Tag Archives: cresswell

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.

***
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)

WW2 Memorial – Bernard Stubbs

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

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Bernard Stubbs.
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All stories of deaths in war are tragic, but the story of Bernard Joseph Stubbs is especially so.
Just 25 when he died, he had survived two years in the appalling conditions of the Japanese ‘Burma Railway’ POW camps when he was killed in 1944 in a bombing raid – carried out by planes from his own side…

Cresswell-born

Back in 1919 when he was born, Cresswell had a railway station, where Bernard’s father William probably worked, as he listed his profession as ‘railway porter’. Perhaps he worked also at Totmonslow station (oddly, the station there was called ‘Tean Station’ at the time).  Both stations have since been demolished.

William and his wife Annie had married in 1897, having seven children in all, with Bernard being their youngest.
The family lived for many years at ‘School House, Cresswell’ a house within the grounds of St Mary’s Catholic Church on Cresswell Old Road. Over a century ago, the church ran a small primary school (which closed around 1918), and the School House was so-called because it was where the teacher lived. (The house next door – St Josephs House – was the old school itself).
William & Annie Stubbs were Catholics, which is presumably why they got to live in the house.

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(Courtesy the Thorley Collection for all the black-and-white photos above).

War

In 1939, Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, and, two years later, on Japan too. The Second World War would last for six years.
It must have been heart-breaking for William & Annie to see their youngest go off to enlist. Bernard joined the Royal Artillery, where he became a lance bombardier.

We know little of his war career until 1942. In this terrible year for Britain, one of the greatest blows was the fall of Singapore, a British colony at the time. With its fall, control of the Far East – from the Pacific to the Indian border – was now in the hands of the Japanese.
Bernard was one of the British troops in Singapore at the fall, and so he became a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese.

Film

The Japanese POW camps were notoriously brutal, partly because they worked the prisoners so hard. One construction project these prisoners were forced to undertake was the building of the infamous ‘Burma railway’. This huge project saw the deaths in terrible conditions of thousands of Allied prisoners – mostly British, American, Australian and Dutch. The story is the basis for the famous war film ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’.

By the time of Bernard’s death in 1944, the project had been completed, but many prisoners, including Bernard, had to stay in these camps in order to carry out maintenance on the railway.
What a strange irony – a father who worked on a railway, and his son also working on a railway – but in such different circumstances…
And it was here on the Burma Railway that Bernard died. In an Allied air-attack on the railway in September 1944, Bernard was killed. In other words, he survived the camps – but only to die in an attack by his own comrades…

Kanchanaburi

Bernard’s remains are now in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in Thailand, the main POW burial ground for those victims of Japanese imprisonment who were forced into labour on the Burma Railway.

Bernard Stubbs grave, Kanchanaburi

Bernard Stubbs’ grave, Kanchanaburi

It is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In there are buried almost 7,000 POWs.
Near to it is the ‘Burma Railway Centre’ a small museum about the railway and the prisoners who built it.

Every year hundreds of thousands of British people holiday in Thailand, and many take time out to visit this site in their time there and pay their respects.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records.

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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Bernard’s service number was 1426651

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

Climate-change concerns

May we draw your attention to a new article which has just been published about the large building plans for Cresswell on the Blythe Park site?
The authors of the article say that the acceleration in climate change over the last five years should make local councillors rethink their 2015 decision to approve the proposals.  (Climate change leads to extreme and unusual weather conditions, including excessive rainfall & flooding).

The decision to allow building on the Cresswell flood-plain was a huge surprise to many experts at the time ; will planners now need to revisit that decision?

Click here to read Climate change, flooding and Cresswell

Field (Sandon Close in background)

Cresswell floods regularly. This field (Sandon Close in background) is the one earmarked for new housing

Climate change speeding up

The article has been written just as the world found out that climate change has now set in solidly. The last decade of 2010-2019 has been the hottest ever recorded.
See: Last decade confirmed as warmest on record

But we continue to blunder on blindly into the massive problems that climate change is presenting.

