Autumn 2019

Mellor Open Gardens 2020
Yes, planning is underway for the next Mellor Open Gardens. With its own inimitable style, our much-loved community event will be taking place next summer in aid of Cancer Research UK and Mellor Parish Centre.

If you would like to add your garden to the fourteen already promised or to offer practical or financial support in any way please email or phone 0161 427 7255 and you will be welcomed!

Occurring every four years, this will be MOG’s eighth appearance.

So don’t miss it – act now –

Tail of the STORM
It had been raging across Europe for three years. Stretching from the sun basted eastern Mediterranean island of Crete and then heading west through Turkey, Italy, Portugal and finally to the North Western European Maritime Area of the United Kingdom. .
Now it was to finally come to an abrupt end on 9th July 2019 in Belgium.

Involving 20 European partners from seven countries chasing the STORM had been a fascinating journey. The STORM project had set out in 2016 to come up with innovative technical solutions to mitigate the effects of Climate Change on Cultural Heritage. We now had to face the EU Commissioners and present our solutions to this 100% funded €7.2M project.

We gathered in Brussels on the morning of the 8th July to have a ‘rehearsal’ day. Melding such a diverse group into a coherent presentation team is not an easy task. Not everyone has the same idea of what makes a ‘great presentation’! The task is made all the more difficult when only three of us are native English speakers and that is the language to be used throughout. However, after 9 hours of polishing the final presentation for the next day we all returned to our various hotels for a well earned dinner and sleep. .

9am on the 9th we all presented ourselves to Security at the Commission building. Once checked and scrutinised we were taken as a group to where our presentation was to take place. Settled in our seats we were joined by The EU Commissioner, EU Project Officer and two EU appointed ‘experts’. I’m delighted to say everyone gave a fantastic presentation with the last one at around 4pm. Then it was detailed questioning by the experts with all questions successfully answered. .

The grand finalé was the Commissioner’s response. It was a glowing verbal report. Clearly he was delighted. We had achieved our objectives, come in on budget and completed on time.

So, that was how we got to the TAIL OF THE STORM.

All partners agreed it had been a fantastic experience and one, given the opportunity, would repeat.

Mellor Archaeological Trust has been privileged to be the UK site in this prestigious project. The other sites across Europe all have World Heritage status!!

Bob Humphrey-Taylor

Mellor Country House Charity
The Charity is holding its “Christmas Delights” fundraising event at Mellor Country House at 7:00pm on 7th November’19. Tickets are £5 each and available from Sharon tel. 0161 427 1893

During the evening there will be a floral demonstration as well as stalls of gifts, jewellery and many more plus a glass of mulled wine.

The organisers will also be taking orders for Nordman Christmas Trees at exceptional prices to raise the much needed funds for the home. Pop over to the stand and take a look, you will not be disappointed”.- Margaret Powell

Mellor Memorial Garden
Volunteers have been beavering away on the garden as usual this year. To bring you up to date, we have had our trees checked out and one very large conifer bordering Parkside, which is at the end of its life, is to come down. This will let some much needed light into the garden and hopefully stop further damage to the path. The Cryptomeria japonica right next to the bottom gate was severely damaged by ‘The Beast from the East’ some while ago and part of this will be removed leaving the curiously twisted trunks.

We have had much appreciated help from the TLC gardeners who, when asked to clear ‘jungle-like’ areas and deeply buried roots from trees removed many years ago, have set to willingly. The grass is mown regularly and the border hedges cut as needed. The cenotaph area is rife with mare’s tails. The TLC gardeners were recently to be seen tackling them.
We hope you enjoy our ‘wild’ bed at the bottom end of the garden. It is cut down each year and, if we have them, donated seeds are sown in the spring. This means the bed changes every year.

We would like to thank all those who came to the coffee morning in July and helped us raise £178 towards both new plants and an information board. Photographs, old and new are still being sought. If you have anything relating to the garden area and are willing to share it please do get in touch with Mellor Society. – Mellor War Memorial Gardener


MMMC Neighbourhood Forum: Update
We are now finalising our submission for finance from the Government to allow us to do simple things like book meeting rooms and copy documents along with more complicated things like set up a web site and engage some expert help.

