Category Archives: photographs

NEWS of: broadband / roadworks / festive lights

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early January 2020
In this post we have news of…: ‘superfast’ broadband for Draycott (a bit) / roadworks puzzles / festive lights on homes … (NB – for what’s on, check out the Events page).
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Roadworks information – very puzzling

The last bulletin from the Staffs Highways Department about the A521 roadworks at the end of Draycott was as near to official gobbledegook as you could get. Did anyone really understand it?
On the village Facebook page, the discussion about it showed we were all baffled by the complicated language of it. Which way in was it to be? Were we supposed to skip from one lane to another? Etc etc.
We contacted the department for clarification, but (of course, you’d guess it) the department has now completely discontinued its telephone helpline, so that idea was no use, while the actual A521 email helpline was closed for the holidays until early January. Sigh…
As for the official roadworks.org map, it had no specific details at all and even now claims that roadworks will go on till April 30th (which was new to us!).  We do hope someone somewhere will really make a point about how bad the information service (not to mention the signage) has been on this whole matter.

This is our best interpretation of the gobbledegook:
From Monday 6th: eastbound traffic still can get into Draycott directly from the A50, albeit a little snakily. Buses also will still get through. Lights will operate. HGVs cannot go this way and will have to make their own arrangements. Meanwhile, westbound traffic can still get directly out of Draycott from the A50, albeit using only one lane.
From Wednesday 22nd: (THIS IS A REVISED DATE; THE ORIGINAL DATE WAS JAN 27th) eastbound traffic still can get directly into Draycott from the A50 – but westbound traffic will be unable to get out of Draycottt straight on to the A50, because all westbound lanes are closed.
From 13th March: some normality returns (we hope)

… though, as the bulletin ‘helpfully’ says, St Modwen’s road engineers can simply close the access points at any time if they feel they need to. Sigh again…

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Lighting up time

The Christmas cheer was a little less in 2019, if you assess cheer by the amount of homes lit up in the village. There were definitely fewer.
Maybe we are all gloomy after a long year of politics, and more politics…? Could be.
But well done to those who made the effort.

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The lights gave the rest of us something to smile about – for a moment at least.

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Spread the broadband spread

Staffs County Council’s ‘Superfast Staffordshire’ project has just issued a self-congratulatory press release saying that the county now has an extra 80,000 rural households receiving full-fibre broadband thanks to them…. “including Draycott-in-the-Moors”.
Some people in the village will be surprised that Draycott is in the statement.

Yes, it’s true that folks in central Cresswell have been getting superfast for some months now, and certain parts of Draycott have it too… but certainly not all of Draycott in the Moors. According to the latest broadband spread map (dated autumn 2019), the western end of the village is still waiting, while southern Cresswell-to-Hilderstone section as well as poor Totmonslow have more or less been abandoned.
(One would love for the village council to make more of a fuss with the authorities about poor old Totmonslow, but they haven’t discussed local broadband provision at a council meeting for years now.)

If you do want to check your own broadband speeds, we recommend the Ofcom checker.

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Happy Christmas!

Season’s greetings!
And the very best for a peaceful and contented 2019…

St Margarets Church in snowIn the absence of traditional Yuletide weather, we thought we’d put you in the mood with this old photo of St Margaret’s under snow.  Enjoy.

NEWS: cyber crime / swimming / odd tree / council agenda

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early October 2016
News of…:  getting on council agenda / swimming in B Bridge / help defeat cyber crime / the tree with a hole……
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the Draycott Christmas Gift Fair. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, please keep checking the village Facebook page

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Small steps to more democracy

Our local Draycott area council is trying to get more democratic…
Up until now, it has been quite a tedious process to get something on to the council’s agenda. First you had to apply, explain yourself, get approval etc etc – and by that time, it could be two months later before your point was discussed.

Now, however, there has been a new development.
If you want something discussed at the next council meeting, all you have to do is email draycottparishcouncil@aol.co.uk more than ten days before the meeting, and it will then be automatically included on the agenda in the ‘Correspondence’ section.
So, if you have something you’d like discussed at the next council meeting (on Monday 17 October), you have until 7th October to get your email in.

