Tag Archives: Blythe Colour Works

175 Years of Colour Making

One of the casualties of the Covid crisis has been the grand exhibition that was planned to take place this month to mark exactly 175 years of colours making at Cresswell. The Colours Memories Group, which was organising the event, now say they’ll postpone until next year.
So, we thought we’d give you a little reminder of what’s happened on the Cresswell site over the past 175 years, using a timeline. Older folk will recognise some of the names and younger ones may get an idea of what a proud history it was.

Tub Thumping - FJ Forrester 1965

Some tub thumping!

Back through the years

Even before the most famous Blythe Colour Works was set up by the River Blithe in Cresswell (on the site of what is now the Blythe Business Park), there had been colours making going on here for over forty years. Colours for the pottery industry are made from various naturally-occurring rocks and minerals, and the making of colours from such materials was (and is) a specialist part of the pottery industry.

In the early days, the process of making such materials needed to be by a river which could then drive a waterwheel. In its turn, the power generated from the wheel could drive a grinding mill… in which the specially chosen mineral rocks could be ground down to a powder – ready for later use when added in pottery firings.

Cresswell was an ideal spot: being on the River Blithe; being 100 yards from Cresswell Railway Station (from where materials could travel on to the Potteries in Stoke); and on cheap land.

TIMELINE
1850s:  Cresswell Mill appears in the records, relating to a boring
for coal in 1856. Probably Cresswell Mill was both a flint and
bone mill as the scale of both operations and the processing would be similar.

1860s : Along Waterworks Lane (opposite the Izaak Walton), John Docksey (sometimes spelt Doxey) established a flint-grinding mill by 1861. He then went into colours-manufacturing too. You can still see the remains of some brickwork of an old mill on the spot (though that short length of the river has dried up now). John Docksey died in 1900 and he is buried alongside his wife if at St Mary’s Church in Cresswell.
For more about Cresswell’s mill-stream, click here.

1870 (September) : Historians’ date for the beginning of colour making at Cresswell
1880s : A partnership of two businessmen, Pigott and Scarratt, set up a ‘Blythe Colours’ works on the opposite side of the road from Docksey’s first mill. They named it after the river (which they spelt Blythe, not Blithe as it should be).

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1908 (possibly 1910) : Fred Wildblood buys the Piggott & Scarratt business – the Wildblood family would be the main owners of Blythe Colours for the next fifty and more years
1914  :  Within a few years of the Wildblood buy-out Blythe Colour Works was one of the most advanced and successful of its kind in Europe
1920 : Waterwheel abandoned as source of power – replaced by electricity
1926 : The company’s Sports Ground was opened. The land is still used for sport today, half by Blythe Cricket Club, half by Draycott Sports Centre
1936 : Blythe Colour Works Limited established as public company. All directors initially were Wildblood family members.
1936-37 : Local builder Harry Mountford (the father of the late Cresswell stalwart Neville Mountford) built a row of homes on the western side of Sandon Road, opposite the Colour Works (each home cost £325 in those days!). Blythe Colours bought the first four in the row: Arthur Bennett (works engineer) took the second house, and Oswald (Ozzie) Vavasour the third (Ozzie’s son Hugh became the sales director; Hugh and his wife Monique are buried at St Mary’s in Cresswell).
1938 : New office block built – which can still be seen on the business park today (at the side of the bowling green)
1943-44 : As part of the war effort, American military units specialising in chemical processing were permitted use of the company’s laboratories and laundry. The soldiers lived in huts on Camp Bolero (which is now Rookery Crescent).  Click here for more on that story.
1955 : Laboratory Block and Showroom opened.
1963 : Johnson Matthey bought Blythe Colours.
1979 : A new canteen was built (now the Quick Quick Slow Dance Studio)
1992 : The ‘Blythe Colours’ name was discontinued; new name was ‘Johnson Matthey Colour and Print Division’.
1994 : Formation of Cookson Matthey Ceramics, a 50:50 joint venture between Johnson Matthey plc and Cookson Group plc. Some manufacturing moved from Cresswell to Meir. However, the Fusible Colour (enamel) Department remained at Cresswell until near to the final closure of the works.
2014 : Closure of the Johnson Matthey business at Cresswell.
2016 : The Cheadle History Group and a few Cresswell residents join forces to persuade Johnson Matthey to donate the Colour Works archive (of more than 700 items) to the local community – and are successful. The archive is now housed in Blythe Bridge Library, where it is accessible to researchers, who should contact Cheadle Discovery Group for details about access at contact@discovercheadle.co.uk.  (See full story of the archive by clicking here.)

