Category Archives: footpaths

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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

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.

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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…)

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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)

NEWS: classic car / Rectory Lane / a military hero / “un-singing” / congrats to Bessie

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid April 2017
In this post we have news of…:  the classic car that belonged to a Wildblood / cleaning up Rectory Lane / a session for those that can’t sing / congrats to our oldest & grandest lady / our World War One hero…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a St. George’s Day Ball – c
heck out the Events page).
For daily updates about life in our district, check the village Facebook page.
To receive an email each time there is a new post on this site, click the
Follow button (see right)

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A Jaguar on Cresswell’s roads

Lots of us would love to own a classic car, especially a Jaguar, though our chances of that are pretty slim! However, the dream has come true for Douglas Taylor, who wrote to us to say he has just acquired a Jaguar XK 140 FHC (see photos, below).

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However, the main reason it is of interest to us here in Draycott-in-the-Moors is that the car was once owned by Frederick William Rhead Wildblood (who is recorded as having bought the car, new, in 1957, from Byatts of Fenton).
The Wildbloods are famous as the family who owned the Blythe Colour Works in Cresswell right up until 1963 (when they sold it to Johnson-Matthey); and they also owned Draycott Lodge, the big house in Cresswell Lane.

Mr Taylor is a real enthusiast & collector of classic cars, which means that he doesn’t just want to own such motors, he wants to find out their history.  As he told us, “… it brings them to life, so to speak”.
So, he’s asking – does anyone know anything else about the car?  Where did Frederick live in the late 50s?  What was Frederick’s position within the company? What happened to the car later? Mr Taylor would also love to see any old photographs of the car if any are around.

So… over to you.  If you have any information please email us, and we’ll pass it on to Mr Taylor.

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A military hero from Draycott

Sticking for the moment with history (and appeals for photographs), it’s really fascinating to hear that the Blythe Bridge & Surrounding Districts History Society (which also covers Draycott) has turned up a mention of a Draycott man who was also a Great War military hero.

Lev Wood, the society’s secretary, did the research; and he came across a reference, in the Evening Sentinel of 1918, regarding a Major Bernard Joseph Moore of the Grange in Draycott, a soldier who it says was awarded the Military Medal.  (The Grange is in Cheadle Road, just a few yards up from the Draycott Arms).
Though Major Moore survived the war, he suffered from having been badly gassed.

Our major was born in 1889 to Bernard Moore and Mary Frances Dawes, and, following the war, in 1920, he married Helen Clive. He died in 1963, then living at New Inn Lane in Trentham.

Over to you again: Lev wonders if anyone knows any more about him, and might even have a picture of him.  If you have any information please email us

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Can’t sing?  Will sing!

If you ever pass the Church Hall, just up from St Margaret’s Church on Wednesdays, you may have heard an odd sound coming from within.  It’s the sound of singers who can’t sing.

Draycott in the Moors Church Hall

Draycott Church Hall – open for use by the community…

Yes, Steven Booth, a member of the Cheadle U3A, leads a group which meets then at the Church Hall, and he calls his session ‘Singing For The Untuned’!
Steven says: “We have fun, a laugh and tea & biscuits.  People who come along can mime or can just let it all out; there is no expectation.  We sing to printed lyrics – using background music and words.  However… no actual reading of music is allowed, nor is any singing in tune: hence the name!”
Steven is not crazy though; he just believes that using your voice – even if it sounds to others like you are just making a noise – is very therapeutic … and fun.  And no one is allowed to be embarrassed, which is even better.

If you fancy going along to have a look and a try, you will be very welcome.  The first session you attend is free (any questions, just ring 01782 392972).
The next dates are 26th April, 10th and 24th May, and the sessions run from 10am to 11.30ish.
It sounds quite a laugh!

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Rust on the remove

Earlier this month we reported on the fact that Church Lane, the main track up to St Margaret’s Church, was just a mess of potholes and axle-bending bumps. The local Draycott area Council looked into solving the problem but had to basically admit it was too big an issue for them to handle.

Well, now our same local council has been tasked with solving issues on the other approach to the church also.
The footpath/track up to the church from its eastern side is known as Rectory Lane (it leads down to Cheadle Rd), and apparently there have been complaints about some old and rusting vehicles that have been left standing in the lane.

Rectory Lane, Draycott
The council has taken up the issue – and is asking the owner of the vehicles to remove them.  Let’s see if anything happens…

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Congratulations Bessie!

And finally, last but never least, a belated happy birthday to the parish’s oldest resident, the grandest of grand old ladies, Bessie Hammond, who turned 104 last month.  It’s amazing to think that she was born before the First World War even started.

Bessie HammondHer daughter Susan told us that Bessie (pic, right) did give friends and family a bit of a fright on Christmas Day when she had to go into hospital, but she then came back safely to St Margaret’s Court where she lives, so all’s well that ends well.

