Turn back time on Denton – the origins of Bluestone Road

LOCAL historian Frank Brown concludes his history of Windmill Lane and traces the origins of Bluestone Road.

Windmill Lane has now become a busy road, but in the 1940s, when I was a youth, the macadam surface only extended from Christ Church to the beginning of the valley where the M60 now runs.

Beyond this point it was a dirt lane with occasional cobble stones. A stream ran along the bottom of this valley and crossed over the lane on its way to the River Tame.

As my friends and I cycled along the lane we often had to swerve around large puddles of water and then ford the shallow stream amid. It was all great fun, especially as there were never any cars to bother us. The stream now runs along a pipe beneath the M60).

Bluestone Road is unusual as it has Windmill Lane not only at one end of it, but at both ends.

As we approach Reddish today, we leave Windmill Lane, turn right into Thornley Lane South and then left into Windmill Lane again.

This latter one, however, is in Reddish, as the boundary runs along the centre of Thornley Lane South. If this does not make Bluestone Road unusual, then surely its origin does, for it was once called Dark Lane and before that it was Windmill Lane, and before that it was ……… perhaps we should start at the beginning.

Ancient maps show Bluestone Road was the original route of Windmill Lane, although that too had another name in the beginning.

The lane’s names were Dane Shot Lane, Windmill Lane and Dark Lane before it became Bluestone Road. It is believed the blue stone was brought down by a huge glacier from Borrowdale in the Lake District 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The lane was almost straight as it ran through to Reddish as shown on the 1800 map.

Its surface was periodically repaired by laying cobblestones. It appeared, however, the ground was soft and the stones soon disappeared below the mud.

The story goes that early in the Victorian period, they chose to remove all the top soil to get down to solid clay. This was when the top of a large greyish-blue stone appeared which grew bigger and bigger the deeper they dug.It was deemed necessary to remove it, for it would have protruded above the proposed new surface, but on failing to do so they were obliged to move the road instead.

It is believed there were many trees nearby, so the road was moved some distance to its present location and then joined up to an extension of Thornley Lane South which already existed. This produced its now characteristic zigzag shape.

The disused section later acquired the name Dark Lane, due no doubt to the close proximity of the trees. The other Dark Lane was in Haughton which was not Denton at the time.

Some years later, a further attempt was made to remove the huge stone. This was successful and it was rolled aside and left on show by the side of the lane, thus Dark Lane acquired the new name of Bluestone Road.

Long before the advent of our modern road signs, it was the custom to have a large upright stone situated on a boundary with a line inscribed down the centre and the names of the respective towns to each side if it.

This obviously happened here, for marked on the 1848 map are the words, ‘Blue Stone’, and on a similar map it said, ‘Boundary Stone’. So the stone had been moved to its new location, shown as position ‘A’ on the map, which formed the boundary between Denton and Reddish.

In the 1920s when they chose to build the Co-operative Society on this corner, the stone had to be removed. It was reduced in size and a large piece of it was then positioned at the other end of this triangular piece of ground – position ‘B’.

Some elderly residents remember it being there at least up to WWII. It was then broken into smaller pieces and removed completely from the site.

A large piece of this famous stone remains in Dane Bank as a permanent reminder of the part it played in our history. It is the garden of 3 High Bank, Windmill Lane.

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