Well they say that George Martin was the fifth Beatle and that without him the greatest group in the history of pop music would not have reached the dizzy heights of stardom in the 1960s. But what about our own ‘Fab Four’: the Heatons of Mersey, Moor, Norris and Chapel – and our Fifth Heaton? It’s there in the background and, like George Martin was, it’s a bit different to the other four.
Ecclesiastically, Reddish even shares its name with its four near neighbours. Parish registers for St Mary’s Church show that in 1864, Reddish was a ‘township and chapelry’ in Manchester and was known as Heaton-Reddish. Even today, the official name given to this fine old parish church sitting on Reddish Road is St Mary Heaton, Heaton Reddish.
So, what would our Fifth Heaton bring to the Fab Four across the border of Manchester Road? Undoubtedly its picturesque Vale, which sits in land falling away from the neat clusters of red brick housing to the east of Reddish Road, far outstrips any open green space to be found in The Heatons. Reddish Vale offers a pleasant escape from the busy suburban environment surrounding it and its long history supports tales of farming, milling, textile manufacturing and quarrying. Take a walk into its green and pleasant surroundings and you enter a world which has been shaped over centuries and contains reminders of the part it has played in the lives of ordinary people. Sadly, some of the buildings, such as River View Cottages, are no longer there. Condemned as unfit for habitation in 1961, their last inhabitants were two sisters, Mrs Emma Adshead and Mrs Nelly Ridgway, both in their eighties, who were reluctant to move from the peace and tranquillity of River View. They had lived there all their lives, their father having been employed at the Calico Print Works which once stood in the Vale. Similarly, the nine houses which stood under the railway viaduct were pulled down in 1914 despite offering a service to local walkers who were sold refreshments by their enterprising inhabitants.
Dominating the landscape today is the imposing 17 arched viaduct, built by the Sheffield and Midland Railways Committee in order to complete their Romiley to Ashbury line. The viaduct drastically changed the outlook of the valley and it is said that a local witch, who was unhappy with it being built, put a curse on anyone who dared count the arches.
Reddish Vale Farm has been associated with the area since the 19th century, offering riding lessons, visits to the small animal farm and refreshments served in the cosy tea-room on the farm estate where adults can relax as children chase and feed the ducks.
Nestling against the banks of the River Tame is Reddish Vale Golf Club. Over a hundred years ago Frank William Reed was hitting golf balls on a piece of land, known as Wilcock Eye. So taken was he with the surroundings that he purchased an imposing manor house, South Cliffe, leased a hundred acres of land, and commissioned Dr Alistair McKenzie to inspect the area and design the course. McKenzie went on to become one of the era’s foremost golf course designers, constructing courses across the world including the Augusta National, home of the US Open. Today the course must rank as one of the most picturesque in the country as its fairways twist and turn around the Tame and in many quarters is considered to be one of the top 100 courses in the world.
So next time you fancy a day out, but you don’t want to pack the kids in the car and drive for miles, pay Reddish and its Vale a visit. You’ll find all sorts happening there from family fun days and nature walks through to organised archaeological digs. You can even play some Beatles tracks in the car on the way.
Find out more about this fascinating local area at www.reddishvalecountrypark.com