Cresswell’s ancient ‘water-meadows’

Things seem to have gone a bit quiet on the Cresswell Blythe-Park expansion plans – in which 170 new homes will be built in the village and the current industrial park will also double in size. However we are pretty sure that, behind the scenes, both the developers and the community group which opposes the plans, VVSM, continue to work away.

One thing that has come to light in all this is that the expansion of the industrial site will take place on top of some of Cresswell’s ancient ‘water meadows’, that are probably centuries-old.  The developers’ own researches indicate that these are the major heritage legacy that could be disturbed by the new build.

Water meadows

Water meadows’ are the areas of land that used to be flooded deliberately in the old days: to force early growth of grass in the spring; to improve the quality of the grass sward; and to increase the summer hay crop.
But drowning the land in this way can also kill the grass, so landowners cleverly used sluices and ridges & channels to keep the water moving and oxygenated, so preserving the grass.

In fact, Staffordshire’s water meadows may be some of the earliest in the West Midlands. (Systems around Uttoxeter used stone work for sluices and culverts, which just shows how old they are – perhaps 500 years old).

Cresswell water meadows ditches plus fills

Known old drainage systems of ditches and fills on the Cresswell river meadows . ‘A’ is where the new industrial expansion is planned to go

Cresswell’s old water meadows follow the line of the Blithe River, which makes sense, because these particular fields needed the extra source of water.
Older people in this area will also tell you that the wet fields just north of the railway line, near St Mary’s Church, were famous for their abundant crop of water-cress, thus giving the village its name of Cresswell.

Cresswell water meadows

Blue area shows the area along the River Blithe that was flooded for the old water meadows. It stretches from the Izaak Walton pub (top left) down to Paynsley, going right through the Blythe Park base

Sadly, Cresswell’s wet-fields seem to have suffered the general fate of most other water meadows in the UK. They were probably churned over and flattened around 100-150 years ago to enable modern farming practices to take place.

The amazingly fast disappearance of water meadows in Britain since the 1930s has not been good for wildlife. Old water meadows – with their open undulating grassland interspersed with derelict wet channels – support many threatened species of plant life and mammals, such as the water vole.

Artefacts?

The question is: are there still centuries-old remains – e.g. old drainage systems – beneath the surface?
According to the ‘Staffordshire Historic Environment Record’ the site (labelled 53250) is declared an “area of post-medieval water meadows” – and indeed a series of straight drains is recorded on current mapping of this area (see map).

The HER report goes on to wonder if any associated earthworks remain.  The HER’s guess is that they don’t, because they were likely ploughed over. However, it is only a guess – because no archaeological surveys, on the ground, have actually taken place….

Of course, the developers, as part of the planning permission process, do have to commission an archaeolgical  survey – but, at this stage, it’s not clear how thorough that survey has to be.
It will be interesting to see what transpires over the next few months.

As you can tell (!), we are not experts, so we’d appreciate any input.  If you can contribute to this article, we’d be very grateful!  Please leave a comment in the comments box below, or email us.

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References
Conserving Historic Water Meadows
Staffordshire’s Historic Environment Record
Staffordshire Historic Environment Record via Heritage Gateway

Leese House Farm, a history

Last year sometime, we had an enquiry about one of Cresswell’s most famous farm-houses which said:   “Has anyone got any information on Leeshouses? My ancestors, the Warrilows, lived there certainly from the 1700s to about 1871 before the family moved to Eccleshall.   From – Nari Fairbanks (Australia)”

Leese Houses (now called Leese House Farm) is one of the famous four ancient farm-sites that lie along the old track that runs south for a mile or so from Rookery Crescent down to Painsley, the other three being Rookery Farm (now largely demolished), Wastegate Farm and Painsley Hall Farm.
It is now fully restored; and a lovely property.

