Tag Archives: Cheadle Discovery Centre

NEWS: annual assembly / last week for Colours / green bowls back

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late May 2019
In this post we have news of…: promoting the village assembly / Colour-Works exhibition last week / go bowling in Cresswell… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including ballroom-dancing lessons…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Annual gathering

The ‘annual assembly’ for our district of Draycott-in-the-Moors took place earlier this month.
An ‘annual assembly’ is a 100 year-old tradition, at which residents of rural villages come together for one evening in the year – to hear what their local organisations are up to, and to discuss some of the issues facing the village.

At our own 2019 Draycott Villagers’ Assembly, there were speakers from six organisations, (though, sadly, the speaker we most wanted to hear from, the manager of the Blythe CC Community Hub, was not present). All speakers were informative, and well-received.

However, what was disappointing was the level of attendance. Barring the speakers and their supporters, barely half-a-dozen other people attended.

So… perhaps it is time it is handled a different way…
Up to now, the organisation and publicity for this event has been left each year to the local council’s chairperson (even though this is not actually a council meeting) but, down the years, the assembly has never been the successful event it should be, suffering from poor publicity and confusion over its aims.
So, is it time a people’s working-party was formed – with the ambition to make this gathering the central success for the neighbourhood that it really should be?

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Blythe spirit

Congratulations to the Cheadle History Discovery Group and to Blythe Bridge Library, who, between them, have produced a fascinating exhibition about the history of Blythe Colour Works. This huge works dominated life in Cresswell for almost one hundred years, from the 1890s.
From photos to ‘specimen’ crockery, there’s interesting stuff to see.

A laboratory at the Blythe Colour Works, sometime around 1930

It was a bit of a surprise to learn from the exhibition that not only did the factory supply colours to pottery firms (including Wedgwood, Royal Doulton etc), but it also supplied industries that made plastics, glass, and even jewellery!

The exhibition is into its last week now at Blythe Bridge library so you still have time to go along to see it.
If you want something to whet your appetite, click here to see a little YouTube slideshow of the best of the exhibition.
The exhibition is free to enter.

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Bowling along

Welcome back to our local bowlers!
The outdoor season has just started again for the bowls club which plays on the green at Blythe Business Park in Cresswell.

Cresswell bowling green in summer 2018

Cresswell bowling green – after a rather dry spell!

Sue Stepek, the club’s secretary told us: “We still have 3 teams, aiming to give everyone who wants it a chance to play at every level; and we always welcome new members to join this friendly club”.

However, if you don’t want to join one of the teams as such, but just would enjoy a casual session instead, then ‘club afternoons’ are for you. They take place on Thursdays.
Sue can be contacted on 01782 396785 if you want more details.

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Time to reflect

In a recent post, we welcomed the new members that have been elected, and will create a new version of Draycott Council.
However, as we know, the future can only work properly if we remember the past. And sadly, the past – that is, the record of the previous version of Draycott Council over the last few years – was not a completely proud one.

So, what we have done is compiled a review of the 2015-2019 council’s achievements (and/or failings) as a kind of school-report. Click here to see the full review.
We hope that residents (including the new councillors) will read it and see that there is a need to find ways in which improvement and reform can happen – so that we can have a model village council in the future instead.

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?  Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.
(The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

NEWS: village assembly / rural crime / Colours archive / council shenanigans

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late April 2018
In this post we have news of…: the forthcoming annual village assembly, rural crime questionnaire, the Blythe Colours archive on the move, local council inaction …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a local police drop-in session…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Village get-together

It’s that time of year again when this village will be holding its annual community assembly – the yearly meeting when the residents come together to discuss how life is going in the village. It’s a custom that goes back over 150 years. (For more about village assemblies, click here and for their rules, click Parish Assembly rules).

This year however, the village councillors who are supposed to organise it have seemed less than interested in sorting it out. A date has only recently just been advertised for it (it is a fortnight away); it will be cut to just one hour this year; and it’s still not clear what will be happening in the meeting!

However, from what we can gather, it will be a local-information event. It’s hoped that village groups from Draycott/Cresswell/Totmonslow will take a stand at the event and be prepared to talk about what they do.  However, if you also want to raise an issue for general discussion, just ask for it to be put on the agenda – any local elector can do it.
But it’s all a bit last-minute…

The 2018 Draycott-in-the-Moors-Parish assembly takes place at Draycott Church Hall on Monday 14th May from 6.30-7.30. To book a stand, email Dawn Plant

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Questions about crime

If you look at a map of our district of Draycott in the Moors civil-parish, you’ll see that the vast bulk of it is rural. Even most of us who live in the ribbons along Uttoxeter Road or Sandon Road overlook fields.
And this is why the Staffordshire Police Commission is asking communities like ours to help fill in the latest crime survey.

This questionnaire is about crime in rural areas specifically – whether enough is done to combat it, and why people in rural areas don’t report crime as much as those in urban areas.Deputy Police Commissioner Sue Arnold with Sgt Rob Peacock
The Rural Crime Network questionnaire only takes a few minutes to complete. If you do fill it in, you’ll make one of our local police officers, Sgt Rob Peacock (seen above with the Staffs Deputy Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold) a very happy man.

