At Lecture - revising it.


Home and writing up Lecture.

Evening at Plant's Cross Keys. Raffle - I won fat goose for dad.

Eclipse total of Moon tonight.


Morning - Out after Beer orders in town.

Afternoon - In market and cutting and printing 400 school tickets for Diorama.


Morning - Very wet windy day. Walked to Oakamoor and met Mr Lees and Mr Bassnett of Alton to make valuation of Wood farm. Mr S. Mottram valued against me.

This is my first unaided(?) valuation and I managed it fairly well. My valuation of fixtures came to about £8 and Mottram's to about £11. So we went through it and brought(?) it to £9.17.

The stack Hay Mr Mottram and I brought(?) to 10 tons. It is consumed on premises or £1 tonnage to be paid Landlord (Earl Shrewsbury) if sold off. So as hay is now at £5 ton I offered Mottram £4 and to my surprise he wanted £5 saying that the other day he got £6 ton at a sale. So I wrote Mr Lees to night asking if he would give any more than £40 for the stack.

Then 2 acres hillage he wants £1 per acre and says it is quite Customary but dad tells me 10/- per acre is the usual amount allowed.

1) Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury


Walked to Oakamoor, train to Rocester, looked at Infant's school for Lecture, saw Mr Hunt, vicar and then went to see Mr Campbell, Woodseat, did not come to any definite arrangement as they said it would not pay to have Diorama at Rocester.

Afternoon, train to Ashbourne, had tea with Rachel.
Ashbourne to Froghall to(?) Oakamoor and walked home very tired.

Saw Town Hall, Ashbourne, hire(?) £2 includes piano, gas and warming(?) and seats. No where to fix screen, did not notice locality of gas.

St. John's Hall about half (word unreadable) Town Hall 10/- no piano, seats and gas. No where to hang screen. Will have to get a moveable screen holder.

Town Hall would be best, usual charge here front seats 2/- Hall, Gallery 6d. If I got schools and gave matinee at 5 or 5:30 would pay.


Cattle Sale at Alton Castle Inn - About a dozen people there - just managed to get my expenses.

Evening - Busy writing up lecture.


Walked to Dilhorn and saw Mr Chadwick Schoolmaster, he said he did not think it would pay to have diorama there, people too apathetic.

Then walked to Blythe Bridge and saw Mr Wakefield retired Station Master, he said there was room there price(?) £1. prohibitive so he said see the vicar about the schoolroom.

Saw the vicar Rev. T.P. Forth and he said he would write me on the subject. Room 5/- with gas and seats.

Home about 6pm very tired.


Walton Villa with Bert for tea.

1) In the diary, very little space is allocated for Sundays. John would work 6 days a week and on Sundays, he would spend time with his wife and parents. Some Sunday entries are missing from the copy of the diary that I have but John would usually not write more than one line for a Sunday in any case.


To Oakamoor and Alton with Payne and trap to be 4/-.

Saw Mr George H. Elam Schoolmaster, Oakamoor and he said Room would be 3/-. He will distribute school tickets. He said best time for Oakamoor would be 7 for 7:30.

Then went to Alton and saw Mr George Beech, Schoolmaster, he will see to school tickets, but says they are building a new room at Alton, best wait for he(?) does not know hire(?) of it. Mr Beech will write me when the room is ready.

Called on George Charlesworth coming home. He says I had better secure Mr Rabone (T.H.) and also Charles Bill Esq Farley Hall, a great friend of Mr. S. Allen would probably come and take the chair.


Home, writing additions to lecture. In market.

Afternoon - To Tean to arrange about the schoolroom for Diorama - Mr John Cotton the schoolmaster will distribute the school tickets.


To Tean and Leigh with Payne and trap on Beer Business - came home by Brass works after cattle entries.

Evening - To writing out Mellor's Timber Valuation, letters etc.


Home. Running about on various jobs.

To Hollington with Paynes trap and Wm(?) to value value 8 fallen trees for Mr Mellor, Stone Merchant.

Started about 3pm and home by 6.

Evening. Selecting extra slides etc from J.H. Stewards Catlog.

1) If it really says "Wm" then I expect it was his brother William.


Morning - With Payne and trap to High Shut, Cheadle Common, Gorsty Hill and Tean Ford for Cattle entries for next Tuesday but got none.

