From the mists of time ...
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Bollington | River
Dean | Happy Valley
Origins of the name 'Bollington'
There is no certainty about how Bollington got its name but there
are a few theories!
The obvious idea is that it is based on the name of the river
Bollin. But the Bollin doesn't run through Bollington - it is Macclesfield's
river. Our river is the Dean. The Bollin and the Dean come together
as similar sized rivers at Wilmslow and continue to the Mersey
estuary as the river Bollin. In fact it may well give its name
to Little Bollington, a delightful hamlet near Dunham Massey, through
which it flows.
It is possible that folk didn't realise that it was the Macclesfield
branch that retained the name Bollin - this in times when folk
didn't travel much and were unsure of the topography. An extension
to this idea is that it is possible that both branches had the
same name at one time.
The next idea is that there was a chap called Bolla who set up
home here, ing means 'belonging to', ton meaning
village, community or town. Corrupt Bolla a little and you get
Boll-ing-ton. Ing and ton are very common in
English place names and are almost always associated with a person's
name. My money is on this explanation.
So why the river Dean?
It is possible, maybe probable, that the name comes from the fact
that dean is a variation of dene, one meaning
of which is 'a narrow wooded valley' (COD) which is, of course,
exactly where it flows in Ingersley Vale and, in earlier times,
through the middle of Bollington. Perhaps it should really be the
Origin of the 'Happy Valley' nickname
As is often the way with such things there is more than one explanation available.
The original explanation comes from Samuel
Greg who acquired Lowerhouse Mill in 1832. He was a forward
thinking philanthropic man who actually valued his workers as
people rather than just labour for his mill and he developed
the Lowerhouse area with a view to improving their living conditions
by providing schooling, a library, and allotments to grow their
own food. Greg called Lowerhouse Goldenthal, German for
Happy Valley. Today we use the name for the whole of Bollington.
This is the true origin of the name, but others had mischievous
Mad as ...
The second explanation is related to the history of the town. The three Bollington villages were once a very rural Cheshire agricultural community with a small population. Then the mills came, along with the Macclesfield Canal and, later still, the railway. These created a demand for labour which could only be provided by bringing in outsiders. Some of the Irish employed to build the canal settled here. Many experienced cotton industry workers were enticed from Lancashire mill towns, particularly Bury, as were others, particularly quarry workers, from Derbyshire.
The three different peoples didn't mix particularly well and families tended to develop from within a limited group of people from the same origins. Unfortunately, this led to inbreeding and, in serious cases, this led in turn to mental problems - hence, rather cruelly, the 'happy' part of the name. The fact that they all lived in the valley completed the phrase.
It is said that Bollington provided, in Victorian times, the major contribution to those poor souls living in Macclesfield's West Park mental hospital or, as it was known then, the lunatic asylum.
... a hatter
And that brings me to the third possibility, still on the theme
of lunacy. Higher Mills (Dyers Close today)
was once Messrs Neaves hat factory and I understand that mercury
was used in the process. It is also said that a later user of the
mill, Radion's Ltd., used mercury
in their electronic valve making and repair business. Shrigley
Dyers, who were using the mill from the 1950s, found plenty of
mercury in the gaps between the floor boards. Nowadays we all know
how dangerous mercury can be, seriously damaging the nervous