Skip to content

The children of Comberbach Primary School would love to invite you into School to share your memories of the local area. There will be refreshments and cakes for you to enjoy whilst sharing your photos, maps and stories about how things used to be in the past.

If you know of anyone else that would be able to share their knowledge with the children then please bring them along.
It is fine just to drop in, but if you could let us know for numbers that would be great, please either email: ysimpson@comberbach.cheshire.sch.uk or ring the office on 01606 891336.
Look forward to meeting and sharing your amazing memories at our café.
Year 3 and 4 Comberbach Primary School.

 Memories Café

A picture of the (last remaining) shop in Senna Lane in the 1950s. The Post Office was originally on Marbury Road but a post by Susan Lamb told that her dad's mum ran the Post Office and her mothers family a 'sort of' chippy in Senna Lane. This shop was a chippy when the yanks were at Marbury so maybe that is how this came to be the Post Office.

The information I have so far is that in the 1911 census the occupant was Mr Lightfoot (Farmer). In Phillip Rayners 'memories', he states  The present Post Office was an off-licence. They used to sell barrels of ale! It was a small holding. (Lightfoot's?)

In 1932 the property was auctioned as part of the Marbury Estate and was described as A Most Desirable Smallholding. The Tenant was Mr H M Whittaker.

The property was owned by a Miss Roberts in the 60s, The Foys retired about 1980, The Meakins took over and sold to the Andrews who retired in 1988 and the Wrights retired in 1992 but there are still a few gaps.

Any more information?

The meaning of Comberbach is the 'Valley of the Sparkling Stream', and was part of the Manor of Arley; which belonged to the Warburton Family.

"Cheshire Charter of 1180"....
In an early Cheshire Charter of 1180, the land was granted to 'The Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem' by 'John The Constable'. It was previously held by William, Clerk of Comberbach.

'John The Constable' died in Palestine in 1190 and Gilbert Brito granted land in Comberbach to Adam de Dutton who was an ancestor of the Warburtons. Adam de Dutton died in about 1205.

"Bagshaw's Directory" ....
In Bagshaw's Directory of 1850, he says ... ' the Manor of Comberbach was given by John de Lacy to Adam Dutton. Adam gave half of the estate to Norton Priory ' .

"Knights of St. John" ....
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, these lands were granted to John Grimsditch who sold most of them to Robert Eaton. The other half was given to 'The Knights of St. John', on condition that it was held by the Comberbach Family.

"Comberbach Hall" ....
On Friday 8th July 1932 much of the Marbury Estate which consisted of several houses, many cottages in the village and a large amount of land ( Ivy Lodge Farm included ) was sold at auction. It eventually came into the hands of several landowners, the principal ones being:

  • J.H.S.Barry Esq. Mr William Eaton, Mrs Catherine Nanfan
  • Peter Jackson Esq. and the Lord of the Manor, Mr Warburton.
House renamed Manor Cottage

Comberbach Hall [now renamed Manor Cottage] - Private Dwelling.

The old village school Log Book can be viewed at Chester Record Office. 'Lady Mary Smith-Barry' of Marbury Hall took a personal interest in the pupils, entertaining them at The Hall and visiting the school.

Local Historian & Genealogist - Lyn McCulloch
Follow Lyn's Blog Spot here.

My brother, John found the Comberbach website and he recognised the mystery girl in Ian Iossons archive. The one with his two sisters. It brought back many happy memories of our time in the village in the 1950s and early 60s.
 
