Draycott and dragons

It’s a curious fact that the animal most associated with Draycott-in-the-Moors is… a dragon.

English: Picture of St. Margaret of Antioch co...

St. Margaret and the dragon. (Photo: Wikipedia)

According to legend, the last-ever dragon was slain here; the word Draycott has often been deliberately punned in the past with the Latin word for dragon, ‘draco’; and the symbol of our church’s patron saint (St Margaret) is … a dragon.
It’s all very intriguing!

Horse?

But, the animal that really should be most identified with Draycott is the horse. Not only is it believed that the Romans had stabling facilities here (near where The Draycott Arms is now) 2000 years ago, but Draycott was once famous for its horse-races.

And the origin of the word Draycott in fact suggests a dray-horse. The most usual explanation of the name is that it comes from Old English ‘draeg’ (meaning to ‘drag close by’) and ‘cott’ – a dwelling place. In other words, a place where you (or your horse) had to drag heavier items up and over a stream or hill…. (probably right outside The Draycott Arms where the stream goes under the road and where the big hill starts).

But it’s dragons that appear most in the history.

In fact (maybe!) there is an alternative old spoken-language connection, this time between Draycott and dragons.
Some historians of old name-places have speculated that the word ‘Draycott’ could have come from the language of the old Britons – and dragon in old Welsh is draen, Old Irish draigen, old Breton drean. The suggestion is that these could have ‘evolved’ into Draycott.
The trouble with that suggestion is the name-place ‘Draycott’ does not appear until the twelfth century.

Legends

It’s hard to pinpoint the legend which says that Draycott is the place where the last dragon in England was slain, but the reference to it does come in a very scholarly journal – the Transactions of The North Staffordshire Field Club (1908).
The Reverend Thomas Barns wrote a piece for the journal back then describing the Anglo-Saxon myths surrounding this area, and says that the legend was still current among older folk at the time. Unfortunately, the Reverend Barns says no more on the subject!
So, where the myth comes from will need a lot more research.

However, the fact that the dragon is the symbol of St Margaret Of Antioch (the patron saint of the parish church) is easier to verify. The main legend around this 4th Century saint is that she was swallowed alive by the Devil (who had taken on the appearance of a dragon) – but she escaped through his mouth when the Devil coughed up the crucifix she was carrying…!
In St Margaret’s Church you can see evidence of this legend. The carving of her on the outside of the church shows her emerging from the dragon’s mouth.

Draycotts and the Dragon

The family that lorded it over the village for more than 500 years (having arrived with the Normans) was French in origin.  But when the branch of the family that took over the local estates in the 12th Century decided they needed an English name reference, they chose the place where they were based, i.e. Draycott.

However, it was not until centuries later that the dragon symbol came into play for the family – when Anthony Draycott became its head, in the sixteenth century.
Anthony was quite the intellectual, and seemed to like the way that Draycott sounded like ‘draco’, the Latin for dragon, and he adopted the symbol.

Anthony was rector of both Checkley and Draycott Church, and he did a lot of renovation works in Checkley Church. You can still evidence of the works – including the bench-ends there carved into a dragon’s head..

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Strangely enough, these things persist and persist as part of tradition – even through to today.

The church at Draycott remained in the ‘patronage’ of the Draycott family for many years, and the small enclosed chapel at the church is still known as The Draycott Family Chapel – even though the main Draycott branch died out long ago.
But what’s more, the dragon symbol itself carries on into the present day. Also at St Margaret’s Church you will still see some strange tall poles at the end of some of the pews. These are traditional ‘churchwardens staves’, carried by the wardens as an ancient sign of their authority. At the top of the staves are medallions of enamelled metal. And what is depicted on the medallions?
You guessed it: a dragon.

***
Thanks to Sarah Beardmore for all the research for this article.
If you too want to write an article for this blog, just email us.

We’d appreciate any more information too. 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

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NEWS: grand opening / assault / Local Plan / fest success

In this post we have news of…: new community facility opened / man attacked / Local Plan emergency meeting / Cloggerfest success …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a meeting to discuss a Speed-Watch project for Draycott Level. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Assault

The Saturday night at the beginning of this month (2nd Sept) was not a good night to be out late on Draycott Level. A very loud group of lads were singing their way along Uttoxeter Road at 1.30 in the morning, a man was robbed and assaulted, and it was probably this night that a notice-board was kicked over and broken.

The worst incident, of a young man being assaulted, took place on the pavement almost opposite Stuart Avenue. The man was kicked and robbed of his wallet and jacket by a small group of youths who had jumped out of a car that was following.

