Dunham POW Camp
Links for Altrincham, Bowdon & Hale History
Biographies of local people
Helen M E Allingham was born in Derbyshire in 1848 where her father was a doctor. The family moved to Market Street, Altrincham in 1849 and later to St. John’s Road, Bowdon. Her father and a sister died in a diphtheria epidemic of 1862 and the family moved to Birmingham where she was encouraged in art by an aunt. She went to Art College in London where she studied under Millais, settled in London and then Surrey. There she became a leading watercolour artist famous for her cottage scenes, much used on chocolate boxes. Helen was the first woman to become a member of the Royal Watercolour Society. She died in 1926 and there are Blue Plaques at 16 Market Street, Altrincham, and at Levenhurst, St. John’s Road, Bowdon.
Armitage, George Faulkner
George Armitage whose father William was a cotton manufacturer in Manchester was born in Townfield House, Church Street, Altrincham in 1849. He qualified as an architect and furniture designer and became internationally known. He lived at and ran his business from Stamford House, Church Street (where the 1973 Cresta Court and offices are now), which was originally the Stamford Arms and Bowling Green Hotel, famous in the Manchester area for its bowling green. He designed and furnished many large properties in London and he designed the memorial cross in the Garden of Remembrance opposite to St. Margaret’s Church. He married his cousin Annie, became a magistrate, was mayor of Altrincham during the whole of the 1914-18 War and died in 1937.
Christian J Bonington was born in Hampstead, London in 1934. During the war he was evacuated to the Lake District and it was then he got his taste for the mountains. He first climbed in Wales when he was 16 and then started an army career. In the early 1960s he climbed most of the prestigious peaks in the world including the first ascent of Annapurna, Nuptse and the first ascent of the Old Man of Hoy. He married Wendy in 1962 and they had three sons Conrad, Daniel and Rupert. Initially they lived in the Lake District and he earned a living from lecturing, writing, photography and journalism. They lived in Bowdon from 1968 to 1974 at Newcroft in West Road. Nick Estcourt who lived in Peel Avenue, Bowdon, was a programmer with Farrantis and was Chris’s closest friend. Nick joined Chris on the Annapurna expedition of 1970 and the 1972 attempt on Everest when they reached 26,000 feet and Nick later ran a climbing shop in Altrincham. The Boningtons bought a cottage in the Lake District in 1971 and moved back permanently in 1974. The 1975 Everest expedition was successful in getting two climbers to the top but Nick died on K2 in 1977. Chris has written about 20 books and has written for and appeared on TV a number of times. He was given a CBE in 1986, was knighted in 1996 and was installed as Chancellor of the University of Lancaster in 2005.
|Dr B V Bowden (later Lord Bowden of Chesterfield) is perhaps remembered best as a computer and educational pioneer in Manchester and for his early book on computers Faster Than Thought. He was born in 1910 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, the son of a schoolmaster. He was educated at Chesterfield Grammar School then Cambridge and graduated with a First Class Honours in Natural Sciences in 1931. He worked in the Cavendish Laboratory with Lord Rutherford and was awarded a PhD in 1934. After a further year of research in Amsterdam he taught physics in Liverpool and Oundle for five years. In 1939 he married Marjorie Browne and they had a son and two daughters. He spent the war in radar research in Britain with Robert Watson-Watt and in the USA, and then a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1950 he joined Ferranti Ltd in Manchester where the first British digital computer was being built. He described himself as a ‘computer salesman’ when he sold a Ferranti Mark 1 computer to the University of Toronto in 1951. As a result of his role at Ferrantis, who were working closely with Manchester University in computer development, he worked with Professor Freddie Williams, Dr Tom (later Professor) Kilburn and Alan Turing. In 1952 while still at Ferrantis he was the editor and main contributor to an early book on computers entitled Faster Than Thought: A Symposium on Digital Computing Machines, published by Pitman in 1953. Alan Turing contributed the section on chess. However Vivian’s forte was education and in 1953 he became Principal of Manchester’s College of Science and Technology, later the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and established it as one of the leading universities for the study of engineering and technology. At the time there were just four professors in what was then partly a Faculty of Technology of Manchester University as opposed to 20 in the Faculty of Science and he fought to strengthen its resources and for technological education reform. During his time as Principal the number of students increased tenfold. From 1960 to 1964 he was chairman of the Electronic Research Council of the Ministry of Aviation and was created a life peer in 1963, becoming Lord Bowden of Chesterfield. In 1964 he was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science but was not comfortable with the workings of Whitehall and resigned in 1965. He returned to an academic life at Manchester’s College of Science and Technology, later to become the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, and of which he remained Principal until he retired in 1976. As part of his work he advised a number of firms about automation, including Kearns in Broadheath who produced machine tools. In retirement he wrote many papers on education and a history of UMIST. When he first moved to the Altrincham area in 1950 he lived at Woodleigh in Bradgate Road, Altrincham and in 1955 moved to Roxana, Park Road, Hale. In the 1970s he moved to Pinecroft, Stanhope Road, Bowdon and continued to be active in the House of Lords until he died in 1989 aged 79. His papers are archived in John Rylands Libray.|
Bradbury, Captain Edward Kinder, VC
Edward Kinder Bradbury was brought up at Parkfield, Groby Place, Altrincham, on 16th August 1881 the son of Judge J K Bradbury who practised on the Bury-Bolton circuit. Edward was awarded the VC, the highest award for bravery, for his heroism under fire in a battle in Northern France during WWI. He was educated at Marlborough College and passed out of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich entering the Royal Artillery in May 1900. He was promoted lieutenant in April 1901, and from January to October 1902 he was employed with the Imperial Yeomanry for service in the Cape Colony during the latter stages of the Boer War. He received the medal for South Africa with two clasps. From February 1905 to March 1907 he was employed with the King’s African Rifles and promoted to captain on 4th February 1910. Captain Bradbury was a respected man among his fellow officers. Whilst on leave he was a keen fisherman and rider. He hunted with the hounds in County Cork, Ireland, and on a very wet day at Punchtown Races in Ireland he won the ‘Soldiers Race’ on his own horse named ‘Sloppy Weather’. On the outbreak of the Great War Captain Bradbury was second-in-command of ‘L’ Battery, Royal Horse Artillerywith the British Expeditionary Force which, after being faced by an enemy far superior in number to our own, was retreating from Mons in Belgium on 1 September 1914. His award of the Victoria Cross was gazetted on 2 November 1914. Néry – a remote, ancient village near Senlis – lay on the path of the retreat. ‘L’ Battery was attached to the first Brigade of Cavalry and provided firepower to the cavalry with their six quick-firing thirteen-pounder guns. They were the last to arrive in Néry late in the afternoon of August 31st. It had been a very hot day and they had stopped on the way to water their horses. So they had to bivouac in an open field at the extreme south end of the village and therefore well to the rear. They moved right out in the open in order to lay down good horse lines. Orders had been given overnight for the units of the Brigade to be saddled up and ready to march at dawn but a dense mist delayed any start. At 5.45 am high explosive shells began to fall on the village from twelve German guns situated on high ground, less than a thousand yards away. The German guns concentrated their fire on the horse lines of ‘L’ Battery and the Queen's bays next to them. The unit soon became a shambles as 150 horses were blown to pieces and many men had been killed or wounded. Major Sclater-Booth, the Battery Commander, was at the Brigade Headquarters to find the latest news. Captain Bradbury raced forward, calling out for volunteers. When the men heard his rallying call “Come on ! Who's for the guns?” They all responded “I am.” Bradbury's rallying call is famous all over the world. Today at the assembly of the US Army Reserve Blue Devils Horse Platoon, who represent the US Army and the US Army Reserve as a mounted ceremonial and equestrian sport unit, the call is made to the platoon “Who's for the guns?” and the answer by each member is “I am.” They say it is “In honor of the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery” but in fact, to be more precise, they pay tribute to Captain EK Bradbury, VC. A number of men responded and they succeeded in manhandling three guns against the enemy to return fire. Two of these guns were soon hit and put out of action leaving only ‘F’ sub section under Captain Bradbury acting as layer and Sergeant David Nelson, acting as range setter. Sergeant Nelson found the range at 750 yards but he was soon wounded, and to add to that problem the ammunition wagons were 20 yards away. Battery Sergeant Major George Dorrell then arrived to assist and Captain Bradbury ordered Sergeant Nelson to seek medical attention, but he refused, stating that he couldn’t move anyway. BSM Dorrell then relieved Captain Bradbury instead, and the captain ran across to the ammunition wagon under intense enemy fire and was hit by a shell which blew off his leg. Despite this crippling wound he managed to support himself on the other leg and continued to direct the fire of the gun until he was hit again. Captain Bradbury died later. Twelve German guns were eventually captured. Captain Bradbury was buried at the Nery Communal cemetery in France. His Victoria Cross was presented to his mother (his father had died in 1913) by King George V at Buckingham Palace. RSM Dorrell and Sergeant Nelson were also awarded the V.C. The three Néry (Victoria Crosses are now in the possession of ‘L’ (Néry) Battery Royal Horse Artillery at Woolwich, along with the ‘Néry Gun’. At dawn on 1st September each year the action is remembered by ‘L’ Battery who present a thirteen-pounder field gun and a single shot. Captain Bradbury died on 1st September 1914 and Altrincham Higher Elementary School was renamed Bradbury Central School in his honour. The 'L' (Néry Battery) Members Association intends to visit the village of Néry in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the action at Néry. Parkfield was demolished in 1958 and a modern house built in the same large grounds at what is now 8 Groby Place.
Adolf Brodsky was born in Taganrog in southwest Russia in 1851 and learned to play the violin from age four. He attended the Vienna Conservatory of Music at the age of nine from 1860 to 1863. He married Anna Skadovskaya in 1880 and in the same year was appointed Senior Professor of Violin at Leipzig Conservatory. His friends included Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Elgar and Brahms. He was the first performer of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in Vienna in 1881 which was dedicated to Brodsky and which was conducted by Hans Richter. In 1890 he became leader of the New York Symphony Orchestra before returning to Europe. In 1895 Sir Charles Hallé offered him the post of Senior Violin Professor at the Royal College of Music in Manchester and Leader of the Hallé Orchestra and he subsequently settled in Bowdon. Within weeks of Brodsky's arrival Hallé died and Brodsky took over as principal of the college and occasional conductor. Dr Brodsky founded the Brodsky Quartet, which has been reformed, and which included the cellist Carl Fuchs. Fuchs lived in Didsbury, was the principal cellist in the Hallé from 1887 to 1914, professor at the RMCM 1893 to 1942, played for Queen Victoria and died in 1951. Elgar dedicated his String Quartet to the Brodsky Quartet. Ronald Gow as a boy used to see him going to Altrincham Station down Portland Road where Gow lived. Brodsky played a Guarneri violin made in 1736 (said by some to be superior to Stradivarius) called the Lafont after an early 19th century owner and which Brodsky bought in 1880. Nigel Kennedy bought the instrument in 1990 and said that the tonal qualities were astonishing and that it sounded far more sophisticated than a Strad he played. In 1915 Brodski was interned for a while in a concentration camp in Hungary by Austria as a Russian Jew but after a petition was sent back to the UK. He retired in 1921 aged 77, died in 1929 and is buried in Southern Cemetery. Brodski was very generous with local children, often giving them 6d for running errands. Anna also died in 1929 and there is a Blue Plaque at 3 Laurel Mount, East Downs Road, Bowdon where they lived from 1903 to 1929. His nephew Leon Picard took over the house and when Picard died in 1960, the Royal Manchester College of Music bought the extensive Brodsky papers from his estate for £50, now with the Royal Northern College of Music.
Victorian banker Samuel Brooks, bought land in Hale Barns in 1857. By the time of his death he had created Brooks Drive from Hale Barns to Brooklands Station. The Brooks were Lancashire farmers who came to south Manchester and grew rich through cotton, banking and property development, finally owning 800 acres in the Hale area. The name remains in Brooks’ Drive, Brooklands Road and Brooklands Station. The family came from Whalley near Clitheroe on the Ribble, and Whalley Range in Manchester was laid out by Samuel Brooks and was named after his home village. His father, William Brooks, traded in raw cotton and in partnership with his wealthy friend Roger Cunliffe became bankers, founding the firm of Cunliffe-Brooks & Co. of Blackburn. Samuel, who was born in 1793, joined a Manchester calico-printing firm, Reddish, Brooks & Co and opened a branch of the bank in Manchester. By 1846 he owned 628 acres of Sale and in 1852 he bought the Stamford land in Ashton-on-Mersey. Samuel Brooks was known familiarly in the Stretford neighbourhood as ‘Owd stink o’brass’ and bought 800 acres in Hale when land was sold following the departure of the 7th Earl to Enville Hall in Staffordshire in 1854. In 1857 Samuel bought an estate of 32 acres in Hale and two years later agreed terms with the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway Company for land to build a new station to serve his property development on Brooklands Road. Brooks's name was also given to the station, which remains today as Brooklands Metrolink Station. His son, later Sir William Cunliffe-Brooks, bought more land, until the estate stretched from Davenport Green to Warburton Green and Brooklands, and included much of Hale Barns. By 1862 he created Brooks’ Road, now Brooks’ Drive linking his home, Prospect House on the Wilmslow Road in Hale Barns, and Brooklands Station with the intention of creating a coach route to the station to improve his journey to work. The general layout of the Brooks’ estate, of which the Hale section was only a fringe, was planned in a manner worthy of the eighteenth century. A great carriageway, double-hedged and tree-lined, with plantations eight yards wide on either side, was intended to run four miles from Brooklands Station to Warburton Green but the stretch from the Wilmslow Road to Warburton Green was never completed. Samuel Brooks launched the scheme and personally supervised the first stages and lunched every day at The Unicorn in Hale Barns. After his death his son William continued with one break at Roaring Gate Farm to Stockport Road, where it linked up with the Brooklands section. During the late nineteenth century, Sir William Cunliffe-Brooks (1819-1900), MP for the division, enjoyed the role of lord of the manor at Hale Barns. He planted trees on Hale Barns Green, fenced it and provided a drinking fountain. He removed the old smithy and the cottages nearby, replacing them with a new smithy and houses. He gave land for the black-and-white mission church, built at a cost of £750, and headed the list of subscriptions for rebuilding the Church of England school in the village. He also paid for the installation of lighting and water supply in the village. The shape of present-day Hale Barns was considerably influenced by his patronage. After his death the estate was held in trust for his grandchildren, the children of Lord and Lady Francis Cecil, but none ever lived in the neighbourhood, and in 1917 it was broken up into lots and sold. Part of the great avenue remains as Brooks’ Drive. In Altrincham, the spectacular black and white bank in Old Market Place is listed and was formerly Cunliffe Brooks’ Bank, taken over by Lloyds about 1900 and now offices. The bank was built in 1887 in the Vernacular Revival style in sandstone for WC Brooks. It has a 32-foot high banking hall stained glass window and houses to the left and right for managers. Originally there was a weather vane with ‘WCB’ in it and his initials are on the left-hand chimney. Opposite, the offices in Market Street around the top of Post Office Street were also built by Brooks. They complement the style of the bank and have wrought iron weather vanes with Brooks’ initials ‘WCB’ in them.
