100 Halls Around Manchester Part 79: Pole Bank, Hyde

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Thanks to the generosity of its last owner, George Byrom, Pole Bank still stands today. It stands in Hyde on Stockport Road, whilst the house itself is a care home these days, the grounds are still accessible as a park.

Pole Bank, Cheshire XI, 1882 © Ordnance Survey

It was built around 1820 by Samuel Ashton (1773-1849). Samuel was the son of Samuel Ashton (1742-1812) and Mary Oldham. The Ashtons were long established Yeoman Farmers in Gee Cross, building a large house there, Gerrards which was standing until the end of the last century, when it was demolished to be replaced with modern town houses. Samuel senior’s father, Benjamin (1718-1791) diversified into the cotton trade, engaging local weavers to produce the cloth in Hyde which he sold in Manchester. His son Samuel carried on in this trade and in turn Samuel Junior continued in the cotton business.

Samuel Jr was born in 1773 and married Mary Turner (1780-1836) in 1806. Samuel and his brothers established mills at Gerrards and Godley. They had steam powered mills and secured a supply of fuel by buying up local mines. In 1823 they built a Calico works at Newton.

The brothers decided to dissolve their partnership in 1823 and Samuel and his brother Thomas (1775-1845) took up the majority shareholding, and Samuel built Apethorn Mill, and acquired Woodley Mill in 1828. Thomas’ son, also Thomas we have already met at Ford Bank.

Samuel Ashton

Samuel built Pole Bank around 1820. He was the oldest brother and inherited the Gerrards estate¹. He died at Pole Bank in 1849, Mary had died 13 years earlier in 1836.

His eldest son, Thomas, (1807-1831) stood to inherit his father’s fortune, but was murdered by three men around 7pm on 3 January 1831 when he was approached on Apethorne Lane by three men. Immediately afterwards a pistol shot was heard, and Thomas was found lying dead on the floor.

Three men were indicted in 1834, William and Joseph Mosley and James Garside. The killing had arisen out of a strike which had caused 25 mills to lay idle. William turned King’s evidence² and accused Garside of firing the shot, saying that he and his brother had been paid by Samuel Schofield, a Trade Unionist to commit the deed. The jury found the two men guilty and they were sentenced to hang within 48 hours.

However, a recent change in law changing the responsiblity for execution from the civic authorities to the Sheriff of Chester meant that the execution was delayed ten days. Meanwhile, Schofield himself was arrested. The execution was delayed even further until the 18 September as further details of a second murder by Garside were discoverd. Mosley was moved to another jail and was still alive in October, as he was required to give evidence in Schofield’s trial.

The case went to London and in November the men stood trial as to whether they should not face the death penalty, however by now their luck had run out and their Lordships were not prepared to delay execution further and they hanged the following day, 25 November 1834.

Samuel’s second son, James, (1807-1866) married first Elizabeth Bailey (1811-1843) in 1834 and the couple moved to Highfield House in Bredbury, Stockport. That marriage produced no children and he took up with Frances, who he did not marry but had three children by her, two sons, Philip and Robert who died young, and a daughter Elizabeth who inherited some monies.

That meant it was Benjamin Ashton, the third son (1813-1889) who inherited his father’s fortune. He lived at Pole Bank and also operated on a very laissez faire basis, Astley Deep Pit in Duckinfield, which at the time at 3,000 feet was the deepest mine in England.

Benjamin Ashton

Benjamin lived at Pole Bank for most of his life. He remained a bachelor, however a court case shortly after his death regarding a cheque for £1,375 he signed in favour of a mysterious lady friend who absconded, paints the picture of a sad and lonely miserly type. He was said by his maid (who also mysteriously ate with him and slept in the same room as him) to have better clothes, but not to wear them. He had no buttons on his clothes, and used to ask for pieces of string to tie his trousers up. One Parisian lady was said to have swapped her purse for his. His purse contained money, the one given in return thimbles. He left a fortune of £224,860 (£30m in 2021).

Having no issue, his estate went to his nephews Arthur Godfrey Buchardt (1854-1953) and his brother Frederick. The Buchardts were the sons of Otto Ernest Lebrecht Buchardt (1809-1882) a Prussian born Liverpool merchant and Prussian Consul, and his wife Jane Ashton (1816-1908) , Benjamin’s sister. The boys appear to have done well out of the inheritance, travelling widely. Arthur did change his name to Buchardt-Ashton in grateful thanks however.

I don’t think the Buchardts lived there, the house was sold to Thomas Beeley (1833-1908), but first we will look at the other Ashton children. Elizabeth (1811-1896) married Thomas Hardcastle (1808-1846) of Bolton at St Mary’s in Stockport, but he died young. She married again, Fitz Arundell MacKenzie, the British Consul in Switzerland and had two children by him. They retired to a farm in Hatfield, and after that lived in Nice. She died at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Nice, three years after her husband died in the same town.

Samuel Ashton (1821-1885) married Frances Maria Papillon in 1866 and they lived first in Bedford then at Battle in Sssex. He died on 19 February 1885 in Colombo, Ceylon. Anne Ashton (1823-1862) married Charles Andrew a cotton spinner. There were possibly at least two other children, John and Jenny who died in infancy.

Returning to Thomas Beeley (1833-1908), he was the son of a Northumberland Grocer Samuel Beeley (1793-1861) and his wife Mary Jackson. Samuel moved down to Hayfield where Thomas was born, then on to Newton.

