Review of ‘Behind the View: Life & Times in Cressbrook - a Derbyshire Mill Village’, by Various Authors

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 19th December 2005, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

Life & times in Cressbrook - a Derbyshire mill village

by Various Authors
ISBN 0-9551750-0-3 (2005)

This is one of our last reviews for 2005 and it is a pleasure to go out on such a high note. The book has been created by the people of Cressbrook and produced by Carole Perks, Chris Gilbert and Hilary Stephens. It is a wonderful tribute to such a small village, bringing together images of country life and surprisingly nostalgic recollections of working at t' mill.

Other first-hand memories recall the huge 20th-century changes to farming, schooling, travel and housing - often a vexed subject within the Peak Park. As one mum sadly observes: ' ... one or two, they would have put their roots down in Cressbrook if they could afford it, but they can't.'

Back Cover

Some remember Ravenstor before it became a Youth Hostel; others have lived to see the unusual progress of Cressbrook Hall, from wartime headquarters of the Colombia Picture Company to pig farm to convent, and now a private residence.

Skilful interviews (recorded while telephones rang, coal was being chucked on the fire and cats were being sick behind sofas) have produced real gems: 'hardworking and steadfast Cressbrook girls were, not overly flirtatious'; 'He first came up on holiday ... the bug of Cressbrook bit him'; 'it was so cold one Christmas morning ... it froze the saliva in the band instruments'; 'the pigs were slaughtered on the farm ... by Mr Bacon'; 'it spoils you, you know, when you've had some home made stuff and you buy the shop stuff now.'

Places such as Tideswell, Litton, Ashford, Longstone, Bakewell and Buxton all have a role in the story and it seems no subject is left unturned or unphotographed, whether the valley railroad, evacuees, Cressbrook band, flora and fauna, galas and well dressings, or tourists.

The funds for this two-year project were provided through a grant from the Local Heritage Initiative (LHI), a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nationwide Building Society and the Countryside Agency.

The proportions of the book did take a bit of getting used to, probably chosen to take advantage of the sweeping colour photograph on the cover, as well as other full-page illustrations. Otherwise, full marks to Cressbrook.

Review by Julie Bunting

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