The word village, for me, engenders a romantic notion of rural life moving at a snails pace set within a close-knit community. Of course, this is not always the case, the seconds, minutes and hours tick on and villages grow and adapt to meet the needs and demands of the people who live in them.
A powerful demonstration of this rural evolution is the empty iconic Shaw’s Pallet factory in Diggle. Once a major centre for international trade the site is now derelict and empty. Walk through the factory today and there is little to show what a major role it once played in the manufacture of spinning looms and then later, wooden pallets. Its future is unknown following a decision to shelve the relocation of Saddleworth School.
Shaws has played a major role in the history of Diggle but its preservation is not guaranteed. Fortunately, there are a few people in the area who are willing to do what they can to preserve the building. One of these is Maurice Brayford. I met him at the Diggle Heroes presentation at the end of last year where he was recognised for his selfless dedication to keeping Shaw’s Victorian clock running and on time. After talking to Maurice about the clock and its history it is clear that he has a real, deep rooted passion and attachment to Shaws. He told Diggle News that he wanted to do something in honour of this once great factory.
Maurice worked at the factory from 2001 until its closure in 2006 as a boiler-man taking care of the heating systems and managing general maintenance. He was responsible for the whole site including the clock tower and its clock.
Following the closure of the 22 acre site Maurice has continued, voluntarily, to maintain, manage and fund the clock. He said that, “In the past 13 years the clock has stopped only six times. Five times with frost and once with a broken pendulum. The clock keeps accurate time and many people in the village still set their clocks by it. It only looses one minute a-week, remarkable after over 120 years of service.”
Maurice said, “The future for Shaws is uncertain but whilst the clock remains I will continue to care for it”