We lived next door to the Iossons at Lyndwood on Marbury Road. Our parents, Muriel and Charles Lamb had met in the village outside the chapel when they were teenagers. Dad’s mum was the postmistress at the shop on the Moss. In those days there was a stable behind the business for the pony and trap that was used to deliver telegrams although my father was allowed a pushbike. My mothers’ family were running a “sort of” chip shop next to the chapel. I remember my post-war childhood as idyllic. We used to play in the woods at the back of the house, Charlie’s Rough, all day because of course it only rained at night in those days. I hope the starlings are still magnificent. The swimming pool at Marbury was a treat if Sheena would take me. There was the choir at the chapel with Mr Cowup and the Busy Bees sewing group in the Sunday School on a Friday night. Then there was the fete. Mrs Nurden (she had a Princess Leia hairstyle long before Star Wars) spent many hours teaching us to be flower girls to the strains of the Trumpet Voluntary played on an old portable gramophone. Even today, when I hear the opening bars they always bring on an urge to scatter rose petals. I seemed to spend my formative years dressed up for various village activities. There was the Coronation of course and for some reason, there are photos of me as a Welsh Girl. My brother (who was and still is, 6 years younger) also endured years of fancy dress competitions and being taken to The Red Rec to get slide burns on his legs. Happy days!
 
We both attended the village primary school with Miss Johnson as headmistress. It should have been preserved as a model of care and education. I’m sure that many people of our age remember the big fires in the winter and the drying wellies and the milk so cold it hurt your eyes to drink it.
 
I suppose we were at the end of an era. There was a wheelwright who constructed the most beautiful working carts and vehicles; there was a man on a bike who looked after the verges; the bowling green; the hunt would ride through; there were few cars. I know that because when I was clearly getting under my mum’s feet I was sent to sit on the wall outside the house and gather car numbers. Such excitement.
 
As I get older and hopefully wiser I feel privileged to have had my childhood in such a safe and happy village and I’m really pleased that the community spirit is still strong.
 
We moved up to Sevenoaks House in Antrobus when I was about 12 and I now live in Stoke-on-Trent but you can take the girl out of Comberbach but you can’t take Comberbach out of the girl. Oh...and my name was Susan Lamb.

Memories of Antrobus C of E School
(Spring 1941 to Summer 1943)

Brian Maddock
Pointe-Claire, Québec, March 2016

When I returned from Scotland in early 1941 my parents had to choose a new school for me because I was too old to be able to return to Comberbach Infant School.  Barnton and Winnington had bigger schools with several classes and more equipment, but there was no suitable bus service and it was far to walk and somewhat dangerous for a nine-year-old to cycle there because of steep hills and traffic.  So the choice was reduced to two rural schools – Great Budworth and Antrobus.  The teacher at Budworth had a doubtful reputation.  Since I knew some of the children who attended Antrobus from the Frandley Brow area it decided that I should go there – a bicycle ride of about three miles from home.

Antrobus C of E School consisted of two classrooms and a cloakroom bordering School Lane near its junction with Knutsford Road.  The small room was assigned to the infants (the “babies”).  A larger room with two fireplaces housed the older pupils.  The cloakroom was divided into two portions – one for the girls and infants and a smaller space for the older boys.  There was an outside privy for the girls and a urinal corner for the boys.

Miss Dorothy Irene Pearson presided over the “big room”.  She faced a daunting task.  For starters, she was an outsider (i.e. not born locally).  Many of the senior pupils nicknamed her “Fanny”. Charged with educating a diverse group of pupils ranging in age over five standards using limited and out-of-date resources Miss Pearson must have faced each day many organizational challenges.  She persisted and continued to live in Antrobus for many years.  Miss Pearson was a founding member of the Antrobus branch of the Womens’ Institute.  Late in life, she moved to a seniors’ residence in Lymn.  She was over 100 years old when she died.

Miss Stelfox was in charge of the infants’ room.  She lived in Northwich and travelled by bus to Antrobus.  The bus schedule was very convenient: the bus to Warrington dropped her off at about 9 AM just in time for school opening and a bus returning to Northwich arrived at 4 PM when the school day was over.  There was a piano in the small classroom so there was much singing.  The two teachers had their lunch in the big room while those pupils who stayed at school for lunch ate in the small room before going out to play in the yard.  (Many pupils walked home for their midday meal.)

