Over the three centuries that this building spanned, it played very different roles within the communities of the two towns it lay in between. From a private residence to “Paddy’s Hump”, this is the long lost history of Hindsford House.
Where is Hindsford?
Hindsford is a small geographic area which lies between the towns of Atherton and Tyldesley in Greater Manchester. To anyone not from the locality, Hindsford would appear to be just the location where two towns merge into each other. Hindsford is closer to Tyldesley but it is officially an extension of the Atherton boundary, the Hindsford Brook being a geographical divide between the two. Even historically addresses here are recorded as “Hindsford, Atherton” or “Hindsford, Tyldesley” but to local people it functioned for the majority of the 19th and 20th centuries as its own community; with different standards of housing,both Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches, schools, shops, public houses and industry including Chanter’s Colliery and Burton’s cotton mills.
Hindsford House was built in the 1820s by Samuel Wilson and was located just within the boundary of the Atherton/Tyldesley townships, as it lay on the Atherton side of the Hindsford Brook. For some reason during the 1840s the house is known by three different names. In the 1841 census it is recorded as “Atherton House”, on the 1845-49 Ordnance Survey Map it is labelled as “Bank House” and in church records at St. George’s from 1844 onwards it is named “Hindsford House”.
As mentioned the house was built for Samuel Wilson (1770-1843) who was a cotton spinning mill owner. His mill was located a few yards from his home on Castle Street, Tyldesley. In 1841 he is residing at his property with his children Edward (1810-1843) and Margaret (b.1815) and a maid Phoebe Leigh (b.1823). He also had another daughter, Martha.
In 1842 Samuel decided to sell his mill due to his ill health. The local newspapers list the mill for sale and describe it as “ 91 feet long by 36 feet wide; inside measure; six stories high, exclusive of the attic, with 24 windows in each room.” Also for sale was the machinery inside the mill including; mules, spindles, drawing frames, billies, 2 new carding machines and 32 new power looms.
In March 1843, Edward Wilson died aged only 34 and he was buried in the family grave at St. George’s in Bolton. Just over a month later in April, Samuel also passed away aged 72 and was also buried in Bolton.
The Mid-19th Century
By 1844 Hindsford House was occupied by Reverend Jacob Robson (1800-1851) and his family. Robson was the first Curate of St. George’s Church in Tyldesley from its foundation in 1825. It was Robson who uniformly changed the spelling of the town from “Tildesley” to “Tyldesley” in 1833. Something which he was able to do with relative ease, as he discovered a large proportion of the town were illiterate. Out of the first twenty marriages he performed, only two people could sign their own names. In order to combat this, Robson played a fundamental part in establishing the first proper school in Tyldesley.
In 1839 he was a widower when he married his second wife Anne Eccles (b.1805), who resided on King Street in Wigan. Anne was the daughter of wealthy industrialist William Eccles. Robson’s first wife Thomasine Pennington Cowling had sadly passed away only days after the couple returned from their three week honeymoon. They had only married two months before in April 1835.
Jacob and Anne had five children together; Jacob (1840-40), Elizabeth Catherine (1843-51), William Eccles (b.1843), Thomas (1846-51) and John (1848-49). In a rather bittersweet twist, Robson baptised his three youngest sons but also sadly buried his small children who did not survive infancy.
The 1851 census taken in April records a time of great change for the Robson family at Hindsford House. Rev. Robson had passed away in January 1851. The census therefore records Anne as a widow and head of the family. Also residing at Hindsford House is Elizabeth, William and Thomas Robson, Anne Whitehead ( a visitor) and Peter Bent (Parish Clerk of Tyldesley). Two domestic staff; Ann Sprig, aged 42 and Mary Ann Sprig, aged 19 (possibly an illegitimate daughter of Ann) complete the household.
Anne occupied an unusual position for women in the mid 19th century as her husband left his entire estate to her. It was British law until 1882 that a husband owned everything within a marriage, including children and regardless of whatever wealth a women brought as a dowry. Therefore it is significant that Jacob Robson left everything to Anne, as it not only showed love and trust within their marriage but also it singles Anne out as one of a small group of women in Victorian Britain who owned her own property and wealth and was without the supervision of a male guardian (as married and single women would have been).
