29 May 1857.
Stockport, Disley & Whaley Bridge Railway.
The first step in the construction of this line of railway was taken on Saturday the 30th September 1854 at Disley. On that occasion the village was the scene of gaiety and bustle, as a large party from Lyme Hall arrived in five carriages amid the ringing of bells, at the Ram’s Head Hotel, preparatory to the “breaking ground,” at a spot at the head of the far-famed lake, and thus destroying all that romantic quietude, beneath the shade of the quaint old church which towered above you. The party took their places on a platform on the edge of the lake. The rude hand of the “navvy” had fastened upon the site, and in the name of science, intelligence and improvement, the solitude of that favourite retreat was about to depart. Of the Railway Directors then present, connected with the Line, were --- The late lamented Thomas Legh Esq., chairman; Dr Carstairs, vice-chairman; John Chapman Esq., of Hill End, Mottram; H.W. Notman Esq; D.S. Clayton Esq; William Mercer Esq., Solicitor to the Company; Mr J.E. Errington, engineer in chief; Mr John McVeagh, acting engineer and Mr John Lowe, acting clerk. A number of ladies and gentlemen from this town and neighbourhood were also present.
The ceremony was fixed for 10.30 a.m., when the late ‘Squire of Lyme’ addressed the assemblage, dwelling upon the advantages of railways to all classes of the community, by facilitating their intercourse with each other, and by bringing the conveniences and comforts of life more easily within the reach of all. After a few preliminaries, a mahogany wheel-barrow was placed on the platform, near Mrs Legh, and a neat little spade mounted with the same choice wood having been handed to her by the chief engineer, she “turned” the first sod with so much grace and dexterity as to call forth a round of the most deafening cheers.
Notwithstanding the delay experienced by the Company in obtaining permission of the land in the neighbourhood of Stockport, the first section of the line of railway from Manchester and Stockport to Buxton is now completed, and will be ready for passenger traffic about the 9th or 10th of June next, the Government Inspector having certified as to the substantiality of the line to Whaley Bridge, and stations having been erected at Whaley Bridge, at Thornsett (for New Mills), at Disley and at Hazel Grove, where it runs through Adswood, entering the main line a little above the Edgeley tunnel. The length of this branch line is about 10½ miles; and the Company have a Bill before Parliament for authorising the construction of the other portion from Whaley to Buxton, the number of coaches plying between Manchester and Buxton, during the season, being twelve per day. Until these works are completed, arrangements will be made by the Company for plying coaches to and from Buxton, to meet the arrival of the Stockport trains with passengers for North Derbyshire. The cost of this undertaking has been largely increased owing to the difficult, but very picturesque and romantic country through which it passes, including the necessity of a viaduct, tunnel, canal crossing and other expensive works. It is estimated, therefore, that the outlay will not be far short of £20,000 per mile. The works have been executed by Messrs J.R. Davidson & Co., the contractors.
The opening of such a line in this locality will doubtless be productive of infinite advantage to the commercial community of the more populous localities north of Disley, since the traffic in lime, limestone and minerals, expected from the company’s kilns and quarries, for public consumption, may reasonably be expected to be boundless as well as profitable. The scheme will be pushed forwards from the junction of the Cromford and High Peak Railway at Whaley Bridge to Chapel-en-le-Frith, to Dove Holes and Buxton, as soon as the Bill before Parliament should have granted the necessary authorisation. Besides, to capitalists and gentlemen who are in a condition to enjoy the ‘otium cum dig.’ few places present such eligible sites for villas and snug country seats, with refreshing breezes, the purest air, and beautiful views, as the valley through which the railway has now made such a very permanent inroad, for up to this time the splendid Alpine scenery of Derbyshire could not be fully appreciated, at this point. The enterprising merchant, disposed to erect cotton mills or print works, will also find a boundless supply of water, stone, lime and coal.