Let’s hope this works. Area parish councils have been criticised for being too slow and quite irrelevant, but this is a great initiative – and well done to the parish clerk, whose idea it was.  It is an opportunity to speed bureaucracy up, and make the council more responsive!

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Teach your little ones to swim

One of the best-kept secrets in our area is the community side of the swimming pool at Blythe Bridge School.

A boy in a children's swimming pool.Obviously, the pool is mostly for school uses, but at certain times of the week, it is open for community sessions; all you have to is apply to the school’s Swim School.

If you have a very young child, you’ll particularly like the idea of the Ducklings Class, which takes place every Friday afternoon. (Click here for details)

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A tree with a hole

People passing along Sandon Road in Cresswell might have been slightly stunned to see this tree – with a hole right in its middle.  A, umm, doughnut tree.
What’s going on?

Hole-in-tree, Cresswell
Well, no, it’s not down to some sort of strange tree disease.  It comes down to the simple fact that the tree had grown so tall that overhead wires were getting entangled in its branches; and Western Power, the engineers for the electricity industry, decided to step in to sort it out.

You and I might just have carefully chopped the tree away, but WP is more environmentally conscious than that – and cut around the wires!  It makes for an interesting sight.
It’ll be even more interesting to see how the tree grows in future.

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Protect yourself from internet thieves

Nowadays, you don’t need a thief to break into your home; they can do it safely from their bedrooms by intercepting our internet activity.
Staffordshire police are completely aware of this and need your help to get a more accurate picture of the impact of so-called ‘cyber crime’ across the county.

All you need to do is complete a short survey on the Staffordshire Police website. Click on this link to access the survey, which should only take 3 minutes to complete.

It sounds strange to say it, but it is true: we rely on computers so much nowadays that an attack on our ‘cyber-existence’ can ruin our lives.  So it’s worth trying to help.

If you also like face-to-face discussions though, don’t despair. You can quiz Matthew Ellis (the Staffordshire Police Commissioner) in person if you like.
He comes into our neck of the woods next Wednesday (October 12th) when he visits the village hall in nearby Milwich for an open meeting on rural crime and personal safety. If you go along, let us know your impressions….

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Draycott Fayre 2016 – review

On a day when you have to compete against Andy Murray in a Wimbledon final, Lewis Hamilton in the British Grand Prix, not to mention the Annual Cheadle Road Race, you might at least expect the weather to be kind.  Especially when you are celebrating your 25th anniversary.
Nope! Didn’t happen.

The morning of Sunday 10 July dawned windy, squally and rainy. It was so wet underfoot early on in Ford’s Field that the path into the field had to be abandoned eventually (after a lot of work by the fayre tractor-driver hauling vehicles out of the mud!) and exhibiters had to be re-routed on to the site.  Well done to volunteer Nola Ward who acted as an impromptu traffic police officer!
We won’t mention the tent that simply blew in the air and sailed away.

But… as they say … the sun shines on the righteous.
Unbelievably, by late morning, the bad weather was over, and the crowds began to stream in like nothing had happened.

Fab fayre

It was another great Fayre.
The piece de resistance’ had to be the float, on the truck: celebrating a wonderful 25 years in existence of this event.

Draycott Fayre 2016 - 25 years banner

Parish councillor Pauline Clarke shows the ’25 Years’ banner – made by the Brownies

The Draycott Brownies decorated the float (in more ways than one) – it was a magic idea, and also alerted the neighbourhoods to the presence of the fayre.

The great thing about this fayre is that there is something to watch or to do almost every minute – even though the carousel and bouncy trampolines and quad-bikes kept most of the children pretty busy most the time.
Once again, the Y-Draig Vikings re-enactment group were the stars of the day (though no one fancied joining in their authentic seventh-century meal…!)

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In fact, for all children there it was a terrific day – with sports (including the brilliant sack-race, and a Vikings vs The Rest tug-o-war) organised by Dave Meller.  He managed to keep charge… most of the time…
Some children also joined in with the drummers, some flocked to the puppets, and some decided to do battle with the Vikings (the Vikings lost).

