1. Introduction

This history is a short account derived from the longer reports produced by a Working Party sponsored by the Poynton Workers Educational Association Branch and Manchester University Extra-Mural Department. This group was set up following a successful inaugural one term course attended by 52 people in the autumn of 1979 and has continued for the succeeding 2½ years with 8-12 members, not all of whom were able to contribute for the whole time. It was led by W.H. Shercliff with D.A. Kitching and J.M. Ryan as co-tutors. All members contributed research and participated in the writing of the full reports, which with their supporting maps, and copies of some pictures and documents, are available for reference use in Poynton Library Local Collection. A list of the group's members is given in the acknowledgements.

An attempt has been made to balance the official and management point of view expressed in the archives of the collieries and estate with first hand accounts of men who worked there and of the families and institutions who supported them, note also being taken of recent writing on neighbouring collieries. Besides this book and the fuller reports the group have deposited a full set of Council for British Archaeology record cards at Poynton Library and at the North Western Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. These identify with sketch maps and pictures the most important remaining buildings and sites in the area.

Poynton and Worth villages or settlements in Macclesfield Forest gradually became centres of agricultural and forestry activities and consisted of several small centres or hamlets such as Poynton village on London Road North, Poynton Green, Midway and Hepley. There were also isolated farms or folds, for example Lostock Hall, Mill Bank or Barlow. Coal was mined on a very small scale from the sixteenth century. The rural paternalistic society which developed centred on the Lords of the two manors. Poynton and Worth were part of the very large Parish of Prestbury with its ancient mother church from where, under the Tudor arrangements, the highways and care of the poor was organized. Later in the nineteenth century the Macclesfield Union took over the poor law administration and various Local Boards began to provide modern local government services of a rural type. From 1894 the Macclesfield Rural District Council cooperated with the Local Parish Council in providing local services until Local Government reorganization in 1974, when Poynton became part of Macclesfield Borough within Cheshire.

In Poynton the Lords were the Warren family from about 1340 with their mansion at Poynton Hall (near where the lake is now in Poynton Park), followed by the Warren-Bulkeleys 1801-1826 and the Vernons down to 1920 after which, following the sale of much of their estate their influence considerably diminished. The Vernons' principal seat was at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, but they did reside from time to time at Poynton Hall and later after the Hall was pulled down in the 1850s at the Towers, also in Poynton Park. In Worth the Downes Family had one of their seats at Worth Hall, now the Clubhouse of the Davenport Golf Club, the other being at Pott Shrigley. Worth formed roughly the southern central part of the area with Poynton extending like a horse shoe round it (see map on centre pages) and also had coal mines especially in the Worth Clough area which were exploited by the Downes.

Each of these Lords had tenants on short or long leases and controlled the agriculture through manorial courts and their manorial mills which are still partly visible and are described. They were patrons of the local chapel which originally stood in Poynton Park and later in the eighteenth century was rebuilt near the site of the present St. Georges's Church. As squires they felt a moral and social responsibility for the welfare of their villagers, but leased the mining rights up to the 1830s to agents strictly protecting their own estates and limiting what these agents could do. In 1791 both the manors of Poynton and Worth came under the control of Sir George Warren, probably the most ambitious of the Warrens, who extended the mining aided by the new technology.

The Warrens inherited from their predecessors responsibilities for manors both at Stockport and Poynton. They and the Vernons owned the manorial and market rights of this ancient borough until 1850. There was thus long established a strong connection with Stockport, fostered also by the fact that it formed the principal market for coal. There was also much travelling in from neighbouring townships to Poynton in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of miners and other estate workers. As mills and offices in towns and villages nearby arose, there was also an outflow of workers especially girls from Poynton. Because of these close links and the effect of colliery operations in neighbouring townships our account includes some information about the nearest such places, Adlington, Woodford, Norbury and Lyme.

Our book tells the story of the social and industrial development of this area with ample quotation from documents, the recorded accounts of participants and sketchmaps down to the period of the closure of the collieries in 1935, a great watershed in Poynton's history. It starts with the earliest established occupations, then turns to textile work and the growth of the collieries and their ancillary industries. The transport to support this work by way of first road and canal then rail is covered. The nature of the labour force in the collieries, their day to day work and wages together with the arrangements for sale and distribution are described in a chapter which with the aid of graphs demonstrates the basic economy of the collieries. Then the various self help organisations such as the trade unions, Accident Society and Co-operative Society are discussed. Finally the home life, education and welfare and leisure pursuits of the community are briefly sketched.

There are important technical developments in engineering which are described, especially in Chapter 6, allied to the Poyntonian ingenious do it yourself, throw nothing away methods, as the story unfolds of the early horse drawn tramways and gravity jigs through the operation of winding, pumps and locomotives by steam to the final bid in 1926 to extend the life of the collieries by electrification. Our story includes accounts of the contribution of the Vernon family and important Poynton men such as Matthew Pickford, founder of the famous carrying firm, Thomas Ashworth who ran the collieries with Quaker humanitarianism at a time of great rioting and expansion, and G.C. Greenwell, an experienced mining engineer who contributed professional expertise as well as sound management to the colliery enterprise and was followed by his son and grandson. There is mention of much of architectural interest, for example Telford's design work on the Macclesfield Canal and the use of different styles and locally made brick as well as stone in colliery housing and other buildings. Because it lies on the Pennine foothills the area is attractive for leisure pursuits and recreation. Our account therefore, we hope, will be of interest both to the student of transport and coalmining as well as to local residents who want to know more about the history of their own community.

References particular to individual chapters are listed at the end of each chapter and are referred to in the text. A much fuller list of sources was produced as a by-product of our researches and this has been published by Poynton Local History Society and is available at Poynton Library. Certain abbreviations are regularly used in the booklists namely CRO = Cheshire Record Office, PRO = Public Record Office, PLHSN = Poynton Local History Society Newsletter. Abbreviations are used for railway companies after their first mention.

All references to Ordnance Survey maps give the scale as a ratio e.g. 25" to the mile maps are described as 1:2500. A large scale 1910 Ordnance Survey Map of the Poynton area has been provided upon which the chief buildings and sites described in the book are clearly marked and listed. Other more detailed plans of the location of all known pits, the extent of the railway network and details of individual pits and other buildings are also included. Money throughout is given as pounds, shillings and pence abbreviated to .s.d. there being 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. Some examples of the value of wages are given in Chapter 10.

W.H. Shercliff D.A. Kitching J.M. Ryan


This text taken from: Poynton A Coalmining Village; social history, transport and industry 1700 - 1939, by W.H.Shercliff, D.A.Kitching and J.M.Ryan, published by W.H.Shercliff, 1983. ISBN 0 9508761 0 0

Foreword and acknowledgements

Chapter 2. Poynton in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries: The Older Established Occupations

Poynton A Coalmining Village Contents


© W.H. Shercliff, D.A. Kitching & J.M. Ryan 2005

Last updated 24.2.05