A 10 km stroll around Little Woolden Moss started the week. A new footpath is being laid. It ends abruptly at a ploughed field!
This walk is certainly one for the tractor enthusiast, each farm seemingly having its own large collection of tractors in similar states of
But the tractors have clearly been put to good use, as there is a proliferation of new crops and freshly ploughed fields, in addition to the ongoing extraction of peat from the Moss.
Despite crossing and re-crossing the M62 motorway, the route I followed remained rural, with the motorway hidden in a deep cutting.
A large area of 'free range pigs' signalled the end of the walk, of which more soon, my excursion being a recce for the following event:
Martin Banfield - Plodder Amble
"Mosses and Brooks"
On Thursday, 25th September, at 10.30 am
Meet at the Car Park on Moss Road (SJ 703 933)
(the continuation of New Moss Road, off Liverpool Road, Cadishead)
[the car park is on the left up the unmade road, under a galvanised iron barrier]10 km (6 miles)
adjourning to the Black Swan, Hollins Green around 1 pm
whilst it’s for a sub group of East Lancs Long Distance Walkers, anyone who can stumble along for 6 miles and sink an optional pint afterwards is most welcome.
Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails were active in the river near Chorlton Water Park, where Himalayan Balsam is already re-establishing itself more actively than the reseeded grass.
The Mersey Valley is a prime site for wild Autumn Crocuses, of which there are large patches on the Trans Pennine Trail route by Chorlton Ees.
Meanwhile, JJ was wrestling his way to Liverpool and Spain, and Lyn, Stuart and I somehow managed to win the jackpot at the Spinners Quiz, despite coming last in the actual quiz.
This time it was just £160 to share between us, but that worked out at £50 each plus a round of drinks, so was slightly more per person than last time’s £300 bonanza.
I’ve again donated my share to the township school in Cape Town that various family members support through the Levana School Partnership (the web site needs updating). I’m trying to raise a bit of cash for them by running the 10 km (6 mile) Tatton Yule Yomp on 7 December, dressed as a well-lit Christmas tree. See here for more information – small donations will be most welcome.
The costume is rather bulky and hot…
Sue and I enjoyed a SWOG slideshow on Wednesday. Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group move indoors to Hazel Grove Civic Centre for the seven to eight months of the year when daylight is less available for evening walks. (Sue and I carry on regardless of course - see here.) The slideshow on Italian cities brought happy memories despite the hard seats, and The Grapes was as welcoming as ever afterwards. All are welcome (especially on 22 October) – the autumn 2014 programme is here.
On Friday, Sue and I visited Victoria Baths, the beneficiary of a huge and worthwhile restoration project, in Chorlton-cum-Medlock.
It was for a production of Romeo and Juliet in which the three atmospheric Victorian swimming pools were transformed into a world that was ‘dangerous, seductive and entertaining - a world of conflict where family loyalties, pride, faith and passion result in bitter tragedy’.
The drama was retold as a contemporary fairy tale set in a criminal underworld of Eastern Europe, inspired by its stories, music and film. The play filled the historic baths with an ensemble of bold and colourful characters and the music of Gypsy bands and Balkan choirs.
All three pools were used. We started in the deep end of an empty pool, and the audience moved around with the actors during the course of the evening, with the denouement occurring here in the only pool that was filled with water. Nobody got wet – they were all too busy dying!
There are other reviews, but here’s what the Manchester Evening News’ correspondent thought of the production:
“I envy anyone whose first visit to Victoria Baths is for HOME’s production of Romeo & Juliet.
You arrive before sunset to see the stained glass and skylights of the Edwardian gem at their best, then enter a promenade performance over three rooms, the first of which places the audience in an empty swimming bath, the last of which sees a vast pool filled with water, lit artfully and viewed from a high balcony.
It’s a perfect way to showcase an astonishing building, and the space is used to its fullest. Actors emerge from changing cubicles where they have waited unseen for their cue.
Juliet sails back and forth on a rope swing to celebrate her betrothal. Giant mirror balls spray the room with silver lights. If there’s an echo to be had you can guarantee there will be drums or a scream to make the most of it.
The play arrives with similar impact, the opening fight scene multiplied to include every cast member laying into one another against a pounding live soundtrack.
The sun sets as events of the play darken, with real sirens outside giving the performance some unplanned but suitable texture.
The production, by HOME’s Walter Meierjohann, is indebted to Baz Luhrmann’s film, down to specific details. A neon crucifix adorns one wall. A handsome black actor (Ncuti Gatwa) plays Mercutio, occasionally wearing drag and doling out drugs.
Nurse is a heavily-accented mother-hen (Rachel Atkins). These are strong reference points.
Coincidentally or not, the two actors mentioned give the best performances, closely followed by a haughty, spirit-drinking Lady Capulet (Ruth Everett). The female bedroom scenes that bookend the play, first discussing Juliet’s proposal and later finding her body, are the strongest moments, with no bells or whistles required.
