This site, located on Elliott Street in Tyldesley, actually contains the long lost histories of three different buildings, more or less over three centuries. Barlow House was the name of the building which stood here in the 19th century, although this post will explore all the former lives of buildings which stood on this piece of land.
We must start with Tyldesley House, the name given to the first property built on the land. Tyldesley House was the home of the Johnson family who owned the Tyldesley Banks Estate. In 1764 Thomas Johnson (1745-1823) (also known as ‘Squire Johnson’) inherited the Tyldesley Banks estate from his grandfather, also named Thomas Johnson. The elder Thomas Johnson, a merchant from Bolton, had been purchasing land in and around Tyldesley since 1728 but it was his grandson who began to develop the estate. The estate was known as the ‘Banks Estate’ because Tyldesley is geographically situated higher than neighbouring towns and much of the town was built on the embankments.
Shortly after inheriting the estate in the mid-18th century, Johnson commenced the building of a substantial three-storied property for himself, known as Tyldesley House. The house was located a short distance from Davenport House and Farm, which has often been erroneously recorded as the residence of Thomas Johnson. However an article in the Leigh Journal in 1921 clears up the confusion as it states: “ [He] certainly resided at Davenports, but Davenports was and is still the name of the locality, and must not be confused with Davenport House.”
The rough sketch below is based on a drawing of Tyldesley House completed in 1825 by Sarah Ormerod (who was married to the nephew of Thomas Johnson). The original sketch is held by the University of Edinburgh but my rough interpretation shows how the house looked and its location with reference to St. George’s Church, Tyldesley. The house would have been very impressive, it appears the house was south-facing and therefore access from Elliott Street would have been via the rear of the property. Sarah’s sketch is so detailed that we known the principal windows were 12-pane sash windows – obviously Johnson was not worried about the cost of the Window Tax.
Johnson devoted himself to charity work and under his guidance one charity he supported in Manchester saw its income increase seven-fold in twenty years. He was also well-remembered in Manchester as he attended school there and also in 1777, he and other gentlemen played a crucial part in raising a regiment in aid of the Government in the American War of Independence. In 1820 he donated land for the building of a church but he died before it was complete on 23rd December 1823, aged 78.
As Johnson died unmarried he left the bulk of his estate to his nephew, George Ormerod (the son of his sister Elizabeth). George Ormerod (1785-1873) was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford and in 1808 he married Sarah Latham (1784-1860) of Bradwall Hall. The couple had 7 sons and 3 daughters; among their professions were three religious ministers, two solicitors, a geologist, a surgeon, a physician and one daughter was an entomologist. He held the position of Magistrate for Chester, Gloucester and Monmouth. However he was most famous for his mammoth work “The History of the County Palatine and the city of Chester (1816)”.
The Ormerod family briefly lived at Damhouse in Astley in 1810 before moving to Chorlton House near Chester and finally living at Sedbury Park. As they had other properties the family had no real need to keep Tyldesley House when they inherited it in 1823. It was sketched in 1825 by Sarah Ormerod, probably as the family stayed there coinciding with the opening of the newly completed St. George’s Church. Shortly after this Tyldesley House was pulled down.
About 1828 a new house was constructed on the site of Tyldesley House, it was known as Barlow House. As the map below shows it occupied more or less the same footprint although Barlow House was fronted onto Elliott Street (or Great Elliott Street as it was known historically). If someone stood in the back garden of Barlow House and looked East they would see the same view of St. George’s as in the drawing above.
I have been unable to trace the earliest residents of Barlow House, the house is also recorded as unoccupied in the 1841 census and in the Rate Books for subsequent years. However the books do tell us the rateable value of the house was £25’15’8 (about £2,114 in modern currency).
By the late 1840s Barlow House is occupied by a newlywed couple Henry Parkes Barton and his wife Eliza (nee Wainwright). The couple both previously resided in Ardwick, Manchester and they married at St. Thomas’s Church on 31st December 1845. Henry (1817-1865) was a successful cotton mill owner and was therefore attracted to the industry that Tyldesley offered. In October 1848 the couple’s only child, Harold Wainwright Barton was born.
