Thursday, 10 May 2018

Elizabeth 1 sixpence surfaces 
   "You lucky devil, I don't believe it," or words to that effect said Mike Burt in disbelief. He was giving me some lessons with my new found metal detecting hobby on Goostrey's old tennis club courts when we struck silver. Not just
any odd coin left behind when villagers spent summer days between the wars battling with racquets on the manicured surface.
 A beep, beep from my Garrett Ace 250 detector signalled treasure below but Mike using a much superior machine quickly pinpointed the spot where he urged me to dig.
 And even the veteran detectorist was quite excited when up from the ground popped an Elizabethan silver sixpence bright as the day it was minted. 
Unearthed coins obverse and other finds
."I can go out for weeks spending hours searching and never find anything like this," added Mike, eagerly fingering off 500 years of dirt to find the date.
The hammered coin is battered and only one side is legible and it's not worth a lot but what the hell it is a priceless piece of local history to me. Whoever lost it from a pouch secured at their side would have felt the financial squeeze for a week or more because then it was a significant sum. 
While the Queen had an income of £60,000 per annum in 1580 country folk eked out an existence. A field worker earned less than half a sixpence a day, a thatcher 2s (four sixpences) for five days labour, a ploughman one shilling (two sixpences) a week with his board, and the parson whose income was 20 shillings per annum (forty sixpences) was among the poorest of the flock.
It was my first real find not far from the spot at Bridge House where
Detected coins with sixpence clearly showing a shield
daughter Emma uncovered only inches below the turf a lead spindle whorl from Anglo-Saxon or Medieval times in a period when Domesday Book said Goostrey was a kind of waste and of little value to the Norman conquerors. Excitement mounted as we swept an acre or so for more finds, and alas silver was in short supply but from the land, we got several Georgian halfpennies, a Queen Elizabeth 11 penny I probably dropped, a Victorian button and an intriguing coin-like item still to be identified but possibly from a horse harness. 
Mike, a member of Crewe and Nantwich Detecting Society noted as among the elite of the fraternity, is not always searching ploughed fields and meadows for hidden treasures lying deep into the earth, some from before the rise of Christianity. He is often called in to recover lost jewellery and keys
by desperate householders and farmers who lose valuable bits from machinery
Anglo-Saxon or medieval spindle whorl
working in their fields and crops. As for me, I'm still in pursuit off Goostrey's golden hoard...
PICTURES click to enlarge

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Kelvin's world record Millenniun berry in 2013
weighing 41 pennyweights 11 grains


Kelvin Archer with his winning berry at Marton
 The curse of the worst growing season for years continued when  even world champion Kelvin Archer could not pull off a real whopper from his gooseberry trees for Marton show today. But Kelvin,  growing berries for 40 years, still swept the board at the show at the Waggon and Horses, near Congleton. His top berry, a Millennium hitting the scales at 30 pennyweights 04 grains, was  down on previous years but bigger than  most weighed at Mid-Cheshire shows - with the exception of Lower Withington. It was there John Porter has provided the biggest berry of the season, an Ann Archer of 34 pennyweights 08 grains. Ironically, Kelvin, competing at the same show a week ago, originated the winning berry named after his wife! His word for the season: "Rubbish..." The Marton event was disappointing for the youngest grower, Marie Wilshaw from Mossley, who two years ago at 12 produced the biggest berry at any show. Her Balmarsh variety weighed 34 pennyweights 20 grains but her tender years disqualified her from receiving the trophy as the area's top grower. Now, after joining the ranks of the seniors she hoped her winning ways would continue this year but she had nothing to show and was sidelined to watch as a spectator. 
"It is really sad for her because this year is her first as a senior grower, but she had nothing left on her trees," said a member."It is thought a squirrel may have got among the berries and made a meal of them." With only the Over Peover show to be held tomorrow (Sunday) it was expected that John Porter would be this year's
Marie Wilshaw with her monster berry two years ago
Mid-Cheshire Gooseberry Association champion, Meanwhile, the Marton show, which has only seven growers, and Over Peover show are hoping to gather more members for next seasons battle of the berries.
**Pictures copyright Emma 
Williams and Space Press
++Click images to enlarge

