Chisworth and Ludworth.

This page is based on the notes of Robert Hamnett, originally published as an article in the Glossop Advertiser in 1913.
Illustrations are from my personal collection.

By the Local Government Act of 1894, Chisworth and Ludworth were formed into a parish. There are eight parish councillors. Ludworth elects three Rural District Councillors, who are also Poor Law Guardians, Chisworth one Rural District Councillor and Guardian. The area of the Hamlet of Chisworth is 850 statute acres, and of Ludworth 1,626 acres.

In the early census returns Chisworth and Ludworth were returned together. In 1821 there were 179 houses and 1,077 inhabitants. The census of 1831 showed an increase of 133 houses and 657 inhabitants. These returns were taken by the overseers, but afterwards by persons appointed by the Government. In 1841 the census returns show Chisworth and Ludworth separately. In that year Chisworth had 104 houses and 532 inhabitants. In
1851 -114 houses and 555 inhabitants
1861 -109 houses and 434 inhabitants
1871 - 97 houses and 430 inhabitants
1891 - 98 houses and 436 inhabitants
1901 - 409 inhabitants.
These returns show that for the last 60 years Chisworth has gradually decreased in population, owing to the collieries being closed.
Ludworth shows a slight increase for the same period. In 1841 Ludworth had 303 houses and 1476 inhabitants. In
1851 - 315 houses and 1578 inhabitants
1861 - 357 houses and 1640 inhabitants
1871 - 375 houses and 1735 inhabitants
1891 - 412 houses and 1804 inhabitants
1901 - 1775 inhabitants

Chisworth from a card posted 1907
Chisworth from a card posted 1907

The principal occupation of the inhabitants of Chisworth and Ludworth in the past have been farming, coal mining, cotton band making and spinning.
In 1783 the Chisworth and Ludworth coal mines were leased for 20 years to William Thornley, carpenter, Chisworth; his son, John Thornley, cotton manufacturer, Hadfield; and George Bradshaw, collier, Simmondley.
In 1802 a new lease of 20 years was granted to the above John Thornley and his uncle Robert Thornley, hat manufacturer, Denton, the rent being one fifth part of the selling price of the coal, but not to be under 20 per annum. The business must have been a paying one for in 1842 John Thornley was the proprietor, and was assessed at 769 for the collieries he was working.
A few years later the collieries came in to the possession of James and Jonathan Jowett, who in 1848 were working coal mines in Dinting, Chisworth and Ludworth, James Clayton being their manager. In 1862 their colliery in Sandy Lane, Chisworth was assessed at 446. The collieries were the Rose Grove, Woodseats New Pit, Holehouse Engine Pit, (The late Neville Sharpe, in his transcription of Hamnett's notes, commented: None of these early pits had an engine, the pit got its name because the vibrations from the steam engine in Holehouse mill could be felt in the pit.), Bott Wood Tunnel Pit, Sandy Lane (sometimes called Sander Lane) Tunnel Pit, Stirrup Benches Pit, Peep o' Day Pit, Alma Pit, and others that I have forgotten the names of, but there was one worked by a collier, who, it was believed, had sold his soul to the devil, because he got such a quantity of coal out if it that it was said that the devil helped him, and the pit was called 'Owd Nick's Pit'; it was situated between Holehouse and Lee Valley.

