Category Archives: footpaths

NEWS of: court case / path blocked / calendar / community fund

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in mid October 2021
In this post we have news of…: man convicted of criminal driving / a community calendar / footpath obstructed / decision on ‘Solar’ community fund

For news of a song-writers’ concert and other events in our area, please go to our What’s On page

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Criminal driving

There are, thankfully, very few serious road accidents in Draycott, but one of them, back in early 2019, was a very bad one, resulting in the death of a fifty-year old man.
Last month, a jury also decided that it had been a case of criminal carelessness – and the man causing the accident, Usman Farooq, from Middleport in Stoke, has been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.
It seems that Mr Farooq, in a rush, had cut across the dual carriageway near the Chandni Cottage restaurant and crashed with a motorbike. The man on the motorbike, Martin Barker, died in hospital of his injuries.

The incident reminds us that cars are lethal weapons; there can never be a good reason to dash about in one.

And yet another accident on the dual carriageway A few weeks ago, this car and its driver came off the road. No one was hurt
Draycott calendar (pic: Bev Reardon)

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Local calendar published

It’s good to see that the first-ever Cresswell, Draycott & Totmonslow Community Calendar will be on sale in time for Christmas.

Organised by community activist Bev Reardon, there was, at first, a photo-competition to gather in people’s views of the district (well done to Ritchie Bellis, whose effort was awarded first prize!), and from it, the twelve pictures were selected. Now twelve sponsors have also come forward, so printing has been secured. There’s even enough in the pot to print some Christmas cards.

Soon you should get a leaflet through your letterbox with all the details of how to buy one (just £6, folks!) – or, keep an eye on the village Facebook page for updates.
Any profits from the project will be used for beautification initiatives in the village – Bev welcomes any suggestions.

It’s really great to see a proper community project like this. Let’s hope it becomes an annual event…

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Blythe Colours Memories

Talking of community projects, anyone who worked at the old Blythe Colours Factory in Cresswell, or whose family did, is invited to a memories session at Cheadle Library on Friday November 12th (from 9am to 1pm).
Visitors are encouraged to bring in photos or other memorabilia of their time at the works.

This is going to be a well-organised event, with one-to-one recording available, and former Colours employees on hand to make notes of people’s memories.
If you feel you can contribute, just drop in – or book a one-to-one session by phoning Cheadle Library.

Visit of Stoke Lord Mayor Cllr Doug Brown JP and the Lady Mayoress, 1983
Remember this? Visit of Stoke Lord Mayor Cllr Doug Brown to the Colour Works in 1983

Afterwards, the memories will be gathered and placed in the Blythe Colours community archive, which is held at Blythe Library. In fact, there’s also likely a full-scale exhibition on the theme sometime in the future – probably Spring next year.

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Community’s fund?

Earlier this year, a resident raised a query about the ‘Newton Solar Array Community Fund’. This fund consists of money donated annually, by the owners of the local solar farm, for community projects within the Draycott-in-the-Moors district. The owners authorised the village council to choose which projects should receive the money.
However, the resident noticed that a lot of the fund was not going to grassroots projects, but paying for projects that the village council itself was responsible for. The resident thought that that was not quite right… and objected.

Well, a few months ago, the owners of the solar farm, RES, stepped in to the row, and suggested that the village council limit itself to half the funds. This suggestion has been rejected by councillors, who said that, in their view, “the council IS the community”, and they wouldn’t even contemplate the idea of a limit.
RES has accepted that decision.

Still…, that view of it seems strange to us. Surely it’s a bit like the government using Lottery money to pay for motorways? Would the nation’s electors be happy with that?
We pay our taxes – both to the national government, and to the village council – for what’s necessary. Shouldn’t these authorities be content with that?

Draycott Fayre 2021 – with the Knight! (pic: Neil Archibald)

However, one happy decision is that village councillors have decided that the St Margaret’s Annual Fayre should have a grant of £750, from this same Solar Array Fund, to defray outstanding costs from this year’s event.
The fayre, held last August, was unexpectedly down on visitors this year – probably because of Covid – but it is Draycott’s biggest community event, so it surely deserves support in what has been a lean year for it.

Currently, there is around £4000 in the Solar Array Fund. If you have an idea on how it could be spent in the community – please contact the council clerk.

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Footpath blocked

Many of us are getting a bit fed up with the amount of paths being blocked in our local countryside. Sometimes, it’s wanton vandalism, sometimes it’s natural issues (like a fallen tree), but sometimes it seems almost deliberate.
This was the case this month with the small gate beside the railway line in Painsley. The gate is there, installed by the county’s countryside department, as a useful way to force people to think twice before they cross the line (it’s legal to cross the railway line at this point).
But someone had padlocked the gate – leaving no note as to why – meaning some walkers had to turn round and trudge back to where they had come from.
Fortunately, a former county-council officer spotted the illegal closure, and the offending padlock has now been removed.

