D is for Duck

Or rather the ducks plural that gave the town of Dukinfield its name and where I grew up, or as grown up as I’ve ever managed to get.

Dukinfield means the ‘open land of the ducks‘ from the Old English duce and feld. There is another theory that it translates as ‘field of the raven‘ from the Norse, daken, and that the Vikings were defeated in battle here, but this has been largely dismissed.

The town is on the boundary between Lancashire and Cheshire [the River Tame] where the Cheshire plain begins to give way to the Pennines. A small collection of flints from the early Bronze Age have been found there and Roman coins from the 3rd century during the reign of the Emperor Tetricus.

After the Norman Conquest, the presiding family took the name De Dokenfeld in the 12th century and Dukinfield Hall became one of the great manorial houses in the area. It fell into ruin and was demolished in the 1950s in the days before preservation.

However, parts of the family chapel remain. Built around 1580 it was possibly the earliest congregational church in England, although there are other contenders.

It now sits in the middle of a construction company’s premises and isn’t normally accessible to the public except for one day a year during the Heritage Open Days. Above left is a photo I took there last year.

The most noted member of that family was Robert Duckenfield, a colonel in Cromwell’s New Model Army, who was Governor of Chester and commanded the Parliamentary forces which captured the Isle of Man. In 1653 he was appointed to Cromwell’s “Little Parliament” and there is a statue of him that stands outside the town hall shown right.

WC FieldsI’ve no idea whether there is any connection with William Claude Duckenfield who later shortened his name to become W C Fields.

Fast forward to the 19th century and the town grew with the cotton industry and later the railway, from a population of less than 2,000 in 1801 to over 26,000 by 1851. Today it is home to around 18,000 souls.

The town has produced several actors of note. Kathy Staff [who my mum knew as Minnie Higginbottom] who played Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine; Shirley Stelfox of Emmerdale, Eastenders and Keeping up Appearances and; RSC actor John Normington who appeared in Yes, Prime Minister, Upstairs, Downstairs, Inspector Morse and many other productions.

Dukinfield was also the birthplace of 1950s Formula One racing driver, Tony Brooks, who drove for Ferrari among others and was better known as the “racing dentist”. I somehow can’t imagine his modern counterparts tearing up the track between fillings and extractions.

And because my dad knew him, I mustn’t forget the musician, Ronnie Hazlehurst, composer of many of the best known British tv comedy themes, including Are You Being Served?, Last of the Summer Wine, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, To the Manor Born and Yes Minister.

But I have droned on enough so I shall leave you with some more ducks. I took this short video on my camera during the very wet weather last year when they were fishing around for food in the saturated lawn. A sort of duck soup.

ABC Wednesday Round 7

D is for 3-D by Savage Reflections

Da Vinci Code from Witch Reviews

Drawbridge, Demolition, Disturbing by the Pedalogue

Democratic Headquarters from Brush Strokes from the Heart

D is for Dragon by MorningAJ

Dulhadeo Temple from My India

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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