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Blythe Colours archive on the move

The difficult situation for the Cheadle History Centre will likely have a knock-on effect for history-lovers in Cresswell. (The centre at Cheadle has moved out of its current premises because the lease is up, and they have nowhere else to go).

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Blythe Colours archive arrives in Cheadle

Volunteers from this website worked with the Cheadle history group to save the Blythe Colours Archive (see story), which consists of nearly three filing cabinets of material – all fascinating stuff if you lived and worked at the Cresswell factory over the last fifty years. It has been stored since 2015 at the group’s rooms in Cheadle High Street.
But where will the archive go now?

A temporary home has been found for it, but if nothing else turns up soon, it may have to be transferred out of the Moorlands to the Hanley Library Archive Centre. However, if you have ideas on what alternatively could be done with it, please use the Comments box at the bottom of this page.

Fortunately, we did manage to index all the material, and one of the volunteers has made a fantastic digital archive of it all, so progress has been made even in the short time it has been at Cheadle.
The website showing the material is really good, and well worth browsing if you have an hour or so to spare.

Council Shenanigans

(Our local Draycott Council gets up to so many odd things that we simply haven’t been able to keep up, so we have given the council its own little section called ‘Council Shenanigans’. However, some people don’t like to read reviews of our leaders – so we suggest that those folk now click on to something else!)

Local Plan… not
Community-level councils such as Draycott Civil-Parish Council have very very few set responsibilities – but one of them is to comment on planning matters.
So, we were interested to see what our councillors would think of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan Final Version. As the official body representing the electors here, our council’s views would have been taken seriously.

And what thoughts did our council contribute?
Umm… None.

This is pretty poor of them.
Virtually the whole of the Local Plan’s ‘rural areas allocation’ of housing & industry for the Moorlands has been shoved into Cresswell – thanks to the Blythe Park development plan – so, surely our council should have been falling over themselves to get their views heard (whether for or against).
However, apparently they thought not. (They have had since February to discuss the matter).
Poor Cresswell… ignored by its own councillors!

The last time our council put in thoughts about the Local Plan was back in the summer of last year, but they were supposed to renew them in time for this final consultation. They didn’t. It’s not clear if they forgot, or just didn’t bother.
Some residents did put in views though, which you can see on the Local Plan Comments page – including thoughts from VVSM, the Cresswell community-action group.

Public participation
Nearly all community-level councils, such as Draycott Council, have a public q&a session at the start of their meetings, because otherwise members of the public would not get a say (the public is not allowed to interrupt the actual formal proceedings).

However, in a strange move a couple of months ago, the council decided to put the q&a session to the back-end of the meeting.
This was very strange, as the poor old public would have had to sit through the one to two hours of proceedings just in order to be able to ask one question…
Not surprisingly, an objection was put in from the public… and the council reverted, and we are now back to a bit of sense.
If you want to put a question in person to the council, you are once again welcome to attend the start of council meetings at 7.30, and put your question then.

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RIP Jean

One of the grand old ladies of this district has passed away.  Jean Edwards (born into the well-known local Shelley family) died at the end of April aged 93.
Her wish was not for floral tributes or the like at her funeral, but for mourners to give donations to her beloved St Margaret’s Church.

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

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: 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?

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.


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…

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).

Was there coal in Draycott Colliery?

History – even recent hstory – is not as detailed as people like to think.
For instance, this poster, which has just been donated to the Cheadle History Centre, raises more questions than answers…

Draycott Colliery Procession poster

The old Draycott Colliery was to be found on our side of the hill, at Draycott Cross – roughly, just before where the Huntley Wood Outdoor Centre is now sited.    On the opposite side of the hill, the Cheadle side, was New Haden Colliery.

Draycott Colliery was a stop on the former railway track from Cresswell to Cheadle, but, despite that advantage, it wasn’t very successful, and closed not long after opening, in 1906 – though, later, there was some thought given to creating  an additional siding on the same land to make a storage area for railway wagons.   It was owned by the same company that owned the railway line, which is why this procession route goes from Draycott and then down into Cheadle town centre.
The site may also have been the site of outcroppings (illegal coal-scavenging) during the 1920s General Strikes.

So… in fact, this poster presents a bit of a mystery.  It clearly claims that coal from the Dilhorne seam had been found at the mine.
Now, many local historians believe that Draycott closed because the owners found no coal there.   However, clearly, this poster (dated 1904) indicates the opposite…
…or does it?  Was this procession perhaps a ‘stunt’ – some massive confidence trick – to persuade investors to put money in.?  Who knows?

Water board

Draycott Colliery was not quite finished however – as the site was later taken over by the Water Board, with a proposal to build a reservoir.  The shafts sunk for the colliery were the basis for the Water Board’s bore holes established in the 1940s.
You can still see, from the side of Cheadle Road, a water pumping station that is still in use.


This poster will be featured in an exhibition at Cheadle History Centre, due to take place in autumn this year, which will be all about local industry during the early twentieth century and especially during the Great War time.

And this is where you can help.  Do you have letters, documentation, photos or artefacts (relating to mills, mines and factories) that date back to that time?  Cheadle Centre would dearly love to hear from you.
Just contact Cheadle History Centre – or email us, and we’ll email you back all the details you need to know.

If you want also to write something about the village’s history for this website, just email us

Want to comment?  Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.
(The comments 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).