The Target Shed
What at first looks like a simple stone building at the end of a grass field, was in years past we believe, built as a stable for the horse or horses kept by the Cheetham family for their personnel transport (this is unconfirmed).
The building originally had a stone slab roof, however at some point in the early history of the club this stone roof collapsed and was later replaced with the present folded tin roof. You can still see inside the building the two original massive roof carrier timber beams running from gable end to gable end.
The stone windows in the gable ends are original and have never been glazed.
The internal structure originally composed of two separate rooms, the smaller of the two being the area that the current steel entrance door opens into and the larger one being the main storage area. The smaller room was approximately half the size of the large one. Dividing these two rooms was a single leaf brick wall that went up to the underside of the roof forming an apex.
That is why there are two entrances into the target shed.
The smaller room was probably a tack room. The original door was made of timber which rotted over the years and was replaced with the steel door that you can see now. This was primarily used by the club to house the Elsan toilets (buckets containing chemicals, for those of you too young to remember).
Behind the large door is the area in which the horse or horses were kept. The floor is made out of blue furnace brick (very hard wearing bricks) and is plumbed for drainage (you can see the drain point in the floor on the right hand side).
Target Shed Put Up Area
The target put up area, which comprises a cobbled area and a concrete slab surrounded on two sides by a dry stone wall and the target shed on the third, was originally where the horse or horses were stabled and groomed by the Cheetham family for their personnel transport.
Access to this area is off the field, just beyond the 100 yard marker, on to the cobbled area, which has a raised stone lip on the right hand side edging the concrete slab. The dry stone wall edges the other side of the slab, and the rear. This area, it is assumed, is where the horse(s) would be washed down.
Both areas have drainage points.
Robert Cheatham, later removed a section of the raised stone lip as a safety precaution, as several members had already tripped over the stone lip whilst carrying a full target and stand.
Robert, also re-built a small section of wall at the end of the put up area, to close off what was originally an exit point out onto the embankment leading down to the path that takes you up to the park.
This section of wall was originally built by Clive Stewart-Milner, however vandals had severely damaged this section of wall several years later, which resulted in Robert having to rebuilding it.
Target Shed Roof
The target shed roof has had many problems over the years, being replaced or repaired a number of times.
The roof which was originally on the building when the club took up residence consisted of flat stone flags, which were nailed to timber battens supported on timber rafters.
This original timber roof structure, supporting the stone slabs, rotted away, possibly as the result of bad maintenance or rainwater ingress, with the result that the weight of the stone slabs, which must have been considerable, caused the roof to collapse.
The resulting pile of stone rubble, was then cleared from inside the building by the then club members, and left as a piled up in the put up area, were it remained for many years, until a large number of these stone slabs were salvaged from this mass to be used to flag a section of the front shooting line local to the clubhouse.
The roof now needed to be replaced.
The new structure consisted of several timber trusses, which supported plastic covered tin cladding panels held in place using self-tapping screws.
Superficially the replacement roof looked okay, and functioned well for several years.
However at the start of 1989 the British weather, in the form of a winter gale of quite large proportions, comprising of strong winds and even stronger gusts, together with very heavy rain and intermittent thunder and lightning took its toll on the roof, with one particularly strong gust ripping the roof away from the stone walls, causing up to a meter of the stone work to collapse all round and most of the trusses to break apart. The cladding panels and the remaining timber framing then took off like a large butterfly flapping its wings. The roof then split into two with one side landing in our next doors neighbours garden, over the wall, and the other half landing out on the main field at the 90 metre distance mark on lane 6, which is roughly a quarter of the way across the field.
All this happened during the later afternoon.
The first indication that anything was wrong was received by Terry Gregory, the club Secretary at the time, who was just enjoying his evening meal when he received a phone call from the owner of the lodge house, situated at the entrance to the park and club, informing him of the events that had just transpired. He immediately phoned several other members of the committee, Clive Stewart-Milner, John Shenton, Neil Foden and Amanda Lecky, informing them of the events before rushing off to the club. His wife, Susan, was furious at him as he was always rushing off to that dammed club.
