Etherow history

After Bob Abell sent me a picture he had found on the internet of the George Andrews fire brigade I thought it would be of interest to the members and casual viewers to see how we came to have such a wonderful sailing location at Etherow country park!.
This report by our roving reporter Bob Abell

The Compstall complex of mills was built in the 1820`s by George Andrews, but an earlier waterwheel powered mill was built downstream by his father in 1804

The Andrews family must have been very prosperous to afford the new site at Compstall as it would have taken years to build from a green field site
The water system was very ambitious for it's day! The river Etherow must have been damned somewhere in order to build the giant stone built weir with it`s sluice gates and tunnels etc.
What a job this must have been without the machinery we have these days

The lakes complete with numerous sluice gates, must have been dug out by hundreds of canal navvies, including the connecting canal from the weir.
The lakes were the main power supply to the mill`s three waterwheels.
One wheel was called The Lily Wheel and was the largest wheel in Great Britain, being 50 feet in diameter by 19 feet wide.
Another view of big Lily.

At it`s peak, the mill employed 2000 workers!

The village of Compstall was built by George Andrew`s workforce, including housing for 800 workers, complete with St Pauls church, school, library, village Hall and fire station. 

Brave men going into places where every one else is running out of, but it does remind you a bit of the Keystone cop's doesn't it
If you look at side of the Post Office now, you will recognise the door in this picture which is still there.
Early picture of the Compstall Post Office

Co-op store was opened in 1851, further shops followed. The first church was the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. The Andrews family built the multi-purpose Athenaeum in 1865. St Paul's Church of England church was built in the Early English style.
Steam and gas lighting were installed in the mill by 1890, and these were replaced by
electricity in 1915.
The local street names are all named after his children, eg..Montague Street, Andrew Street, Edith Street etc.
Montague Street

 Later he built a Gas Works and installed gas lighting in the village.
Unusual view of the lake, see gasometer in left foreground.

 He had his own coal mine near the Glossop road, where the coal was brought down from the hills to the canal via a steep wagon incline and loaded into the barges.
Part of coal mine workings.

Plaque about the coal mining activities.

One of the barges can still be seen today, rotting away near the weir.
Photographed to-day,16.2.2013

 I was told that there was a second barge alongside in floatable condition but was removed for some reason, but could easily have sunk?.
  Been removed into the woods I'm told by Head Warden,Duckie.
 Bob found it but it's put there for a reason so won't let on where!, but there it is.

The coal also powered the mill`s steam engines in later years.

 He built the magnificent palatial Etherow Hall in 1825, which is still in existence today, hidden from the public gaze, but is now converted to luxury flats
Don't see many of those car's about these day's

A more modern view

Sign up in Keg Woodlands.
The Keg Cottage.

George Andrews must have been a very forward thinking person of his day, similar to Samuel Oldknow, somebody Ernocroft? or even Isambard Brunel and  is buried in the church nearby, with an impressive monument to his family name.

You will all have seen this shop coming out of the park past the post office, it's still there and not changed much at all.

Did you know the Etherow Country Park has only been open to the public as recently as 1967!.........Or thereabouts

Our club must have been formed a short while after that in 1967 

The club meeting were held in Compstall Social club in the early days
This picture taken after it was closed in, Ken and Son Adrian say it was 1998
Ken still got his first membership card and badge, £3.50 and a £1 joining fee! not bad in to-day's money
Happy day's say's Ken and Bob.

And sadly demolished in 2010, there are some nice new flats built there now, so at least it improves the look of the area.

The foregoing article is based on memory only by Bob Abell with apologies for any inaccurate observations.

Plaque just to the side of the Post office.

So now you know that George Andrew's is the key figure in the fact that we and the Etherow Yacht sailing Club have the sailing club waters we enjoy to-day at Etherow, perhaps our next trophy should be named after him?.

I'd like to thank Bob for his report, pictures and research into this article, though I'm sure he didn't personally take the old photographs, he's not quite that old!.


  1. An excellent article and a very interesting subject

    Thank you, Duckie for posting the story and photo arrangement
    A pleasure to read that will be here for years to come


    1. That old car is/was a Hillman Minx, brilliant car, very comfy with bench seats front and rear. took me to and from Portsmouth in 4 hours each way every weekend and that was when the M6 ended at Birmingham.

  2. It`s awesome to think that the barges were built before the Great Eastern!
    Similar construction too!



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