See if you can remember…: how many public benches are there in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow? It’s probably more than you think – answer is at the bottom of this page. Have a guess!
We thought it might be an interesting mirror on our village to go out and find benches we have here and photograph them.
And this article is about what we found out.
When we conducted this mini-survey, it came as no surprise that many of our benches are to be found in the two church graveyards we have (at St Margaret’s in Draycott, and St Mary’s in Cresswell). Obviously, they provide a quiet place to sit and remember loved ones.
Some of these graveyard benches have even been paid for by grieving families, who have dedicated the bench to a relative’s memory.
Interestingly, the local Women’s Institute have paid for two benches to be set up. They installed the one at the top of Cresswell Bank – a good place for a bench, as you can have a breather there after walking up the rise! – and the one on the track outside St Margaret’s. Both were erected to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1977.
The one on the Cresswell lay-by was installed by the local community-action group, VVSM , which wanted to honour the memory of the former stalwart of the parish council, Ken Shelley. There was quite a moving ceremony in 2013 when two parish councillors and the Cresswell Catholic priest did the formal unveiling.
The bench slap bang on Draycott crossroads is the most resplendent. At first, because of the large lettering, it looks like Draycott Parish Council has erected it as a tribute to, erm, itself (!) but the smaller print will tell you that it is meant to remember the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
It’s not totally clear whose responsibility these public benches are. The Parish Council clearly has to look after the Diamond Jubilee bench (and did carry out some maintenance on it last year in fact), but who looks after the rest? If you know, please let us know too, using the Comments Box further down this page…
Mostly, they are placed on Highways land, so permission to put one up has to be sought from the County Council; and the parish council will also be asked if it wants to approve the request.
But neither the county nor the parish council has to be responsible for maintenance.
One bench that had to go – for safety reasons, as it was rotting away – was the one at the end of Brookside (off Cheadle Road). It was demolished last year.
Wooden benches do need repair, and it is interesting to see that one of the newest ones – the one on Cresswell lay-by, put up by VVSM – is made of ‘new plastic’, meaning fewer repairs. Though… not everybody likes the look of plastic. (What do you think? – use the Comments box).
We got to wondering though – what is the point of the benches? Maybe you know different, but we rarely (if ever) see anybody sitting on one! (And they can come expensive; Draycott Parish Council paid nearly £1000 for the one on the crossroads).
Admittedly, they can be lovely memorials, so that is a good purpose, but, being wooden, they do need a deal of maintenance…
Would it be better to plant a tree perhaps, or even establish a ‘natural’ sculpture?
However, when we talked about this in the pub, a good point was made. In this country we do not have many ‘public spaces’ where people can just gather and gossip. (All we could think of was Trafalgar Square.)
So the theory is: benches are ways of creating a ‘public space’. That is, well-placed ones can become a focal point for local people to stand around and chat – and every community needs some of those.
Though… maybe not in winter…
The best benches for this ‘gathering’-type purpose are the ones at the cricket club. There’s nothing better than sitting down on one, with a drink & sandwich, and admiring the view – and the cricket. And passing the time of day with someone.
One of the cricket club benches is on the public footpath that passes through the ground, so one can sit there anytime.
It was surprising to us that there is no bench on the green at Rookery Crescent (Cresswell). It would work as a focal point in the way described. If you live in Rookery Crescent, let us know – would a bench on your green be a good idea?
So – how many public benches are there in Draycott-in-the-Moors?
Well, including the one on the public footpath on the cricket club ground, we made it eleven. Maybe we missed one or two, but we think that’s right…
This survey of local benches was put together by a volunteer who wanted to write something for this website. If you fancy doing something similar, we have a lot of suggestions for interesting subjects; just contact us and we’ll let you have the list of subjects –or come up with one of your own.
Also, don’t worry about spelling&grammar; we have someone who sorts that out!