Page 6 - Saddleworth Monthly March 2019
P. 6

6                Saddleworth in 1869
                  What was happening 150 years ago?

       Photography was in its infancy in the 1860s
       and virtually no photos of Saddleworth
       from these years exist, so - unlike our usual
       Saddleworth Past Times pages - we’re
       unable to illustrate this article with many
       images. However, a glance at the year’s
       history reveals no end of fascinating facts!
       The construction of Standedge Tunnel was
       in full swing in 1869 and local news reports
       of the time are full of stories about the
       ‘navvies’. The name originates from work  surprisingly, there are reports of two new
       done to improve the navigability of rivers  druid chapters opening in Saddleworth
       and the construction of canals by engineers  A number of public houses were charged
       and workmen. Unfortunately the navvies  with serving after hours, one particular
       didn’t always get a good press. There are  instance being ‘The Ram Inn, charged with
       several reports of navvies being ‘drunk and  keeping house open on Whit Friday for the
       incapable’, their drinking after hours, some  sale of beer between 3 and 5 in the
       robberies and that an increased police force  afternoon’. And it was reported in January
       was needed at Diggle due to their presence.  1869 that ‘The Granby Arms changes hands
       However other reports state that relays of  yet again . . .it has had as many as ten
       men were working night and day to    landlords in the past two years’.
       complete the tunnel on schedule, and of  A Saddleworth veteran of Waterloo died in
       objections by the men to the ‘tommy shop’  1869. James Hill, aged 76, had enlisted at
       at the end of the tunnel where they could  the age of 17 and was at the battle of
       only buy groceries with tickets supplied by  Waterloo in 1815. He had his horse shot
       the contractor’s agent. A hard life no doubt. from under him, was taken prisoner and
       There are however also reports of local  stabbed but survived to an old age and was
       workforces being treated by their    ‘highly respected by all who knew him’.
       employers. An annual treat to workspeople
       of a ‘substantial tea’ was held at Bill o’
       Jacks and the proprietor of Highmoor
       quarry treated his people to a supper at the
       Rising Sun Inn.
       Saddleworth people were keen on providing
       their own entertainment even then. There is
       news of a concert by Delph Quadrille Band,
       an annual dramatic entertainment by the
       teachers at Castleshaw School, a shooting
       match at the Junction Inn, and the first
       annual hand bell ringers contest at Belle  Pictured: Wool Road police station c1885
       Vue - won by Saddleworth! More       Kiln Green School, Diggle, rebuilt 1869/70
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