Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Rediscovered in Ashton's parish church ...... the Cheetham family of Hooley Hill

It started with a gravestone and became a story which is only at the beginning.

This is another of those gravestones I recorded back in 1979 in the parish church yard.

At the time they were just an exercise in taking pictures of a place I had once lived.

Then, the details became examples of child mortality in the early 19th century which I drew on in writing about the period and featured in  The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.*

That said I hadn’t ever looked too closely at this memorial to the children of James and Hanna Cheetham of Hooley Hill, nor had clocked exactly where the place was.
Hooley Hill was a small village, 2 miles south west of Ashton and just down from Guide Bridge Railway Station.

In 1854 it boasted the Guide Bridge Iron Works, a brick field, The Queen’s Arms Public House, two Methodist Chapels, an assortment of houses and Shepley Hall.

Just seven years earlier it had five Chartists who were part of the 167 Ashton Chartists who subscribed to the Chartist Co-operative Land Society.**

And just  a century ago was the scene of a huge munitions explosion in the June of 1917 at the Hooley Hill Rubber Company, which killed 46 people including children on their way home, injured thousands and did much damage in the surrounding area.

All of which will offer up rich avenues of research.

But while I will no doubt be lucky in tracking the 5 Chartists from Hooley Hill I have yet to fine Hannah Cheetham in the 1841 census.  She will be there I have just git to be a tad more patient.  Still  I have found a Robert Cheetham who lived the village.

But more of him later.

Location; AshtonUnder-Lyne,

Pictures; grave stone, parish churchyard, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and Hooley Hill from the OS for Lancashire, 1854, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Andrew Simpson, 2012 the History Press

** They were William Bamford, Labourer, Robert Cheetham Hatter, John Hulton, Printer, John Howard, Watchman, and Jonathan Taylor, Labourer;

***from the OS map of Lancashire, 1854, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

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