If you don’t know of Bessie’s long and amazing story, click here for a bit of an insight.

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Save our footpaths and stiles!

This is the time of year when the state of the public footpaths and stiles and footbridges in the Draycott area tends to go into decline.  With fewer people walking the fields because of the cold weather, stiles get overgrown; and some rogue land-owners now think they have more chance to block paths without it being noticed.
So – how are the paths doing in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow?   The answer is: not good.

Parish responsibility

One of the few issues that parish councils are encouraged to take a positive and specific interest in is their local network of footpaths.
In fact, we were promised a footpath report from Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council during the summer, but it has never yet come to the table…
Yet, many parish councils, however small they may be, do make the effort.  In next-door Milwich Parish, the parish council has fostered their Footpath Maintenance Volunteers, and a full footpath survey has been undertaken there.  The Milwich volunteers get training; and then go out and fix what issues they can.

Wouldn’t it be great if Draycott Parish Council made the same efforts?

Problems

The problems in this parish area are very many.
The number of overgrown stiles is bad enough (see photo gallery below), but some paths have been deliberately blocked: the most notorious is the obstruction placed on the path known as Checkley 63, south-west of the old Paynsley Hall.   It’s impossible for a dog to get through here, let alone a walker.

The other way that vandals or rogue land-owners make life difficult for walkers is by simply removing signs. Outside Blythe Cricket Club in Cresswell, the fingerpost was simply chopped down; while, south of Paynsley Hall Farm a few years ago, a whole metal kissing-gate was removed… no more to be seen… as well as some wooden stiles with their official footpath signs.  Although this incident was reported to the parish council, it seems never to have been reported to the police.

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And some paths have just been allowed to become obscured over time.  The strangest occurrence of this is the path over the old railway line in Lower Newton.   One can see the next stile just down the embankment – but the trees and shrubs growth make it virtually impossible to get to it, or even see which way the path runs!

Fortunately however, some particular paths do seem to get care.  Although Jacob’s Ladder (on Cheadle Road near Brookside) gets regularly overgrown, someone is clearing it regularly too, which is good news.  And many land-owners, yes, do take their duties seriously, there is no doubt.

Some parish councils often arrange for the clearing of paths that have been overgrown, working with the land-owner’s consent.  Winter is the best time, as then one does not interfere with nesting birds (the nesting period is roughly March 1st to 31st July).  Local Ramblers groups can help with legal guidance.

What can be done?

The ultimate responsibility for maintenance of public field-paths and rights of way is with Staffordshire County Council – but cuts have meant they simply don’t have the capacity to respond.  (This is why parish councils are more and more being asked to take on the responsibility, in partnership).
And a walker is allowed to cut back vegetation, but ONLY enough to get through.  More than that, and one should report a problem.   (See Advice to Walkers)

So – the easiest way to report a problem on a footpath is to report it to Draycott Parish Council, quoting the Ordnance Survey map reference number if possible, who will then pass it on to SCC.
However, you can also report a problem direct to SCC – using their online Report-A-Problem page.     The genius of this page is that it hosts an online map of all footpaths in the county – to help you identify the name of the footpath on which you saw the problem.

But… if you really want to take the matter seriously, you could also contribute to the current Ramblers Society campaign, which is called The Big Pathwatch.  During these present months, the Ramblers are asking walkers to pick a square kilometre of our countryside and highlight any path problems you encounter there.
You don’t have to be trained, or a member of The Ramblers; and it doesn’t matter how many square kilometres you pick. After all, it should be fun to do, as well as a matter of serious note-taking!
Sadly, the Ramblers tell us that no-one is working in Draycott parish, though volunteers are already surveying paths in next-door Hilderstone, Forsbrook and Blythe Bridge – so… at least you have a free choice in this parish!
To see more about The Big Pathwatch, click here

What you can do right now

Well, wouldn’t be great if our local field-paths could be preserved for future generations?  We’ve lost a few – even in recent years – so we should not be complacent.

If you are concerned, the thing you can do right now is write to a local Draycott parish councillor and ask them to ensure a council footpath-monitoring sub-committee is set up.   It would certainly be a start.

[See also: Land-Owners’ Responsibilities]

See also:  Walks on Draycott’s footpaths

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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: Consultation / winners / solar open / footpath feud

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early August 2015
News of…:  confusion over consultation process, raffle winners, solar farm news, upset at footpath  …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a fund-raising barbecue. Check out the Events page)

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Confusing consultation

The consultation over Staffordshire Moorlands Council’s Local Plan (the allocation of sites for housing across the district) is now well under way.  As we all know, Draycott must find sites for 25 new homes before 2031.
What’s more, the organisers of this Plan are also asking us to suggest more possible places for future gypsy sites and open-space/play areas… with the old Cresswell Station car-park already being looked at as a possible site for travellers.