We do understand that footpaths can be an irritation to some but … they are legal rights of way. There are also proper methods to challenge a footpath if you don’t like its presence.

If you are on a walk and spot a blocked footpath, you can now report it quite easily – click here for details.

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to near the bottom of this page.
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NEWS: flood-zones / new estate / rail-path news / fines for dog-mess

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors & District in late-April 2021
In this post we have news of…: Draycott flood zones / old railway path plans / £100 fines for dog-mess / Totmonslow homes nearly sold out.

For news of what’s on in our area at this time, please click here

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High water Draycott

It has come as quite a shock to learn that two road locations in the middle of Draycott have recently become classed – officially – as flood zones.
The government map (see below) now lists the spots (in dark blue): one on Uttoxeter Road off Fords Field and one outside The Old Rectory in Cheadle Road.
People have been jokingly talking about the Uttoxeter Road flooding issue as ‘Draycott Lake’ for some time now, but we all thought it was temporary or freak stuff. Well, it appears not.

In a talk to our village council last month, Paula Lees, Staffordshire’s Community Highways Engagement Officer, said that Highways are even considering putting up flood warning signs in these areas.

Apparently, these flooding incidents are not simply down to the fact that gullies are not being cleared properly. While that has contributed to the problems (and it’s possible that there may also be blockages stuck in the system, causing damming effects in heavy rain), Ms Lees said that some of the problems are man-made – and the community has to sort those out for itself.

So, it’s fairly clear (to us) what must happen: Draycott Council must form a steering group, with both councillors and expertise from the community on it, and sort the issues out.

Draycott Council has a truly dismal record of achievement over the last twelve months (see our article – Draycott Council’s 2020 – Councillors Should Resign), so maybe this is a chance for the councillors to get their collective finger out and actually do something significant.

Flash flooding Cheadle Road draycott
Flooding in Cheadle Road Draycott in 2019

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Activity plan for (some of) the railway path

It is interesting to see that Staffordshire Moorlands Council have included our old-railway path in their new Green Infrastructure Plan. (The old railway line ran from Cresswell to Totmonslow to Cheadle but finally closed in the 1970s, and is now a ‘greenway’ path.)

The old-railway path follows the middle bottom black line

As you can see from the map (above), the council is drawing up plans to develop bridleways, walking and even play areas along the northern part of the old line. But… this implies it only appears to have definite plans for the Cheadle to Huntley/Draycott-Cross stretch, and nothing for the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch.

However, it is fair to say that the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch does have outstanding issues, including problems over access.
As the Friends Of The Cresswell-Cheadle Rail Path have been finding out, the long-term future of the Totmonslow to Cresswell stretch of the path is, sadly, in doubt.

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New fines for careless dog owners

One of the most impressive changes in local public behaviour over the last ten years is the way that so many people now collect up their dogs’ mess on public pavements. Many local dog-owners now take out plastic bags with them routinely.

Many of us will remember the stencillings (see pic below) that local children painted on our pavements a decade ago – maybe it was these images that changed local people’s attitudes. It would be good to think so!

However, according to posts on the Draycott Facebook page, there are still some dog-owners who don’t clear up after their pets. (Dog faeces is not only unsightly and can be accidentally carried into the home on shoes, but can affect children if they touch traces of it and later rub their eyes).

Apparently, this is why Staffordshire Moorlands Council recently introduced a ‘Public Space Protection Order’ across the region – which could mean a £100 fixed-penalty for offenders who get caught. Even children in charge of a dog can be fined, though, legally, the debt would become the responsibility of the parent/carer.

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Sold out bungalows

Finally, if you were hoping to buy a house locally after lockdown, the bad news is that the five homes being built on the ‘Valley View’ plot at Totmonslow are virtually sold out – without a brick even being laid!

The site should be an interesting one when it is eventually finished. The homes are being constructed by Future Homes Developments, who describe themselves as “eco developers”, using new types of concrete.
We looked on their website for news of when the development should be finished, but unfortunately the website is badly out of date, so there was no information.

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – scroll down to near the bottom of this page.
(The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Beat CV with these walks

UPDATE (20/4/20):  The guidelines are a bit blurry, but we are now allowed to drive a SHORT distance to go for our daily exercise walk (see Police Chiefs Council latest bulletin).  One nearby walk we recommend is the Dilhorne-Cheadle walk, which only means a drive of three miles from the centre of Draycott.

Walking for exercise

There are aren’t many silver linings to this crisis we’re in but one is that some of us are getting more exercise than usual by taking more walks.
On this page, we tell you of some good local walks, some ways to make them more enjoyable, how you can help the national walking charity as you do your walks, and we also invite you to design your own ‘quiz-trails’.

