OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Manchester and Glasgow Road

Pages: <1>

For several miles the Manchester and Glasgow Road goes from London in common with two other great highways: from the General Post Office to Barnet, where it leaves the Great North Road (Chapter VIII), and thence to Hockliffe, thirty-seven and a half miles from the starting-point, where, branching off to the right, it parts company with the Holyhead Road.

From Hockliffe we come in less than five miles into Woburn, past the great park of Woburn Abbey, seat of the Duke of Bedford. The little town of Woburn, almost at the gates of the park, has no new developments, because the ennobled Russells, Dukes of Bedford, objected to their seclusion being discounted by new buildings. For these we have to seek Woburn Sands, nearly two miles on. This is an expansion of the old hamlet of the unlovely name, "Hogstye End." The road into Woburn Sands is a lovely stretch of murmuring pine-trees.

Newport Pagnell, in another seven miles, is one of a number of "Newports" up and down the country. The sense in this case is "new market"- a market that was new in the time of the Paganels, lords of the manor many centuries ago.

We come in three miles to Gayhurst, originally "Goddeshurst." There is practically no village: just an old manor-house and p church grouped together. The existing mansion dates from 1500, coming in 1596 into the possession of Sir Everard Digby, who in 1606 was executed for his share in the Gunpowder Plot. A very rural stretch of road leads past Stoke Goldington, Eakley Lane, Horton and Hackleton to where the beautiful Eleanor Cross stands beside the highway at Harding-stone, at the approach to Northampton. This Cross is one of the three surviving of the series built by Edward I to mark where the body of his queen rested on the long journey from Harby to Westminster in 1290.

Northampton town is entered over a railway level-crossing and along shabby outskirts which do no justice to a town so stately as Northampton Thus we come to the dignified centre of the borough where the nobly-pillared front of All Saints' church stands, with a figure of that ornament of the Church, Charles II, costumed in the likeness of a Roman emperor. He is there because he granted a very large quantity of timber towards the rebuilding of this church after the fire of 1675 S. Sepulchre's church is remarkable for its circulai Transitional-Norman nave. It is one of the four ancient round churches in England. Northampton is a town busy and prosperous in the boot and shoe trade, and has had a foremost reputation in that way since early times. King John is reported to have bought a pair of boots here. The transaction is recorded in Latin, "pro I pari botarum singularum, " and the price was twelve pence. The town did better for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria when they came here in 1844, for the mayor actually gave the Prince Consort a pair of boots!

Leaving the town by the suburb of Kingsthorpe, we come past Brixworth, with its large and curious Saxon church, and at length into Market Harborough. This is a small and ancient town, with a quaint timbered grammar school, founded in 1614 by one Robert Smyth. The great feature of the town is the lofty Early English spire of the church, which is oddly dedicated to S. Dionysius the Areopagite, that judge of the Areopagus before whom S. Paul was brought. In fifteen miles from Market Harborough we come to Leicester through Kibworth, Great Glen and Oadby. Leicester is as busy and crowded a town as any place in England. Its great expansion in modern times somewhat obscures the fact that it is a town of Roman origin. In Romano-British times it was Ratae Coritanorum. A milestone of that period is preserved in the museum. The "Jewry Wall," a great mass of Roman masonry, thought to have been a part of the West Gate, is seen by S. Nicholas' church, near the railway station of the London and North Eastern Railway. The medieval Town Hall and the Hospital of the Holy Trinity are outstanding examples of Leicester's antiquities.

Leaving the busy town by Belgrave, and passing by Rothley Temple, where the historian Macaulay was born in 1800, we come to Mountsorrel, a quarrying village, overhung by the great syenite hill of the same name. That name derives from Montsoreau, in France, near Saumur. The manor here was given by William the Conqueror to one of his companions who held that place. Beyond Mountsorrel is Quorndon, whose name is now generally shortened to "Quorn." It gives a name to the Quorn Hunt.

We come now into Loughborough, a town celebrated for its bell-founding. Here was cast in 1881 " Great Paul," the largest bell in England, weighing seventeen and a half tons, that bell whose hoarse voice is heard daily from one of the western towers of S. Paul's Cathedral.