Well, we hope you enjoyed this potted history, but – can you add any information? (Corrections are also welcome!). Please email us if you have anything to add.

More info

For further information about the Blythe Colours Memories project, click to see hundreds of photographs from down the years, as well as a checklist of nearly everyone who worked here.
For further information about the Cheadle Discovery Group, a local history society which runs the Blythe Colours History project, please click here.
There is also a public Blythe Works Memories Facebook group for anyone interested in the old Colour Works.

***
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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)

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

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

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A Jaguar on Cresswell’s roads

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

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

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

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

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A military hero from Draycott

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

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

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

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

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Can’t sing?  Will sing!

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

Draycott in the Moors Church Hall

Draycott Church Hall – open for use by the community…

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

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

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Rust on the remove

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

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

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

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Congratulations Bessie!

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

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

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

***
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: road-holes / yoga / trolls / eggs…

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early May 2016
News of…:  potholes and collapsing road drain covers / a return to Blythe Colours for yoga / trolls in Draycott  / eggs galore!…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including the WI birthday party … Check out the Events page)

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Drive (extra) carefully

Well, despite all the spin and soft words from the county council, Draycott’s roads seem to still have big issues.  It’s not just the potholes, though the one on the central junction is positively dangerous now, it seems to be drain covers – which are slowly collapsing.

Collapsed drain cover Draycott

The stretch out to the dual carriageway has three collapsing drain covers (see above for one), while the drain-cover on Cresswell Lane is getting deeper each day.  The trouble is that our car can’t avoid it, because the lane is so narrow there, you have to go over it whenever passing another vehicle.  The clunk is getting to be quite a familiar sound!  (And, yes, it has been reported!)

Cresswell litter

Litter spot on Cresswell Lane

Cresswell Lane suffers too from excess litter.  We counted over fifty bits of rubbish on the sides of the 100-yard stretch around the A50 bridge.  Parish councilor Roger Holdcroft has done a bit of research on this, and he is pretty sure that it’s anti-social motorists chucking their take-away wrappers and so on out of their cars as they pass.
Why the litter-bugs pick this section to do their dirty deeds is hard to know – or does the wind sweep all the paper and card into this area?

At one time, the Cresswell Residents Group used to go out and do community litter-picks – but the group folded a couple of years ago.
In fact, the matter of establishing a local community volunteer team was going to be raised at the recent Draycott Annual Assembly – but the meeting was stopped before anyone was allowed to raise any points other than those relating to planning. Shame.

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Stretch those limbs!

Nice to see that the Tatsu Fitness Centre on Blythe Park goes from strength to strength.  As well as martial arts, which Tara and the team do so brilliantly, there is now a regular yoga class there.
Jayne Gregory, who got the class under way this week, is a local lass.  She told us that the room she and her learners will be using is the former Blythe Colour Works directors dining room  which had been sitting vacant for many years.   Jayne added that when she first went along to see the Tatsu Centre she went with her mum, who became quite emotional.
Jayne’s mother had worked at Blythe Colours for many years – and it was a mixture of nostalgia for what once was, sadness for the shame that it all had to close down, and happiness for what was to become of it, that left her feeling teary.
A lovely story.

You can find out more about Jayne’s yoga classes by clicking here.

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Omelettes anyone?

