A HISTORY OF CALVELEY

The name Calveley is of Anglo Saxon origin. Calveley was part of Mercia and the lord of the manor was Morkar who lived at Acton (Actune). He was brother to Edwin the last lord of Mercia.

There are no Roman remains in the area but it was traversed by Watling Street (or Pavement) which has developed into the A51.
The name is recorded as Kalverle (1216) Calueleg (1287) and Calveleye (1235).  After this it becomes Calveley which means ‘pasture for calves’.

Between 1341 to 1364 land in the area of Calveley was bestowed upon Sir Hugh de Calveley. He was 7 feet tall and had the nickname The Frenchman as he commanded the free-lancers in the wars in Brittany 1341-1346 and joined with the Black Prince in 1367. He became Prince of Aquitaine and Governor of the Channel Islands and there is a statue of him at Mont Orgueil Castle on the island of Jersey. He founded and endowed a college at Bunbury Church as the church is located on the Two Saints Way which lies between the cathedrals of Chester and Lichfield.  His tomb is located in Bunbury Church.

Sir Hugh de Calveley



The date of the building of Calveley Hall is unknown however it was demolished before 1800 and replaced soon after. The occupiers of the hall were the Calveley family and it transferred to the Davenports by marriage. In the early 1900’s the owner was Major John Julius Jersey de Knoop JP and family. Calveley Church was licensed in 1839 and in 1911 Mrs de Knoop refurbished Calveley Church, which had originally been a tithe barn built middle of the 17th Centry, by adding a vestry from a converted a coach house. The most recent owners were the Midwood family who held a fete every summer.

Calveley Hall Chapel

  
Calveley Hall was used during both World Wars. In WW1 it was used, with the church, as a hospital and in WW2 the family moved out so it could be used to house evacuees. The people of Calveley made these people welcome by supplying much needed clothes and furniture. The hall suffered severely from dry rot and was mostly demolished in 1951. 

Calveley Hall

 
Calveley School was built in 1874 by Mr Hitchen.  The school was built first followed by the school house. The first headmaster was Mr William Gore who originated from Knowsley. When the school first opened the farmers sent their sons – some of whom were eighteen. Mr Gore was just 21.  

The Vernwy Reservoir was completed in 1890 and the water was piped to Liverpool. The aqueduct passed under the A51 near Four Lane Ends close to Tarporley. The law stated that water had to be supplied to any district through which the aqueduct passed which meant that Calveley has been supplied with piped water since 1890’s.

The tithe map of 1851 shows the area of Calveley to be mostly agricultural. The main landowner is stated to be ‘Guardians of A H Davenport’ with tenants with the surnames of Foster, Welch, Trickett, Walpole, Tomlinson, Major, Lakeland, Bourne and Plumbley. Other landowners along the Nantwich Road (A51) being Craven, Vickers and Bowen who owned the public house and the surrounding land. By1875 the Davenport Arms is clearly marked as is the front line of Masons Row. In more recent times the landlord was Bob Hutchinson who was a boxer who kept all his cups on display in the pub.

Calveley Railway Station was opened to passengers in 1840 after the Irish Mail contract was transferred to the railway in 1839. The canal was completed by 1893. Industry was able to develop at the junction of the two. The 1851 map shows a sawmill at which silk bobbins were made from the withies growing around the River Gowy. These were transported to Macclesfield, the centre of the silk weaving industry, by canal barge. The sawmill was situated beside the canal and the railway as was the coal yard with both transferring their wares to and from the railway and the canal. The sawmill closed and was taken over by United Dairies who collected milk from the farms of Cheshire and prepared it prior to transportation all over the UK by rail. Many of the locals were employed at the dairies. There were at least 20 lorry drivers in addition to the dairy and laboratory staff. Many people will remember the always cheerful Assistant Station Master Lance Ledwards. With his assistance the local children were allowed to go and play and ride on the footplates of the railway engines whilst in the dairy sidings. Every boy’s dream! The dairy closed in 1965 and the station closed to passengers in 1960 with goods traffic continuing until 1964. In the 1970’s the signal box at Calveley was ‘manned’ by the first female signaller in the UK namely Mrs Violet Latham. The signal box was demolished in the early 80’s. The canal is still much in use for pleasure craft aided by the water and waste facilities which are available at Calveley.

United Dairies


King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon visited the station and Calveley Church in 1947.

