The Community Association is grateful to Liz Morris for kindly preparing and providing this Local History information.
The highest point of Chinley Churn is 1493 feet above sea level. It is believed that there is a Roman burial place there. Maybe the name of the village derives from a tumulus on the Churn of a Roman named Chinlei. Maybe they died somewhere along the road below and they were commemorated on the highest point overlooking the road?
The area was originally part of the Forest of the Peak. Documents show that it has had several name changes over the years, Mainstone Fields, Chymnleis, Chindley, Churn Lea and finally Chinley. The Forest of the Peak was a rich hunting area; wolves, wild boar and red deer roamed the area. There were only a few scattered farmsteads. Probably the oldest houses are the ones on the outskirts of the village on Stubbins Lane known as Chinley Houses. Probable date is circa 1311 but there have been many changes over the years.
Much of the ground, after the Forest was no longer used for hunting, was given over to growing of crops. Corn grinding mills were built at New Smithy and by the Blackbrook. As years passed there was more pastoral farming than growing of crops and the need for the corn mills decreased. The Maynestone Mill at New Smithy was pulled down in 1946 after being derilect for many years.
Chinley Chapel is another very old building. It was built in 1711 after the dissenters were locked out of Malcoff Barn where they had worshipped. Chinley was at the centre of the movement and was famous for the men associated with the dissenters. William Bagshawe, The Apostle of the Peak, and Rev. James Clegg who succeed him also John Bennett, born in Whitehough but lived most of his life in Chinley. He befriended John Wesley the founder of the Methodists. John Wesley preached in many of the places founded by John Bennett and often stayed with him at his house on Lower Lane. Unfortunately when the railway was built his house had to be demolished. It was close to where the footbridge now stands. All that remains is part of the garden now included in the Allotments.
In 1700 Chinley consisted of scattered settlements. There was Chinley End, now the middle of the village. Chinley Lees, the land between Chinley and Buxworth and Chinley Green the land to the south of the village between Chinley and the Blackbrook. As well as farming, there was some work in the coal pits and quarries and some people earned a living by weaving in their own homes. There was also a woollen mill in the valley. In 1799 the construction of the Tramway and the Peak Forest Canal in 1806 gave further employment. By 1850 more houses had been built and the scattered settlements were becoming more like a village. Over the door of the house at the corner of BelleView, sometimes, in a favourable light, can be seen the name ‘George Hadfield’. It is over the doorway of what was the first shop in the village.
In 1867 the Railway came through, only two lines at first. The Station was just below the Railway Road Bridge where the new houses are now. In 1901 this station building was taken down when the line was widened to four tracks. This was so that trains could go to Sheffield as well as Buxton and Manchester. A new much bigger station was built further along. The ‘Station’ was rebuilt as a house up Maynestone Road now called ‘The Naze’. The new station had many platforms and a shop, ticket office and waiting rooms. There were goods sidings and a turntable as well as workshops. The upheaval of all this building work, and the two viaducts at New Smithy, and the making of Cowburn Tunnel, must have made a huge impact on the people of the village. The Squirrel’s Public House at the corner of Buxton Road was pulled down and the Princes Hotel (now flats) was built to accommodate people changing trains in Chinley. The green was a very good Crown Bowling Green. Chinley changed very rapidly. When all the work was completed nearly a hundred trains passed through Chinley every day. There were many more on Bank Holidays. As well as the main line railway in the village another track was built to bring stone down from the quarries on Cracken Edge. This track worked on the principal of the full wagon coming down pulled the empties back up. It was not a very satisfactory wagon way. Wagons kept jumping the rails and soon it was abandoned in favour of the old way, wagons pulled by horses along the road from the quarry. The quarry was closed many years ago.
When ‘cotton was king’ there were three mills along the Blackbrook, the Forge, Bridgeholme and Whitehall employing hundreds of workers. The Forge became Dorma, printing and dying, now awaiting new development. Bridgeholme became Hadfields making wadding, now turned into flats, and Whitehall Works made paper it now belongs to PVC.
Houses were needed for all the new workers so many village houses were also built around this time. Many of the houses are built of stone from Cracken Quarries or from one of the quarries on Hayfield Road.
The Canal and the Tramway lost business when the roads were improved and both closed. The quarries and the coal pits were abandoned too. People had cars or buses as well as the train to take them to work outside the village. The mills closed and the railway station did not have the need for the goods yard or the turntable. Chinley was changing once again. More houses were built on land previously used for the railway yards and also on farmland. The Tramway became a footpath and the Canal Basin is now in the process of restoration. The Canal Basin is an important Historical Site.
Much more could be added about this village and the surrounding area, this is but a brief introduction to a fascinating story.
The Community Association is grateful to Harvey Rudkin for kindly emailing the following additional Local History information:
Bridgehome mill was a wadding mill and owned by the Lingard Family. I started my working life there in 1959 aged 15 earning one shilling and a farthing an hour They also owned another at Droylesdon. The next Mill down the valley was The Forge Mill owned by the Hadfield family who lived in the large house on the right hand side of the road to chapel after the Alderbrook centre. The forge was a bleach works which specialised in bedsheets of the white cotton variety hence it sold out to Dorma as man made fibres became fashionable. An aunty of mine now deceased worked ther for the whole of her working life. I have photos in my family of fires at both these mills when they were totally destroyed before rebuilding and resumption of production.
The whitehall works was owned by John Welsh and was a bleach works. dye works and printing works. My father learned to drive in 1925 in the Leyland tiger which drove to manchester daily with the output from the mill. Some output was delivered to the capital by rail.(hence the goods shed at Chinley station was built). He stopped working for them during the second world war but returned to the mill in the 1960\’s