One thing you won’t go short of Draycott area is a nice dish of scrambled eggs…
Now that Spring is here at last, the chickens have started laying again, and some owners are allowing any extra eggs to be sold off.
Some enterprising householders even have a stall outside their homes!

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We had a delicious goose-egg from the house on Draycott Old Road.  It was ginormous, and made a brilliant breakfast.

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Stop trolling

You wouldn’t think that you would get ‘trolls’ in a little village like Draycott, but they must be everywhere.
‘Trolls’ are people, usually anonymous, who like to write spiteful or offensive messages to public figures, usually on the internet.

However, the Draycott Neighbourhood Plan questionnaires, that were posted though residents’ letterboxes last month, have attracted a few trolls too.

We had this letter from Draycott parish councillor, Roger Holdcroft:
“…Dear Parishioners, I write to ask, “Why do we bother?”
I refer to the not inconsiderable amount of time given up by members of the Parish Council to attend meetings, read communications and make considered judgements about the future of our Parish.  They give of their time willingly and gladly, believing in what they do.
One can only question this commitment when one reads comments placed on our recent questionnaire about a possible Neighbourhood Plan.

One resident remarked that Parish Councillors were not “sufficiently intelligent” to make considered judgements on planning issues.  I find this assertion to be insulting, considering the background of some members of the Council and the wealth of experience of others.
The same resident recorded that they wished for plans for the Parish to include “the building of gas chambers for Councillors”.
I find this comment grossly offensive and totally inappropriate on such a document.  My feelings reach out for the Parish Clerk who received this return and was the first to read it.

As I said above, the Parish Councillors believe in what they do and are committed to it.
Fortunately, other returned questionnaires were much more appropriate and the comments included will be given due consideration.
Equally the attendance at the Annual Parish Assembly and the manner in which residents raised issues reassured me of the importance of continuing with our efforts and convinced me of the good reasons for ‘Why we bother’.
Cllr Roger Holdcroft…”

If you have views on this story, or any others on this page, please use the Comments box below.

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).

***
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)

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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.

A ‘Colours-ful’ Christmas message…

It’s time to wish everybody a “Merry Christmas & a Prosperous New Year”!
Back in 1934, the management at the Blythe Colours factory in Cresswell were doing exactly the same thing; circulating this leaflet (below) to all their hundreds of clients…

Blythe Colours Xmas Wishes 1934

Thanks to the people at the Cheadle History Centre for letting us use this image from their Blythe Colours Works archives.

Christmas message

We’ve also been asked to publish this special end-of-year message from Roger Holdcroft, the chairman of Draycott Parish Council

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Message from Chair of Parish Council, December 2015

To all Residents.

It is now six months since the present Parish Council was elected and I was appointed to be Chair.  It has been an interesting time, with much to learn, especially for myself and the other new Councillors.  We are indebted to the experienced Councillors for their help and guidance.

The Parish Council has met six times since the election and has considered the usual issues of planning and has conducted all of the required business.  We have also tried to bring about some improvements to the Parish, including such things as grass cutting, hedge management, signage etc… 
A highlight of the year, so far, was being proud to be involved in the installation of the new St Margaret’s Church Rector, and being able to wish him well on behalf of all of the residents of Draycott.

In addition, Draycott Parish Council has joined with other local parishes in the ‘Parishes Together Initiative’, in order to coordinate activities and share experiences.

Perhaps most significantly, in response to requests from parishioners, we have moved forward on the production of a Neighbourhood Plan for the Parish.
We have enlisted the services of a consultant solicitor, and, on his advice, have formed a Steering Committee, consisting of myself as Chair, Mrs.Kate Bradshaw (Parish Clerk) and two volunteer councillors,  Cllrs Leach and Clarke.  The Committee has met once and has delegated tasks towards producing the first draft of various sections of the proposed Neighbourhood Plan, having first of all completed some internet research on Plans produced in other districts across the country.  The services of a proofreader have also been secured to work on later drafts.