Keep exercising with a walk

As we all know, the government’s advice during this crisis is to take daily exercise (at least, it is at the time of writing). Their extra rule is to stay local: if you want to go outdoors, stay relatively close to home and especially don’t drive to get somewhere. In fact, the police can legally stop you if you’re driving in order to walk in major country parks.

(If you’re worried about what exactly constitutes a breach of the restrictions, click here.
If you want the best coronavirus advice on how to behave during country walks, click here.)

Walks a-plenty

Fortunately, in Draycott-in-the-Moors district, we have lots of public footpaths across open country, so all you need is to check the local Ordnance Survey Website , print off your selection, and head on out!

Stile by Draycott Church Hall

Recently repaired stile – by Draycott Church Hall

If you prefer a prepared, circular walk, why not print off three very good local ones that are well recommended. Click here to find out more.

(If any reader knows of other walks round Draycott – or even has designed one themselves – would they let us know, by emailing us?)

Just one thing to remember, sheep are lambing right now, so ewes will be aggressive if you go to close to their little ones; try to be sensitive. And, near sheep, keep dogs on a leash!

Village trail quizzes

But if you have children, it is harder to keep them happy if you are just doing the same walks every day, so why not try a ‘quiz trail’? Just pick your walk (it can be along pavements as well as footpaths), and ask a question at a spot every three minutes along. Even adults might find it fun!

We designed a Cresswell quiz-trail for a fund-raising event (which never came off, sadly), so we went up into the attic and found it.   – and, if you want, please click here on Cresswell Quiz Trail, print it off and have a go at it.

If you try it and like the idea, why not design one yourselves?
If you’re happy to also email them them to us, we’ll publish them on this site.

Help our footpaths

If you are into doing some serious regular walking across our local fields, please think about using your time to help the national walking society – The Ramblers UK.
Cuts to local services mean some footpaths have not been checked for some time – so, if you can help by making notes about the state of local footpaths, that would be an amazing help.
Just note the issues you see and report them on the Ramblers issues page.

Happy walking!

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To comment on what you have read here, or to leave any thoughts you have about the local footpaths,  just use the comments box below.
You do not have to leave your email address (which is always kept private anyway and never passed on), but, if you don’t, that means you might miss any feedback.

NEWS of: church funds / Totmonslow housing / police Facebook / footpaths

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early August 2019
In this post we have news of…: parish council doze through Totmonslow development / report those footpaths / police join Facebook / fayre funds for church… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Sausage & Cider Festival…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Village council lack of action

The recent news that a development for five houses at Totmonslow has finally got planning permission launched a surprising discussion at the last Draycott parish council meeting.
Pete Wilkinson, one of our newly elected district councillors, had dropped in to observe the meeting. He expressed his deep unhappiness with the Totmonslow news, saying that the new cul-de-sac which will be built for the development is too dangerous: the cul-de-sac will exit straight onto the main Draycott-Tean road, too close to the brow of the hill for Mr Wilkinson’s liking. In fact he said accidents would be the inevitable result.

He is not the only one who feels this way. Among the official objections to the original proposal were comments from half-a-dozen residents and from Checkley Parish Council too (even through the development is inside Draycott-in-the-Moors area, and only borders on Checkley’s area).

Then Mr Wilkinson asked how Draycott Council had responded.
Silence.
It turned out that, though our village council were aware of the application, and its various updates, even discussing the issue a year ago, they had just … forgotten to make a response.
So what we see here is that the neighbouring parish council and a number of local residents had managed to put in official responses, but our own council, whom we depend on, had failed to.

It seems to us that this really is not good enough. Village councils should be there in the front-line, battling away on issues that affect the community, not dozing on the sidelines. Whether they agreed with the Totmonslow proposal or opposed it, their first duty was to make some sort of response. And they failed.
Ad this is not the first time (see Council’s dismal record).
So, again, we would ask Draycott Council to … just please wake up.

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Watching the detectives

According to surveys, the main public issue that bothers small communities like ours is crime. This is quite surprising, as small districts don’t usually suffer a lot of crime.

Moorlands Police logo
Our local Moorlands police are aware of this concern; and put on monthly meet-the-PCSO sessions at both Blythe Bridge and Tean to try to reassure residents.
But they have now gone a step further and last month launched their own Facebook page. It will list traffic reports, news of convictions & arrests, diary dates for consultation events and so on.

In one way, this doesn’t seem like a big contribution to crime-fighting – but it is part of the drive by local police to publicise what they do, in order to make us feel safer.

But, what do you think of this latest move by Moorlands Police? Is it just a gesture, or a useful initiative? Use the comments box on this webpage to express your thoughts.

