Mow Cop

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Mow Cop
Mow Cop Castle
Mow Cop Castle
Mow Cop is located in Cheshire
Mow Cop
Mow Cop
Location within Cheshire
OS grid referenceSJ855573
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Shire county
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtST7
Dialling code01782
AmbulanceNorth West
 West Midlands
EU ParliamentNorth West England
West Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
53°06′47″N 2°13′03″W / 53.112973°N 2.217582°W / 53.112973; -2.217582Coordinates: 53°06′47″N 2°13′03″W / 53.112973°N 2.217582°W / 53.112973; -2.217582

Mow Cop /ˈmˈkɒp/ is a village on the CheshireStaffordshire border, divided between the North West and West Midlands regions of England. It is 24 miles (39 km) south of Manchester and 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Stoke-on-Trent, on a steep hill of the same name rising up to 335 metres (1,099 ft) above sea level.[1] The village is among the westernmost hills of the Staffordshire Moorlands, with the Cheshire Plain directly to the west. For population details taken at the 2011 census, see Kidsgrove.

The name is first recorded as Mowel around 1270 AD, and is believed to derive from either the Anglo-Saxon Mūga-hyll, meaning "heap-hill", with copp = "head" added later, or the Common Celtic ancestor of Welsh moel (= hill), with Anglo-Saxon copp added later.[2]

At the village's summit, men once quarried stone to make into querns, used since the Iron Age for milling corn; this trade ended during the Victorian period. The village also has a long history of coal mining. A 65-foot (20 m) rock feature called the Old Man O'Mow in one of the quarried areas is believed to be the site of an ancient cairn. The most dominant feature of the village is Mow Cop Castle, a folly of a ruined castle at the summit of the hill, built in 1754. Both Mow Cop and Old Man O'Mow are under the management of the National Trust and on the route of the Cheshire Gritstone Trail. The village was served by a railway station, opened by the North Staffordshire Railway on 9 October 1848 and closed in 1964.

Mow Cop is also noteworthy as the birthplace of the Primitive Methodist movement. Starting in 1800, Hugh Bourne from Stoke-on-Trent and William Clowes from Burslem began holding open-air prayer meetings. On 31 May 1807, a large 14-hour camp meeting was held, leading to the founding of the Primitive Methodist Church in 1810. These camp meetings became a regular feature at Mow Cop, being held to celebrate the 100th, 150th and 200th anniversaries of the first camp.[3]

The village is featured prominently in the 1973 novel Red Shift, by Alan Garner. Since the late 20th century, Mow Cop is known for its Killer Mile, a one-mile road-cycling race from the railway level crossing on the western side of the hill, up to the castle. The race was first organized in the early 1980s by John Britton.[4] The climb is also well known among local cyclists and features in the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in Britain.[5]


The 335-metre (1,099 ft) hill on which the village lies upon is a moorland ridge composed of Sandstone and Millstone Grit rising eastwards above the Cheshire Plain. It is at the western edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands, forming the upland fringe of the southern Pennines, most of which are in the Peak District National Park to the east.[6] On a clear day, the hill offers views extending to the West Pennine Moors, Welsh mountains (including Snowdonia), Shropshire Hills and Cannock Chase.

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ "Mow Cop - Trig Point". Hill Bagging. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  2. ^ Kent, Jeff (2013). Staffordshire's 1,000-Foot Peaks. Witan Books. ISBN 978-0-9927505-0-3.
  3. ^ Farndale, W. E. (1950). The Secret of Mow Cop: A New Appraisal of the Origins of Primitive Methodism. London: Epworth Press.
  4. ^ "Killer Mile". Mow Cop Residents Association. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  5. ^ Warren, Simon (2010). 100 greatest cycling climbs: A road cyclist's guide to Britain's hills. London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 9780711231207.
  6. ^ "Potteries and Churnet Valley". Scottish Natural Heritage. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.

The following references are listed in the two books by Philip R. Leese:

  • Deardon, John (1986). Tale of the Backbone: Journey Along the Watershed of England. Book Guild. ISBN 0863321380.
  • Garner, Alan; Hill, Roger (1966). The Old Man of Mow. Collins. ASIN B005OH72RS.
  • Harper, W. J. (1907). Mow Cop and its Slopes: A Short History. The Local Herald. ASIN B004X2F04C.
  • Hoskins, W. G.; Grigson, Geoffrey (1951). Chilterns to Black Country. About Britain. 5. Collins. ASIN B0006D9DKY.
  • Kennedy, J., ed. (1980). Biddulph ("By the Diggings"): A Local History. Dept. of Adult Education, Keele University. ASIN B001OK2LSE.
  • Rowley, F. (c. 1907). Rowley's Photographic Centenary Souvenirs: Historic Mow Cop and Early Primitive Methodism. Biddulph: F. Rowley.
  • Simcock, J. (1975). Simcock, Mow Cop. self-published.
  • Walford, John (2011) [1854]. Memoirs of the Life and Labours of the Late Venerable Hugh Bourne: By a Member of the Bourne Family. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 110802498X.
  • Wilkes, Arthur; Lovatt, Joseph (1942). Mow Cop and the Camp Meeting Movement: Sketches of Primitive Methodism. Orphans' Printing Press Ltd. ASIN B002A8PCY4.
  • Leese, Philip R. (2010). Mow Cop: A Working Village. Churnet Valley Books. ISBN 9781904546726. Covers quarrying, coal mining, fustian, farming, shops and small businesses, and public houses.
  • Leese, Philip R. (2011). Mow Cop: Living on the Hill. Churnet Valley Books. ISBN 9781904546764. Covers social life, literary references to the hill, the Castle, the Mow Cop Giantess (Hannah Dale), Primitive Methodism, chapels, churches, schools, recreation, wartime reminiscences, and the artist Jack Simcock.

External links[edit]