By Diana: The newly installed statue of the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst inspired members of Glossopdale WI to a rousing rendition of Jerusalem.  It stands in St Peter’s Square.  Apparently Queen Victoria is the only other woman with a statue in Manchester!

By Diana: The Anderton Boat Lift, a masterpiece of Victorian engineering near Northwich in Cheshire, was the destination for a study tour for Glossopdale W.I. The tour included the excellent on-site exhibition and an expert commentary on the ride on the boat lift itself and the trip along the River Weaver.

The Anderton Boat Lift was constructed in 1875 to improve the flow of goods between the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey canal. Salt from the Cheshire mines was shipped along the river to be exported via the port of Liverpool. Pots from the Staffordshire potteries were shipped along the Trent & Mersey canal and thence to Liverpool. The Boat Lift connected these important trade routes: with its 2 caissons the Lift could raise the boats arriving from the river to the level of the canal and simultaneously take boats arriving by canal down to the river.
The original hydraulic system was replaced with an electric operating system in 1908, to cope with increased trade. However a subsequent drop in trade, lack of investment and patchy repairs led to closure in 1983 on safety grounds.

After a public campaign money was raised for a complete restoration using the original hydraulic system and the Lift was re-opened in 2002. It now provides an enlightening and enjoyable tour, much appreciated by our members. The next meeting of Glossopdale W.I. is 9.30-12 noon on Wed Sept 19 at Glossop Labour Club. Visitors are welcome.


By Margaret: Our first question was: ‘Where is Clayton Hall?’ the answer was: ‘In Clayton’. A few members admitted to knowing where and what it was but we concluded it must be Manchester’s best-kept secret.  That’s a pity because we had a thoroughly enjoyable and informative trip, hosted by friendly volunteers, who also provided home-made cakes and soup.

To begin with, a few facts.  In the 12th century the Byron family built a moated manor house and farm by the village of Clayton.  The moat was for self-defence in turbulent times and it is still there today, though a little overgrown.  The drawbridge has been replaced by a stone bridge, which now gives access to the building.  In 1620 the Byrons sold the property to Humphrey and John Cheetham, who were wealthy fustian manufacturers, staunch Protestants and Parliamentarians.  John died soon after but Humphrey became High Sheriff of Lancashire, refused a knighthood (for which he was fined £25!) and left plans and money in his will for a school and library.  Cheetham’s School still flourishes today and is named in his honour.

In 1896 the property was transferred to Manchester City Council.  However, it was not well maintained and even threatened with demolition.  Then along came an enterprising and committed group of local volunteers, who became the Trustees.  With the help of local residents and businesses and a few modest grants they rescued the building and created a museum full of interesting objects and activities.  Archaeologists and archivists have been involved throughout the process and are still unearthing more of the history.

We went on a private tour but the Hall is open to visitors on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Details on their website.

Poole_cavBy Sara Jayne:  Eleven members had a very enjoyable day out to Poole’s Cavern in Buxton on 9 July 2014.  We had an early start – 8:30am – to avoid the swarms of schoolchildren scheduled later in the day, but getting the first tour meant we had the cave to ourselves, which was a lovely experience.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining.  He told us many stories, including the story of the most beautiful thing Mary Queen of Scots had ever seen, and he also shared with us that the 1666 date someone had carved in one part of the wall of the cave was (according to a school party) the last time England won the World Cup.

After the cave tour,  we had tea and coffee to ensure that the cafe was up to snuff (it was), and then planned out the rest of our day.  Having emerged to a glorious day outside, one carload decided to hike up to Solomon’s Temple through the Woodland Trail; another carload decided to enjoy a fine lunch at the Old Hall Hotel; the last carload strolled through the Pavilion Gardens and greenhouse before enjoying a light lunch there.

All in all, a lovely day out, with many thanks to Monica for her fabulous arrangements – especially the sunshine!  You can see more photos from the trip in the photo album.

Buxton3By Sara Jayne:   Glossopdale WI members were in Buxton on 19 June 2014 to celebrate the arrival of the Centenary Baton, which is being relayed through every county and island federation in England and Wales in advance of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes’ Centenary in 2015.  Derbyshire’s week to host the baton came one-third the way through its travels through England and Wales.

