Category Archives: heritage

Memorial (4) – Joyce Atkin

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

But neither the rector nor the church wardens of the time left any record identifying who these servicemen & women were… so we started a project to find out somethign about them.
Having already identified those who died in WW1, we have finally identified in this year, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, who the four men and one woman from 1939-45 are.
Week by week, up to VJ Day in mid-August, we’ll be publishing their stories. Fourth: Joyce Atkin.
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Joyce Atkin (not Atkins) was a nurse, and is the only woman on the Draycott memorial.

She was on a troopship, part of an Allied convoy sailing from East Africa to southern India in February 1944, when her ship, the SS Khedive Ismail, was attacked and sunk by an enemy submarine. The ship went down almost immediately, with a terrible death toll – only some 200 people survived, less than one-eighth of those on board. It was Britain’s third worst mercantile disaster in the Second World War.
She was just 28 years old.

Brookwood Military Cemetery

Joyce’s official stone is at Brookwood in Surrey

The role of women who die on active service in war is often overlooked by those who construct war memorials, so it is to the credit of the Draycott memorial committee that they ensured Joyce’s name would be there too.

Bromley Wood

Joyce was born to a farming family in the spot known as Bromley Wood, which is halfway between Cresswell and Hilderstone. Her parents Sidney and Annie had married in Uttoxeter in 1913, and she was born two years later.
(Sidney and family later moved a few miles to nearby Morrilow Moor Farm; he died in 1957).

Leigh Church War memorial

We think Joyce worshipped at Leigh village church as a girl

Joyce seems to have had an adventurous spirit, as, in 1936 at the age of 21, having left Bromley Wood Farm and her parents and three brothers, she enrolled at the Colindale School of Nursing in north London.
Qualifying in 1941, at some point she joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and later took on war duty, in the course of which she met her tragic death.

Shock

The incident in which Joyce died brought home to the British public just how involved women had become in the frontline effort in the last years of World War Two.
More than eighty service-women, including medical staff, died in the attack on the ship – and this turned out to be the highest ever death-number of British female military personnel in one single attack.

An extra tragedy in this event was that, although the ship that Joyce was on had already been sunk, the other ships in the convoy were still of course just as much at threat from the enemy submarine; and so two warships in the convoy immediately went after it. The depth charges these warships used against the submarine may well have injured or killed some of the survivors of the SS Khedive Ismail who were still in the water. It was one of those terrible dilemmas of war.
The submarine was eventually forced to surface, when it was destroyed by the warships’ torpedoes.

The news came as a terrible shock to the nation – so much so that the incident became the basis of an incident in The Cruel Sea, a best-selling book by Nicholas Monserrat (which was later adapted into a film of the same name).
Since then the full historical account has been written up in the book Passage to Destiny’  by Brian Crabb.

Remembrance

Though Joyce’s body was never found, she does have an official war-marker. You will find her memorial stone at the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.

Interestingly, Joyce, as well as being remembered at Brookwood and at Draycott, is also remembered on the war memorial in Leigh village (near Tean). The parish of Leigh is adjacent to the parish of Draycott.

Joyce Atkin's name on Leigh War memorial

Joyce Atkin’s name is also on Leigh War memorial

It is not unusual for someone to be on more than one war memorial: most village war memorials were erected, not by the local authority, but by local people, who would nominate any war-dead who had been born or lived in and around the district. Joyce had lived on the ‘border’ between Leigh and Draycott.

With thanks to Bill Pearson and David B Atkin for researching the records.

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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Joyce’s service number was 270574

For the stories of all the other service-people whose names are on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

Memorial (3) – Paul Dobson

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

But neither the rector nor the church wardens of the time left any record identifying who these servicemen & women were… so we started a project to find out somethign about them.
Having already identified those who died in WW1, we have finally identified in this year, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, who the four men and one woman from 1939-45 are.
Week by week, up to VJ Day in mid-August, we’ll be publishing their stories. Third: Paul Thomas Dobson.
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The story of how Paul Thomas Dobson comes to be on the Draycott War Memorial is also the story of his cousin, Barbara Dobson (married name Black).

On Armistice Sunday, Barbara, who was a standard bearer for the Royal British Legion in the 1970s, did not go straight to the main RBL Remembrance procession – which, in our district, is held in Blythe Bridge.
No, she went up to Draycott Church, in uniform (she had been in the ATS in the war), and paid her respects there first… to her cousin “our Paul”. And she did this faithfully each year as long as she was able; she died in 1997.
And… it is possibly because of Barbara that Paul Dobson is on the Draycott memorial at all…

Parachute Regiment

We still know very little of Paul Dobson’s life and death, though his father and brother are recorded as living in Cheadle in 1939, which was the year that war broke out; Paul was just 14.