Afternoon and Evening
On brewery business etc.


Fixing up re lecture all day. At 5pm we all, Self, Bert, J. Lowndes, Hordern and Ursula started off in Paynes Wagonette and pair greys to Kingsley.

Fixed up right(?) and lecture well appreciated. First time I have spoken before an audience who have paid for admission - pleased to hear the hearty clap at close of Lecture.

Jacob's gas very bad.

F. Hordern boosing and neglecting work.


Trotting about re Diorama. Making a case for Screen.

Saw Mr. Green at Union and he promised to lend me 1/2 dozen comic(?) slides for Monday.

Took Jacob Lowndes 5lb Chlorate of Potash which arrived here by parcel post to day.

Arranged with Payne for Horse and trap for 4/- to Start at 5pm.

Evening - Revising and correcting lecture sheets.


New Market

Morning - Went over to Kingsley to see about piano for next Monday. Could not get one nor musicians.

Home again and in Market.

Odd jobs re Diorama and went all over Cheadle for a bit of quick lime for Lowndes.

Evening - Rehearsal in Boys School room all the quire boys there, also Bert, Ursula, Fanny Yates and Mona.
Lecture all right but I want a few more views about 6 to make it long enough.
Frank Hordern came but would not play piano because boys were there.

1) Quicklime
2) Mona was John's younger sister - Amelia Mona Walton Alcock, born 1864
3) The Ursula mentioned was probably John's daughter who was 3 at the time. John also had a sister Ursula, aged 44, although I think she lived in Stoke in 1888.


Running about after Diorama business.

Afternoon. To see men cutting Hay at Mrs Plants rick near Major's Barn. And went to Tape Mill and saw it weighed - It is for James Bennett, Moss Lane, N Cheadle and weighed 1 ton 3 1/2 cwt @ £5.10.0 per ton.

1 ton - 5.10.0
3 cwt - 16.6
1/2 cwt - 2.9
£6.9.3 Total

Evening. Jacob Lowndes sent for me and said he would use lime light instead of oil. So he found we could not get the necessary chemicals here viz. Chlorate of Potash - Hould(?) wants 2/. per lb for this or 4d per oz. - so I ordered some from York at 1/2d per lb.

1) Diorama


Arranged with Lowndes to have a rehearsal of Panorama on Friday night at 8:30 within Boys schoolroom.

Went down to Brookhouse and told F. Hordern.

Arranging with Machin re printing tickets for lecture. No pink tickets to be got here.

Payne says he will take us to Kingsley or Oakamoor and back for 4/- Alton 5/-.

Bert cannot dry the sheets she has just washed for it, it has been so foggy all day.

1) F. Hordern - was this Frank Hordern? Alfred Hordern was John's brother-in-law, married to his sister Hannah. In 1900, John had a daughter whom he called Hannah Hordern Alcock. She was later known as Nancy.
2) Pink tickets - was that a joke?
3) Bert was the name that John called his wife Alberta.


Selling by auction. Cattle etc belonging to George Charlesworth, Gorsty Cote near Alton.

Good attendance
Fair prices
Beautiful day
Got every penny in same day
Good dinner and tea
Paid Charlesworth 1/2 money over £41.5.6
2 Cheques in hand41.7.6
Total Sale£82.13.0

Rode from Sale with Payne - he is selling drink there to day - Mrs Hammond rode home with us, she lives in Queen Street below Poultneys. She travelled with drapery. She says Charlesworth is going away to avoid a bastard case by a woman whom he paid 150 pounds last year for another child - only fancy. She says Mrs George Charlesworth will be alright when he is away. She has about 30 cwt cheese, 2 pigs in Salt and 2 bags flour etc in store.

Ariel view of Gorsty Cote Farm, taken in the 1970's.
Thanks to Chris Green for the photo.

1) In the 1860's, an engineer would have earnt 110 pounds a year for a 60 hour week
2) George Charlesworth was born in 1853 in Alton. He married Fanny Heath and according to the 1881 census, they lived and worked at Gorsty Cote farm. (Thanks to Hazel Mills for the information)


In House all day, finishing writing up draft lecture, life in N.Z.

prep(?) things for Sale to morrow.

