- Bewsey Old Hall
- The Beginnings of Modern Bewsey
- Gilbert Wakefield and Bewsey Street
- Bewsey Street (continued)
- Froghall Lane
- Tanners Lane
- Eric Moore Health Centre
- Bewsey Road
- Bewsey Housing Estate
- Bewsey Park
- Warrington and Newton Railway (1831)
- Cheshire Lines Railway (1865/1873)
- Sankey Brook
- River Atherton
- Bewsey Lock
- Bewsey Meadows
- Industrial Bewsey
- William Houghton
- N. Greening & Sons
- Greenings Remembered – The North Face of Longshaw Street
- Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co
- Lancashire Steel Corporation
- Dallam Forge
- Marsden Coachbuilders
- Whyman’s Foundry
- Tetley Walker’s Brewery
- George Howard Ltd
- Longford Wire Co Ltd
- Sterling Cables
- Syd Hall Motors
- Around the Estate
- The Gullet
The name Bewsey comes from ‘beau see’, meaning beautiful site. Other variations of the name are Beausse (1313) and Beaussee (1368).
Population: 12,128 in the 2021 Census (combined for the ward of Bewsey and Whitecross).
Halliwell Jones Stadium (above, left), home of Warrington Wolves rugby league club since Feb 2004, and a notice outside The Three Pigeons pub on 24 April 2015. I add the following disclaimer: click the beer image to read the small print!
Bewsey Old Hall
Bewsey Old Hall as seen on 3 July 2004
Bewsey is one of the oldest parts of Warrington and is located in the north west of the town.
From the 13th to the 17th centuries the hall’s land belonged to the lords of the manor of Warrington. It was Sir William Fitz Almeric Le Boteler, the 7th lord of the manor of Warrington, who built Bewsey Hall.
It was also the last time the family lived near Mote Hill, the site of Warrington’s castle next to the site of the current parish church, St Elphin’s in Howley.
In order to build the house, Boteler obtained lands in Burton Wood from his feudal Lord, Earl Ferrar, in 1260 and from Prince Edmund in 1270. A monastic grange, owned by the monks of Titley* Abbey, in Essex, previously occupied the site. The first hall, a single storey wooden medieval hall, of which nothing now remains, was replaced by a brick building in the 16th century.
*G A Carter’s Warrington and the Mid-Mersey Valley says Tiltey. See also Titly
The hall as seen on 3 July 2004
Thomas Boteler, the founder of the Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High School, was born at Bewsey Old Hall in 1461. In 1463, his father, Sir John Fitz John le Boteler, was murdered and Thomas’s elder brother, William, inherited the estates.
William died at the age of 22, fighting in the Lancastrian ranks at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471; Thomas inherited the estates and was knighted in 1504. He died at Bewsey Old Hall on 27 April 1522 and was buried in the Boteler chapel of the St. Elphin’s Church.
Outbuildings in the grounds of the hall, 3 July 2004
Sir John Boteler, Lord of Warrington, was murdered in his bed in 1521 at Bewsey Hall. The murderers allegedly acted on the orders of his brother-in-law, Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, with whom he had been on bad terms for some time. Sir Piers Legh and Sir William Savage, whom Stanley had employed to carry out the deed, bribed the porter at Bewsey to place a lighted taper in a certain window when the house had settled down for the evening. They then crossed the moat in a coracle (a circular type of boat) and entered Sir John’s bed chamber. There was a struggle with the chamberlain which resulted in his death. They later hanged the treacherous servant from a tree on the Bewsey estate, so that he could not give evidence against them.
Vehicle entrance to the hall on 3 July 2004
Outbuilding of the hall, 3 July 2004
Edward Boteler, the son of Thomas Butler (1513-79), was the 18th and last of the Butler family to be lord of the manor of Warrington. He was born in 1548 and during his life he built up a gambling debt. He died without an heir in November 1586. Bewsey Old Hall then passed to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, who settled Edward’s gambling debt as part of his purchased of the hall. Read more here. Dudley sold the estate to lawyer Thomas Ireland, of Childwall, and the house remained in the possession of the Ireland family for six generations until 1675. King James I stayed one night at Bewsey in 1617 and Thomas Ireland was knighted during that visit. Sir Thomas Ireland was father in law of Gilbert Ireland.