Facebook

Well, none of us is a land historian, so we put the query out to the village Facebook page. This query caused a discussion that raised a hundred comments (!); and we thought we shouldn’t just let all that knowledge be lost, so we gathered the bits here together for this article.
The three main contributors to the discussion were Nigel Peake, who has lived in and around Cresswell all his life, Lev Wood, who is secretary of the local history society, and Nari Fairbanks herself – but there were any others.
These are the essential comments, all collated…

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The three main contributors to the discussion were Nigel Peake, who has lived in and around Cresswell all his life, Lev Wood, who is secretary of the local history society, and Nari Fairbanks herself – but there were any others.
These are the essential comments, all collated…

==
Lev Wood Snr commented:     “…’Leese’ House must refer to the Lee Family.  The history of the Lees in the Draycott/Fulford area can be traced back to the 13th Century. (Kirby’s Inquest of 1285 marks Richard de Lee as ‘lord’).  They were certainly considered as the second family locally after the Draycotts during the High Middle Ages, and at one time were referred to by the title ‘Lord’, although this probably was self-assumed. They did however sit on numerous village courts.
It is logical to assume that “Lees” as it was referred to on early maps and later “Lees Houses” were the way to denote ownership of that land and came down through the centuries retaining that name.”
So Leese House just means ‘house of the Lee family’.

Lev Wood Snr comments    “Finally discovered Emanuel Bowen‘s map of Staffordshire c1755 showing Draycott and ‘Lees’.”

Eman Bowen map of Staffordshire

Eman Bowen map of Staffordshire, 1755

Nari Fairbanks commented:   “… My GGG Grandmother, Mary Warrilow, daughter to John and Ann, was born in Draycott around 1822.  Lees House is recorded as a place of residence on Census Records and Births/Deaths/Marriages records for several family members, mainly around the 1820s”.
She adds: “There is also reference to the house in the booklet called “A Short History of Cresswell’s Roman Catholic Community” by Father Phillip Bailey (1971).   I’m now thinking that Lees House included a selection of cottages built on the farm land to accommodate Roman Catholic priests in the late eighteenth century & early nineteenth century – when Catholics were permitted to worship again after years of suppression in England.”
One of the first post-1800 RC churches to be built in this part of the world was St Mary’s in Cresswell.

Nari Fairbanks comments   “Have just located an 1891 census record for a George Warrilow living at Leese Houses on Heranwood St in Draycott.  I have to say I did get a little bit excited 🙂   On the transcript, the house name is given as Leese Houses (though have seen this spelt several different ways)”.
No histories or maps record ‘Heranwood Street’, but could it be an old name for the current farm track from Cresswell to Painsley?

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And, at that point, the discussion came to a halt.

So, it seems that the site (if not the actual house) may be as much as 800 years old, with the actual main structure dating back possibly four hundred years.  The cottages on the site later became merged into one house.

Clearly, there is a lot more to be found out and maybe someone is already sitting on some significant extra information.  If more comes along, we’ll let you know!

For more about the Warrilows of Paynsley, click here

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Resources

If you want to research the history of your own house, Staffs County History Archives have produced some packs on how to do it – see House History Publications
See also:  Staffordshire Map 1888

NEWS: lane meeting / pottery waste / new PCSO / bad February

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late February 2017
In this post we have news of…:  public meeting about Church Lane / pottery waste for Cresswell / goodbye Adam, welcome new PCSO / a rotten February…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Arts & Crafts Spring Fair. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates & news about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Church Lane meeting

It’s not often our area council calls a public meeting on one particular subject, but that is what happened a couple of weeks ago, when there was a village debate on the future of Church Lane (the unmade road that leads up to St Margaret’s Church).
A good half-dozen of the householders from the lane were there as well as representatives from the church and the church hall and other members of the public – though, unfortunately, the farmer whose vehicles use the lane was not there.

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

Church Lane, Draycott in the Moors

There is no doubt that the track is a mess, with large potholes and ruts, and, as it meets the main road, it is even slightly collapsed. However, as it is an ‘unadopted’ road, the Highways Department will not carry out any repairs to it.

The debate centred on two things: is the track somehow a community responsibility, and so therefore should the council (as well as the residents there) contribute to any repairs?; and secondly, what level of repair (and costs) would be reasonable?
As you can imagine, these are not easy questions to answer.