He probably joined up soon after turning eighteen, in 1943, and the next we come across him is in the March of 1945, the last year of the war, as the huge armies of the Allies move across Europe, slowly pushing back the enemy forces, fighting every inch of the way, making the final assault on Nazi Germany.

Paul is a young sapper in the Royal Engineers, attached to the Airborne (Parachute) Regiment. He is now just 19 years old – and has been thrown into this absolute maelstrom of conflict.

His was a short war. It seems he was killed parachuting into Germany as part of a forward operation during Operation Plunder.  Operation Plunder was the (successful) attempt to cross the River Rhine under the overall command of General Montgomery.

Reichswald Cemetery

Reichswald Cemetery, where Paul is buried

Paul is now buried not far from where he died, in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, the largest war-graves cemetery in western Germany.

Draycott Memorial

One little mystery is: why is Paul on the Draycott Memorial? He never lived in the parish, and his name was already on the Cheadle Memorial; and he was most likely born in Cheadle.
However, when the memorial at Draycott was erected in the 1960s, his cousin Barbara Black happened to be living here, at Draycott in the Moors (in Cresswell), with her husband Robert Black.

So … could it be that Barbara heard of the project to erect a plaque in Draycott, and pleaded for Paul’s name to be listed on there? She seems to have been very proud of her cousin. Also her father (and Paul’s uncle) Harold Dobson, who had died in 1960, was already buried at St Margaret’s.

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This story is quite possible. You didn’t always have to have been living in the parish or even born in the parish to have your name on its memorial; you only had to have a family ‘association with the parish’.
Anyway, we like to think it is because of Barbara that Paul is on the plaque.  And to think of Barbara going on her own to the plaque to remember him each year – because she was responsible for him being on the plaque – is a touching image.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records
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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Paul’s service number was Sapper 14429264

For the stories of all the other service-people on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

Memorial (2) – Lawrence Cyples

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

But neither the rector nor the church wardens of the time left any record identifying who these servicemen & women were… so we started a project to find out somethign about them.
Having already identified those who died in WW1, we have finally identified in this year, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, who the four men and one woman from 1939-45 are.
Week by week, up to VJ Day in mid-August, we’ll be publishing their stories. Second: Lawrence Cyples (sometimes spelt Laurence).
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Lawrence Cyples went to war in 1940, leaving the family home in Draycott. But, within just a few months, he was destined to die, five hundred miles away.

Cyples grave in St Georges , Oleron Cemetery - courtesy B Crabb

Lawrence Cyples grave – courtesy B Crabb

His body is interred in a tiny cemetery near the village of St Georges on the island of Oleron, just off the west coast of France in the Bay of Biscay. Here, kindly villagers rescued and buried his body when it was washed up on their shore. Lawrence is one of twelve British servicemen buried there.

He died after one of the most devastating attacks on British shipping in the whole war – the disaster of the SS Lancastria.

BEF

Lawrence (sometimes identified as Laurence) was born into a potter’s family in 1906, in Forsbrook, the next village along from Draycott. By the time of the 1911 census, his family had moved to Stallington, the other side of Blythe Bridge.
In 1930, Lawrence married Violet Evans and they had a son in the next year. They then settled at The Rocks, a house opposite the Draycott Arms.

However, in 1940, at the relatively late age of 35, Laurence was called on to take part in the British Expeditionary Force campaign’s to stop the German advance into France; this was the first major encounter between the British and the Germans in World War Two. Lawrence was a sergeant in the RASC.

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Retreat

The BEF were simply unprepared for the speed & ferocity of the German onslaught, and, in May of that same year, the troops had to retreat quickly, with many of its soldiers heading, famously, to Dunkirk, where a fleet of small ships had to hurriedly ferry them back to England.

The remaining British soldiers in France, including Lawrence, were still in trouble, cut off by the speeding German advance, and had to head for the other, west side of France, and to the port of St Nazaire, where they hoped for transport home.

Lancastria

So it was that, a month after Dunkirk, the SS Lancastria, a converted cruise ship pressed into Navy service, arrived off St Nazaire to pick them up … eventually squeezing Lawrence and at least five thousand other personnel aboard a ship meant only to carry two thousand.
However, by now the German air force was already in the skies above western France – and the Lancastria was simply not able to get underway fast enough. The ship was bombed – a direct strike down its funnel – and sunk in minutes, taking virtually all on board down with it.
It was to be the largest single loss of life to British forces in the whole of World War Two. A full account of the incident is written up in Brian Crabb’s book The Forgotten Tragedy.