In 1675 Bewsey Old Hall was inherited by Richard Atherton from Dame Margaret Ireland, the widow of Gilbert Ireland. Bewsey Old Hall was never Atherton’s primary residence; he preferred Atherton Hall in Leigh as his main home.
In the mid-eighteenth century his descendants added a new wing to the building. Legend states that Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed overnight there on his retreat from Derby during the Jacobite rising of 1745.
The house passed by marriage to the Lilford family in 1797, when the Atherton estate was inherited by Thomas Powys, 3rd Baron Lilford, who preferred to live at the family seat, Lilford Hall in Northamptonshire. The Lilfords also inherited Atherton Hall but they considered one property in Lancashire adequate for their needs and spent a lot of money on Bewsey Hall.
The hall from the south on 7 Jul 2003
Atherton Hall, which was less than a century old, was demolished in 1824 after no buyer could be found. Some of the furniture and carpets were sent to Bewsey. They later demolished the eighteenth century wing of Bewsey Old Hall and in 1860-61 a new half-timbered house (Bewsey New Hall) was built on a different site west of Camp Road for Thomas Powys, 4th Baron Lilford. Meanwhile, the original hall was converted into two farmhouses and let to tenants. The new building was almost certainly designed by W.G. Habershon, but Lady Lilford disliked the house so much that she refused to live in it and it was largely demolished in the 1940s, apart from a fragment of the west wing. See this Warrington Guardian report for a photo story.
A small part of the moat is still visible in the hall grounds, seen here 18 May 2011
The original fourteenth century moat only partly holds water today. The building has distinctive chimneystacks and stone mullion windows which are most likely the work of Sir Thomas Ireland and date back to around 1600. Bewsey’s remaining medieval structures were demolished during the eighteenth century, when the hall was extended, and landscaping works filled in parts of the moat and enlarged others as water features.
Warrington New Town Development Corporation purchased the house from Lord Lilford in 1974. In September 2011, the hall was subject to an arson attack, and lost part of its roof.
Despite local campaigns against it, and a public inquiry, in May and September 2011 a development company was granted permission to convert the Grade II* listed hall into seven residential flats. See this website for photos of the interior.
The Beginnings of Modern Bewsey
You would be forgiven if I asked you where the Bewsey estate actually begins and you said the housing estate surrounded by Lodge Lane, Lilford Avenue, Longshaw Street and Folly Lane. But in fact, the estate starts near town centre with Bewsey Street being the first area of residence from the 18th century onwards.
As you walk from the railway bridge at the town centre end of the street you will come across rows of terraced houses on both sides of the street. These were built in the 18th century. The panoramic photo below is taken from its junction with Edgworth Street further along the street.
Gilbert Wakefield and Bewsey Street
A plaque commemorating Gilbert Wakefield’s time in Bewsey Street. The only thing wrong with it are the dates. Warrington Museum confirmed to me the correct dates are those used in my article. We don’t know why the dates on the plaque were used.
In the photo here, you will notice a bricked-up section close to number 65 Bewsey Street. This was the original entrance to a property once occupied by Gilbert Wakefield.
He was born on 22 February 1756 in Nottingham, and was one of five brothers. His parents were the Rev. George Wakefield, then rector of St Nicholas’ Church, Nottingham but afterwards at Kingston-upon-Thames, and Elizabeth.
Wakefield (1756–1801) was an English scholar. He moved from being a cleric and academic, into tutoring at dissenting academies, including Warrington Academy, and finally became a professional writer and publisher.
In a celebrated state trial, he was imprisoned for producing a pamphlet criticising British government policy on the French Revolutionary Wars. Wakefield died on 9 September 1801.
His full profile will eventually appear in Warrington People. Meanwhile, to read more about his life, see the Wikipedia article.
