Windmill Lane, Kerridge with Five Ashes

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Known by old Bollingtonians, the miners and quarrymen, as the 'top road', and as early as 1270 as 'le sideway'1, Windmill Lane runs all along the west side of Kerridge Hill about half way up the hill. The lane starts at the top of Redway, by the cottages, and continues almost straight and level along the hill to Five Ashes, then a short distance further to the end on end junction with Kerridge Road at Marksend.

Approach from Redway, Rainow or Hurdsfield.

Leads to Cheshire View.

Nearest shops - Bollington.

Nearest pub - Bull's Head.

Council Ward - East.


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We can see the effects of quarrying along the hillside, large areas of extraction surrounded by huge numbers of sycamore trees. Well at least they hide the worst of the industry! Windmill Lane would once have been relatively open with glorious views to the west, indeed, even as recently as the 1970s it was possible to enjoy the views from several places along the road. Nowadays the tree growth ensures a shaded and secretive road with just the occasional view through gaps in the trees. Along the northern end of the lane there are several ginnels which lead into the quarries. Only four quarries are active today, Sycamore, Bridge and Five Ashes, and Marksend in the Rainow section, with Five Ashes being used also for earth disposal.

There are two major items of interest to see along the lane - the mine ventilation tower and Victoria Bridge.

Victoria Bridge (left) crossed the inclined plane that marked the top of the 'Rally Road'. There were two tracks up the incline where trucks were hauled up empty and lowered down loaded with stone. A steam powered winding drum at the top provided the motive effort via cables. It is thought that there were tracks along some parts of the lane in order to bring stone from other quarries.

But quarrying was only one of the industries along this lane. Coal mining was another. The tower was built by William Clayton and was thought to be a ventilation shaft for mines under the hill. However, an internal investigation carried out for the KRIV project has shown that it stands on rock with no shaft below it. It is possible that it might have been intended as a chimney top with a shaft running up the side of the hill to join it but there is no evidence of that. It could, of course, have been a folly with an industrial angle to impress others - especially the Gaskell family who built White Nancy!

Most coal extraction was on the other side of the hill and it is said that there was a tunnel right through the hill to bring coal to the west side, presumably so that it could be taken down to the Macclesfield Canal for delivery. Coal mining ceased here in the early 20thC due to flooding.

William Clayton was a very successful industrialist who built both Endon House and Endon Hall, but is thought not to have lived at either.

Kerridge WindmillAt the southern end of the lane is Five Ashes. Here is a group of cottages which mark the centre of a once very active location. Looking from the road, to the right of the cottages is a field with some serious earthworks in it. This was once an industrial site possibly for stone cutting and dressing.

The design of the tower shown in an early 19th century print of the Macclesfield windmill doesn't much resemble that of the Kerridge windmill shown in old photographs. But we can't be sure that no stone was transported. The curved stonework of the tower would be expensive to make, not much use for any other purpose, and perhaps not too expensive to transport along the Macclesfield Canal, which ran from the Common to Clayton's tramway1.

To the left of the cottages there now stands a nice garden with a new stone wall around it. The lawn marks the spot where Kerridge windmill once stood (above). It is thought that the windmill came from Macclesfield Common (see panel right), part of Charles Roe's industrial complex, developed from 1758, possibly for grinding copper ore. A description of the copper works written in the 1790s mentions 'a large windmill for grinding the ore.' The copper works closed in 1801, but the windmill was converted to corn milling, and was in full use by 18061. It is thought that it was dismantled, transported and re-assembled at Kerridge in the 1830s. It is also thought that it was used at Kerridge for milling corn although George Longden writes that he has seen no evidence for this, or for any other use for that matter. It was probably built by William Clayton who had bought the Endon estate and was developing it in many ways.

It fell into disrepair and became a ruin. During WWII the military were looking for stone and other rubble to build airfield runways2 and many of the derelict buildings in the Bollington district were carried away to Burtonwood airfield, just by where M&S and IKEA are today at Warrington.

The site remained empty until the present garden was constructed in the early years of the 21stC.


References

  1. Extracts taken from George Longden's Kerridge Ridge & Ingersley Vale - an Historical Study for the KRIV project.
  2. William Broster, Bollington and Kerridge 1830 -1980. Available from the Discovery Center.

Listed buildings

The links are all to the Images of England web site provided by English Heritage.

4, 6 & 8 Turret Cottages, Windmill Lane; II, Formerly two cottages and a smithy, now three cottages, c.1840 for William Clayton.

Chimney, Windmill Lane; II, 19thC, part of William Clayton's coal mine.

Kiln, Windmill Lane; II, Potash or lime kiln, probably late 18thC.

Estate boundary stone; II, dividing two quarries on Kerridge Hill, 1830. Not publicly accessible.