The 1851 the census records the family at Barlow House along with a visitor, Rev. George Richardson (who was the newly appointed curate of Tyldesley after the death of Jacob Robson) and two housemaids, Eliza Bucket and Mary George . The same year Henry entered into a partnership with Caleb Wright and they built their first mill together, which comprised of 20,000 spindles.
Sadly in June 1853, Eliza Barton died at the age of 34 and she was buried in the graveyard adjoining St.George’s Church where her grave still exists today, albeit hidden within a holly bush. By 1858 Henry and Harold have left Tyldesley and Barlow House (occasionally known as Barton House) is listed for sale in local newspapers. As no known photographs of Barlow House exist, the description of the property in the Bolton Chronicle provide some idea what it would have looked like:
” TO BE LET OR SOLD BY PRIVATE CONTRACT, the capital FAMILY HOUSE, called “Barlow House”, situate at Tyldesley near to St. George’s Church and late in the occupation of H. P. Barton Esq, the owner. The house contains on the ground floor, Dining Room; extreme length 22 feet 9 inches by 13 feet, Drawing Room; 29ft 6in by 15 ft, Kitchen; 17ft 6in by 15ft, Scullery, with Butler’s Pantry, china closets &c. The Chamber story contains five bedrooms, two having dressing rooms attached, water closets, &c. In the yard – good two stalled stable, with harness room complete, carriage house, &c. The garden is of considerable extent, with southern aspect. The house commands a very pleasing and extensive view of the valley of the Mersey, and has, until recently, been in the occupation of the owner. A portion of the ground is eligible building land – further particulars may be known on application, to MR. A. JOHNSON, Land Agent, Astley.”
During the 1860s Barlow House was home to the Welsh family. Richard Welsh (b.1813) worked as a cotton mill agent and his family consisted of wife Elizabeth (b.1807), two daughters Mary (b.1845) and Elizabeth (b.1846). At the time of the 1861 census the household is also made up of Marianne Jukes, a governess and Mary Keogh, a servant and there is a visitor Anne Woodbourne.
Late Nineteenth Century
The next census recorded in 1871 Samuel Gee Taylor, the owner of Hope Cotton Mills in Tyldesley is recorded at Barlow House. Samuel (1828-1886) resides there with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Mary. In 1877 he placed an advertisement in the Manchester newspapers looking for a groom as horse and carriage was still the main method of transport around the neighbourhood at the time.
In 1881 Sophia Taylor, Samuel’s unmarried sister is head of the household, which comprises of two maids, at Barlow House. In 1886 when Samuel Gee Taylor died he had left Tyldesley and had been residing at Heywood where he died aged 58.
From 1891 to the mid 1900s, when the Peters family at listed at Barlow House the area had changed drastically. The views of the Mersey valley which were such an attractive selling point 40 years earlier were now blocked out by rows of terraced houses, a railway line and a colliery. The loss of the rural beauty no doubt compromised Barlow House and whereas in earlier decades wealthy mill owners had resided there, they now fled further afield away from their mills.
Ralph Peters was a colliery salesman, still an advantageous job as he can afford to live in a large house and employ a domestic servant. Ralph was born in 1838 in Astley and grew up on a farm. At the age of 22 he was working as a coal proprietors clerk, in typical Victorian tradition of hard work and a desire for social mobility, he rises to a coal agent. He was a member of the Manchester Coal Exchange from its formation, acting twice as President and from 1879 until his death held the position of treasurer. The Peters family are very much middle class, his wife and two daughters have no occupation and his three sons work as a coal merchants clerk, a bank clerk and a shipping office clerk.
The Peters family were very much involved in society in Tyldesley during the late Victorian and Edwardian era, especially with the church. In August 1901 there was a large garden party held at Barlow House. Tea was served by several waitresses in a marquee decorated with flags, plants and flowers. During the day there was games and in the evening an instrumental concert.
