Click to enlarge the photo.

Gerald Hancock, author of ‘Goyt Valley Romance’ – and sadly no longer with us – kindly allowed me to scan his collection of Goyt Valley photos when I first started this website back in 2010.

The photos were very much the inspiration for my research into the history of the valley. I’ve always enjoyed trying to trace the various buildings and people captured in the images.

One photo has always particularly intrigued me. Gerald captioned it ‘The Bottom Lodge; Mrs Pickup kept a shop here’. But I’ve never managed to find where it was located.

I’ve just finished creating a number of ‘then & now’ fades of the Goyt, all the way from Goyt’s Moss in the south to Taxal in the north (click to view). And I noticed a building marked ‘Lodge’ close to the village of Fernilee.

Then & now fade

I’ve created this fade between the 1888 map with today’s satellite view of the same area today. (Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see this on most smart phones.)

The building lay at the end of the lane leading from the gunpowder mill up to the Long Hill road between Buxton and Whaley Bridge. The factory is just out of the frame at bottom left. The northern edge of Fernilee Reservoir is visible at the bottom of the satellite view.

(For anyone interested in the route of the Cromford & High Peak Railway line, fading between the views highlights the track as it heads north to Whaley Bridge.)

Today the lane is used to access the car park at the northern end of Fernilee Reservoir. But I don’t think there’s any building at the top today. I no longer live close to the valley, so can’t easily check. But I’d be grateful for any help from anyone who could take a look. (Simply leave a comment below.)

I may be completely wrong about the building. It could be situated somewhere else entirely. But I believe the Grimshawe family used this lane as their main route coming and going from their Errwood Estate. And it does look like a typical Victorian-style gatehouse.

So my guess is that it could fit the bill. But I said the same about the shrine on Goyt’s Lane. And I was completely wrong about that! If anyone knows about the building, please leave a comment below. Or send me a message.

Right: This photo shows William Simpson on the left alongside a co-worker at the gunpowder mills. It features on the cover of Joyce’s wonderful history of the factory, the ruins of which now lie beneath the northern end of Fernilee Reservoir.

Page update

I’ve just finished reading Joyce Winfield’s ‘The Gunpowder Mills of Fernilee‘ and a mention of a ‘top lodge’ caught me eye. Gerald captioned the photo ‘bottom lodge’. But Joyce thinks it may be the same building (see comment below). Here’s the excerpt from her book;

William Simpson, cousin of the Rev. Willie Simpson of Chinley Independent Chapel, came to the valley to work at the Powder Mills when he married Letitia Lomas. Their first proper home was Top Lodge, that tiny gatehouse built of dressed stone which used to guard the entrance to the Errwood estate, and there they stayed until 1937.

Life wasn’t easy bringing up three children without water, gas or electricity. Water had to be carried from the well across the road down through a trap door to the cellar-kitchen and clean washing carried back the same way to the line near the well. Fruit and vegetables – for which William won prizes – were grown on a piece of ground at the back until the Water Board took it from them. 

Letitia Simpson had it hard from the beginning. Her father, John Lomas, had been a blacksmith in Sheen. When he died of a heart attack at 39, his wife, Rachel, pregnant with their fifth child, took the children and set off at 4.30 in the morning to find work at Burbage Laundry.

By washing blankets with a dolly tub, and peg working in the fields, Letitia supplemented Rachel’s income to a small degree. Enough only for food, so when the rent went unpaid the bailiffs took all but the table and chairs and the mattresses.

No bitterness followed these early hardships. No matter how little there was in the pantry, there was always a place at the table for a visitor, and a chalk cross on the well was the tramps’ sign that a meal would always be provided.