12 December 2013

Jagger

The old packhorse bridge near Fox House

From the end of the sixteenth century, trade began to develop properly in the north of England but moving goods around was difficult. There were very few cross country tracks and products had to be carried on hardy packhorses. Gradually, certain packhorse trails became well-trodden and on wild moors, following a number of tragedies, in 1709 Parliament instructed the erection of stone guideposts or "stoops". so that travellers could orientate themselves in difficult weather conditions. Several of these evocative stones remain standing. My camera caught two of them yesterday afternoon on Beeley Moor between Chesterfield and Chatsworth.The man in charge of a packhorse train was known as a jagger. A "jag" was the load which one horse could carry. Peak District place names include Jaggerways, Jagger's Lot, Jagger's Gate, Jagger's Clough and several Jagger Lanes.

"Twas a course I trudged time beyond measure. Like a stream. Back n' forth from east t'west. Only the good lord 'imself knows ow many miles. Countless they was. But every journey wor diff'rent from next. No two wor ever same.

Me name is Tom Satterthwaite an I were born in Norton by Shefeld in 1675. Me faither - e wor a jagger too and  e taught me all I knows. I wor jus a lad of eight or nine when I first went wi im. Ower 'ills to Chester. It wor summer an t'heather were all purple. Even the osses sempt appy tho their burdens wor 'eavy. Me favourite wor owd Nelly. She ad a bit of shire in 'er. Well me dad said so any roads. She showed t'others the way like an 'ad a right good temper.

Mostly us jags wor cutlery, woollens and tools for farming. Sometimes coal - bloody 'eavy that. An we'd come back wi salt an sometimes tobacco from ships at Liverpool. The more me faither agreed to carry the more e got but e knew that if e agreed too much the osses'd stumble and e'd never get ower them bloody 'ills.
Above and below, the old guide stoop on
Beeley Moor west of Lamb Pasture
"Shefeld" - an old spelling of "Sheffield"
An they could be buggers tha knows. Them 'ills. In winter sometimes it wor so cowd you almost cried. The osses's d be snorting out all this white breath - like steam - and your foot'd gae thro bastard ice on top o puddles an you'd ne'er get warm agen all day. Yer skin'd be blue. An sometimes you'd ave t'fight wi bastard thieves an allus keep yer eyes oppen. Once I broke a vagrant's nose. Just  by Backwell  it wor. Jumped out from t' rocks. Poor bugger. Ran off like a leathered dog. Blood spouting all ower snow.

They was no tracks - not proper uns any roads. It were easy to get lost up ont moors what wi mists, other tracks leadin' God knows weer and the sun hidin' away like a bashful bairn. It all looked same. No 'ouses or landmarks. A bloke me dad knew died up ont Beeley Moor an two of is osses froze an all. It were thirty year ago. When parliament in London passed law a few year back - 1709 or 10, that's when  the fat duke got a stone mason - Charlie Simmonite from Holymoorside  to make some posts up theer. Even carved these bloody fingers on 'em so travellers would know weer t'go

It wor four days n'nights from Chester but I allus knew I weren't far from oam when I saw one o them posts rising out a moor. It were a damned good idea an nowadays there's a goodly number of 'em. No matter ow many times I goes back an forth across them ills, I am alllus thankful to see a familiar post - like that star in t'night sky that guided them kings - leading us 'oam.

Me own lads Henry an' John. They's jaggers too. Strong as oxes them buggers are an they'll argue toss about jag money. But these days there's allus some turncoat bugger who'll do it fer less even if he dunt know route. Best to stick wi us I say. A've trod that byway so many times it's like walkin' in me sleep till t'mist and t'rain sile down.

Some men stay put. Farming t'land or mekkin shoes or shoeing osses but I'm glad o'me own labour. I wunt change it for world. Tha feels free. That feels alive. Up ont ills wi the stars an the moon for yer ceilin' in balmy Maytime when the world is wekkin up an swallows are back and yer halfway oam an osses are drinkin' by brook. No I wunt change it. A jagger's life is ard but believe me it's a good un."
The old guide post by Beeley Lane

35 comments:

  1. OMG ~ how difficult was that to write and type Yorky. Lovely first person recount. A+

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    Replies
    1. Ee Carol, it wor as easy as tekkin breath cos this sort o' English matches way ah speak. What's ard is writin' in posh folks' English. Like anutha language tha knows lass.