The news of the Lancastria’s terrible death toll, coming so soon after the complete retreat from the European mainland, was felt by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to be more than the British public could cope with: so he had the news suppressed.
(The account was only eventually released five weeks later).

The lost lives are still commemorated by the few who remember; in fact, an 80th anniversary service was due to have taken place this year, only to be called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Violet

It’s not known whether Lawrence’s wife Violet was ever able to visit her husband’s grave on the island in the Bay of Biscay after the war. Probably not; people didn’t have the money to travel abroad in those days.
Eventually, more than a decade after her husband’s death, she married again, to Leonard Ridge, a neighbour. The wedding was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Cresswell.
Violet lived to a great age, and is now buried in the graveyard at the same church.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records
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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Lawrence’s service number was 5041642

Memorial – Bede Vavasour

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

But neither the rector nor the church wardens of the time left any record identifying who these servicemen & women were… so we started a project to find out somethign about them.
Having already identified those who died in WW1, we have finally identified in this year, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, who the four men and one woman from 1939-45 are.
Week by week, up to VJ Day in mid-August, we’ll be publishing their stories. First: Bede Vavasour.
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Bede Vavasour wasn’t even twenty years old when he died in 1942, serving in the RAF Volunteer Reserve Squadron 12 (part of Bomber Command). He was the navigator on a training flight, part of preparation toward becoming a full bomber-crew member, when the plane he was on went out of control and crashed. He and three other airmen died in the incident.
He never even lived long enough to see active service.

Bede Vavasour gravestone at CresswellHis body was brought back to Draycott, where the family lived, and he was buried in the small graveyard at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Cresswell, where his official Commonwealth-War-Graves stone (right) is cared for to this day.

The Vavasours

Bede came from Draycott’s leading family. The Vavasours were the most distinguished family in the district in the early twentieth century, owning land and wielding much influence.
In fact, the family could be traced back three centuries, to the Vavasour Baronetcy of Yorkshire; in 1848, Bede’s own grandfather, Oswald Hugh, was born at Hazelwood Castle, the family seat.
By a slightly complicated procedure, the Vavasours had merged, some years before Bede’s birth, with the Stourtons, who had been the main ‘gentry’ hereabouts in the 19th century, and thus the Vavasours had come to own lands in Draycott.
This is why Bede’s full name is Bede Joseph Stourton Vavasour.

The Vavasour family story took a twist when, by chance (?), the famous potter Bernard Moore came to live in Draycott in the 1890s. He and his family lived in great comfort in the twelve rooms at The Grange, the very large house which is still there on Cheadle Road.
Here, Bernard’s daughter Dorothy came across the Vavasours.

In 1915, Dorothy married Oswald Joseph Vavasour, who by then had settled in Canada, and there they had a child – Bede. The family returned to Draycott sometime in the next few years; they were definitely back in 1928.

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They made a home for themselves at Draycott Cottage, not far from The Grange. Dorothy was still living there when she died in 1952 – though, by this time, the Vavasour money and influence had waned.

Mr Hugh Vavasour 1976Bede’s father Oswald lived until 1973, in a house in Cresswell Old Road.
Bede’s brother, Hugh Bernard (right), who also served in the war, in the Royal Artillery, went on to work as sales director for Blythe Colours; he died in 1990.

RAF

We haven’t found out yet when Bede joined the RAF, but it’s likely he finished his education (at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire) before joining up – the RAF reserve did not accept recruits until they were aged 18.

The fatal flight took place on 12th June 1942.
The crew flew a Vickers Wellington out of Chipping Warden in Oxfordshire only for the plane’s wings to ice up. (Though it was summer, temperatures at high altitude can get to below freezing). The plane plummeted down over Chipping Norton – with no survivors.
Bede’s body was brought back to his home village.

The Vavasours were strong Catholics, which is why Bede is buried at St Mary’s RC Church in Cresswell.
Each year, Bede’s sacrifice is remembered at the church on Armistice Sunday, when the parish priest, accompanied by the congregation, carries out a ‘blessing of the grave’.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records
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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Bede’s service number was 117114

For the stories of all the other service-people on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

NEWS: scarecrows / speeding / homes for sale / Old Lane restored

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid May 2020
In this post we have news of…: scarecrow happiness / speeding on empty roads / historic homes for sale / Cresswell Old Lane is back!

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Scarecrow togetherness

Congratulations are due all round for the wonderful Draycott-in-the-Moors Scarecrow Festival  that took place across Draycott & Cresswell on the bank holiday weekend this month.
Nearly fifty households took part and there were some stunningly inventive and very humorous creations! Most importantly though, it brought people together.

