On another warm evening, Sue and I dashed out following a quick bite to eat after Sue’s return home from work, to join a group of 27 SWOG members on their weekly evening stroll.
We started from Nelson Pit, in Poynton, by ‘The Original Coffee Tavern and tea garden – 1876’.
A nearby lay-by soon filled up when it was discovered that the hitherto free car park had introduced charges since the weekend.
There’s a sculpture/plaque at the car park entrance that lists 74 coal mine shafts in the Poynton area. Nelson is number 25. There’s more information here*. The days of this area being full of coal mines are long gone, but keen eyes will spot many signs of the archaeological history of the place.
What with the parking charges surprise, closed roads, and obscure location, there was much milling around waiting for latecomers before Pete finally led us off along the old railway line towards Middlewood. Looking back, this former station on the outskirts of Poynton has now become an immaculate picnic area. But can you spot the grumpy lady?
There wasn’t much grumpiness amongst tonight’s Swoggers though, despite Graham being attacked by horse flies.
Paul’s dog did provide a little discomfort for these two horses, but a horse-whisperer soon placated them. They were a bit too hot to be bothered, really.
Sunset came early.
Or did it? The picture above is a silhouette rather than a sunset, and there was no chance of us needing torches tonight.
After pleasant field paths – they would not be so pleasant after rain as they were overgrown in places, we re-joined the Middlewood Way at Poynton Coppice. Pete did try to reduce numbers by marching on ahead, but everyone seemed to catch up from time to time, and a head count at the end revealed more finishers than starters. Had somebody cheated?
Eventually we passed the grumpy lady, at which point Pete lurched into a sprint.
The Boar’s Head ran out of Black Sheep. An alternative was sought, and the picnic benches were soon fully occupied as it was far too hot at 9.30 pm to be indoors.
Here’s our route - 5.6 km, with 40 metres ascent, taking about 1.5 hours. An excellent and very sociable little outing.
* [From Wikipedia] The name of Poynton is of Old English derivation. Having been omitted by the Domesday Book of 1086, the first mention of the manor of Poynton is in 1289 when it was part of the barony of Stockport. Past spellings include Ponynton and Poynington The Warren family held the manor from before 1386 when Edward de Warren married Cicely de Eton of Poynton and Stockport until 1801 when Sir George Warren, the last surviving male, died. He was succeeded by his daughter, Lady Warren Bulkeley. She died childless in 1826 when she left the estate to Frances Maria Warren, Lady Vernon. The Lords Vernon held the estate until the final sale in 1920.
Coal is found outcropping to the east of Towers Road, which corresponds to the line of the Red Rock Fault at the surface. The earliest record to be found is a lease dated 28 February 1589, which talks of the "Coal pit at Wourthe lately occupied by George Finche". This could be worked on the surface then by shallow shafts, and later by deeper shafts with waterwheels or steam engines operating pumps and winding gear. In the late 18th century, the Warrens of Poynton co-operated with the Leghs of Lyme to work the Cannel and Sheepwash seams at Norbury Hollow. Initially, the mines were pumped using waterwheels driven by the Norbury Brook; atmospheric steam engines were then used and then condensing engines thus allowing deeper pits to be sunk. Output in 1789 was over 23,586 tonnes (26,000 tons) rising to a production of 221,056 tonnes (243,673 tons) in 1859, an amount believed unlikely to have been surpassed. The Poynton Collieries were substantial, and the coal rights were held by the Warren family who leased them the Wrights and the Claytons. The canal and new roads and railway lines were used to remove the coal. In 1826, the estate passed to George John Venables Vernon, 4th Lord Vernon who decided in 1832 to manage the mines himself. In 1856 it was estimated that there was a reserve of 15,163,027 tons which would supply 245,000 tons for 61 years. This was to be supplied by the Park Round Pit, and the Park Oval Pit both working the Four Foot and Five Foot Seam and the Anson Pit and the Nelson Pit which were working the Accommodation Seam. The pits had good transport links to their principal markets, cotton mills around Manchester. With the Lancashire Cotton Famine, in 1861 and the subsequent recession, the price of coal collapsed, the output dropped 112,840 tons, leading to worker redundancies. A new shaft, the Lawrance Pit, was sunk at Park, in 1885 raising the output to 216,362 tons and paying for itself within a year. However the costs were rising and the closure of the Norbury Pits resulted in a constant ingress of water. In 1926 production was down to 80,146 tons. The 1926 General strike lasted for 17 weeks in Poynton and the men went back to work as the collieries would have closed due to the cost of pumping. The collieries closed on 30 August 1935; 250 men were made redundant. 80 were offered jobs in the Kent coalfield and some secured employment with Avro at Woodford. The Anson Colliery is now the site of the Anson Engine Museum, all other shafts have been capped and Park Pit has been levelled.
The Macclesfield Canal was originally proposed in 1765 but construction did not start until 1826 due to opposition from outside parties. The canal was designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1831. Sir George Warren was a promoter of the extension of the turnpike road from Manchester by way of Hazel Grove to Sandon, Staffordshire where it joined what is now the A51 road. The Manchester and Birmingham Railway opened a line through Poynton in 1845 which today forms part of the London–Manchester main line. The Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway, opened in 1869 with stations at Higher Poynton and Middlewood, closed in 1970. The line is now a footpath called the Middlewood Way.
In the late 18th century, the Pickford family developed their family business of waggoners on the London-to-Manchester route with The Birches Farm at Poynton as its headquarters. The business thrived and they relocated to London in 1823. Pickfords is today one of the best-known removal firms in the United Kingdom.
From the 1870s, private house-building gathered pace and gradually Poynton became a commuter town for workers in the Manchester conurbation. Since the Second World War several housing estates have been built by both the local authorities and private developers.