Author Topic: Merchants and Manufacturers  (Read 4553 times)

RAB

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Merchants and Manufacturers
« on: 13:12:43, 31/05/07 »
From my 'Noddy-Level' understanding of the importance of Manchester at one place in history, and not being resident there today, I will risk to state the following :-

Using Cotton and The Industrial Revolution as a starting point can we typically assume that many workers employed by local manufacturers were themselves slaves to the weaving and processing of goods at the mills or cottage industries in surrounding districts ?
The manufacturers may have made money from this naturally, but had to lay out resources via costly loans and cash flow issues depending on the cost of machinery, wages and the supply and price of cotton itself
Merchants would seem likely to have made a better return on supplies of raw materials commonly obtained, admittedly, through slave labour in the country of origin, but again the picture was no doubt not so simple as some have speculated in retrospect and clear evidence, in context, would be interesting to examine

Social reform via protest and petition from many sectors succeeded in gradual improvements in the daily lives of workers and Manufacturers, some latter of whom had seats in Parliament
Manchester displays a bewildering variety of sources of changing working conditions in general and could be studied for this angle alone
Political backgrounds to the situation are important to study, given time and opportunity and histories of Free Trade, Chartism and Peterloo are no doubt worth reading  :)

RAB

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #1 on: 20:07:51, 03/06/07 »
Found this link on Victorian working conditions :-
http://www.manchester2002-uk.com/history/victorian/Victorian1.html
I am not sure that all the Manchester Mill owners could have been totally cruel and unscrupulous towards their workforce though !!  :'(



celeste

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #2 on: 20:24:25, 03/06/07 »
I am thankful that I didn't have to live or bring my children up in those days,  in the hundred years or so after, the progress made was quite outstanding, but one wonders if Queen Victoria with her large family, could have done more to help those poor families
All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

RAB

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #3 on: 21:16:13, 03/06/07 »
Across the country in 'factories' it would have been the same story, no doubt, but you wonder what people would have done without any work at all
It wasn't all doom and gloom either and I doubt a balanced view is readily available, some employers were more enlightened in their tyreatment of the workforce and created model villages at Port Sunlight on The Wirral and Styal in Cheshire, possibly these were the exception rather than the rule and not in any case located in the slums of the City
Certainly factories and mills polluted the very water which caused, in part, the high infant mortality
A problem with the rapid industrial expansion was that cities, like Manchester, acted as a powerful magnet and drew people in seeking employment and the infrastructure was unable to keep pace with the enormous numbers - so it wasn't just the fault of the employer entirely !!
Out of the darkness emerged measures to control river pollution and many cases of heroes rising to prominence to campaign for the rights of the workers who were in turn fearful and downtrodden
Manchester has more than its fair share of these pillars of the community

AS for Queen Victoria, I expect she did not know the whole story anyway and would no doubt have cited cases of people in worse conditions in far flung reaches of her vast empire  ::)


celeste

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #4 on: 22:08:45, 03/06/07 »
There were wonderful heros/heroines of the time, Lord Shaftesbury, Elizabeth Fry, William Wilberforce - feel free to correct me -and I can quite believe Queen Victoria,didn't have a clue about the state of poverty her subjects were living in
All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

RAB

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #5 on: 23:14:42, 03/06/07 »
...probably can find a few more by looking for Manchester statues
same source as before :-

http://www.manchester2002-uk.com/buildings/statues.html


celeste

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #6 on: 23:24:49, 03/06/07 »
Great site RAB - the statue of Joule is in Sale (Worthington) Park
All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

RAB

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #7 on: 03:42:02, 04/06/07 »
I feel a bit embarassed !!
You posted that site link on Lymmnet on July 28 2005

RAB

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Re: Merchants and Manufacturers
« Reply #8 on: 04:05:08, 04/06/07 »
A file to read for anyone interested in the Dewhurst Dynasty of Manchester and Lymm

Hopefully Joe Griffith of Lymm History Society won't mind if I post his excellent work on this interesting and very readable account of a prosperous Manchester Industrialist

The Dewhursts of Lymm

The impact and influence of an Industrial family on a rural Community in the latter part of the Nineteenth and the early part of the Twentieth Centuries.

