100 Halls Around Manchester Part 85 : Trafford Hall, Stretford

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The Traffords of Trafford Park are one of the oldest families in England, they can trace their ancestery to a time before the Norman invasion. In 1016 King Cnut and his army invaded and his army was led by Ranulph. Cnut’s army gained victory at the now lost village of Whickleswick near the Roman river crossing of Trayford on the Irwell. Cnut was crowned King in 1017 and he awarded Ranulph lands at the site of the victory. Ranulph took the name Trayford, and so began the dynasty of Trafford.

Trafford Hall Lancashire CIII, 1848 © Ordnance Survey

In 1070 as part of the rebellion of the Earls, Radulphus of Trafford defeated Sir Hamo De Massey’s army at Tay Bridge near Mobberley. However the revolt did not succeed and Radulphus made peace with the earl of Chester. As long as he did not revolt against the Normans he was allowed to keep his land. He was also knighted by William and issued with a royal license allowing him to use the prefix De becoming Sir Raduphus De Trafford, first Lord Of Trafford.

Raduphus’ son, received pardon and protection from William II, and was awarded the manors of Foxdenton and Chadderton and in 1129 Radulphus’ grandson married De Massey’s granddaughter and the two estates were consolidated. The manor was not mentioned in Domesday but in 1322 it does appear as part of Manchester parish

The family briefly became Protestants during the 1600s but soon reverted to Catholicism, a fact which excluded them from public life, and they had their estates seized in 1638, and being royalists they had properties seized by the Roundheads and faced imprisonment.

The family took over Whittleswick Hall in 1017 and renamed it Trafford Hall. Sometime around 1700 the family had a modern stone built mansion built, which became the last Trafford Hall.

The Old and the New Hall

They lived quietly at Trafford Hall until the Catholic Emancipation act of 1841, when Thomas Joseph Trafford (1778-1852) was created 1st Baronet by Queen Victoria and allowed to change the family name back to De Trafford.

He was the son of John Trafford Of Croston, who had succeeded to the Trafford estates. Thomas became Lord Lieutentant of the county. He commanded the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry at the time of Peterloo. He married Laura Ann Colman and the couple had 14 children.

Thomas was succeeded by his son Humphrey, the 2nd Baronet (1808-1886). He took up residence at the Hall on the death of his father and married Lady Annette Mary Talbot in what is said to have been the first Roman Catholic nuptial mass since the reformation. In 1832 he laid the last keystone in position for the Victoria Bridge over the Irwell.

The site of the old hall was chosen by John Dalton as the site of the Royal Horticultural and Botanical Gardens which became the site of the Art Treasures Exhibition. The area became popular and the well to do of Manchester started to build houses there. The Hall survived until demolition in 1939.

Meanwhile the new hall was starting to come under the pressure of the industrial revolution. The Bridgewater canal cut across the property, forming a border to the south, and in 1882 he faced a further threat with Daniel Adamson’s proposed Ship Canal. Naturally he raised fierce objections to the project, but despite the failure of two bills through parliament the Ship Canal Bill became law on 6 August 1885. Humphrey died in 1886 and the estate was put up for sale.

Deer had roamed the park for centuries. As late as 1885 it was renowned as a place where you could commune with nature, being a home for deer, birds and game. By 1885 the estate covered an area 3½ miles long and 1¼ wide or 708 acres. With the Irwell and Bridgewater it was almost entirely surrounded by water, and there were only four houses on the entire estate, the Hall, the estate manager’s and bailiff’s houses and a farm. The park was populated with chestnut, oak, poplar and beech trees as well as an avenue of lime and sycamore. On a clear day there were views out to Cheshire, Derbyshire and Shropshire, and mercifully shielded from the horrors of industrial Manchester by nearby churches.

The Lake

The Manchester Guardian in 1885, on the eve of the Ship canal, wondered what would happen to this place of soft scenery, sylvan beauty and home of rare birds, hoping that the park would remain an oasis in the heart of Cottonopolis tempering and sweetening the future life of Manchester.

By 1887 a vistor noted that the sprawl of Manchester had extended to the gates of the park, and although they were grand houses, it was noted that they were kept firmly under lock and key, as a result of their proximity to Manchester. Going through the entrance gates, a bridge crossed the Irwell canal, which was carefully shielded from the grounds by trees, the lake however, was little more than a pond, and nothing in comparison with the lakes around other large houses. The urban encroachment was beginning to unsettle the bird life. The house was described as a grand Italianate building, in sandstone. Inside was a large collection of Dutch and Italian paintings.

However, the writing was on the wall, the writer ended by saying that the trees lose their leaves in early October, poisoned by the nearby pollution.

In 1893

Debate now raged as to whether to keep the park as an open space for the people of Manchester, but there was a resistance. The Park was not in Manchester per se, and it was noted that buying it would benefit the inhabitants of Salford, Stretford Eccles and Patricroft more than the ratepayers of Manchester who would be making the financial investment, and more importantly be an extra burden on the rates.

Manchester City Council debated a purchase in 1896. Whilst ratepayer objections were still strong, it was felt that if the cost could be defrayed by acting in conjunction with neighbouring councils, there would not be as much opposition. The cost of purchase was calculated at £300,000 (£43m in 2022) which could be funded by 1¼d in the pound on the rates.

There were however at this time, two other potential purchasers. and whilst the council was the preferred bidder they did need to reach a decision. A revised tender was submitted by the vendors which allowed for the council to choose the best part of the estate, leaving the balance (including mineral rights) with others. The main objections however remained, the burden on the rates, and the fact that the park lay outside the City boundaries.

There was also the issue of the Ship canal docks, and the effect that pollution was also having upon the park grounds – which had in effect rendered the estate of use only for industrial purposes, and in addition there was the prospect of Heaton Park coming up for consideration. This had the advantage of being away from such pollutants, but also within the City boundaries. Even more favourably, Heaton Park was being offered at half the price.

As we know, the council lost out, and on 25 June 1896 it was announced that the park had been sold to a London syndicate for £360,000 (£52m in 2022), but the purchasers did indicate they were open to selling part of the estate to the council. The syndicate were connected with Dunlop Raleigh and Beeston and hoped to extend the operations of these companies on the Ship Canal as well as divert some of timber trade to Manchester, and develop a residential estate.

Ernest Terah Hooley was the purchaser and in 1896 the Trafford Park Industrial Estate was formed. He made Marshall Stevens, manager of the Ship Canal his manager the following year.

Over the next years the Trafford Park Estate grew and took over more of the area. Initially there were plans for a racecourse to be built on the grounds alongside a golf course and park. However by 1916 over 100 factories were established at Trafford Park, and although the house itself survived until sustaining bomb damage in World War II, serving as the clubhouse for Manchester Golf Club in the inter war years, few relics of the once grand past still survive.

Let’s see some pictures:


The De Trafford Baronets

Whickleswick, A Lost Township W H Bird : The Ancestor, 1903

© Allan Russell 2022.


4 thoughts on “100 Halls Around Manchester Part 85 : Trafford Hall, Stretford

  1. I am afraid you are mistaken as to the fate of the old Trafford Hall which was not demolished until 1939 it having ben split into several households and these are recorded in several directories and census returns and 20th century photographs. A parcel of its land was used for the Botanical Gardens which was indeed suggested by John Dalton and sold at a low price by T J Trafford. The Art Treasures Exhibition was in 1857 and confined its boundaries to an area behind the Botanical Gardens and fronting Talbot Rd. The Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1887 did spread across the Botanical Gardens and after Queen Victoria’s visit to this exhibition it became know as the Royal Botanical Gardens.


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