It may not be uninteresting to state, on the subject of railways through Disley, that on the 19th of November 1828, a meting of capitalists and others was held at the Warren Bulkeley Arms Inn, in this town, for the purpose of entering into a subscription for powers to form a railway to connect the Liverpool and Manchester with the Cromford and High Peak Railway. The late Thomas Legh Esq., occupied the chair. The whole outlay for such railway, from half a mile beyond Whaley to Water-street, Manchester, 17 and one third miles would be £165,325.18.0, producing a clear revenue of £25,000 per annum, upon the calculation of Mr Jessop, the civil engineer. Nearly £14,000 was subscribed towards the object before the meeting broke up. The scheme was, however, abandoned.
Though all the arrangements for the passenger traffic (as we have before stated) will not be completed until the 9th of June, the formal ceremony of opening the line for public purposes, from Stockport to Whaley Bridge, was celebrated this afternoon (Thursday), at 3 o’clock, at the School Room, in Disley, after the line had been traversed and approve of by the Government Inspector, where about 114 gentlemen connected with the undertaking, including some of the directors, had accepted an invitation to a splendid dejeuner, &c. &c., a special train leaving the Stockport Station, with the guests from London, Manchester, Mottram, Yorkshire, &c. &c.
A special train of ten 1st and 3rd class left the Stockport Station at noon with a large party of friends, and two bands of music, namely Mr Higham’s quadrille band of Manchester, and the Compstall Bridge Brass Band, a crowd of spectators having been attracted by the music strains, and the floating of union jacks. The day was beautifully fine, and the route through a delightful country, so agreeably diversified by scenery, was the subject of intense admiration. After leaving the main line just above the Edgeley tunnel, the train diverges somewhat acutely to the south-east, passing through an agricultural district as far as Hazel Grove Station, leaving Bramhall Lodge, the beautiful gothic seat of Thomas Walmsley Esq., a little to the left. The station for the accommodation of the village of Hazel Grove is approached by a thoroughfare called Button Lane. We next reach the township of Norbury, at so high a level as to leave the Church a remarkable object on the left as well as Marple Church on the hill, and a vast wooded landscape on the right, embracing Poynton and Worth, with Woodford in the extreme distance, forming a very pretty view. A mile or two forward, and the train, after passing under the Macclesfield Canal, brings us to Middlewood, a wood of considerable extent, intersecting some mineral quarries which skirt for some length, the Poynton and Worth estates. The scenery at this point is charming. At twenty minutes past twelve o’clock, the train -- which we omitted to state, was in the charge of Messrs Cooper, Ramsbottom and Bolden -- reached Disley Station, which was decorated with flags and other joyous emblems, the rails at this point being about 300 feet higher than at Hazel Grove. After some delay, occasioned by strangers examining the works, the train proceeded to the terminus at Whaley, four miles further, passing under the road to Thornsett, leaving the turnpike road on the right, at which point the beautiful valley of New Mills, with the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Chapel, are conspicuous in the distance, together with the extensive print-works at the foot of the hills. The line then recrosses the road, and in a few minutes, having entered a deep cutting on the left reaches Whaley Station on the margin of an eminence, the turnpike road being at a considerable descent below the level of the line. Great preparations had been made at this place in the way of decoration, etc. The guests remained here for about half an hour, the two bands playing alternately all the time; and considerable interest was taken in the erection of some woodwork for the intended viaduct 100 yards long, which, when completed, will continue the Disley line to the High Peak Railway. The viaduct crosses the valley of the Goyt, in close contiguity to some coal fields, mines and stone quarries, belonging to Messrs Jodrell and Gisborne, and within a short distance of the large reservoirs of the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Company, and about 4000 acres of moorland, skirting the residence and grounds of S. Grimshaw Esq., of Errwood House. The train retraced its steps in time for the refreshment at two o’clock.
At that hour the guests assembled, as we before stated, in the National School, Disley, to a dejeuner and dessert of the first quality, provided by Mr Johnson of the Queen’s Hotel, Manchester, in his best style of French dishes. The wines included hock, champagne, claret, sherry, moselle and port, were of a choice class. Indeed never has Disley witnessed to liberal and so recherche an entertainment.
