Almost in the extreme south western corner of Greater Manchester, in the affluent borough of Trafford, is the tiny village of Warburton. A few metres further on and it would be in Cheshire. Warburton isn’t one of these picture perfect villages you get deeper into Cheshire. It’s on the back road from Altrincham to Warrington and, in the rush hours, it gets used as a way of avoiding the motorways. Just to the north is the Manchester Ship Canal. You can’t see it from the village but a bridge over it connects the Warrington side to the Altrincham side. It’s narrow and is a ‘pay to cross’ bridge. It has been like that since the canal was built over 100 years ago and, in England we like our history and tradition, and no one has thought to bring it up to date for 21st century traffic. The bridge is owned by the same company that owns the massive Trafford Centre, further along the canal, and it’s touch and go which of those enterprises makes them most money.
Hit Warburton at the wrong time and you will be in traffic chaos. I once got stuck there when one of those huge wagons, using his Satnav to avoid the busy motorways and, not knowing the area, tried to cross Warburton Bridge in the rush hour. He got as far as the toll booth before he realisesd it was futile (bridge way too narrow and would have collapsed into the canal under his weight) by which time he had to back along the narrow lanes with 100s of cars behind him shuffling back to Lymm in one direction and Altrincham in another. It took ages.
No such problems this afternoon though when I decided to take the pretty way home over the bridge, through Warburton and across the Dunham Massey estate. I even had time to stop and take pictures of this cottage. It’s an old one and has a thatched roof. Thatched roofs are, as well as looking attractive, waterproof and a great way to roof a building if you can cope with all the little creatures that move in as the roof ages. A person who fixes these roofs is called a thatcher. Someone in Margaret Thatcher’s family, in the distant past, must have done this. There are sufficient houses in the English countryside for this to be a viable profession. The roofs have to be renewed every 40 or 50 years. And new houses are being built with thatched roofs as thatch is a eco friendly way of roofing a building.
The thatch on this roof was being replaced. You can see the guy doing it in some of the pictures.
Across the road was the remains of the old village cross. Most villages had one marking the centre of the settlement. The plinth is still there but the cross has gone in the past. In front of it is the old stocks. In the past rough, on the spot, justice was the thing, especially for minor crimes. The miscreant would be put on trial, found guilty and have his/her legs (and possibly arms) fastened into the stocks for a period of time. Apart from the embarrassment, the villagers would have a high old time throwing mud, decaying fruit and vegetables and other noxious substances (use your imagination) at the criminal. Good fun would be had by, almost, all.