Turn Right at Mottram Roundabout - Episode 38

Tue 18th April 2017 | General
By Stewart Taylor

Episode 37 saw us “down by the sea” at Cammell Laird.

Visitors to the ground will recognise the bus depot in the photo which is adjacent to the far side of the ground.

The quick link referenced a well known painting by JMW Turner. Probably the best known painting by Turner is “The Fighting Temeraire” which shows HMS Temeraire being taken to the breakers yard. The last HMS Temeraire was a WWII battleship which was built at Cammell Laird.

Our destination this week is one of no fewer than 31 villages which make up the major part in terms of area, but not population, of a borough. The village has less than 2000 inhabitants which makes it one of the smaller places to host a football team in the Hallmark Security League.

From the opening paragraph it could be inferred that we are in the proverbial “middle of nowhere” but nothing could be further from the truth. What this village offers is country living, but with easy access to a number of significant commercial centres being close, as it is, to major infrastructure.

Do names such as Caterpillar Capers, Dungeons of Doom and Pendragon’s Plunge mean anything to you? If so you will probably have visited what was one of the major tourist attractions in North West England which was just to the west of where we are today. In its heyday it boasted as many as 500,000 visitors per year.

The attraction was based on a well known legend which featured a King of England who led the English against the Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. Much of the detail of this legend is probably mythical but it does make for a really good story.

A well known worldwide charitable organisation is sometime said to have taken its name from one aspect of the legend. However, this is not the case although, again, it does make for a good story. In fact, the name of the charitable organisation, which was founded in 1927, comes from a speech made in that year by the then Prince of Wales.

After a number of changes of ownership, the attraction closed in 2012 and was left to become derelict. Applications have been made to demolish what remains and build upwards of 400 houses on the site. The first application, made in 2014, was rejected on the basis that it is Green Belt land but such considerations may not be the block to development now that they were just a few short years ago – time, as ever, will tell.

The village also provides us with an example of the changes in social activities down the years and, for those who know me, it will come as no surprise to hear that we are looking at the life of pubs in this context. I refer to the Dog & Partridge pub in the centre of the village.

This pub, what is known in the trade as “wet led”, was established during the 19th century and served the local community for around 150 years. The pub closed in early 2011 and the building remained unoccupied for about a year until it was taken over by a pub company in 2012. After a significant refurbishment, the pub was re-opened towards the end of 2012 but, perhaps not surprisingly, the character of the pub had changed. It is now a “food led” pub which is very much family friendly and open from lunchtime through until late in the evening.

At this point some readers might expect me to go off on one about the loss of traditional values and how these “food led” pubs are destroying the traditional pub culture. Far from it. The Dog and Partridge in its original “wet led” format was losing money due to the changes in social habits. It is not alone. Given this, and that pubs are first and foremost businesses, who can blame them for shutting down.

What, to me, is gratifying is that a new owner saw the potential for the place and was prepared to put significant funds into the refurbishment and, thus, ensured that the pub was not lost forever. OK, the nature of the place has changed but we go back to the point that pubs are businesses and businesses have to make profits to continue in operation and to employ local people. Food for thought perhaps!

We turn our attention to football and our final destination is a club which was formed in the years running up to the Second World War and joined the local Sunday League centred on the borough. After the Second World War the club continued in that League and were champions in the 1947-48 season but folded after trying to run two sides the following season. The club was reformed in 1955 and gradually moved up the leagues to the regional Step 7 League and were League champions no fewer than seven times before moving up to the NWCFL. The club moved to its current ground in 1968.

Perhaps the best known player to have turned out for this club is Steve Williams. Steve is currently at AFC Fylde having had spells at a number of professional and semi professional clubs in the north of England and includes a loan spell at a Scottish Premiership side in his career to date.

Quick link - What links a footballer who made 115 appearances for Crewe Alexandra between 1996 and 2002, one of three English kings and this club?