Website helps trace history of villages

How Maddiston looked long ago
How Maddiston looked long ago

Family and local history can stir many long-forgotten memories and one group is using a modern tool to help people get back to their roots.

Maddiston and Rumford Local History Group’s website, set up by David Leask (61), of Westquarter, is a treasure trove for anyone wishing to trace ancestors and relatives, or find out more about the area’s history.

It’s packed with pictures and details of the people who have helped shape the area’s character over the years and it’s now receiving worldwide recognition.

Mr Leask, who runs the group with around a dozen other enthusiasts, said: “We’ve had e-mails from Australia and Canada from people who lived in the village before emigrating.

“It’s good to get feedback from them because sometimes they’re able to add details to photographs or tell us if the names we’ve been given for those featured are correct.

“You get to a point where you think you’ll never find a photograph of a particular place before it changed, but we’ve now got pictures of almost everywhere.

‘‘Our aim is to build a complete picture of the Maddiston and Rumford area, but it’s as much about people as places. Photographs jog memories about different families and help us put the flesh on the bones, telling the story behind the pictures.”

The website – – also has a brief – and incomplete – timeline of the changes the Maddiston area has experienced and the group wants people to add to it.

The year 1424 saw the first mention of Maddiston in official records and coal was certainly mined there in 1501, although it may have been even earlier.

The 19th century saw a boom in local mining, but the coal bings were cleared in the 1960s to make way for roads and the village grew sharply with more housing in the 1990s.

If you can help the history group fill in blanks, e-mail Mr Leask at