Broun, J H
John Henderson Broun (or Brown) was born in Stockbridge near Edinburgh in 1829, parents James, a solicitor, and Isobel, neé Anderson. He had brothers James, David, George and Henry and by 1841 James had come to England, with perhaps John following in his footsteps. In 1871 John was in Huddersfield as a cotton spinner employing 130 hands and in 1881 was living in Chorlton-on-Medlock working as a Master Doubler in cotton. John bought tithe fields Middle and Further Uttley Croft, Near Jenkins Croft, and Middle and Further Meadow and created Willowtree Road, Altrincham. In 1899 he built the Mossburn Buildings block in Stamford New Road, Altrincham when he employed local architect John Macnamara following national tenders. He developed the terrace on the even side of Willowtree Road from 1904 using Ruabon brick and terracotta facings. In 1905 he built Station Buildings (now Stamford House), Stamford New Road, which was the first office block in Altrincham. In the early 1891 he was living at 5 Queens Road, Hale. In 1896 he built his own house, The Bungalow renamed Riverside after his death, on a hill overlooking the River Bollin on Ashley Mill Lane North. It was single-storey, of Accrington brick, with stone dressings, a parapet wall, and Westmoreland green slates and was approached by a long drive, paved with stone setts which are still in place. The ornate windows had granite mullions with carved capitols and internally walls were oak-panelled with oak-coffered ceilings and parquetry floors. It was so distinctive it gave Mr Broun the nickname of ‘Bungalow Broun’. He owned the land between Willowtree Road and Ashley Road, which was still fields in the 1920s, and donated a strip of land to widen Ashley Road from Hale Road to the traffic lights at the bottom of Stamford Road, Bowdon. When he died in 1910 he still owned Station Buildings, Mossburn Buildings and land on the west side of Willowtree Road. He left his estate to his brother James’ children. James’ daughter Anne came to live in Riverside and died there in 1925. The building was demolished in the late 1950s and in its place was built an award-winning development of 1965,which incorporates a plaque in the patio floor bearing John’s name.
George Carman QC was born in Blackpool in 1929, father Alfred and mother Evelyn who brought him up a strict Catholic. He attended St. Joseph’s College in Blackpool and then Upholland Seminary near Wigan. Following National Service, he attended Balliol College, Oxford where he read law and was one of only two who received an unvivaed first, ie not borderline. He joined Lincoln’s Inn and in 1953 was awarded a certificate of honour in the Bar finals. Having started work in London he moved the same year to Manchester to be nearer to his family and married Ursula Groves. The marriage lasted three years and in 1958 he met his second wife Celia Sparrow. They married in London in 1960 and moved to Woburn Drive, Hale. They had one child, Dominic born in 1961. They moved to Park Road, Hale in 1963 and while there George had his first high-profile cases working for Manchester United. He became the only barrister who was a household name in the UK following a series of trials, which earned him the titles of Great Defender and King of Libel. Trial names from the 1970s include George Best, Jeremy Thorpe, Arthur Scargill, Peter Adamson, Ken Dodd, Elton John, the Hamiltons, the Maxwells, Richard Branson, Tom Cruise and Mohamed Al-Fayed. In the days he lived at Park Road he enjoyed a drink at the Bull’s Head, Hale Barns and at Hale Conservative Club. In 1971 George became a Queens Councillor and at that time was earning £20,000 per year. A year later he was appointed as a Recorder. Their marriage broke down in the early 1970s and George and Dominic moved to a house in Didsbury. In 1973 George married Frances, a chef he had met in Edinburgh and they moved to Altrincham where he used the Griffin as his local. In 1980 they moved to London to be near Lincoln’s Inn but the marriage ended in 1983. He retired in Wimbledon in 2000 and died in 2001.
Roy Chadwick CBE, MSc was born in 1893 at Farnworth, Lancashire, a fifth generation of engineers. He became probably Britain’s greatest aircraft designer. He joined British Westinghouse, later Metropolitan-Vickers, in 1907 as a trainee draftsman and studied at Manchester College of Technology, later UMIST. In 1911 he moved to A V Roe & Company, generally known as AVROs whose main factory was at Newton Heath. He studied at the Institute of Science and Technology. He moved to the research works at Hamble, Southampton and became Alliott (later Sir) Verdon Roe’s Personal Assistant and Chief Designer in 1917 at the age of 24, later Technical Director. He designed the York, which was built at Ringway, as well as the Lancaster, Lincoln, Shackleton, Anson, and the prototype of the Vulcan. In 1921 he married Mary Gommersall of Urmston and they returned north in 1928. Much of his later work was done at Chadderton and from 1929 he lived at Kingsley, Gilbert Road, Hale until his death. In 1943 he was awarded the CBE for his work but was killed on a test flight taking off from Woodford to fly over the Lake District in 1947.
Born in Worsley in 1915, Helen Mary Cherry was the daughter of Captain, later major, John William Cherry. She was educated at Harrogate, went to the Manchester Art School and trained as a commercial artist. However she won a part as an extra in a Christmas musical and went on to work in repertory in Rusholme, Chester and Altrincham for two years. She was a member of the Altrincham Garrick for a short period in the 1930s and probably lived briefly at her parents’ house Hylcroft, 31 Langham Road, Bowdon at that time. Helen first began in the theatre as an extra in 1938 and then moved to London in 1940. She joined Robert Atkin’s open-air Shakespearian Company in 1942. She became mainly a classical actress and was renowned for her Shakespearean work throughout the 1940s and 50s in London and Stratford. She appeared with Trevor Howard in 1944 and in 1945 Helen married Trevor who died in 1988; there were no children. In the 1960s she was active in the Ban-the-Bomb demonstrations. She occasionally worked on stage in the 1960s and 70s and her last appearance was in 1982. She also made several films from the 1960s to 1980s and was in several television programmes such as The Professionals. Helen continued working on TV until 1990 and died in September 2001.
Thomas Alfred Coward, MSc, FZS was born at 8 Higher Downs, Dunham Massey (now Altrincham) in 1867 and was still living there in 1910. His parents were Thomas and Sarah (who were at 8 Higher Downs by 1858 until 1895 with grandparents Edward and Elizabeth at number 7), and older siblings Charles, Alice and Annie. Thomas was educated at Brooklands School, Sale and at Owens College (now Manchester University). He attended Bowdon Downs Congregational Church and was a member of the Bowdon Literary and Scientific Clun from 1895. In 1901 his profession was stated to be an agent/merchant and at that time he was working as an agent in his father’s calico bleaching and finishing firm. In the early 1900s the firm was taken over and he retired to become an internationally recognised ornithologist who wrote extensively on nature, on local history and on Cheshire. His first of 10 publications was The Birds of Cheshire in 1900, at which time he was living at Tryfan, Warwick Road, Hale. He later wrote Picturesque Cheshire, The Vertebrate Fauna of Cheshire, The Birds of the British Isles and their Eggs, Bird Haunts and Nature Memories, Life of the Wayside and Woodland, Bird Life at Home and Abroad, Bird and Other Nature Problems, Cheshire – Traditions and History and The Mammalian Fauna of Cheshire. During the 1914-18 War he was Acting Keeper of the Manchester Museum and was variously Chairman and President of the Altrincham and District Natural History and Literary Society. There is a Blue Plaque at Brentwood Villa, 6 Grange Road, Bowdon where he was living by 1902. When he died public subscriptions were raised to buy and preserve Cotterill Clough near Castle Mill, Ringway as a Nature Reserve. He was also an amateur astronomer who owned his own telescope. All of his field notes have been preserved and are archived at in the Department of Zoology at Oxford. There is good information on the web on all of his publications. He married Mary Milne in 1904 and died in Bowdon in 1933.
Crossley, Frank & William
Francis William Crossley was born in County Antrim in 1839 of a Protestant Huguenot family, trained as an engineer and came to England in the mid-1860s with his family including his younger brother William John who was born in 1844. At the age of 18 Francis started training as an apprentice engineer in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His younger brother joined him in England in 1867, and with loans from relatives, they acquired an existing business in Great Marlborough Street, Manchester and set up as Crossley Brothers making machinery for producing India rubber and flax. The business almost failed and for five years they were lodging at 1 Bell Place, 24 Stamford Road, Bowdon, the home of local builder Martin Stone (who later built the Town Hall). Francis married Canadian-born Emily Kerr at St. Margaret’s Church in 1871 and they set up home at Oaklands, Langham Road, Bowdon and had five children. By 1874 Francis and Emily had moved to Failie on Cavendish Road, Bowdon, now an annex to Altrincham Girls’ Grammar School, and were there in 1890. In 1876 the Crossley brothers secured rights to sell the Otto-Langden four-stroke gas engine and by 1881 they were employing about 300 men. They later produced their own engine and motor designs, leading to the establishment of Crossley Motors in 1910. Francis and his family attended Bowdon Downs Congrgational Church and became teetotal, donating to charity his personal share of the profits from the sales of Crossley engines to the likes of breweries, public houses and music halls. The business was very successful and eventually moved to making buses. The local philanthropic work of Francis and Emily included the building and managing of two ‘Preventative and Rescue Homes’ for destitute girls on Ashley Road, Hale. One is the former Conservative Club at number 239 and the other became the UDC offices, now demolished for the Britannia Hotel and supermarket. Francis and Emily left Altrincham to live amongstthe poor at Star Hall, Ancoats, a former music hall which they rebuilt as a hostel and early form of religious community centre. It was taken over by the Salvation Army to whom Francis was a great benefactor. Francis died in 1897 and left over £600,000. He was buried in Philips Park Cemetery and the following year Emily came to live in a cottage at 38 Henry Street, now Oak Road, Hale and possibly funded the setting up of the Oak Road Methodist Church. She moved to Frodsham in 1904 where William had founded a sanatorium in 1903, died in Switzerland and left £164,000. William Crossley, who ran the business side of Crossley Motors, lived at Glenfield, Dunham Road, Dunham Massey. William was a founder-director of the Manchester Ship Canal and the first Liberal MP for Altrincham in 1906, knighted in 1909 and dying in 1911. He contributed significantly to St. Anne’s Home, Dunham Massey, financing a new wing in 1886. He also built a daughter church to St. Johns in Pownall Street, Altrincham. In 1901 he founded a TB sanatorium in Liverpool and in 1905 one at Delamere. William’s name is on a 1908 memorial foundation stone of Altrincham Baptist Church, Hale Road. William’s son Kenneth (also knighted) later ran the business and carried out missionary work, including in India. All of the Crossleys donated much to charity, including to the now demolished Dome Chapel, Bowdon.
Dawkins, William Boyd
|Professor Sir William Boyd Dawkins MA, FRS, FGS, FSA was a geologist, palaeontologist and antiquary. He was born on 26 December 1837 at Buttington Vicarage in Welshpool, Mongomeryshire, the son of the Rev. Richard Dawkins. He went to Rossall School, Fleetwood and then to Jesus College Cambridge where he studied both classics and natural science, graduating in 1860 and became a geologist. As an undergraduate he began the excavation of the hyaena den at Wookey Hole, Wells, Somerset. In 1861 he was appointed to the Geological Survey of Great Britain and worked from the Jermyn Street Museum in London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1866. He was appointed curator of the natural history collections at the Manchester Museum in 1869 and became the first Professor of Geology at Owens College (then in Quay Street later becoming the Victoria University of Manchester in Oxford Road) from 1872 until his retirement in 1909 aged 72 and was knighted in 1919. He became Britain’s first Engineering Geologist and was involved in the coal industry, water-supply projects and the abortive Channel Tunnel project of 1880. He produced the geological report of the feasibility of the Manchester Ship Canal. He continued to take an interest in cave remains and in 1874 found stone tools used for mining at Alderley Edge, probably from the Bronze Age. About 1900 he excavated St. Beuno's Cave at Tremeirion in Denbighshire where he found the bones of the bear, fox, horse, lion, mammoth, spotted hyena, wild cat, wolf, and woolly rhinoceros, as well as traces of human habitation from around 30,000 to 40,000 BC including flint scrapers and other tools. William Boyd Dawkins was founder and first president of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society when it was formed in 1883 and was a Justice of the Peace for 25 years. He published many books including several on the Isle of Man and several hundred papers. He wrote Cave Hunting (1874) and Early Man in Britain (1880) and was co-author of The British Pleistocene Mammalia (1866–1912). In 1866 he married Frances Evans in Dartford, Kent and in 1881 they were living at 11 Norman Road, Rusholme, Manchester. They had a daughter Ella Selina who married the Rev. Samuel Taylor. Sir William’s wife died in 1921 and in 1922 he married Mary, widow of Hubert Congreve both of whom had been close friends of the family. Sir William died on 15 January 1929 at his home Richmond Lodge, Richmond Hill, Richmond Road, Bowdon where his widow had lived as Mary Congreve and she was still living there in 1951. She was always known as Lady Boyd Dawkins, her husband having adopted Boyd as part of his surname. Some of William’s possessions are in the Buxton Museum where the Boyd Dawkins Room is dedicated to his life and that of Dr. J Wilfred Jackson. Sir William had opened the museum in 1928 and when he died in 1929 his widow Lady Mary followed his wishes and donated his library, manuscripts and correspondence to the museum. The room also includes some of his pictures, ornaments and furniture from his study, together with antiquities and fossils. His notebooks and diaries are at the John Rylands Library, Manchester and there is an archaeological collection in the Manchester Museum and the British Museum. Manchester City Art Gallery, where he was on the committee for 17 years, has some of his furniture, paintings and enamels. Lady Mary died in 1954 aged 90. |
Robert Norman Dore was born in Cardiff in 1906 and educated at Cardiff High School where he excelled at history and sport. In 1925 won an Open History Scholarship to Trinity College Oxford, graduating in 1929. From then until 1941 he was Senior History Master at Llandovry Collage in South Wales and then went into the Airforce. In 1946 he became Senior History Master at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys until his retirement in 1969. In 1949 he was elected to the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, becoming a Council Member in 1957, Honorary Secretary 1958 to 1963 and President from 1964 to 1966 and 1988 to 1990. Norman had a confident and powerful speaking voice and with this and his enthusiasm for his work he was revered and kept complete command of his audience, whether pupils or adults. In the 1950s and 1960s he lectured in the extra-mural departments of Manchester and Liverpool Universities and to WEA groups. He was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Founder-President of the Altrincham History Society in 1989. He was an authority on the Civil War in Cheshire and broadcast on the radio on the Civil War in the Manchester Area. He was awarded an honorary MA by Manchester University for his local history work. He was also a gifted writer and wrote a History of Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, The Great Civil War in the Manchester Area, The Civil Wars in Cheshire, A History of Hale, Cheshire, and Cheshire in the Batsford series on Northern Counties. His greatest work however was the editing of the two volumes of The Letter Books of Sir William Brereton, the 17th century parliamentary general of Handforth Hall, for the Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society. The Letter Books cover just one year of the siege of Chester 1645-46 and contain copies of over 1200 letters, accounts, minutes and lists in shorthand and cipher. Norman spent over 30 years on the work and the first volume was published in 1984 and the second in 1990. Along with Alfred Tarbolton, Norman was responsible for depositing the Hale Urban District Council records at the Chester Record Office. He always retained his enthusiasm for cricket and was a member of Ashley Cricket Club. He was still researching and lecturing when he died in 1997 aged 90.