Most of the senior pupils had one main objective – to reach their fourteenth birthday, the official school-leaving age, so they could go to work full-time on the farms or help their father with his small business or go into service in suburban middle-class homes.  Because it was wartime older boys were permitted to work ten half-days a year helping farmers so yet another escape strategy was used to great advantage.  Once school was over for the day several boys went to help with afternoon chores on farms.

Miss Pearson wanted to buy a wireless set so that her classes could listen to some of the BBC school programmes that were broadcast on the Home Service for an hour each school morning and also during each afternoon.  Senior pupils were eager to help to raise money to acquire a wireless.  A particular favourite dodge was collecting waste paper for recycling.  Newspapers were very thin during the war but farmers often received lime and fertilizers in strong paper bags.  As soon as they were emptied some senior boy would alert Miss Pearson as to their availability.  Of course, quite a number of boys would be required and the distance was considerable (if a roundabout route was taken!) so the task lasted most of the day.  The boys enjoyed a day away from school.  The girls thought it was unfair that they did not go on the expedition.  (Miss Pearson was probably secretly relieved!)  Another ruse to get out of class was to claim that the waste paper being stored in the unused stable at the vicarage needed to be tidied up.  Half a dozen lads could spend a couple of hours on that chore.  When enough paper had been accumulated it was collected and a small fee went into the wireless fund.

In the autumn two other wartime fundraisers appealed to pupils eager to escape classes  They were collecting acorns (to be used as pig-feed) and rosehips (a rich source of vitamin C) which were in short supply since oranges were very scarce and often reserved for children.  Some rosehips were split open to collect their fluffy seeds which were the raw material of “itching powder”.  The trick was to sneak behind a victim (preferably a girl) and stuff some of the tickly seeds down the back of their neck.  It was hard to get rid of the irritant.

On one special day, each year pupils were encouraged to bring 10 shillings or a pound to buy a War Savings Bond at the post office near the school.  Many homes were unable to afford this.

Another wartime effort was called “Dig for Victory”.  Senior boys were keen to participate.  A part of the playground furthest away from the school was dug up and vegetables were planted.  Of course, poles were required to support the runner beans and that was another excuse for escaping the classroom.  The tools were stored in the air-raid shelter.

The air-raid shelter had been made earlier in the war.  It consisted of a rounded metal frame covered with corrugated steel sheets over which a considerable depth of sand had been placed.  It was large enough to shelter all the pupils in case of an enemy raid.  (The school itself was an unlikely target, but bombers that had been crippled would release their bomb-load before they crash-landed.)  From time to time there was a practice evacuation to the shelter which was cool, dark and damp inside.  Just in case there was a real emergency and the pupils would have to remain in the shelter for a long period all had to have an “Iron Ration Box”.  These boxes were kept in a big carton ready to be rushed into the shelter if an emergency occurred.  From time to time we had to check the contents of our boxes.  Imagine our consternation when one day we discovered that all the chocolate bars had disappeared.  We had a good guess as to who was the culprit.

With such a variety in age and ability among the pupils, it was sometimes hard for Miss Pearson to maintain discipline, especially among the boys eagerly awaiting their fourteenth birthday.  Occasionally she had to resort to using the cane.  “Come out John so and so.  Hold out your hand,“ she would say.  All of us would stop what we doing to witness the punishment.  Usually, the miscreant was bigger than she and had strong hands that were hardened by farm work.  Sometimes the boy would withdraw his hand quickly as she swung the cane.  We had to contain our giggles when she missed.

At first, Miss Pearson used a bamboo cane which she kept near at hand in the cupboard ready for use.  Quite often the instrument was not there – nor anywhere else to be found.  (We knew that the caretaker’s son pushed the canes down one of the several rat holes in the floor).  One by one Miss Pearson brought new canes from her garden until that supply was exhausted.  Then she had to resort to trying to wield a big bean pole that had been used in the school garden.  Watching a slight woman trying to use a heavy sapling to cane a big strong boy with a dodging hand was great entertainment for the rest of us.