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Hurrah for the fayre

The final receipts are in for the annual Draycott Fayre, which was held just a few weeks ago. Once all costs are taken out, the fayre raised a handsome £4000-plus for the parish church fund. St Margaret’s is nearly 800 years old, and, without such donations, would simply start to crumble.

In fact, the last annual report for the church tells us that it spent a staggering £50,000 in the twelve-month on maintenance (which admittedly did include major roof repairs). Fortunately, some grants had become available, and there were donations of £12,000 from local well-wishers, but you can see how money can get swallowed up very quickly.
(Surprisingly, this current annual report for the church has not been made available online, even though previous reports have been. A copy is available in the church itself though).

So, if you went to the fayre (see highlights below), you can have the satisfaction of knowing that a great heritage & community asset is safe for another year, thanks to your support…

 

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By the way, an even better series of photos of the day than the ones above has been created by Neil Archibald, and is available online for all to enjoy – check out the Draycott 2019 Fayre Album

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Report blocked paths a new way

Most footpaths in Draycott-in-the-Moors are maintained very well (though there are some problems in Cresswell where overgrown and blocked paths continue to be a long-standing and thorny issue).

It has been very frustrating trying to report problem issues over the last few years. Staffordshire County Council (who are responsible for path maintenance) have set up easy online ways of reporting potholes, flytipping, problems with bins etc – but not an online way to report footpath problems.
Until now.

Near NewHouse track

A blocked footpath

At last, you can report local footpath and bridleway problems on a custiomised webpage, thanks to a newly set-up and simple online process.
Click on Staffs Public Rights Of Way Issues.
Having created your online account, you can also track the issues you have reported (to make sure they do get fixed); and also can see matters reported by others.

Lots more people are walking for health – and our district has plenty of good countryside footpath routes (see some examples by clicking here and here) – so let’s make it as easy as we can for us all to keep walking.

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.
(The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

NEWS: elections day / footpath preserved / new 40mph zone

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early May 2019
In this post we have news of…: double elections, both parish and district, on Thursday / 40mph to come on dual carriageway / Draycott footpath is safe… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including an Exhibition about the Blythe Colour Works…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Voting

This week is Local Elections Week: with all of us going to the polls on Thursday (May 2nd) to elect members for Draycott-in-the-Moors village council and also members for our ward on the Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

Both elections look to be very interesting as each will have a lot of fresh names on the ballot paper (following resignations of some long-time faces). Because of the way the maths of it all works out, a number of these new faces will definitely be elected, come what may.

One thing to remember when casting your votes is that you don’t have to use your maximum allowance (each of us gets seven votes in the parish council elections, and three in the district council elections).
Thus, for the parish-village election, you are entitled to vote seven times – for seven different people. However, by doing that, in this election, you virtually nullify your effort!  (It’s all to do with the maths).
So some experts recommend you don’t use all your votes, but only vote for the candidates you really really support.
You can only vote once for each candidate.

It’s good too to see that most candidates in the village-parish election have taken the campaign seriously, and have delivered ‘manifestoes’ through our letterboxes. It makes it easier for us voters to select candidates.
But, if you live in Draycott Council’s boundary area – of Draycott, Cresswell, Draycott Cross, Totmonslow, Newton, Draycott Waste (i.e. along the Hilderstone Road) – and haven’t had an election manifesto through the door, you can always phone the candidates to get a rundown of what they are promising.

These elections take place this Thursday (May 2nd). The polling station for all of us in this area is Draycott Church Hall, from 7am to 10pm.
There is no election this year for the county council.

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Go slow(er) in Draycott

There is always a silver lining to every storm-cloud, and the project to build a huge new housing estate, the ‘Blythe Fields’ estate, on the fields above Draycott (i.e. behind Chandni Cottage) has produced a couple.

One is that the county Highways Authority are now demanding a 40mph limit on our Draycott bit of dual carriageway – the stretch between Chandni Cottage and the big roundabout. (Up to now it has been a 60mph limit).

A521 : 60 limit speed signs

There is currently a 60mph limit on entering the dual carriageway stretch here – but not for much longer, probably

All the traffic on and off the new estate will have to pull onto that stretch – and there is also going to be a pedestrian crossing there – so a new 40mph limit there would make sense.
Pretty much all residents we spoke to have  welcomed the move.

However, like everything, the proposal is subject to public consultation.
You have until May 29th to make your views known, for or against – click here for details on how to do that (look for ‘A521 Proposal’).

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Footpath ring-fenced

Talking of the Blythe Fields Estate, one thing we were worried about was whether the public footpath over the ridge (it goes from the Izaak Walton, over the A50 footbridge and along & down to Chandni Cottage) would be respected. It is right next to the building works.

But, credit where credit is due, and the developers, St Modwen, have ensured there has been no interference with the footpath, which is now fenced (see pic).Blythe Fields foot path
Incidentally, building work has already started up there, with the construction roads now almost complete (see below).