Juliana Horatia Ewing Orr was born in 1841 and died in 1885. She was the second of the ten children of Doctor and Mrs Gatty. She wrote the Nursery Magazines from about 1856 and her first book appeared in 1862 as Melchior's Dream & Other Tales. One of her well-known stories was Jackanapes 1884. Her mother started the Aunt Judy's Magazine and editorship continued under Juliana after the death of her mother. In 1867 she married Major Alexander Ewing and they immediately sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia where he had been posted. There is a Blue Plaque at Downs Villa, 14 Higher Downs where she lived briefly from 1877 to 1878.
Sir Arthur Percy Morris Fleming was born in 1881 at Newport on the Isle of Wight where he died in 1960. He was an electrical engineer particularly involved in the manufacture of radar equipment in the 1914-18 War and later radio transmission. Having trained in the USA, in 1902 he joined the British Westinghouse Company (later Metropolitan-Vickers), Trafford Park, where he worked on transformer design and became Chief Engineer and Superintendent in 1913. During the 1914-18 War he did work on submarine-detection gear and for this work he was awarded a CBE in 1920. As a result of his electronics work at Westinghouse he became a pioneer in the development of radio and in 1920 established at Trafford Park 2ZY the second British transmitting station to broadcast programs on a daily basis which it did until 1923. He had set up a receiving station in his attic in Hale and in November 1922 received a broadcast from Pittsburgh USA, which was passed to Trafford Park by landline, and which was broadcast to the Greater Manchester area: the first public broadcast across the Atlantic. From 1931 to 1954 he served as director of research and education at Metropolitan-Vickers. His work on radar helped to establish radar stations in this country by 1939 and he was knighted in 1945 for his war effort. In 1916 he was living at 133 Hale Road, Hale and moved to Highclere, 235 Hale Road in 1922. At the latter he had electronic equipment set up is his attic to monitor the broadcasts. Some of his personal papers are kept at The National Archive for Electrical Science and Technology.
Adam Fletcher Fox was born in 1855 near Holmrook in the Lake District and wanted to be a builder. He apprenticed himself to a builder in Egremont but there was little work so he walked to Altrincham about 1871 looking for work as a joiner. He got a job with Whipps who were in the building trade near Hale Road bridge and eventually became a very successful builder himself. He first put up four large high-quality semis at the top of Victoria Road, Hale with access at the rear from Albert Road. He then built numerous villas in Ashley Road, Broad Lane, Hale Road, Park Road, Park Avenue, and South Downs Road, Hale. He built his own house, Holmrook, in Heath Road from which he ran his business, and the whole of Seddon Road adjacent in 1909-11. Roseneath in Seddon Road was built for his eldest son Ernest who took over the business. The house had access to the workshops behind in Spring Road. Adam married Mary Rees in 1873 and they had three sons Ernest, Charles William and John Edward. Ernest had a daughter, Edith, and Charles had a daughter, Margaret. John married Edith Holmes and they also had a daughter Margaret and Barbara her younger sister. As well as an entrepreneur, Adam had a spirit of adventure which led him to spending three years in New York working as a clerk of works on skyscrapers. Towards the end of the 19th century Adam went on a world tour, visiting relations and friends in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Seddon Road was named after the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Richard Seddon, who was born near St Helens, Lancashire. He and Adam became friends on this world trip. Richard, the longest-serving Prime Minister of New Zealand, died in 1906 on a voyage from Australia. However in 1911 his widow Louisa and their daughters Mary and Rubi visited the Foxs and Hale Civic Society have a photograph of them all together at the naming of Seddon Road.
Professor Sir John Henry Gaddum was born at Butts Clough Farm in Hale on 31 March 1900, the eldest of six children of Henry Edwin Gaddum, whose forebears had come from Austria, and Phyllis. His father was a silk merchant who lived at The Priory in Bowdon Vale who also did much charitable work. His grandfather Henry Theodore Gaddum had purchased the Butts Clough estate in Hale Barns from the Leather family. John was educated at Miss J D Wallace’s school, which was at Belfield in West Road, Bowdon until 1905 and then moved to Langham Lea on Stamford Road, Bowdon when it took girls including Gaddum daughters. Other pupils at the school were John Ireland, the composer, and Ronald Gow, the dramatist. John Gaddum was then educated at Moorland House School, Heswall, Cheshire, and from 1913 at Rugby School. He won two leaving exhibitions and in 1919 went to Trinity College, Cambridge on an entrance scholarship for mathematics, and read medicine. He won a senior scholarship at Trinity and obtained second-class honours in Physiology. In 1922 he became a medical student at University College Hospital, London. In 1925 he applied for and won a post at the Wellcome Research Laboratories under JW Trevan, writing his first paper on the quantitative aspects of drug antagonism. From 1927 to 1933 he worked for Sir Henry Dale at the National Institute for Medical Research in Hampstead. In 1929 he married Iris Mary Harmer, daughter of Sir Sidney Harmer and Laura Russell. In 1933 he accepted the Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Cairo. In 1935 he was appointed Professor of Pharmacology at University College London, and in 1938 he took the Chair of Pharmacology at the College of the Pharmaceutical Society, London. When the war broke out he worked at the Chemical Defence Research Station, Porton Down, then later was in the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. In 1942 he accepted the Chair of Materia Medica in the University of Edinburgh and built up an outstanding research department. In 1958 he became the Director of the Institute of Animal Physiology at the Babraham Institute, Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society, was knighted and awarded an honorary LL.D at Edinburgh in 1964 and died in 1965. The British Pharmacological Society commemorate the services of John Gaddum to pharmacology by awarding a medal and a prize about every two years for important contributions in the field of pharmacology.
Gow, Ronald (1897-1993) Film Pioneer
|Ronald Gow, a film pioneer and dramatist, was born in Heaton Moor, Stockport in 1897. His parents were Anthony and Clara and his father became the manager of Barclays Bank on Railway Street, Altrincham. The family lived over the bank from 1898 until 1910 and there is a Blue Plaque to Gow on the wall leading to Goose Green. Later the family lived at Oakleigh in Portland Road, Bowdon.|
Ronald first attended Culcheth Hall kindergarten and was an original 1912 pupil at Altrincham County High School for Boys (later Altrincham Grammar School for Boys), remembered by Gow as a happy school under headmaster Saville Laver. In 1913 at AGS, Ronald was the first person to win the Bradbury Prize (donated by Judge Bradbury, the first Chairman of the Governors).
While at the school Gow produced several films with his friend Edward James Horley and used to get his films developed at the National Film Agency on Victoria Street, Manchester run by a Mr. Stott. Stott sold Gow a Pathé Frères, Paris 35mm movie camera No. 803 for £100, put in for repair but not claimed and formerley used by a cameraman working for DW Griffiths, the pioneering American film director. Hollywood used this type of camera for its productions at the time. .
While still a pupil at the school, in 1917 Gow was asked to make a publicity film for Lady Haworth’s War Supply Depot on Green Walk in Bowdon. The use of 35mm film by amateurs was unusual and may be the earliest in the UK.
Gow took a degree in chemistry at Manchester University, in the same building where Ernest Rutherford had split the atom in 1917. After a spell in the Army, in 1923 Laver persuaded Gow to return to the school as a teacher. Influenced by the fact that Laver had bought a 35mm kinematograph projector, the size used in the cinemas at the time, Gow agreed to teach there, offering science, history and Latin and anything else required. Gow’s sister Jenny was the secretary to the headmaster at that time.
Gow’s films were all celluloid and very inflammable so for fire safety reasons they were projected from a purpose-built booth perched on the flat roof of the staff room through two holes cut into the assembly hall next door. The projector was powered by an arc lamp so that two people were required to operate it. John Williams was at the school at that time and remembered the first projectionist teacher Jack Chorley. John was later the assistant projectionist, on the arc lamp. Despite the danger of nitrate film there was never any problem with fires.
At the time the films were not thought to be particularly important but fun but are now recognised as pioneering amateur work and of educational value. They were in black and white and were silent. One of the first serious films was based on a sundew plant brought from a bog in Snowdonia and Gow filmed it consuming a fly.
The first serious film made at school after Gow returned as a teacher was People of the Axe filmed in 1926 at Swanage school camp in Dorset. The following year People of the Lake was filmed at the Westward Ho! Camp in Devon. These were large productions with elaborate sets. Many props and scenery were made at the school and moved to the camp. All of these school films were written and directed by Gow and all exterior scenes were shot at the camps. Professor Sir William Boyd-Dawkins provided advice for the latter film which was shown at Altrincham Picture Theatre and well publicised in Britain and in the USA. It made a profit and was hired out to several schools and scouting organisations. A copy was sold to the Scouting Associations for hiring to scouting organisations around the world. The Film Society based in London reported that the films were of educational value and Gow was invited to give a lecture in Geneva.
The strong scouting element at the school was the theme of The Man Who Changed His Mind which was filmed the next June, again at Westward Ho! Part of this film was taken in Hale where the local fire engine was used. Robert Baden Powell gave the film his support and appears as a cameo and the film was premiered at the Regal, Marble Arch with 1000 scouts present. Because of its success it was the distributed by the European Motion Picture Company.
In 1929 The Glittering Sword, a peace propaganda film was embarked upon at the school camp at Stoke Fleming in Devon. A mammoth undertaking and a two-reeler, the film was given a ‘U’ certificate by the British Board of Film Censors and a publicity pamphlet printed by Altrincham printer, Thomas Balshaw. The film was shown at Hale Cinema and the school became the official film distributors and made a profit. The Manchester Guardian described it as “A notable production, acting delightful, photography clear and well judged.
In the 1920s, Ronald belonged to the Garrick Theatre in Barrington Road, Altrincham which put on his plays and he was Chairman for 1927-28 and made an Honorary Life Member.
In 1930 Gow made a last film at the school called The River Dart, showing the river from its source to the sea in Devon.
Gow left the school in 1933. He had written a large number on one-acts and several full-length plays and in 1933 got his play Gallows Glorious, based on the life of slave John Brown, in the West End. The first night was staged at the Shaftesbury Theatre and was received with resounding notices but on its second night took only £30 of which Gow got 5%. Despite its lack of success financially, he decided to continue as a playwright.
In 1934 Gow received national acclaim for his adaptation of Salford-born Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole, in which Wendy Hiller (later Dame) took the lead. The play, about unemployment in Salford during the 1920s depression, went on stage in London and New York. Wendy was from Bramhall, Cheshire and a member of the Rusholme Repertory until Love on the Dole swept her to stardom. The Gows married in 1936, following Ronald’s proposal to her at the top of the Empire State Building.
They married in 1936 and Gow had to earn a living and so got a job as a scriptwriter at Pinewood Studios where he wrote six film scripts. Wendy was the star of the film Lancashire Luck, later published as a play. Gow and his wife eventually moved to their long-term home in Beaconsfield where they had two children Anthony and Ann, and he wrote or adapted about 30 stage plays and was later involved in films and TV.
In 1995 producer Douglas Rendell and Nick Dodson of Railfilms as director, made a 44 minute film about Gow’s life entitled Ronald Gow, Film Pioneer, 1997-1993 which started with the unveiling of the Blue Plaque by Anthony and Ann and included the unveiling of the Cinema100 plaque at the school in 1996. Gow at 95 was interviewed by Nick Dodson and excerpts from Gow’s films were included. Doug was seen turning and panning the 35mm camera. Ronald had passed away by then but had been told about the plaque. Doug Rendell and family, members of Altrincham History Society committee and John Williams were present at the unveiling and there was a celebration lunch afterwards at Francs’ Restaurant.
Gow gave the 35mm movie camera to local photographer and historian Douglas Rendell and in 1997 Doug gave the camera to the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester for their collection. The museum valued the camera at £25,000 at that time and it remains in full working order today. Ronald Gow died in 1993 still working aged 95, and Wendy died in 2003. They were married for 56 years.
When Hale Cinema closed in 1978, a number of reels of Gow’s films were found in the cellar, having languished there for nearly 50 years, which Doug Rendell rescued. Many of Gow’s films were stored in his garage and garden shed. The ones saved have been restored, are under the guardianship of the North West Film Archive, and can be hired in digital format. The NW Film Archive holds The Altrincham & District War Hospital Supply Depot, The People of the Axe, The People of the Lake, The Glittering Sword and The Dart.
Grindon, Leopold Hartley
Leopold Grindon was an amateur Victorian scientist with particular interest in botany and ornithology. Although he never lived in the area, he spent much time here and his writing about the area drew people from Manchester and around to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. He was the son of a Bristol solicitor and city coroner, and contributed to Bristol naturalists’ activities. In 1838 aged 20 he moved to Manchester where he worked as a clerk and by 1840 was a leading contributor to Flora Mancuniensis. He collected plant specimens, now housed in Manchester Museum, and by 1852 he was lecturing at the medical school where he was well respected for his botanical knowledge. Among his many books was Manchester Flora, in which he described Cotterill Clough as an outstanding spot for botanists. By then the railway had reached Altrincham enabling Manchester people to visit for days out. In 1860 Grindon formed the Manchester Field Naturalists’ Society and the Bollin valley in Hale became one of their favourite haunts. In 1882 he published Country Rambles describing one of his favourite walks from Hale Station into the Bollin valley at Bankhall Lane following an ancient track running between Peel Causeway Farm, Ollerbarrow Farm, Barrow Farm and Rossmill Farm to Sunbank Wood and Cotterill Clough, most of which can still be walked today. This proved a huge success and many Manchester people followed the route. He published several more scholarly books up to 1892 and died in 1904 aged 86.
Douglas K Hartley was born in 1921 in Manchester of parents who were shopkeepers. He joined the West Manchester Cyclists Touring Club in the late 1930s and then the Dukinfield Cycling Club and took part in time trials. During the war he joined the RAF and later the Police and at that time a Doctor Abraham who examined Doug commented especially on his extraordinary physique. In 1942 he was declared the best all-round racing cyclist in Britain based on timed distance and endurance trials. After the war he worked for Raleigh in Manchester and married Margaret in 1948. In 1949 he took over a cycle shop at 100 Ashley Road, Hale that had been opened in about 1897 by Frank Jackson and later run by Herbert Jackson. Herbert later sold the business to Victor Bailes who sold out to Doug in 1949. Doug and Margaret lived over the shop initially, later at 79 Ashley Road and finally at Mere where the house backed on to the golf club, golf being Doug’s favourite hobby. Roy Goodwin joined him in 1950 and became his manager until the shop was sold in 1996 after Doug’s death. Doug was a friend of Reg Harris who built bikes after he retired from racing and Doug bought many from him in the 50s and 60s as well as building his own. Doug expanded the shop by buying 104 Ashley Road and later 102 and replaced the 40 by 15 foot wooden workshop at the back of number 100 by a brick one. Local builder Kennedy rebuilt numbers 100 to 104 as flats in 2000. Seamons Cycling Club, Altrincham have a Doug Hartley trophy.