Broken notice-board Sept 2017

The parish notice-board on Draycott Level – kicked over

An ambulance was called – but fortunately the injuries were not serious; and a friend, who had been walking with the victim, though he was chased, did manage to get away unscathed.
Curiously, the car had returned by this point – and the jacket and wallet thrown back (though some money was apparently missing).
Naturally, the police are looking for as much information as they can get. The car involved was a silver-coloured hatchback with one front light missing. If you know anything, they’d like you to call 101 and mention the reference number, which is 59 (Sept 3rd).

– – –
Local Plan discussion

Draycott Parish Council called an emergency meeting this week to discuss the new proposed Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan – the strategy which will decide how infrastructure issues such as housing will be allocated in the region for the next fifteen years.

About twenty members of the public attended and the general mood was not favourable. Many residents said how disillusioned they were with Staffs Moorlands Council and how they didn’t believe in the fairness of the planning process much anymore.
Mark Deaville, our councillor on SMDC, attended (though our other two SMDC councillors did not). He said that, yes, growth (especially in new homes) was needed if Draycott/Cresswell was to get funding for better infrastructure projects such as traffic-crossing refuges, but also said: “Confidence in the Moorlands planning department is at an all time low”.

Some people also said that confidence in the actual councillors who sit on the council’s planning committee was also very low.
They pointed out that the latest proposals could see three roundabouts along Draycott Level (plus a new one coming in Cresswell) in just a one-mile stretch!
There was also general unhappiness that virtually the total quota for new industrial development for the whole Moorlands is being allocated to Draycott/Cresswell…

It would have been good to hear from all our parish councillors about what they thought of the proposals, but only Mark and Roger Holdcroft (the chairman of the parish council) actually spoke up with considered responses.

What happens next is that the clerk of the council will collate the public’s responses, and then incorporate those into the council’s own comments. She is hoping to publish these comments on the council’s website by this Saturday (16th).
Comments on the proposals must be put forward by Sept 22nd. Every adult in the district is allowed to make comments on the Plan – and Roger Holdcroft is urging people to do just that.
If you do nothing else, check out paragraph 8.26 in the Plan, and comment on that – that’s the most significant paragraph as far as Draycott is concentred.

– – –
Grand opening

Much much better news is that the ‘Colin Dawson Community Hub’ on the local cricket club’s ground in Cresswell is at last open for business. Paid for by Lottery money, with generous donations from supporters also underwriting it, it is a magnificent building which will be warm and cosy all year round.
It has a large function room, a well-stocked bar, and a couple of smaller meeting rooms.
It really is a great achievement.
In the photo below, you can see : Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (NSSCL cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club’s Lottery Bid) and Simon Owen (club chairman).

In front of the new hub: Austin Knott (club secretary), Brian Lawton (cricket league chairman), Alison Grimley (chair of the club's Lottery Bid), Simon Owen (club chairman)

All smiles in front of the new community hub

Opened formally this last weekend – Draycott’s oldest and most well-known resident, Betty Hammond, cut the ribbon – surrounding householders were also invited to come along and look round (and eat the free food!). The ones we spoke to had nothing but praise.

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The next step is to invite local groups and events-organisers to use the centre; and a list of charges will be published soon.
We were told that a small part-time post is being created – to employ someone to go out into the community and publicise just what a great resource is on our doorstep.
In the meantime, Alison Grimley, who has been overseeing the project on behalf of Blythe Cricket Club, says just to email her if you are eager to start using the centre in the near future.

– – –
Cloggerfest success

A ‘new’ Cloggerfest was initiated this year.
Cresswell’s own two-day rock & nu-folk music festival is an annual event designed to appeal to the whole family. However, after a spot of bother happened last year, this year security was tightened, and the festival changed from a free event to a ticketed one.

Ange Heathcote, who organises the set-up, told us that all passed peacefully this year, partly thanks to some friendly police officers who were helping out the security effort! In fact some people without tickets were turned away on the advice of the security team.

Ange reported too that the admission fee did not deter people – some £2000 was taken on the gate and camping facilities were fully booked up weeks before…
The organisers on the music side told us also that the music fans themselves were well-happy with the line-up of bands and the quality of the sound; while the charity-events organisers (the local Rotary Club is big into this festival) said the kids enjoyed themselves too.

So… roll on Cloggerfest 2018!

***
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: big planning / community-hub opens / dangerous rail area / Totmonslow self-build?

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: how Draycott is part of a national strategy / unfenced railway line / chance to build your own home / new community-hub opens on cricket ground /…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Cresswell Cloggerfest Music-Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Draycott on the national planning agenda

The application to build over 100 homes at the east end of Draycott (by the A50 roundabout) seems to have caught everyone by surprise.
(It’s always a clever move by a developer to make a controversial application during the summer months as everyone’s attention is elsewhere – usually on a beach!)
Certainly our local newspapers and our local politicians seem to have made virtually no comment at all, which is both a shock and a shame, as this is a very big deal indeed.