Some are estimating that houses there could be up by the end of the year, if not earlier.

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If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

Rail-path group back to action

Things have been a bit quiet for the Friends of The Cheadle-Cresswell Railway Path  over the last six months.
The group formed in July last year, and had a good summer, with the volunteers raising funds, clearing some of the undergrowth from the path and doing some path-laying. However there has been no meeting since November.

But, the group’s secretary Oliver Griffiths, says the return of the good weather will see the resurgence of the group. All, says Oliver, that he is waiting for is some permissions from the leaseholder of the path and from some adjacent landowners.
And then meetings will re-start. All are welcome; just keep an eye on the group’s Facebook page for more info.

For those that have forgotten this story, our old branch rail-line, which went from the centre of Cresswell, via Totmonslow, right up to Cheadle, is now mostly a ‘permissive’ public-path/greenway, available to walkers and horse-riders. The path was nominated as such in 2012 – see our archive report.
Nine-tenths of it is open to the public (see article on the other tenth).

Busy route

This line was once a very busy route.

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A local industrial company headed up by a man called Robert Plant was the first to get the project properly underway in the 1880s – in those days, most railways were built by entrepreneur businesses, not by the government.
The idea was to construct a track which would leave the main Uttoxter-Stoke line at Cresswell, swerve north-eastward to Totmonslow where there was a small station, and then go north to Cheadle. It would carry not just passengers, who could then reach Stoke (or Derby) via Cresswell, but also transport freight – coal from the Draycott Cross pits.

Building started in 1888, when the first sod was cut in the April of that year by Edward Plant, Robert’s son. Within just a month a quarter of a mile had been laid, but, with subscriptions coming in slowly, work kept stopping. It wasn’t until four years later that the first section, from Cresswell to Totmonslow, was completed!
Finally, thirteen years after the commencement, the full line to Cheadle was completed.
Less than seventy years later, in 1963, the line closed to passenger traffic, though it did keep open for freight for a while.
The full story of the railway can be read in the Cheadle Branch Line Wikipedia entry.

Railway to greenway

Very few signs that the line once existed are still there. The rail-tracks themselves were lifted five years ago, making the way easier to use for walkers.

However, the old Totmonslow station building remains in the form of a cottage ‘The Ranch’. You can also still see the ruined station platforms at both Cresswell and Totmonslow.
Cresswell Station House was pulled down around the early sixties, but for a while before that, had been rented out as a home.

The local historian for Tean, Ivy Willetts-Brunt, remembers that, in the 1930s, her cousin Jack used to go daily to collect cold fish delivered to Totmonslow Station (by then also known as Tean Station). It was needed for the Tean Fish & Chip Shop!

Thanks to all those who have sent us photos of the old railway line before the tracks were pulled up. But can anyone help us with more information? Rough dates for the photos we have shown would be a start…
Also, some more anecdotes and stories about the use of the line would be good. For example, we were once told that the station house at Cresswell was once rented out to the well-known sixties pop-group The Marauders. Is that really true?
Please use the comments box below….

NEWS: no more buses / new use for barn / local budget talks / sports sponsor

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: Draycott to lose its last bus / 19th century barn to be home / council discusses budget / sports centre gets new sponsor / footpaths survey…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a winter ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Bye bye buses

Plans have already been approved to remove the last bus service from Draycott.
Sadly, cuts to bus-subsidies by the county council mean that the No 12 route (run by D&G Bus, from Stone through Cresswell and Draycott along to Longton), is for the chop, as, without subsidies, it would be no longer viable to run.

Cresswell bus-shelter

Cresswell bus-shelter – soon to be redundant

In a statement to us, D&G confirmed the bad news, saying, “Due to the low numbers of passengers that service 12 carries, it is highly likely that the service will be withdrawn entirely once the funding is taken away on April 1st 2018.”

It’s a sad decline for the district.  Only a few years ago, the Hanley–Uttoxeter Express ran through the village! And now we will be reduced to nothing.

There is still an outside chance something can be worked out before April, and we will be looking to our community leaders on Draycott Council for some ideas. However, the authorities at Stafford would want some really strong or innovative suggestions from our councillors to make them alter their course. Based on recent experience of our councillors, one can’t see that happening…

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Budgeting issues

Draycott councillors also have another big issue on their minds, which should make their next meeting (on January 15th) a tense one.

For years now, the council has been underpaying its clerk (a council clerk is a sort of executive, non-elected administrator to a council). It turns out that the clerk – according to the guidelines laid down – should have been paid for nearly a quarter more hours than she is currently getting.
As you can imagine, this increase in her wages will cause a large hike in the council’s expenditure – and, as the council is funded by us, the taxpayers of Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow, it could mean in turn a large percentage hike in our ‘parish’ council tax.
Alternatively, the councillors could raid the emergency reserves to make up the deficit, or cut some of Draycott’s already thin services…

What will they do?
Decision-time for them is Monday 15th.