By 1909 the Peters family have left Barlow House to live at The Lingards, Astley. Ralph Peters died in January 1915, four days after his wife. He left £5862’9’6 (modern equivalent is £423,700). Barlow House stood uninhabited until 1912 when the decision was made to demolish the house and to utilise the land for a new purpose.
The First Council Board School: 1913-c.1935
Within Tyldesley at the end of the Edwardian era there was a general discontent amongst the dissenters (e.g. those who didn’t follow the Church of England) that there was no other schools available for their children other than the schools ran by the established church. The result was the first Board school, built on the site of Barlow House. Part of the site had been purchased in July 1910 from John Grundy, the owner and later in 1910 the whole site was bought. This caused some tension within the local council and school boards, others thought a site off Hough Lane would be better. By 1911 Barlow House was finally dismantled, first the lead, doors, slate and flags were removed but nothing else was done. Mr Brimelow complained of the slow progress and stated the house was not even worth £1 (£96 in modern terms) whereas it had been worth £2000 (£184,000) some years before.
By 1912 the school has been built and opened on 26 April 1913 by Sir F. Hibbert. The first headteacher was J.M. Ely who was subsequently followed by Herbert Leather until 1935.
Tyldesley Senior Girls School & Beyond
In 1935 after regrouping and reorganisation by Tyldesley Urban District Council, the school on Elliott Street became Tyldesley Senior Girls School (the boys were sent the newly built Garrett Hall School on the border of Astley). Doris J. Middleton and Gertrude Barker were the two first head mistresses of the Girls School.
With the established of Fred Longworth High School in 1964 as a girls school (it became a comprehensive in 1976), the Girls School on Ellott Street became Tyldesley County Primary School.
In August 2000 the school re-opened as the Kingshill School for pupils with behavioural difficulties. The planned opening of the school faced a concerned opposition from local residents, however the school, which had about 63 pupils proved to be a success. It closed in about 2010.
Once again the area faced change, a hundred years after Barlow House had been demolished and the school built, the school was being demolished and new, modern homes built. Wigan Council gave permission to demolish the building in 2012 despite outcries from local residents about the importance of the historic building.
The land was bought by Redwaters and the contract to build homes was won by McCauls, a family firm located in Astley. The site was chosen for a £1.2 million development of bungalows, which prove popular with those with limited mobility and those wanting to downsize. The development has been called Kingshill Manor, after the name of the former school.
Therefore over the past 250 years this patch of land in Tyldesley has played quite a varied role in the town and reflected its history too. It started at the actual home of the wealthy Johnson family who developed Tyldesley from a rural landscape into an industrial town. Then Barlow House was built to house the industrial magnates that the town attracted. In the decline of the 20th century the land was utilised as a school and stood as a community space for a century before it has finally been converted back into a place of residential homes.
- The Admission Register of the Manchester School With some notices of the more distinguished Scholars, (Volume One 1730-1775) by Rev. Jeremiah Finch Smith, M.A. (Manchester: Cheetham Society, 1776) pp. 56-57
- The County Families of the United Kingdom by Edward Walford (London: Robert Hardwicke, 1860)
- A Short History of the Township of Tyldesley by John Lunn (Manchester: Wholesale Co-Operative Society, 1953)
- Bolton Chronicle, 9 October 1858, p.4
- Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 20 August 1877
- Leigh Chronicle, 30 April 1886, p.5
- Leigh Chronicle, 2 August 1901, p.5
- Leigh Chronicle, 1 July 1910, p.8
- Leigh Chronicle, 2 September 1910, p.8
- Leigh Chronicle, 31 March 1908, p.8
- Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 27 January 1915, p.28
- Leigh Journal, 2 May 1921, p.9
- Tyldesley House, Sketch by Sarah Ormerod, 1825 – Edinburgh University