Three people should be singled out though.
Chief among them is the main festival organiser Kate Bradshaw, who was tireless, despite the fact that she has plenty of other responsibilities.
Also, Helen Bickerton, who heads up the team at our local community-library centre at Blythe, deserves praise for stumping up the prizes, and taking part in a long day of judging.
And also Lee Warburton. Lee is basically the main man behind the village Facebook page, which has been so vital a lifeline during this current crisis, and it was he who collated the photo album of the festival. If you haven’t seen the album, click here and check out the brilliant entries.

Draycott Scarecrow 2020 First prize to Norman and Nella at 95 Uttoxeter Road

Scarecrow 2020 first prize to Norman and Nella on Uttoxeter Road

It’s not a coincidence that it is these same three individuals who have also pulled together the local Coronavirus volunteer support groups which have been working across the district to make sure no one who asks for help goes unaided.
Yes, each team’s individual volunteer plays their part and we shouldn’t forget that, but a big debt of gratitude is owed to these three in particular.
If they don’t each get a Certificate Of Thanks from the village council at the end of this year, then there’s no justice in this world.

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Speed-crow

One scarecrow in the festival was about more than just fun, it was making an important point.
The empty roads of the last two months have, unfortunately, encouraged some complete idiots to treat some our long stretches as racetracks. Two long straight runs, one along Uttoxeter Road from Blythe roundabout and the one to the railway crossing in Cresswell, are both 40mph limits, but sometimes you wouldn’t have believed it.

This clever scarecrow (pic right) on Cresswell’s Sandon Road, with its silver foil speed-gun and frowning face, didn’t fool anybody of course, but let’s hope it made the idiots think, at least for a second.

In the meantime, we are still waiting for the two speed-warning signs which should have been up in Draycott by now. Nearly eighteen months ago, the village council were given £5000 by the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership to purchase and erect them – but the project only limps along.

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Historic homes for sale

The recent easing of the restrictions on the property market means that three of our most interesting and historic homes are now properly back up for sale.

First: the old School House in Cresswell, which is so called because the Catholic church in the village maintained a small primary school on the site for many years.
Second:  Totmonslow Farm Cottage (seen from the back, right), which would once have belonged to the farm estate, but now it is separate.

Totmonslow Farm Cottage from the back

Totmonslow Farm Cottage, from the back

And then there is the 200 year-old Izaak Walton pub in Cresswell. It has been ‘dark’ for some time now, so it was no surprise when the brewery-owners sold it last year.
However the individual who bought it managed to get planning permission to re-develop it (with support from the village council) as a family home – which was a surprise, as it is Cresswell’s only ‘community asset’.
However, again, it is now back on the market, and goes to auction on June 1st.

Incidentally, it is hoped that the memorabilia from the Izaak (regulars will remember the old photos that used to line the walls, the old fish-figure weather-vane etc etc) might be saved for the village. The clerk of the village council, Denise Wheat, is on to the job – good luck Denise.

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Cresswell gets it right

Finally, the long-running saga of the road-sign on Cresswell Old Lane is over.
Some eight years ago, a keen-eyed resident noticed that the eastern half of Cresswell Old Lane was wrongly called ‘Cresswell Old Road, not just on Google Maps, but even on one of the official road-signs. And so he reported it to the authorities.
The details of this long-running saga to get the name corrected have been tiring and frustrating (even if a bit humorous at times!), but at last the sign has been corrected.

Cresswell Old Lane sign – right at last!

But… safe to say that the residents of Cresswell Old Lane can sleep sound in their beds at last, knowing that they are now definitely living in the road that they are supposed to be living in…

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Venting Draycott’s poisonous gases

If you’ve ever walked along Draycott Old Road, you’ll have noticed some odd little green metal posts. They used to be incredibly important – but they are redundant these days.
They are (were) sewer vents; and poisonous gases once issued from them.

Adams sewer-vent in Draycott Old Road

Adams sewer-vent in Draycott Old Road

Back in the day, the local council and/or water board was responsible for ‘venting’, ie clearing, sewers. In Draycott, in those days, the authority was The Staffordshire Potteries Water Board, but the Cheadle Rural Council would also have had a role to play. It was down to them to ensure that gases did not build up in sewers.
(Nowadays, it is the responsibility of householders. This is why we all now have tall waste-pipes on the outside of our houses – from which noxious gases can escape at the top).

By contrast, rainwater goes down a different system, usually to an underground stream.

As tall as lampposts

Problems with gases were especially worrisome in housing areas where the lie of the land rose into a hump. At such a high point, rising gases could accumulate in the sewers under the road, presenting possible danger. Methane gas (though non-toxic) is especially flammable.

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The housing along Draycott Old Road is on a hump – and that is why vents were needed there.

