Hazel Grove History

A Suburb in Stockport

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Name Change

In 1836 Bullock Smithy changed its name and became Hazel Grove. The reason behind the name change remains to this day a little unclear with several competing explanations.

Bad Reputation
In 1750, John Wesley described Bullock Smithy as "...one of the most famous villages in the county for all manner of wickedness." It is believed that he was referring to the gambling, cock fighting and dog fighting that regularly took place. The town had become well-known for its proliferation of inns and beer houses, consequently creating quite a hardened and rough reputation for itself.

So it is possible that the change of name was an attempt on behalf of the village leaders to put the unruly past behind it as they were fed-up of the jokes surrounding the name. The Manchester Guardian had carried a story about an auctioneer trying to sell a rare book. No bidders were coming forward, so in an act of encouragement he told the crowd "Come on, Where's tha al from? Bullock Smithy? because tha don't know a book from a brick."

Reviving an Ancient Name
The committee in charge of changing the name officially claimed it wanted to 'revive' the ancient name of Hazel Grove rather than remove the uncouth name of Bullock Smithy. However, whether or not there ever was an ancient name of Hazel Grove is debatable. The closest historical use of a similar name is 'Hessel Grave' which appears on a map of 1674 near the modern
day Robin Hood pub near High Lane. Also, the present Grove Inn had been called the Hazel Grove Inn since it opened.

Lots of Hazel Trees
A further explanation is provided by N.H. Turner in the Hazel Grove 150th Anniversary booklet. He claims the name is based on the groves of ancient Hazel trees found in the Threaphurst and Windlehurst area of Norbury.

Disliked His Address
A final theory suggests that a certain Mr. Thomas Ashworth, Steward of Poynton in 1835, did not like his address as Bullock Smithy and therefore wanted it changing to something more amicable.

Conclusion
So there are several competing explanations. Whatever the real
reason is, the decision to become Hazel Grove was certainly a very popular one with a unanimous vote in favour of the change and a large celebration that followed. As many as 3000 villagers took part in the parade of 1836 which involved much drinking and eating. The popularity for celebrating this name change has not waned over time and similar celebrations took place in 1886, 1936 and 1986.