Welcome

Welcome to the Stretton History website, which is a community project aiming to bring together and share photos and stories about the village of Stretton near Warrington.

Stretton has a fascinating past, and as residents of the village, we’re keen to piece together snapshots of Stretton’s colourful past over the years.

If you would like to get involved or can contribute information, please contact us. There’s so much to learn, it would be great hearing from you. You might:

  • have lived in or know the village or surrounding area
  • know about the church, school or businesses in the parish
  • know or have information on any of the families who have historically lived in Stretton
  • know about the farms
  • have photos, stories, documents or papers relating to Stretton’s past
  • just have an interest in finding out more!
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The Old Smithy

The Old Smithy adj

What a great surprise to receive this photo from the current occupiers of The Old Smithy in Common Lane who were having some work done in their bathroom.  The plumber found this note behind the shower tiles, so with a bit of editing this is what is says:

This house was built by David Whittaker between May 1981 and May 1982. It stands on the site of the Old Smithy the land including the smithy demolished in February 1982 , was purchased from the Savage Brothers whose father was the blacksmith. The forge was last used in 1960.

To see what the smithy used to look like, head over to this page.

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Stretton Sister Township

This week an e-mail entitled “Stretton Sister-Township Newton” came in from Stephen, the churchwarden at St. Matthews. He wondered if Newton, Pennsylvania, USA had ever appeared previously in the research, as he’d come across a document in the church safe.

It was a Proclamation declaring the Parish of Stretton, Warrington as a sister town of Newton Township:

Newton DA USA Sister-township (1)

The Proclamation was dated 12 November 1981 and by excellent timing, next month, it will be 40 years since Stretton was declared a sister town with Newton.

Why Newton and why Stretton? The answer goes back more than 40 years – to 340 years in fact, when Stretton boy Daniel Williamson left Stretton for America and arrived in Pennsylvania in 1683.

Daniel Williamson was born in 1665 to a Quaker family from Stretton. This was the height of the Quaker movement in Cheshire when a yeoman from Frandley Farm, Seven Oaks, named William Gandy became interested in Quaker ideas and invited George Fox to Frandley in 1657. It is thought Fox preached to over 2,000 people from under the shade of an oak tree.

Despite their large numbers, the Friends or “Quakers” frequently suffered persecution from the establishment:  in 1663, Ellen Williamson and three others were imprisoned by “Writs of Ex-communication Capiendo” for non-payment of tithes. Twenty years later, the year Daniel left England, a Thomas Williamson was among those who were put in prison for attending a Quaker meeting at Newton by Daresbury.

What do we know about Daniel Williamson’s personal life family? From the detailed Quaker records, his birth is recorded as 8th September 1665 to Margaret and Robert Williamson.  He had a brother Peter who died in 1678 and was buried alongside his parents at the Friends Burial Ground at Higher Whitley. His father, Robert, was a wheelwright died in 1689 at Stretton.

In 1683, Daniel Williamson said goodbye to his family and set out on his travels  – believed to be the Concord. He settled in Newtown in Delaware which was founded by William Penn in 1681 for the new settlers as a refuge for Quakers who were facing persecution. Between 1681 and 1682 around 2,000 settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, and Daniel Williamson wasn’t the only one from this area to move West – he followed in the footsteps of the Eaton family from Great Budworth and Antrobus, and this emigration continued as other Friends followed from Stretton over the next fifty years. According to unsubstantiated burial records, Daniel Williamson married Mary and had at least a son, John. Daniel died in 1727 and was buried in the grounds of Newtown Square Friends Meeting House.

Roll forward 300 years, Newton has a population of just over 2,000 about twice that of Stretton. In 1981 the township of Newton undertook research into the origins of their settlement as part of their tricentennial celebrations. As a result they created the declaration and invited John Darbyshire, former Chairman of Stretton Parish Council his wife, Gladys, to visit the Newton as part of their celebrations which culminated in a ‘Grand Tricentennial Parade’ on May 9, 1981. By coincidence, John Darbyshire came from a long family from Quakers whose family had moved to Summit Farm, Stretton in 1808.  John and Gladys farmed at Lane End Farm, then at Moss Hall Farm before moving to Tanyard Farm.

