The Cockshutt History Project

Background and Introduction

It all started in 1994 when Dee Taylor; writer, freelance journalist and broadcaster got together with Wendy Jones and decided that as Cockshutt was quite an old village, it would be interesting to do some research into this. The best place to start seemed to be the present since a number of residents have lived here for many years; their memories would give a vivid picture of recent history and needed capturing before it was too late. Sadly Dee soon became ill with cancer and died in 1998 and the project came to a halt. By this stage Dee and Wendy had taken a course on interviewing and collected a number of recordings which were stored by Wendy.

In 2002, Wendy discovered while researching the history of the church that there were two other people in the village researching aspects of the history of Cockshutt. One was looking into the lost houses and the other into the Public Houses. The three of them got together and the project was reborn.

Wendy and Helen spent many hours in the reference library in Shrewsbury researching the archives for Cockshutt references. An appeal went out for material – old photos, stories and information. The response was huge, so in September 2003, the collected material was exhibited in the Millennium Hall. The support for this was overwhelming and encouraged Wendy, Helen and Dean to look into publishing this material in some way. A book was decided upon but research showed that to produce this to a decent standard, financial backing was required. Undaunted, they started looking at sources and discovered the Local Heritage Initiative. A Committee was formed and a grant applied for; granted in April 2004.

The more we have discovered, the bigger the project has grown; there were so many cross references to Petton that we have decided to incorporate this into the book too.

Collecting the materials has not been easy but the task ahead is not simple; we have to collate and store the material, translate what we have discovered from notes into readable text then pull the whole together into a proper narrative. We have set ourselves a deadline of publication by October 2005. It will be a challenging time!



In the early stages, it would probably be fair to say that planning was not too much in our thinking! However, once we had decided we wanted to produce a book from our material, planning was necessary.

Stage 1 was to decide what sort of book we wanted to produce. We looked a few local history books to see if we liked the style, format and feel of the book. We decided we liked the look of ‘Tilley – a secret history’.

Stage 2 was to investigate how much it would cost to put together something like this. We approached several printers and it soon became evident that we would need financial backing.

Stage 3 was to investigate who would be prepared to give financial assistance with such a project and discovered Local Heritage Initiative. Reading through their literature it soon became evident that we needed to ask a lot more questions about our project before proceeding – such as what would we do with the mass of material, how would we deal with photographic material, what would we do with recordings and finally what would we do about making our scribblings comprehensible to a printer?

Stage 4 was to form a committee to oversee the project and make decisions about the project as a whole. If we were to apply for a grant from LHI, we would need the whole project properly costed out and our requirements to see it through assessed. Fortunately the LHI application form helped to focus our ideas but we needed to do quite a lot of research to find out what we needed to buy to get the job done, especially on the equipment side. E.g. it was not enough to get a digital camera to take photographs, you needed to have one that could produce photos of the right quality and type for the printer to incorporate within the book. We wanted to store all the material from the project on disc, so we needed a computer with a CD (700Mb) or better still, a DVD (5Gb) burner.

Stage 5 was actually applying for the grant and getting it.

Stage 6 was getting the equipment we had planned.

Stage 7 is to plan the chapter headings and decide on what material to include – this is taking place now.

Stage 8 is to write the chapters, which is being started now.

Stage 9 is to collate the book, which will be undertaken as the chapters are being written but will be undertaken in earnest early next summer.

Stage 10 is to publish the book in October 2005.

Project Development

The project didn’t start off as a project but gradually developed into one. The stage at which this happened is difficult to define but may well have coincided with the first exhibition. Exhibitions were arranged to show everyone what had been discovered and it was the response to these that encouraged the researchers to produce a book. For the exhibitions, in addition to the material collected by the founder members of the group, several residents added their own material, so we had a display of ancient objects dating from Roman times and found locally, an early 20th Century AA roadsign from a local house that has been restored and the brass cockerel that used to be on top of the flagpole on the church tower.

When production of a book was costed out, it was quickly evident that financial backing would be needed. It was also obvious that we would need to produce our material in a format that the printer would need. Then we looked at what we were going to do with the vast amount of material we had collected and concluded that storage on an electronic medium would be the most efficient. We needed a computer. Funds would be needed for this, together with all associated software, supplies and peripherals.

To get funds a committee was formed and an application made to the Local Heritage Initiative in November 2003. After some honing of the application with the assistance of LHI, our grant was approved in April 2004.

We are focussed on producing a book but with the deadline of October 2005 now looming, we have to decide on what to include as there is far too much for one book! We have decided that everything will be stored on CD or DVD to be available to future generations, regardless of whether or not it makes it into the book. The key contributors are starting to translate their notes into prose and we shall shortly be deciding what pictures to include with the chapters.


Core Members

Wendy Jones
Chair & Founder member, research into Church history & village as a whole.

Helen Willmoth
Research into history of ‘lost houses’ & village as a whole.

Dean Bywater
Research into history of local pubs and racecourse.

Heather Bayne
Financial Controller, Research into village geography and Kenwick Park and Wood.

Barbara Cooksey
History of Petton

Linda Baumgartl
History of Petton

Sue Johnson
Group secretary

Rick Johnson
LHI website liaison


Auxilliary Members

There have been too many contributions to the project to name all individually, but all residents of Cockshutt and Petton, past and present are auxilliary members of the group.