It’s publication time – the happiest words any author can hear. Books by two writers with Whaley Bridge connections are just coming out:
Gillian Mawson’s book, ‘Guernsey Evacuees’, is her first, and follows many months of research into a largely unknown chapter from World War II.
Robert Nicholls, a former resident here, has written ‘Curiosities of the High Peak’, the fourth in his series of curiosities (the others are: Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.)
Gillian: a sweeping story from the war
Gillian Mawson’s book on the Guernsey children’s evacuation to Greater Manchester and the Peak District is based entirely on her researches and hundreds of interviews with people now in their 80s and 90s. It is a sweeping story recording the terror, heartbreak and happy endings for most, but not all.
Her first chapter alone, telling the personal experiences of people fleeing their island home as the German invasion came nearer, is as gripping as a thriller. These are the words of people reliving the most vivid times of their childhood, more than 70 years ago, when they moved abruptly from quiet Guernsey to new homes in Britain.
Next year, a film based on the book ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’, starring Kate Winslettt, will give today’s generation an insight into life under Nazi occupation. This was the life that parents of the evacuees faced, while their children in Lancashire or Derbyshire went to school here and formed a new life and friendships for themselves over five years of separation.
It’s all in Gillian’s book, the tears, the love, the achievements, and the trauma of returning home or staying in England. Guernsey Evacuees comes to life with the simple words that travel across the years, accompanied by the fading snapshots from old family albums.
You can pre-order the book on Amazon here. For a signed copy at £13.50, including postage, contact Gillian Mawson, 28b Hill Drive, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, Derbyshire SK23 7BH. You can email Gillian on Gillianmawson@btinternet.com.
Robert: the curiosity on our doorstep
Robert Nicholls has been a frequent visitor to the Peak District from his boyhood days in Sheffield, to his time living here, and now from Manchester. ‘Curiosities of the High Peak’ is his first venture into Kindle, the electronic book publisher. The book, priced at £3.99 is only available on Amazon here, but Waterstones will be opening an e-book department in Manchester shortly and have expressed an interest in selling the book.
The curiosities range from Solomon’s Temple to St Joseph’s Shrine (Erwood Valley), pressure relief valve cover at Derwent Reservoir, to the entrance to Peak Cavern and the stocks at Chapel-en-le-Frith.
One example is within walking distance of where the author used to live – the Saxon Cross, at Elnor Lane, Whaley Bridge.
Robert writes: “This cross, now a scheduled Ancient Monument, is reputed to commemorate Archbishop Paulinus of York’s (later St Paulinus) mission to the High Peak sometime between 623 and 633 AD. The present cross, of which only the five foot high base remains, dates from the 8th century, having replaced an earlier wood cross.
“For many years the cross stood in the garden of the now-demolished Fernilee Hall, but was restored to its original position by the local authority sometime in the 1930s. Elnor Lane is thought to be the alignment of a Roman Road leading to Buxton.
“It is also thought that the Danes, who were in the area in the 9th century, called it the ‘Shackle Cross’, due to its similarity with the shackle-pins used on horse drawn carts. An alternative explanation is that the word ‘sceacol’ in Middle English means a bond or chain. Thus the ‘Shacklecross’ was a place where penitents were shackled until they had repented for their sins.”