Community involvement

What was also great was the number of organisations from our community who turned up in one shape or another.   Among them: the church hall committee, Draycott Plant Nurseries, VVSM community action group, the Draycott Craft Club, the local Brownies & Girl Guides, Draycott Sports Centre, St Margaret’s Church congregation, the local Women’s Institute, Draycott Moor College (who raised £1100 on the day!!), Andy Bird and the Angling Club, the Draycott Arms… not to mention the St Margaret’s Fayre Committee & Volunteers led so ably by John Clarke…
If we’ve forgotten anyone – our apologies.
Next year, it would be nice to see even more community-based organisations doing their bit…

It was also wonderful to see the oldest person in our district turn up.  Betty Hammond (the former parish councillor) is well over 100 years old, but she was there – determined to see her grandson Anthony Hammond perform his usual startling feats of wood-sculpture.
Incidentally, a kind lady bought young Sam a ticket to try to win Anthony’s finished sculpture (a wooden owl) – and it turned out to be the winning ticket!  A nice story.

Draycott Fayre 2016 - ice cream

Draycott Fayre 2016 – a perfect way to spend a day!

Thanks once again to John Clarke and his team.  Let’s hope we have another twenty-five years…

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To see lots more photos of the fayre, just visit the Fayre facebook page)
To see the preview of the 2016 Fayre, click here

Support our wildlife – buy a mug!

This month, people in our area have a unique opportunity to support our local wildlife and buy a lovely pottery mug at the same time.
All through July there is an exhibition of photographs of birds and mammals – many taken here in this district – at our local library in Blythe Bridge. All of them were taken by the well-known wildlife photographer Louie Horleston, who lives in Cresswell.

Not only are prints of the photos in the exhibition for sale, but also some specially created pottery mugs, which have transfers of the wildlife photographs on them.

Save Our Staffordshire Wildlife mugs

You can see images of the photo-transfers that appear on the mugs in more detail below, in our slideshow.
Most of the animals in these photos can be seen in our part of Staffordshire – though a couple of puffins, and an eagle (neither of which can be seen in Staffordshire !) do make up the full set.

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Hard times for wildlife

Louie Horleston travels all over the country photographing wildlife, particularly birds, especially in the remoter parts of the UK.

But he is particularly saddened that the new housing estate & new industrial estates coming to Cresswell will devastate the local habitats, especially in and around the course of the River Blithe.
The river here creates what’s known as a ‘flood plain’ around it as it goes, so birds like Yellow Wagtails breed here, as do Yellow-Hammers, Kingfishers and Lapwings.
In the river itself one can find wild brown trout, crayfish, a healthy water vole population and frequently we have even otters travelling up and down the river!
There are even over a dozen species here which Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has described as ‘priority’.

But Cresswell’s real claim to fame is our feeding Golden Plovers, which arrive here every year, as do even the very rare Willow Tits and Water Rails.

Campaign

Louie is so dismayed by what the massive new building developments will do to the district’s wildlife that he is donating the profits from the sales of all the prints and the mugs to support local wildlife.
“It is all too easy to forget about our wildlife” Louie told us. “But once it’s gone, it’s gone – and what a tragedy that is.  If this vast new development goes ahead, then the river-plain around Cresswell, and Draycott, will be changed forever.”

Sales

The exhibition of photos by Louie can be seen at Blythe Bridge Library right through July – click here for opening hours (note that the library no longer closes at lunchtimes – no matter what the website says!).

The prints and the mugs are all for sale – the prints are priced around £15; the mugs are £3.50 (earthenware), or £4.95 (china).
The prints and mugs will also be on sale at the Draycott Summer Fayre (on Sunday July 10th).
If you are unable to get to the sales points, but would like more information about getting some, just email for details.

* For more about wildlife in this district, see these articles:  A wildlife information board for Cresswell and Spot wildlife in Draycott

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The American Army in Cresswell

Almost exactly seventy years ago, the final few of the hundreds of Americans who had been living in Cresswell completed their last parade, and left this parish.  They were going home after serving in the war effort.
It’s a fascinating story.

