Bob's Mellor Mill Diary
Bob (Robert Humphrey-Taylor) is leading the excavations at Mellor Mill.
Copyright R H-T ©
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You never quite know what is going to pose the next question when excavating down at Mellor Mill. Whilst moving some spoil last weekend I happened on what appears to be a piece of slate flooring tile. It really didn't seem to be any different from much of the other umpteen tons of overburden we have been shifting to get down to the hard archaeology. However, when I turned this piece over there was a mark carved in the underside. It looks like a cross inside a pair of brackets (X). The immediate thought was that it is a mason's mark, such as can be found on a number of the ashlar blocks forming the headrace of the Wellington wheel pit. Later in the evening, at home, I picked up my copy of "The Rise and Fall of King Cotton" (the latest in a long line of tomes, connected with the textile industry, to adorn my bookshelves) and there, leaping out at me from the front of the dust cover, was an almost identical symbol representing the Union Movement. (right) Can they be the same? Why is it carved on the underside of the slate tile? Did the carver want this to be an anonymous message?
Whilst at The Manchester Histories Fair at Manchester Town Hall Samuel was invited by Didsbury Councillor Andrew Taylor to visit the Inner Courtyard. Later on he was to meet Queen Victoria to discuss the meteoric rise of the entrepreneur. The Queen didn't think there was a credible challenge to the landed gentry and commented, "It is all a question of breeding my dear".
Oh dear! No digging for me tomorrow.
We have spent today setting out our stall for tomorrow's Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day 2014. Samuel Oldknow will be there at Manchester Town Hall from 11 am to 4 pm. The event is free to the public and there are some 68 stalls to visit - I think it is going to be very exciting. In the picture we have Ann and John Hearle, Nick Smith and Fiona Turpin busy putting up our great selection of photographs taken by Arthur Procter the Revealing Oldknow's Legacy project official photographer. More news for the diary tomorrow.
Now that Spring has arrived and our HLF funding is about to come on line we are looking to increase our activity down at Mellor Mill. There are a number of tasks, which do not involve excavating on your hands and knees, which need to be done and we are looking for volunteers to help out. Can you spend a few hours at weekends making a contribution to this locally important project?
Tasks which immediately need addressing include:
1, Strimming of undergrowth around the main mill area
2. Cutting of ivy growth around trees
3. Additional guides to show visitors around the site
4. Pathway preparation
5. Clearing an area ready for temporary toilets and welfare cabin
6. Recording and bagging of finds
7. Topographic survey of remains uncovered so far
Appropriate training will be given to enable you to carry out these tasks. All equipment supplied.
Of course, we are always ready to welcome volunteers who want to be involved in the archaeological dig as well.
Rachel Miller recently made contact, via Facebook, with a lady from Glossop whose Great, great, grandfather was an overseer at Mellor Mill. As a result, Rachel and I went to visit the Great great, granddaughter at her house. She told us a story about her family research which had led her to William Willis. William along with his wife, Charlotte and their children, lived on Royal Oak Row and more specifically the cottage immediately to the right of the pub. He was an overseer at Mellor Mill having worked his way through the system from being an apprentice brought up from London and possibly a Clerkenwell Orphan. Rachel and I went to search for a possible grave for William Willis at Mellor Church. My first stop was to ask Ann Hearle if I could borrow the transcripts of the grave at Mellor Church, (below). A quick search shows that there is a simple small stone,(above) in the graveyard, marked W Willis. I think it is reasonable to believe this is the same man.