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Earliest School Photo

Some wonderful photos have come over this week  – all connected with Stockley Farm and Cottage. A big thanks to Lyne whose grandfather Joseph Sidebotham grew up at the farm and attended Stretton School.

We think that this photo was taken around 1918, give a take a year or two. Joseph is is on the back row third one in, and the school master was probably Joseph Ellison who would have been in his late 50s when this photograph was taken. He retired shortly afterwards and Ernest Boulton took over. The next earliest school photograph was from 1920 and more are displayed here.

There is a new gallery of photos from Stockley here, so please do get in touch if you are able to identify any pupils above or any family members in the gallery.

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Does Stretton have an Identity Crisis?

SAM_9294 - Copy

In times of yore, the parish boundaries were well known, through customs such as beating the bounds, and more locally Walking Day. However boundaries can change, and the last two properties in Hatton Lane are a good example – being originally in Appleton, but are now within Stretton.

In the 1990s the new housing estate built to the north and east of St. Matthew’s went across the parish boundary, and so began the blurring of boundaries. In August 2017 even members of the Parish Council were not exactly clear where the boundary lay, and a straw poll among friends living in the Stretton part of the Pewterspear development believe they live in Appleton. This confusion around the boundary to the north of the village has been recognised by the Parish Council who sought to give identify to Stretton through the purchase of new planters and signs.  As evidence to the lack of local understanding, whilst the signs were being installed, questions were raised why a Stretton sign was being put up in Appleton. Shortly afterwards the signs were defaced.

So where is this leading? Just before Christmas we received a circular from the local councillors who were concerned that the names of the new roads in Stretton were named after golf courses in Scotland – and claimed none of which bore any relevance to the local area and were associated with elitism. This has just made the local newspaper: Anger over decision to name streets on Stretton development after golf courses.

So are we right to be worried about a loss of a “sense of place.” There are many definitions of a sense of place – indeed over 165,000 academic papers, but one of my favourites is by American Dr Thomas A Woods:

People develop a “sense of place” through experience and knowledge of a particular area. A sense of place emerges through knowledge of the history, geography and geology of an area, its flora and fauna, the legends of a place, and a growing sense of the land and its history after living there for a time.

The feel of the sun on your face or the rain on your back, the rough and smooth textures of the land, the color of the sky at morning and sunset, the fragrance of the plants blooming in season, the songs and antics of birds and the cautious ramblings of mammals are environmental influences that help to define a place. Memories of personal and cultural experiences over time make a place special, favorite objects that shape to your hand or body with use, songs or dances that emerge from the people of a place, special skills you develop to enjoy your area–these too help to define a place and anchor you in it. Through time, shared experiences and stories (history) help to connect place and people and to transmit feelings of place from generation to generation.

Naming roads in a new development is the responsibility of the local council which has a statutory duty and as a matter of course they do not consult with the parish councils or local groups due to possible time delays. However with new housing developments proposed for Stretton, here are a few thoughts of road names that take into account Woods’ sense of place:

History: names of people connected with Stretton:

School masters and mistresses: Smith, Hatton, Walton, Shawcross, Ellison, Boulton, Griffiths or Holden

Landowners or occupiers in 1846 (taken from the Cheshire Tithes Map): Wright, Dutton, Milner, Percival, Makin, Darbyshire, Gaskell, Davies, Whitley, Smith, Okell, Eaton, Williams, Ridgway, Crampton, Newton, Rowland, Massey, Done, Morrey, Lawson, Forrest, Barrow, Highfield

Other names associated with Stretton: Starkey, Bradshaw, Darwin, Scott, Mounfield

Previous vicars: Janion, Greenall, Cross, White, Pennell, Rowlands, Hall, (excluding Rev Dodd who left the parish under a cloud)

Geography:  The seven counties which can be seen from the top of St Matthew’s church tower: Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, (any more?)

