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Revd. J A Aston

A dearly loved pastor

The Revd. J A Aston BA was the fifth Vicar of Bollington St. John’s church in office from 1853 to 1856. We know that he was dearly loved because one of the Sunday School teachers wrote a lengthy poem to be read to him at the Church Sunday School Tea Meeting on December 30th 1856. The poem was typeset and printed presumably for distribution among the audience. Here is the poem …



Recited at the Church Sunday School Tea Meeting, December 30th, 1856.


In Bollington township, now don’t think me vain,
If a few facts connected with it I explain:
It’s surrounded on all sides by rocks and fine hills,
And it’s rivers are useful for turning the mills.

Near one thousand houses the town contains,
With near five thousand souls, as the census explains;
Near one thousand acres is the measure of the ground,
You can see it’s uneven by looking around.

On the north, the hill Beeston, so rugged and drear,
If you look from its top ‘twould near fill you with fear;
But it is changing as quick as you could desire,
See, the great alterations of Mr. John Brier.

On the south, the hill Nancy, that all here do know,
And its beacon at top is “as white as new snow,”
And over the valley, on the opposite hills,
Is the great factory own’d by Brooke and Swindells.

There’s Olivers’ and Greg’s, and what else I can’t tell,
And there’s the new factory close by the canal;
And if down you would look, from fam’d Nancy’s high hills,
There’s those hives of industry, “The Bollington Mills.”

If a little further, you look for awhile,
There’s the Bollington Church, in “its pure gothic style:”
Her Schools just around her, I am sure you revere,
She is just like a mother and children so dear.

Miss Minter and Miss Holmes to their scholars are kind,
And much to their credit, do improve the young mind.
Messrs. Davenport and Henstock, you may depend,
To our satisfaction the school superintend.


Of all our kind teachers I’ve a great deal to say,
Who at school give their labours on each Sabbath day;
And our belov’d pastor our spiritual guide,
The Rev. J. A. Aston, in whom we confide.

Great have been his labours, and his kindness no end,
We, in loosing his service, the poor lose a friend;
Tho’ his health’s suffer’d much, we’ve not heard him complain
Of the toil he’s gone thro’, that we by it might gain.

In our beautiful Church, if you only look there,
Galleries were erected by his special care,
And the Infant School also, as each of us find,
All connected therewith are the fruits of his mind.

And all his kind actions are producing much good,
Like small streams, when united, swell out in a flood;
Of the honour due to him he ne’er made a show,
Like a star, by a cloud, is prevented to glow.

Then let all of us hope, that where’er he may be,
He, fruits from his labours, in abundance may see;
His Home, Wife, and Children, like gifts from above,
Be a source of great pleasure, affection, and love.

As the time will soon come, that he from us must part,
Tho’ he change his station, may he not change his heart,
For our hearts will be with him whenever we trace
The results of his labours in this thriving place.

A long life may he live, for the good of mankind,
And those be not forgot he is leaving behind;
And the very good maxims he to us hath given,
May they lead us the road to meet him in heaven!


This poem gives us a number of historically interesting pieces of information. Firstly it tells us that the balconies, galleries in the poem, in the church were added after the church was consecrated. It reminds us that Adelphi mill was built in 1856. It tells us that Beeston hill is changing fast – this was the height of the quarrying industry, and John Brier, who owned Oak Bank mill, was building something, possibly more mill or maybe re-building it after another fire! Or it could have been his great house on Oak Bank above the mill, which was completed in 1858. It shows us that White Nancy was not only painted white but also as popular then as it is today. “The Bollington Mills” refers to Higher and Lower mills at the end of Church Street. The reference to the church and ‘Her Schools’ refers to St John’s church, St John’s school which then stood where Vine Street is today and also Lowther Street school. The poem also suggests that the Infant School, that is St John’s school next door to the church, was built at this time. The printer was located in Great High Street – we call it Palmerston Street today.


My thanks go to those who researched and discovered the history that is presented in these pages. Please read the full acknowledgement of their remarkable achievement.

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