The history of Strines
The area known as Strines was in medieval times part of a large hunting forest - the Forest of the Peak - covering much of the Peak District and surrounding area. Eventually the more useful areas were taken over (assarted) by local families. Thus began the origins of the Strines Hall Estate.
These families gradually prospered and became the local gentry, eventually in Elizabethan times building
fine stone houses for themselves. It was the Clayton family which owned most of the surrounding land and
built the present hall in the late 16th century. By the mid 17th century this had passed into the hands of the
Staffords of “The Shaw” an adjacent estate. However by 1740 the whole had been absorbed into the
Egerton Estate (Tatton Park) who continued ownership until 1926. By the late 18th century Strines Hall had
been split into two dwellings, ‘Georgianised’ and rented out. A tenant at this time was William Wright who is
credited with starting the Strines Hall Printing Company in 1792.
The rise of the textile industry in the North West by the late C18th created an increased demand for calico printing, (a general term describing printing of all woven materials). Strines was one of several companies set up in the New Mills area developing printing techniques. A works was built around Strines Hall where printing was carried out by hand using engraved wooden blocks. A 3-storey “block shop” was constructed in the early C19th, housing the Works clock which was built by the works mechanic, Thomas Bruce. The top floor was eventually used as a school and also served as a chapel and library. This area, known as Strines Yard became a hive of industry, Strines Hall itself being eventually split into 7 dwellings.
The Works expanded rapidly housing new mechanised roller printing machines. The two millponds and the dovecote were built at this time circa 1830. These, some of the farm buildings, and the small building at the Works entrance are all that remain. All the buildings were built from random stone quarried locally probably using lime mortar from the Marple lime kilns. Everything was then limewashed. Development was gradual and piecemeal. By the late 19th century the whole site had been filled up with later brick construction including a tall octagonal brick chimney. Eventually some development took place on the other side of the river including a 240 foot chimney. Two iron bridges connected the site.
The works always had a relatively philanthropic attitude to its workers under the management of enlightened employers such as Joseph Sidebotham who encouraged educational and recreational activities. A large library was created, an infants school, a brass band with sporting activities such as cricket and hockey (all described in entertaining detail in the Strines Journal).
Eventually most of the calico printers amalgamated to form the Calico Printers Association (CPA). It was decided to concentrate production mainly at a new site at Strines which was ideally situated with a large area of land available. A new works was therefore built (1925) across the river eventually superceding the original. Recreational activities were not forgotten however and a sports pavilion, bowling green and three tennis courts were provided. This facility was handed over to the residents in a deed creating the Strines Recreation Ground Charity which continues to administer facilities for the local community.