Engraving from the Illustrated London News December 1862 (courtesy Joyce Powell)
'Twice a week-namely on Tuesdays and Fridays- some hundreds of operatives from the cotton mills gather in the courtyard of Mr John Chapman to receive their breakfast which is given without limitation; and, in addition, hundreds of females obtain, every Friday, relief for their families which is given to them in the shape of flour, bread, clothing etc. It is estimated that from 700 to 1,000 people are the recipients weekly of Mr. and Mrs. Chapman 's beneficence.'
Illustrated London News
John Chapman at Hill End fed the starving villagers and provided some alternative work on his land. An old lady, interviewed some years ago, remembered her father saying they lived off turnip tops. Chapman was remembered as a great benefactor of local people in this crisis. In Hyde and Stalybridge there was unrest when the workers could not easily get poor relief.
The population of the village declined during the 1860s by about half from 1,000 to 458, and the 1871 census shows a large number of unoccupied houses.
The economic catastrophe was made worse by other factors.
John Sidebottom inherited Broad Mills gambled extravagantly and got into debt, losing about £45,000 in the 1850s. When he died in mysterious circumstances in 1863, Chapman bought up part of the estate. In 1869 Harewood Lodge was uninhabited and the mill was bought by a another local millowner, Hirst. The direct link with the mills and the Sidebottoms ended.
(photograph courtesy of Joyce Powell)
Traditional hayricks: 1930s - photo courtesy of Gould family
The Shaws also kept the Drum, the old public house on Gorsey Brow, though this too closed during the depression of the 1860s.The pub gained its name at the beginning of the nineteenth century when Thomas Shaw, a weaver and the tenant was given the drum of the Mottram band which he had played. The pub has gone now but the well remains on Gorsey Brow from which the water came to brew the beer, the 'old drummer's sixpenny'. Richard Matley of Hodge Print works knew Richard Cobden, famous as a founder of the anti-corn law league and in favour of free trade. Cobden's family owned a calico printing business which did some business with Matley. Matley took Cobden to the Drum ot sample the bread and cheese for which the pub was well-known. The landlord Shaw was a committed Tory, and against the repeal of the corn laws which kept the price of bread high. He served Cobden oatcake with his cheese but when he discovered the identity of his customer he swore he would have served him bread had he known. Cobden declared himself satisfied with the good plain country fare and promised that bread would be cheaper by and by.
Shaw bought the beerhouse and the four cottages attached to it in1841 when part of the Tollemache estate was sold off and later built four more cottages on Gorsey Brow which are still standing.
Postcard of cottages on Pingot Lane in more picturesque times
From the sale catalogue of the Tollemache estate in 1841
Courtesy of Joyce Powell
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Broadbottom Community Association
The Cotton Famine