What few of us realised is that this site, the huge so-called ‘Northern Gateway’ or ‘Blythe Vale’ site in the centre of Draycott is actually not just a local venture, but is part of a regional & national planning framework, linking major industrial centres like Stoke and Derby to the major networks.
The local community action group VVSM have been doing the research and came across a really interesting document proving this.

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It means that – once the economy picks up – this district is in line for a lot more industry and a lot more housing, and, as it’s part of a national strategy, we may not be able to do a lot about it. You have been warned…!

Anyway, at the moment, only the application for the 100+ homes is on the table. If you feel strongly about this development, you only have until Monday (4th September) to comment on the proposals. See the Blythe Vale Homes planning application by clicking here.

– – –
Pavilion success

Happier news comes out of our local cricket club. The new pavilion/community-hub, on the Cresswell ground, is finished at last, and looks really splendid. The old pavilion had its charm, yes, but this smart new structure is the bee’s knees!
It cost over £250,000 (with help from the Lottery Fund) but it looks like it is well worth it.

An open invitation is now going out to everyone connected with the parish to come and take a look at it on Sunday 10 September (between 11am and 4pm). If you fancy going, please email the club, by this Friday, to say you’d like to be there, as it’s a matter of trying to judge numbers.

The pavilion/community-hub could turn into a major asset for the district as, apart from being a base for the cricket club, it is open for hire to local organisations – already a weekly yoga class has started up there. So, if you too run a class or such, you might want to check it out too.

If you can’t make it on the 10th, why not stroll along to see the first team’s last game of the season, on the 9th. With a bit of luck (and sunshine), the day will – hopefully – see the team crowned champions of League One… what a party that will be!!

– – –
Open railway

For some time now, some of us have been wondering what Network Rail is up to by the Cresswell rail-crossing. A hundred yards along the main-line (in the Uttoxeter direction), the fencing that should be alongside the tracks, to stop both trespass and thoughtless kids from wandering onto the line, is simply… not there. It is completely wide-open.

An unmade road, which leads to a small group of six terraced homes (‘Railway Cottages’ by name) passes right by the unprotected area. The owners there form a small community (they get together to look after the unmade road and repair it, for instance) and have applied to Network Rail to fulfil its responsibilities, but, so far, no joy.

tidying the road to Railway Cottages

Repairing the road to Railway Cottages

If you also find this worrying, why not add your voice to the community’s, and write to Network Rail?
– – –
Build your own home

It’s not often a chance comes up to build your own home, especially in beautiful open countryside… but this is what is on the cards right here in our parish – in Totmonslow.

Totmonslow Farm, which is no longer a full working concern, is the site of two potential conversions. A little way over from the historic old farmhouse itself, you’ll see some former farm buildings, which have not been in use for some years … though they do have charm of their own.
They are now up for sale, with planning permission: going to public auction on the 20th September.

Both sets of buildings also give a deal of space – click to see the details of The Barns, and of The Old Cart Shed.
It could be a dream come true for somebody…

***
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

Local Plan proposals – some thoughts

Had a chance to look at the Moorlands Local Plan (Preferred Options) document yet? If you have, good for you – at nearly 300 pages long, it can make your head spin after a while! Moorlands Local Plan symbol

Once it is set in stone, the Local Plan will earmark areas across the region for employment parks, housing estates, open-space, travellers’ sites etc. It will be valid until 2031.
What this is here now is a consultative document, so you can make comments on it (and hopefully, get listened to) – but you have only until Sept 22nd to do so.

And if you’re wondering why you might have a feeling of déjà-vu, well that is because this document was first issued last year – but then scrapped – and is now a revised version…
So, if you did make comments back then on the 2016 version, hard luck, because all those comments have been scrapped too – and everyone has to do any feedback all over again.

Overall

So – how is this draft different to the previous versions?
Well, the headline is that council planners have now decided that ‘smaller villages’ and ‘rural areas’ should hardly take any housing developments after all. Virtually all big new housing allocations in our region will be confined to the ‘towns’ such as Cheadle and ‘larger villages’ such as Blythe Bridge and Upper Tean.
That’s just the main headline of course; there is a lot more for us in Draycott to think about than just that.
But one has to really delve into all the details across the 300 pages to find it! It’s hard work, but already the local Draycott & Cresswell community action group, VVSM, is on the case, and is examining the document with a fine tooth-comb; and it says it will publish their comments shortly.