The ‘Chemical Company’ soldiers

We owe much of what we know about how the Second World War affected Draycott & Cresswell thanks to work by local man Barry Phillips – and almost all you will read on this page comes from his researches.

On 29th November 1943, the US Army’s 104th Chemical Co arrived at the custom-built “Bolero Camp” in Cresswell.  Pretty much on the site where Rookery Crescent is now, the camp consisted of a series of Nissan huts, and could hold around 300 men.

These specialist units of the American army (which later included the 106th Chemical-Impregnating Co, the 950th Chemical Impregnating Co and the 46th Chemical Laboratory Co, the 130th Chemical Processing Company – and more) were stationed here in order to be just a short walk from the Blythe Colour Works.  The works had all the necessary laboratories and expertise to help these units.
What these soldiers did is still a little mysterious. It’s known that they packed parachutes, but also their ‘boffins’ worked on developing the kind of uniforms which could act as protective gear in case of a chemical attack by the enemy.

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Former employees of the works remember the Americans being busy at the factory, but – it being ‘secret’ work – were given the official line that “they are only here to use our laundry facilities”!

At home in Cresswell

When Barry Phillips decided he would do a short history of Draycott in World War Two, he not only spoke to older local people, but he tracked down soldiers who had served here; and visited America to see them and get their stories.

What is apparent is that, even though Cresswell was something of a backwater, the Americans loved their time here, and set up little local charities.  One local man, Graham Hammond (who still lives in Cresswell) remembers going to parties organised by the soldiers for the benefit of local children.
One story, about a Xmas party at Draycott School, actually appears in the official USAAF written history, stored at NARA (the US National Archives and Records Administration).

The Americans did have one complaint though. They disliked English food: “We didn’t like that darned Spam, powdered eggs, warm beer and sprouts!!” one said to Barry.
The last remaining US soldiers left Camp Bolero in January 1946 – almost exactly seventy years ago.

Rookery Crescent

The site had a useful history thereafter though.
Local families who had been displaced by the war quickly moved into the empty Nissan huts – before the authorities could stop them. The local council, Cheadle Rural, had to accept the situation and so just charged the ‘squatters’ a nominal rent.

Around 1949, the local authority built 42 houses on the site – naming the area “Rookery Crescent”, rehousing many of the squatters in the new homes.
Strangely enough there are still a few reminders there of the past. Some of the houses to the south side of Rookery still have old brick walls in their gardens – part of the old huts. On the north side some old sewerage inspection chambers can be seen and the retaining wall.
However Barry says he has never found any official plans of the site, which would be good to find.
The only other wartime structures surviving in the parish are the two air raid shelters at Draycott College (then a primary school).

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Acknowledgments
Thanks again to Barry Phillips whose huge research archive and photograph collections form the bulk of this article.
If you want more details, Barry’s researches can be found online. See Cresswell during World War II, and Draycott Parish 1939 – 1945, and Cresswell – War Memories.
Barry has been not too well for a while, and we are all hoping he gets better soon.  (STOP PRESS: sad to report that Barry has died since this article was written)

Incidentally, if you are someone interested in local history, you might be surprised that the website Draycott-en-le-Moors – An Online History is back on the internet, after being deleted.  We on this village website begged and cajoled the so-called ‘Wayback Internet Archive’ organisation to restore it; and they now have done.  (Sadly, without most of the photographs though).
Barry Phillips and Matthew Pointon are the two local men who constructed the original website, back in the 1990s.

The ‘lost’ images of Draycott

Local history is endlessly fascinating, isn’t it?  Just when you think you know it all, something else turns up…
Just this month we have found new information on two local ‘lost’ paintings and one local ‘lost’ photograph.

Paynsley

A local collector got in touch to say that he had just successfully bid at auction for a photo of Paynsley Hall, which used to sit in the fields not far from the southern end of Blythe Business Park in Cresswell.  It was (rather ruthlessly!) demolished a few years ago, even though the main chimney (which you can see in the photo) was thought to be of medieval origin.

