Many pubs like to give themselves a name that associates them with the community. It all helps to build the business. The Hatters, The Midland, The Navigation, - all refer to a local activity or feature. So what about The Strines Nightingale? What connection does that have with the locality? Strines is a long way from Berkeley Square so that isn’t the link. No, the link turns out to be our old friend, Joel Wainwright.
Strines Nightingale 2023
He lived at a house called Whitecroft in Strines in the low-lying area called ‘No man’s land’ because the river had moved at some stage and the bureaucrats could not decide if it was in Derbyshire or Cheshire. At the time Wainwright was manager of the Printing Works and the house went with the job. On 3rd May, 1862 he noted a bird which began singing at 10 o’clock at night and continued, almost without interruption, until 3 o’clock in the morning. There were no other songs at all at that time; it had to be a nightingale.
The next night he invited a friend to come to hear it and again, it started at 10 o’clock and continued for hours. The following night the friend came again, this time bringing a Professor Williamson, a bird expert, who confirmed it was a nightingale. However, as a naïve academic, he then went on to announce the discovery in the Manchester papers. As you might expect, from that point on there were crowds every night. Wainwright himself is a fairly sober reporter but he talked about ‘thousands’ of people coming from all parts of the country. The modern term is twitcher but it is obviously not a modern phenomenon.
Wainwright talks about himself “not unwillingly” keeping open house for a fortnight but the novelty must have been wearing thin after a fortnight. The bird followed a strict timetable, starting to sing literally within a minute of 10 o’clock and carrying on for four or five hours. However, it was facing increasing competition from the crowds each night. Another account by two ornithologists described the daytime scene as ‘singularly inappropriate’ for birds to nest as the railway was being built from Hyde to New Mills and a substantial embankment was being raised close by. They then went on to describe the scene at night with several hundred people laughing and chatting as they waited. Hardly an ideal welcome for a notoriously solitary bird.
Wainwright describes an even noisier scene where there were not less than a thousand people present and the tumult among some sections of the crowd was abominable. They were braying in imitation of donkeys but despite all the bird still began to sing moments before the Strines clock struck ten.
Strines Interior 2023
However, it could not last. The bird was not heard after 18th May and it was not seen again. There were wicked rumours that the local farmer had shot the bird and it is true that considerable damage was being done to both crops and fences by the crowds. Nothing was ever proven and it is much more likely that the famous vocalist was scared away by the crowds. The song of the nightingale is created by the cock bird which precedes the hen by ten days or a fortnight in order to select the most favourable place to build a nest. Presumably he decided that Strines was no place to bring a lady.