Juliet (Sara Vickers) is occasionally transporting. Capulet (Mark Jax) is terrifying as he lets his only child know in brutish terms how conditional his love is.
It’s no wonder Romeo (Alex Felton) exerts such a powerful, unconditional attraction. He is the Shoreditch High Street hipster to Leonoardo DiCaprio’s Verona Beach bum, but alas is not quite there yet with the part, though the audience appreciate his charm and earnestness. You’ll make up your mind one way or the other when he delivers a medley of pop songs (another Luhrmann reference, this time to Moulin Rouge?).
The feeling of this being an important and accomplished spectacle, as well as a piece of theatre, glosses over the learning curves of any particular players. The technicalities of staging let you get carried away. The production is drenched in atmosphere and is very beautiful.
Entering the final room to gaze into Juliet’s flooded mausoleum is a catch-your-breath moment, and is how the production will no doubt be remembered.”
Meanwhile, TGO Magazine arrived with an entry form for next year's TGO Challenge. I'd like Sue to join me - time to soften her up with another attempt at a Swiss Roll. Is it better than the first attempt? They both tasted great!
Anyway, (it didn’t last long) back to TGO – editor Emily has included in the Challenge supplement a short extract from the blog I wrote during this year’s event, for which I think the reward is 6 months’ subscription to the magazine. So the D of E Award students at Saddleworth School, where my daughter has some responsibility in that department, will have the opportunity to be inspired by the magazine and its contributors.
I’m plotting a mainly low level route for Sue and me, as I’ll be carrying all the communal kit (and maybe more) – how about Dornie > Cannich > Drumnadrochit > Aviemore > Braemar > Tarfside > St Cyrus? Mainly on ‘paths’ not used on my previous eight crossings.
Saturday’s Parkrun at Wythenshawe was to be Paul Muldoon’s hundredth Parkrun. Quite an achievement. Paul is a founder member of the now thriving Wythenshawe Parkrun community and together with people like Don George did much in the early days over three years ago to get the event off the ground. Just 20 or so folk turned up each week. Now it’s closer to 200, and we were even televised on breakfast TV a couple of weeks ago.
Anyway, in order to record your participation in a Parkrun, you need an individual barcode which is scanned together with a token given to you at the finish. If you don’t have your barcode you appear in the results as an ‘Unknown athlete’. For many, myself included, this is possibly the only time in their lives that they will be honoured with the tag of being an ‘athlete’, so it’s not all bad.
Paul turned up with his box of celebratory chocolates, but no barcode, which had disappeared when his car was valeted. So hopefully he’ll turn up with another box of chocolates on Saturday morning, this week with a freshly laundered barcode!
Paul has a very peculiar running style and features in a recent piece I wrote on our local Parkrunners.
Diana and Dot arrived on Saturday for a brief visit to Timperley and a trip to the WW1 hospital at Dunham Massey.
Sue accompanied them around the ‘hospital’, where I understand some patients had been cryogenically frozen for 100 years in anticipation of this event.
Others expired over their chess sets and are still contemplating their next moves.
The cook has sadly also passed away, leaving the kitchen in a pristine state but with no food for the unexpectedly lifely (sic) visitors.
Meanwhile, outside the young bucks were lazing in the sunshine and I joined Simon, Kate, Jacob, Jessica and Oscar for a stroll around the grounds in the continuing sunshine of our everlasting summer.
The new visitor centre seemed to be operating smoothly on the busy Sunday morning, but soon it was time to return to Timperley for a lavish lunch - by our normal cheese butty standards, anyway.
As they were about to leave, a mutant Harry Potter suddenly wafted in on the end of a troublesome quidditch stick.
Then Sue and I went back to Wythenshawe Park to enjoy an open day at the Hall, which dates from 1540. The back of the hall has some nice flower beds and the site of an ice house.
An information board is on the site of the ice house, which may be 200 years old – or even much older than that.
Inside the hall, the Friends of Wythenshawe Hall, dressed in appropriate costumes, were putting on an interesting open day - this is the dining room.
The dining table looks a bit small!
There’s an interesting array of stained glass windows.
The Hall is another example of a historic property being allowed to deteriorate until finally being rescued by ‘friends’, who have done much restorative work and continue to try to protect the fabric of the building and renovate more rooms.
There’s an illustrated history here, from which I reiterate some of the text below:
- After the Norman Conquest in 1066, Earl Hugh of Chester granted control of lands to his Barons. In 1119 Hamon de Macy is mentioned in records as holding lands from Dunham, to Baguley and Northenden. He built a motte & bailey castle at Dunham Massey, where he made his home.
