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Prestwich Park

Prestwich Park prior to 1890

Jacob Scholes,son of Rev. Jacob of Woodhill, bought Prestwich Park (amongst other land in Prestwich) from Sir Ashton Lever in the late eighteenth century and in turn, it passed to Thomas Seddon Scholes of High Bank . It comprised three parcels of farmland known as Square Field, Big Field and Butterstile Meadow.

Prestwich Park 1845

By 1828, the opening of Bury New Road had made the land more attractive for residential use.

George Scholes seized the opportunity and sold his landholdings, as did Viscount Ingegtre (heir to the Earl of Shrewsbury - hence the naming of Shrewsbury Road & house), in about 1850 to enable houses to be built for the rising middle classes of Victorian Manchester.

[Extracts from Manchester Victorian Architects]

Isaac Holden appears responsible for the general layout of Prestwich Park, with detached and semi-detached houses set round the perimeter of an eight-acre meadow.

Isaac Holden Senior (born 1803 in Liverpool) had worked in the USA, on properties such as The Chinese Museum,Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Hospital for Mental and Nervous Diseases.

In 1838, he partnered with John Platt and they were architects for properties such as Palatine Hotel (Victoria Street, Manchester), St Paul’s Church (Crow Lane, Ramsbottom), New Station in Bury, Radcliffe Bridge station, and the Lancashire County Lunatic Asylum in Prestwich (along with Henry Littler).

Palatine Hotel, in front of Chetham's School. erected 1843,demolished 2015 (c) pittdixon.

1851 Census shows 5 houses uninhabited and Isaac Holden, Architect

After 1852, Isaac partnered with his son, also called Isaac (born Philadelphia USA, in 1829), working on New Shambles on Swan Street, Manchester, and the Smithfield Market Hall (know as Mackie Mayors today), Church of St Peter on Blossom Street Ancoats,now home to the Halle Orchestra, and went on to design Prestwich Park where he also lived.

Smithfield Market, Northern Quarter

[Ref: By Alan Godfree, CC BY-SA 2.0, link]

The 1851 census suggests that work had commenced on Prestwich Park.

The nearby "Oak hill" property had been built by Mills & Butterworth (Architects) in 1836 and a conservatory was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in 1856 [of Manchester Town Hall fame].

Oak Hill

Beyond this, two detached and three pairs of large semi-detached houses were built, backing on to Shrewsbury Road and facing the newly formed estate road (named Prestwich Park Road South in the 1920s). These were built on a steeply sloping site with extensive views north wards over Prestwich Clough to the Parish Church and included Isaac Holden’s own house, Clifton View.

The road then turned north wards to meet Prestwich Park Road North, now St Ann’s Road with a detached house named Brambletye and two pairs of semi-detached houses orientated east west on its western side. On the land between Prestwich Park Road North and Prestwich Clough five detached houses were built - Oak Leigh, Riversdale, Spring Bank, Thorn Lea and Dingle Bank. Of these only Dingle Bank survives. Lodges were built at the two gated entrances to the Park. The two-storey North Lodge survives at the junction of St Ann’s Road and Bury New Road.

Watch this video showing the North Lodge today & at the turn of the century.

The gate posts from the North Lodge entrance were repurposed for the Lowther Road entrance to Prestwich clough

Clough Entrance

...and one of the southern entrance gate posts is still in place.

Prestwich Park Road South

In 1853, one of the houses in Prestwich Park, which belonged to a Mr G.F. Mandley and was called "The Yews", and was the site for a 21 gun salute. This was performed by an old artilleryman, from 10 pieces of ordnance and was fired during the approach of the carriages for the wedding of the 2nd Earl of Wilton's eldest daughter, Lady Elizabeth Egerton, of Heaton Hall, and Captain Dudley Charles Fitzgerald de Ros ( pronounced de ROOS ) which took place at St Mary's Church. There is still one house on Prestwich Park road south with a yew tree outside...could this be "The Yews"?

A yew still stands outside one of the 1851 properties

Prestwich Park became an enclave of semi-detached and detached brick-built houses set in large gardens and sited to enjoy the views across Prestwich Clough to St Mary’s Church. The estate had gated entrance lodges set back from Bury New Road.The two pairs of commodious semis (45 – 51 Prestwich Park Road South) are specifically known to have been designed by Isaac Holden & Son, architects of the County Asylum, Prestwich. One of which was the residence of The Manchester Poet Charles Swain

Prestwich Park 1891

After 1861, Isaac junior in turn set up a partnership with his son, John. Working on the Asylum chapel at Prestwich, and various other churches, one of which was planned in Lille - for which they won a silver medal - and they also designed a billiard room attached to "Hillside" in Prestwich Park.