Bewsey Street (continued)
Another building of note on Bewsey Street is the former Liberal Club. The building was constructed in 1913 in memory of John Crosfield.
The inscription across the top says, “This hall was erected to the memory of John Crosfield formerly of Walton Lea in the year 1913”.
According to a Warrington-Worldwide forum post, the Heaven and Hell club occupied the building – Mods upstairs and Rockers downstairs, hence the name. It closed down in the 1960s.
The building is now used as offices.
Wycliffe United Reformed Church stands on one corner of Bewsey Street and Edgworth Street. According to their website, it was once part of the Cairo Street chapel in town centre. Part of the congregation left in 1797 and met for a few years in Stepney Street Chapel. They moved to Salem Chapel in 1811. For a few years they met in the assembly rooms at the Nags Head pub until they saved the money to have their first chapel built in 1851. Within a few years this became too small and a much bigger church was built.
Next to the church on Bewsey Street was the former Wycliffe Day School. This opened in 1868. In 1932 the school moved to the new Bewsey primary school on Lodge Lane.
Revelation Shirt Works then occupied the school building and the building next door. They were both demolished in 2007, and a residential block was built on the site.
Across the road is St Alban’s Catholic church. The church forms part of the parish of Sacred Heart and Saint Alban. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.
The parish was founded in 1772 by the Benedictine monks of Ampleforth Abbey, and was the first Roman Catholic church in the town after the Reformation. The present building dates from 1823 and was designed by Edward Alcock. In 1893 the sanctuary, designed by Peter Paul Pugin, was added to the church. The west façade was refashioned in 1909.
St Alban’s on 17 Apr 2011
The church is built out of brick. Its layout includes a nave with a shallow apsidal sanctuary, a west porch and a five-sided baptistry at the northwest corner. The porch is pedimented and has a round-headed archway with two orders. Above this are three round-arched windows and the roof is gabled.
The altar, reredos and sanctuary area were designed by Peter Paul Pugin. The stone and alabaster free-standing and canopied altar was made by Boulton’s of Cheltenham. On the north side of the sanctuary is the Lady Altar, also by Pugin. The paintings, which depict saints, were executed by Joseph Pippett of Birmingham. The reredos depicts the legend of St Alban. The stained glass in the west windows and in the windows in the north and south walls also depict saints. The parish registers go back to 1774.
St Alban’s Club as seen on 29 Mar 2007. Warrington Youth Zone on Dallam Lane opened on 22 July 2022. Warrington Youth Zone is a purpose-built facility for the town’s young people aged 7 – 19, with support for people with additional needs up to the age of 25.
Frog Hall stood roughly opposite the white car on the right side of the street as we look. My photo was taken on 21 Apr 2009.
Froghall Lane near town centre gets its name from Frog Hall, which stood roughly midway between the corner of Bewsey Road and Froghall Lane railway bridge (Cheshire Lines Liverpool to Manchester line).
Bewsey Road Methodist Chapel opened in 1875 and stood on the site of the current Co-operative funeral parlour until 1966 at the junction of Bewsey Road and Froghall Lane. The chapel was established by the Trustees of Bold Street Chapel “in consequence of the difficulty of providing suitable accommodation for person (sic) desirous of worshipping in Bold Street Chapel”. The new Chapel opened in November 1875, and offered accommodation for 800. The church closed in 1963. A Sunday School associated with this Chapel was held in the Wesleyan School in Silver Street.
Information from The National Archive under the Open Government Licence 3.0. Warrington library has a copy of the architect’s drawing, which has been reproduced in H. Wells book, Walking into Warrington’s Past – Bewsey Street.
Eric Moore Health Centre
As we approach Bewsey Road we come to Eric Moore Health Centre on Tanners Lane. Dr Eric Moore was the Medical Officer of Health for Warrington from 1949 to 1972. The original health centre was opened on 19 April 1973 and destroyed by fire on 23 July 1974. It was rebuilt, and reopened on 29 November 1976. The second building was demolished in 2014 and replaced by a new building to accommodate the expanding services offered by the NHS. The original doctors’ surgery operated from the building on the far right of the fifth photo shown below. My doctors in my childhood were Dr Manning and Doctor Gomez. Some of the services from the Eric Moore Partnership building now use Dallam Lane Medical Centre.
