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Staffordshire good neighbour scheme.

Good Neighbour Schemes.

The Community Council, with the support of Staffordshire County Council, has been involved over the past 12 months in a project seeking to address the issue of isolation and loneliness, often experienced by elderly, disabled or vulnerable people. This is a pilot project helping 6 local communities scattered around the county to set up their own Good Neighbour Schemes.
They are now trying to establish how many other communities in Staffordshire would like to set up similar schemes in their area and would be pleased to hear whether this is something that would be of interest to anyone in our community.
The current schemes are funded until August 2014 and they do not currently have any commitments from funders after this date, but if a substantial number of communities express a desire to have a scheme in their area, this may help us to secure the necessary resources to set up new schemes.

Anyone interested can contact the community council through this website by commenting on this page below.

Nixons of Brown Edge and beyond

The Nixon Family

During my exploration of Brown Edge families and how we all seem to be related, I came across an interesting article about one of the Quaker founders of America who are directly related to the Nixons of Brown Edge.

This discovery came about when I was tracing the Nixon family. Most of you will remember Clarence Nixon the joiner from the Rocks, who I remember well, making and fitting the large wooden doors at the front of Turners Bus Garage. Incidentally they are still there and now must be 50 years old.

My interest in the Nixons was due to the fact that Clarence was married to Lucy Turner, Great Granddaughter of James Turner (my Great Great Grandfather).

Anyway tracing the Nixons back was relatively easy, as they were all local. Clarence’s (and Maurice his brother from whom Philip and Brian descend) Father was Robert born in Biddulph in 1889.

Roberts father was Luke Nixon who married into the Biddulph family, back another couple of generations untill you get to a Thomas marrying an Olive Bailey born 1793 who passed away aged 89 and was buried in Horton.  We can’t go any further back with the Nixons but I went another generation with Olive and noticed her mother was a Farnsworth who died in Pensylvania. Which I thought was worth a bit of digging around.

Her father was a Adonijah Farnsworth born in 1743 New Jersey and go back 2 more generations and you get to a Thomas Farnsworth who lived at Chesterfield, New Jersey.  I searched for him and the following fascinating record was available.

 

The first record in America of Thomas Farnsworth is that of his arrival in Philadelphia on the ship Kent in 1677. The passengers came up the river to Burlington in boats. There Thomas acquired land by deed on 2 Apr 1681 at the site of what is now known as Bordentown but then known as Farnsworth’s Landing, his holdings eventually extending to over 800 acres. The history of Thomas and his family of those days is best described in the “History of Burlington and Mercer Counties,” by E.M. Woodward and J.F. Hageman, published 1883 as follows:

“All we know of him prior to his leaving England is the statement in Bessee’s “Sufferings and Persecutions of the Quakers” that he was sent to prison on the 3d day of the 7th month, 1665 for attending a meeting of the Quakers at Tupton, near North Wingfield, Derbyshire. It is also stated that his brother, Richard Farnsworth of TickhilI, Yorkshire, was tried and imprisoned for not taking off his hat to a justice.

Thomas’wife, Susanna came over in Dec of the next year in the ship “Shield,” the first vessel that came up the Delaware to Burlington. She brought with her their children and two servants. Her coming was well known among the settlers, and looked for with some interest as she was a Quaker preacher in the old country of note.

The servants she brought were hardly to wait on her and perform menial service but more probably men who had contracted to work a certain length of time in consideration of their passage being paid and food found From the fact of his being this expense his purchase of five hundred acres of ground within a few years of his landing and his not disposing of his house and lot in Burlington until the 19th of May, 1685, when he conveyed it by deed to Anthony Morris, it is to be presumed he was possessed of considerable means for one in those early days and in a new country….

Farnsworth House

Farsnworth House rebuilt on site of original

As tradesmen in all new countries are scarce and in demand, and as the population is scattered, and as we find his children different localities, the probabilities are that he “whipped the cat” at his trade of shoemaking for several years before he located on his tract where Bordentown now stands. Where he built his cabin there is not known but he certainly did not reside there permanently prior to 1682-83. Careful investigation proves that Farnsworth’s cabin, (the first house built in Bordentown), was situated on the bluff near the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Prince Street, very near and perhaps on the spot upon which the frame house now stands (1883).