Vent at Styal Industrial Museum

Vent at Styal Industrial Museum

When vents were first installed, they were much higher – as tall as lampposts – and the gases would emerge from the openings at the top, and blow away in the wind harmlessly.

If you go to the Styal Mill industrial museum near to Manchester, then you may see two examples of the full thing, one restored (see pic, right), the other not.

The vents in Dryacott are thought to have been in use until the 1950s.
Older people in the village remember that the top sections were eventually sawn off in the early 1980s, and then the vents capped with concrete (for safety reasons).
The one at the top of Stuart Avenue was cut down in the mid-1980s.

More research to do

The puzzles are of course: why weren’t they cut to the base when they were finally decommissioned?; and why does Draycott have a few left standing when they are very rare elsewhere?

But they are not without interest still. Down the sides of the vents is the name of the maker – Adams.
This can either be the famous Adams & Son family firm of potters which had a 200-year history in north Staffordshire before the family finally sold up (to Wegwood) in 1966.
Or, more likely, it could relate to the equally famous Brittain & Adams plumbing company which was founded in 1833 in Tunstall, but sadly went bust in 2018.
Historians researching old sewage systems occasionally come by…

Finally, let’s hope the vents are left alone to slumber in peace. If nothing else, they are a reminder of our recent past, when Draycott was a different place.

[Thanks to Matt Pointon and GP for input & help on this article.]

We have tried hard in this article to be accurate, but if think corrections or amendments are needed, please email us with your thoughts.

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NEWS: election / lane re-surface / Colours 150th / squash

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid December 2019
In this post we have news of…: the election candidates / Church Lane – repaired! / Blythe Colours 150th anniversary / Draycott to be squash centre (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a community carols service …  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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Candidates’ lack of interest

Everybody keeps rushing around saying this is one of the most exciting elections ever… but not, it seems, in our constituency (‘Stone, Cheadle & Madeley’). It is so dull round here, that the BBC’s news-page for our constituency lists… no updates at all!

As for the candidates, well, sigh. Most of them can’t even be bothered to write up their official webpages.
The Conservative candidate hasn’t bothered to write up his official webpage at all (!) ;
The Green candidate has at least listed his name on his… but nothing else  ;
The Labour candidate  has put up a thumbnail biog, but no manifesto (and it’s one month out of date anyway) ;
So well done to the only candidate who bothered to put up a manifesto on his official webpage – the Liberal Democrat.

Thus … what do we really know? We know the oldest candidate is the Conservative, at 79, and the youngest is the Lib Dem; the Lib Dem and the Green actually live in the constituency; and that the Conservative is the sitting MP, while the rest are all local councillors.

person dropping paper on box

So, thank goodness for the local press! Without them, we’d know very little indeed. Check out the constituency hyper-local news website for profile-statements by all the candidates.
And the only time candidates seemed prepared to answer the tough questions ‘live’ was in a video-stream recorded on December 3rd, which is still available to view online. (The candidates did have to deal with one very tricky question, about the local badger-TB cull, which is worth checking out).
Actually, this video is also worth watching if you are still undecided who (or what) to vote for, as it’s probably the only time in this election you’ll get to see all four candidates in action.

All in all, you’d have hoped our candidates would have put on a better show if they wanted our votes. Bit depressing.

However, yes, we know, it’s a citizen’s duty to vote…
Voting actually takes place this week – on Thursday (12th) between 7am and 10pm at Draycott Church Hall.

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St Modwen do a Saint Nick

It’s not often a major developer plays Santa Claus, but that is exactly what is happening in Draycott.
St Modwen Homes, which is building the Blythe Vale estate at the eastern end of the village, have decided to send their chaps along to have them repair the road leading up to St Margaret’s Church. And it needs repair a good deal; in fact Church Lane is so full of potholes that it resembles the surface of the moon, and some undertakers have, more than once, threatened not even to take hearses up it!

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors – before….

And how come this Christmassy warm gesture???
Well, we owe a lot of it to our county councillor, Mark Deavillmark deavillee, (see pic right) who, in his own words “made a “cheeky request… but if you don’t ask, you don’t get!”
As we all know, contractors working for St Modwen are currently re-shaping the stretch of our carriageway leading on to the A50 – so Mark just asked if some of them could be freed up to come along and fix Church Lane. He was backed up in his efforts by some timely letters from Joyce Moore of the Church Hall Committee … and St Modwen agreed!
So.. the lane has now been resurfaced from the bottom of the bank almost to the church car park – a distance of around one hundred yards.

Incidentally, this is not a piece of the local community-compensation works (aka the ‘S106 Agreement’)  that developers are obliged to do. It appears to be a freebie.

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Merry Xmas St Modwen! And merry Xmas, Joyce and Mark….
Good job!