One thing is for sure: according to this draft, Draycott will probably have to accept a small estate of around half a dozen homes being built in its centre sometime in the next decade.
However, there is no longer a mention of the possibility of a travellers-site coming to Cresswell or Blythe Bridge.

Blythe Vale and more

Draycott is classed as a ‘smaller village’ – so how come a planning application for a housing estate of 118 homes at its eastern end, which has just been submitted, is acceptable?
Well, for one thing, strange as it may seem, it’s actually inside the Blythe Bridge boundary – thus making it officially a ‘larger village’ allocation.
Secondly, we on this website have been warning for some time that the proposed giant Northern Gateway site (which covers virtually all the fields south of Uttoxeter Road between the main Blythe Bridge roundabout and Cresswell) was a planning problem looming on the horizon.
In fact the ‘Northern Gateway’ has had outline permission for some years now, even though nothing was actually happening.
Until now.
The new preferred option from the planners (see pg 155 of the Local Plan document) is that this giant Northern Gateway site be reclassified from B1 (business & industry) to ‘mixed-use’. So, the proposed Blythe Vale housing estate site – a small part of this Northern Gateway site towards its northern end – is now seen as ripe for development for … houses. So, there you go.

Draycott site allocations employment

The dark green blob (on both sides of the A50 road), is the Northern Gateway site formerly earmarked for industry employment (and now for mixed-use). The Blythe Vale housing will take up the northern quarter between the blue line (the A50) and the orange line (the Dracott dual carriageway).  The light green space is Draycott Moor College

The weirder thing is, at the other end of Draycott, the new Blythe Park housing-estate development at Cresswell.
If this draft Local Plan were already in place, Cresswell would be left free of development as it is classified as ‘other rural area’. However, permission for the Blythe Park development was squeezed through when Cresswell was vulnerable, i.e. before this Local Plan could ever be enacted. (It was still a surprise decision though, as SMDC, by giving permission for it, went against their own Core Strategy!)
In other words, Draycott and Cresswell have few friends at the moment at SMDC Council…

Our prediction? With fifteen years, development will stretch from Cresswell through Draycott to Blythe Bridge, all in one long ribbon.

Confused?

Like we’ve said, VVSM will soon publish their very detailed views, so that might help us more to be less confused.
It’s not clear yet what responses local parish councils are collating.

If you do want direct answers to questions (good luck!) you can also quiz officers and councillors at the various Local Plan drop-in sessions. The nearest to us is at Blythe Bridge Village Hall on Wednesday 30 August, 5-8pm.

Finally, don’t be backward in coming forward if you spot anything interesting in this Local Plan document – let us all know! Just use the comments box  further down this page, or send us an email.

Resident Roger Holdcroft, who is also chair of the Draycott Council, did just that; and he says when we are looking through the document, the following pages will be of interest to local people:
Page 46 – Smaller villages: “Development on a large scale would be unsustainable, as it will generate a disproportionate number of additional journeys, undermining the spatial strategy”
Page 51 – Net Housing 2017-2031 – includes upcoming Blythe Park development at Cresswell
Page 54 – Neighbourhood Plan Areas. Draycott housing allocation
Page 67-68 – Draycott is a ‘smaller village’, Cresswell not mentioned.
Page 67-70 – Smaller villages area strategy Policy SS9
Page 78 – Greenbelt in Draycott
Page 209 – Blythe Vale development
Page 229 – Draycott Map
Page 249 – Blythe Business park development Map
Page 155-157 – Blythe Vale / Northern Gateway

That should make some good bedtime reading!

***
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: top cricket / MORE houses? / open nurseries / council tax concern

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-August 2017
In this post we have news of…: Blythe CC go top of division / 100+ more homes for Draycott? / plant nursery re-opens / council tax worry…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the annual Draycott Sausage and Cider Fest. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Blythe go top!!

It may not have been the best of summers – but our local cricket team has certainly given us a lot to cheer about!
The first eleven at the Cresswell-based Blythe Cricket Club have been among the top teams in the NSSCL First Division pretty much all season, but they went even better than that this last Saturday by beating the leaders (away).
Their victory – by the narrowest squeak, but a proud triumph anyway – takes them straight to the top of the league.

This win now virtually assures them of an historic promotion to the NSSCL’s top tier – the Premier Division – though, yes, the final games must still be treated very seriously.

Musharraf Hussain victory signCaptain Peter Finch, who himself has played incredibly well all season, told the sports newspapers in an interview that a lot of the team’s success is down to this year’s professional, the Bangladeshi all-rounder Musharraf Hussain (see pic right).
Musharraf has settled into Staffordshire much better than many of his compatriots and produced consistent high-level performances.
Everyone has also been excited to see a fresh lease of life for the county over-50s bowler, Mark Stanyer – in one game, Mark produced figures of five wickets for no runs….