Hibbert Ware, Samuel
Titus Hibbert was a prosperous Manchester linen merchant and took his son Samuel into partnership in 1771. In 1780 Samuel married Sarah Ware, the daughter of a Dublin soldier who had inherited an estate, which included Partington Farm, which is still in Wicker Lane, Hale Barns next to the Bulls Head. From the outbuildings of this farm across the road, was built The Ivies which is now the vicarage of All Saints Church. In 1782 Samuel II was born in Chorlton. He was educated in Manchester, studied medicine in Edinburgh where he gained an MD and settled there in 1815, entering into a variety of archaeological and scientific investigations. Samuel II married Sarah Crompton in 1804 and they had a daughter Sarah Hibbert. Samuel II became a friend of Sir Walter Scott who probably visited Samuel’s homes in Edinburgh and York. He wrote several books and numerous papers and is regarded as an Antiquary and Geologist. He married three times and finally retired in 1844 to The Ivies, Wicker Lane, Hale Barns. He was a prolific writer, researched and wrote about the history of the Manchester including his magnum opus A History of the Foundations in Manchester of Christ Church College, Chethams Hospital and the Free Grammar School and a history of the Altrincham area. Captain Edward Jones sketched and measured the tithebarn in Hale Barns for him, which measured 87 feet by 19 feet. Samuel was a trustee of the Cross Street Chapel, Manchester and died in 1848. He had six children and the youngest, Titus Hibbert Ware II (1810 to 1890) who lived in Stamford Road, Bowdon, was a barrister in Manchester and is buried in Bowdon churchyard. In 1868 Titus married Mary Stewart who wrote several novels such as The Old Tithebarn written in 1880 and in 1882 wrote The Life and Correspondence of Samuel Hibbert-Ware. In 1869 they had a son William Augustine who was living in St. Margaret’s Road, Bowdon in 1894 and died at 39 in 1908. There are several thousand archived papers of these and other related Hibbert Wares at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, dated 1770 to about 1880.
Alfred Ingham FRHS was born in Illingworth, Yorkshire in 1849 and became a journalist. He set himself up as a local bookseller, stationer, publisher and historian. He lived at 6 Norman’s Place, Altrincham and had his shop at 84 George Street. He published The Altrincham Advertiser and in 1896 wrote A History of Altrincham and Bowdon.
Alexander Ireland was a newspaperman who published the Manchester Examiner & Times and was still editor at age 70. He was born in Scotland 1811and in 1870 was living at Inglewood on St. Margaret’s Road, Bowdon, previously living at Oak Terrace in Stamford Road, Bowdon in 1864. Alexander was a founder of the literary Roundabout Club in Bowdon and had a personal library of 20,000 books. He married Annie and their son Dr. John Ireland was born in 1880 at Inglewood where there is a plaque to him on the gatepost. John’s parents had four other children and the parents both died about 1893. John attended Leeds Grammar School for a while and from 1893 at age 14 he studied piano and organ at the Royal College of Music in London. He shared a lodging with his sister in London and in 1898 moved to Chelsea where he married in 1927 but the marriage was short-lived. In 1938 he moved to Guernsey just before it was invaded, when he returned to London. He was a composer, organist, pianist and teacher and produced vocal, piano, chamber and orchestral work. At the RCM he taught composition, one of his pupils being Benjamin Britten. He was awarded a doctorate in 1932. He also wrote the score for the 1946 film The Overlanders concerning a cattle drive across Australia when there was a threat of Japanese invasion. In 1953 he moved to Sussex where he died in 1962 aged 83. The John Ireland Society was formed in 1960 and is still active.
Robert Jackson was born in Knutsford in 1915. Following a childhood as an enthusiast for anything to do with animals and early training in water garden management, he set up his first business breeding and selling tropical fish in Ashley. As the business expanded he moved first in 1946 to Park Avenue, Timperley and then in 1952 to Holly Bank on the corner of Grove Lane and Delahays Road, Hale. Holly Bank had been used to house Belgian refugees during the war and had been two cottages. By this time the business, Robert Jackson (Naturalists) Ltd, had developed to include not just the large scale breeding of tropical fish but also the importation of a wide variety of animals for the increasing number of zoos throughout the British Isles. The outbuildings and grounds of Holly Bank were adapted for their new purpose. Outdoor pools for coldwater fish and greenhouses for the breeding of tropical fish were built. Locals soon became accustomed to the chirping of frogs or even the occasional lizard that had escaped to their garden. A second business, Zoological Exhibitions, also had its base at Holly Bank. Whilst initially this concentrated on running small seasonal aquaria in various parts of Britain it did form the foundation for the fulfilment of Robert Jackson’s lifelong ambition, to own and run a zoo. In 1962 this dream came to fruition when in November of that year he moved with his wife and three sons to Colwyn Bay, North Wales where he founded the Welsh Mountain Zoo. Holly Bank was demolished that year. Although running the zoo left little spare time, what was available was spent pursuing his other passion, angling. Sadly in May 1969 he was killed by a falling tree while fishing in the River Elwy in Denbighshire. The family continued running the zoo and the long-term future of Robert Jackson’s dream was ensured when, in 1983, the family passed ownership to the newly formed charity the Zoological Society of Wales. Robert’s three sons Tony, Chris and Nick continue as directors of the zoo. Mrs. Margaret Jackson retired and became President of the Society.
|Dr Hewlett Johnson was born in Broughton, Salford in 1874, the son of Charles Johnson and Rosa Hewlett. His father owned Johnson & Hobbs, Wire Manufacturers. Up to age 12 he was educated at home, then in 1886 he attended King Edward Grammar School, Macclesfield where he was awarded the Divinity Prize in 1889 and 90. When he was 16 he entered Owens College, Victoria University, Manchester where he gained a BSc in science and was awarded the Geological Prize in 1894, studying under Professor William Boyd Dawkins. Hewlett had intended to become a missionary like his two sisters but in 1895 his father arranged for him to work for three years as an apprentice at Ashbury Carriage Works in Openshaw making rolling stock. He trained as an engineer and became an associate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1898. In 1900 he went up to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and then three years at Wadham from 1901 and graduated with a Theology degree in 1904, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Alfred Hewlett. In the vacations he helped at Ancoats Lads’ Club in Manchester and there met Mary Taylor (born 1873) and they married in 1903. He was ordained as a deacon and became curate of St Margaret’s in 1905 then vicar in 1908. He was well known for his left-wing views but was well respected by all for his hard work including trying to get improvements to Altrincham’s housing conditions. By 1910 Hewlett described himself as a socialist and during WW1 was rejected as a chaplain since he did not fully support the war in his sermons. However, he became chaplain to a prisoner-of-war camp in Sinderland and continued to support local political activities. Mary worked in the Cheshire Red Cross and became a local commander. In 1919 he was made an honorary cannon of Chester Cathedral and Rural Dean of Bowdon in 1922. He had ambitions to make St. Margaret’s a major Angican and plans were drawn up to extend the church at the west end and include cloisters on the north side. Building work was well on when funds ran out in 1923 when the benefactor Mary Grafton died. In 1924 he was appointed Dean of Manchester Cathedral and Dean of Canterbury in 1931, the year of Mary’s death where he became known as The Red Dean which also went with his ruddy complexion. He travelled in Europe, Russia, Poland, China, Cuba and the USA and lectured and wrote widely on those countries. He published The Socialist Sixth of the World in 1939 and received the Stalin Peace Prize in 1951. He became chairman of the Daily Worker. He retired in 1963 at the age of 89 and died in 1966 just after completing his autobiography Searching for Light. |
Killick, Harold Durant (1877-1966) Scouter
Harry Killick was the son of Thomas William Killick, an East India merchant, magistrate and local historian who lived at Southfield, Richmond Road, Bowdon from the late nineteenth century to 1914. Harry, born in 1897, was one of nine children, and went to Bowdon College on South Downs Road.
He was said to be a member of the Lancashire Aero Club (who have lost early membership records in a fire) in the 1930s and 40s and was a friend of John Leeming and Ronald Gow. He was said to have flown occasionally at AV Roe's Woodford Aerodrome and to have done some circus flying. In the 1920s and 30s he built racing cars in the Southfield coach house on Langham Road, and later in farm buildings at Ashley Heath, now offices. In 1935 he built a Flying Flea at his Ashley Heath garage from a French kit at a cost of £25 for the bodywork, but probably never flew it. The Flying Fea had two wings but no tailplane, just a rudder, was very unstable without aerolons, and was later banned by the Air Ministry. Harry and scouts paraded it around Hale and Altrincham with its engine running as part of the VE Day celebrations.
Harry, who had a reputation for eccentricity took part in thee scouting movement all of his life and was always to be seen in shorts and a flying helmet and, in later life, in a kilt in celebration of his Scottish ancestry. During the war he was scoutmaster at Altrincham Preparatory School and assistant scoutmaster with the 3rd Altrincham Scouts at Altrincham Grammar School where he was known as Albatross with Scoutmaster Geoff Sutcliffe as Squirrel. It is said that he once lost his false teeth in the snow and had the scouts searching for them.
He told the scouts one tale of flying so low that his wheels touched a hedge, but fortunately the tail touched telephone wires and brought him level again. In 1951 the scout camp was at Loch Earn in Scotland and on the return journey Harry was seen to be racing down Shap Fell at 80mph, overtaking the train. He raced at Brooklands, took part in hill climbs and is said to have introduced the roll bar to racing cars. He made several sports cars including one from a kit. One he kept all of his life, JO 666, an HDK Special he named 'The Dart' was based on a 1930 1.5 litre Aston Martin open-top two-seater sports car with wire wheels and a four-speed crash gearbox (see above), had distinguishing leather straps around the long home-built aluminium body and a fin on the back. It was green originally but Harry painted it black in the 1950s.
Harry was often to be seen around Bowdon and Hale in the car in the 1950s and early 60s. In response to a competition with a £5,000 prize, he attempted to build a pedal-powered autogyro and had to phone Ringway Airport for clearance for an attempt to take off from his back garden. He also built high quality HDK trailers and assisted scouts to build very professional soapboxes with gears and cable brakes for the Northern Soapbox Derby at Southport.
He lived at Bowborough, Vicarage Lane, Bowdon, which always had a flag flying outside, and the cellars were fitted out as a hostel for scouts from other countries. Harry always smoked a pipe, had skin tanned from the outdoors and wore a moustache said to be covering up scars from an accident. When camping and walking he used a walking stick with a V-shaped thumb notch. In the summer Harry used to camp in a small tent at Rhosneigr, and the picture was taken at Lakeside Service Station by Alan Bolton of Harry with Gerry and Pauline Gasson 3rd & 4th from the right and David Goodhand 2nd from right. Below is a Flying Flea in Bristol Industrial & Maritime Museum.
In the 1950s he rebuilt an Austin Seven Special for Philip Nelson. Harry died in 1966 after a battle with cancer. His obituary is in the Altrincham Guardian for 15 December 1966.
Le Breton, Edith
|Artist Edith le Breton worked in Altrincham and Dunham Massey for 50 years. Edith had a national profile but was best known for her paintings of northern scenes, many of them in Altrincham. They are representational paintings, usually oil on canvas, and generally chronicle post-war life in the north. Edith was friendly with Lowry who took an interest in her work. She also worked in other crafts, painting china and textiles. Edith Winifred Alice Sapple was born in 1912 at New Barns Farm, Weaste, Salford, just off Eccles New Road, near the site of the old racecourse. Her father Hugh was a policeman from Welshpool, Powys who served as an officer with the Manchester Dock Police. Edith inherited her love of painting from her mother Edith Primrose (Tipping). Edith Jackson took her great-grandmother’s French name of le Breton to use as an artist. Edith started painting at six and when she was nine she went to Seedley Council (now Primary) School. At the age of 11 she won a prize at Lewis’s Art Exhibition in Manchester, for a portrait of Princess Elizabeth. At 13 she was awarded a scholarship to Salford School of Art and at 15 sold her first watercolour and obtained a first-class studentship to study for a further three years. The family showed Edith’s early artwork to the artist Dame Laura Knight who advised Edith to “paint the people around you.” In 1933 at the age of 20 Edith married Cyril Jackson and in 1939 they lived in Langworthy Road, Salford. At the outbreak of war Cyril joined the RAF as a Military Policeman. He was injured in the war and was in hospital for a lengthy period so Edith had to provide for the family, which by then included their two young sons Peter and Dennis. She bought Royal Doulton china which she painted and sold to Kendal Milne’s store on Deansgate, Manchester. In 1936 she was introduced to Laurence Lowry by the director of Salford Art Gallery, Albert Frape, who gave her much support and encouragement. In 1937 Edith held an exhibition at Salford Art Gallery and Frape asked Lowry to choose one of her paintings for the gallery. The family was bombed out in Salford and Edith bought a corner provision shop and off-licence on the corner of Pownall Street (now Road) and Rostherne Street in Newtown, Altrincham where they remained until 1954 when they moved to 13 High Street, Altrincham. Edith and Lowry had both belonged to the Salford Arts club and he wrote to her with encouragement to continue to paint despite setbacks and difficulties. They continued to correspond until his death in 1976. She was elected a member of Manchester Academy of Fine Arts in 1952, had her work in their annual exhibitions and was a member until 1966. She was also a member of The Lancashire Group of Artists. She was awarded a fellowship in 1959 by the International Society of Arts and Letters and arranged an International Children’s Art Exhibition in Manchester for the United Nations. Edith had exhibitions at the Medici Galleries, London; and group shows at the Manchester Academy of Arts, Lancashire Group Artists, and Altrincham Society of Artists. She is represented in permanent collections in Salford City Art Gallery, and in private collections in Europe, the United States, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand. She judged children’s exhibitions, contributed poems to literary journals and was associated with the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. She painted a Manchester United match for Matt Busby and the 1972 Preston Guild (which only meets every 20 years). She exhibited nationally and sold at Sotherby’s and Christies. In 1959 Edith and Cyril retired to Magnolia Thatched Cottage, at the back of the Axe & Cleaver public house in Dunham Massey and then to Breton House, 1 Big Tree Cottages, Woodhouse Lane, Dunham Massey, where she painted for the last Lord Stamford. About 1990 Edith and Cyril moved into Sheltered Housing at 26 William Walk, Newtown, Altrincham, which is just a few doors from where her Russell Street shop had been. Edith’s sister Mavis Hermione Sapple was also a painter and wrote a book in 1982 covering their early life entitled A Salford Childhood, which is in Salford Public Library. Edith Le Breton, MAFA (1952), FIAL (1959), died in 1993, painting right up to the end. Cyril was a member of Altrincham Court Leet from the 1970s and was still attending in his 90s until he died in 2004. Many of Edith’s street scenes have a shop called ‘Jacksons’ and incorporate her sons or grandchildren, and her dog, often in a Salford or Altrincham context. For some she wrote a short poem. Edith painted hundreds of picture, many very colourful after the war, including Silver Jubilee, which has very detailed work in the bricks and setts, and which took a month to complete. Edith painted the street party in Russell Street in 1977 celebrating the Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee with tables stretching away into the distance. Her shop is in the right foreground with ‘Jacksons’ over the window. Her children and dog are included in the scene and Edith is looking out of the shop window. Salford Art Gallery and Trafford Local Studies hold some originals, and prints can be seen in Altrincham General Hospital outpatients and Wythenshawe Hospital Intensive Care and the Heart Unit. Edith was very prolific and her paintings include: |
A Christmas Market (poem on the back), A Market Day in a Welsh Town, A Salford Street (1949, original at Salford Art Gallery), A Street in Lancashire, A Summer Day, All the Fun of the Fair (Salford), Altrincham Market, Altrincham Scene, Back Street in Manchester, Barrow Boys (1976), Busy Winter Street Scene with Street Traders & Shoppers (1975), Child of Salford, Christmas Shopping, City Centre, Come to the Fair, Coronation Preparations, Down & Out, Dunham Massey Rose Queen, Fairground, Forbidden Fruit, Forty Winks (the original is in Trafford Local Studies), George Street, Altrincham, In the Air Raid Shelter (1942), In the Vatican (1967), Joe, Knutsford Royal May Queen, the Day the Queen Rides By (1972), Marbles, Memories of Broadway, Salford, Monday Evening, Monday Morning, New Street, Altrincham, On Sunday Afternoon, Pownall Street, Altrincham, Salvation Army, Sam Bone Man in Salford Town (1976), Scene in Newtown, Altrincham (the original is in Trafford Local Studies), Schooldays, Seen from a Train, Stamford New Road, Altrincham, Street Scene in New Street Altrincham (original in Trafford Local Studies), The Apprentices’ Strike, Trafford Park, The Bandstand (1973, Stamford Park, Hale), The Blackbird at Magnolia Cottage, The Canal at Broadheath, The Evacuees, The Fairground (1971), The Football Match, The Jubilee Dress (on fabric, held by the Jackson family), The Little Beggar Child of Rome (1970), The Little Church, The Little Park in Salford, The Little School (St Margaret’s C of E School, Albert Street, Altrincham), The Little Street Market, The Local Derby (Manchester United v Manchester City, for Matt Busby), The Man on the Bus (a finger painting), The May Queen Procession (1971, Stockport, poem on the back), The Night Watchman (a finger painting), The Old Street Market, The Old Street Market Man (1976), The Pavement Artist (1971), The Pensioner (1972), The Playground, The Preston Guild (1972), The Procession (1973), The Royal Salford Hospital Pageant, The Salvation Army in Pownall Street (1950), The Silver Jubilee Party (1977, Altrincham), The Student on the 64 Bus (Rome), The Victorian Flat-Iron Market in Old Salford, The Wanderer (a finger painting), The Winter Wedding (1972, St Luke’s Church, Weaste), View from the Downs.
