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Reddish Vale Country Park

Edna Calder 

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My Story-Edna Carder (nee Gray)

reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder

On a cold wet day in May 2007, we my husband and I set out from the Brittania Hotel in Stockport to visit my childhood home in Wordsworth Road. The golf course at the back of my home is still there but barely visible because of the many fully grown trees. It was also interesting to see that the old railway line is now part of the Trans Pennine Trail. It is fifty-five years since I last set foot in this part of the world. At that time it was a heavily industrialized area of belching chimneys and putrid-smelling gas works. Now it has been transformed into housing estates interspersed with green areas.

As I walked from the bus stop along Mill Lane I was excited to find that the houses stopped and there was a sign saying Reddish Vale Nature Reserve. Each step of the the way was a step back in time.

Dad, Alfred John Gray (Jack) 1917-2001; Mam, Lydia (Nee Bridge) Born 1926; sister Cynthia 1945 and myself, born 1943 used to visit my Grandparents at Tame House in the Vale every weekend and holidays. During the war years Mam would push me in a pram along Longford Road, Reddish Vale and return with the bottom of the pram loaded with apples and other produce from Tame House.

reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder

Grandad, George Henry Gray 25.12.1887 - 11.12.1970 was a Research Chemist and Manager of the Reddish Vale Calico Print Works (CPA) for 20 years from 1932 to 1952 when the CPA closed. He became British Hurdles Champion in 1915 and represented Great Britain at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. He and my Gran, Eleanor Gray (nee Macdonald) 1889-1968 had three children, Ruth, 1915-2001, Alfred John (Jack) 1917-2001, my father, and Eleanor, 1924-2004. 

reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder

Tame House seemed very big to me in those days and I remember the aroma of freshly baked bread and other goodies pervading the house. Gran made all her delicious creations using a gas stove in the tiny scullery and a large cooking range situated in the kitchen. Main meals were served in the dining room, which could be closed-off from the lounge room by a large folding wooden panel. I remember the dining room table with tureens full of vegetables from the very large Tame House garden. I especially enjoyed new potatoes dotted in sweet smelling mint. Grandad stood at the head of the table sharpening his carving knife before slicing up the meat.

During the war years when meat was in short supply, Dad's homing pigeons were eaten and rabbits also became a regular meal. When Dad returned home in 1945, after serving in the Royal Navy he was dismayed to find all his pigeons gone.

reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder

A gardener was employed at Tame House until after the war years and also a cleaner who left at the commencement of the war to join the Land Army. Grandad at this time, worked at the CPA and in the evening joined many other older men in the ARP (air raid precaution) helping to put out fires, etc after bombs fell and ensuring blackout curtains were kept shut in homes and works.

Imagination and things around us were our play. Cynthia and I spent many happy hours in the large dining/lounge room inventing and play acting characters from Ancient Greece, King Arthur and his knights  

reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder

The garden at Tame House and beyond were magic places. When the days were fine we played on the wide expanse of lawn in front of the house. In autumn many fragrant coloured leaves became a source of building materials for a pretend and toilet brushes were oars. We were not permitted to venture beyond the garden without adult supervision though one day, I ventured forth to the very end of the garden accross the expanse of lawn, through the extensive vegetable garden and orchard and stopped there as I had come to a wall. I was amazed to find on looking over the wall and down, the factory buildings of the CPA and a very large chimney.

and Robin Hood whilst the grown ups chatted in the cosy kitchen/casual room, warmed by the black cooking range. There was a time as a 7 year old and after having my tonsils removed I stayed at Tame House and Dad's old room became mine. Dad's architectural drawings and model buildings stood on top of a large tall boy and through the window I could see a spectacular view of the viaduct. The large trees were not there then. The house lit by gas was quite dark at night and it always became quite a challenge to walk past huge horns that overhung the approach to the stairs in the main entrance. 

reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder

It has been so exciting to rediscover this beautiful area in the heart of a busy bustling metropolis and to find Tame House had been rescued from destruction and lovingly restored to its former glory.

we continued our journey of discovery and found the old mill ponds alive with beautiful water birds and insects, the swiftly flowing River Tame, banks now adorned with wildflowers and the imposing, grand structure of the viaduct. Our Grandparents and parents helped us to discover the wildlife, birds and many species of wildflowers which started a romance with nature we have never forgotten and which continues to this day.

 

As we started back, this time along the North Reddish Longford Rd in the now falling rain, a couple of songs came back to me which Grandad used to play on his windup gramophone and which we used to sing on our way home along this road, sometimes under a canopy of stars, sometimes in the twilight of long summer days.

 

reddish vale country park, tame house, edna calder

Show me the way to go home I am tired and want to go to bed

I had a little drink about an hour ago and its gone right to my head

On land or sea or foam

Wherever we may roam

You will always see me singing this song

Show me the way to go home.

And would you believe!

 

Chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck chicken

Lay a little egg for me

Chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck chicken

I want one for my tea

I haven't had an egg since Easter

And now it's half past three

So

Chuck, chuck, chuck, chuck chicken

Lay a little egg for me

 

As we went under the old railway bridge I marvelled at the days experiences and I am so grateful for the chance to visit and see the Vale as it is today. A very precious area of the English Countryside has been preserved for future generations.

Edna Carder

Tame House 1932, click on images to enlarge

George and Eleanor Gray, 1952

Tame House, 1934

Gardener at Tame House, 1932

Jack Gray, 1938

Tame House garden with the Printworks in the background, 1932

Tame House vegetable garden, 1932, this is now the site of the Community Garden