Glossop Heritage Trust

Some reminiscences of 19th century Glossop.

The centenary of the annual brass band contest at Belle Vue in September 1952 prompted Watchman, writing in the Glossop Chronicle, to mention John Shaw of Glossop whose inventive genius played a large part in the development of brass wind instruments. His first notable invention was a keyed trumpet based upon a vertical valve he had patented in 1824, which became the forerunner of the cornet. G.B. Patent No 5013, dated October 7 1824, was granted to John Shaw, of Milltown, Glossop, Derbyshire, farmer “for transverse spring slides for trumpets, trombones, French horns, bugles, and every other musical instrument of the like nature”.

No record of John's birth or baptism have been found but his Monumental Inscription, at Top Chapel, Charlesworth, and census records indicate that he was born about 1800/01 in Glossop. Robert Hamnett, quoting a letter written by Henry Charles Hardman, nephew of John's wife Mary, says that both John and his only brother James (born about 1803 in Glossop according to census records) were educated at Dronfield School, near Sheffield and spent part of their youth at Hayridge Farm in the Woodlands (possibly born there), which James later farmed for several years.

Hardman also wrote that John and James had a natural mechanical ability, but John always had a strong love of music, and could play many instruments of the time. About 1820, through some disagreement with his parents, he left home, and was away about a year, during which he visited Edinburgh, Dublin and London, tramping about the country and existing by means of his flute and a self-made imitation of bagpipes, made out of two stout straws. When he arrived in London, according to the diary he kept, he had only sixpence halfpenny in his pocket. However, he was able to make a living, chiefly from selling the straw pipes for eighteen pence a pair, so that when he arrived home again he had about £10 in his pocket.

John Shaw's bugle
It appears that John then settled down and added working in brass to his farming activities. That led to the 1824 patent, which was followed by one for what he called “patent swivel valves for brass instruments” in 1838 and a new bugle at about the same time. In trade directories of the 1830s onwards he is described as an inventor & maker of valve trumpets and horns of Milltown, then Howard's Town, before being joined by his son, Edwin, as John Shaw & Son, musicsellers, inventors, patentees, manufacturers & importers of musical instruments, High street. They exhibited at the London (Crystal Palace) Exhibition of 1851, and invented “an appliance for attaching to pianos and harmoniums, so that by a run movement the instrument could be made to play in another key.” (Patent No 2370, 9th Oct. 1856, John & Edwin Shaw: Pianofortes, organs, harmoniums, and other similar keyed musical instruments).


Their activities were not confined to musical instruments. John Shaw took out patent No.12,728 on 1 August 1849 for an air gun “worked by india rubber or other forms of spring” and is described in the 1851 and 1861 censuses as a gas fitter. Edwin was a brass worker in 1851 and a gas fitter in 1861. They were also “makers of indicators for registering the quality of calico made on looms”, many of which were apparently still in use in 1952, notably at John Wood Bros. The Shaws are reputed to have done the first gas fitting when Glossop Gas Company was formed in 1845 and Edwin (as well as continuing to run the music business after John died in 1865) became chairman of Glossop Gas Company. Edwin Shaw donated a piano value £50 when Victoria Hall was opened.