We have held the workshop we mentioned in the last newsletter. This was to explain better how topics group run within the context of a Neighbourhood Plan. Both Committee members and topic group volunteers attended the workshop and we will be repeating this soon, sometime in October. If you would like to help one of our topic groups but are unsure what this is all about or what the group would do, then please join us! This second date is to be arranged and will be publicised using this circulation. The same applies to our topic groups, some of which will now be arranging meetings to progress with discussing what should be in the plan. Each topic group will have at least one management committee member, either to lead it or to guide and support.

At present the Forum is focused on setting up Topic Groups to consider those issues which have arisen since we first became established. We`re holding workshops to discuss how these groups should operate and have currently identified the following topics:

Housing: What types are required, where should they be, what should they look like?
Transport and Infrastructure: How can the impact of road transport be reduced, how can routes for walking, cycling and riding be improved, how can the use of public transport be increased, is sufficient land available to sustain adequate public services within our area?
Greenspace: How can we preserve and enhance the quality of the diverse green infrastructure within our area? How can we ensure that it may be enjoyed by the widest possible section of our communities?
Heritage: How do we safeguard those elements of our built environment which explain the historic development of our communities?
Employment: Ensuring that facilities are available to support our existing local economy and accommodate future changes that are likely to occur within the workplace environment.

These groups will discuss what we want our area to be like over the next 20 years; starting with things like: what are we worried about, what we would like to stop or limit, what we want to change gradually, what are the opportunities. Again it’s worth emphasising; participants don’t need to be technical experts. You’re all experts on our area and all have local knowledge.

The initial work of the groups will enable us to prepare a large scale Neighbourhood Survey, that will test the extent to which the concerns listed above are shared within the whole community and will demonstrate whether there are other issues that we have not yet touched on.

If you have an interest in any of the current topics and would like to be involved in producing ideas that can be developed into a Neighbourhood Plan, we`d be delighted to hear from you. You don`t need to be an expert, as there`s loads of guidance available, so enthusiasm is the key ingredient.

You can contact us at or contact Greg Pike at or on 07778 494143.

We also have a Facebook page at MMMC Neighbourhood Plan.

You can also contact one of our Management Committee Members:

Phil Cooke, Kathryn Davies, Janet Graves, Hilda Heald, Mary Heijbroek, Ann Papageorgiou, Becky Senior, Ann Vernon-Haden, Malcolm Allan,

Lost and found
Do you recall a family called SPINK with a daughter SUZANNE living on Longhurst Lane just below the memorial garden in Mellor? They were there from 1937 to 1957. I’ve had an enquiry from a son of SUZANNE. Apparently the house was called CRAIGSTED but no such name appears on the houses now.
– Bob Humphrey-Taylor

Mill Brow War Memorial
A memorial to remember the four men from Mill Brow killed during World War 1 has been constructed opposite the Hare and Hounds. The funding came via donations from locals and a generous anonymous gift, with MPS builders of Marple Bridge kindly doing the construction.

Mellor March – Sunday 10th May 2020
The Mellor March takes place each year on the Sunday of the first May Bank Holiday weekend. Please note that the Bank Holiday this year has been moved to a Friday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day.

Well Dressing
Plans are already underway for the next Mellor Well Dressing that is unveiled at the Church Fete on the last Saturday of June. New well dressers are always welcome with enthusiasm rather than artistic prowess the main requirement. Anyone interested can contact Anthea Nichols via the Parish Centre.

Mellor Church Diary for Christmas
Sunday 1stDecember- 6:30pm
Advent Carol Service
Saturday 14th December – 7:30pm
“A Merry Little Christmas”. Concert with Tom and Jennifer Lowe and fiends and pianist Claire Dunham
Sunday 22ndDecember – 6:30pm
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Tuesday 24th December – 4:00pm and 5:30pm Crib Services
Tuesday 24th December -11:30pm
Midnight Mass
Wednesday 25th December – 10:00am
Christmas Day Service

Peter Cunningham Memorial Concerts
Given by members of The Hallé Orchestra and friends at the Mellor Parish Centre at 7:30pm.
Tickets £12:00 available from Key Holidays Romiley, Well Chemist Marple Bridge, Harmony Décor Marple.

Monday 11th November – Sergio Castello’Lopez
Monday 9th December –
The Halle Trombones “Sliding Into Christmas”

Monday 3rd February 2020 – Rossi Quartet
Monday 9th March 2020 – Arlington Quartet
Monday 6th April 2020 – Jazz Evening

Cruck Structures
Pity the poor builders of five hundred years ago. No steel, no concrete – the main materials they had were wood and stone but they still made some very impressive buildings that have lasted over the centuries. The obvious example is cathedrals, the huge medieval structures that dominate the fifty or so towns and cities where they are located. But on a smaller scale there are many vernacular buildings that have stood the test of time. Prominent amongst these are cruck structures – houses and barns – that estate agents wax lyrical about whenever they come onto the market. But what exactly is a “cruck building”?

