Ashton's local history

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In 1871 two cottages in the hamlet of Stubshaw Cross were destroyed in an explosion and one of the inhabitants later died from injuries sustained. The cause was the accidental ignition of a barrel of gunpowder, it being the practice for colliers to prepare their own charges at home for use in the local colliery. A number of local residents were retailers of gunpowder and were permitted by law to store up to two hundred pounds of it without a licence, while any person could carry up to fifty pounds. The explosion occurred in the home of one such retailer when a spark from a lamp fell into an open barrel containg twenty-five pounds of gunpowder.

Following expression of concern by the Coroner a public enquiry was instituted, and discovered that a number of cottages in Stubshaw were storing large amounts of explosive, not to mention further properties between Stubshaw and Ashton. This eventually resulted in the Explosives Act of 1875 which introduced a system of licensing and inspection for the sale of gunpowder.

Supplied by Ian Winstanley. Source: The Ashton Powder Keg by Bob Blakeman.

Stock Charities

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries local residents established and supported charities for the relief of the poor in Ashton-in-Makerfield. These provided an annual supply of clothing to the needy of the district. The charities were the Ashton Linen Stock, the Ashton Coat Stock and the Ashton Breeches Stock, and their accounts were recorded in four tablets of stone which were removed from St Thomas's Church when it was rebuilt in 1892-3, and are now located in the stairway entrance to Ashton Town Hall.

The accounts record that a substantial proportion of the charitable assets were derived from fields at Stubshaw Cross.

David McKendrick

Three Sisters

Sketch by Ray Davies

A sketch of the Three Sisters site in the '40s/'50s. It's from memory and is subject to debate re exact locations.

- Ray Davies

David Brown's research of the nineteenth century censuses showing the inhabitants of Stubshaw Cross and postulating their location.

A list of those who were born, married or died at Stubshaw Cross or the Poor Ground during the first part of the nineteenth century (extracted from the St Thomas Parish Records).

The Turnpike

The upkeep of many main roads between towns was at one time overseen by Turnpike trusts. The Liverpool to Prescot turnpike was established in 1726, and by 1753 had been extended to include the road between St Helens and Ashton. A toll gate was set up near the entrance to Ashton and road repairs started in 1759. The toll gate was moved closer to St Helens in 1762 and in the same year it was planned to cover the whole road from St Helens to Four-Lane Ends in Ashton with gravel. It was also decided to widen the road by one yard where possible and repair the horse causeway, which was a road for horses which ran alongside the main road. Despite this the Ashton Road was still in a poor state so a further Act was passed in 1771 to allow the Liverpool-Prescot Turnpike Trust to have a general fund to repair all roads it looked after, rather than having separate funds for each road.

A local trust was established in 1806 to maintain the highway through Ashton now known as the A58. The turnpike between Ashton and Platt Bridge was two and a half miles in length, and guarded by a toll gate at Stubshaw Cross, which is shown on the 1842 map. There is reference in the censuses to a toll gate house situated there.

Eventually local authorities and central government were able to look after roads as people paid rates and this led to the end of turnpikes, as money no longer had to be raised by tolls to keep the roads repaired. The Liverpool turnpike ended in November 1871.

AiMi - Ashton Community Information The contents of this site contain contributions from local people and due acknowledgements are given where requested. The site is sponsored by AiM.i.