Why not get along to the Cresswell ground and check out the team’s run-in? See dates for Blythe’s remaining home games on our Events page.

– – –
More planning than we thought

It’s been a big few days for anyone who cares about the future of Draycott.

The very latest proposals designed for The Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan (the strategy by which house building, open spaces and employment sites will be carried out in this region over the next fourteen years) are now published, and available for view either online or at your local library.
It is literally hundreds of pages long, so the local community-action group VVSM is still sifting through it trying to see what the main implications are for us locally. They should put out their views soon (we’ll let you know their conclusions as soon as we have them).

However, suddenly, yesterday, everything shifted under our feet…

We all knew that the fields on the ridge behind the houses on Uttoxeter Road up to the A50 highway have long had permission to be used as an employment site (the so-called ‘Northern Gateway’), but the poor state of the economy has meant there has been no takers … until now.
So, the owners, the St Modwen Group, have now started an interesting campaign to try to persuade the Moorlands District Council that at least part of that planning permission should be switched to house-building instead. They want to build 118 new homes on the triangular parcel of land almost next to and behind the Chandi Cottage Restaurant, then right along to the roundabout and around.
See map below.St Modwen Vale plan leaflet
This comes completely out of the blue to us, but in fact St Modwen say they have already had preliminary discussions with the council. All they need now is the planning permission, and they could start building in 2018.
After what happened in Cresswell, where a similar application for 170 homes was passed through – despite all the recommendations against it -, you have to wonder if St Modwen might well get their plans through.

Already a protest group of residents is being formed.
The protesters do have one advantage. Due to a strange quirk of boundary-creation, the St Modwen land sits just inside Forsbrook Parish Council’s responsibilities, not Draycott Parish Council’s. Remembering how Draycott PC was almost completely useless when it came to doing anything about the Cresswell application, it’s probably better for the protesters that they will be working with Forsbrook PC, which is a much more energetic council.

– – –
Shrubs and more

Despite the sluggish economy, people are still – thank goodness – trying to make a go of business.
So, it’s nice to see that Draycott Plant Nurseries have new owners.
Neil & Carolyn left earlier this year, after putting a lot of hard work into the place. Many of us had started to rely on them for plants, so, when even they felt they could not make it work, many of us feared the place would fall derelict.

However, new management is now in place. Draycott plant nurseriesBasically the stock at the moment is large shrubs, meant for designers creating ‘ready-made’ gardens, so the market is really trade customers – but anyone is welcome to go along and have a look. The nursery is open five and a half days a week.

We were told that, once everything is settled, the range will be extended, and we should see bedding plants on sale there by next year.

– – –
Deeper pockets needed by local council-tax payers

Just as we hear inflation is about to hit 3%, you can (probably) add yet another expense to your bills.

At its last meeting, Draycott Parish council had a debate about a large sum of money that it needs to pay out. Should it pay it in instalments, or instead pay the lot at once?
Experienced councillors pointed out that paying a large amount in one lump sum might leave the council’s financial reserves under-strength, meaning an increase in council tax would be required in the Spring to bolster them.

However, the remaining councillors decide to ignore that advice and plumped to pay in one lump sum. It’s unclear why they decided to do that.
It rather reflects the fact that Draycott Council already has an unenviable  record as one of the top twenty per cent of councils in the whole country that likes to put council tax up the most

As usual, the local tax-payers may well have to dig into their pockets to pay for this council’s strange decisions.

***
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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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

– – –
Izaak closed again

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

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

– – –
Rail path support group

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

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

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

– – –
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.

– – –
Summertime sports

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

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

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

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

– – –
RIP Kath

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

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Draycott Summer Fayre 2017

It just gets bigger and bigger… The 26th year of the Draycott-in-the-Moors Summer Fayre promises a full thirty-six hours of fun (with a little sleep thrown in in the middle…) across Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th of this month (July 2017).
# Saturday Afternoon: A parade through the streets by some fifty re-enactors in American Civil War costume !
# Saturday evening: ‘Saturday Night Live’ brings three bands, a disco, hog-roast & beer festival !
# Sunday daytime: St Margaret’s Summer Fayre from 11am-4pm with The Human Cannonball, American Civil War skirmishing, vintage car rally…. and more !

