Cow Hey - 3 The Allsops
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January 18th, 1891 (continued)
Before I had finished my tea, Fred came bursting in the front door.
"Blanche, I'm so sorry." He rushed over to me, and gave me a hug. "I was just starting out with the gig when the wheel broke, and I'd no choice but to fix it. And there was no way I could let you know. But I see you've managed to get yourself taken care of."
"Yes, thanks to the kindness of the railway porter and Mr. Hough here. Fred, he gave me the tea and scone as a gift, but maybe now you are here, you could pay for it. I didn't know if I would have enough money."
So Fred went to the bar, and I could see him introducing himself to Samuel. They shook hands, and Fred offered to pay, but Samuel shook his head and smiled over at me. "My treat, love, honest."
I asked Fred if he wanted a drink before the trip back, but he said as the weather was getting worse and we had quite a piece to go, it was best we got started straight away.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Hough, for your kindness to me," I said.
"Bye, love and nice to meet you. Come and see us another time, when you're coming or going by train."
"We will," said Fred, and he took my bag, and held the door open for me to go out once more into the bitter air.
"The pony and trap are down at the station yard," said Fred, so we retraced our steps back to Rosehill Station.
He helped me up to the seat beside him, and threw my case in the space behind. Then he took up the reins, which had been wrapped around a lamp post, and climbing up next to me, he clicked his tongue to get the horse to start walking again.
"Please tell me all about where we're going, as we go by, Fred. I didn't even know where it was that you live, or which direction you were coming to get here."
We had got up to the main road by then. "Well, if we went left here, we would be on our way to Stockport, and we don't want to do that. And also if we went left, but still in Marple, we might have been going to call on the Bradshaw-Isherwoods who are the main quality around here. They own Marple Hall. But I don't think we'll stop to call on them today," he said with a laugh.
The road was nearly empty, and we drove along a straight piece, and then came to a junction. "This here is more or less the start of Marple town," he said. "We'll turn up here to the left, and that's called Station Road, and goes to the other train station in Marple. If we'd gone straight ahead, on New Road, that would've taken us to the main business and shopping area. When you need to buy new clothes, I expect you'll want to go there. It is the biggest town to us, but groceries and such like we can get closer in Chisworth or Marple Bridge. On the corner there,” he said pointing, “is the Marple Post Office, and also where the busses go from."
"Is there a bus to where we're going in Ludworth?"
"Oh, yes, but only on weekdays. And It goes beyond us up to another town, Glossop, which is even bigger than Marple."
"So if I were going shopping for clothes, I could take the bus into Marple and back again."
"Yes, that's true, love."
The houses were quite densely packed now, and the road was getting steeper all the time. Then there was an open area on the right, and we seemed to be more or less on top of the hill.
"That's the Hollins. It is a cotton factory that employs a lot of the people around here. And the big house you see there, that belongs to Mr. Carver, another of the quality. He owns the factory.
"Are there lots of factories?"
"Oh, twenty or more in the whole area. Most people are either farmers or work in the factories."
"How many people live in Marple?"
"I think I heard that it was about 10,000 or so, counting all the areas around. But where we live, that is actually in Derbyshire, rather than Cheshire, like this is. So it comes into a different census. The population of Marple Bridge, Mellor and Ludworth is much smaller, more like 6,000 I would say."
We were now going down a very steep hill. Fred was having to keep a very close rein on the horse. "Lots of accidents happen on this hill with run away horses and wagons. And some people have been killed riding on bicycles and going way too fast.
When we got about half way down the hill, Fred said, "This is the other Marple Station, and as you can see it is a much bigger one."
There were loads of horse-drawn taxis waiting for customers outside.
"They'll be lucky in this weather," said Fred. “I've never known such a long patch of freezing weather.
"Right next to the station is St. Martin's Church," continued Fred. "It is a high Anglican church - and lots of the people think it is rather snooty. They say it is almost more Catholic that the Roman Catholic Church. And there's a school there too."
"Is it the school I'll be going to, Fred?"
"Oh no, Blanche. We're a long way from your home yet."
"Where is it that I'm going to live?"
"Well it's on a small farm called Cow Hey. And it's only about half a mile from where I live, so I can see you every weekend, if you like."
"Am I to be a maid there?"
"No, you're not. I said that you're too young to go into service, and I meant it. You'll go to school, for a year or two at least, and maybe longer if you want to."
We were now outside another big area on the left which looked like a park.
"That's Brabyns Hall," said Fred. “Miss Hudson's the owner now, and she's also the one that got St. Martin's Church built. She's sort of the main do-gooder around here. She has a hand in most of the pots."
We then went over a bridge, and turned slightly to the left, and Fred indicated the other road. "That's Town Street, the main street of Marple Bridge, although this one we are on now, which is called Lower Fold, is also Marple Bridge. And this whole area from now on is called Ludworth. In a minute we will be going by the big gas works."
We started to climb a steep hill, again, and the poor horse was finding it quite a struggle.
"Do we live on the top of a hill?" I asked.
"I do, but where you live, you go down a bit again, on the way down to a wood with a river at the bottom. It's very beautiful around there. I know you'll like it."