The tables were three in number, the principal being fixed across, and the other two downwards. The Chair was ably filled by John Chapman Esq., of London, chairman of the Company, and the responsibilities of vice-chairman were discharged by R. Russell Notman Esq., Deputy Chairman of the Company and William Mercer Esq., of Newton.
The Chairman was supported by Colonel Davenport, the Mayor of Stockport, the Town Clerk of Stockport, Joseph Brookes Esq., of Huddersfield, the Rector of Stockport and the Sub Dean of Salisbury (the Rev. Mr Eyre.)
We noticed the following gentlemen, besides the Chairman: Col. Davenport, Bramhall Hall; Jos. Brookes Esq., Huddersfield, a director of the London, North Western Railway: Thomas Broderick Esq., deputy chairman to the North Staffordshire Railway; R.R. Notman Esq., deputy chairman of the Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway; William Mercer Esq., of Newton, near Warrington and D.S. Clayton Esq., directors of the same line; ------ Seeth Esq., solicitor, London; Joseph Orme Esq., Mayor of Stockport; John Vaughan Esq., Town Clerk of Stockport; the Rev. C.K. Prescot, Rector of Stockport; the Rev. Mr Eyre, Dean of Salisbury; the Rev. R. Litler, Poynton; the Rev. Noble Wilson, Disley; the Rev. W. Worsley, Norbury; Edward Brooke Esq., Marsden House; Mr Medd, the Mansion House, Stockport; Mr Boothroyd, Shaw Heath House, Stockport; James Marshall Esq., Brinnington Mount, Stockport; Mr E. Reddish, Stockport; Mr Ald. E. Walmsley, Heaton Norris; Mr Ald. Waterhouse, Edgeley; Leigh Slater Esq., Disley; Mr W. Rawson, Manchester; J. Slack Esq., and Mr Bennett, Chapel-en-le-Frith; Mr J. Ingram, New Mills, Mr S. Hunt, Stockport, surveyor and land valuer to the company; Mr D. Brandon; Mr H.P. Burt; Mr J.A. Barton; Mr A.C. Crosse; Mr C.E.D.W. Dowling; Mr W. Goldsmid; Mr Patrick Kilgour; Mr John Morgan; Mr J.R. Oughterson; Mr J.S.A. Shuttleworth, of Hathersage Hall; Mr Kirkman, South Junction and Altrincham Railway; Mr S.W. Wilkinson, Stockport; Mr Welch, New Mills; Mr James Davies, Disley; Mr G.B. Withington, Manchester; Mr B.G. Cooper, Bosden; Messrs Williamson and Roberts, Wellington Road Foundry; Mr Charles Cooper, superintendent and Mr Ramsbottom, locomotive department, London and North Western Railway; Mr H.W. Notman, secretary, Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway; Mr J.E. Errington, engineer; Mr Bolden, resident-engineer; Mr Superintendent Andrews; Mr J.R. Davidson, contractor &c. &c.
The Rector said Grace both before and after meat.
The cloth was drawn about three thirty.
The Chairman opened the proceedings by proposing, in very neat and loyal terms, the toast of “The Queen,” and also that of His Royal Highness, Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family, which were received with three time three cheers, the band playing the “National Anthem.”
In introducing the next toast, the Chairman apologised for his being so feeble an exponent of so important a subject as “The Army and Navy.” No one wished more ardently than himself for the time when our “swords shall be turned into ploughshares and our spears into pruninghooks,” not excepting even Mr Cobden or the Brighties; but they had to thank gallant souls and a kind Providence for the peace they now enjoyed (Hear.) He was not a distinguished commander of troops, but when he was young he felt it an honour to say he was at the battle of Copenhagen, in the presence of Lord Nelson. He was indeed in ‘arms’ on that brilliant occasion - (hear); and, although he could not express all he felt for those who fought our battles, he could not forget the gratitude he owed them. On this very day, an application had been made for a post on the railway for a Crimean hero; and, if the medals he wears be borne out by the excellence of his conduct, he would obtain a situation on the line. (Hear.) In connection with this toast, he coupled the name of Colonel Davenport (Cheers.)