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More squash

An interesting line came out of a recent meeting by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in which councillors were examining how best to ‘reorganise’ leisure services across the area.
You won’t be surprised to learn that it involve cuts – and the Leisure Centre in Cheadle looks like it could be closed, including its swimming pool.

There might well also be cuts in the range of squash courts.

draycott sports centre sign

Draycott Sports Centre

However, the (very slim) silver lining is that this means some investment may well come to Draycott Sports Centre. The centre already provides squash courts, but soon it may be the only venue for squash in the Moorlands … so the centre may get cash from SMDC for expansion.
Watch this space.

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A colourful date

Finally, a date for your diary: Monday 6th January between 6pm and 7pm.
This is the date for an open meeting, to take place at Blythe Library, for anyone who wants to help create or take part in the Blythe Colours Cresswell Factory 150th Anniversary Celebrations.

The old colour-making works, which used to be on Blythe Park, closed down a few decades ago of course, but in its time provided employment for thousands of Draycott & Cresswell folk.

Ivan Wozniak and Jill Crowther, who co-ordinate the group, believe a big exhibition should be one of the events to be held next summer. Ivan told us: “Good news! I am pleased to report that the local chemicals firm Johnson Matthey have agreed to support our proposed 150 years celebration of Blythe Colours with a £500 donation!
He went on to say “…. but we will need all the help we can get, no matter how small. If you want to find out more about what we want to do, please come along to our ideas meeting next month.
All are welcome, and you don’t have to have worked at the factory to attend. All input, from anyone, welcome!

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NEWS: traffic flow / tea club? / ‘new’ graves / saintly connection

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid October 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a fireworks display …  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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Settling down (?)

Well, ten days into the St Modwen Roadworks project, things are settling down, and, if they continue like this, matters may work out better for everyone than we had hoped for.
Only the one lane through the works is to be available at any one time, but, with patience, it might work.

What we’ve seen is that, as the ‘outgoing lane’ (i.e. the one on the way to the roundabout) is the open one at the moment, traffic is moving relatively smoothly.

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(It might not be so good though when Phase Two arrives in mid-December – which is when the open lane will be the eastbound one, ie for incoming traffic, not outgoing).

It seems like all the publicity that we as a community have generated (the local newspaper has had the roadworks as its lead story three weeks in a row!) has made a huge difference. Motorists are clearly avoiding Draycott Level, and so the general flow of traffic is lighter at the moment, which is a big help.
People we know are also getting up earlier to go to work, and using diversions, which is all sensible.

However, St Modwen/Staffordshire Highways say the open lane could be “closed at any time” if circumstances require it.  It is a bit of a shame that they can’t promise to give full notice about which lane (incoming or outgoing) is going to be free at any one time – and we would urge them to think how they can do that better.

In general though, if everyone crosses fingers for the next four months, we might be okay.
Might...

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Tearoom group

The new HideOut Tearooms in Forsbrook, which are attached to the Roebuck pub, are now up and running, and the owners have come up with a really nice opening offer: if there is a community group that wants to put on tea&sandwiches sessions for elderly residents, the tearooms will supply the food gratis.

There are already ‘friendship groups’ in Blythe, organised through HomeLink or at the village hall, but this would be the first in Forsbrook (we believe) if it comes off.

No such venture exists in Draycott/Cresswell – even though we have some suitable venues, including the church hall and the new refurbished snug at the Arms, and even the under-used ‘community hub’ at the Cresswell cricket ground.

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Churchyard revelations

Some cutting-back has recently taken place in the ‘old churchyard’ at St Margaret’s – and graves that have not been seen for years have been revealed.

Whoever did it (probably pruning experts from the diocesan authorities, but no one seems sure) has cut a man-sized hole through the foliage of the giant yew-tree in the churchyard’s south-west corner. (The yew is reputed to be around one thousand years old!).
This hole enables a person to get right inside the branches & foliage towards the main trunk; and see the graves there that had been grown over.

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Almost nineteen old graves have been newly revealed.
Inevitably, there is a Bagnall there, as Bagnall has been such a common name down the years in this district, but there is also a Weston. Family historians will be pleased to see them.
They have been covered over so long that it’s not clear if they are on the official graves-list, which was drawn up in the 1980s.
It all adds to the account of Draycott’s history, and it’s good to be able to see these stones again.

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Cresswell and Saint Henry Newman

Talking of local churches, not many people will know that Cresswell St Mary’s has a slight relevance to the news that Britain has a new saint.
Last Sunday, the Pope said that, after a deal of research, it was now believed that the nineteenth century English cardinal, Henry Newman, was holy enough during his life to now be declared a saint.

