Above: Errwood Hall pictured in its prime. The Grimshawes were certainly a very weatlthy family. So perhaps it’s not surprising that there were rumours of buried treasure!
My thanks to R. S-S from the Whaley Bridge Local History Forum for this wonderful tale…
As you know I have had a long standing interest in Errwood Hall and the Grimhaw family. An acquaintance of mine, who may no longer be with us, had the same interest. His name was Harold Clarke and, if he is still around, I am sure he wouldn’t mind me telling his tale.
Harold was a loveable rogue. He always had something to sell and was said to be a pretty thief. But he used his experience of breaking and entering to become a burglar-alarm fitter. He fitted one for me and it was brilliant. Cash only of course.
Once while doing some casual work (he never had a proper job), he was helping to paint Disley police station. He had noticed there was a cell in the rear and he asked the desk sergeant if it was any good.
The desk sergeant said nobody had ever broken out and Harold bet him that he could. The bet was set at £5 – a lot in those days. The sergeant took him on but he had to go through the same procedure as anyone else: that is he was searched thoroughly and locked in. There were two huge locks in the iron door.
The policemen laughed
He said to the officer: “When I open the cell do you want me to open the connecting door or go out round the back and come in through the front?” The policemen laughed and told Harold they would let him out after they had had their lunch.
Before the officers had taken the first bite of their sandwiches they heard a large clunk and looked at each other; Harold had picked one of the locks and a couple of seconds later he had the other one undone. He quickly picked the lock between the cell and the office and walked in saying: “£5 please”.
Some time later Harold was up before the beak for some offence and was found guilty and sentenced to three months. He told the Magistrate he could do that standing on his head to which the Magistrate said: “In that case we will double it to enable you to get back on your feet again”.
I’ll be at the church!
Harold said: “You can’t do that, my sister Joan is getting married at Taxal Church in four months”. He was taken down but shouted: “I’ll be at the church, Joan”. And sure enough, on the wedding day he was hiding up a tree, opposite the church.
So getting back to Errwood. At the rear of the Hall were the graves for the dogs, and right down in the stream was a safe. Harold went down and picked the lock. If there was anything in it he never told me but he re-locked it and left it there. Not long after it had gone.
In the early ’70s there was a huge mound at the front of the Hall and it had a large monkey puzzle tree growing on top of it. It was rather strange to say the least and Harold was convinced the Grimshaw’s had buried some treasure within the mound.
He wanted to go up with some copper tubes and knock them in, twisting them every few inches so they didn’t get stuck. Then we were to push a rod through to see if there were any signs of buried treasure.
I never went, and didn’t go to the Hall for a few years. When I did the monkey puzzle had gone and so had the mound. Whether it was anything to do with Harold I have no idea but it was a coincidence all the same.
I only saw Harold a couple of times after that and he had a job working for the police opening safes that had been recovered from dubious places.
I asked if it was ok to use Harold’s real name. R. S-S replied;
Everyone of a certain age in WB will know of him. There is just one addition to the story and it is this:
One night when Harold was, let’s say on the run, and was hiding in the Goyt Valley he was caught by two of the Brocklehurst family who used to farm the Valley. They told him they were going to hand him in to the local police station.
Harold replied thus: “OK boys but if I escape later tonight I’ll come back here and set fire to all your haystacks and tip all you milk churns over. Your choice”. Needless to say they let him go.
I also asked him where the pet graves where so I could get a better idea of where the safe was;
As regards to the pets’ graves; they didn’t have stone headstones like the family. I think they were simple wooden crosses with names such as Lucky and Towser written on them. I imagine they were thrown away after the Hall finally closed.
Some time in the future I’ll let you know where some of the stone and the window frames went to after the Hall closed.