Church-goers argued that the lane up to an ancient church and its community hall was a wider responsibility than just for the properties there, and so it was a legitimate case for use of some local council tax money.
But what percentage should each property, user and council pay? There was much discussion about that too.

Councillor Winfield also provided some quotes for a range of repairs… but there was also debate about that.  At the top end, it was estimated that the cost could run to £17,000. The church representatives pointed out that that was an almost impossible sum to raise, and asked for just urgent repairs – which could come to as little as £4000 – as at least that was achievable.

In the end, the meeting broke up with a decision to approach each of the concerned parties and try to see what compromise can be reached.
Finding a solution to please everyone looks like it could be a long and arduous task. (A full report will appear on Draycott parish council’s website in the next weeks).

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Saggars in Cresswell

Thanks to all those who have told us about the dozens of lorry-loads carrying pottery waste that have been seen on the unmade lane behind Rookery Crescent in Cresswell.

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It would seem that broken pottery moulds, including saggars, are being shipped there for burial in land-waste tips on some of the farms along there (see pics).  As far as is understood, this is perfectly legitimate – but some residents are investigating if any rules have to be adhered to.We’ll let you know what transpires.

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Police vacancy

PC Adam CharlesworthWe have been fortunate here in our district to have had a most approachable and likeable PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) in Adam Charlesworth (see pic right). Adam has run some very relaxed public drop-in sessions and also made sure to be present at a number of our community’s events.

However, Adam has taken his leave of us. He always told us that his dream was to be a full police officer (PCSOs are not) and so when he applied for and got a full post, he seized it… and good luck to him.  He deserves it.

For the moment, Jon Staples, the other area PCSO, will take on Adam’s role too, but shortly PCSO Dan Nettleton will be stepping into Adam’s big shoes. If you want to welcome Dan, he can be contacted via email: daniel.nettleton@staffordshire.pnn.police.uk

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Good riddance February

One month we will never want back is February 2017.
Storm Doris came ripping through with 70mph winds, and one than one local garden fence is now in a recycling skip…  the rain that came with (and also followed) it caused flooding on some of our outlying roads … and there was even a flurry of snow!
There was an assault on a woman dog-walker in woodland in Draycott Cross – the culprits have not been discovered yet.
A tree collapsed and fell on Cheadle Road just a few yards from Brookside – fortunately no car was passing at the time.
Graham Walker, a local farmer, woke up facing a £6000 bill after criminals dumped loads of illegal waste on his land in the middle of the night.  The culprits also dumped waste on the water-company site up at Draycott Cross.
And a Draycott woman was arrested on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred (see Sentinel story).
Yes, good riddance to February 2017!

***
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: secretive council / cricket joy / woodland for sale

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early February 2017
In this post we have news of…:  our local council holding secret meeting / building underway at the cricket club / a copse of trees for sale / countryside bunglaow for rent…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including an Open Day for anyone wanting to stand in elections to the County Council this May. Check out the Events page)

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

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Bright Cricket future

It looks like 2017 is going to be a very big year for Blythe Cricket Club (who play in Cresswell, on the ground just up from the Izaak Walton).  Not only is the work on their new club-house/community-centre finally under way, but they have made a major signing.

It had been hoped that the work on the new brick building at the Cresswell Lane ground could get started last year, when the old wooden pavilion was knocked down.  (The pavilion had been up for nearly a century and was really showing its age).
However, any progress on the new-build meant jumping through yet more hoops with the Lottery Fund, which is the body underwriting much of the cost.
The good news however is that the hoops have been jumped and the construction company moved on to the site in the middle of last month (see pic below).
Sadly the work will not be finished in time for the cricket season, but fingers are tightly crossed for a completion in the late summer.  Perhaps.

Construction at Blythe Cricket Club Feb 2017Meanwhile, the First XI’s drive for promotion this year has been bolstered by the signing of the Bangladesh international Mosharraf Hossain as their professional for 2017.  The left-arm spinner has appeared on and off for his country for the last eight years. It shows the confidence the team has after a very good season last year.

