So, the big Handover Day has come and gone and finally the corner of Ann & John Hearle's garden has transferred ownership to the people of Stockport represented by SMBC. That part contains the exposed part of the Iron-Age ditch with the bridge over from the Roman Garden to the far side with Interpretation Boards.
The event commenced - with the clouds gathering in advance of the arriving rain - with a short welcome speech by John Hearle, acknowledging all of those who had been instrumental in enabling the many aspects of this significant part of the Mellor Heritage Project to come together. John gave a potted history of the hilltop site, the most important prehistoric site in Stockport, through from Mesolithic hunter gatherers 10,000 years ago packing to move on in the Autumn, to 900 years ago the De Melleur family riding out into the Peak Forest, to 40 years ago family children playing in the garden of the Old Vicarage. Standing on the new bridge over the Iron-Age Ditch between the Roman Garden and the Interpretation area, John prepared to hand over the key of ownership of the site - but only after the Mayor had handed over the £1 payment for the site required for legal reasons!
We were very fortunate, that the Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Wendy Meikle, was able to be present to accept the gift of the site from the Hearle family and she paid tribute to the work done by Mellor Archaeological Trust in making the viewing area available to the public. Another notable visitor was Mike Heywoth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology, who was impressed with the way in which the Trust has carried out and reported on the archaeologcy of the Mellor OV site.
As the much-heralded rain arrived, the party made their way down into the Mellor Parish Centre for a short series of talks on current areas of interest for Mellor Archaeological Trust. John Hearle started the presentations off with a brief review and the significant news that the Trust had been granted Stage 1 Approval by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the joint bid with the Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways Board) 'Revealing Oldknow's Legacy - Mellor Mill and the Peak Forest Canal in Marple'. He referred to the talks that followed:
- on Mellor Mill by Bob Humphrey-Taylor on work at Mellor Mill;
- and by Donald Reid on work in recent years and during 2012 at Shaw Cairn on Mellor Moor
and mentioned warmly also the work done by Mark Whittaker in developing the Trust's new website, which was being officially launched on this day. Chris Walters then gave an informative introduction to the features of the new website.
The talks on Mellor Mill and Shaw Cairn were followed by Tea/Coffee & Cake prior to the final element of the afternoon, a short trailer film of the forthcoming DVD, being produced by Chris Mann, both on the Mellor Heritage Project Final Conference at Stockport Town Hall and on much of the detailed archaeological work, which had gone on over the years of investigation on the Mellor Hilltop, a fitting way to round off quite an important day in the developing history of the Mellor Archaeological Trust.
Here are some photographs of the event courtesy of Arthur M Procter: