Thatching in Lancashire & Cheshire
This page contains details of the craft in both historic counties, with the exception of the northern detached part of Lancashire; which was included in the previous page. In times past the River Mersey formed most of the county boundary, between these two areas. Which the craft of thatching completely ignored; as both share the Northern tradition of thatching.
Boarded and rolled gables are common, with a fairly angular roof shape to any coatwork. In the past, some turf and mortar were used for ridging; along with the now normal straw. Long straw is the historic thatching method and material, using the stems, of both wheat and rye. But water reed has now become the dominant material, especially in Lancashire.
All parts of Cheshire and the lowland districts of Lancashire, still have examples of the thatcher’s work. The craft is also found, in surprising numbers, in the modern conurbations, of Merseyside and Greater Manchester. By far the largest group, is in the Churchtown area of Southport. This unique spot, has the greatest concentration of thatch in northern Britain…..
Southport… The image above shows a fisherman’s cottage, with mortar ridge, in around 1900. The right hand photo, depicts a thriving business, under one of Churchtown’s many single story thatches…
Rolled gable… In Combed wheat reed, at Croston, east of Southport.
In Bolton, at Firwood Fold, only a single thatch remains. The birthplace of Samuel Crompton, in 1753. Inventor of the Spinning Mule, which revolutionised the textile industry. A century ago, his old home sported a tiled ridge and rick thatched roof. Very different to the neat and ornate thatch that the two counties now contain…
On the left Crompton’s birthplace… This Edwardian image, shows straw thatch held on with sparred wire, similar to thethatched ricks hereabouts. The modern view is very similar, except a roof of water reed, protects this historic home. And a straw ridge has replaced the tiles.
The image above, also from Bolton, shows the old Park View Inn. This featured as the ”Dug an Kennel’, by local, dialect writer Allen Clarke, in around 1900. Here his creation ”Bill Spriggs”, would hold court; espousing the author’s strongly held, socialist message… The building remains, but the thatch has disappeared…
More town thatch… The above cottages belie their age, being cruck built, during the sixteenth century. Now some of the oldest buildings, in the town of Newton le Willows. photo; courtesy Terry Birkinhead
The old building below; claimed to date from 1098. And sell original Eccles cakes, being situated in that Lancashire town; a century ago. The thatch being very similar to that on Crompton’s cottage, at Bolton.
North of the Ribble… This cottage near Threales, is one of a group, found between the Lancastrian rivers, Ribble and Lune, including several near Blackpool. The old image below shows some typical, single story thatch, south of the sea side town; at Ansdell, now part of Lytham St Annes; in around 1905.
Thatch near the Mersey… Old cottages at Grappenhall, near Warrington, form the left image. Showing some neat long straw thatching, around 1905. The right image, depicts the two end cottages, of a longer row; at Hale near Liverpool. A village containing quite a few old, and some newer large, thatched homes, as shown below. Both settlements lie on the Mersey. And are now incorporated into Cheshire.
More Mersey thatch…
”The Oldest Cottage in Ashton on Mersey”, this image of around 1910, shows a typical boarded gable end and more unusually, a wooden gutter.
Thatching on the Wirral 1… This old image titled ”a little bit of old Liscard”, dates from the Edwardian period. The thatcher is using the stobbing method, fixing the roof top and bottom with single bent staples… A method seen in Highland Perthshire.
Thatching on the Wirral 2… This cottage, one of several thatches hereabouts, is at Raby. Being a very similar building, to the long gone cottage at Liscard…
The left hand image shows thatch at Bowdon… Around 1900. Once in Cheshire, this village now lies in Greater Manchester. As with some of the other old images, the thatch seen here is similar, to that used to cover the local farmer’s ricks. A directional coat, held by lines of sparred string, or wire. The ridge consists of a single line of twisted spars. The right photo, from the same period, shows a thatcher at work, on the Post Office at Siddington, a Cheshire village still with some thatch. The left hand roof our man is working on seems ridged with turf…
Now, two Black & White, Cheshire Cottages…. The stuff that dreams are made of.
And a footnote.
This late Victorian image, of some very typical thatch, for these two counties; was taken by a John Ingham from Sale. But even earlier images were taken of this area by, ”The Manchester Photographic Company”. Set up by Helmut Petschler and his wife Alice, in around 1859. Their work can be seen by following the green link… Photographic days Out in the 1860’s