Most likely unable to stay at Hindsford House due to the cost of upkeep, Anne and her children moved to Grange Mount in Birkenhead. Sadly, tragedy seemed to follow the family, a few months later on 21st September 1851 Thomas Robson died aged 5 years old and a month later on 20th October Anne’s only daughter Elizabeth Catherine died aged 8 years old. In 1861 Anne and her only surviving child, William are still living in Birkenhead with two servants. In the 1871 census William has married and has his own family and is a prosperous farmer of 8000 acres in Northumberland.
The Caleb Wright Years
Between 1853 and 1858 Caleb Wright is recorded at Hindsford House. Wright (1810-1898) is the epitome of a ‘self-made’ man of the Victorian era. He was born in Tyldesley, one of thirteen children in a working class family. At the age of 9 he started work as a piecer in a cotton mill, rising to a spinner at the age of 15 and by 20 he was manager of one of Burton’s mills. After working a 12-hour shift he educated himself in the evenings at night school. In 1832 his father died and Wright and his mother were the breadwinners for the family. He succeeded his father as organist at Chowbent Chapel, as the family were Unitarians.
In 1851, he entered into a firm with Henry Parkes Barton and they built their first mill of 20,000 spindles. In 1855, whilst he was living at Hindsford House, the partnership was dissolved and he established his own company and his own mill, Barnfield Mill. The mill was situated not far from the site of Samuel Wilson’s mill and the mill prospered and there was eventually six of them, Barnfield survived into the late 20th century.
He married twice, firstly to Jane Eckersley (1807-1844) with whom he had Charles Eckersley Wright (1844-1879). His second marriage in 1859 was to Anne Kirkpatrick. His children with Anne were: Frank (b.1862), Margaret (b.1862), Helena (b.1864), Lucy (b.1865) and Thomas (b.1869).
In 1885 he stood as the first MP for the Liberal party in the newly created Leigh Constituency. He was famous for his support of Home Rule in Ireland and the enfranchisement of women, both controversial topics of the time. He was MP in three elections before retiring at the age of 85. An interesting anecdote about Caleb is despite his age and the great distance involved, he would attend Parliament on a Thursday in London and always make it back to Atherton to attend the chapel on a Sunday. There was even talk that he might miss his daughter’s wedding in 1886 in case he didn’t make it back from Parliament. He died at his home, Lower Oak in Shakerley at the age of 87.
The 1860s – “Young Ladies Seminary”
After the departure of Caleb Wright, the Holland family came to inhabit Hindsford House. James Holland (1811-1870), his wife Eliza (1806-1872) and their daughters; Alice E. (b.1839), Jane (b.1841), Elizabeth (b.1842) and Mary (b.1847) are recorded there in the 1861 census. James Holland was an auctioneer and land agent. Hindsford House was a large spacious property of at least eleven rooms. The Holland family used this to their advantage and set up a private school there, with Alice as school mistress and Elizabeth as her assistant.
Nor were the Holland sisters short of potential pupils. The industrial revolution had changed the face of Atherton and Tyldesley and by the 1860s rows and rows of terraced houses had been built around Hindsford House for the workers of nearby Chanters Colliery and the numerous cotton mills. The landscape would have been almost unrecognisable from when Samuel Wilson built the house forty years earlier.
However the school was aimed not at the children of the workers, but at the daughters of the men who managed the mills and mines – the aspiring middle classes. Hindsford House was not the only large property to adapt itself as a ladies school; New Bank House and Davenport House both in Tyldesley were run the same, as was Prospect House in Atherton (where the Holland girls had been educated themselves). The school was sometimes referred to as “Hindsford House Academy” and it had 65 pupils in 1861. Later in 1866 there was an advertisement for one or two boarding pupils and a Thomas Elliott was school master there. In the latter years of the 1860s each Holland girls married and when Alice married in 1868 it meant the end of her career as a teacher. By 1870 the Holland family had left Hindsford House.