Colonel Davenport, in responding, said in the absence of any officer of the British Army, and as the chairman had honoured him by calling upon him, he begged to say a few words in behalf of that noble profession, Although he had passed 21 years in the public service - namely, from 15 to 36 - in different parts of the world, he did not on that account rise the less willingly to return thanks on the part of the Army. If it were not necessary to prove the well-known gallantry of the British troops, he would refer them to the writings of that excellent corespondent of the ‘Times,”as to their astounding bravery in the Crimea; and the gallant colonel also instanced the bravery of Lord Clive in India, with 4,000 men against 40,000, whilst achieving the victory of Bengal.
“The Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese,” was appropriately acknowledged by the Rector. He regretted the absence of his Diocesan, who, within so very few years, had already won golden opinions by his piety, his affability, his learning and his excellence. And with respect to the clergy, he only hoped that their zeal would never make them uncharitable, nor their sincerity suffer from their consistency. (Hear.)
Colonel Davenport proposed “The Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway and success to the undertaking.” He mentioned the pleasure and extreme satisfaction he had had, as a landowner through whose property the line passed, in doing everything he could in facilitating the progress of the scheme. The object now-a-days was how to annihilate both time and space, and therefore he approved of this step in the proposal to reach the Metropolis by a route 28 or 30 miles less than it could be accomplished at present - Three times three.
The Chairman returned thanks. He assured the company that the present line was originally intended as a private speculation, at the instance of the late Mr Legh and Mr Joddrell, two of the principal landowners in the district; but some London capitalists having joined for the purpose of finding the cash, assisted by that all-powerful body, the London and North Western Company who had carried them triumphantly through. It had now become a public line. The North Western had joined their Board of Directors that very day (hear, hear,) and he believed everything that had been promised would be sedulously performed - that the affairs would be managed as economically as possible - and he was persuaded that it would prove advantageous to the shareholders as a dividend line (applause.)
The Sub. Dean of Salisbury also spoke.
“The House of Lords and Commons,” was succeeded by the toast of “The Mayors and Corporations of the boroughs of Manchester and Stockport.”
Joseph Orme Esq., Mayor of Stockport, having been called upon by the chairman, rose to respond in a very few words. He received the invitation to be present on this occasion as a high compliment, for he considered the greatest honour they could pay him was to be called upon to represent the inhabitants of his native town. He spoke approvingly of the line of railway, and expressed his conviction that it would command traffic from Stockport, but hoped they would make some efficient arrangements, at the proper season, to procure those recreations for the working classes which the district would afford them, with the least possible delay in taking them to their destination. (Hear, Hear.)
Mr E. Brooke, of Marsden House, proposed the “Directors of the Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway,” congratulating the company that they had at last opened up a valley, so promising for traffic, but which had so long seemed shut out of the world by the absence of railway connection.
In replying to the toast, the Chairman said he deeply felt that his place would have been very much better filled by the Late Mr Legh.
Joseph Brookes Esq., in responding to “The Directors of the London and North Western Railway Company,” said he was sure that those directors would carry out their arrangement with this company in the strictest and most honourable manner. They were deeply interested in the success of the line, and they would do all they could to develop the traffic of the district, (hear,hear.) He had become a member of the new board, at the request of the London and North Western board, and he was determined to strive that everything should continue to be done with the greatest economy and care.
Several other toasts and sentiments were given from the Chair and by other gentlemen, including - The Directors of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway - the Landowners and the Manufacturers of the District - The Engineers - the Contractors - The Chairman of the day - The Ladies.
The proceedings concluded about seven o’clock.
The workmen were regaled the same evening with a bountiful supper at the Company’s expense.