- Documents held in Manchester’s Rylands Library refer to Robert de Mascy as having a lease of lands in Northenden, and adjacent lands, including Wythenshawe, and Kenworthy. In 1370 Wythenshawe was granted to a Robert de Tatton of Kenworthy, probably when he married Alice Mascy. This was the beginning of the Tatton family’s 600 year holding of the area of Wythenshawe.
- The Tatton name originated in the area now enclosed by Tatton Park. Tatton was a place name which was said to have existed in Saxon times. When the Normans arrived in the area some of them took their names from this local name. For example Alan of Tatton - Alan de Tatton.
- In the 15th Century some of the Tatton's lived in Chester and held important posts.
William Tatton was Vice Chamberlain of Chester.
John Tatton was Sheriff in 1503.
- Robert, son of John, decided to build a house at Wythenshawe to replace an older one that may have been damaged by fire.
- Robert Tatton built his house, the centre part of which forms the current building. He acquired lands in Northenden, and built a corn mill, an inn the Ferry Inn, and operated a ferry service across the River Mersey.
- Robert combined the manors of Northenden and Etchells, as well as taking control of Peele Hall.
- In 1539 Robert Tatton married Dorothy Booth, daughter of George Booth of Dunham Massey.
- Robert Tatton’s son William inherited the Hall and lands and married Mary Fitton of Gawsworth Hall.
- When William died in 1611 his son Robert inherited but gave it all up to his youngest son William. This William sadly drowned in the Mersey in 1617, and his ten year old son Robert became heir. He being too young to control his estate was declared a ward of the Crown, so that all the lands were administered until he matured.
- Robert Tatton married Anne Brereton in 1628. Robert was a supporter of the King (Charles 1). In 1646 he began to fortify the Hall to protect it from the Parliamentarian army. There was a moat around the house, and this was repaired. Neighbours and friends brought food and weapons. More than fifty tenants and friends formed a defence force.
- On 21 November 1644 a small parliamentarian force led by a Captain Adams surrounded the house. The defenders resisted until February the next year when they surrendered, after a cannon was fired at the house causing damage near the dining room. In the battle 3 men on the roundhead side including Captain Adams, and 6 defenders of the house died. Six skeletons have since been excavated near the Hall.
- Robert Tatton was ejected from his house and was eventually brought before Parliament and declared a delinquent. After intervention by influential friends he was allowed to have his house back on payment of a fine of £707. This was the beginning of a period of severe financial difficulty which lasted for several generations.
- The next few generations of Tattons married daughters of wealthy land owners, eg Leigh’s of Lyme Hall, and in 1745 a William Tatton married Hester, daughter of John Egerton of Tatton Park. T. E Tatton married Mary, Daughter of Colonel. T Cholmondeley in 1877. Increasing wealth allowed the family to extend the existing hall.
- In the 19th Century and early 20th Century the family enjoyed a period of stability. Tatton family photos show them enjoying friends and family events at Christmas.
- Thomas Egerton Tatton died in 1924 and was succeeded by his son Robert Grenville Tatton who came under pressure from Manchester Council, who wanted to buy the Tatton lands, to develop a new Garden City. In 1926 Robert Tatton, because of debts and death duties sold his house, and all his substantial lands.
- Lord and Lady Simon purchased the Hall and Park and donated it to the city for the future benefit of the people of Manchester.
Not all of the house has survived. Decay set in for many years and the servants quarters that occupied a substantial wing to the left of the next image were knocked down by the council in the mid 1950’s.
So that’s why there are so many council owned housing estates in the area, in which the seemingly spacious current Park only occupies a small part of the area covered by the original grounds.
Here's the front of the Hall, near where we assemble at 9 am on Saturday mornings, for the 5 km Parkrun.
The run takes us around Oliver Cromwell, from whose forces the Royalist owners of the Hall withstood the siege for a while in 1644.
Meanwhile, on the Bridgewater Canal, the newly tarmaced towpath was re-opened on 22 September.
Some 'finishing' is still required, but the mud has gone! Between Timperley and Brooklands, anyway.
At the Altrincham end of the construction works, things are a little different. I'm surprised they have opened the towpath here.
Our 'Week in Timperley' finishes in Sale, at the Waterside Arts Centre.
The 10 year old Arts Centre is attached to the Town Hall.
A lot goes on here (this should be fun), and last night we enjoyed a delightful programme from The Rossi string Quartet, with an additional viola for Mendelssohn’s String Quintet, courtesy of Cheryl Law, who is the driving force behind Sallow Tree Concerts, based in Sale and named as such because ‘Sale’ is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word ‘salh’, meaning ‘at the Sallow Tree’.
It was a special evening at which we felt privileged to be present, as the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Arts Centre, and the fourth anniversary of the founding of Sallow Tree Concerts were both being celebrated. There was lots of cake.
I make no apologies for going on for so long (few may have reached this point!), but it’s my on-line diary, and I value the record.