Family History: The Mellor Family, Rainow, Cheshire

From our research we have found that most of the Mellor family pre-1900 came from the Rainow area of Cheshire. Rainow is situated on the B5470 road approximately 6 miles from Macclesfield. Rainow currently has a population of around 1,300 (2001 census).

The Mellor family in this area were devout Methodists who supported the church in spirit and in generous financial contributions.

In 1846 John Mellor (1813-1860) of Kerridge End funded the constructions of the Holy Trinity Church to the tune of £1,800. During our research we found only two Mellor graves in this churchyard.

In loving memory of James Gaskell of Henbury who died April 20th 1832.
Also Martha wife of the above who died January 7th 1871 aged 72 years.
Mary Mellor daughter of the above who died Oct 30th 1908 aged 78 years

Sacred to the memory of James Mellor (of Brown House, Rainow) who departed this life November 28th 1896 aged 69 years. “Thy will be done.”
Also John Mellor who died May 1st 1892 aged 86 years.
Also Ellen Thornley sister of the above who died November 1893 aged 78 years.

Most of the graves we found were in the small graveyard of the Rainow Wesleyan Chapel which was built in 1781 as a venue for travelling preachers. This was later demolished leaving the Chapel House and the small graveyard where the graves remain today. The current chapel was erected across the road in 1878 and is now used as business premises.

John Mellor (Born December 6th 1876) also contributed £50 to the building of the Wesleyan School in 1896, here is an extract from his diary describing the stone laying ceremony. He was aged 19 at the time of writing.

April 22nd 1896
Soon after 3pm the stonelaying ceremony of the new Wesleyan Day & Sunday school commenced: there was a large and interested concourse of spectators, including a few Macclesfield friends: the proceedings opened with hymns & prayer. Revs JH Cleminson & WP Hutton BA directed the events.

There were nine stones to be laid, all situated along the front of the building: mine was by the presence round it of a numerous cotège of relations & friends, including my three aunts ; Johnson, George Mellor, & Meek; Laura Johnson, Annie & Laura Mellor, – my cousins – & others & Milly & Dora occupying the seats in closest proximity to the stone.

The stones came in alphabetical order, except that William Clarke came last, as representing the scholars. The stonelayers were as follows ; (as on the Circulars & Bills);

Joseph Hollinshead Esq.
John Mellor Esq. Jnr BA
James Nixon Esq. Jnr
Albert Nixon Esq.
James Needham Esq. C.C.
Thomas Oliver Esq.
John Latham Rushiton Esq. M.D.
Joseph Welton Esq.
William Clarke Esq.

Most of the above tried to make a speech, but the attempts were for the most part failures, so that the wisdom of my decision not to favour the audience with an oration was confirmed by actual events; tho’ I disappointed many therein, – probably the others wasn’t of success made them rejoice that there were no more orators.

I spoke the usual formula “I have much pleasure in declaring this stone well & truly laid, – in the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Ghost” – & performed the other parts of the function more satisfactorily than most of the others, in the mortor-plastering with the trowel, & mallet-tapping.

The trowels were made of steel, & the miniature mallets had been made & given by Thomas Ramsbottom.

The school was later converted into private homes.

Mellor Legends

“The Mystery of John Turner”
James Mellor Junior erected the original stone in Erwin Lane, Nab End, below Buxter Stoops (about 200 metres uphill from Hooleyhey Lane junction) marking the death during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve of John Turner.

Here John Turner
Was cast away
In a heavy snow
Storm in the night
In or about the year
The print of a woman’s shoe
Was found by his side
Where he lay dead

The date on the present stone of 1755 is incorrect. This may be due to the inscription being incorrectly copied when the original stone was replaced.
It is thought that this memorial is to John Turner who died returning from nearby Bollington on Christmas Eve in a snowstorm in 1735.

Incidentally, decedents of James’ brother, William were the first people in the village to have a car. In fact a well known engineering firm in Rainow built the first car in Cheshire.

Mellor Industry

Key to the early industrial development in Rainow and nearby Bollington was the enterprise of three significant local families. The Gaskells who built Ingersley Hall and local landmark, White Nancy which is said to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. The Swindells who were leading cotton maufacturers and the Mellors for engineering, mining and their contribution to the local cotton spinning industry.

A major industry in Rainow was engineering incuding the production of steam rollers, steam hammers etc. One local story tells of a John Mellor who manufactured steam rollers. One of his early models became stuck in a muddy field in Rainow, much to the delight of the local farmers who suggested that they move it with their “more reliable” horses. Mellor refused, insisting that he could drive his roller from the mud – he succeeded.

Mellor’s Garden

If you are visiting Rainow in search of Mellor history you may be interested to visit Mellor’s Garden. It is an unusual allegorical garden built in the nineteenth century illustrating the Pilgrim’s Progress. It was built by James Mellor and has recently been restored.

