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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Cheshire
A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
 
The Cat and Fiddle Inn, near Buxton
Cat and Fiddle in winter


The Cat and Fiddle Inn is one of those places everyone knows about, in part because it is so high above sea level and has stunning views. It is also renowned for the severe winters and deep snow it sometimes endures, when the road is impassable and the inn is cut off. The top postcard shows the inn surrounded by deep snowdrifts; various innkeepers will have provided shelter for many a stranded traveller over the years. In January 1949, for example, a Buxton postman drove to the Cat and Fiddle to make his morning delivery only to become stuck, along with eight other vehicles, in drifting snow. A snow plough eventually came to the rescue and the postie was taken home during the evening[1].

The inn has long attracted visitors. The following has been extracted from a 1912 directory about Buxton: "two miles further on [from Axe Edge] is the "Cat and Fiddle," a wayside public house, much frequented by visitors on account of the extensive views to be obtained in the neighbourhood ; wagonettes run to both these places from Buxton several times daily[2]". Wagonettes and carriages can be seen in the early twentieth century card, which shows a considerably smaller inn than the building in the top image. The sign of a cat playing a fiddle is above the main entrance, at first floor level, on both pictures. Over the years there were endless theories put forward about the inn's name, including that it derived from the nursery rhyme beginning with "Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle" ...

An electric tramway from Chapel en le Frith, passing through Buxton and then up to the Cat and Fiddle, was discussed in 1902 but nothing seems to have come of the idea[3].



Early twentieth century


When the inn was threatened with closure in 1918 both Frederic Arkwright and the Duke of Devonshire commented in the press. Miss Frances Wilmot of Stafford Street, Derby then wrote that "the inn was built, or was caused to be built, by Mr. and Mrs. Wood, uncle and aunt to my mother, the late Mrs. Woollett Wilmot. Mr. and Mrs. Wood were living at Westbrook, Macclesfield, and were much distressed by accounts of people being lost, and sometimes perishing, on the moors between Macclesfield and Buxton. My mother often referred to this, and I believe it to have been real fact. Mrs. Wood was a daughter of Mr. Ryle, banker in Macclesfield..."[4]. A gentleman called Horace Weir confirmed this newly published information, but added to the debate by stating his own research pointed to it having been Mrs. Wood's father who built the inn around 1800[5].

One of the contributors to Mee's "Derbyshire" wrote "A fine moorland walk of five miles from Buxton takes us to the Cat and Fiddle in Cheshire, one of the highest inns in England, 1700 feet above the sea, with views over the great plain of Cheshire, with the Mersey on the horizon, into Staffordshire and Lancashire, and to the Welsh Hills[6]".

The inn is next to the A537 which runs between Buxton in Derbyshire and Macclesfield in Cheshire; these days the road is sadly renowned for the number of accidents, mostly involving motor cyclists.


1. Published by Valentine's Postcards (A Real Photograph). To be obtained only at the Cat and Fiddle Inn, near Buxton.
32-1 is in the section marked for the stamp. Not posted.
2. Buxton. The "Cat & Fiddle". Published by Photochrom Co Ltd, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, No.23465. Printed in Switzerland. Unused. Postal rates Inland 1/2d Foreign 1d.
Both postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] "Nottingham Journal", 5 January 1949. Post Van was Marooned.

[2] Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, 1912, Buxton entry.

[3] Mee, Arthur (ed.) (1937) "Derbyshire: The Peak Country",The King's England Series, Hodder and Stoughton Limited, London.

[4] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 16 July 1918. Correspondence. "The Cat and Fiddle".

[5] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 18 July 1918. Horace Weir's letter adding to what Miss Wilmot had said. Mr. Ryle was the father of the bishop of Liverpool.

[6] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 8 December 1902, "Belper News", 12 December 1902 and other newspapers in the surrounding area discussed the proposed tram, but all the papers were opposed to the idea.



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