Clearly there will need to be consultation with parishioners on the detailed contents of the plan and this process will commence in the New Year.  Parishioners will be notified by pamphlets and via the village and parish council web sites.  I hope that we can rely on the interest and enthusiasm of residents as we work on this project.

I would like to thank all of the Parish Councillors and the invited District Councillors for their attendance at meetings and for the professional and sympathetic manner in which they have shared their views and listened to those of others.  Particular thanks are also due to Mrs.Kate Bradshaw (Parish Clerk) for her diligence and dedication to supporting the Council.

Finally, could I wish all of the residents of our Parish a safe and happy Christmas and a content New Year.

Roger Holdcroft (Chair of Parish Council) – ledgemusic@hotmail.co.uk

NEWS: Odd flooding / A-boards gone / Colours project / lengthsman update

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early December 2015
News of…:  why was a roadside drain filled in? / junction adverts removed / Blythe Colours reunion success / lengthsman saga goes on … and on …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Christmas Tree Festival. Check out the Events page)

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Not draining

The recent weather of rain and high winds has caused some disruption, but the most obvious consequence is the pooling of water on the link-road just outside the Chandni Cottage restaurant (about one hundred yards from the A50 roundabout). This link-road connects the north-bound and south-bound sections of the dual carriageway.
This flooding effect is quite dangerous as cars turning into it off the dual carriageway can be doing a decent speed – and may not see the water – and can hit the water quite hard.  It lasted for some eight days.

Flooded drain

The mystery is: why is the water not running away through the drain there?
Well, oddly, it looks like someone has filled in and tarmaced over the drain….! Presumably this was done by the county highways team, though no one is sure. Our councillors are looking into the issue.

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Adverts taken away

Another road issue that has raised some discussion is the question of the A-boards which sit on the main junction on Draycott Level.
Some people think they should be left there, as they help advertise local businesses. Other people think they are an eyesore and ugly-looking.
However, just to place them there is not illegal, as such, which is why they have been there for so long.

But you will notice that most of them have been taken away now.

Cresswell Lane junction adverts

What happened was that our Draycott in the Moors Parish Council recently had a complaint that they were dangerous – because they were blocking the view for some low-chassis cars trying to turn into Uttoxeter Road from Cresswell Lane. And… it turned out that it is “illegal to leave anything on verges or highway that obscures vision”.
So, the boards have now all been removed but one; the one that remains is chained to the signpost there, so it will need cutters.

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Odd job

Taking of the parish council, the four-year saga to find and employ someone to do the odd-jobs about the area goes on.
For some reason, the council hasn’t wanted to place an advert in the local newspapers for the post; and councillors have instead just been recommending their own friends & neighbours for the role (officially known as the ‘lengthsman’). None of these recommendations turned out satisfactory, so, finally, two months ago it was decided enough was enough, and the post would be properly advertised.

But — last month, a couple of councillors each recommended one of their neighbours and their recommendations are now being considered.
Back to square one then.

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Blythe Colours project expanding

The Blythe Colours Factory reunion last month saw an amazing turn-out, when some sixty people crowded into the Cheadle History Centre meeting room and swapped stories and reminiscences.
The main ambition of the meeting was to look through all the photos in the Blythe Colours archives and try to identify all the people and places in the pictures. However, there are probably two thousand photos to be labelled, so it will take another two or three sessions for that to be achieved.

The archives were donated to the Cheadle History Centre when the Cresswell factory closed its doors for the last time last year. Among the archives are not just photos, but artefacts (like enamels, commemorative plates and marketing items) and documents, including old works magazines and posters.

What’s great is that former employees are coming forward not just to attend the reunions but also to donate items they have. Bill & Jill Allen, who actually live in Scotland nowadays, have just sent us some lovely silk promotional calendars (see the 1950 one, below) – and we have been able to pass them on to the History Centre. A big thanks to them.

Blythe Colours calendar 1950

If you want to know more about the Blythe Colours project, drop an email to Mark Bentley. He is co-ordinating the project from the employees’ side of things.

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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: choking weed / council surgeries / Colours memories? / solar farm latest / kiosk question

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late October 2015
News of…:  solar farm application withdrawn / do you have memories of Blythe Colours? / the balsam weed choking the river / parish councillor to hold discussion sessions  …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Halloween Dance. Check out the Events page)

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Remember Blythe Colours?

Ex-employees of the Blythe Colour Works factory will be interested to know that there is a Blythe-Colours ‘memories’ session in Cheadle in a fortnight.

You’ll remember that over a hundred years of colour-making came to an end in Cresswell last year, when Johnson-Matthey finally upped sticks and left the Blythe Park site.  Johnson-Matthey had bought the Colour Works back in 1963 when the site was at the height of its production, but dropping demand had seen the workforce shrink and shrink over the years.
However, thousands of local people worked at the Colours at one time or another down the years, so the mention of the place still brings back memories.

Blythe Colours offices

This proud 1930s office building on the business park at Cresswell was the headquarters of the Blythe Colours operation

One thing that was good was that Johnson Matthey passed all the Cresswell site archives over to the Cheadle History Centre earlier this year, so that historians who want to study local industry would have full access to the files.

However… lots of the archive material is not properly labelled; and this is where former employees can help.
If you worked at the Colours site – or someone in your family did – would you be happy to go along to the session and try to identify the faces in photos, take a guess at what year posters were created, or even try to remember who was who down the years?
The session at Cheadle History Centre (in Cheadle High Street) is open to all; and takes place on Friday 13 November from 11am to 3pm.  If you can’t get along on the day, email us – and History Centre volunteers will try to get to see you instead!

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Planning news…… again

In Draycott & Cresswell, planning matters seem to come up nearly every month!
The last big application here was for a solar-panels complex at Draycott Cross – which was supposed to have been discussed at last week’s Staffordshire Moorlands Council planning-committee meeting.  However, according to the Moorlands Planning Committee agenda, the application was withdrawn at the last minute.
The proposal didn’t look like it was ever going to get approval, so it may well be that the applicants (Solstice Renewables) have decided to rethink their plans – and may submit them in slightly altered form in the future.

As for the other big planning controversy, the question of the 168 new homes for Cresswell – which has still not got full approval for its S106 ‘community conditions’ – this is still something that some residents think can be defeated, even at this late stage.
The VVSM community action group has pulled together a lot of concerned local people and is pressing on with its campaign to stop the development in its tracks.  They are busy fund-raising right now!
To see the latest updates on their campaign, click here.

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Weeds in the river

The Churnet Valley Partnership, which looks after the natural ecology of the Churnet, keeps sending us emails about the “threat of Himalayan Balsam”, a weed which spreads like wildfire, and can choke up water-courses.
We didn’t realise just how prolific this plant is until we had a look at the flow of the River Blithe under Cresswell Bridge last week.  The river is struggling to get along.

Himalayan Balsam on River Blithe`

Himalayan Balsam on River Blithe at Cresswell

The district council sometimes organises working parties to try to clear the weed from certain areas; and you can see why…

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Let’s talk

Roger Holdcroft, one of the new Draycott parish councillors elected in May, is keeping his election promise to try to reach out to local people.  He’s decided that he will hold an open session every third Monday of the month at the church hall from 6.45pm-7.15pm, when he will be available for chat, discussion, general queries etc.
A number of parish councils (and MPs) hold these ‘surgeries’, so it’s good to see a parish councillor in Draycott making a similar effort.
Let’s hope a few other councillors will join him at the session, and so keep their election promises too.

Talking of the parish council, a petition came before the last parish council meeting requesting the demolition of the phone-box in the Draycott lay-by (opposite the Draycott Arms).
Of course, such a decision is not up to the parish council, as the kiosk is still owned by BT, but, if they did decide to support the petition, that would add a lot of weight to the request.
What do you think?  Should the phone-box be taken down?

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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)

Blythe Colour Works archive – saved!