The Thornleys are a very old Chisworth family, and many of them have taken an active part in parish affairs. The Thornleys were amongst the earliest cotton manufacturers in this district. They were a numerous family, and there are many of their descendants still in the district. Joseph Thornley Cotton manufacturer, Chisworth, whose will was dated 17th January, 1832, left to his nephews and nieces an equal share of his fortune. He also left 100 to be divided amongst his late wife's nephews and nieces, the children of Sarah, wife of Ralph Bancroft, and Ann, late wife of John Bramhall. His executors were Joseph Cooper, cotton manufacturer, Chisworth, his nephew, and James Thornley, farmer, Chisworth, his brother.
His sisters were Tabathy (wife of Edmund Platt). Nancy Cooper, Mary (wife of George White), Hannah (wife of John Rowbottom). His brothers were John, Thomas, Samuel and James; his brothers, Richard and Solomon, were deceased, but all the children of his sisters and brothers were provided for. This Joseph Thornley worked the Holehouse Cotton Mill, which is partly situated in the hamlets of Charlesworth and Chisworth. On the 1st January, 1825 he leased it to Joseph Cooper for 21 years at a rental of 150 per annum; the mill to be insured for 800.

Mr Cooper had an exciting time during the 1842 'Plug Drawing Turn Out.' The rioters visited his mill on the 18th August, and did considerable damage. He followed one of them, Charles Rhodes, and caused him to be arrested. He was tried on the 26th September at the Hyde Petty Sessions, committed to the Sessions, and got a long term of imprisonment. In later years the firm became Joseph Cooper and Sons, cotton spinners. In 1859 the firm was in difficulties, and the mortgagees took possession of the mill, and eventually James Rowbottom became the tenant. His executors still work it. The assessment is 208. In Cooper's time it was assessed at less than one half of that sum. Joseph Cooper died 16th August, 1872, aged 83; his wife, Nancy, died 14th March, 1863, aged 68.

Another mill at Holehouse belonged in 1811 to John Booth, cotton manufacturer. In 1812 to Robert Booth; in 1837 to John and George Booth; in 1866 to Ralph Booth. It was known as the Mouse Mill. In 1866 it was advertised to be let, and described as being in dimensions 39 ft by 31 ft and three storeys high. In 1842 it was assessed at 6 12s 6d.
On the 17th February, 1841 George Booth, aged 31, accidentally shot himself dead with a pistol whilst cleaning it. A Ralph Booth, of the Holehouse, was buried 15th November, 1758, so it is evident that the Booths have lived a long time at Holehouse.

Chew Wood
Chew Wood

Chew Wood Mill was erected in 1795 on a 99 year lease by John Rowbottom, for the carding and scrubbing of wool. He was assisted by his sons, James, Samuel, John and Francis. In 1861 Samuel was the sole occupier, and remained there until he removed to Meadow Mills, about 1875, when his brother James succeeded him.
James Rowbottom, J.P. was born 19th May, 1827. In 1893 he had a new lease and took in more land; the area is now 4,194 yards, original lease was for 805 yards. The business is still carried on by his descendants. James Rowbottom was a jovial person, well respected by all who knew him. He once had a rather curious experience with Superintendent Hatton. He was technically arrested by him but on the 28th May 1855 he obtained 10 damages against him for false imprisonment.

Kinder Lee Mill is partly in Chisworth. Mr John Harrison Ratcliffe built the Chisworth portion and Band Walk about 1867. He built Rarewood House during the cotton famine. Mr Ratcliffe died in August, 1881, and his widow continued the business until she died in November, 1907. It then came into the possession of Mr Bowker of Hollinwood, and just before his death to Mr George Rowbottom and members of the family are still tenants.
Mr. J H Ratcliffe was a strong churchman and the annual visit of the Church scholars at Whitsuntide was always looked forward to by himself, family and the scholars for they got buns etc., and liquid refreshments. I was mistaken in believing that Mr Ratcliffe was a relative of Mr Benjamin Harrison.

About 1866 Mr Edward Kershaw Sidebottom was manufacturing steel tubes at the Bone Mill. He lived at Chisworth House, and once a year, just before Christmas, he had some fine fat turkeys; these by some means got amongst the tar at the gas works, and as it was impossible to clean the tar from their feathers, he ordered them to be killed and buried in his presence, which was done, but the same night there was a turkey resurrection; they were dug up, skinned and cooked, and turned out all right. I know this to be a fact, for I had some.

