Backford, Mollington and District Local History Society create first book

PUBLISHED: 18:17 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013

Chester's Eastgate Clock

Chester's Eastgate Clock

Digging deep into history Backford, Mollington and District Local History Society members have uprooted the past of their villages and created their first book. <br/>WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH

If a man was shot in the leg at a council meeting and two clergymen were mistakenly arrested for it, it would likely be front page news. But in 1838 when a duel took place at a meeting between two MPs in Backford
it only attracted half the column space of the village's Sunday School Festival.

Accounts of this and many other essays about the villages surrounding Chester are told in Beneath the Surface: Historical essays from the Cheshire Townships of Lea-by-Backford, Backford, Caughall, Chorlton and Mollington. It is the result of months of work and hours of research by the
members of the Backford, Mollington and District Local History Society.

The books contains 20 essays covering varied topics from some of the fantastic old buildings, the discovery of an old Roman road and the ghosts of Backford Hall.


'One of our members who wrote a piece about Backford Hall being haunted has moved to New Zealand since,' joked Ann Marie Curtis, assistant secretary of the society. 'I think she needed to get away from the scary ghosts.'

The members of the society, formed in 2002, share a passion about their villages and homes, many of which have a long history. John Hess, chairman of the group, for example lives in Chorlton Hall, a beautiful Georgian mansion where the society held the book launch event. It was only after the group started looking into the lives of the former residents of these villages that they thought about producing a book.

Ann Marie explained: 'Many of our members started looking at the families who used to live here and started writing them up. They managed to
marry them up with photographs and presented them as small lectures. Someone suggested this research would make a great book and so we looked into doing it.'

The members have discovered many interesting facts and objects including Roman coins while researching the old Roman road that goes through Mollington. They also looked at the impact of the railways on the village and some of the essays look in detail at the houses. Karen and Malcolm Sibson wrote a piece about the old Lea Smithy where they live. Their essay includes photocopies of old invoices written by one of the
blacksmiths and tenancy documents as well as photographs of past residents.

For Ann Marie, who hopes to have one of her essays published in a second volume being planned, it was a fascinating insight into the past:
'It's been a great way to learn. I found out there used to be a well at the back of my house that the village used for water.

Unfortunately, the original building that stood where my house is was torn down some years ago but it was fantastic reading about what would have been here. Being able to get a look at all these old documents really has been a privilege.

'We're particularly pleased that although we were only founded seven years ago, we have had more articles published in historical journals than many similar societies established for much longer. This book is selling very well.We already have plans for a second volume and there is still plenty of history to investigate.'

Beneath the Surface: Historical essays from the Cheshire Townships of Lea-by-Backford, Backford, Caughall, Chorlton and Mollington, is priced 16 in hardback and 12 in paperback (excl 3 p&p). Available at Borders bookstore, Cheshire Oaks, or by calling Mike Richardson on 01244 851346

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