Way back in the mists of time, top reader and contributor Steve Hickman asked a question about when I thought the Chester Road was diverted from Stonnall Village. I started researching a reply, but in the interim, top amateur landscape historian Julian Ward-Davies stepped into the breach and made all my efforts look daft, which was welcome because his work is just wonderful.
In the melee, I compiled some map snippets and Google Earth overlays, so I thought I’d share them anyway. Many readers enjoy the old maps and it’s a while since I featured any here.
First of all, here’s how the roads and lanes look around Stonnall today…
The Chester Road runs southwards from top left to bottom right, and is represented by the red line. It’s fairly straight, but wasn’t always like this. Stonnall sits to the north east, and the junction formation where Main Street meets the Chester Road is oddly complex. There’s a reason for that; here’s how the same area looked on a 1923 1:2500 map.
In the above segment, it can be seen that the Chester Road dived into the village, and then drifted back out toward the current course. Lazy Hill and Castlehill Road joined to Upper Stonnall – as it was then known – in a more logical way. Clearly, Straightening the Chester Road resulted in several orphaned ‘triangles’ of land, including the small one to the north with the two cottages Steve talks about. If you zoom into the about map, you can see them at the junction of Chester Road and Castlehill Road.
The same map overlaid in Google Earth with current satellite imagery for the area. This overlay is available to download at the foot of this article. It can clearly be seen how the route of the Chester Road altered, and how the orphaned triangles of land occurred. Notice also the lost southern limb of the old Chester Road was abandoned and returned to nature, athough it remains visible as a curved hedgerow running from MainStreet, Stonnall, to the main road. It’s interesting to note how many of the field boundaries are identical to 1923.
Fast forward to 1938, and much has changed. I’m interested in this particular map, because the draftsmanship is very peculiar. I think it was compiled from a mixture of survey mapping and an engineers’ drawing.
The width of the Chester Road doesn’t look remotely correct in this map, the straightness and some alignments are also questionable. Whatever the genesis, this captures the abandoned stretch of the old road, and the stranded cottages on the small northern triangle. Notice also the legend on the map near the earthworks at Castlefort.
If this map is overlaid on Google Earth, it can be seen that the plotting was a little adrift.
Whilst the course of the road modification was clearly not surveyed, most of the base map evidently was. Field-boundaries, hedgerows and buildings line up. I love the way that both overlays show the housing estate – Glenwood Rise – clearly built in a single field, linking Upper Stonnall and Stonnall.
Both of the above overlays can be downloaded for viewing and adjustment in Google Earth by clicking on the links below. For a guide to using these, please read my previous post ‘Mapping the past’ which details how to load them and manipulate their visibility and transparency.