Thomas Farnsworth served as constable of Chesterfield (named after Chesterfield, Derbyshire by Farnsworth) township in 1689. His name never again appears on the township records and sometime between that year and 1693 he died, leaving his widow, Susannah, sons Thomas, John, Samuel, Daniel, and Nathaniel. By his will, dated 8th of the 11th month, January (O.S.), 1889 he left all his real and personal property to his wife, to rent or sell as she might deem best. But in case of her marrying again, his real estate was to be held in trust for his children and she was to have in lieu thereof twenty pounds. She was sole executrix. The will was witnessed by William Quicksall and Elizabeth Foulks Davenport (blimey those Davenports got everywhere!) and proved in 1693. The will of Susanna Farnsworth was proved 23 Jan 1713/4.

The Farnsworths proved to be very significant in the history of America.

nixon

Figure 2   The Farnsworth Charge at Gettysburg

So Mr Ivor Nixon of the Rocks, Brown Edge, your eighth great grandfather was Thomas Farnsworth,  a Quaker from Yorkshire who left for a new life and became one of the founding few.

Sandy Lane Closed

 

Notices have been posted at Bank End and the bottom of Hough Hill advising that Sandy Lane will be closed on 3rd January for work by Virgin Media.

Thomas Telford

Thomas Telford

Now most of you might have heard about Thomas Telford who was famous for many fantastic Civil Engineering feats but you might not be aware of his connection to Norton Green and also the significant engineering work he undertook here in Brown Edge.

Telford was born in Westerkirk, Scotland on August 9, 1757. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a stonemason, and some of his earliest work can still be seen on the bridge across the river Esk in Langholm in the Scottish borders. He worked for a time in Edinburgh and in 1782 he moved to London where (after meeting architects Robert Adam and Sir William Chambers) he was involved in building additions to Somerset House. Two years later he found work at Portsmouth dockyard and – although still largely self-taught – was extending his talents to the specification, design and management of building projects


In 1787, through his wealthy patron William Pulteney, he became Surveyor of Public Works for Shropshire, England. At this time, ‘civil engineering’ was a discipline still in its infancy, so Telford was set on establishing himself as an architect. His projects included renovation of Shrewsbury’s Castle, the town’s prison (during planning of which he met leading prison reformer John Howard), a church (St Mary Magdalene) in Bridgnorth and another at Madeley Shropshire

As county surveyor, Telford was also responsible for bridges. In 1790 he designed a bridge carrying the London-Holyhead road over the Severn river at Montford, the first of some 40 bridges he built in Shropshire, including major crossings of the Severn at Buildwas, Bridgnorth and Bewdley. The Buildwas bridge was Telford’s first iron bridge (he was heavily influenced by the famous bridge at Ironbridge), but was 30 ft (10 m) wider in span and half the weight. As his engineering prowess grew, Telford was to return to this material again and again.
Telford’s reputation as a civil engineer meant he was constantly consulted on numerous other projects. These included water supply works for Liverpool, improvements to London’s docklands and the rebuilding of London Bridge (c.1800).
Telford devised a masterplan to improve communications in the Highlands of Scotland, a massive project that was to last some 20 years. It included the building of the Caledonian Canal along the Great Glen (and redesign of sections of the Crinan Canal), some 920 miles of new roads, over a thousand new bridges, numerous harbour improvements (including works at Aberdeen, Dundee, Peterhead and Banff, to name but four), and 32 new churches.
Telford was consulted in 1806 by the King of Sweden about the construction of a canal between Gothenburg and Stockholm. His plans were adopted and construction of the Göta canal began in 1810. Telford travelled to Sweden at that time to oversee some of the more important initial excavations.

