During our day in Leek (mentioned in a former post), we also re-visited two favourite places.
This post is written with some help from the information booklets I obtained from All Saint’s Church, Leek and Brindley’s Mill, Leek.
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
This church was designed by Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912) and is considered the finest of all the sixteen he worked on. He mainly designed great houses and public buildings – 200 are attributed to him – including ‘Cragside’ in Northumberland and New Scotland Yard in London, the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Police. He followed A W N Pugin’s methods and principles which included honesty in the use of materials and the use of local building stone wherever possible. He also worked for some years as assistant to George Edmund Street and many of Street’s principles can be seen in Shaw’s churches – very low chancel screens without superstructure and the altar visible from all parts of the building.
This was the third time we had visited this church and each time we have been there we have been welcomed and shown wonderful hospitality by the parishioners who open their church to visitors twice a week, provide coffee, tea and biscuits and lots of information and chat.
The stained glass windows are sumptuously coloured.
Another painting in the Lady Chapel and on the south wall is of St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds. Unfortunately the photographs I took were not good enough as the light levels were poor.
Our next port of call was to Brindley’s Mill. As it is on a busy road I was unable to take a photograph of the outside of the mill so I have found a picture of it on-line – thanks to the Peak District On-line site.
I also found a photograph of what it looked like before successive roadworks raised the road level and caused the demolition of part of the building in 1948. This photograph comes from the Staffordshire Past Track site.
James Brindley was born in 1716, the eldest of the seven children of a Derbyshire small farmer. Brindley had very little schooling as he was kept very busy on the farm. The family moved to Leek when he was ten and at the age of seventeen he was apprenticed to a millwright near Macclesfield in Cheshire. He had a wonderful memory and stored up all sorts of useful information that he gleaned on his trips with journeymen to a variety of mills in the area. After two years his grasp of mechanical detail was remarked on by a mill manager and when the millwright to whom he was apprenticed failed to produce machinery for a new paper mill, Brindley, on his own initiative, visited the mill fifty miles away to see what was required. He was subsequently put in charge of the work which was completed satisfactorily. He thereafter looked after the business until the millwright’s death. Brindley set up his own millwright’s business in 1742 at the age of 26. He opened up another workshop in the Potteries where, after working with master potters and colliery owners he became known as ‘The Schemer’. His mill work continued including water mills for corn, flint and textiles, all requiring different internal machinery. Where no water was available he used ‘fire engines’ as early steam pumps were known. He patented improvements to existing machines. He replaced water by wind in Burslem for grinding flint for the Wedgewoods.
Brindley built the cornmill in Leek in 1752 on a site where a mill had stood since Domesday, on the River Churnet.
In constructing this mill he showed a variety of skills – a millwright’s knowledge of mechanics and hydraulics was accompanied by the ability to create a stylish building using new weight-bearing techniques. He also exhibited civil engineering skills when constructing the weir by compacting clay, as he did later when forming the beds of the canals he made. His canals transformed the way goods were transported across England and he became very famous. Because of his lifestyle – constant travelling, overwork and also the onset of diabetes – he died at the early age of 56.
Four photos of the tentering gear (three sets of different vintages are bolted to the ceiling). They adjust the gaps between the millstones on the floor above to control the fineness of the flour.
This is a theodolite level – a spirit level above a telescope above a compass – and was the most advanced piece of technology which he used in planning his canals.
The following day, which was Sunday, we attended church at All Saints and had coffee afterwards in their large church room in the undercroft. Such friendly people!
We then travelled to Manchester and spent some time visiting my mother-in-law in her house. Probably the last time I will see the house, though I didn’t realise it then.