Hazel Grove Local History
Hazel Grove was originally an area made up from the hamlets of Norbury, Torkington and Bosden. It became know as Bullock Smithy and later this name was changed to Hazel Grove. The major industries in Bullock Smithy included coaching, weaving and coal mining. The information in this section has been put together from books available at the library including ‘This History of Hazel Grove’ by D.H. Trowsdale .
Bullock Smithy was the original name for what is now Hazel Grove. The name came about after Richard Bullock was granted a lease in 1560 by John Torkington in order to establish a smithy. As the smithy became more established, people started to use the name to refer to the area around the smithy and eventually the whole village – which originally comprised of the hamlets of Norbury, Torkington and Bosden.
Bullock Smithy which was referred to in deeds, books and maps of that time is thought to have stood on the edge of Torkington Park near the junction of Torkington Road and London Road. The smithy stood at the junction of several roads. As well as the main Stockport to Macclesfield road, there were also roads to Torkington, Disley and Bramhall.
The smithy supplied and fitted iron shoes for horses and leather shoes for bullocks and would also repair carts and farming implements.
Stagecoaches also ran through the village and in 1754 the ‘Flying Coach’ took 4 days to complete the trip from Manchester to London. Users paid tolls at the ‘Toll Gates’ in order to pay for repairs to the turnpike. Stagecoaches would stop at Bullock Smithy to change horses and for the refreshment of the passengers. Coaching Inns such as The Rising Sun, Red Lion and The Grapes were built to cater for these people.
Around 1750, Bullock Smithy became an important posting hall and John Wesley described it as ‘One of the most famous villages in the country for all manner of wickedness. It is thought he was referring to gambling, cock fighting and bull and dog fighting.
After being known as Bullock Smithy for 250 years, the name was officially changed at a public meeting in 1836 to Hazel Grove. It was unanimous and without a single dissenting vote. The locals had been referring to the place as Hazel Grove for over 30 years and probably got the name from a small hamlet towards High Lane called Hessel Grove.
The Three Hamlets of Hazel Grove
The name ‘Norbury’ is at least 900 years old and is thought to have meant ‘Northern manor house’ – perhaps a reference to it being situated on the northern side of Macclesfield Forrest. The earliest reference to Norbury appears in the 1086 domesday book as follows :-
‘The same Bigot holds Nordberie. Brun held it and was a freeman. There is one hide that pays geld. There is land for four ploughs. A radman there with three brothers has one plough. There is an acre of meadow, wood five leagues long and three leagues wide and three hays there. It was worth 10 shillings; now 3 shillings. He found it waste.’
According to D H Trowsdale in his book “This History of Hazel Grove” this roughly translates to ” a man called Bigot (de Logas) was the tenant of Norbury. There were about 120 acres (or as many as one plough could cultivate in a year) on which he pays land tax. There is further land enough for four ploughs. A man there working on roads, (or in care of horses), with three men allowed cottages in exchange for poultry, eggs and labour, have one plough.The wood is about 7 miles long and 4 miles wide, and it has deer fences or enclosures. It was laid waste by the Normans during the conquest.”
Thomas de Norburie owned the manor of Norbury in 1190 and at that time it included the hamlets of Norbury, Torkington and Offerton and it is thought that it was passed to his son Richard de Norburie.
In 1220 the manor was granted to the Hydes who held it for the next 500 years. During this time their neighbours ‘of standing’ would have included :-
The Torkingtons of Torkington
The Davenports of Bramhall
The Breretons of Bosden
The Leghs of Lyme
The Warrens of Poynton
The Davenports of Woodford
Apparantly the Hydes and Breretons were on different sides to the Davenports and Warrens during the civil war of 1644.
A manor house existed since at least the 13th century and it is known that this was rebuilt in 1559 by a descendant of Robert de Hyde.
It is thought that Bosden was originally part of Handforth and later became known as Handforth-cum-Bosden. The word comes from ‘Bosa’s Hill’ which was originally spelt Bosedun and there was a family living there with the name of Bosden up to the 13th century.
In 1640 Bosden was owned by Sir Thomas Brereton of Handforth who had to mortgage Handforth-cum-Bosden to pay a fine of £2,000 to the Warrens.
By 1811, the population of Handforth with Bosden was 1315 and they lived in 265 houses.
A lot of the early place names came from peoples names and it is thought that the word Torkington came from ‘ Turec’s enclosure or farmstead’ who probably lived there over 1,000 years ago.
A few interesting dates include :-
1225 – Richard who was the son of Simon de Torkington granted land to Robert, the son of William de Torkington.
1286 – Richard the son of Richard de Torkington was fined for letting his animals graze in Macclesfield Forest.
1527 – The manor of Torkington was recorded as being worth £12.8.8d.
1560 – Richard Bullock leased some land from John Torkington and built a smithy which led to the first name of Hazel Grove – Bullock Smithy.
Industrial History of Hazel Grove
Farming is the oldest industry in the village but by the 18th century weaving had become a major employer. The first cotton factory was built by Henry Marsland in 1761 in Bosden where hand spinning and loom weaving was carried out.
Thomas Moseley started manufacturing silk in 1810 and weaving became the main industry in the village. People worked from home and many family members were engaged in producing cuts of silk which were sent to Macclesfield for making up.
‘Carriers’ fetched the work from Macclesfield and put it out to waevers in the village. Many others walked the 9 miles to Macclesfield to collect their own silk and then carried it another 9 miles back.
More mills were built on Torkington Road, Vine Street and Commercial Road and by 1800 there were more than 700 weavers in the village.
This was another important industry and there was Norbury Pit on High Lane, The Poynton pits and a small pit behind the Rising Sun. Coal was sent to Stockport and to Macclesfield using the canal which was completed in 1831.
Colliers from Bullock Smithy would walk to the pits forming many footpaths which are still used today.
While the men worked in the pits the wives worked on the weaving and many families made enough money to build their own houses.
Other Hazel Grove History
Inns and Pubs
Most of the Inns of Bullock Smithy date from the 17th and 18th centuries when coaches stopped off to change horses and refresh their passengers. The coaches ran from Manchester to London.
By 1824 there were many inns and pubs in the village including :-
The Queens Head
Red Lion and Posting House
The Bulls Head
The Three Tuns
The Hazel Grove
The Fox and Goose
Rising Sun inn and Posting House
Dog and Partridge
In 1590 the Hydes of Norbury Hall built Norbury Chapel of Ease which was the first religious building in the village. It was built of brick and stood opposite the hall. There was no steeple so its bell was hung from a tree in the chapel yard.