 

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Everything takes place around Ford’s Field, slap bang in the centre of the village (for sat-navs, it’s ST11 9AE); and it’s all free to children of school age.
Now, if all that doesn’t wear the kids out, nothing will…

Saturday Parade

One of the biggest attractions this year is The American Civil War Society re-enactors. In costume from 150 years ago, they really know how to make history come alive – sometimes with big bangs…! They will be camping on the fayre field; and will parade from Blythe Bridge to Draycott on Saturday afternoon, leaving BB at 2.30pm, flags flying.
Make sure you come out to see them…

Party on, on Saturday

For those that love to dance or just appreciate some live music (and beautiful food), you get your moment on Saturday evening (8th July), when the field’s marquee will be put to good use.
The terrific Jacque Rabbit band (featuring local lad Richard Ward) will be back again, by popular demand; with Peter Wright’s ‘SuperiorSounds Disco’ on the decks kicking off the night at 7pm.
Two very lively bands are the support: Bear Withers (a “seamless blend of popular covers and bad jokes”!) and Moore & Moore Beer.

Team that with The St Margaret’s Beer Festival & Hog Roast (courtesy of The Draycott Arms) and you have a fun summer’s night entertainment, all under cover too. Price – £5 entry, kids under-17 get in free…

Biggest fayre ever

And it’s up early on the Sunday (9th) for everyone if you want to get your money’s worth at the fayre. The first event is the ever-popular Dog Show at 11.30am, (If you think your dog has the makings of a champion, be sure to get to the fayre by 11am to register).

From then on it’s fast & furious.
The two big attractions are the previously-mentioned  American Civil War Society re-enactors  who will be around all day – but also putting on an infantry drill display, organising a kids-only drill, and then having their own infantry-only skirmish (keep well back…!) during the course of the afternoon.
The other big attraction is Rodrigo Perez The Human Cannonball. Rodrigo is originally from Chile but is now based here in the Staffordshire Moorlands, and has performed over 3000 shots all around the world. The feat is quite extraordinary; he recently flew forty metres! If you don’t believe us, check out these videos

And of course – there is the long-established vintage vehicle rally, run by the evergreen Tom Sale, with over one hundred cars, motorcycles, lorries, coaches, machines, commercial vehicles and tractors. Every year, the rally alone brings in hundreds of visitors.

 

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Plus……. the Community Sports and Tug-of-War tournaments; the fun-fair, the ferret racing (with Malcolm Adlington), one that is new to the fayre Christopher Reptiles, the Coverdale Puppets show, the stalls selling everything from ice-cream to plants, the local community groups’ charity stands, and the ‘country-crafts experience’.
(If you or your local group wants a stand at the fayre, it is not too late to apply. Just email the Fayre Organiser, and he will help you sort something out – £10 a table.)

And you can relax… as well

Need a rest? Thank goodness for the ‘Saint Margaret’s Bar’ and its cooling beers and ciders (and other drinks). A big thank-you to The Draycott Arms which will be running it this year. Zara Hutson from the Arms has promised a proper choice of beers, so if you enjoy a pint, it really will suit you.
The staff of Draycott Moor College has once again showed terrific willingness to join in community activities – they will be running the barbecue.
And don’t forget the wonderful Tea Shop run by Christine Wibberley & friends.

And you don’t even have to walk to the fayre! If you live in Tean, Cresswell, Blythe Bridge or Draycott, then jump on the special Fayre bus. POPS, the Potteries Omnibus Preservation Society, will be running a vintage bus around the villages all day from 10am onwards (but not to Meir Park, as previously hoped).  Check out the timetable by clicking on this link.  It’s free to ride, though a small donation would be appreciated.

The small print

This is a local event, all run voluntarily by local people for a local charitable cause (the ongoing, and expensive, maintenance of our lovely 13th century village church, St Margaret’s).
The fayre is held, as usual, right in the centre of the village, on Uttoxeter Road (ST11 9AE) – with gates open at 11am. The day closes around 4pm.
Entry is £5, but children under-17 get in free.
On-site car-parking is free.
Website is: http://draycottfayre.co.uk/

On the weekend, the big A50 dual carriageway will be shut for repairs between Uttoxeter and Draycott-Blythe Bridge roundabout. This won’t affect the road by the fayre or local motorists, who use alternative roads, but if you’re coming from a distance, you might want to check your route.
First Aid is provided by 239 (Longton) Squadron Air Training Corps. They will also be performing a drill display in the main ring.
If you can’t remember last year’s fayre, check out our review of it.

Local people, can you….?

As has been said, this is a strictly volunteer-run local event with all profits going to our village’s oldest building. So, thinking of that – if you live locally, do you think you can help, by volunteering?
On the Sunday (and even the Saturday evening) there is always a need. People are required for all sorts of tasks – from the basic, like stewarding on the car-park, right through to ‘shepherding’ the main acts.
If you can spare even a little time, or have some expertise, please email the Fayre Organiser, John Clarke. He will be very happy to hear from you!
Fayre volunteers will also want to keep an eye on the special Fayre Facebook page.
And so, special thanks to Paul & Sandy Ford of Highfields Farm. From the very start in 1990, they have hosted the fayre on their land, providing a water and electricity supply too.