Watchman's original article generated a letter from a reader which was published on 10 October 1952 under the heading “Glossop in past years, Recollections of an Oldham reader”:
Sir. - In regard to the paragraph about the late Edwin Shaw and his inventions I was more than a little surprised that no mention was made of the tricycle which he invented and which he rode about Glossop in his later years.
The cycle was a wooden affair the wheels having wooden spokes like the ones on a cart, and an iron tyre. It was propelled by treadles, similar to those on a sewing machine.
His shop was later taken over by a man who was a complete stranger. He was always alluded to as Buffalo Bill because of the way he dressed, as near like the Canadian Mounted Police as maybe, including the slouched hat.
I should like to know how long it is since the Glossop Wakes was pushed on six weeks from the first Sunday after the 12th September. Old Glossopians didn’t at all agree with it so they held a wakes on their own. There were quite a few stalls of different sorts in the streets, for the most part round about the Queen's Arms. I don't remember any shows coming and only one set of swings which were in the yard at the Hare and Hounds.
The Morris Dancers turned out for a good few years along with a rushcart which was built on a freshly painted cart and stood up for about eight or nine feet. A man would walk in front with a big whip, so big that he had to use both hands to crack it. One year there were two teams of dancers, one from the Bulls Head and the other from the “Sma Dog” otherwise the Greyhound up “Rough-town.” The All Saints' pipe and drum band, of which I was a member, played for one lot and a brass band from Thornsett for the other one. In addition to the dancers there were other attractions, sports, steeple-chases and trail hunts. One of the chases started from the Greyhound and went by way of Water Street up Thorpe Bank and on the Level to Gnat Hole Bridge when they got a ticket given to them to prove that they had done the full distance.
Another started from the Arundel Arms at the cemetery and ran to the Devil's Elbow and back. The prize was more often than not a copper kettle.
I wonder how many people in Old Glossop remember there being a coal yard there? The coal was brought by the cart load and sold out by the hundredweight or half. There wasn’t much money about those days.
At the angle at the bottom of Wesley Street and round to the Old Cross there was a nail shop. You can see the remains of the forge to-day. It was owned and worked by old Joe Foley who lived in one of two houses where the Stores now stand. The other house he used as a store room for the nails he made. I used to go there for nails for my dad who was a cordwainer (at least that's what he put down on the census paper). Opposite the nail forge was a penfold where they penned any cattle found straying, and anyone who owned them had to pay to get them out. A man called Tommy Bridge who lived in the Back Sitch had the care of it.
Shepley Street in Old Glossop my dad always spoke of it as the Duke's Drive though I don’t remember any Duke using it. A man called Charles Taylor farmed those fields between Shepley Street and the Pyegrove and had a cow that had dropped a calf which had two heads and two tails, but it wasn't allowed to live. If you take the path from the top of Church Street and up through the Heath fields you will come out on the North Road, on the opposite side. Before the park was made there was a gap in the wall. You could go through the fields and up to the Hill Top. Part way up another path branched off to the left and ran through the farm yard at the Ashes. One Sunday, a gang of us were taking a walk that way and when we had crossed the brook that turns through the park we sat down and having learned that the park was to be made on that piece of ground, one of the lads suggested that we should cut out a sod, which he did, turned it over, stuck in a twig and added a notice to say that that was the first sod cut in the Glossop park. But it turned out to be wrong as it was called Howard Park! The part where the stream runs down was previously known as Barber Clough.
When I was young we always spoke of Talbot Road as Newfoundland, though I haven't the foggiest idea why. The only house from the top of Norfolk Street to Dinting Lane was Talbot House, the residence of Mr. Sam Wood. The first to be built on Talbot Road was the one at the top of Norfolk Street. It was put up by Tom Hampson, who worked some stone quarries at the top of Whitfield. The second one was by Mr. Robinson who had a tailors shop in Norfolk Street just above the porch of the Norfolk Arms. The next was by T. P. Hunter, a ladies' outfitter, whose shop was next above the Town Hall. The block of four or five were built for the Wesleyan minister, and the one that stands rather back from the road was built by Walter Thorpe, a coal merchant.
The top part of the ground where the Victoria Hall and the Technical School stand used to be covered with gardens and on the bottom we used to play cricket and peggy. It was then known as the “Ten-houses ground.”
Before the Glossop Cricket Club went on to the North Road ground they had the field in Norfolk Street opposite Lord Street, Fitzalan Street and Charles Street. To prevent anyone watching without paying they put up poles running the whole length of the wall from which canvas was hung about eight feet high and to about a foot from the ground, but it didn't prevent boys from slipping underneath. On that piece opposite Station Street between the back of the Tory Club and Ellison Street there was a bowling green. I've climbed the wall in Ellison Street numbers of times to watch them play bowls. These are just a few reminiscences of the days gone by - Yours etc.
E. Hadfield, 74, Ronald Street, Clarkesfield, Oldham.

Two weeks later another letter from Mr Hadfield was published:
Sir, - Will you please correct my letter alluding to the Victoria Hall and Technical School. This should have been the ten hours ground and not the ten houses.
When the Glossop Volunteers were first formed they were known as the 23rd or the 24th Derbyshires. The drill hall was in the part of the market opposite Victoria Street, when they had their first parade in their new uniforms - scarlet tunics with red stripes down their pants (note, Hamnett dates this as 13 March 1876). They went up Victoria Street, down St. Mary's Road, up High Street West and back to the drill hall. A lot of us followed them as far as the Sand Hole and then went to the far end opposite Princes Street, and when we got there we were told there was a mill on fire in Bridge Field so we lost all further interest in the Volunteers and went to see the fire which was blazing away.
Someone amongst the spectators told us that the mill owner had told them to break as many windows as they could and although there were plenty of stones within easy reach the pity of it was that there was so few windows left intact, which was rather a disappointment to us.
It would be interesting to me to know how long it is since the Toll Bars were done away with in Glossop. There was one at the junction of Church Street and Woodhead Road, one in High Street East opposite the Mechanics Arms, one up Charlestown Road, near the Black Mill, and, if I remember rightly, one at Woolley Bridge near the Spread Eagle, so it was rather difficult for any vehicular traffic to get into Glossop without paying toll.
The job the borough fathers have made in bridging over the brook from the Victoria Bridge to the Bridge Inn deserves praise. It has removed what was a terrible eyesore and, in addition, made quite a nice market ground.

The writer of the letters is thought to be Edward Hadfield, born in November 1865 to Thomas and Emma Hadfield of Willow Grove, who moved to Oldham in the early years of the 20th century and died there in 1953. Willow Grove itself has an interesting history, having been a beer house run by Edward's grandparents, Thomas and Ellen. Hamnett wrote of, perhaps, its strangest event - a funeral that was long remembered, and caused a sensation at the time. This was the funeral of Jam' o' Jonathan's. He was a carpenter (shown as a carpenter and farmer in Glover's directory of 1829) called James Wood, and was the son of Jonathan Wood of Padfield. James had been baptised at Glossop Parish Church on 4 July 1773 but was (in Hamnett's words) a property owner and an infidel. However, when James died on July 15 1850 he still had to have a funeral – and that had to be at Glossop Parish Church. Although James left no will (administration of his estate was granted to his sister Ann, wife of Robert Booth, farmer of Coombs) he apparently ordered that the mourners attending his funeral were to have as much drink as they wanted. The funeral procession was to stop at Mrs Ellen Hadfield's, the Willow Grove Inn on Woodhead Road, on the way from Padfield to Glossop. On arrival the coffin lid was to be taken off and the corpse was to have as much ale as the body would hold, which was done. A tun dish was obtained, placed in his mouth and ale poured down. The mourners (naturally there were many of them because of the free beer on on offer) were so drunk on arrival at the Church, that the curate, the Rev. John Stone, refused to inter the corpse owing to the mourners' want of reverence. The corpse was left and buried next day, but no mourners attended.
Willow Grove
Willow Grove, the former Willow Grove Inn

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