When the ceramics & chemicals company Johnson Matthey decided to closed down its base in Cresswell last September, some of us wondered: what will happen to the historic archives?
And, now we know.

The Johnson Matthey business was better known to all of us as ‘Blythe Colours’, which created and maintained the factory that sat alongside the railway in Cresswell for over 100 years; and employed many thousands of local people during its lifespan.  It had been very much a ‘paternalist’ sort of family-firm up until the takeover by Johnson Matthey in 1963; and we owe the present-day cricket club, tennis club and bowls green to the support of the old Colour Works.

So, when it was decided that even the last few employees remaining on the Blythe Business Park site would leave there, it became a worry…
What would happen to all those precious memories, such as the archive of photos of works-outings, copies of staff magazines and even promotional material?
In its own way, all that material is unique as a record of the past.

Campaign

A couple of us on this website took it on ourselves to start a dialogue with the Human Resources Department of Johnson Matthey, and to plead that the archives be not only saved, but handed over (after suitable vetting of course…) to the people of Cresswell.
We are happy to say that Johnson Matthey were incredibly responsive to our pleas, and took them very seriously.

Blythe Colours works magazine

Blythe Colours produced its own works magazines going back to the 1930s – some of which can be found in the firm’s archives.  (To see this photo in large-size, double-click on it – but remember to use the back-button to return to this page)

The big questions from JM were:  what ‘responsible’ body would take legal possession of the material?; how would they ensure open and proper access to the material?; and where could it safely and permanently stored?
To be fair to JM, those are fair questions; and at one stage in the negotiations it did look like the only answer was that the archive might go to the Hanley Record Office.
But we wanted it to be closer to home…

Draycott Parish Council did not express interest, so things were looking a bit forlorn until… in stepped the Cheadle Historical Society – our saviours!
Mike Plant and Andrew Bull from the society had also spotted that the Colours archive must be full of material of great importance to local amateur historians, so they came up with the best solutions.  What they proposed was that the archive would be taken on by them as a legal body, and stored at the Cheadle History & Discovery Centre (in Lulworth House, in Cheadle High Street).

Johnson Matthey mulled over that proposal for a couple more months… then said yes!

Looking forward

Eventually, (after six months of negotiations now…), twenty large cardboard boxes – full of documents, old photos, promotional material and even some ceramics – arrived at Lulworth House.  When we unpacked it all, it was with a sense of relief that it had been saved – as this is the sort of stuff that often just goes into a skip…

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Alan Wigley, Mike Plant and Andrew Bull unpack the Blythe Colours archive as it arrives at the Cheadle Discovery Centre

So, what happens now?

Well, after the initial sorting, it’s hoped that a group of former Colours workers, many of whom still live in Cresswell, will be able to look through the material.  A lot of it is just stored loose and not labelled, so their memories will be massively important in helping to identify what is going on in the papers and photos. Cresswell resident Barry Phillips, who is an amateur historian himself, will lead that effort.

After six months, it’s hoped the archive will be in a well-ordered state… and then there will begin preparations for a public exhibition, in Cheadle, to take place sometime next year (hopefully).
At this stage, ‘serious’ historians, especially those interested in local industry, will also be able to apply to the Discovery Centre for access to the material for in-depth studies.

And then – wouldn’t this be great? – it’s hoped to take some of the most interesting items and put on an exhibition here in Draycott & Cresswell, especially for local people.

Thank you

So, a valuable piece of Cresswell’s past has been saved, and may give rise to even more memories and more facts about our community’s history as time goes by.

And there has to be a big thank you to Johnson Matthey.

Way back, in the Colours hey-day of the 1920s and 1930s, the firm prided itself on ‘looking after’ its workers, and made special efforts in that respect.
Well, the present-day heirs of the old firm can also congratulate themselves for their community spirit.  Many large firms would have just said no to our pleas, either because they couldn’t be bothered to vet the material, or because they didn’t consider the local community important enough.
JM did though -and we have to thank them for that…

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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).

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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