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To buy / to rent

Cresswell seems to be the place if you want to buy a little stretches of land. Following the sale of the old railway sidings land near Railway Cottages, comes a chance to buy the narrow spit of land that runs alongside Sandon Road as you approach the Hunter Pub – it’s just over an acre in size.  A copse of small trees stands there at the moment.
If you’re interested, the auction for it takes place on March 9th.Copse on Sandon Road

Copse on Sandon Road

By the wa, not far from that copse is a rather desirable bungalow, which is up for rent at the moment. Bungalow on farm track, Cresswell
It’s off the beaten track, down the unmade road at the back of Rookery Crescent, and surrounded by fields on three sides with fine views.  If you’re interested, it is going for £1200 a month. See details.

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Secretive council

Did you hear about the ‘irregular’ Draycott Parish Council meeting which took place at the beginning of last month?
No, neither did we….

Even though this council has been reproached in the last few months for its tendency to want to pass decisions behind closed doors, this time it went even further, and didn’t even bother to inform the electors that it was meeting, or why.
We understand this particular meeting was arranged by the councillors themselves.  No public notice was put out, and no reason announced for why this secret meeting was held – no notification at all – nor even why it was so necessary to hold it behind closed doors – an action, which, as the Government’s own advice tells us, is “undesirable”.
The whole incident blows a huge big hole in the so-called ‘Transparency Code’, whereby councils are supposed to be much more open with their electors.

Exclusion of the public form

Exclusion of the public form. Was a document like this formally presented and signed?

What we’d ask the council to do as soon as possible is to publish: the subject of the meeting; why it was so important that it be a discussion excluding the public; which councillors attended (and which councillors, if any, objected to this possibly unlawful shenanigan); who took the minutes; and what decisions were finally taken (in our name!).
It would be really important too, to also know why the whole thing has been kept secret…

It does seem utterly unbelievable that this sort of thing is going on.  Until we get a full explanation, it just appears to be a lack of respect by the council for its own electors.

***
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: accident / litter problems / school results / new MP?

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid September 2016
News of…:  telegraph pole comes down in accident / Blythe High results / Cresswell litter black-spot / changing our Parliamentary constituency? …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including official opening of the new Blythe Bridge Library. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Old Road accident

There was another bump on the Uttoxeter Road / Draycott Old Road junction the other day. A car banged into a telegraph pole there on Saturday (10th), hard enough to make the pole snap off completely, bringing down all its wires too (see pic).
Draycott collapsed postFortunately, nobody seems to have been seriously hurt, but the police are still looking for witnesses if you saw anything.

Congratulations by the way to those local residents who heard the thump and rushed out to help. They cordoned off the area too so that no more accidents might happen – very public-spirited of them!

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Untidy – again

It must be nearly a year ago that we first reported how untidy stretches of Draycott/Cresswell were, and how shabby some of the structures in public ownership are (and we are not even talking about the potholes!!).
There were howls of protest then from people saying that we were ‘talking down’ the area, but sadly, things have got no better.

We did another walk along Cresswell Lane, from the the A50 underpass to the Izaak Walton and just in that short stretch counted SEVENTY pieces of litter.
Most are what you’d expect – fast food containers and plastic bottles – so we’d guess much of the litter is chucked out of car windows as these motorists drive past the sports centre and then along to the railway line.
It’s a mystery to us why they would wait until that particular stretch before thinking of throwing their litter out of their car… unless… it’s local people ‘cleaning’ their car before getting home.  If it’s local people, then that is a shame on them.

Of course, the local Draycott community/parish council does employ a litter-picker to gather all this stuff up, and the last time this was all brought up, the council did promise to check why the litter accumulates at such a rate in certain stretches.  It will be interesting to get their answer.

Draycott bus-shelter-roof

The tiles here on the Draycott central shelter have been waiting for repair for a year

Meanwhile, some things that the community-parish council is itself directly responsible for do need sorting too.  The state of the bus-shelters that belong to them is one (see pic above), but two of the planters on Uttoxeter Road really need just to be thrown away, as they are in a state of collapse, and just look really really bad.

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Over to you, councillors … again.

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New MP for us?