Henry Hartley Leeming married Edith Lowe in 1883 and John Fishwick Leeming was born in Chorlton in 1896. Henry worked with his older brother John H Leeming as a Silk Manufacturer and Oil Merchant. It is likely that John F Leeming also worked for the business. The Leemings were living in Withington in 1901nand John was sent to a preparatory school in Southport where he first saw the pioneering efforts of powered flying at Birkdale near Southport. In 1910 he made his first glider and tried it on the sands there. The family moved to Hale in 1915 and in 1923 were living at Alderbank, 40 Ashley Road, Altrincham. In 1918 John married Sarah Tabernor and lived at 38 Albert Road from 1920 to 1923 but later in the 1920s were said to be living at 23 Spring Road, Hale. John built his next glider in 1921 in his parents’ cellar, later moved to the garage as it got bigger, then the greenhouse. In 1924 he flew his fifth glider which he had built from scrap from Avros with friends Tom Prince and Clement Wood and known as an ‘LPW’ after their initials. All his later gliders could be dismantled and stored in a garage. He crashed the glider and rebuilt it with a Douglas motorbike engine installed but it was too heavy to fly and they could only trundle around the field. In that same year 1924, John and nine friends formed the Lancashire Aero Club in his greenhouse, the first aero club in Britain with John as first Chairman and later President. Originally the club flew from Hough End Fields and in 1925 considered a field at Ringway where the airport is now but eventually used a site at what is now Woodford. John was famous for landing on the Chester Road near The Swan Inn in the 1920s to refuel at a petrol station and for a planned landing on Hevellyn in 1926. Manchester Corporation opened Barton Aerodrome in 1928 but it proved to be unsuitable for large aircraft. The war stopped flying and the club restarted at Barton in 1946. The club is the oldest surviving aero club in Britain and the largest. John became an authority on flying, was asked to find an new airport site by Manchester Corporation in the 1930s and recommended the Ringway site, which at that stage Manchester Corporation rejected, but eventually opened an aerodrome there in 1938. In the early 1930s he built Owlpen, York Drive, Bowdon where he developed a two-acre garden, all up the left hand side of York Drive and Theobald Road. At the end of the plot near to the Lady of the Vale Convent he spent the whole of the 1930s developing the garden and built The Barn out of reclaimed handmade bricks and old oak beams and with a Priest’s Hole. The house itself The Badgers was built in 1948. He is said to have helped fund the neighbouring Bollingworth House given by Fanny Baxter to establish Our Lady of the Vale Convent on condition that he reserved the right to use an entrance from Theobald Road. His wife lived there for the last five years of her life. He sold his first published article at 13 and became internationally known for his books, which sold in large volumes. Between 1935 and 1960 he wrote ten books including in 1935 The Garden Grows on the building of the garden, and Manchester & Aviation. In 1936 he created Claudius the Bee for the Manchester Evening News for which Walt Disney bought the film rights. In that same year he wrote his autobiography Airdays. He also became an expert on delphiniums and bred pedigree pigs. He was a friend of Harry Killick and must have also known Graham Wood who lived close by at The Coppice, in South Downs Road who was also a flying pioneer and whose restored ‘Rotary Ornithopter’ machine with flapping wings is in the Manchester Air and Space Museum. John flew in Wellingtons during the war and on a trip to Malta in November 1940 ran out of fuel over southern Sicily and was made a prisoner-of-war with Air Marshall O T Boyd. He wrote a book on his experiences as a POW The Natives are Friendly. Before the war John had set up the Northern Air Transport Company based at Barton. After the war he ran a business in Broadheath extracting the oil from rags from the various engineering works and producing new cloth and reclaimed oil. He died in 1965 aged 69.
John Macnamara was born in Leeds in 1845. He moved to Manchester in 1857 and became a pupil-teacher, college student, and later a headmaster. He decided to study architecture and surveying. In 1874 he he was appointed as assistant to Maxwell Roscoe, surveyor to the trustees of the Stamford Estates. He then became a surveyor for the estates of the larger part of Hale, working for the Harrops, Leathers, Fowdens, Bowers, Leicesters, Cramptons, Worthingtons and others. He took over the development of Bower Road when it stalled and designed the following roads: South Downs Drive, Park Drive, Harrop, Belmont, Prescot, Leicester, Ollerbarrow, Westgate, Hazlewood, Leigh, Rappax, North, and Bancroft. He ran his business as architect, surveyor and property agent from 35/37 Hale Road c1900, later from The Hermitage on Bancroft Road where the 1960s houses are. He taught in the Altrincham Technical School which was linked to the Old Free Library in Lower George Street. He worked with J H Broun to design and build Mossburn Buildings on the west side of Stamford New Road, Altrincham. He was elected on to Hale Urban District Council in 1902, opposing Alfred Tarbolton. He represented the poorer people in Hale, criticised the right-wing council and planned to build affordable housing. He supported amalgamation with Altrincham to allow better-shared facilities. He later put up for Altrincham Council but came back to Hale Council in 1911 for a couple of years. He gave £250 and land for the building of St. David’s Mission Church on Grove Lane, and persuaded his clients to donate land to the community. He also gave land for the Hermitage Bowdling Club. He was the second president of the Altrincham and District Natural History and Literary Society. For 25 years he was a warden of St. John's Church and manager of St. John's Schools. He died in 1925.
Richard Lakin Mason, author and scriptwriter, was born at Dalkieth, 14 Bower Road, Hale in 1919. His father GE Mason was an electrical engineer and his mother was Constance Mason, neé Mead. Richard wrote two early books under the name Richard Lakin and then achieved fame with his 1947 book made into the film with Dirk Bogarde The Wind Cannot Read. Perhaps his most famous book however was The World of Suzie Wong, made into a play in the 1950s and a film in the 1960 starring William Holden, Nancy Kwan, Sylvia Syms and Michael Wilding. He retired in the 1950s, spent most of his time in Rome and died in 1997.
|Edward Theophilus Nelson was born 22 October 1874 in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana) where his father Philip was a builder. He was educated at St. Philips School, Demerara and came to Oxford in 1898 to read law at St. John’s College (the wealthiest college in Oxford, with estates stretching to Cambridge). In 1900, his second year, he was elected Secretary to Oxford Union and was nominated as Treasurer in 1900 by Raymond Asquith, the son of Herbert Asquith. He held the position for 1900/01, which post has been held three Prime Ministers. On 31 March 1900 he received a telegram from Georgetown’s Argosy who cabled their congratulations. There are two group photographs of him at Oxford. In 1901 he was living in Eltham, London and graduated in 1902. He was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1904, probably the first West Indian to be called to the English Bar. He was living at Beech Holme, Stamford Road, Bowdon in 1906 then 2 Laurel Bank, Stamford Road in 1907 probably as a lodger. He moved to Cecil House (now 47/49) Cecil Road, Hale in 1909 after splitting it into two houses. He remained there for the rest of his life and attended St. Peter’s Church. He had a legal practice at 78 King Street, Manchester and in 1910 was defence barrister in a dramatic case at Dukinfield, Cheshire, the murder of George Harry Storrs who was stabbed 15 times on 1 November 1909. The case was known as the ‘Gorse Hall Murder’, later the ‘Stalybridge Murder’. Edward first appeared at Duckinfield Magistrates Court for Cornelius Howard who was subsequently acquitted by jury at Chester. Edward then successfully defended a second accused, Mark Wilde. The experienced Mr Nelson successfully argued in court that if the only witnesses to the intrusion at Gorse Hall were convinced that Cornelius Howard was the murderer, then their identification of Wilde as the murderer must be ignored; and that if there was any reasonable doubt about Wilde, he must be acquitted. After only 50 minutes, the jury agreed with the barrister and Wilde was found not guilty. There is a portrait of Edward as Wilde’s barrister at the Chester trial in the Stalybridge Reporter of 29 October 1910. In 1919 Edward was retained by the London-based African Progress Union to defend 15 Liverpool Black Men charged with riotous assembly and assault in the aftermath of the race riots in Liverpool in the summer of 1919. 700 Black men and their families had been removed from their homes. The local paper said that he had conducted the defence ‘with great clearness and ability’. Edward was well known in legal circles in Lancashire and Cheshire and frequently appeared on cases at the Assize Courts as well as in Petty Sessions and County Courts. Some of his more important cases reached English Law Reports and can be accessed on CD-ROM. In March 1913 Edward stood for West Ward of Hale Urban District Council as a Conservative candidate and was successful with 224 votes against his opponent’s 91. There is a report in the Altrincham Guardian of 28 March 1913. He remained a councillor with Hale until his death in 1940. He was elected Chairman of the Lighting, Hackney Carriage and Fire Committee in 1913. Edward was deeply interested in literature and was elected as Chairman of the Library Committee from 1921 to 1939. He was Chairman of the Council in 1917/18 and 1937/38 and part of 1939, and was generally a prominent figure in the public life of Hale. An authority on rating and valuation he was chairman of Hale Council’s Rating and Valuation Committee since its inception and was the first representative of Hale on the County Valuation Committee and its chairman from 1936 to his death. He was also first Chairman of the Cheshire Urban District Councils’ Association and a member of the District Councils’ Association of Great Britain. He was a recognised authority on Local Government and understood the legal aspects. He was a small, quiet and modest man and was clearly very popular. His colleagues respected his friendship, his depth of knowledge, his considerable ability and his fairness. He was a member of Hale Cricket Club which was associated with St. Peter’s Church and played behind Hale Chapel, Hale Barns. He also played for Bowdon at South Downs Road. There are several a photographs of him held by Hale Civic Society. He died on 3 August 1940 aged 66, (newspaper reports say 62) with the service at St. Peter’s Church, Hale. He was buried in Altrincham Cemetery, Hale, witnessed by a large group of local worthies and his daughter Maisie and his niece Vera. In 1942 Edward’s sister Jane Nelson was living at 47 Cecil Road and in 1974 Onasie A Nelson, possibly another sister. He married but nothing is known of his wife-they may have separated. They had a daughter Maisie (May) who lived at 47 Cecil Road and who died 21 June 1984 when an oil painting of Edward and some of his furniture were sold locally for £4,900. Edward’s Deaths Register reference is Bucklow 8a 470, cemetery plot C4 where Maisie was also buried in 1984, where the stone is black. There is an obituary of him in the Manchester Guardian of 5 August 1940 and the Sale Guardian of 9 August 1940. There is a more substantial biography of ET Nelson by Jeffrey P Green in New Community Volume 12 Number 1 1984 and a book by Jonathan Goodman covers the stabbing of George Harry Storrs.|
Knowledge of now vanished dwellings in Hale depends on the researches of John Owen (known as ‘Old Mortality’) in the 1870s and Tarbolton in the 1900s. John was born in Bolton in 1815 and sadly died in the Stockport Workhousein in 1902. A successful corn dealer in the Stretford Road: he retired early and devoted the rest of his life to antiquarian pursuits: copying gravestones and memorial inscriptions (which earned him the nickname of ‘Old Mortality’), parish registers, sale notices and every kind of document with a bearing on the history of Manchester and its environs. Owen lived mostly in Manchester, Stretford and Sale, but always took an interest in the more outlying areas, and from 1874 to 1876 lodged at the Lower Buttery House, Davenport Green, Hale. Owen married twice and had several children. While he was at Lower Buttery House an ancient footpath led from the house across Shay Lane and came out on the Wilmslow Road opposite Prospect House. Just west of Prospect House was a provision shop which Owen used. The lower end of the footpath had been closed by the Brooks when they began to make their great tree-lined avenue, but Owen constantly went along it, having discovered that there had been no magistrates’ order for the closure. He let it be known that he would proceed against anyone who attempted to interfere with him and defend any action for trespass and was left unmolested. He had a great interest in what would now be called vernacular architecture and sketched hundreds of old buildings, many of which have now been pulled down. His drawings are often the only record of their appearance. He wrote many newspaper articles, but never published a book. Nevertheless, even within his own lifetime, the eighty-odd volumes of his notes, sketches and cuttings had become a quarry from which other authors drew their information. These volumes are deposited in the Manchester Central Reference Library and available on microfilm and many of the sketches in digital form.