The Coombs Mill is partly in Charlesworth and Chisworth. The first tenant that I have record of is Joseph Thornley, who in 1811, was also working the Holehouse Mill. After him Robert Booth occupied it, and was succeeded by John Bowden, who was tenant for 21 years. Henry Smith was there in 1852. The mill has had many tenants but the most successful one seems to have been the late James Brown J.P., bleacher, who came from the Tor Side Mill to the Coombs about 1872, and was in possession until his death a short time ago. It is now worked by a limited company.

Chisworth at one time was well wooded and abounded with game. There is still a record in existence of a poaching affray which states that 'William Venator and William Maynwaring, of the County of Chester, killed a stag in Chisworth on St Barnabas Day, 1283, and carried the venison to the house of Thomas Aston, of the County of Lancaster, and there it was eaten at a certain festival which was held on account of his marriage.'

Bott Wood was the scene, some years ago of a practical joke. Joseph Purcell, son of the Vicar of Charlesworth, was one day in Manchester, and a street merchant was selling a toy whistle which could be made to imitate a nightingale's song. An idea struck Joseph and he bought two. He had a companion named Joseph Nield, one of a family of musicians; they practised with the whistles until they could imitate a nightingale's song nearly to perfection. Late one summer's night the people of Chisworth were surprised to hear breaking the stillness of the calm night a delightful sound. "What is it?" many asked. "Why," said one, "It's a nightingale." "So it is," said another. As long as the music trilled, the listeners remained, and when it ceased the listeners reluctantly retired to their houses. Next day the news spread rapidly with the result that at night hundreds were gathered together in eager expectation of hearing the delicious music. They were not disappointed. About midnight the silence was again broken by the strange and unfamiliar music, and so the news and excitement spread, and the Rev Goodwin Purcell went so far as to write to his sister-in-law in Ireland to come over and listen to the wonderful nightingale; but alas! In about a week's time some one curious to want to know what sort of a bird a nightingale was, and entering the wood cautiously he discovered Joseph Purcell and Joseph Nield imitating the nightingale.
It was a clever hoax, capitally carried out, and after a time even those who had been deceived could afford to and did laugh at the joke.

Chisworth in the past was noted for illicit whisky distillers. One of them, 'Whisky Dick,' was a noted one, and his son Eli, used to go about the district selling it and long evaded being caught; but a pitcher goes once too often to the well, so with Eli; he got caught at Mottram, and on the 4th November, 1852 was fined 50 for his offence.

Chisworth was well supplied with houses of refreshment. The Queen's Arms at Chew was a fully licensed house. In 1841 it was occupied by John Rowbottom, and owned by one of the Rowbottoms. In 1846 Daniel Gee became possessed of it. In 1852 William Harrison was tenant. In 1861 Henry Fowler. In 1868 Robert Higginbottom. It does not now exist as a licensed house.

The Commercial Inn at Fattinghey in 1841 was owned by John Sidebottom, and occupied by James Harrison. In 1848 it was only assessed at 12 10s; it is now assessed at 24. In 1849 Mr Harrison became the owner. In 1852 George Woolley tenant. In 1854 John Woodhouse became the tenant. In 1857 the owner was Jonathan Jowett. Mrs Maria Woodhouse succeeded her husband, after his death, in the tenancy and after, George Hallas, who was succeeded by his widow.

A beerhouse, the Ganister Arms at Fatting Hey was owned and occupied by George Swindells. I do not know how long he was here, but certainly from 1841 to 1857, when William Bradley became the tenant. Another beerhouse, the Druid's Arms at Fatting Hey, now the Co-operative Stores, was opened by Samuel Rowbottom, and owned by James Rowbottom, senior in 1842. In 1851 James Rowbottom was the tenant, and J. Bowden the owner. In 1852 George Cooper was the tenant. In 1860 James Rowbottom purchased it from J. Bowden's executors. James Harrison was tenant in 1864.