The powers that be are having a go at sorting out Parliamentary constituency boundaries.
Every so often this has to be done because of population shifts etc etc, but this time it is also because the Government wants to reduce the overall number of constituencies anyway to make them more ‘manageable’.

As older people will remember, Draycott is one of the places that keeps being shifted about. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were shifted into the Stone constituency, which, as you may know, is held by Bill Cash MP; and is a safe Tory seat.

The new idea is to re-shift us, this time into the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency, which is currently held by the Conservative Karen Bradley, but which is a little bit more of a marginal seat.  The new border would almost run right through Cresswell (see map).

proposed-new-constituencies
This is only a suggestion at the moment – but, what do you think?

– – –
Exam results

The governors and teachers at Blythe Bridge High School, where many of our teenagers go to school, must be breathing a sigh of relief.
The 2016 Real Schools Guide only gave Blythe Bridge a 46% rating and was concerned about attendance levels at the school – but did at least compliment the recent higher levels in attainment and teaching.

But… it looks like this summer’s exam results were pretty good though, which bears out the last Ofsted Report, in July, that gave the school a rating of ‘Good’.
On an upward track, it seems…

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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: hacking / leadership issues / RIP Barry / road safety

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late August 2016
News of…:  primary school Chinese hacker / has Draycott PC served Cresswell well? / road safety poster competition / RIP Barry Phillips…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Sausage Festival! Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Hacked off

If you’ve tried logging on recently to williamamory.co.uk, our local primary school’s website, this is what you will see on the homepage…

William Amory school website hacked

Yes, the William Amory School website has been ‘hacked’: somehow or other a very clever internet-nerd has figured out all the passwords to the website and ‘broken into’ it; and replaced it with whatever she or he wants.
It looks to us as though the villain in this case must be from the other side of the world…

It’s not quite clear how this breach occurred, but it is a warning to us all. If you maintain a home-made website you really do need to back-up all you create AND keep your firewall up to date – though, even that won’t help against a very determined hacker unfortunately…

– – –
Cresswell – poor cousins?

People living in Cresswell might be forgiven for having a hollow laugh at the new words all over the homepage of Draycott Parish Council’s website.
The words read “Let’s find a way to defeat the effects of the Cresswell 168 houses and industrial park extension recently passed by SMDC! Together we can be strong!

The fact is that Draycott Parish Council’s record on fighting the Blythe Park development has been rather weak.
Look at the facts:
When trouble was happening in Draycott Old Road with the college earlier this year, the council summonsed the college authorities to public question-and-answer sessions, to explain what was going on – and not just once, but twice!
Also, because there has been flooding of the ditches in Draycott Old Road, the council has asked the county councillor to make a special effort and draw up a special report about it.
So… the council does manage to act sometimes, especially over issues in the Draycott side of the parish.

But … when it comes to a huge problem in Cresswell (the Blythe Park housing development), what exactly has the council done during the last twenty months? Er…Written a few letters. And that’s it.

By contrast, when housing issues (often much smaller than ours!) have arisen in other Moorlands parishes, the councils there have shown leadership.
For example: in Leek East, a big demonstration (against The Mount housing plans) was organised; when they faced an unwanted development, Kingsley Council called an ‘extraordinary’ public meeting of locals; and Werrington Council organised a protest of residents outside Moorlands House.
These parish councils have stood up and united their communities.

The hundred-and-seventy Cresswell residents who signed letters opposing the Blythe Park application might feel just a little let down by their own community leaders on Draycott Parish Council; and a bit annoyed by the empty sentiments on the parish council’s homepage.

– – –
Farewell Barry

A sad occasion last week was the funeral of Barry Phillips.

Barry Phillips 2015

Barry Phillips

After a working life at Blythe Colours, Barry became something of a local historian, doing massive amounts of research not only on Blythe Colours itself but on World War Two in this district, especially about the American ‘Bolero’ Camp in Cresswell, even going to America to meet former soldiers who had served here.

He contributed his researches to the Draycott-en-le-Moors Online History website, the project which led directly to the definitive book about the parish A History of The Parish of Draycott-en-le-Moors by Matthew Pointon.