Dominic BarberiIt’s interesting though that the priest who converted Newman to Catholicism was a Father Dominic Barberi (pic right), who lived in Cresswell for a while during 1844.
The former priest at Cresswell, David Hartley (who has since moved on) wrote an account of Barberi’s achievements for this village website. If you want to know more of that story, click here.

***
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

NEWS: RIP Bessie / listed building clean-up / Blythe Park latest

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late August 2019
In this post we have news of…: Bessie Hammond dies at 106 / Blythe Park latest / listed building gets facelift… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including the Annual Flower, Veg & Home-Produce Show…  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

_ _ _
End of an era

The news of Bessie (Betty) Hammond’s death is truly saddening.
She was not only instrumental in making this village (Draycott & Cresswell) what it is (see Betty’s Life-Story), but she was a genuinely good person, and both as cheerful and as energetic as possibele.

Bessie HammondThere have already been a lot of condolences expressed on the village Facebook page; and we have no doubt that her funeral will be attended by many many people.
Her last days were spent in the comfort of the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

Bessie was also Staffordshire’s oldest living person, having celebrated her 106th birthday only a few months ago. Even on that day, despite knowing she had cancer, she made the effort to get out to a family celebration.
Its astonishing to think that when Bessie was born, in 1913, motor cars had only just started appearing on our roads and Queen Victoria had only died a decade before.

She will be missed.

_ _ _
Blythe Park latest

Well done to Draycott Council for holding an emergency meeting last week to discuss the latest notice about the Blythe Park development in Cresswell.

In fact, as it turned out, the latest move doesn’t add up to anything much, being just a repetition/summary of an application made back in January: the developers, Scentarea, want permission to hold off for a while from doing the road-infrastructure changes they had promised originally.
Back at the beginning of the year, Draycott Council put in an objection to this idea, and on the website of the local action group VVSM, there was a strong piece explaining their opposition too.

But, if you too have comments to make on what the developers are up to, you still can – you have until September 6th – click here.
Draycott Council are also looking for anybody with strong opinions on the matter to speak at the Planning Committee meeting, on September 19th in Leek. If you’re interested, contact the council clerk.

_ _ _
Listed ‘building’ clean-up

It’s not well known but Draycott-in-the-Moors has a few listed buildings – and two of them are tombs!
Caring for such heritage objects is of course a tricky job, so it’s no surprise that even the task of removing ivy from one of them has to go through a whole process of permissions.

Anyway, it seems like the Hyatt Memorial Tomb (Grade 2 listed) in St Margaret’s Church graveyard (see pic below) is about to get such permission; and then the ivy will be cut away and the worst of the crumbling mortar will be re-pointed.Hyatt Memorial Tomb with ivyThe Hyatts were a well known local family in the early nineteenth century and farmed at High Fields (up on the road to Cheadle). This was their family tomb and five family members are buried there.

After this work, the Hyatts inside the tomb should be safe for a few years to come.

***
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

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The Warrilows of Paynsley

There are many long-established family-names in this district, whose members have formed the warp & weft of the history of Draycott-in-the-Moors – the Vavasours, the Shelleys, the Perrys, the Bostocks and so on.
Another one of these is the Warrilow family, and there has been some recent research on them – which we have now pulled together here.

Though the Warrilows were not rich, they are very old, were rebels of a sort, …and they stored hidden treasure…!
But they are also rooted here. In the 1891 census, Staffordshire had the highest population of Warrilow families of any county.

Disappeared hamlet

The Warrilows have a long history round here, perhaps as long as the Draycott family itself, which goes back to Norman times.
In fact, in his book on the history of Draycott, Matthew Pointon reminds us that in medieval times, there was a hamlet called Warelow here, part of the manor of Paynsley (i.e. in southern Cresswell).  We don’t know where it was though, and whatever settlement was there is now gone of course.

We also know there were Warrilows round here then because another of our local historians Lev Wood found one in an old tax record. He tells us: “Adam Warrilow was living in the vicinity of Draycott in 1327, where he paid 2 shillings in tax for the Scottish War Levy.  And Adam is still there in 1332 paying the same in the Subsidy Roll.” (See these rolls at the bottom of this page).

But in the 16th century, misfortune hit this family.
Basically, King Henry VIII decided Catholicism was no longer to be the state religion, and anybody who decided to keep the ‘old faith’ would suffer.
As we know, the lords of the manor here, the Draycotts, were fiercely Catholic, and indeed, they did suffer, mostly through large taxation and ‘exclusion’ from public life. (See: the story of Anthony Draycott).
The Warrilows however, it seems, decided to stick with their lords; and they did not convert to the new Anglican religion, but stayed with the old Catholic faith.

