Above: One of the very few buildings in the valley that Bill doesn’t recognise.
The Long Hill road is easily identified by the line of telegraph poles in the distance. The dark stripe running horizontally below is the disused track of the C&HPR.
And it’s just possible to make out the slope of The Valentine on the left, between the two, as it descends from Fernilee into the valley.
Above: nine-year-old Bill caring for a motherless lamb at Oldfield Farm in 1952.
76-year-old Bill Brocklehurst knows the Goyt Valley extremely well. He was brought up first at Normanwood Farm, and then Oldfield Farm. At 16, his father told him he would be a shepherd, and that his first task was to go down the fields and cut a branch to use as a crook.
So when his son, Alec, told me Bill would be happy to go through the collection of 1930s photos and help identify where they were taken, I leapt at the chance. And soon we were sharing a pot of tea and examining old maps of the valley.
I thought I’d managed to successfully caption about three-quarters of the 100 or so photos, leaving around 25 still to do. But it soon became clear that my confidence had been sadly misplaced.
Bill knows the area so well that he can quickly identify buildings and locations by the shape of fields, contours in the land, and trees in the landscape.
We went through all the photos identifying views and places I wasn’t sure about, and correcting those that I’d got completely wrong. But there were still a couple of places even Bill wasn’t sure about.
One of these is a building that looks like a domestic house at the foot of The Valentine, the lane leading up from the gunpowder mill to Fernilee. It’s close to where the lane crossed the track of the Cromford & High Peak Railway line.
This fade shows where Bill thinks it once stood; beside where the Valentine crossed the track of the C&HPR. And he wonders whether it may have been used to warn of approaching trains. And then converted to a house when the line closed in 1892.
Most of the traffic down the Valentine would have been workers traveling to and from the nearby gunpowder mill, as well as carts carrying materials. A collision between a train and a cart carrying gunpowder could have had explosive results!
Another theory is that this may have been the ‘Bottom Lodge’ that we’ve struggled to locate. Gerald Hancock, author of ‘Goyt Valley Romance’, wrote that ‘…a Mrs Pickup kept a shop here’.
I don’t know whether traffic from Goyt’s Bridge was allowed through the mill (it seems unlikely). But there may have been enough trade for a shop from passing gunpowder mill workers.
These are the photos showing the building. Click one to enlarge and then scroll through the collection. And please get in touch if you can add any information about the house. Or simply leave a comment below.