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“A Century of Memories of Prestbury”

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Prestbury was originally a farming and industrial village Since the late 1800s - when the first photographs of Prestbury were taken – the beautiful and ‘iconic’ views of the village centre have in some ways hardly changed. Yet at the same time, the village and its community have evolved radically, in many respects reflecting the farreaching economic and social changes typical in rural communities across Britain. This exhibition illustrates how Prestbury has evolved from an agricultural and industrial community, and how it has acquired the unique mix of characteristics for which it is known today. This is an informal exhibition and makes no claims of being definitive. We hope you will find the photographs interesting and that - some of you at least - will find out something new about the history of Prestbury. Most of all, we hope that this event will be a memorable experience for all Prestbury residents and add another dimension to our shared appreciation of this very special village!

“A Century of Memories of Prestbury” by Friends of Prestbury. Converted to PDF format by prestbury.com


A view of Prestbury from the church tower, 1880 Prestbury is known for its pretty village street which has so many lovely old buildings. Although this view is greatly loved and valued by residents, it represents just one of Prestbury’s many faces. Today, a lot of residents live in a pre-war family house or on one of several estates built between the 1950s-1980s, some of which is social housing. We now have a large retired population, some of whom have ‘downsized’ to new, smaller homes as their families have grown up. Butley, an ancient hamlet in its own right where evidence of pre-Christian Anglo Saxon settlement was discovered when the ‘turnpike’ road (now the A523) was built in the early 1800s, is home to a significant minority of parish residents and has buildings which date from different eras. So, Prestbury today – its people and its buildings – reflects in a very real sense the way the village has developed over time.

“There’s the Prestbury, of many outward charms, at which day trippers throw a quick, admiring, but unsearching glance. “There’s the Prestbury of the commuter. Almost half the village’s male population travels to work in Manchester, twothirds are engaged in administrative, managerial, professional, technological or artistic activities. Many of their wives find temporary work in the village. This Prestbury sleeps, shops and socialises for up to five years, then moves up in the professional scale and moves on. “There’s the Prestbury in which people settle, either on retirement, or having discovered the better living surroundings which success has enabled them to buy. These people often contribute notably to village life. “And finally, there’s the core of truly ‘local’ families who have survived to see Prestbury mushroom to its present 4,000 size, and wish that someone would now put in the village window the seaside-landlady’s notice... ‘No Vacancies’.” Robert Stead in “Prestbury – Not Just a Pretty Place”, Cheshire Life October 1974

“A Century of Memories of Prestbury” by Friends of Prestbury. Converted to PDF format by prestbury.com


Cattle fairs were held twice yearly until just before the First World War In the late 19th century, Prestbury was still very much a traditional rural community. The village school admission rolls and census information from that time contain details about the villagers’ occupations - most of the 300 residents worked in agriculture, domestic service, in the mill on Bollin Grove or perhaps in one of the two smithies. Prestbury was also the centre of a large and important ecclesiastical parish. Until 1878, St Peter’s was the only church in the area where couples could get married. Although the parish of Bollington was constituted in 1842, its patron was the Vicar of Prestbury, and Adlington’s ‘iron church’ was not built until 1892. Traditional cattle fairs were still held twice a year in the village street, a tradition which continued until the early 20th Century and which provided seasonal trade for the village inns.

“A Century of Memories of Prestbury” by Friends of Prestbury. Converted to PDF format by prestbury.com


In the 19th Century, there were open fields and farmland in areas which are now residential developments. The village had already experienced many changes over the 19th century and these are reflected in buildings which date from that time. The railway station was constructed in 1847, the Post Office opened in 1851, and in 1855 a new road bridge over the River Bollin and New Road itself was built, improving links to the turnpike road (now the A523). Before that, the main road through the village crossed the river on a much smaller bridge and then continued down Pearl Street.

The old corn mill, now Abbey Mill, burned down in the 1940s. Prestbury had another mill on Bollin Grove which was pulled down in the 1960s. Many villagers, especially women, worked in domestic service; farming no longer employed a majority of the population. Late 18th century weavers’ houses built on the main street had enabled small scale cottage industry connected to the Macclesfield silk trade to develop. There was a small silk factory near the river close to Bollin Grove whose workers were housed in the pretty stone cottages built in the early 19th century. There had also been a corn mill in Prestbury.

“A Century of Memories of Prestbury� by Friends of Prestbury. Converted to PDF format by prestbury.com


The main street in need of restoration at the end of the 19th Century The population of the village peaked at about 470 in the 1830s but then declined to around 300 towards the end of the century. With the Macclesfield silk industry by now in decline, people left to find work in the thriving cotton mills of Stockport and Manchester. As a result, some buildings had fallen into disrepair and others were demolished. Despite this, the village street is instantly recognisable. An article in the Manchester Guardian of 1888 (one of a series called ‘Summer Rambles Round Manchester’) described Prestbury as ‘one of the old unspoiled settlements that happily are still found in every English county’. Before long, the village’s population would start to increase again – and that growth would bring in an era of significant change for Prestbury.

“A Century of Memories of Prestbury” by Friends of Prestbury. Converted to PDF format by prestbury.com

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