Another turn and we this time went quite steeply around to the right. There was a pub on the corner called The Windsor Castle.
"Is that your local, Fred?"
"No, I'm afraid we still have quite a long way to go, and several more pubs to pass. But if we'd turned off to the left just back there, we would be on the way to Compstall, and that might be where you'll go to school. There are a couple of options but it'll be up to the Allsops where you go, I suppose."
"Is that the name of the people where I'll be staying? What are they like, Fred?"
"They're the salt of the earth sort of people. The wife, Ann, is quite a bit older than William, who I know quite well. They don't have any children of their own, so that is why they are so keen to have you stay there."
"Are there other people with children in the area? I'd hate to be only with grown ups all the time."
"Well, the other half of the farm is owned by John Warnold. He and his wife have three children, but they're all a bit older than you. I think the girls are working at the mill now."
"Will I work at the mill when I finish with school?"
"I expect that will be up to you and the Allsops to decide when the time comes."
"Did you say they have a farm? Will I have to do farm work? I haven't ever done any farm work before."
"They do have a farm, and I expect you'll have jobs to do on the farm - feeding the chickens and collecting eggs- things like that. Their share of the farm is only six acres, while the Warnolds have 21 - so there is a lot more to do on that."
"Do they have a maid, the Warnolds?"
"No, not very many of the people in our area have maids, but soon we'll be going by some big houses, and the people in them have maids."
"I think I'd like to be a maid, like Charlotte is, rather than work in a factory. Charlotte loves taking care of little John, and she likes her family and it doesn't seem like she has to work too hard."
"This big house we are coming up to now is very interesting. Can you see the windows? They all have etched pictures of birds in them. The man who owns it is called Joel Wainwright, and he gives lectures about birds and things like that. He has written a book about Marple too. He's quite famous."
"Maybe I can work for him."
"I think he has two maids, but they've been with him the whole time I've been here, so unless they leave, he probably wouldn't need more than that."
We were still climbing the hills, and soon came to another junction - and two pubs - Lane Ends and Traveller's Call.
"These are the locals for your area, and the Lane Ends also has a store, so I expect you'll be going shopping for Mrs. Allsop."
"Oh, we must be nearly there."
"Not long now."
We climbed and weaved around and about. I noticed a small bit of water on the right.
"That's the reservoir for the water supply up here. I'm surprised it isn't frozen over. But the Allsops have a well. Another bend in the road and we'll be to your turning."
So on we went, and only a few minutes later I saw a road going down to the left. And sure enough, Fred turned down that road.
Immediately things became enclosed. There were trees on both sides, and the road was so narrow that two carts would not be able to pass at the same time.
"What happens if you meet someone?"
"There are a few places where you can pull off and it's wide enough to get by, but sometimes you have to turn around and go back aways."
“I hope we don't have to do that.”
"That first road there is to a farm called the Twitchers."
"That's a funny name. I wonder why they called it that."
"I've heard because they have such a lot of twitch grass."
Finally we turned and started uphill again.
"Nearly there," said Fred, and the farm came into view in front of me. (pictured above)
It was a long narrow house - and I thought probably the two families both lived in it, as it would be too big for just three people. Fred pulled up the horse, who was very grateful to have a rest at long last, and we went to the right hand end of the property. The trip from Rosehill Station had taken us over half an hour, and most of it had been steeply uphill.
As we got out of the carriage, and Fred pulled out my bag, the front door opened, and a woman came out.
"Is this her then?" she asked.
"Yes, Mrs. Allsop, this is my sister, Blanche."
She opened the door wide, and the two of us went inside. It was a cottage, so the front door opened directly into the front room - where there was a fire burning.
"Mr Allsop will be in directly. He's out feeding the chickens," she said.
I didn't know what to say or whether to sit down or what.
"This is my sister, Blanche Hodkinson," Fred said again, and I went up to Mrs. Allsop and put out my hand. She shook it with hardly any grip, and looked decidedly uncomfortable about the whole thing.
"Well, I suppose I'd better be getting back home," said Fred. "If you need anything, Blanche, I'm sure Mrs. Allsop will tell you how to get up to Miss Hammersley's house where I board."
"Oh, I am sure you could do with a cup of tea, Fred, before you set off," said Mrs. Allsop, finally remembering her manners. "And do sit down, the both of you. Do you drink tea, Blanche?"
"Yes, ma'am," I said.
So the two of us sat down and looked around the big room while she went off to the kitchen to make the tea. It had several small windows with a view over the valley. There were red velvet curtains at the windows, and the furniture was overstuffed and covered in printed calico. She had lots of knick-knacks on the mantelpiece and dresser, and everything was spotless and very tidy looking. I could see that I would have a great deal of work to do to keep this place looking nice to her standards.
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You describe the journey to
You describe the journey to Cow Hey so well Jean I can picture it.
Blanche must be feeling extremely nervous and I do hope that Mrs Allsop is going to be kind, but I have my doubts.
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You leave us wondering, but
You leave us wondering, but are able to describe the countryside in much detail. I dislike backing on narrow lanes too - I'm a bit wiggley! So I do try to avoid them when driving myself. Rhiannon
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