In the 1930’s and 40’s the blacksmith working from the smithy at Barretts Green was Mr Cyril Welch. A general store was located at Ivy House. Calveley also had a saddler named Tom Smith and a butchery on Station Road. The houses known as Southview and Northview were formerly The Railway Inn. In 1894 The Railway Inn was run by Hugh Challinor who was also a blacksmith. According to the newspapers of the time it was a small beer house with a smithy attached in which Hugh shod horses. It was a den of thieves and poachers and contributed to the downfall of a "young clean living youth" and there was trouble with tramps and also a barge woman with a melodeon (a type of accordion).

The decision to build RAF Calveley, now called Wardle Airfield, was taken in December 1940 and it was built by Peter Lind Ltd between 1941 and 1942. It was to be one of a number of airfields intended to boost the fighter defence of Merseyside and had three concrete runways of between 1,100 yards (1,000 m) and 1,400 yards (1,300 m).  By the time the airfield was completed, however, the need for fighter defences for the North-West of England had declined, so by March 1942 it was decided to use it for training, with the station opening as a Relief Landing Ground for No. 5 Service Training Flying School (SFTS) based at RAF Ternhill in Shropshire. Calveley was the only one of Ternhill's satellites to have hard runways.

In May 1943 RAF Calveley became the main base for RAF No. 17 (P)AFU, equipped with 174 Miles Master  trainers, which moved from RAF Watton in Norfolk. To accommodate the unit's large number of aircraft, RAF Wrexham (Borras) served as a satellite airfield. The last known visitor to the airfield was in the early 1950’s when a Spitfire was forced to land due to engine failure.

The following observation was penned around 1870:-

A little farther lies Calvely, long the property of that illustrious family, now likewise lost.  My road lay along the low unpleasant lane that led towards Nantwich; the prospect frequently deformed by the great fosses of the unfortunate canal, falling in on each side of the road; for it crosses at Barbridge, and is finished from thence to Nantwich.  This refers to the  A51!.

CALVELEY TODAY

The parish of Calveley still retains much of its rural character although, as in many places throughout the UK, this is under threat from both commercial and residential development. Of the 107 houses in the parish, roughly half of these are concentrated along the A51 which runs along the southern boundary. The majority of these are clustered around the site of what was Calveley Station. These include a relatively new development of houses built in the 1990s, known as The Chantry. The rest of the houses are scattered along the “back lanes”. The majority of houses within the parish are well maintained and many have been altered and extended. All of the houses are in private ownership.

The 2011 census identified a population of 280 living in Calveley. Of these 64 (22.8%) are aged 0-19 and 44 (15.7%) are aged 64+. Recent times have seen an increase in the number of people who travel to work outside the parish and the immediate area.

A primary school is located in a rural setting on the back lanes. Calveley Primary School provides first stage education for children from the parish and the surrounding area. Set in a predominantly Victorian building, the school has been much extended and modernised in recent times. This is a small school with five Teachers and four Teaching Assistants. The intake for 2013 academic year was 11 pupils giving a total attendance of 92 children. Numbers fluctuate at Calveley School in response to local changes in population profile.

Calveley Hall Chapel (known locally as Calveley Church) (C of E), once the chapel to Calveley Hall provides the only licensed place of religious and spiritual worship in the parish. It is a “sister church” to St. Boniface in Bunbury and holds services twice per month. Congregations have dwindled dramatically in recent years.

The majority of land in the parish continues to be given over to farming, the principal use being dairy, however, the number of working farms has reduced in recent times from eleven to seven. In some cases redundant farm buildings have been converted to dwellings in common with many areas throughout Cheshire. A small number of businesses have been established in Calveley in recent times including an auto repair company, a turkey egg export “farm”, a petrol station, a coal yard and most recently a retail store serving the farming and equestrian community. A public house, situated on the A51, The Davenport Arms once offered food and drink but although the building still stands this amenity has recently ceased to trade. The Shropshire Union Canal borders the south western corner of the parish and is very popular with boaters. There is a boat servicing facility situated in a 19th Century warehouse, operated by the Canal and Rivers Trust.

Calveley’s location on the A51 ensures excellent connectivity to a number of nearby centres that provide significant employment opportunities including Manchester, Chester, Crewe, Liverpool and Stoke-on Trent. A regular bus service connects Calveley to Nantwich and Chester. Crewe’s railway station, with fast links to Birmingham and London, and Manchester Airport are both an easy drive away. Consequently, Calveley has become a popular place for commuters to live.