Thursday, 3 August 2017

 World-renowned Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope which scooped the world with the Daily Express to capture the first pictures of the moon's surface from a  Russian spacecraft has been awarded increased listed building status. The giant Lovell Telescope, named after its founder the late Sir Bernard Lovell, was Grade 1 listed in 1988. Now, six further structures 
on the site in the parish of Goostrey have been listed, including the Mark 11 Telescope, awarded Grade 1 status, and the remains of a searchlight aerial developed in the mid-1940s by John Atherton Clegg, given Grade 11.
 The award has been made on the 60th anniversary of the Lovell telescope' giant leap in radio astronomy to capture radio signals from millions of miles in outer space. The sprawling complex, arguably the first of its kind in the world, was first used for the science in 1945 when Sir Bernard, working for the university's physics department moved to the Cheshire countryside to escape the city's radio interference. 
 The astonishing images of the moon  the moon were intercepted by Jodrell  Bank from Russia's Luna 9 after its moon landing in February 1966 by scientists and technicians from the Manchester-office of the Daily Express using a picture receiver.
The increased status and protection for Jodrell Bank was welcomed by Professor Teresa Anderson, director of the discovery centre and by Professor Tim O'Brien, associate director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. 
Professor  O'Brien said: "We are delighted and very proud the pivotal role played by Jodrell Bank in the development of radio astronomy has been celebrated with these new listings.
And Professor Anderson  said that Jodrell Bank had welcomed millions of visitors, drawn by its
landmark structures. "Science is a hugely important part of our cultural heritage and we are pleased to see that recognised and protected with these new designations," she added.
Scientists working at Jodrell Bank, an iconic monster-like structure which can be seen for miles rising above the countryside, tracked the world's first space ships and Luna 9's first in landing on a a celestial body.
It has captured millions of radio signals from the universe, but so far little green men on planets far out in space have eluded them..!


Monday, 31 July 2017

Martin and his prize winning gooseberry and cup
 A novice grower pipped his rivals after graduating from the award of the wooden spoon to beating all comers with the heaviest berry at Goostrey Gooseberry Society show. After one of the worst growing seasons for years, Martin de Kretser tipped the scales with a Blackden Gem berry weighing 23 pennyweights 19 grains. Martin, who lives in Goostrey,  came last in the competition at The Crown Inn at his first attempt only four years ago. The enthusiastic newcomer was not downhearted in defeat and on Saturday proved determination wins. His premier berry, a tiddler compared in years when entries were heavier, beat longtime growers, including Terry Price, the reigning champion, placed fourth.
Alan Garner and his wife Griselda
Junior champion Joe Banks Williams
But it was another relatively new grower, Griselda Garner, who surprised members when she walked away with four silver trophies, including the Frank Carter Cup for most points in the show from various classes. Her premier  Edith Cavell berry of 20 pennyweights 05 grains was placed seventh. She put her success down to the quality of soil tilled for 4,000 years at her Blackden home,  Toad Hall and the Medicine House, where the late Frank Carter, a legendary Goostrey grower was born and raised award-winning gooseberries. Weights in surrounding villages fared much better than Goostrey with world champion Kelvin Archer defeated at Lower Withington by John Porter with an entry of 34 pennyweights 08 grains.  Ironically the show stopping berry named Ann Archer was from a variety originally raised by Kelvin and named after his wife.
The three top berries in the show
 Eight-year-old Joe Banks Williams won the junior place for the second year for the Dave Garrett Memorial Cup, just beating entries from two other youngsters, Grady Alderdice and Cori Lee. Show president  Terry's hope of retaining the silver trophy for the premier place was thwarted when a berry of more than 30 pennyweights burst a little more than a week before the century-old annual event.Martin was awarded the C R Griffiths Cup for the premier berry, the prize for the most improved grower and the Frank Carter memorial plate.
  Emma had the satisfaction of gaining the G E Capper Cup for the champion show plate and Martin took home the John Egerton Cup for the heaviest red berry.The only other trophy winner was Gareth Buckley, whose top berry a Jodrell White of 21 pennyweights 16 grains came fifth. He was awarded the cup for the heaviest sets of four twins of each colour on the same plate and the challenge cup for the top plate of assorted berries. The cups were presented by Griselda's husband, Alan Garner, the children's author and writer, who said his memories of the show sixty years ago were of being lit by paraffin lamps.
  "It was like a Dutch oil painting," he added.
 After the weighing, Emma Williams said although the size of the berries this year was disappointing, the show itself had been well up to its usual competitive spirit and enjoyable.
  "We would certainly like more younger members to get involved in the show, but anyone living in the parishes of Goostrey and neighbouring parishes would be most welcome whatever their age to help to retain this village pastime," she said.
**Copyright pictures Emma Williams
**Click images to enlarge

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A heavyweight or not?