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Nineteenth century barn gets new life

At last, planning officers at SMDC have given a decision on the future of the old barn (see pic below) that stands just opposite the Draycott Arms.
A local farmer, George Plant, had put in an application to turn the building (which is pretty run-down now, and was used for hay-storage in the past) into a smart new home.
Well, George has his wish, and has been told he can now go ahead.
Rocks BarnHowever, those in that part of the village who were worried about a ‘loss of character’ may be pleased to learn that the present structure, which goes back to the 1880s, will not be demolished. Part of the planning permission is that builders must retain the walls and the ‘look’ of the old barn.
It will live on…!

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New support for sports centre

Yes, we are going through bad times at the moment in this part of the world: inflation is creeping up, there is a stagnant housing market, and there isn’t much left over at the end of the week to play with.

This is why the recent news that Draycott Sports Centre has attracted a new sponsor is definitely a positive story. In just the last few months the centre has worked out a deal with A-Star Tutoring, a company that provides private teaching to kids of all ages.

The company, which is based in Newcastle under Lyme, believes that sporting ambition is a good match to education prowess. We were told by them: “As educators, we strongly believe that sporting activities have a direct effect on the ways in which individuals perform in the classroom… Students with sporting backgrounds tend to extend their sense of competition within the context of academic subject areas, which encourages them to set high targets for themselves.”

In the near future at Draycott Centre expect to see the likes of tennis tournaments etc bearing the name & logo of A-Star Tutoring.

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Improve our footpaths

Even though we have miles and miles of footpaths in our small district, we have no regular maintenance of them by a recognised volunteer group. So, apart from the little bit that individuals do to care for stiles & destroyed signs and to report blockages, we have to rely on county council ‘rangers’. And the fact is that the environment department has taken a hammering in terms of cuts, so the rangers are doing less and less.

Oak Hill, Totmonslow stile

Near Oak Hill. Some landowners do make an effort to maintain stiles… nice one!

So, our nearest campaigning group, the Leek Ramblers, is urging everyone who loves walking in the countryside to complete the survey currently on offer from the county council – the Staffs Rights Of Way Consultation.
The Ramblers are warning that paths may close unless our voices are heard, so, if, like them, you want to keep the local countryside fully open, you need to complete it.

This consultation was due to have been halted by now but, under pressure, the county has extended the deadline to January 15th.

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NEWS: car fireball / Blythe Vale go-ahead / footpaths concern / baby ballet!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid- November 2017
In this post we have news of…: car in explosion at Draycott Cross / approval for 118 new homes / footpaths consultation / ballet for babies…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including Remembrance Sunday events. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Car in fireball

Details are slowly emerging of the weekend’s horrific car-crash at Draycott Cross.
On Friday evening, two cars collided near to Field’s Farm on Cheadle Road (half a mile up from the Draycott Arms) and, minutes later, one of them started into flames.
Fortunately some other, very courageous motorists at the scene managed to drag the young woman who was driving the car out of the vehicle … but only moments before a sudden fireball explosion.
The young woman, who has not been named yet, has severe injuries to her legs and is being treated in hospital.

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A local well-known couple, Karen & Tony Buckle, were in the other car – luckily, the pair were not injured.  In fact, Tony was one of the brave rescuers who – probably – saved the young women’s life.
A full account of the incident is on the front page of The Stunner newspaper, including a dramatic photograph of the blazing car.

What’s not clear is how the accident occurred.  Although the incident took place not far from a bend, in the darkness of night-time, yet it is a clear stretch of road just there.  Modern cars rarely burst into flame, so the police are also looking into why that happened.

– – –
Disappointment – with result, with council

Many local residents are expressing their disappointment at the result of last week’s SMDC Planning Committee decision over the Blythe Vale housing estate application.  The developers, St Modwen, got the go-ahead they were looking for (with just one vote against), so we can expect work on building the 100+ homes (behind the Chandni Cottage restaurant) to start sometime next year.
It was always going to be a tough proposal to fight, as it had the full recommendation of local planners and is part of a national scheme – both of which facts mean that it would have taken a strong team-effort to have seen it overturned.

However, there is also great disappointment about the role of Draycott parish councillors – who did almost nothing to oppose the application, even though they claimed to be fully supporting the local residents who feared it.
Not only did our own council not even put in a formal comment on the planning-application website (even though distant Checkley Council did!), none of them even turned up to speak against the application at the decision meeting  … A spokesperson later claimed that all seven councillors had busy lives, implying that this made it too hard for even one of them to get there.

The residents of this district have a right to wonder if these people should even be on the council, if their ‘busy lives’ make it too difficult for them to make some effort over what is the biggest thing to happen to Draycott for the past 25 years.  We shall see: elections are due in 2019.

