Eccles Cakes

Eccles cakes are a sweet pastry cake filled with dried fruits, usually currants and raisins, sugar, spices and sometimes butter.

The true origins of the cake are not known but the first recorded recipe for something like an Eccles Cake and called “sweet patties” was published by Elizabeth Raffald, housekeeper at Arley Hall, Cheshire in 1769 as part of a book of 800 recipes.  The recipe included boiled calf’s foot as well as dried fruit.

In 1793, James Birch opened a bakery in Eccles and started to sell cakes similar to Elizabeth Raffald’s sweet patties and they quickly became known as Eccles cakes. 

Eccles cakes proved very popular and were exported to Australia, America, the West Indies and Spain.  Alcohol was added (usually brandy or rum) as a preservative for exported cakes.

Eccles cakes do not have protected status as that afforded to Stilton cheese or Melton Mowbray pork pies, so they are made and sold in many countries across the world.

Few places make Eccles cakes commercially in Eccles now.  The major manufacturer is the Real Lancashire Eccles Cake company which is in Ardwick, Manchester.  A local commercial bakery, Quayside, on the Lyntown industrial estate beside the railway between Eccles and Patricroft stations is the largest producer locally in Eccles.  Two local small bakeries also make their own Eccles cakes: Law’s bakery on Parrin Lane, Winton, Eccles (near Monton church) and Wards Bakery on Barton Lane.

In 2004 and again in 2013, Eccles cakes made national headlines as Greggs bakery stopped selling Eccles cakes in all its shops, claiming there was no market for them, customers preferring chocolate cakes and muffins.  In 2013, during the Eccles Cake Festival, they again refused to stock them, even in their Eccles branch.

Lancashire Fire service have reported that Eccles cakes can catch fire if heated in a microwave oven, possibly due to the sugar content so if you prefer warm Eccles cakes, it is best to reheat them in the oven.

In the 2013 Eccles cake festival there was a competition called the “Great Eccles Cake-off” to find the best amateur bakers including the best Eccles cake.  The winner, a Mrs E Charnley of Eccles, received one dozen Eccles cakes as a prize (!)

So, love them or loathe them, call them dead fly cakes, fly pies, fly cemeteries, sweet patties, eat them hot or cold, from a famous chef recipe or an old favourite, enjoy this fine and tasty treat from Eccles, preferably one of the locally made ones!

Elizabeth Charnley is a Green Badge Guide for the Bridgewater Canal.

Check out her website www.charnleysoutdoors.com to contact her directly.

Worsley Delph

by Alexandra Fairclough

The newly refurbished Delph, Worsley

Looking today at the recently refurbished Worsley Delph, we can see a floodlit cross feature set within a distinctive stone-faced water filled hollow. This former stone quarry was used for many of the local buildings but it was the start of the Bridgewater Canal, the cradle of the Industrial Revolution.

Francis Egerton, the third Duke of Bridgewater, wanted to mine his coal deposits out of his land.  Coal had been mined in Lancashire for centuries but the Worsley mines ran deep and kept flooding.  Influenced by his father’s idea to drain the mines, Francis Egerton decided to cut a water course to help reduce flooding, access and retrieve the coal and also transport it to market.

In 1761, the Bridgewater Canal from Worsley Delph to Manchester was completed. Coal from the Worsley colliery canal tunnels and other local pits could get to market quickly and more cheaply than ever before.

The main consumers for this coal initially were households for cooking and heating, however, a constant and much cheaper supply led to demand from industry such as brick-making, metal trades, glass-making and eventually to larger scale manufacturing industries involving imported raw cotton. Due to fact that almost 50% of the world’s raw cotton was manufactured in the 19th century was  traded from Manchester, it became a wealthy city known as ‘Cottonopolis’.

Learn more about the Worsley Delph, the mines, the people who created or visited the canal and the meaning of the public art on one of our Worsley Tours. The Creative Worsley tour also includes the artists musicians architects and writers associated with the first cut canal in England.

Alexandra runs regular tours around the Bridgewater canal.

To contact her visit http://Alexatours.eventbrite.com

Book our next Worsley tour here

Saturday 3rd October 2020

11am Meet outside the Delph Bar & Restaurant

https://worselywonderguidedtour.eventbrite.co.uk

Steam Hammer

The Salford Steam Hammer

by Michele Thompson

Many a local in Salford will walk or drive past Nasmyth’s Business Park on Green Lane, Patricroft and may glance with interest at the structure now surrounded by mirrored panelling at the entrance, but few will know how important it was to the Industrial Revolution.

The site was home to James Nasmyth’s Bridgewater Foundry in the 19th Century, making machinery, locomotives and tools. Standing proudly outfront with a fresh lick of light blue paint, is one of Nasmyth’s finest inventions, the steam hammer.

James Nasmyth chose Salford as the spot for his new engineering works after walking the route of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830. He stopped for a break at the point where the railway crosses the Bridgewater Canal and the site obviously made an impression on him. When he had to move from his premises above a glass works in Dale Street (because some machinery fell through the floor!), he moved to the Patricroft site.

The steam hammer design was an innovation for metal work, as before its conception metal hammers struck every blow with the same amount of force. The steam hammer could be controlled to gently break the top of an egg placed in a wine glass or fall with such force that the vibrations could be felt for miles. A party trick often displayed for the Earl of Ellesmere and his guests.

The hammer was developed initially for Isambard Kingdom Brunel in order to make steam ships and was sold across the world transforming manufacturing. It was quickly adapted and used in pile driving. Bridges such as the High Bridge in Newcastle and The Royal Border Bridge in Berwick upon Tweed were built much more quickly than ever possible before due to the speed and efficiency of the pile driver. Piles which previously would have taken men 12 hrs to install now took minutes.

The Steam Hammer on Green Lane is nicknamed Thor and was in use in Elsecar Colliery in Barnsley. It is one of the smallest of the hammers that was available. Others could reach 20ft tall and could deliver blows of over 100 tons. As part of the EST 1761 project to revitalise the Bridgewater Canal funding and local enthusiasts brought it to Salford for renovation.

James Nasmyth was originally born in Scotland but spent much of his life in the Industrial heartlands of England.

If you would like to hear more about James Nasmyth, the steam hammer and the Bridgewater Canal in Salford why not check out our series of walks around the area.

Michele is a Green Badge Guide for the Bridgewater Canal

Contact her directly to discuss a tour:

Call: 0778692053

Email: gotguided@gmail.com

http://www.facebook.com/gotguided