The structure is a simple but elegant design comprised of ‘A’ frames that go from the apex of the building down to the ground. These frames are usually constructed of curved timbers – the cruck blades – using the natural shape of the tree. More often than not, the tree is sliced long-ways down the middle so that the two sides are symmetrical. The two timbers meet at the apex and are tied together with a collar or tie-beam. Similar ‘A’ frames can be added at intervals to make a building of any desired length.

This inverted ‘V’ shape has the advantage that the roof load is carried directly to the ground. Consequently the wall frames can be made using lighter construction materials and they are held in place by the cruck frame.


The design probably evolved in Anglo-Saxon times but the technique really came into its own in the medieval period. Large halls were built in towns using this concept and a large cruck barn became a sign of an individual farm’s prosperity. Many of the largest and most substantial cruck barns were tithe barns, erected by the churches and monasteries to store the annual tithe, which was usually paid in kind. The barns could be easily divided into sections or bays and threshing would have been carried out indoors.

The design might be old but a surprising number of these buildings still survive. There are over 3000 extant in England and Wales and there are some excellent examples near us. The closest, and probably the most well-known, is the barn at Pear Tree Farm in Mill Brow. Grade II listed, it was originally a seventeenth century farm house, complete with mullion windows and a stone roof. This makes it distinctive though not unique, but what really makes it stand out is the adjacent barn. As with the main house, this has been restored and modernised but it is not difficult to envisage its original function as a barn. Local legend has it that John Wesley preached there on one of his visits though the authentication is not as reliable as Bongs.

Slightly further away is Old Clough Barn in Windlehurst Road, Marple. Like Pear Tree Farm this is part of a private property but is Grade 2 listed. It comprises a range of former farm buildings, six bays in length. These are mainly stone-built but they include elements of two timber-framed buildings. The whole structure was built to different designs at different times, quite a contrast to some of the imposing tithe barns. Another, more public, example, is Newton Hall on Duckinfield Road, Hyde.

Newton Hall is cruck-framed with three pairs of crucks and timber-framed side walls built on a stone plinth. It is rendered at the rear with a thatched roof and the building dates from 1370. This was a medieval manor house and part of a larger complex of buildings. At some stage it was encased in a brick building with a slate roof and this explains how it has survived so long but it had deteriorated badly by the 1960s. It was renovated by Sir George Kenyon in 1970 and it is now owned by a heritage trust and is open to the public on an occasional basis. It is well worth a visit if you get the opportunity.

When the distribution of the 3000 cruck buildings is plotted on a map there is a marked westerly distribution. As well as our area in north west England, other areas where these buildings are well represented include Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Mid-Wales. It is likely that the dearth of these buildings in the east and south east is explained by the scarcity of suitable large trees, particularly oak. This in turn can be accounted for by the demands of the navy. As England grew in importance as a maritime power, much of the country was denuded of large timber, starting from the main dockyards at Chatham and Portsmouth then spreading west and north.

Instead these areas developed the concept of box frames for building and, over time, these designs spread to the west and the north. Box frames used just as much timber as cruck frames but the individual staves are smaller and lighter and therefore cheaper. Box frames were particularly popular for residential buildings because they allowed the building of a second or third floor. Also, because they were a square construction, they made more efficient use of town centre space. A further advantage of box frames was the ease with which extensions could be added.

Box frames consist of wall frames connected at intervals by cross tie beams. These form convenient bays. The roof is a separate element which bears onto the external walls – in effect a lid on a box. Box frames have rafter roofs with no purlins supporting the rafter at mid span. A variant on the box frame is the Post and Truss design and this is the most common surviving timber frame building form. The important difference is that principal rafters are jointed into the tie beam and this forms roof trusses to carry purlins which in turn support the rafters and roof covering.

Cruck frames may have given way to more efficient designs but there is a certain majesty and grandeur in these huge timbers, framing a living space. We are particularly fortunate in having so many near to us so let us do all we can to support the conservation and renovation of these iconic buildings. After all, how many of us live in a building that is likely to still be around in six or seven hundred years.- Neil Mullineux