The Dewhurst dynasty can be traced back to George Charnley Dewhurst, who was born in Leyland, Lancashire in 1808. He founded, with his brother Richard, the firm of G. & R. Dewhurst, cotton agents and mill owners. The brothers served apprenticeships at Coopers mill in Preston and later George became a manager at Swainsons mill. The two brothers travelled to Manchester to start their own business and began in a small one-roomed office in Duke Street, soon moving into larger premises as the company flourished.
George married Harriet Bakewell and moved to Chorlton-[censored]-Medlock, where his eldest son George Bakewell was born in 1839. A second son John Dalby followed five years later and soon after as the business prospered the family moved to a farm of 96 acres in Ashley, near Bowdon, in Cheshire. The family grew and the 1851 Census shows that the occupants of the farm were George and Harriet along with daughters Harriet, aged four, Mary, aged three and also Ann aged one. The sons are not listed and one can only assume they were perhaps away at school. George has indeed risen from humble mill apprentice as he now had five female and two male servants.
While George and his family were enjoying the success of his rapidly expanding empire, the manor of Lymm was about to be broken up and leave the ownership of the Massie Taylor family. Thomas Ridgeway a local Solicitor bought a piece of land adjoining the Lake and in 1850 started to build a large Italian style house. This house was to be the largest and most opulent in the district, and was named Beechwood after a nearby grove of old beech trees.
George Charnley Dewhurst bought Beechwood in the late 1850s and soon after held a large party to celebrate the twenty first anniversary of the founding of G. & R. Dewhurst. Harriet Dewhurst died in 1859 aged forty four and within a year George married Elizabeth Dundas a lady from Edinburgh, some twenty three years his junior.
The cotton trade in the 1860s suffered very badly from the effects of the American Civil War and although some Lancashire mills were forced to close due to the shortage of raw materials, Dewhursts weathered the storm. The Company raised large sums of money to offset their workers loss of pay, this action demonstrated their benevolence which was to become more apparent in later years to the benefit of the people of Lymm.
In Lymm, Oughtrington Hall, a large Georgian mansion was in the tenancy of James Mottram, a wine merchant, renting the estate from George Trafford who had lived for many years in London. The Head of the Trafford family was killed in an accident and his son put the Hall and estate on the market.
George Charnley Dewhurst , by now a very prosperous businessman, bought the Estate in September 1865 and his son John Dalby and his new bride Margaret Lee moved in. Within a few years the Dewhursts had bought large amounts of land and property in Lymm and Oughtrington. The land census of 1873 shows that they owned one thousand five hundred and forty nine acres.
The Dewhursts were now firmly rooted in Lymm and considered to be the "Lords of the Manor" featuring prominently in the administration of the community. George Charnley was a magistrate and served on the Local Board while his son at Oughtrington decided that as a fitting tribute to the Company's success and to commemorate the family's close association with the area a new Church should be built. The whole process of choosing plans, selecting builders and providing the necessary land and capital was the sole responsibility of the family. Saint Peter's Church was erected at a cost of 10,000 and consecrated by the Bishop of Chester on the twenty ninth of June 1872. The Church was filled to it's capacity with all the 450 seats being taken by relatives, family friends and local dignitaries, the majority of the tenants had to be content to stand outside to listen to the service.
The patriarch of the family was now in his mid-sixties and decided to leave more and more of the day to day running of his empire to his sons. He purchased a castle in Perthshire. Aberinchill Castle was in a poor state of repair and George Charnley spent large amounts of money on it's renovation. He and his wife spent longer periods of time there, while the company, under his sons' management, flourished.
Lymm Grammar School had outgrown their original building near the Parish Church and in 1864 had moved to newer premises in Church Road. A series of financial problems had forced the School to sell land and on July 20th 1881, eleven lots were put up for auction at the Church Inn. G. C. Dewhurst, by now a governor at the school, bought five lots for the sum of 3,977. In February 1882 he informed the governors that he would give land near Higher Lane for a school and school house and would also pay for a road to be made to the site. An appeal was launched to raise the necessary funds for the construction of the buildings and a committee, of which John Dalby Dewhurst was treasurer, formed to co-ordinate the collection. It had been estimated that the cost would be in the region of 3,200 and as 2,353 had been obtained from various trusts there was a shortfall of 847. Problems ensued with the builder, a Mr. Hamilton from Altrincham, and the costs escalated. G. C. Dewhurst pledged to make up any shortfall to the sum of 3,600 and further placed the School in his debt. The new school opened in May 1885 and amongst the governors were G. C. Dewhurst and J. D. Dewhurst.
