Life in the remote village where residents demanded to stay in Cheshire

Along Cheshire’s border with Greater Manchester lies a litany of towns and villages that were once proud features of our previously larger county. Just like the Wirral into Merseyside, many towns such as Altrincham, Stockport and Marple were all swallowed up into the new Greater Manchester metropolitan county in 1972.

But one village, despite its Stockport SK postcode, still calls Cheshire its home. And that is, in a large part, down to the villagers’ determination to keep their Cheshire identity.

Disley remained in Cheshire during the 1972 shake-up. But falling on the outer-extremities of our county, when the old Macclesfield Borough Council was abolished in 2009, a referendum was held. The question: Should the village move to the new Cheshire East Council or under the control of Stockport or High Peak borough councils – effectively moving it into Greater Manchester or Derbyshire respectively.

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The villagers voted overwhelmingly to stay in Cheshire. But now 13 years on, how do the people who live and work in Disley feel about the village? And do they stick by their decision to stay in Cheshire? I headed there to find out.

Disley railway station
Disley is well-connected to Greater Manchester and Derbyshire – but not the rest of Cheshire
(Image: Steven Oldham)

Chris Wild, landlord at The Dandy Cock, is originally from New Mills. He’s been in charge at the pub for more than three years.

He said: “It’s a nice place to run a business. We live off the locals, but we also get passing trade. There’s lots of walkers from outside the area heading to Lyme Park.

“We do benefit because of our location. Personally I feel more part of Derbyshire – probably because I’m from there. A lot of my regulars will definitely disagree with me on that.

Disley truck
A common sight in Disley as an HGV trundles through the centre of the village
(Image: Steven Oldham)

“The best thing about Disley is it’s community feel – everyone seems to know everyone else. When things like the Jubilee weekend happen, there’s so much happening and everyone comes together. All the local businesses get a piece of the pie, with everyone out supporting the events.”

Suzanne Gregson set up Disley’s Community Store in December 2019 in order to give something back to the local area. Her charity shop raises funds for the nearby primary school and other good causes.

She said: “I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time. When my former employers closed down I wanted to open a charity shop, because there wasn’t one already here.

“When I was 10 years old the school took me to Paris. It’s a very fond memory and I remember it well. It had a big impact on my life and broadened my horizons.

Lyme Park estate located in the Peak District National Park in Cheshire
Lyme Park estate located in the Peak District National Park next door to Disley
(Image: Getty Images)

“I wanted to give something back and what with all the Government cuts to education, the little extras have to come from funding. We opened four months before lockdown, but that was enough time for me to see that the community would support it.

“As a child I took it for granted what Disley has on it’s doorstep – my back garden was Lyme Park. It’s nice that we are in the leg of Cheshire so close to Derbyshire, but it always has been Cheshire and I still think it is.

“The amount of traffic because of the roadworks is a problem because of the pollution and the sheer volume of it. It does require some attention. One good thing about lockdown was the quiet roads – it took me back to how I remember the road as a child.”

Lisa Weatherhead Disley
Lisa Weatherhead shares concerns about the amount of traffic pouring through the village
(Image: Steven Oldham)

Lisa Weatherhead is officially retired, but I find her volunteering at Jayne Leigh Creations. It’s a bespoke upcycling furniture store.

She said: “People here are extremely friendly. They like to come in for a chat and have a good mooch around the shop. We get people coming in from far and wide on the bus, it’s a place where people want to be.

“The road is so busy that it takes a lot of parking out of the village. It’s a problem for us, but if you take the road out of the village you wouldn’t have a community.

“I think a lot of people are taking advantage of the park and ride bus that goes direct to Lyme Park from Hazel Grove. The amount of cars you see also trying to get in there in summer is phenomenal.”

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