100 Halls Around Manchester Part 68: Longsight Hall, Longsight.


Until the turn of the 19th century, the district we now know as Longsight was known as Grimlow or Grindlow. The 1848 Ordnance survey has some relics of this name, and today Grindlow Street near Plymouth Grove is its only historical echo. Fanciful histories say that a Scottish General looked towards Manchester in 1745 and remarked It’s a long sight to Manchester, that is unlikely as a Longsight Cottage existed on Rose Grove, which dated to before the Pretender. Another theory is that it is a corruption of Long Shut – a shallow depression.

Longsight Hall, Lancashire CIV, 1848 © Ordnance Survey

In 1694 Mary Birch, the wife of the late Dr Robert Birch was buried in the summer house in the garden in Grindlow Hall, alongside her husband who had died two years earlier. Grindlow Hall became in time Longsight Hall. This grave was still visible in Victorian times. It is said that her ghost used to walk from the Hall gates to the summer house at midnight and disappear through the wall.

Robert had four children, Eliezer, who became a nonconformist minister, who had two sons, John, a doctor died in London in 1629 and Robert, married John Lees’ sister. John Lees married Deborah Carril-Worsley and inherited the Platt Hall estates after taking the name Worsley.

The summer house was demolished in 1845, and some time after that the house was split into two dwellings, and during the latter half of the 20th century the house was demolished.

In 1734 John Philips settled at Longsight Hall. We met the Philips family at Bank Hall in Stockport, and the house remained in their family until around 1824, when Francis Philips inherited the Heaton Norris property from his father.

The house was then occupied by a member of the Howard family of Brinnington Hall. Josiah Howard another cotton man (c1801-1859). He moved in with his wife Janet Buchanan Provand (b1800). Janet was the daughter of a Glasgow Calico Merchant, James Provand. The couple spent their first years of marriage in Scotland with the Provand family, but moved down to Longsight in 1824. They stayed there until 1830 when Josiah moved to Bredbury Hall, where he lived the life of a country gentleman until his death on 6 September 1859 at Bagni Di Lucca in Tuscany. The couple had at least nine children, at least three of who died in childhood.

The Philips family still owned Longsight and in 1830 it was offered to let, perhaps the image of Longsight the advertisement gives is somewhat at odds with the present condition of the suburb, but those were simpler times: a commodious family house with stables, coach house, barn, shippon piggeries and other convenient offices. An excellent garden, cropped with the earliest seeds. The buildings and garden walls are covered with fruit trees and there are about three acres of good meadow land. The neighbourhood is very respectable.

It was John Walton (1775-1837) a well known and highly respectable Commission Agent, and his wife Mary who took up residence. However, he was a troubled man, for on Tuesday morning, 23 May 1837 he put a period to his existence by shooting himself with a pistol at his residence. One of his children, The Reverend Stanley Walton MA (1820-1875) became vicar of Fenstanton, Huntingdonshire, and in the church of Saints Peter and Paul there is a stained glass memorial to him.

In 1841 the Hall has Ellen Cooper and her three children, William, Richard and Mary and they were in residence until around 1845 when newly weds George Frederick Robinson (1820-1856) a cotton spinner, and his wife, Lucy Ann Smith (b1828) the daughter of William Smith of Reddish Hall moved in.

George was born at Spring Bank in Stockport, where his father Thomas (1780-1837) had Spring Bank Mill on Wellington Road, which stood outside Edgeley Station. Much of the land occupied by Spring Bank House was sold off to build the station, by Thomas’ widow, Mary to the railway company. Again, Spring Bank Place near the station reminds us of the mill and the house.

Thomas senior died in May 1837 of a violent attack of influenza which baffled all human skill which he suffered for six months, and after that George and his brothers ran the mill his death in 1855. George and Lucy had moved to Didsbury House in 1850 and he died there on 18 October 1855. His brother, Hardy Robinson (b 1826) had moved to Old Machar, Aberdeenshire, to set up a mill there.

From the Philosophy of Manufacturers by Charles Knight

Once more the Philips family offered the house for rental in 1851, describing it as a commodious house with seven lodging rooms, dining room, drawing and breakfast rooms as well as a large kitchen, good cellaring and water closets at a rental of £45 pa (£6,500pa in 2021)

James Pickles (1809-1866) took up residence. He had recently been widowed, his wife, Hannah Matilda Lees (1815-1848) had died three years earlier. He lived there until his death on 29 March 1866. We met James’ business partner, John Hall, a personal favourite of mine, at Mersey Bank House¹. They were partners in Hall and Pickles at 64 Port Street, Manchester, a business which continues to this day in Poynton.