The Coopers were farmers at the Hill Top Farm, and were strong teetotallers. By their influence the Chisworth Temperance Society was formed in 1855. The late Mr Caleb Cooper and Mrs Cooper will be remembered by many of my readers.

A company has of late years been formed, and is working a ganister mine at Chisworth and Ludworth.

The Chisworth Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1833 or 1834, and rebuilt in 1891. The master of the day school in 1852 was Benjamin Hiles, 1877 James Ormerod, 1895 Mistress Mrs Phoebe Bagshaw. I do not know who the others were.

Sixty years ago the principal inhabitants of Chisworth were Charles Kinder, veterinary surgeon; Jas Clayton, manager of Jowett's collieries; George Woolley, butcher; John Harrison Ratcliffe, cotton spinner. The farmers were: James Cooper, John Cooper, James Crosby, James Jackson, Moses Rowbottom, Solomon Rowbottom, John Shepley, John Stanney, William Stanney, Daniel Thornley, James Thornley, Noah Thornley, Samuel Thornley. Grocers and general dealers: Abraham Ashton, Ralph Booth, James Harrison. Linen draper: Wright Harrison. Milliner: Ann Hyde.

Moses Rowbottom, of Moorside Farm, had several sons. One of them, Abraham (he built the Grouse Inn), during one of his milk rounds, drew a sixpence; it had a hole in it, and as he could not pass it again he said 'Well, we shall never want for money,' so he got a nail and nailed it to one of the oak beams in the house. When he got married he wanted to take it down as a curiosity, but his father would not let him. That is over 60 years ago, and the sixpence still remains there. The Rowbottoms have occupied this farm for over 200 years.
Chisworth Hall (as it was once called) was built by Jeremiah and John Hollingworth over 200 years ago. They had eight sisters. A John Hollingworth was buried from this house in 1751.

Lane Ends, Glossop Road, Ludworth
Lane Ends, Glossop Road, Ludworth

At Ludworth Houses there once lived an eccentric character, a hand loom weaver, named Robert O' Booth. He could not read, but wanted to learn to write. He said anybody would read it for him when he had written it. He and others were in the habit of taking their woven cuts to Stockport and bringing back with them the material for their next work. The cuts were carried in sacks slung over the shoulder. Robert was a strong fellow, and he hit on a brilliant (to him) idea. He got a sack rather longer than the cuts, put the cuts in, tied the sack with cord, close to the top of the cuts, and then put a coping stone of equal weight to the cuts in the remaining portion, tied the end of the sack securely, and away he went whistling to Stockport, delighted that he had hit upon an idea that enabled both his hands to be at liberty, as the stone counterbalanced the cuts. He came back with his material carried in the same fashion.

Much of the prosperity of Ludworth is owing to the vicinity of the Compstall Mills. These mills were founded by Thomas Andrew. In 1822 the firm was Thomas Andrew and Sons, and in that year they sold off a portion of their machinery, as they were 'declining the calico printing business.' The firm afterwards became George Andrew and Sons, who were also colliery proprietors in Ludworth. The firm owned a considerable amount of cottage property. George Andrew became a J P in 1857, and took a considerable interest in the affairs of the parish.

The Stanneys had a small mill at Mill Brow; they were also farmers at Boar Fold, Mill Brow, and Ludworth. The principal farmers 70 years ago were James Bradley, Sand Hill; Thomas Chapell, Smithy Lane; Joseph Gee, Ernocroft; John Wood, Hollins; Betty Cooper, Stirrup; Moses Harrison, Ernocroft; Martha Bennett, Mill Brow; Robert Fernaley, Lane Ends; William Hyde, Mill Brow; the Dawsons at Stirrup Benches; Higginbottoms at Lane Ends; and Platts at Chapmen Fields. Ludworth at that time was well supplied with licensed houses, there being 8 beerhouses and 9 public houses.

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Last updated: 4 October 2020