On arrival at the club he was confronted with absolute mayhem, timbers and fallen stone work were all over the place, both inside and outside target shed area as described above.
Those members who Terry had phoned quickly turned up at the club as well to view the devastation.
A course of action was quickly devised, consisting of retrieving the roof sections and storing them safely on the clubs grounds, removing any loose stones from the walls so that it was safe to walk round and go inside the building and most importantly, remove all the vital club equipment from the shed to a safe storage location, for which Clive kindly volunteered his works premises.
The gale was still raging at this point, though fortunately the rain had mostly abated but not the thunder and lightning, which meant moving anything of size was dangerous and awkward, especially the tin roof panels, still securing the equipment had to be done and quickly.
It was by now dark, but fortunately the street lights, and the lightning, gave the members enough light to be able to clear away enough debris so that they could safely get to the generator, which due to it being housed in a steel box was undamaged, put it on and rig up the field lights, which were also undamaged having been stored in a steel cabinet. Now they could see what they were doing, and also more clearly see the extent of the damage, which was depressing to behold.
After three hours of wet, windy and cold work, all the clubs equipment was safe and the broken walls and the target shed roof were secure and cordoned off.
A decision was quickly made by those members present, to close down the club, effective immediately, to any shooting until the target shed had been repaired. This was to ensure that the membership would have to help with the reconstruction of the target shed roof and walls before shooting could ever recommence.
Those members who had seen the target shed roof on the ground following its flight and the fallen walls on that awful night, knew then that there would be weeks of hard work ahead to restore it to its former glory.
The amount of work required really was quite daunting for those who saw the initial devastation on that night.
It appeared that nothing short of a miracle was required to sort out the target sheds broken roof and to rebuild the fallen and damaged walls, but surprise, surprise, the generally invisible and normally work shy club membership now deprived by design of their shooting ground, began turning up in increasing numbers to help put the target shed roof and the walls back into good working order.
The clubs membership at the time was relatively small, somewhere around the 30ish mark (including juniors and ladies), but everyone did what they could to help out, and thus the miracle we needed was received.
The work was divided up into stages, and volunteer assigned to do the work required.
Firstly the roof was dismantled, the cladding panels being removed from the shattered wooden roof trusses and frames. The panels being inspected for any sign of damage, then stored for later reuse, the timber framing being likewise sorted.
At the same time more cleared the site of all the roof and wall debris, which littered the inside and outside of the target shed, all of which took a fair amount of time.
Fallen stone work was sorted into piles of varying sizes.
All the loose mortar had to removed from each of the stones before it could be re-used prior to the rebuilding of the fallen walls.
Once this was all done the willing hands were now set to the major job of rebuilding the shed's fallen walls, back up to there original height.
Dougie Williams and his son Garth, who ran a metal fabrication business in Mossley, supplied a large amount of the timber used for the wooden trusses to rebuild the roof, together with fixing brackets that they manufactured.
They also brought along a mobile pneumatic air set on the back of there company truck for use with a pneumatic rivet gun.
The rivet gun was used extensively by the team on the roof for riveting together the cladding panels prior to them being put back onto the rebuilt wooden trusses, which again took a fair amount of time to get right.
From Start to finish the rebuild took around four weeks, with most of the work being done at the weekends.
The efforts of every member who contributed there time, which was the majority, was greatly appreciated by the committee and formed the bedrock of member involvement on which the club would draw for future maintenance and improvement projects.
A Little Anicdote
Frank Smith, a long time club member was a quiet, lovely man, who was asked to fill in a small gap between two stones. Frank set too and worked slowly away at his section of the wall, as directed, with the smallest trowel you could find, asking for and receiving mortar whenever he called for it, no one bothered to check his progress as everyone was busy doing other things.
What Frank was doing however would be revealed later after several hour and bucket after bucket of mortar, never once moving from the one spot. Frank had filled in the air gap from top to bottom between the inner and outer stone walls. You can still see Franks work, on the left hand side as you go into the target shed through the metal door.
