Mr A E Cox

An appreciation by his nieces and nephews

My thanks to Elizabeth Howe for allowing me to add this appreciation and obituary to the website.

 "There must be between twenty to thirty nieces and nephews of Uncle Eddie who have enjoyed absolutely fantastic holidays at Thornsett Hey Farm.

These holidays started at quite an early age of six years when we happily waved goodbye to our departing parents.   Sometimes, if it was the long summer holiday we may get a chance of a second week, but we had to remember we were members of quite a large family and had to share the time.  Often cousins from different families stayed at the same time.  There was no end to the hospitality of Uncle Eddie and his sister, Aunt Nellie. Most of these holidays took place from the early thirties, throughout the Second World War until the late forties. Many of us also took along a friend.

The farm was mainly dairy, and we children helped or hindered in the various jobs.  First thing in the morning we had to locate the cows and bring them up from the fields for milking.   As the milk was delivered by horse and milk float, we also had to bring the horse from the fields and if we were very good we could ride on the big horse bare-back along the lane home to the farm but had to make sure we jumped off before the horse entered the stable or else we would bang our heads on the stone doorway.

We helped to put the harness on the horse before uncle backed either Short or Blossom into the shafts of the milk float.

After the milking was completed and then cooled by running cold water in the dairy, it was put into a large churn that was put into the milk float.  We also had a 2 gallon milk bucket out of which we could ladle a quart, pint or half-pint of milk into individual small cans which we would carry to the customers house.  We always ladled out the full measure and a little drop beside, so the customer received good measure!!

In those days, if the customer was out they usually left open the back door, and we went in and poured the milk into a jug that was covered with a beaded cloth to keep out the flys as there were no refrigerators in those days.

There were two milk rounds, one up Thornsett and the other down New Mills. Usually Uncle allowed two of us to accompany him and we children had to work out a fair rota and split the rounds between ourselves.

When we delivered milk to “Sixteen Row” up Thornsett on a Monday, we could not get the horse and milk float down to the backs of the houses because everyone had out a line of washing, so we had to carry the milk much further!!

On Sundays, uncle Eddie stopped outside a house on Hyde Bank road for up to an hour and we children in the milk float got very fed up. He was actually visiting Lily to do a spot of courting!!  Lily eventually became his wife.

Uncle was a very fair man and showed no favouritism.  He always greeted us with a smile and never lost his temper.  He always encouraged us wherever we were “helping” and gave us confidence in ourselves.

We had great fun at haymaking times, when hay was cut loose, dried and then hand raked into rows from which the stronger people with big hayforks loaded up the hay cart.  We seemed to have more thunderstorms in those far off summer days and sometimes it was a race against time to get the hay to the farm and load it into the barn before the storm broke.   We were also allowed to play in a certain area in the hay and we also made the sandwiches and cold tea that we carried in large baskets out to the workers in the hay field.

As we grew older, there were more adventures.  Uncle acquired a tractor on the farm and when we were about twelve or so he would take us into the field where he was working and let us drive the tractor.  One day when I was ploughing and thinking I was going strait, he said stop and look behind and there I saw my line was like the hind leg of a donkey!!

A nephew drove the tractor whilst uncle was harvesting corn and was so good that uncle could throw out the sheaves that stood neatly on end.  Uncle also inspired great confidence in another nephew who had never before been on holiday without his parents by allowing him to drive the tractor and he was eternally grateful to uncle.

Uncle had an even temperament and was of a happy disposition and made life full of fun and took everything in his stride. After the barn was tidily packed with hay, he turned a blind eye to the fact that perhaps on a wet day we would play in the barn and slide down the hay from a great height, bring much of it down with us.

Even when his youngest son, Leslie was four or five years old, Leslie tried to help his father by throttling a chick.  Somehow, the chicken pretended to be dead and lay down and Leslie thought he had succeeded when the chicken got up and walked away.  Uncle Eddie just laughed and laughed.  He always had a humorous side to his character.  He was never cross or unkind.

We were very interested in watching uncle make horseshoes in the smithy.  It was a good job for a cold day.  We helped by pumping the bellows to make the fire hotter, but they were so high that we almost went up with them.  We also watched whilst he shoed the horses and the hot iron shoe made a lovely smell when it touched the horses foot.  It did not hurt the horse.

Our happy days usually ended with the evening milking session where we all gathered in the cowshed to chat with our friends.

We all owe a great deal to such a wonderful character as Our Uncle Eddie, the likes of whom we shall never again see."

Elizabeth  Howe  (niece)



Mr  A E Cox, Thornsett

Mr Albert Edric Cox formerly of Thornsett Hey Farm, Birch Vale, died at Ripon, N Yorkshire on February 5th aged 97 years.

Widower of Lily, he will be sadly missed by sons Peter and Leslie, daughters-in-law Maria and Janet, grandchildren, Michael, Elizabeth, Christopher, Peter, Steven, Jenna, Marianne, Lyndsay and Andrew and great grandchildren, Aran and Lewis.

Mr Cox was born at Smalley, Derbyshire into a farming family with 10 children. At the age of 12, Mr Cox moved with his family to Blake Edge Farm, Buxton because the climate was more suited to his mother’s health.   The move was a major operation.  His father, Herbert Cox, brought the cows on a cattle train, which was driven into a wrong siding, causing difficulties in getting the cattle off the train and also, due to the railway error, the animals were short of water as they had to remain on the train overnight.

Meanwhile Eddie and his brother Will, had to get the horses and carts to Buxton by road which was a distance of over 40 miles.  They were only able to ride short distances of the journey and were absolutely exhausted on arriving at Blake Edge where his mother just threw a mattress on the floor and Eddie fell fast asleep.

Eddie worked at Blake Edge farm throughout the First Word War.  Three of his older brothers were serving in the armed forces and fortunately all returned home safely.

About 1926 the family moved to Thornsett Hey Farm where Eddie continued to work with his father until both his parents died in 1939.  At this time there was only Eddie and his elder sister Nellie living in the farmhouse.    The farm was mainly a dairy farm, and most of the milk was delivered locally by Eddie using the horse and cart.

Eddie was also a skilled blacksmith who could turn his hand to making anything out of iron.  He was kept very busy shoeing horses and there must be many girls, now probably grandmothers, who used to take their horses there to be shod.  Eddie’s son, Peter is also a blacksmith, making the fourth generation of blacksmiths in the family.

Eddie enjoyed playing Crown Green bowling and together with his brother Walter they became an unbeatable pair for miles around.  He also enjoyed a game of darts, and played for the Printer’s Arms.

During the Second World War, Eddie and Nellie took in six evacuees from the Manchester Blitz.  Two mothers each with two very young children.

Eddie married Lily Collins in 1945. Peter and Leslie were born in 1946 and 1950.  Sadly, Lily died in 1978 after her caring husband had nursed her tirelessly for several years.

Eddie was twice Chairman of the local National Farmers Union.

Eventually Eddie moved up to Ripon, N Yorkshire to live with Leslie, Janet and their four children where he became Number1 baby sitter!!  Whilst living there he was invited to spend a whole day at the local junior school to enable the children to ask him questions on life in the early part of the last century.  As Leslie is a veterinary surgeon, Eddie enjoyed accompanying him on his rounds.  He settled into village life, visiting neighbouring areas and helping older people!!

At the age of 85 he recovered from prostate cancer.  It was his first visit to a hospital and it was a traumatic time for him.

The funeral service was at St George’s Church, New Mills on Thursday, 14th February at 1.45pm, followed by cremation at Macclesfield at 3.00pm.