– – –
Footpath maintenance under threat

Draycott & Cresswell are fortunate in having an extensive network of miles of public footpaths.
If one uses local footpaths regularly, the science says you’ll be healthier, happier and more at peace with yourself – great for thinking-time!
However, budget cuts mean that maintenance of our paths network is declining.Footpath fingerpost at CresswellUndergrowth is nearly choking this stile at Cresswell

Staffs County Council, which is responsible for local footpath maintenance, recognises that this problem has now turned into a major issue, and has started a public consultation to see what we all think about the current state of our footpaths & bridleways – and their future. However the county’s proposals are already causing concern; the Staffordshire Area Ramblers has filed comments already, not all favourable.
If you want to take part in the consultation yourself, click here  – you have until December 25th to put in your thoughts.
We wrote up a recent article on our local footpaths – it might give you a few ideas to go on with.

The local Draycott parish council has a special responsibility for monitoring foortpaths in our district; let’s see what response they make.

– – –
Babies get balletic

Finally, this is a sentence we never thought we’d write: “baby ballet is coming to Draycott”…     But, no, not a performance by a troupe of six-month old prima ballerinas, but … some lessons for them!

We are not exactly sure what ‘b-b’ is but babies apparently get quite a kick (or a pirouette?) out of the classes.  Children up to six years can take part.
The classes get under way in January at Draycott Sports Centre.
So, we look forward to a fully staged performance by the pupils in twenty years time!

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The worsening state of our public footpaths

It is now almost two years since we last had a piece on this website about the state of our district’s public footpaths (see Save Our Footpaths).
There are around twenty miles of field-paths and other rights of way in the Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow area; and sad to say, things have hardly got better for them since that last article, and are in fact are now much worse.

It’s bad all over

Since our last article, the Ramblers Association has published the first ever national survey of the state of footpaths (November 2016). They reported thousands of signs missing and not replaced, and it looks like our region (West Midlands) is one of the worst for this.
Across England & Wales, a third of all paths need improvement, and one-tenth of paths are blocked altogether!

Sadly, that story is replicated in Draycott, where even some stiles are impassable, simply being drowned in vegetation or missing. There are even local paths which appear to have been deliberately blocked.
The biggest problem of all (say The Ramblers Association) is that county councils, which are primarily responsible for clearing and maintaining paths, simply aren’t coping. Councils, hits by cuts, say they just don’t have the resources.
And so… the footpath network declines, fewer people use it, and the vicious cycle goes on.

Local walkers have let us have photos of local problems (see the gallery below) – but, even so, not all the local issues have yet been photographed. (If you too have local photos, please email them to us).
Thanks to everyone who has already sent in photos and thoughts about our local footpaths.

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Incidentally, many of these photos were taken before the recent rains, so don’t go thinking that all that vegetation growth is simply because of the wet weather. These photos reflect what is a normal state of affairs.

The most shocking thing is the blocked path up near NewHouse, south-west of Painsley (the path known as Checkley 63). It passes through a copse, and someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it impassable.
But mostly, the problems are lack of maintenance and sheer vandalism.

Good signs

It’s all not bad news.
The county-council did restore a number of fingerposts a few months ago and repair some gates.
It seems some money may be made available for repairs in Draycott, with Brookside earmarked to receive the cash.
And the Cheadle-to-Cresswell Railway-path group has big plans to clear the old rail-track and make it passable for horses as well as walkers.
It’s not much though, compared to the overall decline.

Stopping the rot

How do we stop the rot?
Draycott Area-Parish Council must do more. One of the few direct responsibilities that such area-councils have is to monitor their local footpaths-network… and many small councils do do their bit – but there is little evidence that here in Draycott councillors are doing more than grumble. Action would be nice.
In fact, we were promised a footpath report from them two years ago. But nothing has ever appeared. Let’s see one!
The council’s basic responsibility is to defend our interests in a coherent way, so a little leadership would also help. How about the council creating a sub-group (with volunteer residents) to cope with the issue?

Second: it’s up to us, as individuals. It is quite legal to carry a pair of secateurs with you and snip away at vegetation overhanging paths or stiles. (Only snipping, mind! More than that will require permission).
There is, unfortunately, no local Ramblers branch (the nearest are ones at Stone and Leek), but, if you are keen on saving paths in general, you could join The Ramblers.

Thirdly: we can all report issues. The Ramblers Association is urging us to report path problems through their ‘Pathwatch’ scheme (they will then alert the local authority for you). They’ve even created a mobile-phone app that allows you to report features on the go – straight from your pocket.
And, if you want to keep Draycott Council on their toes, you can also report problems to them.

Landowners have a responsibility too. Farmers who receive Common Agricultural Policy payments should keep to cross-compliance rules, which say that visible public rights of way “must be kept open and accessible”.