Rindle for Rents in Evening.

Salt finished circulars for Kingsley Lecture on N.Z. Geo(?) Blurton called but they were not ready.

Very dense for to night. worst I have seen. But it has been a beautifully mild sunny day.


Morning - Writing letter for Payne and to see Sergeant Ward re getting license for Payne to sell liquors at Gorsty Cote sale on Tuesday.

Afternoon - To Alton, arranged with Mrs Amsworth to engage the room at the Shrewsbury Arms Hotel for 15/- they to find seats and piano for lecture to be held on Monday January 23 1888.

Called on Charlesworth at Gorsty Cote and he says he is afraid he will not be able to get away before the next steamer after the Rimulaka.

Evening - Went to Walton Villa and found dad unable to move off his back. Mother has been putting hot Cayenne pads on his back and it gave him much pain til they were taken off. They will keep on pottering(?) with him till too late. I have told them from the first that physic will not cure him. But they just(?) laugh about the water cure. Now he is getting too weak. If I had been allowed full play at first when he had strength to help me, he would have been better now. I should have thought that Polly's death would have given them enough of Allopathic doctors and their drugs.

John Hodgkiss over. He says he pays rent 16/- an acre for the farm he holds near Horton.

1) John Hodgkiss was John's uncle, married to his mother's sister Ursula Yardley. They were from Horton, near Leek.
2) Allopathic medicine
3) Water cure
4) Polly was John's sister Mary Alcock, who died in 1879, aged 23.


Morning - To Rindle, collecting rent books and auditing them and prep(?) new rent books.

Afternoon - In market and had tea at Walton Villa.

Evening - Tomenting(?!) dad with hot flannels for over an hour and put warm flannel bandage on him for the night - dad has been very uneasy with his back to day and can only turn with difficulty. The pads give him much relief.

Met Mrs Loton(?) of Dilhorn in Market and told her she could have the trap(?) with lamps and cushions for £3.


To Tean and Gorsty Hill on brewery business. At Walton Villa writing letters and doing up books etc.

Put circular re 1st lecture at Kingsley in hand.

The Xmas bills are pouring in at a great rate. There is no money to pay them with - I am getting disgusted.

Jacob Lowndes is a shuffler I'm afraid. This morning he sent a letter to say he could not do the 11 slides I took him in yesterday, so I went down and brought all away but 2 which he is to do, viz. Maoriland and Annandale.


Morning - Office writing preps list of views for Jacob Lowndes to copy. He has 11 things to copy for the lecture in all. I took them down this morning.

Afternoon - I walked to Kingsley and saw inside Temperance Hall with Mr Blurton. Mr Blurton is to distribute the circulars for me. Mrs (name missing) of the Old Oak Inn will lend us a piano.

Froghall to Oakamoor by 4.25 train saw the schoolmaster and he promises to write me when the schoolroom will be disengaged.

Jacob Lowndes now says we shall want a 9" screen and oil lamp for these small rooms - I am afraid there will be too many petty expenses in this lecture. I have already spent now £4.

Got home very tired about 6pm and found Charlesworth waiting for me from Gorsty Cote. He is putting his sale in my hands and is off to N.Z. He has seen Mr S. Allen Esq and that has done it.

1) At this time, John was travelling to towns near Cheadle, trying to organise talks about New Zealand.
2) With no railway station in Cheadle, John would have to walk to nearby towns that had railway stations. The only other alternative would be to rent a horse and trap, which would be expensive. It's quite amazing how far John would walk in a day.
3) According to my excellent Edwardian and Great War Cheadle book, William Shepherd Allen spent quite some time on the north island of New Zealand and this is probably why he recommended to Charlesworth to go to live in New Zealand.
4) According to this website (, 4 pounds in 1888 would have bought about 274 pints of beer.
5) Cheadle to Kingsley distance

6) Here's what it says about Jacob Lowndes in the Edwardian and Great War Cheadle book:
"Jacob Lowndes. 1840- 20 July 1915, 19 High Street, photographer.
A plumber and glazier living in the Georgian terrace, Market Square, he was a keen artist and photographer. In 1871 he moved to 19 High Street, becoming Cheadle's first professional photographer, and from there he conducted the family business. He was specially noted for his postcard views of the area. In 1912 he drew from memory a sketch of Paradise Street, Cheadle as it was in the 1870's. He has since become recognised internationally for his postcards which are collected world-wide. Jacob Lowndes took a very active part in town functions such as painting scenery for plays and concerts performed at the Town Hall and he was organist at the parish church and choirmaster for 38 years. He was Parish Councillor from 1905 to 1907. Married with six children, he retired to and died at the home of his daughter in Stone."


