Thursday 8 September 2022

Cycling round Cheshire in the 1920s

Join the gang! We’re sharing one man’s love for eco-friendly transport in the 20s…the 1920s that is! We were recently donated a collection of 48 black and white photographs taken by a man called Robert (Bob) Leitch, as he cycled round the county of Cheshire with Rover Scouts. His companions included William (Bill) Lloyd and Harold Litherland, and now you!

We’re highlighting images from this collection, allowing you to view Cheshire through the eyes of these cycling chums one hundred years ago, including views of Lyme Park, Chester Cathedral, Chester Rows, Great Budworth, Mobberley, Siddington, Astbury, and Gawsworth, as well as panoramic views out across the Cheshire Plain.

Rover Scouting is the final stage in the Scouts’ Association, after Beavering, Wolf Cubbing, Scouting and Senior Scouting. Bob’s Rover Scouts can be seen here in Church Street, Great Budworth. The village pump can be seen on the right, the only source of drinking water for the whole community until 1934, when a piped supply was first connected. Can you spot the little dog edging in for a photobomb?

We’re not sure in what order Bob and his pals visited the Cheshire locations depicted in the collection, so we’ll start our tour with Chester and work our way further afield.

Here Bob has photographed Chester Cathedral west entrance from the top of St Werburgh Street where it joins Northgate Street. Pedestrians can be seen walking past the cathedral.

Two of the Rover Scouts survey the streets of Chester below them from the Rows. With the Rows and Chester Cathedral, Bob and his pals were visiting the same Chester tourist destinations in the 1920s that you can visit today in the 2020s. As well as the cathedral, Bob photographed several other religious buildings in Cheshire, some we have been able to identify, and others elude our Local Studies Librarian for the moment! Keep an eye on our twitter page (@CheshireRO) and our #MysteryImageMonday feature to see if you can help us identify any of these mystery locations.

All Saints Church, Siddington, is a Grade II* Listed Building, built on a site first consecrated in 1521. Originally all timber-framed, much of the building was replaced by brick in the 18th century. St Mary's Parish Church in Astbury is even older, dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. The spire which you can see here was struck by lightning and rebuilt in 1838.

As you can see, we have identified several images of Great Budworth, this seems a popular location with the Rover Scouts, so perhaps this is where they began or ended their cycling tour? Other destinations include Mobberley, and as far as Disley to visit Lyme Park, as well as pit-stops to admire the Cheshire Plain.

Lyme Park passed to the Leghs of Lyme by marriage in 1388 and stayed in the Legh family until it was given to the National Trust in 1946. The house dates from the latter part of the 16th century, with modifications made in the 1720s by Italian architect Giacomo Leoni and by British architect Lewis Wyatt in the 19th century.


We end our tour round Cheshire with a photograph of the group at an unknown location. They pause for a break from cycling on a grassy bank covered in crocus flowers, which tells us they were enjoying their cycling tour in spring.

Some of these images have been added to our Cheshire Image Bank, and we hope to add more soon as we continue to digitise and research the collection. We hope you have enjoyed this little tour - why not let us know your favourite places to cycle in Cheshire, or perhaps you’ve cycled round the same haunts as Bob and his buddies?

Lastly, if this blog has piqued your interest into what Cheshire was like in the 1920s, we have just curated a new Popular Collection on the Cheshire Image Bank called Cheshire in the 1920s which you might like to explore.

All of these images and more are available to view at Cheshire Record Office in Chester.

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