The Late 19th Century
The 1871 census records Charles Eckersley (1836-1919) his wife Jane (1836-1920) and their young family; Peter (b.1865), Annie (b.1863), Minnie (b.1868) and Frank (b.1870) residing at Hindsford House.
Charles had spent sometime in Melbourne, Australia but was called home when his father, Peter Eckersley went into paternship with Caleb Wright (Peter and Caleb were brothers-in-law). The family was very successful and in 1871 they employ three domestic servants at Hindsford House. Like his uncle Caleb Wright, Charles Eckersley was also heavily involved in Chowbent Chapel. In 1901 he funded the building of an entrance vestibule on the historic building. The Eckersley and Wright families are further intertwined when Charles’s daughter Annie married Caleb Wright’s son Frank (they were step-cousins via Caleb’s first wife).
By the end of the 1870s the Eckersley family have moved on to Fulwell House but Hindsford House remains with relations, again of Caleb Wright. In 1881 Catherine Wright (nee Withington) who was the widow of Caleb’s son Charles Eckersley Wright, is living at Hindsford House with her two daughters Jane aged 9 and Louisa aged 7 and also a maid, Elizabeth Yerrington. Catherine’s late husband was a Lieutenant in the Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps and died in 1879.
In the 1891 census the Clegg family are recorded at Hindsford House. The three unmarried siblings; James (b.1858), Esther (b.1849) and Ellen (b.1851) are related to Caleb Wright. His daughter Lucy married Robert Joseph Clegg, the older brother of the Clegg’s at Hindsford House. The Clegg family made their wealth through the cotton industry and they refelcted this wealth in their home. As early as 1895 they have a private telephone installed and they are served by housemaid/waitress Elizabeth Rowland and cook Emily Woskett. It is quite common in the 19th century to find unmarried siblings still living together as a family unit, particularly in the case of the Clegg’s where the two unmarried sisters are supported by their brother’s income. We also know that James Clegg was interested in rugby and even acted a touch judge at a match in 1895 between St. Helens vs. Liversedge.
By the time of the 1911 census only Esther Clegg is still residing at Hindsford House, along with two servants. A year or two after the census was taken Esther left Hindsford for the affluent suburb of Alderley Edge, where she died in 1916. Among the effects she left in her estate to her two brothers was £12052’17’6 (about £737,000 in today’s terms) and also shares in the Great Western Railway Company.
The First World War
By May 1914 Hindsford House was owned by Mr. J.B. Selby and was advertised to tenants. With the outbreak of war in August 1914 and the subsequent German invasion of Belgium, Selby handed the use of the property over to the Citizens League.
The Citizens League decided to turn Hindsford House into a home for Belgian refugees, fleeing the violence in Europe. The Citizen’s League in turn founded the Belgian’s Committee to supervise the home. It was largely made up of middle class women who had both the time and means to help. Most local towns also took in refugees including Astley, Atherton and Leigh.
Furniture, beds, carpets, cooking utensils and other household items were donated by local people so that when the 14 Belgian refugees arrived at Hindsford only 36 hours later on 30 October 1914, the house was furnished for them. The refugees included: Edmund Ackert, his wife and two children, Edmond Focke (aged 3 years), Pharilde Amelot (aged 22 years), Maria Billiart (aged 13 years), Marcelline Dieryex and a child and five members of the Sorel family. In fact a postcard survives that was sent to Miss Justine Sorel at Hindsford House by someone she knew in Bolton.
There was quite a mix living at Hindsford House but every effort was made by the Committee to welcome them including taking them to the near-by Catholic Church, Sacred Heart and also talking them to dances, concerts and football matches.
The 20th Century – A Time for Change
Even after the First World War ended in 1918 and the Belgian refugees returned home, Hindford House was still known as “the Belgian Refugees’ Home” and it appears under this title in phone directories from 1922 to as late as 1934.