Miss Pearson lived some two miles away from the school so she used a bicycle to get there.  She kept it in the boys’ cloakroom to protect it from inclement weather.  One day a boy was particularly naughty so she dismissed him into the cloakroom as a punishment.  When she was ready to leave for home she discovered that both her tyres were flat.  The boy had spent the afternoon pushing a big pin through each tyre many times.  They were beyond repair and impossible to replace in wartime.  She had to resort to walking to and from school.

All pupils dreaded the visit of the school dentist.  The Cheshire County Council provided the service because the dental health of children was generally poor.  The dentist was a woman so this raised doubts about her competency.  She had to use the bus service to bring her rudimentary equipment.  The purpose of her first visit was to examine each pupil’s teeth and send a consent form home with each child who required treatment.  Quite a few parents refused to consent - much to the relief of their offspring!  Not such a bad idea if you saw the primitive apparatus used to drill decayed teeth; it was made of wood and resembled a spinning wheel.  The dentist had to treadle the wheel with her foot as she drilled into the tooth with a slowly rotating bit.

A frequent visitor was the Reverend Oliver Tyndale, the vicar of Antrobus parish.  He was a bachelor who lived in a fairly big Victorian vicarage not far from the school.  All year round he conscientiously visited his flock even though few went to services except for Harvest Festival (mainly to see who had produced the best flowers, fruits and vegetables) and less so at Easter and Christmas.  Mr Tyndale had served in the army during the First World War.  Possibly his experiences had caused him to have a serious speech impediment which could render his sermons hard to understand.  He was given a nickname – “Quack” – which was widely used.  Despite this, he was respected for the devoted work he did in this big country parish.  Like Miss Pearson, he persevered in Antrobus till he was forced by health to retire.

My happy days in Antrobus C of E school came to an end in the summer of 1943.  Ernie Battison and I were the first pupils in many years to have passed the scholarship exam that earned a place in Sir John Deane’s Grammar School in Northwich.  Miss Pearson wanted to give us an advantage so she started to teach French to the senior pupils.  What a crazy language!  Instead of our simple “the”, the French used “le” (pronounced “lee”) and “la”.  Their pronunciation was decidedly “funny”.  It would have helped us more if she had explained nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs, etc. to us because this was another strange language that we had to learn at the grammar school.  Unlike the other pupils who stayed on until their birthday, we were doomed to have to stay in school until we were at least sixteen.  Poor us!

Nevertheless, pupils left Antrobus C of E School able to read and write in well-formed handwriting, and they had the basics in arithmetic.  Indeed they would never forget the multiplication tables that were essential in the days before calculators became common tools.  It was a success story.

An anecdote
This amusing story was told to me while I was in my teens and I am always amused by it.  It reveals something about the traditional thinking of some farmers almost a hundred years ago.

Miss Gough lived with her elderly parents on a fairly large farm in Antrobus.  Few people knew her by name.  She had already inherited Senna Green Farm and was expected to inherit her father's property too.  An enterprising man became friendly with Miss Gough.  He was invited to visit her home one evening.  (I don't think they had reached the stage where they would be allowed to sit alone in the parlour!).  When it was time for the suitor to leave to catch the last bus back to Warrington it was raining cats and dogs on a cold dark night.  Miss Gough kindly offered to take him in the car to the bus stop which was about a mile away.  

So she went to get the car.  She brought the car to the back door.  (Front doors were only used for weddings and funerals!)   The visitor said," Oh!  I'll sit in the front with Miss Gough."

"Tha wunna.  Tha'll wawk! " bellowed her protective father.  And so the hopeful suitor had to rush down the dark lane, in the cold rain, hoping to reach the bus stop before the bus passed by.