This page was last updated on July 6th

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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: Church histories / roundabout update/ Boundary event / car park solution

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-June 2017
In this post we have news of…:  church histories on sale again / Draycott roundabout update / Boundary history event / cricket club solves car park issue…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Hog-Roast & Fete. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Church’s every nook & cranny…

It’s great to see the re-publication of three definitive booklets about the history of Draycott St Margaret’s Church. Very few print copies of these works are now available; even reference copies are hard to find.

Some history-buffs will be already aware of two of the booklets: ‘Parish Church of St Margaret’ by June Johanneson & Ken Burgess (1989); ‘and ‘A Condensed History of St Margaret’s Church’ written by Bert Spencer using researches of Ken & Mollie Burgess (publ 1995). Bert’s booklet is the one to look at if you are new to the church; it picks out the main features and is nice and short (20 pages).

St Margaret's Church 1967, Goodier

St Margaret’s Church 1967 – drawing by Goodier

Of course, both these histories are developments of an earlier, 1967 work by Rev Charles Healey (the rector here during the 1960s), called ‘A Short History of St Margaret’s Church’.

However, the document that hardly anybody has seen up to yet is the ‘NADFAS Guide to St Margaret’s’ (1996).  Only three of these were published – as it’s a whopping 200 pages long and full of the very deepest details.
If you want to know every last meaning in any one of the stained-glass windows, or the material used in every piece of stonework, or the date of every piece of furniture in the church, then this is the work for you!!

NADFAS book, tiles

Even each floor-tile is described & explained!

Vera Marsh, a local parishioner herself, was one of the fifteen volunteers who compiled the research, which took two years to complete. Vera, who wrote the section about the stained-glass windows (and still worships at the church), told us that she is absolutely delighted that the tome is now finally available to all…

All these three publications have now been copied digitally to CD – and the CD is available for £5. Income from sales will go straight into the church’s repair fund. Email John Clarke or phone him on 01782 396190 for details.

And, don’t forget…
If you do love old churches, all are invited to go along to St Margaret’s Open Days – on the first Saturday of July and August and September between 2 and 4pm. Look for the ‘church open’ sign. There is always someone to tell you about the church if you wish to know more.
If you do buy this St Margaret’s History CD, you may even be the expert in the building!

– – –
Methodist history too

It’s not just Draycott … many communities across the region are beginning to realise the importance of the history of their old churches. Now that local schools and post offices are closing, and even country pubs are feeling the financial heat, an old church is sometimes the only place remaining that links us to our collective past.

Our local Methodists too have realised this and are celebrating the history of their tiny historic chapel at Boundary (Boundary is next hamlet along from Draycott Cross, so quite a few Draycottians will know the chapel well).
Every Saturday afternoon during August, between 2pm-4pm, the chapel will be hosting a history display with photos and memorabilia going right back tot when the chapel opened.

Do you have stories to tell, or can you help with the loan of any photos featuring Boundary or its residents or the chapel? It’s not too late. Just email Jenny, or phone her on 01782 394983

– – –
Car parking – sorted!!

Well done to Blythe Cricket Club!
The gates to the club’s ground in Cresswell are right on the brow of a humpback hill and in the past, when the club’s car-park was full, visitors to the ground have parked on the roadside.

Blythe cricket parking overspill

New parking overspill site for cricket club

But, as everyone knows, parking on the top of a hill which has a blind brow can be dangerous; and residents did ask for the club to do something about the problem before an accident occurred.
A secondary factor is that the club is a victim of its own success. The First XI is doing so well in the NSSCL Division One that more spectators are attracted to come to watch – making a need for even more parking space. The club said they’d try to come up with a solution.

Well – true to their word, the club has now solved the problem.
What the club has done has got permission to use the field opposite the entry – which is now functioning as an overspill car-park.
Well played, Blythe CC!

– – –
Draycott’s central roundabout (planned)

One of the big shake-ups for Draycott will be the huge increase in traffic coming along Uttoxeter Road when the proposed housing-estate & industrial-estate are built.
Industrial vehicles will not be allowed to go south from the new business-park because the roads in Hilderstone (the next district along going south) are too narrow, so all the industrial traffic will have to come through Draycott Level.
Because snarl-ups will be inevitable otherwise (see VVSM Highways Report), a huge new roundabout is planned for the centre of the village.