In Derbyshire Federation [pdf], the baton has been fired over Creswell Crags, heard an organ recital in Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire church, met the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, seen The History Van serve up Suffragette lunches, been passed between members representing 10 decades of the WI at Long Eaton Carnival, made an appearance at the Derbyshire County Show, wound its way through several other villages and towns, and was handed off to Staffordshire Federation at the National Arboretum.  It travelled over 200 miles through Derbyshire in its 8 days here!

At this celebration in Buxton, we brought picnics and celebrated the camaraderie of the WI while we awaited the baton’s arrival.  We enjoyed the festive atmosphere created by our bunting, banners, sashes, hats, and also the Tideswell Male Voice Choir, which was in top form!  The baton arrived from Chesterfield on a vintage tractor, and was handed to the longest-serving member of Chinley WI, the oldest WI in Derbyshire, on the bandstand in the Pavilion Gardens.  The Town Crier read a proclamation about the event, and of course, we sang Jerusalem.

A good day was had by all – looking forward to the next one! 😉


By Joan:  In May 2014 several of our members visited Dunham Massey Hall which was recreated as  Stamford Military Hospital. It was one of the many hospitals created to treat wounded of the First World War.  Each room told stories of real patients and staff with actors providing an insight into the human side of the hospital.  The visit was interesting, but left you feeling emotional, horrified and amazed, but most of all proud of what these soldiers, staff and families went through.   It was nice to follow this visit with a walk through the beautiful grounds.

The “Photos” section of the site contains more pictures.

By Joan: On Wednesday the 12th September 13 of our members visited the Devonshire Dome in Buxton. Once a magnificent 18th Century  stable block built by the 5th Duke of Devonshire, to house the horses and servants of the guests of the Crescent Hotels, this Grade 2 listed building was also used as the Royal Devonshire Hospital and is now a campus of the University of Derby.  The slate dome erected by Robert Rippon Duke in 1882 is the largest unsupported Dome in Britain.  It was interesting to hear about the changes to the building and the construction over the years.  The visit was followed by an enjoyable lunch at the Pavilion Restaurant.

By Sara Jayne:  On a typically variable English summer day, ten members enjoyed a lovely day out to view the summer rose gardens at Hopton Hall, in Carsington, Derbyshire.  After our adventures navigating around road closures due to flooding and road works – I mean, after enjoying the scenic route to the hall – we found a warm welcome in the tea room at Hopton Hall, located at the top of the walled garden, which was absolutely full of roses.  The sun came out as we finished our tea and cake, and we then set off and enjoyed walking around the 2km of trails through the gardens and around the ponds, seeing a variety of flowers and plants along the way, along with some ducks with ducklings on a pond.  After taking in the sights, we made our way to The Miner’s Arms pub in Carsington, where we found a large table to suit us, and a satisfying repast.  We then set off home again, having enjoyed our time together on our lovely day out.

Take a look at the Photos page for more pictures of the day.

By Carol: The day commenced with nine of us catching the train and then the tram for a visit to Manchester Cathedral where we had a very entertaining and informative guide who told us some of the history about the Cathedral, in particular that the stained glass windows had been severely damaged in the Blitz in 1940 and again in the IRA bomb in June 1996.  Many have been replaced by plain glass and the others with modern stained glass.  The oak carvings were fantastic and we were told they were some of the best in the world.  It is well worth a visit.

Lunch was very good in the Cathedral café and later we went to Chetham’s for the lunchtime concert where an extremely talented 15 or 16 year old student performed his violin repertoire without music for 45 minutes.  We all agreed that it was a most enjoyable day.


A group of members visited Hopton Hall on the 22nd February.  Not put off by the rain we wrapped up against the elements and thoroughly enjoyed our walk through the carpet of beautiful snowdrops.  We agreed that it was such a lovely spot that it would be worth visiting again in the Summer when the roses are in bloom.   If the weather is favourable we could bring a picnic to share.

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