But first… let’s have that report from our parish council. It’s well overdue. Then we can really get started on looking after our local footpaths network – a valuable (and free and healthy) public amenity.

See also:  Recommended Walks on Draycott’s footpaths

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

News: Izaak dark / kids sports / fayre success / rail path hope

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-July 2017
In this post we have news of…:  Izaak pub closed again / Cresswell-Totmonslow railway path / Draycott fayre success / local sports camps for kids…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Open-Acoustic/Open-Mic evening. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Izaak closed again

The poor old Izaak Walton pub in Cresswell doesn’t seem to be blessed with the right star-sign. During the last five years there have been six changes of management, and – you guessed it – it has closed again.
Izaak closed 2017Rob & Lucy put in a good shift at the pub for nearly eighteen months – with good wholesome food at reasonable prices – and this popular couple seemed to be making a real go of it.
But the strain seems to have told; and in the middle of last month, they abruptly departed with just a brief sign left on the door (see pic).

The Izaak, which is at least 150 years old, is a real icon of Cresswell and it would be great to think another owner or manager will want to reopen it.
It was quickly put on the market – for £325,000 – and the rumour is that there is already firm interest.
Fingers crossed.

– – –
Rail path support group

Our footpath network in this area is undoubtedly gradually falling into disrepair, but there may be fresh hope for one stretch of it at least.

The old railway branch-line between Cheadle-Totmonslow-Cresswell is now managed by Moorlands & City Railways, who lease the trackway from Network Rail.  They had hoped to restore a rail service on it, but that hope has disappeared; and so they decided in 2013 to open it up for public access, and now a lot of dog-walkers use it.
However, it is in fact still quite a rough track with ballast still lying on it and parts quite overgrown – so horse-riders and bicyclists have given it a miss so far.
(An exit from the path-track is (quite legally) blocked at the Cresswell end; and some walkers would like to request a permissive way put in to allow the path to be fully open at this Cresswell end).

But, a new group, The Friends of The Cheadle-Cresswell Railway, has now been started up, with the aim of seeing the trackway transformed into a more widely usable route. Darryl Worthington from Upper Tean is heading up the project, and he says support is growing for the idea.
The next meeting of the group is at the Anchor pub in Tenford (at the other end of Totmonslow’s Breach Lane) on Thurs 27 July, and all are welcome.

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Sunday best

Yes, the Draycott St Margaret’s Summer Fayre on Sunday last must go down as one of the best-ever.

AWCS Draycott Fayre

American Civil War re-enactors: stars of the fayre

Many more customers through the gates than last year, some spectacular events (truly spectacular!) and almost unbroken sunshine all day – it couldn’t be beaten for a great day out.
The money raised goes toward maintaining the village’s seven hundred year old church, so it’s a worthy cause.
Snake at FayreOne of the most popular side-shows was one that was quite new to the fayre – Christopher Reptiles. Snakes, iguanas, large lizards were all to be seen – and handled! When you’re being asked if you want a huge seven-foot long snake (see pic) crawling round your shoulders, it soon sorts out who are the bravest…

Thanks very much to John Clarke and his vast team of volunteer helpers who put on a fabulous day!
But don’t forget – there is no rest for this team. Work is already underway preparing for next year’s fayre; if you feel you can help, contact the team.

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Summertime sports

Although there has been a lot of sunshine this year (as well as rain, admittedly), the summer is only just beginning for children, who are just now commencing their school holidays.
So… some of our community organisations are laying on stuff for the kids to do.

Draycott Sports Centre is leading the way with a packed series of sports days during August… A huge range of sports – tennis, squash, badminton, hockey, dodgeball, cricket & football – will all be on offer at its day-long ‘camps’. Children from five upwards are invited to sign up (with parents’ permission) but don’t wait around: numbers are limited. Click here for details.
For children who specifically want to improve their tennis, Draycott Centre is offering an intensive day on 22nd July (part of the Great British Tennis weekend) – click here for details.

Meanwhile a new weekly kids’ dance-tuition session is underway at the Quick Quick Slow Studios in Cresswell – styles range from street-dance to ballroom.

Meanwhile, in next-door Blythe Bridge, Leek Town FC is holding its local Street Soccer programme, providing weekly pop-up football sessions for children. The sessions are free of charge, open to any children aged 8-18, and are held at Blythe Bridge Recreation Ground for six Thursdays (7-8pm) from Thursday 26th July.
With luck, once they’ve tried all these, the kids will be just plain tired out.
(Well, maybe…)

– – –
RIP Kath

Sad to say, one of the great ladies of the parish has passed away.  Kath Bostock, of the Totmonslow Bostock family, husband of Bill, has died at the ripe old age of 94.
If you like, you can pay a tribute on this website

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)