In 1869 Samuel Messenger Bradley (1841-1880) was in residence, with his wife, Annie Gertrude Cope (1849-1884) who he had just married. Samuel was born in Islington, London to Benjamin Smith Bradley and his wife, Emma Maria Johnson, however his parents moved to Manchester in the 1840s, living in Rusholme and Moss Side.

In 1862 Samuel became a Licentiate of the Society of Apocatheries and a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and after becoming a Fellow entered the Manchester Royal Infirmary in 1869 as Assistant Physician. He was also surgeon to the Ancoats and Ardwick Dispensary and had a General Practice in Bowness on Windermere. He was also for a time, Ship’s Surgeon for Cunard between Liverpool and New York.

On coming to Longsight, he set up a practice locally and championed the treatment of poorer people, condeming their treatment by the Manchester Board Of Guardians. He was a prolific writer on medical matters and was also known to deliver lectures at Owen’s College in Rhyming Couplets.

He was a bit of a wag, and I quote in full this selection from the rootsweb article on him:

It was quite impossible to upset him.  On one occasion they dressed up the corpse in an old woman`s frilly cap and fixed her thumb to her nose, making her cock a snook at the place where Bradley would stand.  He gave a little start when he saw it and then “Ah yes, gentlemen.  Now, Mr….(naming a known joker) come and explain all the muscles required to make this rather ribald gesture.” ‘. His friend and colleague was Professor Walter Whitehead. “He and Whitehead were excellent surgeons, worshipped by the students, partly for their personalities, partly because of the stories told about them.  Whitehead at that time sported a magnificent pair of Dundreary whiskers.  One day he startled everyone by arriving clean shaven.  The story got out that Bradley had said over a pipe “Walter, I don`t like that left whisker of yours,” and forthwith put a match to it.  Of course the other had to go.  Their most astonishing escapade concerned an old lady in Bowdon, who asked Bradley to come and operate on her parrot.  “My dear lady, I`m a surgeon.  You want a veterinary surgeon.” “No, Mr Bradley.  Nothing less than your skill for my dear bird.”  Out of mischief he said Yes and he would bring Whitehead to give chloroform.  All went well.  Some small trouble with the beak, when poor poll suddenly gave up the ghost.  The problem now was how to escape.  There was a train in half an hour.  They covered the cage with a shawl and went downstairs.  “The dear bird is sleeping, madam.  Don`t disturb it for half an hour.” And so they got out of the house.  On another occasion Sam sent Dr M A E Wilkinson`s coachman to a public house for a drink and then getting on the carriage drove it all round the town finally abandoning it outside an inn.  He was very friendly with two sisters.  One evening he was with them at a dance.  It went well and he enjoyed himself greatly.  Next morning he remembered he had proposed to one of them and been accepted.  But he had forgotten which sister it was.  It needed all his tact when next he visited the house to find the answer.  The marriage duly came off.’  ‘His friends decided to found a memorial scholarship in his memory, but after a few years it got into financial difficulties.  It was finally firmly established by a bequest from (Walter) Whitehead in 1913

Wag or not, he was averse to women entering the medical profession and at one point summoned Thalia to express his feelings in verse.

For a surgeon, he was not a well man, and died whilst visiting his sons in Ramsgate in 1880, and was buried in Ramsgate Cemetery alongside his wife who died in 1884.

Samuel and Annie had three children, all of whom died young. Richard Walter Bradley (d 1907) married Flossie Ivy Louis Verley (1875-1963) of Kingston Jamaica in 1905. The couple lived in Kingston but he died in the earthquake there in 1907. Flossie reinvented herself as Ivy De Verley and went on to marry Vesey Alfred O Davoren (1888-1989) who after distinguished service in the First World War, and suffering a gas attack which left him temporarily mute, went to Hollywood in 1920, where lack of voice was not a major hindrance in the nascent silent industry and he went on to play minor parts in around 67 films until 1956, mainly as a butler. There is an Imdb entry for him. Ivy pursued a successful career as a portrait painter, exhibiting in many California galleries.