The seventeen miles on to Derby are featureless before coming to the crossing of the Trent at Cavendish Bridge. Away to the left is the bridge and long causeway of Swarkestone, the farthest point south reached by Prince Charles and his Highlanders in the rebellion of 1745. We enter Derby through Shard-low, thence coming into the town past the suburban developments of Alvaston and Osmaston.

Derby is a curious mixture of ancient and modern. Engineering shops have replaced the old silk industry and the making of "Crown Derby" china. In the church of All Saints, rebuilt, except for its tower, in 1725, is the gorgeously coloured and gilt monument of that imperious lady "Bess of Hardwicke," four times wedded and widowed. She married fourthly the Earl of Shrewsbury, custodian of the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots, who described his prisoner and his wife as "two devils."

In thirteen miles trom Derby, having passed Mack-worth and Kirk Langley, with Kedleston Park on our right, we come to Ashbourne, an interesting old town at the approach to the picturesque scenery of the Derbyshire Dales and the lovely valley of the Dove. The old coaching inn of Ashbourne, the Green Man and Black's Head, has one of those "gallows" signs that straddle across the street.

Leaving Ashbourne, we can reach Dovedale by taking the road to the left. There, amidst fantastic pinnacles of limestone rock and hanging woods, is the "fishing temple" of Charles Cotton and Izaak Walton. At the farther end of Dovedale, in Alstonefield church, is the Cotton family pew, which is highly elaborate.

Resuming the main road, through Swinescote, we are in the valleys of the rivers Hamps and Manifold, which here and there run underground, in limestone caverns. Thus, by the villages of Waterhouses and Winkhill, we come down into Leek, a grim, cobble-stoned town of silk factories. In thirteen miles we reach Macclesfield, busy in the silk-weaving industry.

We now approach Manchester, by Hazel Grove, Whaley Bridge and Stockport. "Cottonopolis," as Manchester is often styled, does not make cotton fabrics-it markets them. Cotton mills for many a mile around produce the goods. The vastness and the blackness of Manchester somewhat daunt the stranger; and the bustle of it is more than the bustle of London. Of old Manchester there is not very much; of the very ancient Roman Mancunium nothing, but there is a fine series of frescoes in the Town Hall, by Ford Madox Brown, in which is included "The building of Mancunium." Of medieval Manchester there remains Chetham's School, Hospital and Library hard by the parish church, now the Cathedral. A splendid scholarly addition is the modern Rylands Library.

From Manchester the Irwell is crossed, into Sal-ford, and a further ten miles of streets leads through Pendlebury to Farnworth and Bolton, another of the cotton-spinning Lancashire towns. The Old Man and Scythe inn, Churchgate, is almost the only vestige of antiquity here; but at Hall-i'-th'-Wood, one mile on our way, to the right on the Blackburn road, there is seen the ancient house in which lived Samuel Crompton, the inventor of the spinning-mule. Here he completed his machine, about 1770. The restored old place, re-fitted and filled with relics by the late Lord Leverhulme and presented to the Corporation of Bolton, is of keen interest.

In twenty-two miles we come to Preston, where the Lancashire cotton-spinning region ends. The town of Preston is "Proud Preston," from its old aristocratic associations as capital of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is in parts a stately town, and stands on the river Ribble. It has in its centre a curious and imposing group of public buildings of considerable size but of wholly antagonistic design, each competing with the other for notice; the Harris Public Library, in a Greek style; the Town Hall, by Sir Gilbert Scott, "Early English"; and the Post Offices, in what we may style "Eclectic Victorian."

Leaving Preston, we come by Broughton, Barton and Bilsborough into the small decayed townlet of Garstang, whose ancient municipal corporation was dissolved in 1883; and thence by Scorton, Bay Horse railway station and Scotforth, to Lancaster, "Lancaster on the Lune," as we learnt at school. It is a town rather grim and stony; paved with granite setts for the most part; and with a castle which, however historic and romantic, has been put to use in modern times as assize courts and county gaol. The great entrance towers of John o' Gaunt's gate are nobly impressive; and the castle in general, grouped with S. Mary's church, gives Lancaster a stately general view.