One of the most interesting characters in Rainow history was James Mellor. He was a local preacher in the 19th century. His home Hough Hole House which is situated at the bottom of Sugar Lane is the location of his famous garden.

The garden itself is testimony to his energy, inventiveness and practical skills. The house was built in the 16th century and was altered by both James and his father, a water wheel was added to provide power and to run the organ in the chapel.

The garden has several interesting features including a small chapel in which he used to hold his own services. There are a great many stone slabs incorporated in the garden bearing Biblical inscriptions which it is said he craved with his own hands. There is also an unusual “howling house” which looks not dissimilar to a garden shed, when the doors are thrown open and the wind is allowed through it makes strange eerie howling noises. This is due to a space in the rear of the structure in which a stringed instrument known as an “Aeolian harp” is placed, as the wind hits the strings, they vibrate thus giving the building its distinctive name.

If you have any further information about the Mellor Family of Rainow, Cheshire, please do get in touch.

Remembrance: The fallen soldiers of Didsbury

I’ve just returned from the Remembrance Sunday service in Didsbury where I live. My family have lived in Didsbury for several hundred years. Every street has a story. Every shop, every graveyard and every pub has the fingerprints of my ancestors all over them.

The pub I do most of my drinking in these days used to be called The Albert. It was renamed several years ago and is now called The Fletcher Moss. It’s changed a bit obviously, but it’ll always be the pub my Grandad and his mates marched off to war from.

Remembrance: The fallen soldiers of Didsbury

I never knew my Grandad, but I know he didn’t like to talk about the war. He fought in North Africa and then spent the last couple of years of the war in the London ambulance service, pulling bodies and parts of bodies out of the crumbled remains of houses. I think it takes a special, brave, resilient kind of person to be able to do that job day in and day out. I never met him, but I’m bloody proud of him.

Today I remember two of my Great Uncles, (John) Robert Atherton (1886-1915) and Stanley Harold Atherton (1899-1918). Their names are on the Didsbury War Memorial and also on the plaque at Didsbury CofE School. John Robert is also commemorated on the memorial plaque at St James Church, Didsbury. They both died in the First World War; young boys who met their deaths hundreds and thousands of miles from home.

Remembrance: The fallen soldiers of Didsbury
Robert Atherton is listed on the War Memorial st St James Church, Didsbury

I can only imagine the horror these boys, these children were met with when they found themselves on the battlefield. They weren’t even cut down in their prime; they were years off their prime. These boys didn’t leave behind them wives or girlfriends or children. They were still young men themselves, doing their bit for King and country.

Robert Atherton joined the Manchester Regiment 11th (Service) Battalion based in Ashton-under-Lyne. On 3oth June 1915 they sailed from Liverpool on the Aquitania and Empress of Great Britain. on 6-7th August 1915 they landed at Suvla Bay, Gallaopli. It was there on 17th August 1915 that Private John Atherton, a former Coal Carter from Didsbury, lost his life. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.

To my knowledge there are no pictures of Robert and Stanley in existence. As far as I’m aware their descendants locally boil down to me and my brother. No one remembers the boys who died in 1915 and 1918. The only thing we have to remember them are their names on a memorial. Theirs is not a unique story, but it’s a story most families have in their past. War touches everyone and continues to aftershock down through the generations.

I also remember William Henry Harrow (1917-1944), nephew of Robert and Stanley Atherton. William is my first cousin twice removed and he died in the Netherlands fighting in WW2. William was a Rifleman in the 6th Battalion of the Carmeronians (Scottish Rifles) and was born in Didsbury. He died of wounds and is buried at Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. I don’t know much about him and I’ve only recently discovered that he is related to me.

Today at the Remembrance Service at the Didsbury War Memorial there were a few veterans. Every year there are fewer of these proud, straight-backed men wiping away a tear, laying wreaths and saluting old pals. At the Remembrance Service today there were maybe 200 or more people, a great turn out and main roads were closed to accommodate the crowds.

People often ask who will remember when the veterans have gone. Well there were 200 or more people there today who will remember them, and that’s just in a small-ish village in South Manchester.

To me, maybe it’s because I’m a mother, I prefer to remember not just that whole swathes of youth died for their country and for our freedoms today. I prefer to remember them as individuals, each with a story, no matter how short. So tonight when I go to the pub, I’ll walk past the house where Robert and Stanley were born, order a pint at the bar where my Grandad ordered his pint, and I will remember them.

We will remember them.

Remembrance: The fallen soldiers of Didsbury

If anyone has any information about Robert Atherton, Stanley Harold Atherton, William Henry Harrow or their relatives, I’d be very interested in hearing from you. Please do get in touch. Thank you.