’s Waterway Heritage”, which focussed strongly on Samuel Oldknow’s part in promoting the Peak Forest Canal and included work on the aqueduct and limekilns. The committee took the view that they would get more value for money if the two bids were combined.

We are now working hard on a new joint bid with Nick Smith of British Waterways, soon to become The Canal and River Trust, and input from Marple Civic Society, who led the vision to enhance the canal corridor and its structures. The application has to be in by early June. If supported by HLF, the timeline would be: stage 1 decision, September 2012; development stage; stage 2 submission, March 2013; HLF decision, June 2013.

Shaw Cairn

Bob Johnston has now sent us a draft report on the 2011 survey and excavation at Shaw cairn. The final version will be put on the website later. Bob will come again with Sheffield University students for a dig from July 2-13, supported by the Mellor volunteers. On the weekend of July 21-22, the site will be open as part of the Festival of British Archaeology. Next spring, a study day will be held to discuss how Shaw Cairn fits into the wider scene of the triangle between the Goyt, the Etherow and the ridge on the east.


Two events are being planned.  A “Mellor Mill Fun Day” will be based at the Roman Lakes Leisure Park on Sunday September 23. This will be a combination of an Archaeology Open Day and a Fete. A Study Day, Mellor and the Textile Industry, will be held on October 27.