Mow Cop

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Mow Cop
Cheshire, Staffordshire
Primitive Methodist Memorial Church, Mow Cop - - 1016521.jpg
Primitive Methodist Memorial Church
Grid reference: SJ855573
Location: 53°6’47"N, 2°13’3"W
Post town: Stoke-on-Trent
Postcode: ST7
Dialling code: 01782
Local Government
Council: Cheshire East
Congleton, Staffordshire Moorlands

Mow Cop is an isolated village which straddles the CheshireStaffordshire border, six miles north of Stoke-on-Trent and 24 miles south of Manchester. It lies on a steep hill of the same name rising up to 1,099ft above sea level.[1] The village fringes the Cheshire Plain to the west and the hills of the Staffordshire Moorlands to the east.

The name is first recorded as "Mowel" around AD 1270, and is believed to be derived 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-ft rock feature called the Old Man O'Mow sits in one of the quarry areas and is believed to be the site of an ancient cairn. The most dominant feature is Mow Cop Castle which is 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 sit on the walking route of the Cheshire Gritstone Trail. The village was served by a railway station which was opened by the North Staffordshire Railway on 9 October 1848.

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 development of the Primitive Methodist Church in 1810. These camp meetings became a regular feature at Mow Cop, with camps held to celebrate the 100th, 150th and 200th anniversaries of the first camp.[3]

Since the late 20th century, Mow Cop is known for its Killer Mile, a one-mile road 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 1,099-ft hill in which the village lies upon is a moorland ridge composed of Sandstone and Millstone Grit rising eastwards above the Cheshire Plain. It lies at the western edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands, forming an upland fringe of the southern Pennines, most of which are inside the Peak District National Park lying further 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.

Representation in other media

  • The village is featured prominently in the 1973 novel, Red Shift, by Alan Garner.

Notable residents

  • Ralph Barlow (1876 in Mow Cop – 1897) footballer who played for Burslem Port Vale F.C. in the mid-1890s.
  • Emmanuel Foster (1921 – 1965) footballer, played for Mow Cop, Stoke City F.C. and Stafford Rangers F.C.
  • Alan Jones (born 1945) is former Port Vale F.C. Director
  • Jack Simcock (1929 - 2012), artist, known for "a long series of bleak, sombre oils on board" of the Mow Cop area where he lived
  • Allen John Tankard (born 1969) footballer who played 519 league games, 275 for Port Vale F.C.. After retiring he took up work in Mow Cop at a minibus and coach hire company which he now co-owns.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Mow Cop)


  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. Retrieved 3 May 2016. 
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