The hall had a wonderful history stretching even back beyond the English Civil War when it was the scene of a skirmish between the Roundheads and Cavaliers, after which it had to be rebuilt.

Unfortunately, even the seller knew nothing of the circumstances of the photo.  Between us, we have guessed that it is 1950s, or 1940s, era, but that’s it.  Would the people in it perhaps be members of the Bostock family, a family with a long history in this district?

Paynsley Hall farm circa 1950

Paynsley Hall farm – around 1950?

If you know anything which would help us, and the local collector, find out more about the circumstances of this photo… please let us know (use the comments box at the bottom of this page).

Paintings

We’ve covered stories of lost paintings of Draycott on this website before – Mick Bettaney is still searching for one created by his grandfather.
But now we have a painting that has been found!

Mike Knowles wrote to tell us that he has a painting of the old Bird-in-Hand pub, which was at the southern end of Cresswell before being pulled down a few years ago.
He reckons it was painted at the end of the 1950s by Michael D Barnfather, a painter commissioned to create it by Mike’s uncle.  Why he commissioned it is not clear….
Mike tells us that he thinks the people relaxing outside the pub are his uncle and aunt – Kenneth George Saxton (known as George) and his wife Mabel Saxton (formerly a Kerry).   Mike thinks they may even  have owned the Bird In Hand at one stage in the 1950s, but he is not sure, as both have sadly passed away.   Can anyone help with more information?

Painting of Bird In Hand

Painting of the old Bird In Hand, around 1958.  (To enlarge this photo, click once on it; and, then, to return to this page, use the back-button)

Mike has had the work valued (he was told it was worth around £2000) but he is willing to sell it to anyone who collects local historic artefacts.
Again… If you know anything which would help us find out more about this work… please let us know, we will also be sure to pass your message on to Mike.

Lost?

The most famous lost ‘local’ painting is of course the one mentioned in Father Bailey’s history of St Mary’s Church. Father Bailey writes:  “A Mr Walter Draycott, who came to Draycott from Canada in 1911, says he saw an ancient painting of the original Tudor Paynsley Hall, which was then in the possession of a local resident. He described the hall in the painting as having ‘two tall towers resembling keeps and a high wide doorway between the two towers with a gothic archway or entrance’.  The whereabouts of this painting is now unknown.”
Wouldn’t it be great if that turned up again?!

And finally, there is the painting that was given as a gift to the Reverend Doctor Healey when he retired as rector of St Margaret’s in the early 70s.

Rector & Mrs Healey retiring - with Painting presented by John & Mary Kellaway

Rector & Mrs Healey retiring – with painting – presented by John & Mary Kellaway  (Collection of Sara Gibson, ne Kellaway)

We know Doctor Healey retired to Harrogate and has since died… do his family still have the painting, we wonder…

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Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
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NEWS: work in snow / men in court / bar-bottle / losing weight / expensive house

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early January 2015
News of…:  The Moorlands second most expensive house in 2014 / local men in court on drugs charges / lose weight – locally! / snow pictures / cash in a bottle for churches…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Working in the snow

Thanks for photos of the recent snow…
Some great photos came from the folk at Huntley Wood Outdoor Leisure Centre, up at Draycott Cross.

Bookings slow down up there on the hill at this time of year of course, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of activity!  It’s the time of year when repairs, renovations and improvements can all take place; and the pace – for the owners – is really as busy as ever.

Huntley Wood under snow

Huntley Wood grounds under snow

The photo above is the view across the main camping field, also showing the double toilet block shell which has gone up over the winter.
For more photos of Huntley in the snow, click here.

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Court appearance

Tomorrow, two local men will be up in court – following a raid by police on an address in Cresswell in the middle of last month.   During the operation, drugs including cannabis were found; and two people were arrested, and charged with intent to supply.

Charles Milner, (aged 24, from Rookery Crescent in Cresswell) and Douglas Malbon (aged 25, from Stuart Avenue on Draycott Level), will appear at the North Staffordshire Justice Centre.