Thomas Baron Pitfield was born in Bolton in 1903 where his father was a master joiner and builder. He learned his skill as a wood-carver in his father’s workshop and left school at 14 to train as an engineering draftsman. His parents allowed him to have piano lessons and he bought a cello and at 21 enrolled as a composition student at the Royal Manchester School of Music where Carl Fuchs of the Brodsky Quartet taught him. He formed a string quartet and began composing. In 1930 he won a scholarship to the Bolton School of Art where he trained as a teacher and cabinetmaker. His music and cover designs were published by Oxford University Press and others. During the 1930s he taught at Penketh School and Tettenhall College, Wolverhampton and in several Schools of Art, and held exhibitions in several large art galleries. During the war he registered as a conscientious objector. He married Alice Astbury who was born near Moscow of English parents who escaped from Russia in 1917. They first lived in South Staffordshire where he taught cabinet making and then moved to Gawsworth near Macclesfield. In 1947 he was invited to join the staff of the Royal Manchester School of Music, now the Royal Northern College of Music, as Professor of Composition and his pupils included John Ogden. In 1947 they settled in Bowdon where they lived for 52 years. They built a house on an old school tennis court at 21 East Down Road (now demolished). Tom and Alice were vegetarians and pacifists. He retired at 70. He was a teacher, a composer of church music, a musician, a poet, an artist, a wood-carver and an author. He received commissions from Leon Goossens, the Hallé Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He composed about 200 pieces of music, wrote about 10 books and 60 publishers have printed his work. Altrincham people were very familiar with his pen-and-ink drawings especially on calendars and Christmas cards. He knew Adolf Brodsky from his student days at the RNCM and who lived nearby. He also knew Brodsky’s nephew who lived in the same house afterwards. He was a friend of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. He was a founder member of Bowdon History Society together with Maurice Ridgway. Tom died in 1999 aged 96 and Alice soon afterwards. Services were held for him, using his church music, at Bowdon Church where he used to play the organ. In 2003 celebrations of his life were held in 15 locations around the England.
In 1884 George Richards opened the first engineering factory in Broadheath, later to become the centre of the machine-tool industry and one the biggest employers in the area. The industrial development on this convenient Broadheath site with good rail, road and canal links attracted many other engineering firms including others from the USA: Linotype, Tilghmans, and Churchills. George Richards was born in 1856 in Philadelphia, USA to parents John and Paulina. John was a noted engineer, author and inventor. George and trained as a mechanical engineer and in 1877 went to Sweden and joined the Kopings company who manufactured high-class woodworking machinery. He came to Manchester in 1880 and set up a works in City Road in partnership with a Mr Atkinson making woodworking machinery. The 1881 census shows him married to Annie also born in the USA and lodging at 76 Sloane Street, Moss Side. Annie may have died because in 1882 he married Amy Ford-Smith at Barton-upon-Irwell. Amy was the daughter of Harriet and William Ford-Smith who ran an engineering company. Their son George Tilghman Richards was born in 1883. The Manchester business expanded into tool making and Richards built a new factory in Broadheath in 1884 on 4½ acres, which he called the Atlantic Engineering Works from his origins, financed by B C Tilghman. It was situated on land previously donated by the Earl of Warrington to the workhouse trustees. In 1882 Richards applied for membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, giving his occupation as a woodworking engineer. His principal proposer was his father-in-law, William Ford-Smith. In 1885 he began producing horizontal boring machines. In 1891 George and Amy were living at Leicester Villa in Burlington Street (later Road), Altrincham, not too far from the factory. In 1896 Tilghmans Sand Blast Co. moved into Broadheath and took over George Richards & Co. because of financial problems but kept the name. In 1897 Richards left the company because of disagreements with Tilghmans management and moved to London and then Belgium (he spoke French). According to Richards he was promised £25,000 for his share of the company but received little. In 1901 Amy and her son George Tilghman Richards, an engineering apprentice, were living with her parents at Woodstock, Palatine Road, Didsbury. G T Richards became chief designer for the aviation department of William Beardmore, shipbuilders of Scotland, wrote a history of typewriters and died in 1960. George & Amy Richards divorced and George married Josephine Van Niewenborg in 1902 and they had three children. In the 1990s the railway through Broadheath was demolished and a retail park built with a new road on the line of the old railway, which was named George Richards Way in honour of this engineering pioneer who had such a profound influence on Broadheath in the 12 years he was there. His son followed in his father's footsteps as an engineer.
Hans Richter was born 1843 in Hungary and became a professional horn player in Budapest and later Wagner’s musical secretary. He conducted first performances of works by Brahms, Elgar, Bruchner, Tchaikovsky and Wagner amongst others and retired from Hungary to conduct the Hallé Orchestra in 1998. At that time he lived at 27 The Firs, Bowdon where there is a plaque and where Bartok and Elgar visited. He retired finally to Bayreuth in 1911 where he died in 1916.
Canon Maurice Hill Ridgway was born in 1918 at Stockport where his father was vicar of St. George’s Church. The family moved to Tarvin near Chester and Maurice attended King’s School, Chester, which was founded in 1541 and was closely linked to the cathedral. He then went to St. David’s College, Lampeter, now part of the University of Wales. Maurice was ordained at Chester Cathedral in 1941 and was brieftly vicar of St. Peter’s, Hale in 1946 where he was well respected by parishioners and used to make the effort to visit each family in the parish once a year, a considerable task. After a spell in the 1950s at Bunbury near Nantwich when he contributed to the Historical Atlas of Cheshire, he became vicar of St. Mary’s, Bowdon from 1962 to 1983 and became an honorary canon of Chester in 1966. He had strong links with Bowdon where his father had attended Rosehill School in 1892 and there are Ridgway gravestones in Bowdon Church back to at least the mid-18th century. He was a founder member of the Bowdon History Society in 1989 and continued to write scholarly articles for the society and learned journals when he retired to Oswestry in Shropshire. He was considered an expert on Cheshire silver and Chester hallmarks and wrote three volumes on the history of the Chester Goldsmiths. He was a joint editor of the local history journal The Cheshire Sheaf for several years from 1966 to 1971 when it closed down, which he restarted in 1976. He retired to a village near Oswestry where he involved himself in the preservation of the church of Pennant Melangell which houses the oldest Romanesque shrine in Europe. There is a Ridgway Gallery at the Grosvenor Museum with his portrait on display. He was also an authority on medieval rood screens and was awarded the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries for his work in this field. Maurice married Audrey and they had two sons and three daughters. He died aged 84 in December 2002 at Ely in Cambridgeshire.
George Rodger was a photographic journalist. He was born in 1908 at 145 Hale Road, Hale, one of four children and where his father is listed as George Frederick Eck-Rodger. He attended Miss Petremant’s School at what became Broussa on Broomfield Lane (named after a village in Turkey and now Hale Prep) in Broomfield Lane, Hale and then went to St. Bedes in Cumbria. At 17 he entered the Merchant Navy, took various jobs in the USA and got a taste for travel and in the 1930s for photography. He worked for the BBC as a photographer until 1939 and then joined the Black Star Photo Agency. He had wartime Blitz pictures published in Picture Post then joined Life magazine for whom he went to Africa and Burma. He married Cicily in 1943 and then covered the war in Europe including Belsen and the surrender of Germany. In 1947 he was one of the four founder members of Magnum, the prestigious international photo-journalism agency that included Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson and David Seymour. Unfortunately George’s wife Cicily died in 1949 and he married Jinx in 1953. He later rejected war because of what he witnessed in Belsen. He was most famous for his African works and published a number of books on them and one on the Blitz in London. He travelled 7,000 miles in Africa in 1940 and another 20,000 in 1948 photographing tribal societies. He died in 1995 in Kent and there is a Blue Plaque to him at 145 Hale Road, Hale.
Robert Seddon was born in 1715 and came to Altrincham as an itinerant dealer in the early 1750s, probably from Lancashire. In 1759 he witnessed the will of Ralph Pimlott. In 1774 Robert II married Phoebe Clarke, the daughter of Thomas Clarke and Phoebe Burgess of Ollerbarrow Farm, at St. Mary’s Church, Bowdon. In 1775 Robert Seddon Senior, who was described as a chapman, leased land on Sandy Lane, Bowdon from the Earl of Stamford. The lease was for three lives, his own and those of his sons Robert (born 1752) and Thomas (born 1754). The lease was a cottage and tenement and two fields, Butty Croft and Well Croft. In 1775 Robert Senior opened a small worsted factory at Hollybank, on Sandy Lane, Bowdon (known as Stamford Road from the 1850s), where the small Hollywood estate now is opposite to Spring Bank. Although the mill would probably have been operated manually initially there is evidence of a small stream passing the site and a header-pond possibly existed higher up the hill at Enville Road. Just north of Enville Road are Winton Road and Belgrave Road, built on Well Field which probably caused sinkage of the Dome Chapel foundations. The mill is confirmed by the presence of a dye house in the 1775 Valuation Book and the 1782 Book lists a warping mill, dye house and comb shop. Hargreaves developed his Spinning Jenny in 1765 and Arkwright had invented the water-driven spinning frame in 1769, which led to the development of water-powered mills. If Seddon’s mill was water-powered he was clearly in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. The Brosters Guide to Altrincham of 1782 also lists a Robert Seddon, woolcomber, living in the Altrincham area. The 1793 trade directory shows a worsted mill which can be identified as Hollybank and lists Altrincham’s principal manufacture as worsted yarn, worsted and hair shags (course cloth.) However by 1800 wool was going out of fashion and the enterprise went downhill. According to testimony the mill appears to have been converted to a small Thread and Bobbin Factory about 1825 although the trade directories always name it as a worsted factory right into the 1850s. This is supported by the fact that a bobbin turner was living at the bottom of Stamford Road in the 1850s. Robert and Phoebe had a daughter Ann born in 1775 (who in 1796 married another Clarke), and sons John born in 1778 and Robert III born in 1786. In 1786 Robert died and Robert II continued to run the factory until he died on 6 May 1806. Robert II appears to have married again, since when he died his wife was Margaret; one of his executors was his brother Joseph who was a Manchester merchant. Robert III continued to run the mill after his father died. Robert III married Catherine and they appear to have had children Margaret born 1800, Mary born 1803, Edward born 1811, and Robert IV born in 1815 who died in 1847 also aged 32. They also had daughters Frances born in 1817 and Harriet born in 1821. Bryant’s 1831 map of the names the area of the mill as ‘Siddon’s Brow’, presumably a corruption of Seddon. A Robert Seddon attended a Bowdon Vestry meeting in 1832, presumably Robert III. The mill was still being run in 1851 in the census when Robert III aged 65 was still producing worsted, was born in Bowdon and was living on the south side of Sandy Lane (Stamford Road), Bowdon with his wife Catherine and daughters Frances and Harriet. The 1855 directory has a Robert Seddon living at Oak Hill, Stamford Road and a Robert Seddon died aged 72 in 1858, clearly the same person, by which time the mill/factory had closed. Frances died in 1857 aged 44 and Catherine died in 1862 aged 77. Harriet was still living at Oak Hill, Stamford Road, Bowdon in the mid-1860s, taking in lodgers. The family is interesting in that it managed to run a worsted mill in the late 18C and early 19C using for power what must have been a tiny stream which no longer exists and for which there is only a small amount of evidence.
John Siddeley was a Chemist, Druggist and Seed Merchant at 30 Church Street then at Springbank in Stamford Street, Altrincham in the 1860s and 70s. His advertisements indicated ‘physician’s prescriptions carefully prepared’ and that he sold ‘genuine patent medicines’. He also offered toilet soap, perfumery, tooth, nail and hairbrushes, colza oil, genuine wax, sperm & composite candles, teas, coffees, spices etc and ‘every kind of garden flower and agricultural seeds’. At the time he also owned a pub in Police Street called The Rising Sun. He is perhaps most famous for his brewery which stood on the triangle of land opposite to the Railway Inn near Hale Station from about 1863 to 1907. He bought a small building from brewer John Henry Wright who was married to Sarah Ann Davenport, the sister of John Davenport (see below). He was in business with Thomas Kent, a brewer from Slaithwaite. His special brew was known as Siddeley’s Purge which was recreated for the Millennium celebrations and is still brewed. John Siddeley was mayor of Altrincham in 1878. He married Sarah Anne Davenport, the daughter of the above John Davenport who was mayor in 1855. John Davenport also had a daughter Elizabeth who married William Siddeley, John's Siddeleys brother and they had a son John Davenport Siddeley who went to school in Altrincham, who founded Siddeley Motors and became Baron Kenilworth. The Siddeleys father was Samuel, a farmer from Davenham near Northwich. There are Siddeley graves in Bowdon churchyard.