In 1920 Hindsford House became “Tyldesley and Hindsford Catholic Club” and it began its new existence as a social clubhouse. The gardens at the front of the property were even turned into a bowling green.
Between 1939 and 1959 Frederick Thomason (1895-1959) ran the Catholic Club and lived at Hindsford House with his wife Lily (nee Hothersall) and their two sons William (b.1924) and Frederick (b.1939). Thomason previously lived at 14 Wareing Street in Tyldesley and he signed up to fight in the First World War on 1st September 1914. He rose to the rank of Sergeant and during the Dardanelles Campaign he suffered wounds to his head and frostbitten feet.
After Frederick’s death in 1959, his widow Lily and her son Frederick and daughter-in-law Marion continued to run the Catholic Club. Frederick and Marion are still recorded there in 1976 and it was around this time it became known as “Tyldesley and Hindsford Social Club”. In the 1970s a function room extension was also built at the side of the house.
In 1986 Harold and Ruth Bartlett were running the social club. The club was called “Paddy’s Bar” but it was affectionately nicknamed “Paddy’s Hump”, I assume because of its located on the top of a slight hill. The origin of this name is still widely debated to this day. Some think it was because it is location on the hill and the fact it was a Catholic club meant it was frequented by a lot of Irish customers, hence the ‘Paddy’s’. Another tale is that the bowling green in front of the house was laid incorrectly by Irish labourers, which caused a hump in the middle of the pitch. However other say that some bowling greens are designed that way for different games. Whatever the reason for the name, Paddy’s Hump, may never been known but what is important is that it adds to the local folklore and heritage of the area.
By 2001 Mike and Donna Qualter and their daughters; Rebecca and Samantha were living at Hindsford House and running the pub. In Septeber 2001 there was an armed robbery at 5am. The two thieves put a gun to Mike Qualter’s head and then locked the couple in the gents toilets whilst they stole cash and other belongings. The two daughters slept through the entire incident. The couple carried on as normal and were behind the bar the next night. The attack on Paddy’s Hump was just one in spate of other attacks on pubs in Tyldesley, Donna gave this advice in the local paper: “My advice to people is just to co-operate. I would certainly never say I had no money. We have full co-operated. I think it would be a lot worse if we had not.”
The business must have been in decline after this as in 2005 Paddy’s Hump aka Hindsford House was demolished. It was a shock to the local community to lose such an iconic piece of local life; it had stood there for over 170 years adapting from the home of mill owners, to a private school, to a refugees home and finally as a social space. I remember going there as a child because they had a really good outdoor play area for kids opposite the entrance to the building. Today apartment blocks stand on the site of the former house and gardens.
- John Lunn, ‘A Short History of the Township of Tyldesley’ (Manchester: Co-Operative Wholesale Society Limited, 1953)
- Alan Hilton, ‘Tyldesley St. George’s C.E. School 150th Anniversary 1829-1979′ (Local Publication)
- Phillip M.G. Chapman, ‘A Potty oops Potted History of the Pubs of Atherton’, (Self-Published, 16 July 2007)
- Bolton Chronicle, 29 October 1842, p.1
- Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 29 October 1842, p.4
- Liverpool Mercury, 30 September 1851, p.4
- Blackburn Standard, 29 October 1851, p.3
- Leigh Chronicle, 14 September 1861
- Leigh Chronicle, 7 July 1866, p.1
- Army and Navy Gazette, 27 February 1869, p.4
- Liverpool Mercury, 4 December 1895, p.7
- Leigh Chronicle, 30 October 1914
- Leigh Chronicle, 6 November 1914, p.6
- Leigh Chronicle, 13 November 1914, p.5
- Leigh Journal, 6 September 2001
- The National Archives, Kew – Will of Reverend Jacob Robson, 12 April 1851 (PROB 11/2131/187)
- Electoral Registers – Wigan Archives and Leigh Local Studies
- http://www.facebook.com, Old Photographs of Atherton and Tyldesley, Post by Keith Seddon, 3 April 2015
- http://www.facebook.com, Bolton Photographs Old and New, Posted by David Whenlock, 15 March 2016