Over Skerton bridge, crossing the river Lune, we come to Bolton-le-Sands, near the shore of Morecambe Bay, and thence to Carnforth, Burton-in-Kendal, and to Kendal town, past the scanty ruins of Kendal Castle. Among the few remaining old houses in the town is the "Castle Dairy" in Wildman Street; with those walls of enormous solidity and thickness which were necessary in the olden times of Border raids that troubled these parts. From Kendal we pass the stream at Boroughbridge, and make our way up to Shap Fell, with the stony, windy village of Shap at the summit. At the Greyhound inn Prince Charles called on his march in 1745; and the landlady, who did not chance to have a Pretender often in her house, charged him according to the rank and rarity of her customer. He wrote, sorrowfully, that she was " a sad wife for imposing." Shap Abbey ruins are in a farmyard one mile distant, down in the vale below, on the left. This religious house was founded in the twelfth century.

From Shap summit the road descends swiftly to the levels at Clifton, where was fought, during the long Jacobite retreat, that fight on Clifton Moor of the Duke of Cumberland's soldiers with the rearguard of Prince Charles's Highlanders, in the night of December 18, 1745, in which eleven English dragoons and twelve (or five) of the clansmen -the accounts vary-were killed. The Scots fled to Penrith, under the kindly shelter of the night.

Crossing the river Lowther, we soon have Brougham Castle on the right; and then, over the ancient Eamont Bridge, we come into Penrith, an old market-town with the ruins of a castle on a hill-top, and in the street called Great Dockwray two interesting old inns: one, the Gloucester Arms, formerly occupied by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III; the other, the Two Lions, once the mansion of the Lowther family.

Past High Hesket, Low Hesket and Carleton we arrive at Carlisle, the "Caer Lywelydd" of the ancient British and the Luguvallum of the Romans. The Roman name neans "Lywelydd-on-the-Wall," that is, the wall of Hadrian, stretching from Wallsend on the east to Bowness on the west coast. Carlisle, city and cathedral, suffered much from the Scots in the old times of Border forays; so much is this the case that the cathedral to-day is the only remaining portion of a larger building, the nave having been destroyed. The castle, contemptuously described by the Duke of Cumberland in 1745 as "an old hen-coop," is a not very imposing building used by the War Department as a barracks and stores. The stately bridge crossing the river Eden to Stanwix was built in 1806. Stanwix, the Convagata of the Romans on the farther side of the Eden, commands the best view of Carlisle.

Scotland is entered in another eight miles at Sark Bridge, a small structure spanning a stream, geographically insignificant, but politically and socially of much importance. For here we not only cross the Border, but have come to that toll-house ac which runaway couples, hard-pressed for time because of parents or guardians in hot pursuit, halted and were, in the twinkling of an eye, legally married according to Scottish law by the toll-keeper, or anyone else who chanced to be handy. This saved them waiting for the well-known Gretna Green, only one mile onward. Gretna has, of course, acquired most of this runaway marriage fame; for Gretna Hall was kept as a hotel for the eloping ones; while others were wedded by the famous blacksmith. Lord Brougham's Marriage Act of 1856 put an end to most of this romantic business.

Gretna during the Great War, 1914-18, had an enormous expansion and became the centre of vast munition towns established by the Government. Much of this has now become derelict.

We come now to Ecclefechan, the famous village where Thomas Carlyle was born in 1795, and where he now lies in the grim little graveyard. Coming into Lockerbie, on the stream called the Water of Milk, we then pass Jardine Hall, or Castlemilk, and by Din-woodie Green and Beattock come up to Beattock summit; thence descending into the valley of the Clyde at Crawford and Abington. In a further nine miles we are at Douglas Mill, and at the' imposing entrance to the park of the Earl of Home. Here we come to the Lanarkshire coalfield, which extends past Larkhill and Hamilton. In two miles we cross the Clyde at Bothwell Bridge. We approach Glasgow by way of Uddingston, Tolcross and Park-head; descending New Road, going up Duke Street, and then straight ahead to the municipal centre in George Square.

Pages: <1>

Pictures for The Manchester and Glasgow Road

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About