Bright sunny day but it is frosty. Out nearly all day on dad's business. Paying Tithes at Royal Oak, seeing Poultneys called on Payne who is confined to his bedroom with a cold.

This evening I went with Fanny Yates to a social meeting at the Wesleyan Schoolroom, it has been the old folkes tea party today, both father and mother had invitations but did not go. Father is still ill in bed.

At the meeting Mr. Blagg spoke well and then Mr. S. Allen. Mr. Allen said his father said on his death bed, "William, thank God I am not leaving you one penny but what has been honestly earned".

Mr. Rev Buckley Yates was there too, it appears that he originated these meetings 5 years ago - it is for people over 60 years old and widows also.

The room was crammed as the doors are thrown open to all in the evening, but the heat was great, there is no ventilation.

I heard Mrs Backening(?), not bad at all.

1) Fanny Yates was John's niece, daughter of his sister Sarah Ann and John Yates. She would have been about 19 at this time.
2) William Shepherd Allen M.A. J.P. 1831-1915. He bought Woodhead Hall in 1841 and got an M.A. from Oxford in 1857 (source Edwardian and Great War Cheadle book)
3) Charles John Blagg 1832-1915. A solicitor who lived at Greenhill House (source Edwardian and Great War Cheadle book).


I went to Walton Villa at 10am for dad and forwarded and made out Bells cash sheet. After had dinner at Walton Villa and out all the afternoon, paying and receiving accts for dad. Tea at Walton Villa and in evening went to Rindle for rents but did not get any money.

My cold is somewhat better to day, but it has been a dismally foggy and dark day, so different to N.Z. (New Zealand)

Dad has had a poor Xmas; ill in bed since 21st Dec. two weeks tomorrow. He had a bad back for some time and confined to the house but on 16 Dec he went with me to Rakeway (Knott's Place) to look at the property of Thacker and as it came on wet and cold, I think he got(?) cold as he had no macintosh on and his legs got wet and he had to change his trousers on getting home. Dr says it is inflammation of the kidneys, but I have little faith in physic. The kidneys want help not clogging up with drugs. The poor old chap finds it very tiresome having to stay in bed as he has never spent a day in bed before. It is clearly my duty to help him now all I possibly can as he helped me when a child on his knee. My good kind father God help and bless him.

1) John's father William was about 74 at the time of this diary. He lived at Walton Villa in Cheadle with his wife. Walton Villa is still there - it is by the roundabout on Charles Street. Here's the 1881 census:
1881 census, Walton Villa, Charles St., Cheadle:
Wm. ALCOCK M Male 66 Longton, Stafford, England Auctioneer
Hannah ALCOCK Wife M Female 63 Gratton
Elizabeth ALCOCK Daur U Female 22 Cheadle Milliner
Mona W. ALCOCK Daur U Female 17 Cheadle Teacher
Kate HILL Sister W Female 76 Longton Milliner
Catherine COOPERVisitor U Female 17 Cheadle Teacher
Eliza BOLTON Servant U Female 13 Cheadle Servant

Walton Villa - I'm not sure if it's the house on the right or the one on the left

2) John's father was an agent for Bell's brewery. He sold ale to the pubs in Cheadle. Due to his father's ill health, John was doing this work for his father. I once found a piece of paper with the following written on it:
"PUBLIC NOTICE - August 4th 1881
Having given up the keeping of ALE STORES in CHEADLE and accepted instead an AGENCY for Messrs. JOHN BELL and Co. of Burton-on-Trent, I beg to request that all accounts for Ale bought from me up to the above date may be paid to me as early as possible. All Ale bought from me after this date will be promptly delivered by Messrs. J. BELL and Co., direct from Burton-on-Trent, and payment for same to be made to me as their Agent.
W. ALCOCK, Walton Villa.