Unveiling the 1805 Painting of Mellor Mill
On Saturday, March 14, an oil painting of Samuel Oldknow’s Mellor Mill, was unveiled, which hangs high above the reception desk. A few years ago, Mark Whittaker, (left) who has done so much for the community by establishing the Marple Website, heard about this picture. Engravings had long been known, indeed one hangs in the library, but this was the original oil painting by the Manchester artist, Joseph Parry. In late 2013, Mark was told that the owner, Sean White, wanted to sell it for £3,500 and would be happy for it to come to Marple. As he wanted to sell quickly, the Mellor Archaeological Trust launched an appeal to raise funds to acquire it for the benefit of the community. The Cooperative Community Fund started the ball rolling by paying half the cost of the painting. The SMBC Area Flexibility Fund provided £500 and as did the Mellor Society. Other support came from four local organisations and from over 20 individual donors. This not only covered the cost of the picture but paid for conservation and insurance.
At the unveiling, Professor John Hearle, Chairman of the Trust, told the story of the acquisition of the painting. This complements the excavation of the remains of the mill, which was burnt out in 1892, as part of the HLF-supported project “Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy: Mellor Mill and the Peak Forest Canal in Marple”, being run jointly with Canal and River Trust. The Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Kevin Hogg, welcomed the display of the picture of the largest cotton mill in Stockport, indeed in the world, when it was built in 1790-92, so that it can be seen by the local community. He then asked Mark Whittaker to pull the cord and open a view of the picture and its accompanying plaque.
Cleaned Parry Picture
Christmas was approaching fast, but cars took their time approaching Roman Lakes tiptoeing along the bridleway that leads to the venue for the third annual Christmas ‘Do’ of the Trust, the Roman Lakes Café. The coaxing done by email and a website reminder had produced the more than three dozen diners. Pushing open the door to the warmth of the cafe, after being ticked off on the list of atendees, many headed to the wood burning stove, to warm themselves to the core.
Visit to Castleshaw Roman Fort and Saddleworth Museum
August 2nd 2014
FCRF volunteers excavating the site.
About a dozen Friends of the Trust braved the weather and were met at Castlefield Centre car park by Norman Redhead, County Archaeologist, and three Friends of Castleshaw Roman Forts (FCRF) at 10-30 on August 2. Two keen walkers climbed the hill but the rest drove up to the site where FCRF had been excavating for three weeks. It is next to the old hamlet of Lower Castleshaw with its one remaining house. As part of the HLF-supported project, 300 schoolchildren had dug the site of an old cottage where sensitive archaeology could not be disturbed. The main site was much like Mellor with subtle changes of colour in the soil showing the ancient features. Many of the volunteers were inexperienced so it was a good training exercise led by CfAA, Salford University, including our own John Roberts.
Manchester Town Hall, March 29, 2014.
Inspiring and wonderful photographs.
This was just one of the comments on the Oldknow Legacy Project. The highlights of our display were the five large pictures, the two Parry paintings and three of Arthur Procter’s magnificent photos of how the sites (or sights!) look today, plus portraits of 30- and 60-year old Samuel Oldknow.
Early in the morning ‘staff’ made their way down t’mill, volunteers preparing for their duties. Cars clattered down the imperfect Lake Road, carrying the gazebo, the display boards, the books and the rest. Two hundred years before in the pre-dawn gloom, on Wednesday September 8th 1813 there would have been the clattering of clogs as 500 women and children, and but few men, huddled figures, descended the hill on their way t’mill, then in its prime, past the boss’ house, to the toil of a working day. Mellor Mill Heritage Day was to celebrate these workers, their boss, Samuel Oldknow, and his Mill.