The seventeenth century

The local Warrilows pop up again with mention of a John Warrilow in Draycott, dated 1607. And also, in the 1666 Hearth Tax, several families by the name of ‘Worriloe’ are recorded as living in the parish. (Spelling was often erratic up until modern times!)

The word ‘Warelow’ also gets a mention in a brass plate which can be seen in St Margaret’s Church to this day.

Tickeridge inscription at St Margaret's Church

Tickeridge inscription – as recorded by NADFAS historians

The old plate remembers Thomas Tickeridge who “departed this life at Warelow House in ye parish of Draycott” in 1658.
Warelow House no longer exists, but we do know that Thomas also lived at Paynsley Hall (in southern Cresswell) for a time, so, presumably, this house was one of the smaller houses on the Paynsley manor… and had clearly got its name from the Warrilows.

More ominously, Warrilows figure in 1641, when an official count of recusants (old Catholics) was made (with Philip Draycott at the top of the list).
This was not a list you wanted to be on.  By this time, most people had converted to Anglicanism and Catholics were regarded very suspiciously – almost as potential terrorists – so the list of recusants was small, only twenty-six long for the whole parish. But among these names was… John Warrilow.

Catholic centre

By the seventeenth century, the connection between the Warrilows and Cresswell gets even stronger.

We know there was a Joseph Warrilow (died 1764) who lived at ‘Leeshouses’ in Cresswell. (Leese House Farm still exists today – and has an interesting story of its own – see article).
It is this Joseph who is one of the characters in a story of treasure – see this story further down this page!

Paynsley 1880 survey map

The 1880 map of southern Cresswell. In the top left is Rookery Farm (mistakenly called Leese House Farm), just down from that is Leesehouses,  and in the bottom right is Paynsley Hall & Farm. The thick grey line is the main railway. (Double-click this image to enlarge it)

Remember that the land in Cresswell round Paynsley was all part of the estate of the aristocratic Langdales (and then the Stourtons), who had succeeded to it when the Draycotts had died out – so the Warrilows would have been tenant farmers to them. And the Stourtons were also Catholic.
So, interestingly, Leese House becomes a sort of semi-secret centre for Roman Catholics. By this time (the mid eighteenth century) Catholics are just about tolerated, though still not allowed to practise openly or hold public office.

Hidden treasure

By the early nineteenth century the Warrilows are also farming from a site 100 yards from Leese House – at Rookery Farm. (There is nothing left of this today except a cattle-shed behind Rookery Crescent in Cresswell). However, in 1846 a startling discovery is made at Rookery Farm: hidden treasure!

During repairs to the farm, a recess inside the chimney is uncovered and in it is an oak chest. This chest contains valuable church silver and some ancient priestly vestments.
It turns out that, back during the Reformation of the sixteenth century, royal officers were ransacking churches for anything valuable, so the Draycott Catholic faithful at St Margaret’s had secretly taken away such things and hidden them – probably in a chest at Paynsley Hall to start with.
However, when Paynsley Hall is sold in 1751, the local Catholic priest takes the chest with him to Rookery Farm; and asks Joseph Warrilow, a good Catholic, to hide it.

After the chest is found, the silver and vestments are given to the Catholic community at Leese House, but the chest itself is returned to St Margaret’s, where it can be seen to this day.

Old chest at St Margaret's

Old chest – now returned to St Margaret’s where it can be seen today

The farming Warrilows leave

The tenancy to Rookery Farm stays with the Warrilows; and another Joseph farms there until 1863, when his son John takes over – at which time Joseph and his wife retire to Eccleshall (near Stafford).
But there, sadly, the story of the farming connection apparently ends. John and his wife Ann die young, in 1871, and their orphaned children go to Eccleshall to be with their grandparents.

However, other local Warrilows of course do go on.
Their steadfastness in the Catholic faith is seen in the Warrilow gravestones at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Cresswell (which was built in 1829, shortly after Catholics were granted freedom of worship in this country) – William Warrilow, who died in 1901, is one of the last of the family-name to be buried there.

Further down this page, see lots of comments on this article. If you too have comments, please scroll down and use the message box at the bottom of the page.

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If you want to walk to see the sites of Rookery Farm, Leese House and Paynsley Hall, a public footpath connects them all. See Cresswell Footpath.
You can see the 1880 map more clearly by clicking here.
The survey of St Margaret’s Church carried out by NADFAS is available to buy. See St Margaret’s publications
More Warrilows can be found in the ‘Draycott Parish Registers 1669-1900’ publication.
Fourteenth Century taxation rolls are pictured below –  thanks to Lev Wood for finding them.  (Adam Warrilow is listed here, but his name is spelt Warylowe) Draycott roll 1327