To be honest, we have found the documents very confusing, and we just don’t understand some of the jargon in them!  So we went along to the ‘consultation session’ last week in Blythe Bridge, but, really, it was all a bit chaotic.  The experts on hand were a bit overwhelmed, and it was hard to get to them to ask questions.

Staffordshire Moorlands Council’s Local Plan Consultation session

There were lots of people who turned up at the consultation session ..  You may even  recognise a couple of local characters too!

So… we are publicly asking Draycott Parish Council for a bit of leadership on this one.  Would some member of the council mind stepping forward and sending this website a letter or email spelling out what it all means for Draycott, and what they think are the options?  The council doesn’t actually meet again now until a date that is well after the end of the SMDC consultation process, so we can’t just wait for that meeting.
How about it, Draycott PC?

In the meantime, if you are one of the fortunate ones who actually understand the documents (well done to you!!), you need to get your feedback in to SMDC by September 14th.  To do that, click on the SMDC Site Allocations page and then go right to the bottom of that webpage, and click on ‘Site Options Consultation-Response Form’.

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Footpath feuding

Talking of Draycott Parish Council, it’s a bit unnerving to read in the council’s latest reports (go to PC Reports, and click on ‘June’) that there was a bit of an altercation on a public footpath near Painsley Hall Farm in Cresswell, when two ladies were shouted at.
It seems someone thought they were trespassing (the ladies say they were definitely on the footpath).

The trouble round that particular area is that some vandals tore down the footpath signs some years ago, so the footpath route is not clear to everybody.  The message is, as usual, to all sides: be tolerant, and try to get your facts straight.

If you have had issues about local footpaths, the parish council is responsible for monitoring them, so please contact the council if you too have had problems.  Or list them on the Draycott Facebook page!

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Once bitten…

There have been some pretty aggressive horseflies this year, and lots of horse owners have had to provide their animals with protective coats, even masks.

Anti-horseflies coat

This photo of a horse in Cresswell, with coat, was sent to us by a reader. Thank you!

Not only horses get bitten either. A horsefly bite can cause a nasty swelling on a child’s arm…

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Free fishing!

Many of us will know Andy Bird, who lives not far from Draycott Church.  Andy is a leading member of the Fenton & District Angling Club, which operates some the nearest fishing pools to Draycott (you may have seen Andy and mates at their stall at the Draycott Fayre).

Fenton & District Angling Club stall

Andy Maskery, Stan Irles, Jane Maskery and Andy Bird – at the fayre Angling Club stall

Well, Andy asked us to mention that the club is having open days this Saturday and Sunday (August 8th & 9th) at its pools at Dilhorne, when angling spots will be free of charge to all-comers.  Youngsters are particularly welcome, and free coaching sessions will be taking place.  Click here for details.

It’s not clear if the Creda Redhouse Angling Club (which runs the pool by the Bird In Hand at the other end of Cresswell) is also taking part in this initiative.  We couldn’t see anything on their Facebook page.

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Solar Farm tour

We’ve heard now from quite a few people who attended the Open Day tours a week ago at the Lower Newton Solar Farm in Totmonslow – and they all said what an eye-opener it was.
The project is managed at the moment by Novus Energy, and it was the Novus boss, Ed Jessamine, who conducted folk around the site personally.  He was happy to answer any question thrown at him, and some were very, very pointed!  So, it’s good to see he could be so open.
Pretty much, he satisfied nearly all of us that solar energy was a good thing, and the way forward, if this planet is to overcome the worst effects of climate change.

However, he did say that Novus, having set up the whole thing and got it running (the site has been operational now for six months) are now looking for a buyer for the complex.  (Novus’s expertise is in start-up, not long-term management).  Ed said a new owner should be in place by October.
He added that any new owner would have to commit to providing a ‘community fund’, which makes cash available for local projects in this parish.

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Are you a winner?

Finally, thanks to Nola Ward, who organised the raffle at Draycott Fayre, and who recently published the results of it.
There were nearly thirty pretty outstanding prizes on offer; and it’s great to see that many of these were offered by local businesses, including Huntley Wood, Draycott Nurseries, the Sultan Restaurant, the Draycott Arms, and Draycott Sports Centre too. Click here to see the list of winners (opens as a WORD document).
The first-prize winner was Alan Harper, who won the ‘wilderness tour’. Hmm.  Let’s hope he makes it back from that!

The other significant prize of the day was the chainsaw carving of an owl, made by by artist Anthony Hammond on the day itself.   It was won by Finley Edwards, a local boy.  Apparently he is “chuffed to bits” and wants to keep it in his bedroom!

It’s also good to see that another photo-gallery reflecting the day of the fayre has been published.  Click here to see the photos.

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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).