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    2. Carol, are you trying to curry favour with him? Don't you know he LIKES being called 'Yorky'. Much better to keep him under control like I do, with a well-aimed 'Why Pee'?

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  2. If old Nellie was really a great horse, she'd have known the trail by herself. But having been lost in wilderness a few times, I know how welcome it is to find a sign. At least those can't be twisted by some demented hiker who's trying to send everyone else off in the wrong direction. Did you dream this up while you were painting? And I forgot to ask yesterday, but how does one paint plaid freehand?

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    Replies
    1. Aye Jan but Nelly were blind...
      I don't get your plaid question Jan. Hope you're not ridculing me as ridicule upsets me enormously. Were you referring to natural calico?

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  3. How utterly fortunate that you were there with your cassette tape recorder to get Tom Satterthwaite's story down in his own voice for posterity before he breathed his last in the spring of 1742.

    Me 'ats off t'ye, lad.

    (See, Carol, it isn't all that difficult...)

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    Replies
    1. Tha'd ave med a right good jagger Bob - wi yer gyratin' ips and craggy feachers! Mick Jagger!

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    2. Gor, if it's gyratin' ips and craggy feachers wot meks a right good jagger, ah'm in lak Flynn.

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  4. Wonderful! I was transfixed all the way. YP meets Bronte meets Hodgson Burnett.

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    Replies
    1. Aye Kathy, ah met both on em ont moors. Sickly young Emily in er bonnet an buxom Frances Odgson wi er rosy cheeks tha knows. An we did lie by Umberley Brook till they wor transfixed.

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    2. Aye lad. You are indeed a big liar.

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  5. Very nice post!
    Have a lovely weekend!
    You can discover my other blog;Cath CH Photography. Merci à bientôt.

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    Replies
    1. Merci cherie! And as un chien anglaise may I thank you for dropping by my umble blog. Ave you ever seen "Allo! Allo!"?

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  6. Thank you. I enjoyed your entertaining and informative post. I've never had the imagination for that sort of writing (ignoring the accent).

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    Replies
    1. Pleased you enjoyed it sir. There's not much written or known about the lives of the jaggers and having walked many of their byways, I wanted to somehow pay my respects to them with that imagined voice.

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  7. This was pretty damn good, YP. Now I know the origin of the name Jagger, put across in a manner far more gripping than a volume of dusty history ever could.

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    Replies
    1. So pleased you "got it" Tom. That was exactly what I was trying to get across.

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    2. Get what? Sorry, have I missed something? I was thinking you were arguing for the privatisation of the Jagging industry. Routes could be sold allowing only licenced Jaggers to operate along them (naturally they would have to pay a licence fee), cargo could be taxed more effectively, individual Jaggers would then have to join one of the six companies licensed to distribute goods (six to maintain a degree of competition to avoid profiteering) and then we could have an organisation as efficient, fair and altruistic as the energy supply companies. The Big Six get their profits, the government get their taxes and to hell with the people. My God, they should have done that with water distribution ages ago!

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  8. My God! When David Cameron reads this you will surely be invited to join his "think tank" - which mostly involves snorting cocaine and watching Nigella Lawson cooking videos. The jaggers who trod those hills would have been utterly bemused by your whimsical notions, snorting, "Tha's off thee 'ead lad!" before tying you to a guidepost.

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    Replies
    1. It's true though, isn't it? Recent Governments of all hues just seem to be privatising everything, controlling every aspect of daily life and taxing the hell out of its electorate and then, when their profligate spending catches up with them, they sell off the family silver. If I got onto Cameron's Think Tank, first thing I would do is get them all smashed out their heads and when they wake up they will say, 'We nationalised WHAT!!' and I'd say, oh, nothing much, just the railways, the energy and water companies, that sort of thing'

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    2. Sadly, our government down here in New Zealand is doing it too.

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