100 Halls Around Manchester Part 78: Scotscroft, Didsbury

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Last time we looked at Poplar Grove. That house’s history ends at the time Scotscroft starts. The buildings are on the same site in Didsbury, but I am unclear whether there was a refurbishment or a new build. I suspect the former, but the records are not clear, so I will treat the histories as two. The inital years of Scotscroft saw it let out to several short term tenants. Diana Leitch, the local historian states that the house was built and owned by John Leech who we met at Bank Hall.

Scotscroft, Lancashire CXI.SE 1895 © Ordnance Survey

Living at the house in 1871 we see Archibald William Clarke (1826-1901) and his wife Henrietta Zacyntha Mary Chorley (1841-1876). Archibald was a cotton spinner in partnership with his brother, Charles. He was born in Patricroft and lived at Scotscroft until shortly after Zacyntha’s death on 7 April 1876. He married again to Florence Bernard Nicolle (1852-1935) two years later and the couple moved to the Isle of the Wight where they lived out the rest of their days.

He had two children with Zacyntha, George Archibald Chorley Clarke (1861-1935) who emigrated to Iowa and Mildred Zacyntha Clarke (1863-1942) who remained a spinster. With Florence, he had a further three children (Cecil De Villeneave Clarke (1884-1885), Vanda Muriel (1891-1943) and Nora Florence (1882-1961).

Next at the house around 1878 were Alfred Henry Midwood (1823-1905) and his wife Grace Caroline Andrew (1826-1906). Alfred ran A H Midwood & Co, merchants in cotton goods in Manchester. The couple retired to Birkdale in the 1880s and lived there until their deaths.

The house was then briefly occupied by Frank Sowler (1873-1921) and his wife Helen J Gossip (b 1872). Frank did not do much in life. He was the grandson of Thomas Sowler, the founder of the Manchester Courier. Frank’s father, Sir Thomas Sowler (1867-1899) carried on in the business, and Frank made an inital effort to join in, starting out as a journalist. However, riches were around him, and he spent most of his life living in Ellesmere, Shropshire and participating in the local hunt. Helen was the daughter of George Hatfeild Dingley Gossip who was a minor Chess Master, nicknamed the king of the wooden spoon as he tended to come last in major tournaments. George wrote books on chess, some of which were panned by the critics as he concentrated initially on matches he had won against stronger players. However, one, The Chess Player’s Manual, became for a while the standard work on the subject. He also used his new son in law’s connections to contribute to the Courier. The Courier was sold to Lord Northcliffe in 1905 and eventually faded away.

George Hatfeild Dingley Glossop

Following Frank we see Laban Spencer (1837-1905) in the house with his wife Clara Louisa Senior. Laban was born in Belper to William and Sarah Spencer and came to Manchester in the 1850s with his brother Reuben. He is a warehouse boy in 1851 and lodging with his brother, a bookkeeper. He married Clara in 1861 at the Cathedral and by 1870 they are living at St James View in Rusholme and he is working in his father in law’s company, Senior, Spencer & Company of Oxford Street and Pall Mall, Estate and Insurance Agents. The company was successful, letting out many properties in Manchester including the Barton and Exchange Arcades. Of somewhat, eccentric tastes, he advocated the use of onions hung around the neck to ward off smallpox. The couple lived a short time at Scotscroft, before moving to Brook Road in Fallowfield, where he died on 9 March 1905. Clara lived on in Fallowfield for a few years before moving to Cheshire where she died in 1918.

The next tenants were David Moseley (1861-1924) and his wife Agnes Gwen Preece (1865-1951) who we met when they were living at Cringle Hall. David was an India Rubber Manufacturer.

Up to the second world war, Arthur Henry Worthington (1859-1941) lived at Scotscroft with his wife, Florence Dowson (1873-1939). Arthur was born in Lancaster and came to Manchester to train as solicitor. He went to work at the University of Manchester, where he ended up as Chairman of the Council of the University. He died at Scotscroft on 4 September 1940.

Unlike its grander neighbour, Scotscroft did not survive. Today it is only remembered in Scotscroft House on the Towers business park

Let’s see some pictures, well one, and thats only from an aerial view of its grander neighbour.

Scotscroft to the left of the Towers © Britain From Above

© Allan Russell 2021.


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