The moral to this story is, make your instruction clear when you want something doing.
It gave everyone present a good laugh, which was sorely needed, and even Frank joined in too. He then just shrugged his shoulders and all agreed that it was also a very neat job, which it was.
As a memento of the event most of the members who worked on the rebuilding of the stone walls scratched their initials into the fresh mortar, just under the roof on the left hand (field side) gable end, you will also see the newly adopted club logo inscribed there at the apex. The names of some of those members include Dougie, Ann and Gareth Williams, John Shenton, Frank Smith, Harold Ashcroft, Neil Foden, Amanda Lecky, Cliff Lewis, Terry Gregory, Clive Stewart-Milner, John Shenton, David Tuxford, Charlie Backhouse, Catherine Gormley, Peter Farrell, John Farrell plus several more whose names are lost to history.
Before the roof was ripped off the equipment stored in the target shed was placed haphazardly within the structure. Some of it was in steel lockers and the rest placed on or against the walls where there happened to be a space. Once the building was repaired and the new roof installed it was decided that a more organised layout should be adopted. With this in mind Clive Stewart-Milner along with Terry Gregory designed a system of shelving, which would span from floor to ceiling on the near wall, and from head height on the far wall.
On the far wall the shelving extended the full length of the wall, while on the near wall it also originally extended the whole length, but was later revised to allow the use of the large door, which was replaced at a later date.
The shelves were set just above head height, allowing stands to be hung off brackets placed on the underside of the shelves. There was an upper and lower shelf, which were filled with all the equipment and paraphernalia that an archery club is likely to use or acquire.
When the club finally upgraded its grass cutter to a sit on mower, the shelving system was revised to allow the mower to be safely stored in the shed. This required the old large door, which was slowly rotting away and which was braced and nailed shut, to be replaced, along with its frame, a job which was done by David Naylor. Bill Blake later fitted this door with a pulley and drop weight system, which automatically opens the door when the vertical wooden door bar is removed. The pulley system was fitted as an answer to the problem of the door being left open, usually overnight, on several occasions because members thought it was locked when it was only in fact pushed to.
Now if the door is left open it is obvious.
The shelving system on the near wall was revised to allow the door to be used and for the mower to fit under it. This was approximately the same time the dividing wall was removed, which allowed more room to manoeuvre the mower inside as well as allowing the shelving system to be extended and thus compensate for the loss of space, now taken up by the mower.
One very important piece of equipment, which the club has had for many years now, was built and freely given to the club by Dougie Williams, who was a new member at the time, is a metal framed stand designed to accommodate approximately 12 round straw bosses. The bosses are stored vertically and can simply be rolled in and out of the stand as required, though it has to be said the newer Egertec bosses (being thicker) are a snug fit.
The Lock Up
Like all clubs Stalybridge AC has accumulated a lot of equipment over the years and has had its fair share of robberies. After the last serous break in to the target shed, which was accomplished by smashing the padlock off with a large hammer, it was decided there and then to upgrade the level of security to the present format of three locks with heavy steel covers protecting them from being struck.
It was also decided to build a large reinforced lock-up inside the target shed, which would house all the high priority equipment. Peter Gregory who ran a bedroom furniture manufacturing company, and was a member at the time, was asked to submit a quotation to build and installed the lock up. The quotation was accepted and Peter along with two members of his staff promptly constructed the room.
The door to the new lock up was provided by Peter Gregory as part of this contract with the club, but it was not fitted by him, that job fell on Bill Blake and Terry Gregory, who between them fitted the door to its frame, sourced and fitted the large door hinges and the dual lock system, which was not an easy job with such a large heavy door.
As one of the clubs primary assets, the cleaning and tidying of the target shed is one of the major jobs undertaken each year on the maintenance weekend. Every piece of equipment is pulled out, cleaned, checked and returned to its assigned place, which is all completed within a day thanks to the hard work of all the members who turn up each year.