The Marple Website - Fighting To Keep Our Heritage Safe

Heritage Projects Index

Rebuilding of the Jolly Sailor Steps

The Jolly before demolition

When plans to demolish the Jolly Sailor first hit the local news, back in March 2002, some people thought that the pub was a listed building. Many more believed that, although the building wasn't, at least the horse-mounting block was. The truth is that neither the pub nor the mounting block, also known as 'the Jolly Sailor steps', was listed by English Heritage.

Members of the local community fought long and hard to save the pub from demolition, and local councillors, who supported the desire to find a better use for the historic building, tried to resist the developers by refusing planning permission several times. The battle ended at an appeal in January 2003, when the Secretary of State's inspector found in favour of the developers.

When it became clear that the Jolly could not be saved, Marple Local History Society wrote to the developers to ask if the steps could be preserved in memory of the pub, which had been at the centre of Marple's history for so many years.

Initial plans were to relocate the steps to Memorial Park, where similarly historic items have been re-sited in the past. However, it seemed a better idea to keep the steps as close as possible to the site of the Jolly, and it turned out that the small green on the corner of Church Lane and Stockport Road, opposite where the pub used to stand, was Council owned. When approached, they gave permission for the steps to be relocated there.

A long vigil was kept on the Jolly, waiting for demolition to start and for an opportunity to dismantle the steps. The pub was finally demolished in July 2003 and the contractor cooperated by dismantling and numbering the stones and by transporting the large capping stone directly to the new site, as it was far too large to move without heavy machinery. MAVIS members Peter Clarke and Phil Chapman moved the rest of the stones into storage in Andy Cook's garage. Andy, who lives near the new site, was happy to take care of them until arrangements could be made for the rebuilding.

Peter, who was the main driving force throughout this project, tried hard to find a local stonemason or bricklayer who would provide their services towards the rebuilding effort, but couldn't find one who was willing to do so. He was much more successful after approaching Stockport Council though, and they provided the services of an excellent stonemason called Billy Ludlam, who made a fantastic job of rebuilding the steps on the new site.

Billy finished the rebuilding work on Friday 5th September and, with immaculate timing, Peter arrived with Mark Whittaker to take some photographs for the Stockport Express, just as Billy and his mate were ready to lower the capping stone into position.

Peter designed a plaque featuring a photograph of the Jolly Sailor, and a magnified view of the steps in their original position, to explain something of their history, and agreed the wording with Marple Local History Society. The plaque was made by Capricorn Engraving and paid for by Marple Promotions. It was fitted to the steps on Sunday 5th October by Mark and his son Paul, and will hopefully remain there, unmolested, to explain how another small piece of Marple's history has been preserved. Maybe one day the steps will even become listed, as so many people had thought they were already.

A representation of the plaque:


This Horse Mounting Block was re-sited here following the demolition of the Jolly Sailor Public House, which stood diagonally opposite on the junction of Stockport Rd. / Station Rd.

The building pictured was built in 1835 but it is possible that the Mounting block dates from an earlier Inn that occupied the site. In addition to its licensed trade activities, the "Jolly" was a meeting place for many of the village's clubs, groups and organisations and was also the location of Marple's second Post Office from 1830 - 1875.

The Jolly Sailor was demolished in July 2003 to make way for flats.

The Marple Website would like to thank everyone who has helped us to achieve this, especially Stockport Council for allowing the steps to be rebuilt on the new site and for providing the labour to do it. A special thank you also to stonemason Billy Ludlam for his enthusiasm for the project and for making such a good job of the rebuilding work.