Mary Dewhurst, unmarried and in her mid-forties, was now in charge at Beechwood, the family's main home. She lived alone in grand style while her father and step-mother spent an ever increasing time in Scotland. The business interests of the Dewhursts flourished under the management of John Dalby, George Bakewell and his sons while George Charnley gradually relinquished control.
George Bakewell and John Dalby also assumed their father's responsibilities in the administration of the village and both served at times as members of the Local Board. Whether their involvement in the improvements that ensued in the area were the acts of benefactors or the shrewd investments of businessmen is unclear.
In 1863 a group of local landowners and businessmen met to discuss the difficulties of crossing the River Mersey. The only way to cross the river was to travel to the nearest bridge at Warrington or use the ferry from Warburton to Hollins Green. It was decided at the meeting to go ahead with a scheme to build a toll bridge to replace the ferry. Parliamentary approval was sought and the consortium, which included George Charnley and his brother Richard, proceeded with the construction. An interesting quirk is that the toll is still in force today, although collected by the Manchester Ship Canal Company, and is one of the lasting legacies of the Dewhurst involvement in local affairs, much to the dismay of all who use the bridge.
The family was instrumental in the formation of the Lymm Water Company, in 1874, with all the necessary buildings being erected on Dewhurst land. The Water tower was built adjacent to Higher Lane complete with accommodation for the resident engineer. Various pumping stations were provided in the Dingle to supply water from artesian wells, again on Dewhurst land. Dewhurst money was also invested in the Lymm Gas Works in Pepper Street which before being sold to the Urban District Council, provided heat and lighting to the villagers and subsequently street illumination.
The family had seen their share of tragedy with several children dying young, including the son of George Bakewell passing away at the age of three and Edward the son of George Charnley and his second wife Elizabeth, who died just four days short of his first birthday. Lydia, the fourth daughter of George Charnley married the Vicar of Lytham, the Reverend B. Hawkins and moved away from Beechwood. What happened subsequently is not clear but she became ill and came back to Lymm at Christmas 1879 to convalesce and while walking around the lake threw herself in and was drowned. This apparently had a profound effect on the family and may have sown the seeds of discontent, as it was soon after this event that they began to stay longer periods in Scotland.
In 1888 George Littleton the son of George Bakewell was married and moved away from Lymm to Clayton Green near Preston to be nearer the business, his brother Harry married in 1890 and also moved away. Their father meanwhile was not in the best of health and died suddenly in 1891 aged fifty three. Reports in the local press indicate the esteem in which the Dewhursts were held. The whole of the village was in mourning, all shops and businesses being closed for the day and the funeral route lined with tenants and villagers. The funeral was attended by many County dignitaries and landowners. His widow Frances remained alone at Oughtrington Hall for six years.
Eighty six year George Charnley rarely left his castle, but at Christmas 1893 he travelled to Lymm to spend the festive season at Beechwood. The journey apparently was too much for him and on his return to Scotland was confined to bed and never recovered, dying on St. Valentine's day 1894. His funeral took place in Lymm and once again the village was plunged into mourning, George Charnley being laid to rest in the family tomb in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin, the church where five years previously he had generously defrayed the cost of the stone for the re-building of the tower.
George Littleton left his house at Clayton Green to return to his childhood home to assume the responsibility of the Lord of the manor left vacant by the death of his father. He became increasingly involved in the running of the newly formed Urban District Council and eventually in 1900 sold land in Whitbarrow Road, to the Council to facilitate the construction of new Council Offices. Coinciding with the sale of land for the offices he also offered strips of land to enable the re-building of the adjacent bridge over the canal. The roads in Lymm were in poor repair and footpaths even worse, George Littleton proposed to stop up the footpath from Church Road to Cherry Lane, give the necessary land and money to provide a new road this eventually becoming Elm Tree Road. As a governor of the Grammar School, now firmly established on its new site, and extended twice with assistance from the family, he seconded a motion on 1st August 1900 to enable co-education which was introduced in June 1902. George Powys Dewhurst (G. L.'s brother) applied to the Council in late 1900 to keep quantities of calcium carbide at Oughtrington House to use in the lights of his newly acquired motor vehicle, this was granted providing he did not keep more than two hundred weight!