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New neighbours

We are always saying that Draycott is a nice place to live; and it seems like some people will pay a fortune for the privilege.
Yes, the second most-expensive property sold in the Staffordshire Moorlands last year (2014) was right here in Draycott.  The Grange, a country house in Cheadle Road (just up from The Draycott Arms) went for around £850,000.
We first reported it was up for sale two years ago, so it wasn’t exactly a quick sell.  But it is a lovely house & grounds.

The Grange

The Grange

Whoever bought it may well be into swimming or boating – as it has a large natural lake in the grounds – and a log cabin to boot!
Welcome to the neighbourhood…

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Coins in tray

What is these coins’ value?

Cash for churches

Meanwhile, a little further down the monetary scale, we are pleased to report that money-bottle on the bar at The Draycott Arms pub is pretty much full.  Regulars have been dropping spare change into the bottle over the last two years as a way of raising funds for the two historic churches in our locality – St Margaret’s and St Mary’s.

As the money-bottle is full, it’s now time to count the cash; and, as a further attempt to raise just a little more, there’s an extra competition.   All the coins were poured out into a wooden tray – do you think you can guess how much is actually in the bottle?  Each guess will cost you 50p and there is a prize for the closest estimate…

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Two ways to lose weight

Finally, if your resolution is to lose weight in the new year, well at least you are living in the right place, as there are two courses just getting underway to help you achieve just that.

At the Draycott Sports Centre, fitness guru Maria Emery is putting on her BodyFit course every Monday evening.  Interestingly she also gives advice about healthy eating; and one thing she warns everybody against is breakfast cereal…  she thinks it’s no good for you.

And, just three hundred yards away, at the Tatsu Kai Training Centre, Mia Arrowsmith will launch her Motiv8 programme next week.  This course also includes a hard & long examination of the foods we eat and what nutrition they are giving us.  But Mia is a PT instructor too, so it will be a mix of exercise and education…

Yes, we are definitely regretting asking for those extra portions of roast tatties…

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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).

If you know of something that you’d like to us to mention, please email us.

If you find the photos on this webpage too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately.

PHOTO: Monster man in Draycott

Where do you think this photo was taken?  The highlands of Norway?  The bleak expanses of Tierra del Fuego?
Nope.  This monster man was photographed in our very own Draycott Cross!

LARP character

…wouldn’t like to meet this fella on a dark night…

In fact, here we have a character from a very complicated seven-day ‘Live Action Role Playing’ (LARP) event.  LARP, which is all about the enactment of fantasy narratives, is now very popular – according to BBC reports.

Huntley Wood Centre in Draycott Cross specialises in putting on such events, and this picture was taken when a well-known LARP group ‘Heart Of Pargon‘ hired the Huntley Wood park.
Thanks to Will Power for the photo – and you can see more of his pictures of the event by clicking here.

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If you too would like to submit a Draycott-based photo or short video for this Photo spot, please get in touch

PHOTO: A 1930s car rally

The news that the Blythe Colours business is finally to close down after a century in Cresswell (see news article) reminded us that, at one time, much of the land in Cresswell owed to its development to the Colours Works.
Not only did the firm build houses in the village for its managers, but many workers lived here too.

The tennis club (now Draycott Sports Centre) and the fishing lake opposite the old Bird In Hand pub were also created by the Works – as leisure-time activities for its thousands of workers.  (Those were the days!)
The Works also developed the Cresswell cricket ground, which is now owned by Blythe Cricket Club.

The photo below shows a car rally on the ground in the 1930s – the oak tree in the corner is still standing to this day.

Car rally 1930s

Car rally in the 1930s  (Joe Thorley Collection)

(If you find this photo too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately!
Just press the back-button to get back to this page)

This photo comes from the Joe Thorley Collection.  Joe, who lived at Totmonslow, was an inveterate snapper, and particularly liked to take photos of village life in Draycott and Tean, right from the 1920s till his death in the 1950s.
His collection is still carefully looked after by his descendants in the village.

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If you would like to submit a photo or short video for this Photo spot, please get in touch