Proposed roundabout for Uttoxeter Rd/Cresswell Lane

Proposed roundabout for Uttoxeter Rd/Cresswell Lane

The diagram that has been produced by the planners & developers (see pic above) is a bit confusing though, and back in January one of our district councillors, Dave Trigger, agreed to research the issue and get some answers.
Not surprisingly, residents are wondering where that research is. However, the bad news is that Dave has been very ill since the beginning of the year and not been able to fulfil more the most basic of his duties… so residents will have to wait.
Dave is a highways expert, so he really is the man for the job.
In the meantime, we send our best wishes to him and hope he gets better as soon as possible.

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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: elections in / book success / accounts (?) / bowls club

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-June 2017
In this post we have news of…:  the recent election results / local history book success / council’s invisible accounts / bowls club open …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Fun Tennis Tournament. Check out the Events page)

For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Results are in

Well, that’s it for elections for a while (hopefully!).
Since last year’s referendum, we in Draycott have had a parish-council bye-election, a county council election, AND a general election. The next lot is due in 2019.

As for the results, Tory candidate Mark Deaville was re-elected as one of our Staffordshire county councillors for the Cheadle & Checkley ward (which includes us) with a whopping 56% of the vote. No-one else was in sight. Sadly, the turn-out was just a measly 28% of the electorate.
Soon after the election, the Conservative administration on the county council confirmed that Mark will resume his post as the county’s Cabinet member for highways. Congratulations to him.

In the general election, it was a similar story with Conservative Bill Cash storming home to be (again) our MP for the Stone constituency. Oddly, the trailing Labour candidate did get a huge increase his votes too – but that is explained by the total collapse of the local UKIP vote.

Weirdly, Mr Cash has just put up a new website – https://billcashforstone.wordpress.com/ – about his work in this constituency, but it is the most amateurish piece of work we’ve seen in a long time. It’s hard to believe he approved it.
Sadly, Mr Cash has turned off the comments function of this website; it would have been nice to be able to put a comment on!

– – –
Email a photo now

Our local library at Blythe Bridge has a photography completion running at the moment – and they are looking for photos of this whole area (including Draycott).
The idea is that the photos should be of a local quiet spot, somewhere where a person can just sit and contemplate the world. It could be your own back-yard, or it could be somewhere where you stop for a moment on your walks.

Draycott churchyard

A place to stop and think: Draycott St Margaret’s churchyard…

It’s easy to take part – just email your photo to the library – and you could be in with a chance of winning a prize!
Click here for the rules etc.

– – –
Successful history book

Congratulations to local boy Matthew Pointon whose book about the history of Draycott-in-the-Moors raised over £700 in profit.
Matthew, who took not a penny himself, asked for the profits to be divided equally among the two historic churches in Draycott – St Margaret’s Parish Church and St Mary’s RC Church at Cresswell.

The parish council, who put up the initial money to see the book published, decided such an achievement needed a special event to celebrate it; and a History Event was held at St Margaret’s on June 3rd.

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During the afternoon, Levison Wood, the chairman of the local history society, led a special history tour of the village, which was very successful; and tea & cakes were served (for free!!).  Alongside that were special displays remembering the long, long history of this village.

– – –
Bowls – a true Summer sport

One of the disadvantages of a lot of summer sports is that they can be cancelled because of rain. However, not so in crown-green bowls!
The sturdy members of the local bowling club in Cresswell pretty much carry on in the rain – unless it’s lashing down.

Sue Stepek, the club’s secretary, says the club is still keen to find new members – from absolute beginners to skilled champions.
Basic membership is £10 for the year, though that means you have to pay £1 each time you use the green. The clubhouse on the site was refurbished last year, so it’s a comfortable experience.
The great thing is that the green is pretty much open all the time; it’s sited at the entrance to the business park in Cresswell, so it is open 16 hours a day!

The club get-together is always on Thursday afternoon, so that is a good time to wander over and introduce yourself if you want to have a go, or get some guidance.

– – –
Invisible accounts

Lastly, you may have seen on the noticeboards that Draycott Council has finally published its end-of-year accounts, and we all have until Friday 21st July to examine them, and, if need be, query them.

Trouble is: how do you get to them, to see them?

Most local councils now put a print-out on their noticeboards, or publish them online.  This what next-door Milwich Council and Dilhorne Council have done. The government is urging every council to do it one of these ways.
Some councils (including next-door Hilderstone Council) even publish the chairman’s annual report online.

But not Draycott Council.  At least, not yet.
In this district, what we have to do is first apply to the council clerk for permission to see them, and then (presumably – but who knows?) we have to trudge round to an address somewhere just to see the papers.
Wouldn’t it just be simpler – and more democratic – to publish them online on the council’s website?
Please?

====STOP PRESS:  A week after this article was written, these accounts were published online after all – see Draycott Council Accounts 2016/17. Thank you to the council for responding to residents’ requests).=====

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