The ‘Colossus of Roads’
During his later years, Telford was responsible for rebuilding sections of the London to Holyhead road (a task completed by his assistant of ten years, John MacNeill; today, the route is the A5 trunk road). Between London and Shrewsbury, most of the work amounted to improvements (including the Archway cutting in north London and improvements at Barnet and South Mimms). Beyond Shrewsbury, and especially beyond Llangollen, the work often involved building a highway from scratch. Notable features of this section of the route include the iron bridge across the River Conwy at Betws-y-Coed, the ascent from there to Capel Curig and then the descent from the pass of Nant Ffrancon towards Bangor.
On the island of Anglesey a new embankment across the Stanley Sands to Holyhead was constructed, but the crossing of the Menai Straits was the most formidable challenge, finally overcome by the Menai Suspension Bridge (1819-1826). The steel from this bridge being made at Foundry Square, Norton Green. Some scholars have questioned this but when I was a boy my uncle Gordon (the font of lots of history and information) told me that on the side of one of the pillars there is a plaque that states this to be true.
Telford also worked on the North Wales coast road between Chester and Bangor, including another major suspension bridge at Conwy, opened later the same year as its counterpart at Menai.
Late career

Other works by Telford include the St Katharine Docks (1824-1828) close to Tower Bridge in central London, the second Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal (1827), and the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (today part of the Shropshire Union Canal) – started in May 1826 but finished, after Telford’s death, in January 1835. At the time of its construction in 1829, Galton Bridge was the longest single span in the world.
This is where we have our Brown Edge connection with Telford as in 1823 he was commissioned to create a new reservoir at Knypersley to provide more water for the Trent and Mersey canal via the Caldon CanalO

Work began in 1827 and included the demolition of the old Knypersley Mill


The surveying work was started from the stone pillar at the Greenway Bank end of the dam. The Benchmark point is still there and Telfords own hand would have touched the surface as he was undertaking the survey.

I have always been told that  Norton Green iron was chosen for the then largest bridge in the world. In fact Menai bridge records show that the contract to supply the chains went to Mr Hazeldene at Upper Magna Shropshire.  So why this continual rumour?  Telford obviously had links with the local families due to his time at Knypersley. The foundry at Norton Green was owned by the Cope family and the Heath family who owned another iron and steel foundry at Knypersley   I suspect that the main order was placed with Mr Hazeldene and he sub contracted it out to other suppliers one of which was Copes of Norton Green.

Rev Sturdee

The Reverend Sturdee

Rev Edwin John Sturdee was Vicar of this parish for only a few years at the turn of the 19th century.  It is now clear that he was a very learned and travelled man even spending time in Australia.

In undertaking some research  it became apparent that he was slightly disappointed in being given the living here at Brown Edge and as he had many learned friends at Oxford he would quite regularly speak there.  He appeared to be very supportive of women’s issues.  This feeling of Brown Edge being perhaps not the heights to which he  imagined himself of being capable, I think explains why he talks so positively of Brown Edge, overemphasising the capabilities of the parish.220px-Frederick_Doveton_Sturdee

His Nephew however was indeed a hero of the nation.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Frederick Charles Doveton Sturdee, 1st Baronet, GCB, KCMG, CVO (9 June 1859 – 7 May 1925)

On 8 December 1914, whilst coaling at Stanley, he was surprised by the squadron of Graf Maximilian von Spee and the Battle of the Falkland Islands ensued. Von Spee, finding that he was engaged with a superior force, was forced to flee. In the course of the pursuit Sturdee’s forces sank the entire German group, with the exception of the light cruiser Dresden, which was not hunted down until some months later. For this victory Sturdee was created baronet in January 1916. He later commanded the Fourth Battle Squadron at the Battle of Jutland, becoming admiral in 1917.

After the War he became Commander-in-Chief, The Nore, and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet in 1921. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 1921 New Year Honours, having already been appointed Knight Commander.

Sturdee retired to Camberley, in Surrey, and died there on 7 May 1925. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Peter’s Church in nearby Frimley. His gravestone incorporates a cross made from the timbers of Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory. His grandson William Staveley Sturdee was also an Admiral of the Fleet.