Joseph Sidebotham was born in 1824 in Hyde, Cheshire. His wife Anne Coward, was born in 1823, in Manchester. She was the aunt of ornithologist Thomas Alfred Coward. Joseph was a successful calico printer, and a colliery proprietor by inheritance, as well as being a talented photographer, astronomer and botanist. He was the founder of the Manchester Photographic Society in 1855 and took some of the earliest photographs in the Altrincham area. From 1866 to 1879, the family lived at The Beeches, on the corner of Higher Downs and Woodville Road, then in Dunham Massey, previously Beech Grove and built in 1837. They had children Joseph, Edith, Lilian, Annie and Nasmyth, who along with their father, contributed to the illustrated ‘Family Diary’ in the 1870s. Joseph considerably extended the house and built an observatory and greenhouses in the extensive grounds. By 1879 they had moved to Erlesdene on Green Walk, Bowdon and sold The Beeches to The Manchester Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Throat for £5000, donating £2000 towards converting the house into a Tuberculosis hospital. The hospital opened in 1885 as the only free sanatorium in Britain and was called St. Anne’s Home (still on the iron gates) after Joseph’s wife Anne, who had died in 1882. 1886 saw the opening of a new specialist wing, financed by engineer William J Crossley. Joseph had died in 1885 and is buried along with other members of the family in Bowdon churchyard.
|Curtis Albert Sparkes was born in 1905 into an old Altrincham Family where his grandfather Andrew Curtis Sparkes was a farmer who had organised the 'Broadheath Blockade' in 1903. He attended the Oldfield Brow Seamons Moss Endowed School and then Altrincham Technical School. On leaving school he briefly worked for Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company Limited in Trafford Park and then joined H W Kearns in 1919. When he was 16 he built his own motorbike. After serving an apprenticeship in the works he entered the Drawing Office. He attended the Manchester College of Science & Technology, later the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), now merged with the Manchester University, and gained his Higher National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering there in 1926. He became a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and a member of the Manchester Association of Engineers, to which he belonged for 70 years. He became Kearns’ Chief Designer in 1938, Technical Director in charge of design and development in 1955 and Managing Director from 1969 until his retirement. He spent 50 years of his working life with Kearns and invented the world’s first computer-controlled boring machine in 1955. After retiring from the merged Kearns-Richards at 65 he continued as a consultant with Budenbergs and with Fairey Engineering at Stockport until he was 95. In 1988 he gained his Master of Science at the Victoria University of Manchester, and was awarded his Doctor of Philosophy there in 1991 at the age of 86, the oldest person in Britain to achieve this. As a leader of the Machine Tool Industry Curtis was a member of many national and regional committees. He was a past President of the Manchester Association of Engineers, a Member of the Council of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Chairman of the North West Branch of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a Member of the Production Engineering Research Association Technical Policy, a Committee Member of the Ministry of Technology Committees on Machine Tools, Founder Member of the Machine Tools Industry Research Association, and several other worthy bodies. He was also a member of UMIST Council and several of its committees and was a consultant on Machine Tool Developments for the United Nations. For his contributions to the Machine Tool Industry he was awarded the Constantine Medal by the Manchester Association of Engineers and won the UMIST Medal for outstanding services to that institution. The Altrincham Court Leet made him a Burgess and Freeman of Altrincham in 1991. In his spare time Curtis invented a number of devices for hospital laboratories including a fast-working filter to speed up blood tests. He also designed a unique folding baby push-chair, which is still manufactured in Japan. Over the last 10 years of his life Curtis wrote a book on the Machine Tool Industry in Broadheath entitled Famous for a Century, published privately in 2008. Curtis died in 2002, leaving his wife Erika and son Edouard, a daughter-in-law and a grandchild.|
Speakman, William VC
Private Bill Speakman 14471590 was born in Altrincham in 1927 at 17 Moss Lane, and later brought up by his step-parents Herbert and Hannah Houghton at 27 Moss Lane. Bill was one of the few privates to have been awarded a Victoria Cross and is probably the best-remembered Korea Victoria Cross. He attended Oakfield Street Infant School then Wellington Road School, where he always played centre half or goal keeper at football because of his size. He was also a good swimmer. At 15 he joined the cadets of the Cheshire Regiment and at 18 joined The First Battalion, The Black Watch. He was and still is six feet seven inches (2m) tall and although born in Cheshire has dark Scottish looks. After serving in Trieste, Hong Kong and Germany he volunteered for Korea in 1951. In 1952 he was awarded the VC for his actions when wounded and under fire from the Chinese in November 1951 and came home to an official reception in Altrincham. When King George VI died he represented the Army when the Services broadcast tributes. He married Rachel Snitch in Singapore and they had six children. He retired from the Army at 40 and bought a house in Huntingdonshire. He sold his war medals for £1,500 to repair the house, which were later sold in 1982 for £20,000 but are now in the War Museum of Scotland at Edinburgh Castle. He later moved to Torquay, was divorced in 1972 and went to South Africa where he changed his name to Speakman-Pitt, remarried, and had another daughter. In 2003 Bill returned to Altrincham to have a local bridge, the Woodlands Road Flyover, named after him. He was also made a Freeman Burgess of the Borough of Altrincham and an honorary member of the Altrincham & Bowdon Civic Society. In 2010, as the only surviving VC holder from the Korean War, Bill retuned to South Korea with other veterans to take part in a series of commemorations to mark the start of the fighting. Outnumbered ten to one by the Chinese troops he mustered six other men and led waves of grenade attacks on enemy lines to hold the UN position on Hill 217, despite being wounded in the leg. In 2011 Bill launched Trafford Housing Trust’s care scheme in Timperley. Bill is the president of the Altrincham and Bowdon Civic Society and has retired to the Altrincham area.
Alfred Tarbolton was an important local historian who lived variously in Hale, Bowdon and Altrincham. He published many booklets on Hale and fought for Hale's autonomy in local government. William Alfred Tarbolton was born in Chorlton-on-Medlock on 14 April 1861, the son of G. S. Tarbolton who was a partner in a transport firm, after which his parents moved to Whalley Range, probably from Hull where GS had changed his name from Tarbotham. He was educated privately, articled as a solicitor in 1878 and was admitted in 1883. He became a partner in the Manchester firm of Brett, Hamilton and Tarbolton. In 1902 he was made a Justice of the Peace, a post he held for 30 years and Honorary Secretary and later a President of the Manchester Law Society, which society he served for 33 years. He became Commissioner of Income Tax for the Altrincham District. In 1883 Alfred married Hannah Elizabeth Jones, another solicitor and the daughter of T. E. Jones, also a solicitor, and in 1885 they moved to Hale. In 1887 Hale Parish Council resolved to work towards local autonomy. In 1898 ratepayers met at the Bleeding Wolf public house, Ashley Heath and a committee was appointed including Alfred to co-operate with the Parish Council. In 1899 he was appointed gas lighting inspector for Hale and was elected as the first chairman of Hale Urban District Council in 1900. He was responsible for preserving many of the old council records from the 17th to the 20th century, which are now in the Chester Record Office. He campaigned to change the name of his local village from Peel Causeway to the more ancient name of Hale, and to preserve its independence from Altrincham. According to various directories, in 1886 the Tarboltons rented The Lodge, 247 Ashley Road, Hale from William Owen, architect and surveyor who lived at 249. They then lived at Elmhurst, 24 South Downs Road, Ashley Heath from 1898 to 1903. In 1903 he bought land from the Stamford estate and built Athelney (presumably making a link with King Arthur’s castle in Somerset), South Downs Road which is in the Arts & Crafts style. Initially he attended Bowdon Downs Church but moved to St. Johns and held various posts there. In 1911 the Tarboltons moved to Altrincham and were living at The Manor House, Woodlands Road, Altrincham in 1929 and attended St. George’s Church. Altrincham Methodist Church is on the site of this house. Alfred Tarbolton became interested in the nursing movement and was Vice-President and Chairman of the Altrincham and District Nursing Association from 1909 to 1922. He took a keen interest in local history and was an exceptional researcher. He was also a poet. After a bad start spending some years searching for the mythical ‘Farmer Peel’ he did much to preserve the history of the development of Peel Causeway and Hale. He interviewed some of the older people from Hale and produced several publications including The Handy Book for Hale (1900), Local Government in Hale (1907 in the Altrincham Guardian), Chapters for Hale Fellows (1908 in the Altrincham Guardian), The History of Hale Methodist Church, Local Government in Hale (1908), Records of Hale (1921, originally published in the Altrincham Guardian in 1908), Ringway Chapel Before the Disruption 1515-1721 (1923, after publication in the Altrincham Guardian of that year), The Renaissance of Hale (1925) and The Story of Peel Causeway (1929). He also lectured on the subject and in 1932 was working on a book on the complete history of Hale from Saxon times to the 1920s, the draft of which is in the Chester Record Office in two volumes (LUH4/1) and which was based on Chapters for Hale Fellows and his other works. In their final years the Tarboltons lived at the original Brooklands Hotel, Brooklands, now demolished. Alfred Tarbolton died on 4 June 1934 and his death is registered at Manchester, reference 8d/102. He has a road in Hale named after him. The Tarboltons had a daughter Lilias Una who was born in 1886 who married Captain Archibald James Hepburn in 1911 and they had children Patricia (1912-2007) and Philip Archibald (1915-1993). Captain Hepburn was killed at Gallipoli in 1915 and Una died in 1938 and is buried in Hale Cemetery. Tarbolton is a unique surname and there were only 37 in the 1901 census. However there appear to be no Tarboltons in the UK currently. There is a small town near Ayr called Tarbolton, which is presumably where the name originated. The town is famous for its Robbie Burns connection where he lived about 1780, and for the Bachelors Club. The name 'Tarbolton' may come from Celtic torr, a hill, plus Old English bothel and tun, a settlement with a special building.
Dr Alan Mathison Turing has been said to be the ‘Father of Modern Computing’ or the ‘Founder of Computer Science’. He was born in Paddington, London in 1912, father Julius Mathison Turing, mother Ethel Sara Stoney. Alan may have inherited his maths skills from his grandfather John Robert Turing. During his school years at Tunbridge Wells, Kent and Sherbourne, Dorset Alan was described by two teachers as a genius at maths (but he was very poor at other subjects). He took an interest in Einstein’s theories, astronomy and quantum theory. He won a prize at school for a maths paper describing a chain reaction. He won a scholarship to Kings College Cambridge in 1931, in 1934 won a Maths Degree with distinction and in 1935 was elected a Fellow at the age of 22. He was also a Marathon runner. In 1935 he investigated the idea of a machine to carry out mathematical functions and logic, based on work by von Neuman and in 1936 wrote a paper on the design of computers entitled The Turing Machine: On Computable Numbers. As a result computers were sometimes known as Türing Machines (with an umlaut over the ‘u’!). Babbage had previously had the idea in 1812 of mechanically calculating and printing mathematical tables and about 1820 adapted the idea of using punched cards from Jacquard looms, which had been invented in 1804 to control the weaving process. Babbage had also invented the idea of program loops and built part of a mechanical calculating machine (since rebuilt). During 1936-38 Alan was at Princeton University, received lectures from Albert Einstein and Max von Neumann and wrote papers on logic, algebra and number theory and gained a PhD. There in 1938 he built an electro-mechanical binary multiplier to solve codes and conceived the idea of a ‘Turing Machine’ using sequential logical steps, programs, process control, storage and input/output. In 1938 the Government Code and Cipher School recruited him for decrypting coded messages from the Naval version of the German Enigma machines, which decoding had been thought to be impossible. As war was declared in 1939 he moved to Bletchley Park where he worked in Hut 8. He redesigned the Polish ‘Bombes’, which were electro-mechanical machines used to speed up the decryption of cipher messages and which were working at electronic speeds by 1942. He worked with von Neuman and Tommy Flowers a Post Office engineer who constructed the first programmable machine, Colossus, using his knowledge of telephone exchanges. Turing was awarded an OBE for his work. In 1942 he was sent to Washington to update American code breakers. In 1945 designed a speech scrambler and was recruited by the National Physics Laboratory to write a report on the design of an electronic universal machine, including programming. This resulted in the Automatic Computing Machine (ACE) in 1946 but a Manchester team were ahead. Max Newman, Professor of Pure Mathematics since 1945, secured a post for Alan at Manchester University in 1948 as a Reader where he worked on the first stored program computer with Professor Freddie Williams (later knighted) and Dr Tom Kilburn (later Professor and who died in 2001). Freddie Williams had patented cathode ray tube storage and in 1947 became Professor of Electronic Engineering at Manchester. Alan became in effect a writer of software for pioneer computer engineer Freddie Williams and in 1948 the 2048 bit Baby computer ran its first program. In 1950 Alan wrote a paper on Computing Machines and Intelligence. He predicted that there would be intelligent computers within 100 years. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1951 for his 1935 work. In 1951 he was appointed Assistant Director of the Royal Society Computing Laboratory at Manchester University and in 1953 became a Reader in Theoretical Computing. He invented the idea of the ‘Turing Test’ to determine whether computers were able to respond like human beings. He contributed a section on digital computers applied to chess in BV Bowden’s 1953 book Faster Than Thought. Alan Turing lived in Nursery Avenue, Hale from 1947 to 1950 then in Adlington Road, Dean Row, Wilmslow where he died in on 8 June 1954 aged 41. A statue to him was unveiled in Sackville Park, Manchester in June 2001 and Turing Way in East Manchester has been named after him. In September 2009 the Prime Minister apologised for his past treatment.
Alison Uttley was born at Castle Top Farm in Cromford, Derbyshire in 1884 as Alice Jane Taylor, father Henry Taylor. She took an honours physics degree at Manchester in 1906. She was a suffragette and a close friend of Ramsay MacDonald. When first married she lived in the Old Vicarage in Knutsford which had featured in Mrs. Gaskell’s Cranford. She married James Uttley from Bowdon and they had a son John and moved to Bowdon in 1924. Alison was a prolific writer of some 20 adult books and 40 children’s books from 1931 to the early 1970s and is particularly remembered for the Little Grey Rabbit books, which she wrote while living in Bowdon. Much of her inspiration came from Castle Top Farm. There is a Blue Plaque at Downs House, 13 Higher Downs, Bowdon, where she lived from 1924 to 1938. She then retired to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire where she continued to write, including a cookery book and a history of Buckinghamshire, and where she died in 1972.
Robert Vawdrey who lived in Bank Hall, Hale in the early 16th century and Riddings Hall, Timperley claimed aristocratic descent for his family from Sir Claude Vawdrey who came from Normandy soon after William the Conqueror and was allocated land in Cheshire by the Earl of Chester. Robert had a house in London, a townhouse in Bridgegate, Chester and was Vice-Chamberlain of the County Palatine and could claim that he was from the aristocracy. Robert was the executor of a deed in which Edward Janney, a Manchester merchant, donated land in 1553 for the building of a Free School in Bowdon. Robert Vawdrey made a bequest of £4 per annum to the school in 1600, continued by his second son John. Robert died in 1570 and left Bank Hall to his third son John who died in 1626. When John’s wife died in 1632 the estate passed to Richard, the eldest son who however became Catholic and he was living there in 1640. To keep Bank Hall safe it was made over to Henry, the second son. Another Robert Vawdrey, possibly Richard’s son, helped to defend Wythenshawe Hall in 1643 in a minor Civil War siege. Some members of the current family claim descent from Sir Claude Vaudrey who came to England with the Earl of Chester shortly after the arrival of William the Conqueror. There were Vawdreys in Hale area from at least the early-15th century. They farmed at Ollerbarrow Hall (often in the records called Owlerbarrow or Oulerbarrow or Ellerborough, from Old English oler or alor, an alder tree) and at Bank Hall, both of which have remaining mid-18th century buildings. Bank Hall went back to the 14th century, and may have been rebuilt in 1607, from a beam found with that date. It was first held by Masseys then Vawdreys from the early 16th century to 1760. Ollerbarrow was held by Vawdreys from the early 15th century to the early 18th century. There were also Vawdreys at Riddings Hall in Timperley in the 16th and 17th centuries. All of these buildings were originally moated. The relationships of the family are complex and not fully documented. Three Vaudreys were mayors of Altrincham: Alexander in 1616, George in 1636 and a George again in 1671. Vawdrey is a Roman Catholic Cheshire family name originating from France. There are several Vaudrey and Vaudry villages near Besançon, near the Swiss border, and a Vaudry village in Normandy, the latter being the likely source of the name, close to the town of Vire, 50 miles east of Granville. John Randle Vaudrey of Fordingbridge is not a proven descendant from the Hale branch but certainly very French. His uncle Hugh Vaudrey who was descended from the William Henry Vaudrey Lord Mayor of Manchester, claimed descent from the Hale Vawdreys and his research papers are at the Cheshire Record Office.