Goostrey show in action
Kelvin Archer with world beating berry
  A Dunkirk spirit will be needed by growers poised this week for the annual battle of the bushes as gooseberries come under attack from a combined force of weather, disease and pests. Only several weeks ago all looked well as the fruit ripened and grew gently under their protective netting for the Mid Cheshire shows beginning on Saturday. But fickle weather, blowing hot and cold and late season torrents of rain, is doing its best to dampen the prospect of weighing in with a world-beating berry. Now, it will be a case of standing firm and rescuing the best from the trees before they burst. Terry Price, Goostrey Gooseberry Society's  current champion and show President, says reports suggest that all growers in the area are struggling to keep berries on the bushes. "I don't think there will be any records this year," says Terry. "They are busting all over and the heavy rain is finishing off a lot."  Terry, whose Just Betty gooseberry of 24 pennyweights and 22 grains, won the show at The Crown Inn last year, is hoping for a better result this time. Several weeks ago a berry from the same tree weighed 30 pennyweights but now like other growers the prospect doesn't look good. He added: "I think if someone can hold on to a berry of 28 pennyweights it is likely to be the heaviest in our show or any other. They are all struggling" Best of the bunch is expected to be among yellow berry varieties such as Woodpecker, Millenium or Montrose. Later shows in August may have the smallest berries of the year to put on the scales for the annual heavyweight whopper. And the overall champion in the fiercely-fought contests might be decided by a whisker! Visitors are welcome to watch the Goostrey Gooseberry Show - as all other shows - at The Crown starting on Saturday at 1 pm.A Junior Show won last year by Joe Banks Williams, eight, is again open to all under 16-year-olds who live in Goostrey and the surrounding area. His winning Woodpecker berry weighed 16 pennyweights and five grains. A prize draw on the day includes dinner for two at the Yellow Broom, Twemlow Green.
**The world record berry is a Millenium of 41 pennyweights 11 grains grown in 2013 by Kelvin Archer, a member of the Marton
and Lower Withington shows. 

Sunday, 16 April 2017


  Goostrey's oldest villager, Mrs Ruth Hough, has died only months after she moved into a home in the area. Ruth, who was 102,  lived in Brookfield Crescent and until recent times continued to take an active interest in local life and events. She was a regular member of the congregation  at St Luke's parish church where, with her late husband Ron, a former head teacher at Goostrey primary school, she was also a bellringer for many years. Her memories of local life will live on after her recollections were recorded on tape by Goostrey Archive Group for its oral history collection. She also "starred" in a radio documentary of author Alan Garner's nativity play "Bringing Holly from the Bongs" which was first performed in now demolished stables behind the Crown Inn 51 years ago. As part of the  BBC Radio 4 Extra programme about the play broadcast on Christmas Day 2015 she was interviewed as one of the behind the scenes helpers by producer Andy Cartwright along with original members of the cast who were pupils at Goostrey school. A villager said: "Ruth was an amazing woman. She took a tremendous interest in Goostrey and its organisations. Even at her advanced age, in recent times she continued to play bridge and went to church, but in the end I think she just wanted to slip away peacefully and quietly."
A former neighbour JulieAnn Leigh-Lockett, who now lives in Grand Island, New York State, with her family writes:
" She was a wonderful lady.She taught me how to make a hundred sandwiches from on tin of salmon for rose day refreshments and how to make perfect marmalade without bubbles, just like she did for the Women's Institute. I lived right next door to her for many years. A sad loss for all of us with memories".
Mrs Audrey Godfrey, the wife of the late Rev Ian Godfrey, vicar of Goostrey, who died last year, also has fond memories of Ruth,
She said: "Even though we were here for a short time,  my lasting memory of her will be with Ian and Ruth sitting in wheelchairs next to one another holding hands watching the Rose Queen place her wreath on the memorial at St. Luke’s last year. I said to Ian ‘are you two timing me?’ he replied ‘of course’ and Ruth chipped in ‘and haven’t I found myself a corker’! Happy days."

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


Richard Jepson mans the pumps
A sample of the Bottle Bank's offerings
With pubs shutting at an alarming rate and turning into supermarket owned convenience stores, it is a blessed relief to see the trend locally has been reversed. Richard Jepson, who has hosted The Beer Emporium in Sandbach since taking over in July, has expanded his craft beer, wines, spirits bar and shop and take-out to the centre of Holmes Chapel. It was a blow I guess for customers to see the departure of the Nat West Bank from the village but Richard's venture in the former premises more than makes up for the loss - at least for the aficionado of real ales and other favourite tipples. The bar’s opening – named the Bottle Bank - happened sans fuss or fanfare. It was only when  I noticed a couple of iron tables and seats on the pavement outside the old bank building in London Road did I realise he  was open for business. Richard formerly worked in telecoms but the bearded mine host in charge of the hand-pumps – looking every inch  a jolly brewmaster - admits beer is his real passion. Lots on offer is locally brewed, including Merlin from just up the road at Arclid as well as brews from places around including Mobberley, Macclesfield, Wincle and Congleton but, like the Sandbach bar, it provides beers from around the world, and also like the Beer Emporium, will soon be boasting and offering some 400 different ales, lagers, and cider to take away or drink in, once in full swing. The Bottle Bank reminds me a bit of times before pubs were “poshed” up and fine dining became the norm… a place where you can stand at the bar and feel you don’t have to fork out for a meal!    Richard says local pubs have been very supportive of the enterprise which he believes will help to attract more visitors to the village. We should say cheers to that and wish Richard every success!
*Click on pictures to enlarge