John Makenzie Bradley (1870-1887) died on a walking holiday in Switzerland and Gertrude Messenger Bradley (1880-1910) married a widower, William Thomas Cope a foreign banker in London in May 1909, but died just 15 months later.

The house was split in two, numbers 436 and 438 Stockport Road, by the Philips family, and sold. This was some time between 1875 and 1882. In 1875 a CJ Hall is recorded at Longsight Hall with his wife. In 1887 number 436 is for let and in 1875 a Thomas Broadbent of Ardwick and Longsight Hall dies aged 84.

In 1881 436 is empty but 438 occupied by Reuben Thomas Barker (1848-1911), a lace merchant , glover, haberdasher and muslin manufacturer working in partnership with Brookfield Aitchison & Co on 22 York Street, Manchester. Reuben was born in Etruria to Henry and Emma Barker, potters. Henry established a glass and china dealership in Newcastle Under Lyme. He married Emma Farr in 1871 in Stone, Staffordshire, and the couple settled in Manchester, living first on Rose Grove in Ardwick before moving to 438. They did not stay long there, moving first to in the mid 1880s to Gatley Road in Stockport and finally to Blackpool, where he died on 27 May 1911.

In 1882 John Benjamin Dancer (1812-1887) and his wife Elizabeth (1819-1889) are at 436. John was born in London to Josiah (1779-1835) who became an optician in 1817. Josiah moved to Liverpool where he helped established the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical society. He died in 1837 and his son took over the Liverpool business.

John was a incredibly prodigious maker of scientific instruments and he is a pioneer of photography. In 1840 he showed the first photographs of Liverpool and in 1841 did the same in Manchester taking the first photograph of the town.

He married Elizabeth in Everton in 1836 and moved to Manchester. He traded from Cross Street, making scientific instruments and taking photographs. He joined the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in 1841, sponsored by no less a person as John Dalton. In his works he produced accurate thermometers which were used by James Prescott Joule in his experiments on heat.

Most famously he was famed for his contributions to microphotography. He reduced the front page of the Times to on sixteenth of an inch, and presented microphotographs to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He supervised the installation of the first telegraph wires brought to Manchester. During the 1850s he produced the first lantern slides.

With his wife he maintained his optical practice, and was appointed optician to HRH the Prince of Wales in 1869. For a man who spent so much time on optical instruments he was struck down with diabetes and glaucoma and failing eyesight caused him to pass his business on to his daughters, Elizabeth, Anne and Catherine who sold it in 1896 for only £50. He died on 24 November 1887 aged 75 and is buried at Brooklands Cemetery in Sale.

Some time later numbers 436 and 438 are bought by tailor and draper, James Wilson (b 1862) and his wife Jane. They live at number 438 but let out 436. In 1891 436 is occupied by William James Young (1836-1913) an organist and professor of music, and his wife Mary. Again, they have a brief stay and by 1901 they are living at 69 Heaton Moor Road, before moving to 19 King’s Drive, where he died in 1913.

In 1901 Robert Smith Wallace (1850-1902) is at number 436. Robert was born in Lanarkshire, before moving to Nottingham with his wife Maria, where he practised as a surgeon. By 1891 he had a GP practice on Birch Lane in Rusholme. He died at number 438 in 1902.

Another surgeon moved in, Mortimer Henry Pearson, (1870-1932). Mortimer was born in Stockport and studied medicine in Dublin. He set up a practice in Longsight and was district medical officer for the Manchester union. He was killed in a road accident in 1932.

The encroachment of the railway sidings had long made the hall a less desirable place to live and in 1945 the houses were subdivided into apartments and eventually demolished.

Let’s see some pictures, well I have one..:

Longsight Hall 466 & 468 Stockport Road © Manchester Libraries

¹ John Hall’s diaries are a fascinating read, and the juicier bits are in the Mersey Bank article.


Advertiser Notes & Queries, 1881 : The Stockport Advertiser

Longsight Past and Present, Gay Sussex : Manchester City Art Galleries, 1983

The History of Birch in Rusholme, J S Buckley: Sherratt & Hughes, 1910.

Samuel Messenger Bradley at Rootsweb

Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, John Hannavy: Taylor & Francis 2013.

© Allan Russell 2021.


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