By the 1870s St Ann’s Road had been extended west wards to meet Lowther Road and the footpath across the clough to St Mary’s Church. Beyond Dingle Bank, six plots had been laid out on the north side of St Ann’s Road but only three had been developed including Winnats Knoll, Brookland and a pair of semi-detached houses - Glenside and Glenholme.

On the south side of St Ann's Road the land between Hamilton Road and Lowther Road had been divided into five plots, one of which remained vacant.

Prestwich Park prior to 1890

The South and West sides of the field shown on the 1891 map, and in the above photo, were developed in the 1890’s (no 38 Prestwich Park Road South is dated 1896 on its side elevation), with houses in a uniform, but highly attractive style. No’s 14 to 42 Prestwich Park Road South are 3 storeys high with black and white decorative timber, jettied bays forming the top floor above projecting bay windows.

The houses are built of brick, with stone sills and some corbels supporting tall sash windows. The entrance doors have a stained glass framed by similar panels behind a long timber canopy with a tiled roof. The decorative timber work on the front elevations was painted black and white from the outset.

One of the post 1890 houses

Along Bury New road itself four properties, two of them semi-detached, had also been constructed, Hornby Lodge (still standing), Addiscombe, Parkfield, Hopelands which stood on the corner of St Ann's Rd, and The Tower which was later known as cliffe Grange School.

Family legend has it that the Bell on duty at my mum's front door was a school bell, and I recently found out that the school in question was run by my Gran's niece, Marjorie Cop (daughter of Elorrie).

School Bell

She originally ran a school called cliffe Grange, which stood just up from the House that Jack built in Higher Broughton, overlooking the Irwell in the valley below. The bulding in Higher Broughton had originally been called Cliff House back in 19th century. The school moved to a large house known as "The Tower" on Bury New Road in Prestwich. The original Cliffe Grange was demolished and replaced by about 30 houses on what is now Cliff Crescent, sometime before 1915.

Cliffe Grange, Broughton

The Tower property up in Prestwich had previously been home to William Wright and his family, cotton spinner, bleacher and dyer and manufacturer, and had employed 1000 hands according to the censuses of 1871 & 1881. In Partnership as Turner Wright & Sons, he ran Kingston Mills, Cobden street and Trafford Mill, Orchard street, both by the canal in Pendleton (totalling 72,000 spindles).

Kingston Mills, present day

He had been born to James Wright, Gentleman of Saddleworth, but he had married a woman from Salford and they had at least 5 children while living at Irwell Terrace in Lower Broughton in the 1850's. Although you may think Irwell Terrace may have been a big step away from Cliffe Grange, the family still had 4 servants in the household. William died in 1889 and is buried at the nearby St Mary's churchyard.

Wright family tomb

The Tower/Cliffe Grange, had a big porch to the front with stained glass in it, and a large back garden, in which they kept turkeys, and let their two dogs run around (Peko the pekingese and Lara the Red Setter - who apparently slavered everywhere !)

cliffe Grange

My Granddad used his skills as a pattern maker at Mather & Platt to do repairs at the school (Which is probably how he came to posses the bell). In return for his skills, they offered the use of their car, which apparently he never used. My granddad never had a car, and used to walk everywhere from his house on Sandy Lane, Prestwich.

[Sir William Mather lived at Woodhill in Prestwich.]

One of the teachers at cliffe Grange in Prestwich, was called Mamselle, and was thought to be from Cyprus. Mamselle continued to live in the house after the school closed, and Marjorie married a Prestwich councillor called McVittie, who later became Mayor of Prestwich. After his death, Marjorie also went on to be Mayor of Prestwich, and she was last seen being driven into St Mary's park in the Mayoral limmo...though I'm sure she must have come back out of the park again :-)

[Margorie was not the first female Mayor we had in Prestwich, that was Vera Dickinson a local lass, who served 1953-54, and died in 2010 aged 95]

Cliffe Grange, Prestwich

The school house is now covered by the flats that are named Belroy Court, with Belvedere court standing on the garden behind.

Belroy Court, Present day

Also in the modern era, Nico friend of Andy Warhol and Jim Morrison, sang vocals on the Velvet Underground's debut album, and... used to live in the top flat of 22 Prestwich Park Rd South.

Listen here: Sunday Morning Spotify

or watch BBC's Inside out at Prestwich Park Rd. South