Veno, Sir William Henry
|One of Altrincham’s important residents during the early 1920s was Sir William Henry Veno, founder of Veno’s Drug Co Ltd. He was born William Reynard Varney in Castle Douglas, Scotland on the 22nd December 1866. William went to school in Newton Stewart and then served an apprenticeship at Garliestown Post Office Wigtownshire as a Telegram Learner. He then went to sea aged 17 as a cabin boy on the Guion Line and moved to America where he stayed for three years. Whilst in America he acquired a formula for Veno Cough Cure. When he was 22 he returned to London and developed an interest in politics and public affairs and was in demand as a public speaker. In 1891 at the age of 25 he went back to America to work in advertising. On August 24th 1894 he patented Veno’s Drug Co Ltd in Pittsburg Pennsylvania, under his name William Reynard Varney. William was inspired by President McKinley’s inauguration speech whilst in America. He also met his future wife, Mary Pearson who had moved to America with her parents in 1881. After the McKinley election he came back to England and located himself at 418 Chester Road, Manchester in the factory depicted on the Veno’s Cough Cure bottles. They also manufactured Germolene, Veno’s Seaweed liniment and Dr Cassels tablets under the Veno banner. His business became more and more successful and he was knighted at Buckingham Palace on Friday 25th June 1920 on the occasion of the King’s birthday, in recognition of his recruiting work during the war. Sir William carried out further fundraising work and speeches, opening the Leigh branch of British Legion on 5th March 1921 and a theatre in Manchester amongst other engagements. He also became Mayor of Altrincham for 1923-24. He was a staunch Conservative and had been officially connected to the party for more than 20 years. For some time was the chairman of the Altrincham Polling District and Chairman of the Divisional Association. An accomplished speaker, he was called upon to carry out many after dinner speeches. He was also a Freeman and a Liveryman of the City of London and was connected with the Freemasons in London. After an unconfirmed cancer scare, when he had a growth from his lip removed, he offered £20,000 for a cure for cancer. He also gave a donation to Middlesex hospital for the work they had done. In November 1924 the Veno Drug Company was sold as a going concern and became part of Beechams Drug Co in 1925. After the sale of Venos Sir William started up several companies including the Cellulose Acetate Silk Company (photographic films) and Transmutograph Ltd. These companies were much less successful. In May 1932 he set up a company selling products invented by the late Dr Knox of the USA. On 6th March 1933 Sir William was found dead in the grounds of his home, Woodlands in Bonville Road, Dunham Massey. He had gone out shooting rabbits in his grounds. His wife Mary found him lying face down in the wooded area with a gunshot wound to the chest. The inquest declared a verdict of “Suicide during impulsive insanity”. The inquest also shown that there was no evidence that Sir William was troubled or of unsound mind in any way, although he had lost a substantial amount money over the years with further business adventures. However, Sir William at his time of his death was still a wealthy man.|
Gladys Vasey was a talented artist who lived at 4 Laurel Mount, East Downs Road, Bowdon in the 1920s where there is a Blue Plaque, next door to violinist Adolf Brodsky. She and her twin sister Eva were born on 8th June 1889 while their parents were on holiday in Blackpool. Their father, Philip Johnstone, came from a musical family and her mother Agnes Ellinger was of Anglicised German descent. The family lived in Broad Road, Sale and the twins attended Sale High School for Girls. In 1907 the girls were sent to a finishing school in Germany to learn French and German and be instructed in music and the arts. Back home Gladys attended art classes in the studio of Polish artist William Fitz at the same time as L S Lowry. In 1911 she married Roland Vasey, an insurance surveyor, at Sale Independent Chapel and they moved to the Wirral. Roland was promoted and they moved to Bowdon finding a very suitable house on Richmond Road. In 1916 their daughter Gabrielle Agnes was born and in 1922 Madeleine Isobel. Gladys often sketched but sometimes she played the piano, with Brodsky accompanying her on the violin. In 1930 the girls were sent to different boarding schools. By 1928 Gladys had already undertaken a commission to paint a portrait of Florence Clibran, the wife of the local nurseryman. In 1936 she spent some time at the art school of Lamorna Birch at Lamorna Cove in Cornwall and came under the influence of Stanley Gardiner who gave her much guidance, advising her to move from portraits to landscapes. She exhibited at the Manchester Academy of Fine Art. In 1940 they sold 4 Laurel Bank and moved to Bayfield House on Stamford Road, Bowdon. Their daughters both went to agricultural college and Roland bought Llan Farm near Llanyblodwel in the Tanat valley where Gladys converted an outbuilding into a studio. After ten years here they sold Bayfield House. In 1961 Gladys exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait painters, hung alongside Augustus John and Laura Knight. In 1953 the Vaseys sold Llan Farm and moved to Llanrwst and then Glandwr in the Conway Valley. After 53 years of marriage Gladys left Roland to live with James Sumner and they moved to Herefordshire where he died five years later. In 1969 she moved to Aberaeron and set up a studio in the garden. After her health declined she died in Aberystwyth Hospital on 22nd January 1987. After she died an exhibition of her work was held in 1991 at the National Portrait Gallery's centre at Castel Bodelwyddan. She always signed her work 'Vasey'. Gladys’ painting of her daughter Madeleine is in the Town Hall, Manchester.
Wallis, Hugh & Brian
Hugh Wallis was born in Kettering in 1871 and trained in art at Bushey, Herts in the 1890s. It is not known where he trained in metalwork. He went into business initially as an artist in which he excelled but moved to metalwork because it paid better. In 1900 he opened a studio at 7 Market Street, Altrincham when he was living at The Poplars, Burlington Street (now Road). In 1907 he moved to 2 Station Buildings, Stamford New Road, Altrincham, at that time living at Carn Brae, Hazelwood Road, Hale. In 1911 he and his wife Dora moved their home to a large house at 72 The Downs, Altrincham, now three 1960s houses and renumbered as 80, 80a, 80b. In 1918 he still described himself as an Artist and at some stage exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy. Hugh did much of his metalwork at The Downs, had a studio in the house and employed five or six employees in workshops behind. His showcase was on the left-hand wall of the front garden and always contained examples of his work (which were never stolen) and the remains of the wrought iron supports for it are still there. Hugh became a leading figure in the Northern Art Workers Guild and was a founder member of the Red Rose Guild of Artworkers, which was established in Manchester in 1920 and of which he later became chairman. Meetings were for some time held at the Whitworth Art Gallery who still have a close interest in Hugh. Pilkington’s Tiles supported the guild and Margaret Pilkington acted as Honorary Secretary. Hugh produced some outstanding beaten copper, pewter and brass, usually in combination, often bought for special occasions such as weddings and now much collected and often seen for sale on the Internet. Examples are oval bowls, rose bowls and mirrors in copper with diagonally inlaid bands of pewter or white metal around the edge. Pieces however also included trays, bowls, vases, jugs, tea sets, fire screens, curbs, coal buckets, ashtrays and wall lights. He produced wall lights for the new Council Chamber in Altrincham but they are no longer there. He was also a silversmith and produced ewers, crosses, alms dishes, altar ornaments, challenge shields, cups, trophies and memorial tablets. He illustrated books, painted in oils and water, produced colour prints from stencils and woodcuts and sold pottery and pulp-ware from his studio. Hugh’s brother Thomas moved to the area to join him and was living 20 Hale Low Road, Hale in 1939 and they continued to work together until Hugh died in 1944. Hugh had a son Philip who lived in several counties and became county chess champion of each. Hugh’s younger son Brian who was born in 1915 joined the family business in 1930 and continued the metalworking tradition until he retired to Penzance in 1964 with his sister Ruby where he died in 1981. Brian produced bowls of the same style and quality as Hugh and continued to use Hugh’s logo so it is probably difficult to distinguish the two. Brian also produced small items such as bowls and ashtrays, which were often used for presentation purposes for example for retiring schoolteachers. The Government of the day used to present visiting dignitaries with them. Brian was also an amateur authority on butterflies and an enthusiastic cricketer with Ashley Cricket Club where he was known for his effortless and laconic sense of humour. He also took a lead in The Old Altrinchamians Football Club and was an accomplished after-dinner speaker at reunions.
Edgar Wood was born in Middleton, Manchester in 1860, the sixth of eight children of Thomas Broadbent Wood and Mary. He was educated at Middleton Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, became a trainee architect with a Manchester firm. In 1881 he was living with his uncle Joseph Wood in Rochdale as an articled architect pupil; presumably his parents had died. He passed his RIBA exams and became an associate of the firm in 1885. He set up his own offices in Middleton, moved to Manchester in 1897 and became an architect who was respected both in England, Germany and Scandinavia. He invariably wore a black cloak lined with red silk. He worked mainly on domestic architecture but also designed several churches and commercial buildings. He was one of half a dozen architects specialising in houses in the Vernacular Revival Arts & Crafts style, which he built all over the country but especially in Rochdale, Oldham, Middleton, Bramhall and Hale. He designed the First Church of Christ Scientist, Daisy Bank Road, Rusholme, Manchester in 1903. He also designed furniture, jewellery and metalwork. He was a founder member of the Northern Art Workers Guild set up in 1896 and was its Master in 1897. He was also briefly a member of the Red Rose Guild and must have known Hugh Wallis well. He rescued the colonnade of the Old Manchester Town Hall in King Street and got it re-erected in Heaton Park. He was president of the Manchester Society of Architects for 1911-12. He is said to have built the first concrete flat roof in England and built nine houses in Hale around the Hale Road/Park Road junction area, two with flat roofs. On Hale Road, Hale numbers 224, 226, 235 and Halecroft are Edgar Wood together with 115 to 121 Park Road and 20, 27 Planetree Road. All except 235 and Halecroft are in the Arts & Crafts style with plans held by the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. He also designed furniture in the Arts & Crafts style and designed some of the interior of Timperley Church. In 1916 Wood built Royd House, 224 Hale Road, Hale as his retirement home, now the only grade I listed building in the area. The house has a flat concrete roof with a stairway to it. It has curved walls, corridors and rooms and is in the style of the Modern Movement using Lancashire Red Brick, Portland Stone and Pilkington’s tiles. Edgar probably did the tiling work on the front façade himself and certainly laid out the back garden. He also designed the interior including the furniture. Edgar Wood’s houses are some of few in the area mentioned by Pevsner. After the 1914-18 War he retired abroad and died in Italy in 1935.
Paul Young, one of the most highly acclaimed singers in the country, was born in Wythenshawe on June 18th, 1947. He took an early interest in music and by the age of five was singing in the local church choir. While still at High School in 1962 he formed his first band Johnny Dark & the Midnights. In 1964 he became lead singer of the prominent 60’s Manchester beat band The Toggery Five, which took its name from a hip men’s wear shop in Stockport. After a succession of notable Manchester bands Paul went on to form Sad Café in 1976. Their first single Every Day Hurts reached number three in the hit-charts followed by two more top twenty singles from their Facades album. In 1985 Paul went on to co-found the internationally renowned Mike & The Mechanics with Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford and ex-Ace, Squeeze Singer Paul Carrack. Paul's final work as a vocalist was to join the all star line up of the SAS Band, formed by Spike Edney, the fifth member of one of the largest ever super groups - Queen. Paul died suddenly from a heart attack in 2000 at his home on Hale Road, Hale where he lived with his wife Patricia and where there is a blue plaque to him.
Anthony James Donegan was born in Glasgow in 1931 and died in 2002. He was the first British Pop Superstar, became leader of skiffle in the UK in the early 1950s and was known as the King or Sultan of Skiffle. His father was a professional violinist and the family moved to East London in 1933, hence his Cockney accent. In 1939 he and his mother were evacuated to his aunt, Grace Baxter, in Oldfield Bow, Altrincham. Her husband Tom Baxter became mayor of Altrincham in 1954. Lonnie attended St. Ambrose College at its original Oakleigh building on the Dunham Road until 1946 when the family returned to London. He learned the guitar in the early 1940s and by the end of the 1940s was playing in clubs. He was invited to join Chris Barber’s traditional jazz band and learned the banjo. He was called up for National Service in 1949 and posted to Vienna where he mixed with American troops which gave him opportunities to hear American records and their forces radio network. In 1952 he formed the Tony Donegan Jazzband. He soon took the name ‘Lonnie’ from the blues musician Lonnie Johnson. In 1953 he sang and played guitar and banjo with Chris Barber in the Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen and in intervals provided a skiffle break with a cheap guitar, washboard and tea-chest bass guitar. In 1954 he recorded the hit ‘Rock Island Line’ and later his equally famous ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ which reached the UK No. 1 in 1960. Lonnie released hits in the UK and the USA until the arrival of the Beatles in 1962. He continued to record in the 1960s and early 70s and in 1976 went to live in remote Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Navada until he had a heart attack. After surgery he returned to work for a while but spent much of his time at his house in Malaga. He needed more surgery in the 1990s and suffered a second heart attack. In 2000 he recorded a further album and received an MBE. He married three times and had seven children. In 2002 after further heart surgery he went on a tour of the UK but died at Peterborough, aged 71.
Diana Murray for the details of her father, Dr BV Bowden.
Yvon Debuire for assistance with Captain E K Bradbury VC.
Hale Civic Society for Samuel Brooks and John Owen.
James Broun for details of his ggggg uncle John Henderson Broun.
Dominic Carman’s biography of his father, George Carmen.
Harald Penrose’s book Architect of Wings for details of Roy Chadwick.
Knutsford Ornithological Society for TA Coward.
Sue Nichols & Bernard Champness for the Crossley Brothers.
Dr. J Wilfred Jackson’s biography of William Boyd Dawkins.
Professor John Morrill’s obituary to Norman Dore in the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian.
Margaret Birchall & Margaret Hyde for details of their grandfather Adam Fox.
Chris Hill for Ronald Gow's biography in Altrincham History Society Occasional Paper 8, and Anthony Gow.
Philip Holland & Hale Civic Society for Arthur Fleming.
Roy Goodwin & Margaret Hartley for Doug Hartley.
Nick Jackson for the details of his father Robert Jackson.
Colin Graham and George Lee for details and photo of Hewlett Johnson.
Peter Kemp, Peter Gasson & John Killick for the details of Harry Killick.
Peter Jackson for the details and paintings of his mother Edith le Breton.
Jeffrey P Green's book Black Edwardians: Black people in Britain, 1901-1914 for details of Edward Nelson.
Marjorie Cox of Bowdon History Society for details of Maurice Ridgway.
Marjorie Cox for details of Robert Seddon although some family details are my conjecture.
Sue Nichols for details of Joseph Sidebotham.
Erika Sparkes for details of her late husband Curtis Sparkes, and Roger Law for the photo.
Philip Hepburn for details of his great-grandfather Alfred Tarbolton.
Andrew Hodges book and website dedicated to the memory of Alan Turing; also Chris Hill of Altrincham History Society.
Ronald Trenbath for his Bowdon History Society article on Gladys Vasey for which he consulted Robert Meyrick of Aberystwyth University.
Paul Parker for details and photographs of his great-grandfather Sir William Henry Veno.
Margaret Thompson for her book Hugh Wallis – Artist & Art Metal Worker
Jason Young for his biography of his father Paul Young.
This page has been visited times.