Field Names taken from the 1846 tithe maps: Higher Hey, Little Heyes, Garden Meadow, Siddens, Pinfold, Aspells, Bradley, Brook Meadow, Croft, Rick Field, Marl Field, Stockley, Hollin Hedge, Robin’s Meadow

Local flora and fauna: Gorse, Alder, Robin, Oak, Ash, Thorn, Rowan,

Obviously, not all names are suitable and you won’t be surprised that there are street naming conventions in place, so perhaps Sludge Field and Boggy Field, wouldn’t be as popular as some of the others. And whilst it would have been lovely to celebrate the life of the village blacksmith, Savage Place, might not sell as many houses, as say Darwin Close.

These are a few suggestions to get the grey matter working after all the turkey, so if you’ve got any more, please do add below.

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Stretton United

Two fabulous photographs from the 1920s have recently been sent across from Heather, so a huge thanks to her for sharing these extended family memories with us. The photos are of Stretton Football team  – one is dated 1919-1920, the other one is undated. Many of the names of the players on the undated photo are well known past Stretton residents, although a number were from neighbouring Appleton.

Over the coming weeks we’ll try to put together a bit more about each of the players, but for now here is a list of those we know about and links to their families or homes:

Mr Trevor (1878 – 1958) Caretaker Institute. William Trevor lived at the cottages along Tarporley RoadNorthwich Road next to the Cat and Lion. He was the uncle by marriage of Vin Broady below.

Jack Broady (Spokesman)

Leonard Broady (1907 – 1947) Leonard was born in Windmill Lane, Appleton and died in Grappenhall in 1947.

Bob Cook (1900 – 1969) Bob moved to Northwich Road in 1939 and was married to Annie Gresty.

Archie Owen (1984  – 1958) Archie was born in Dorothy Cottages and  (Manager), before marrying Maggie Toft and moving to Hillside Road, Appleton.

Mr Boulton (1891 – 1961) The village school master  from the early 1920s until the 1940s.

Vin Broady (1912 – ) Vincent, as with many others, was born in Appleton. He married Amy Lafferty and the couple lived along Firs Lane, Appleton.

Stan Owen (1899 -1980)  Captain. Stan was born at Dorothy Cottages and was youngest brother to Archie above.  He died in Hillside Road in Appleton.

Howard Hemming Whittle

Dr Charles Bower (1901-1985) The son of Dr Harry Bower of View Field, Tarporley Road and had recently qualified as a doctor

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Battle’s Over: A Nation’s Tribute

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This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the armistice which brought to an end the first World War. Throughout the country and the world, this will be commemorated. In Stretton  including a number of local events including at St. Matthews where the morning service will include an act of remembrance – more details here.

In Stretton nine men who died as a result  in the First World War are commemorated on the War Memorial. and remembered each year. They came from all walks of life, and lived across the village – from the vicarage to Well Lane and from London Road to School House. They were sons, husbands, brothers and fathers. Their individual stories are told here.

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Walking Day

stretton-walking-day-group-2018 - gary scentlebury

The Walking Day Retinue 2018 – photo by Warrington Worldwide

In many parts of the country Walking Day is unknown, but for Stretton it has been around for at least a hundred years. According to an excellent article by Warrington Museum, by 1834 the idea of Warrington Walking Day was already established, possibly begun by Rector Horace Powys. The procession took place in early to mid June on the last Friday of the Newton race meeting, as a counter-attraction to the dangers of drunkenness and gambling.  By 1861 there was an article in the Warrington Guardian which spoke of an “occasion of great festivities.”

Whilst we do not know exactly when Walking Day started in Stretton, the earliest photograph is of the early 1920s:

Stretton Walking Day

1920 Stretton Walking Day

It is thought the photo was taken around 1922 or 1923 – Felix the Cat in the bottom left hand corner was at the height of his popularity at that time.

Thanks to so many getting in touch and sharing their memories and photographs, we have built up a great collection of images through the decades – from the earliest one just above, the black and white photos of the 1930s through to 2018 Walking Day last Saturday taken by Gary Skentelbury of  Warrington Worldwide.

The history of Stretton Walking Day, together with a list of Rose Queens and attendants dating back to 1968 has been compiled here. There are a few gaps so if anyone has any more details, please do send them in. Likewise if you also have a few photos in an album or box of Walking Day in years go by, and would like to share them with others, please do get in touch.

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