Up The Junction!

Updated: Oct 28

Pre-op purdah is over. Pre-op assessment on Wednesday went fine. Blood pressure? OK. BMI? OK. Lungs? OK. ECG? OK. Past medical history? OK. Just the pre-op Covid test on Friday to go before meeting the knife on Monday.


How'd the Covid test go? I didn't get that far as a phone call on Thursday evening informed me that the operation was cancelled. The theatre and ward were being taken out of use and staff redeployed to Covid-related activities. Frustrating, but their skills would certainly be of more benefit to others in greater need than they would be in attending to my elective surgery.


No longer having to avoid getting a simple sniffle I could now at least go out for a spin. The training plan is suggesting something not too strenuous which, around these parts, really means a choice of one thing - a gentle spin down the Derwent valley on the A6 and a not quite so gentle spin back up it.


With summertime coming to an end I put all the clocks back an hour before going to bed but failed to inform my suprachiasmatic nuclei that I was switching back to local sun time and so was wide awake at 5.30. Time enough for a couple of coffees before still setting out for an earlier than planned start.


My feet were certainly of the opinion that summertime had ended as I spun my way down the Via Gellia, passing the former hostelries of the Lilies and Pig of Lead, to join the A6 at Cromford. My plan was to ride south to Homesford Cottage before retracing my route back to Cromford and then continuing through Matlock Bath and Matlock before embarking on the climb back home.


There were quite a few folk out and about, who had either forgotten to change their clocks or whose internal timepieces held as much inertia as mine, as I made my way south into a bit of a headwind. At least I'll have a little assistance on the way home. A small group of riders at least a generation younger than me passed just as I arrived at Homesford Cottage.


The former Homesford Cottage Inn.

Homesford Cottage, up until about a decade ago, used to be the Homesford Cottage Inn, serving Hardy Hanson's Kimberley Ales. With its pub sign featuring a steam engine pulling a train of carriages I frequently passed it, and it's another of those boozers that I'd always intended popping into but left it too late to do so.


In operation by at least 1841 when William Hoades is given in the census as a publican at Longway Bank, the Homesford Cottage seems to have had a number of Williams in charge. Among them were William Bowler who was there when Kelly's 1912 directory was produced and he was followed by William Elliott who had taken over by the middle of the decade. He probably fancied an easier life than that of a coal hewer in one of Derbyshire's mines in Swanwick, the job he was doing at the time of the previous year's census. His wife, Alice, came from Lea - just up the road.



c1915. I believe the little girl is Walter Elliott's daughter, Edna.

William didn't find the life of a publican to be totally without hassle as the Manchester Guardian carries a report of him being fined for breaking the 1919 Profiteering Act:


£15 fine for 1d overcharge


A fine of £15 for an overcharge of one penny on a bottle of stout and for failure to exhibit a price list in the taproom was imposed by Wirksworth (Derbyshire) magistrate yesterday on William Elliot, landlord of the Homesford Cottage Inn, near Ambergate.


William died in 1927 but Alice continued at the pub. The 1932 edition of Kelly lists her as a 'caterer for cyclists and campers. Moderate prices.' and she was still the licensee in 1939, living there with daughter Edna, her husband and their children.


The Homesford Cottage continued to trade until about 2009 but now earns its living offering self-catering holiday accommodation


Kimberley houses often used to advertise their wares with advertising on their roofs. Or on those across the road.


The Homesford Cottage isn't the only bygone boozer along that stretch of the A6, although it is the most noticeable. This old Ordnance Survey map, published in 1897, shows an inn a little to the north, where the Cromford & High Peak Railway met the Cromford Canal at the appropriately-named Railwayend.


Ordnance Survey one inch map. Revised 1895, published 1897.

Sitting on a patch of ground between the Cromford Canal and the Midland Railway was a farmhouse which was in existence as Hobson's House when the canal was surveyed in 1811. By at least 1841 it had been let to a Samuel Brown who's described as a publican in that year's census and Pigot's direcctory of the following year names the establishment as the Navigation Inn.


Samuel is put into Wirksworth's churchyard in 1848 and his son Francis takes over the reins. Sometime between the publication of Pigot's directory in 1842 and the census nine years later the inn has changed its name to the Junction. Whether this was Samuel's doing or Francis's I don't know, but the establishment remains under the Brown family's control to the end with Francis's son, James, in charge when it finally meets its fate.


In 1881 the Midland Railway set about straightening the line of its track and the Junction was a casualty, being demolished in the process. That's right, it was demolished in 1882, which poses the question, just how diligent was the Ordnance Survey with its 1895 revision of the map which it published in 1897?


The inn may be gone but some reference to the Brown family remains. The swing bridge over the canal, which provided pedestrian access to the Junction, is still known as Brown's Bridge and is visible in this aerial view of the site. The former location of the Junction, now surrounded by a sewage treatment works, is marked with a cross.


X marks the spot! This Google Earth image is ©2020 Getmapping plc, Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Maxar Technologies.

Which brings us back to the Covid situation. If things aren't sorted by the time that winter arrives the country is likely to really be up the junction and in deep shit.



The shots of Homesford Cottage in 2008 are © David Lally and are reused under this license. The map extract is reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland and reused under this license.


The satellite imagery from Google Earth is ©2020 Getmapping plc, Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Maxar Technologies and is reused under Google's terms and conditions.



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