He first took a job as a cloth looker in Marlor’s mill in Newton but then entered Daniel Adamson’s works, starting out as a timekeeper moving up through the roles of bookkeeper and cashireri until he became General Manager. In 1867 he set out on his own account at the Hyde Junction Iron Works. Here he specialised in the production of boilers and did much work in innovating the design of boilers for the rest of his life. He relied totally on word of mouth to make his sales, and such was his reputation that he never advertised nor employed a sales force and still landed lucrative contracts with large scale engineering firms and government departments.

In 1898 he handed over control of the company to his son, Thomas Carter Beeley (1869-1909) whilst he entered public life, serving on the Hyde and Duckinfield Local Boards and Cheshire County Council.

Thomas Carter Beeley

He married Elizabeth Carter (1830-1901) They lived first at Peak House in Duckinfield, before moving to Pole Bank in the 1890s, taking up the house vacated by Benjamin Ashton. Thomas died on 5 June 1908 of heart failure at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool whilst recuperating for his heart problems.

Thomas Carter Beeley took over from his father and at the same time participated in public life like his father. He was mayor of Hyde in 1899 at the young age of 30 and lived at Bowlacre in Hyde with his wife Jessie Ann Alexander Milligan (1868-1930). The couple had six children.

Thomas’s sister Elizabeth Edith Beeley (1867-1899) also had a short life. She married Edward Wood Calvert (1866-1905) a Leeds born solicitor who practised in Manchester, but died early in the marriage having had two children. Edward retired after that and briefly spent time on a farm in Hampshire, but emigrated to South Africa where he too died in Germiston in the Transvaal on 16 August 1905.

In 1920 Thomas Kerfoot (1840-1936) is living at Pole Bank. Thomas was born on 15 December 1840 in Patricroft. We see him in 1861 when he is apprenticed to Thomas Herdson, Chemist and Postmaster on 75 Market Street in Hyde. He used his skills to purchase a chemist’s business on London Road in Manchester, established in 1797. He initially pursued only the retail trade but soon started to manufacture for himself. He moved to Chester Street in 1890 but this burnt down in 1896 and he moved to Bardsley Vale on the Medlock.

The company manufactured Vapex, Kerocain and Mineral Spring Health Granules. In 1878 he married Mary Ann Elizabeth Hodgson (1854-1881) but she sadly died soon afterwards, leaving him a widower with a young son, Ernest Hodgson Kerfoot (1879-1944). Both Ernest, and his two sons Dr Thomas Hodgson Manners Kerfoot (1905-1984) and Henry Manners Kerfoot (1912-1962) joined the company, which produced Mepacrine, an anti malarial drug, and several other medicines for the troops. The company was bought out by Medeva plc in 1990.

Thomas never remarried and after living at Pole Bank he settled with his son at Springwood Hall in Bardsley, where he died on 30 December 1936, a fortnight after his 96th birthday.

As I said at the beginning, it was the generosity of George Frederick Byrom (1859-1942) which means that we still have Pole Bank today. George was born in Delph, Saddleworth to Joseph Byrom (b 1813) and his wifeAlice Wilson (1823-1868) His father was a cotton spinner who established Joseph Byrom & Sons. George married Susannah Bowker (1861-1945) in 1883 and the couple settled in Droylsden where he ran the Royal Mills, living in a house attached to the mill.

In 1920 Joseph Byrom & Sons was floated and George retired on the money, settling with his wife at Pole Bank Hall, buying the property for £4,200 (£190,000 in 2021).

George and Susannah had four children. Mabel Bowker Byrom (1887-1973) married Marcus Niebuhr Tod (1878-1974) a lecturer in Ancient History and Classics at Oriel College Oxford. Marcus was an expert in Greek and served as an intelligence officer from 1915-1919 for which he was awarded an OBE.

Joseph Byrom (1893-1959) carried on in the cotton trade, but moved to Leicestershire. Alice Edna Byrom (1885-1971) married Isaac H Holden (1867-1962) a director of a wood combing company. Finally, Margaret Emiley Byrom (1884-1941) never married, living with her parents until her death, and volunteering in religious and educational works.

George lived at Pole Bank Hall until his death on 30 March 1942, Susannah died on 26 February 1945 at the Homestead in Werneth. In his will he gifted Pole Bank and the surrounding grounds to the people of Hyde for their use and recreation. The grounds were officially opened in 1944 and by 1949 the Hall had become a home for Aged and Infirm Ladies. The Princess Elizabeth gifted the ladies with Prunes and Margarine in 1949 and to show that the ladies were not out for the count, they held a Christmas party for 100 guests in 1954 and a Panto in 1955.

The Hall continues as a care home today, and the grounds are still a public park. Pay a visit and walk around.

Let’s see some pictures:

¹All Ashton brothers amassed mind boggling fortunes, three of them died childless, another John had an illegitimate daughter for who he provided then left the balance of his fortune, £200,000 or in today’s terms, £293m to the government to pay off the national debt.

² For which he obtained a pardon for his imprisonment on another matter, not be tried for murder, and receive the reward of £500 offered by Samuel Ashton for information leading the conviction of the murderers. It was a particular unjustified killing as Samuel Ashton was one of the better millowners in the area.


Landed Families – Ashton Of Hyde

Thomas Beeley at Graces Guide

Thomas Kerfoot & Co

© Allan Russell 2022.


3 thoughts on “100 Halls Around Manchester Part 79: Pole Bank, Hyde

  1. In 1901 census for Stretford you will find Thomas Kerfoot and his son living at 120 Seymour Grove in the Old Trafford district of Stretford.


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