Barry had lots and lots of stories about this area, and he will be sorely missed.
We send our condolences to his wife Linda and his children, who are now grown-up.

– – –
Draw a poster to keep us safe!

Finally, it has been a great summer for activities in our little district. From the local dance-hall to the sports clubs to the churches and to the library and the pubs, everyone has tried to lay something on to make the summer of 2016 memorable.  They all deserve a round of applause…  And it is not over yet – check our What’s On pages.

If your kids might enjoy a local stay-at-home project, they still have the chance, with a local road safety competition.
The local community group is asking kids between 4 and 11 to design a poster which will try to remind motorists to keep within the speed limit when going through our district.
When the kids have finished the poster, all they have to do is fold it up and push it into the letterbox in the Kiosk Information Centre (see pic below) in Cresswell lay-by. The posters will then be displayed – with prizes for the best ones.
Final entry date is Thursday 1st September.

Cresswell Information Centre

Change of use – from telephone box to ‘Information Centre’

As we all know, most of the parish is covered by a 40mph speed limit, but it’s the sort of law that gets broken as often as it gets observed… sadly… so this competition is a great idea.

***
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 Cricket Club – looking good, about to look even better

It is proving a crazy twelve months for Blythe Cricket Club as it refurbishes its club-house and changing rooms at the Cresswell ground.
But crazy in a good way!

It all started five years back, with an exhausting period of writing reports, undertaking negotiations and the rest – and then late last year Blythe were awarded just under half-a-million pounds in a Big Lottery grant!
The money has a specific purpose: to knock down the old pavilion, and create a brand-new club house – which will double as a purpose-built new Draycott & Cresswell community centre during the week.
New changing rooms (for women as well as men) are also part of the plan.

Blythe CC building work2016

Building work by the pavilion earlier this year

If you’ve walked the public footpath along the side of the ground, or you have been to watch a game there recently, you’ll have seen that work is already under way.

Community centre

But… why have the club-house double as a community centre?   Well, it was a condition of the lottery grant that the new building be open to the community – and the club are pretty happy about that anyway.
Club chairman Colin Dawson told us: “Our teams only really play cricket at the weekends (though the juniors sometimes play in the week), so there is plenty of time when members of the local community could use it.
“It will be ideal for a variety of uses, some ‘official’, such as a possible NHS outreach centre, to the more casual, such as meetings or dances and luncheon clubs. Anybody from the community is welcome to come forward with ideas on what they would like to do in it.”
It really will be purpose-built too, as for the first time at the ground, there will be disabled toilets.

Bye bye pavilion

As the pavilion finally comes down, it will be the end of an era.
The pavilion was built in 1926, when the ground was owned by the Blythe Colour Works.  The owners at the time, the Wildblood Family, were the old-fashioned type who believed in ‘providing’ for their workers.  It was they who created the cricket ground (as well as the tennis courts).

However, the poor old wooden pavilion can no longer stand the winters, so it was simply empty half the year.  The new centre will be weather-proof!

Cresswell residents will be pleased to hear that the problem of congested road-parking on the top of the hill will be much alleviated, as parking facilities are also being improved.

Future

The idea is of course to ensure that the club has a future for another 100 years.

It will also be more community-oriented than it has been in the past. A few years ago Blythe had no children’s cricket teams, but now around a dozen teams use the ground including under-nines to under-17s.
Sadly, the senior women’s cricket team had to fold because it couldn’t attract enough players.  Hopefully, it will return one day.

Blthe Cricket:: New structures, some te,mporary, some not!

New structures, some temporary, some not!

The residents too should find that, from now on, the new centre gives their community projects a place in which they can focus, and make good things happen!
(The crazy thing is that the new housing estate about to be built in Cresswell also has a community centre as part of its plans, so very soon Cresswell will have two community centres within 100 yards of each other!!).

With good fortune and a ‘following wind’ as they say, the new developments at the ground will all be finished by Christmas.

In the meantime, why not go along and have a look for yourself?  If you go on a Saturday afternoon, you can even have a drink at the club-bar….