The running of the business had passed to the grandsons and great-grandsons of the original Dewhurst brothers and the company was now quoted on the London Stock Exchange. The family's interests in Lymm became less and less important to them and the younger members of the family moved away. In 1902 George Littleton's stepmother and his wife, Anne Maude died , and he stayed at Oughtrington with his brother. He increasingly retired from public life, although remaining a Justice of the Peace, and died at the age of forty four in 1907. Mary, by this time, had moved from Beechwood and the house, once the hub of the family, was rented out to a local solicitor, Frederick Steele.
It was decided in 1911 that the whole of the Beechwood and Oughtrington Estates should be sold and the sale was put into the hands of a London firm of auctioneers. Nine hundred and fifty six acres and the associated properties, returning an annual rental of 4,401.15s, a sum which reflected the extent of the Dewhursts' estates were purchased by Sir William Lever. He proposed to build a model village centred around the dam, but this never materialised and before long the Estates were on the market once again.
The subsequent sale sounded the death knell for the Dewhursts' involvement in Lymm, the Estates were completely broken up and any evidence of the family's ownership rapidly disappeared. The 1914 edition of Kelly's Directory for Lymm does not list any Dewhursts living in the village and it appears that they have all left the area. The rapid development of the village in the years after the Great War further removed most traces of the family. Beechwood lay empty after being sold again in 1919 and despite plans to use it as a "hospital for mentally defective patients" the house fell into disrepair and was finally demolished in the 1930's. Ironically in 1945 the Grammar School became seriously overcrowded and at the suggestion of the headmaster, J. R. Canney, Cheshire County Council purchased Oughtrington Hall to be used as an annexe. From 1945 the hall was used by junior forms until 1957, when the whole school was transferred to the site. The buildings in Grammar School Road became Lymm Secondary Modern School and remained separate from Oughtrington until their amalgamation under the Comprehensive system. The newly formed Lymm High School operated from split sites until 1994 when the Grammar School Road buildings were sold and sadly in 1995 demolished to make way for housing development, thus ending the association of the Dewhursts with education in Lymm. In 1894 the Manchester Ship Canal was cut through Lymm and Warburton and the bed of the River Mersey was filled in. The Rixton bridge that the Dewhursts' financed became part of the approach road to the high level bridge over the canal and in reality ceased its original function although it still exacts the toll to this day.
The Lymm Water Company having being sold to the Council, was eventually swallowed up by the North West Water Company who provide water from outside Lymm, thus making the Tower and related Buildings redundant, although at the moment still standing. The Dewhurst link with the Local Council is becoming more and more tenuous as after Local Government re-organisation in 1974, the French Gothic style Council Offices were sold and at the present time are for sale again.
The Churches at Lymm and Oughtrington remain as a tribute to the benevolence of the Dewhursts, but to the general public today there is no lasting evidence that the family ever had any involvement in the village. In many other communities the impact of such a family would have left a permanent reminder, roads named after them, "houses" in the local school, a memorial village hall but not in Lymm.
To the casual observer there do not seem to any clues to the Dewhursts existence, but on closer examination several houses bear plaques with initials to prove who their builders were. The churchyard of St. Mary's has an imposing tomb befitting its occupants' previous importance, a plaque at the base of the bell tower commemorates the generosity of the family during the re-building, but sadly there are no other memorials to them.
Perhaps more subtle signs of their influence are the number of large Victorian houses, built in the latter part of the nineteenth century, inhabited, at the time, by wealthy industrialists from Manchester. One wonders if friends and fellow business-men of the Dewhursts were persuaded to move from the grimy cities, to purchase land from the Dewhursts and build their country residence, now that Lymm was very accessible via the newly opened railway. Census returns from 1881 confirm this, many of the newer properties occupied by wealthy merchants and their obligatory large staff. The Estate sale catalogue of 1911 shows a considerable number of properties owned by the estate and rented out to their occupiers. No doubt this must have influenced a great influx of middle class families and a boom in house building, thus changing the balance of population, setting the precedent for Lymm to develop into what it has mainly become today, predominately a dormitory village.


Sources.
Journals of the Lymm and District Local History Society
The Minutes tell the Story. G. Thomas. (Pub. Lymm & District Local History Society)
Warrington Guardian. (various issues)
Kelly's Trade Directory. 1896, 1906, 1914.
Monumental Inscriptions of St. Mary's Church Lymm. (Pub. Lymm & District Local History Society)
Sale Catalogue of the Oughtrington & Beechwood Estates 1911.
The History of Lymm Grammar School. D. M. Kay.


J. D. Griffiths. 12th March 1996