Philip Rayner Remembers- Life in Comberbach
29th March 1989
Mr Rayner (83) and his sister Audrey (Mrs Hyett) (77) came to my house for a chat in 1989.
Me: Where were you born?
Phil: I was born at 27 Cogshall Lane but I lived at Glaslyn, Marbury Road before I moved to Morecambe to live with my son.
Me: What shops were in the village when you were young?
Phil: There was 'The Top Shop' in Cogshall Lane, run by the Woodcocks. Mr Woodcock was Superintendent of the Sunday School at the Chapel. Mrs Porter ran it in 1914. She was a niece or something of the Woodcocks. It was a General Store.
Mr T B Taylor had a Cobblers and shoe shop at Willow Cottage opposite Mulberry House. That became Wyatt's shop.
The Post Office was where Old Post Office Cottage is now. You collected your letters on a Sunday morning and got your newspaper which cost 1d!
There was a Butcher's Shop in Chapel Cottages in the house nearest the road where Mrs Maddocks lived later on. It was Wrights or Booths from Lostock, I think.
Me: Any more shops?
Phil: The present Post Office was an off-licence. They used to sell barrels of ale! It was a small holding. (Lightfoots?)
Me: What about the Smithy?
Phil : That was run by Watt (Walter) Hulme. He always had two fires going, for shoeing. He was a very clever Blacksmith and Engineer.
The Undertaker's was where Fred Moores' Builders' Yard is now, on Budworth Lane. (Note: No longer there!) Amos Johnson and his son Albert ran that.
Mount Pleasant was Cowaps, a Tailors and Drapers' Shop.
Me: What did your Grandfather do?
Phil: Thomas Rayner was a Tailor. He lived at the Tailors' House in Great Budworth and made livery for all the big houses. The Rayners came from Bolton, originally. There was a Shoemaker in Antrobus called Joseph Hindley who charged £2 for a pair of shoes stitched by hand. He lived at Hammersmith Cottages. John Hindley lived at Gamekeepers' Cottage in Comberbach. He was the Gamekeeper at Marbury Hall.
Me: Who else lived in Comberbach then?
Phil: There was a row of thatched cottages on the left hand side of Senna Lane. Joe Atkinson lived there with his Mother and Father. Charlie Smith lived there and Joe Hazlehurst, Father of the Florist. Then there was Alf Cocksey the Stonemason, and Tom Keen, Mrs Hartley's Father, who lived in the middle one. Mrs Doris White (Colin White's Mother) was born in the house next to the Cockseys. The end one was a tied cottage belonging to the Clarks of Cogshall. I can't remember who lived there. It may have been Billy Clark. Jack Platt and his wife had two children and his Mother and Father lived next door.
Me: Where did you go to school, Mr Rayner?
Phil: I went to Comberbach School but there were only two classes so at 8 you had to go to Winnington, Barnton or Great Budworth.
Me: Who were the teachers?
Phil: Miss Lynny Taylor was the Teacher. She became Mrs Alan Frith. Then there was Miss Annie Jones, the daughter of the Head Gardener at Marbury Hall. About 1910 the Head was Miss Schofield and there was a Lilian Robinson.
Audrey: I remember Major Boyd from Frandley House. I've lived at Frandley for 24 years now but I lived in Hartford before that. I used to come to Comberbach WI when I was in Hartford.
Me: What about transport?
Phil: There were no buses then. It was all horses. Jack Percival had a van with windows and he charged 6d a time, return, to Northwich. Dr Love at Great Budworth had a steam car and Ralph Platt was the chauffeur.
Me: Who lived at Cogshall Hall?
Phil: Seymour Mead. He had shops in Altrincham. Then Kemps and Nicolson. He was a director of ICI. Then during the war it was turned into flats.
Audrey: I was an ambulance driver during the war. We were based at Hartford. Everyone was sent to the Spinner Pavilion but one bomb fell very close to it!
Phil: I knew Ted Hughes, Doug's father. Elizabeth Lees had the Spinner then. When I was a lad the Avenue Inn was a pub and a shop. Hitchens ran it but we called it 'Scratchins' Shop'.
If someone was playing up rough in the pub he'd say, "This is the Avenue Inn but I'm 'avin' you out!"
Me: What happened to Comberbach House at the top of Gibb Hill?
Phil: It was owned by Newall. He had a Decorator's business in Knutsford. Tom Ford from Brownslow House bought it and built houses on it. There used to be a huge yucca plant in the garden.
Me: What about Sandicroft?
Phil: That was Lady Barnes School. It was owned by Major Renwick. Boxhedge was owned by the Boumphreys. Marbury Mill was worked until the Second World War. The Masseys had it and then the Byroms. There was a policeman's house down by the Iossons, before those semis were built. Later on the village bobby was based at Great Budworth.
Me: I notice that Glaslyn had a water pump in the garden.
Phil: Yes, that was one of the village pumps. I nearly fell in so I had it covered over. There was a pump by the present Post Office.
Fred Thurlwell, June Parker's Father, was born at Senna Lane Farm. Fred's father worked for Eaton Williams and Fred's parents lived at Senna Lane Farm.
Where the GPO building is now was Holly Bush Farm. Mrs Pimlott (nee Curbishley) lived in a cottage joined onto the farm.
Me: Did you mind when houses were built behind Glaslyn?
Phil: The Moss Field was zoned for housing for a long time. Joseph Mathers was a County Councillor. No, I didn't mind.
Me: What about Marbury Mere?
Phil: We used to go night-skating with a tilley lamp. The mere used to freeze over quite often but it wasn't often thick enough for skating. There was one Easter in March when it was frozen for more than a week.
Me: Tell me about the Bowling Club Green.
Phil: George Woodcock, Harold's father gave some land for the Memorial Hall and George Walker gave some too. The bowling green was laid by Albert Lever and Fred Evans.
Me: Did you get up to any mischief as a boy in the village?
Phil: We used to play all sorts of tricks on people. We'd put a button on a piece of string on the window and pull the string so it rattled on the window. There was a gate across the yard by the old Post Office. We'd put a parcel down with string attached to it so that when they picked it up it pulled the string.
Me: Thanks, Phil for sharing all your memories of Comberbach with us.