Other scenes of Tanners Lane, taken between 203 and 2008.
Holly Mount, built 1990, stands beside the road bridge over the West Coast Main Line railway on Bewsey Road.
St Paul’s C of E church stood on the west side of Bewsey Road 160 metres north of Tanners Lane. The foundation stone was laid on 11 August 1829 and the church was consecrated in October 1831 by the Bishop of Chester. It was where my mum and dad were married in 1957. The church building was demolished in 1985, but the graveyard still exists. St Paul’s Court retirement home now stands on the site of the church.
Musclehouse Gym has previously served as St Alban’s Youth Club. However, it started out as The Grove, a private dwelling which was also a gentlemen’s residence and then a public house.
One of the graves in the churchyard belongs to Alderman James Smethurst JP, former mayor of Warrington from 1906 to 1908. Photos taken 6 July 2011.
The 44932 is a Black 5 designed by Sir William Stanier when he was the chief mechanical engineer for the London Midland Scottish (LMS) railway. These Black 5 locomotives were first introduced in 1934. The 44932 seen here passing through Bewsey on 3 September 2011 was built at Horwich Works near Bolton in 1945.
On the 1905 OS map a reservoir is marked between Gladstone Street and the railway line off Bewsey Road. I am not sure what purpose the reservoir served, but my suggestion would be a facility to supply water to the steam engines of the Cheshire Lines Committee railway engines. There was no other industry close by, apart from those on Bewsey Road. There was a link from the London and North Western Railway and the Cheshire Lines Committee line alongside the reservoir. Houses occupy the site today.
The concrete area in the photograph is close to where the reservoir once stood. we are looking south from Bewsey Road bridge towards the former Cheshire Lines Committee railway and beyond that the West Coast Main Line, which passes through Warrington Bank Quay station. It has been suggested for many years that Warrington should have a joint station at Froghall Lane to save the 10 minute walk between the two current town centre stations.
Bewsey Housing Estate
The street names on the council estate of Bewsey, such as Lilford Avenue and Troutbeck Avenue, are named after people who lived in the area in the 15th and 16th centuries. Construction of the estate, known as Bewsey Garden Suburbs, began in 1927. My gran and grandad lived on Gerrard Avenue until their house was converted into two flats. They moved to Howley.
Lodge Lane leads to Bewsey Old Hall via Bewsey Bridge over the Sankey Brook and was at one time a private road. Bewsey Lodge Primary School is on this road.
Lovely Lane/Folly Lane bridge around 1970 before it was demolished.
The Cross Bar pub on the site of the old railway embankment on 18 Aug 2011. Nowadays St Rocco’s Hospice charity shop occupies part of the ground floor.
The northern end of Bewsey Road leads to a crossroads junction with Lovely lane, Folly Lane and Lodge Lane. Anybody getting on a bus in the old days could ask for Bewsey Bridge and the driver would have known where to stop. It was the closest stop to Burtonwood Air Base where the officially named Bewsey Bridge crosses the Sankey Brook at the bottom end of Lodge Lane. See the photo at the top of this page.
Locals used to call the railway bridge Bewsey Bridge, as this is where the Cheshire Lines railway crossed. The bridge is long gone, but seen here in Peter Spilsbury’s photo. Nowadays a large building on the site is occupied by a charity shop and a health and therapy business. The building started out as the Cross Bar pub. In the same area is a convenience store and other businesses with a car dealership diagonally opposite. These modern buildings are in place of the Cheshire Lines railway embankment. The 1844 map shows Bewsey Villa on the site of the modern car dealership.
Villaggio is the current name for the restaurant and hotel on Folly Lane, known to many as Tyrol House. In former times it was the home of Francis McFall who became more famous as the feminist writer and suffragette Sarah Grand.
She used her experience of suffocation in marriage and the joy of consequent liberation in her fictional depictions of pre-suffrage women with few political rights and options, trapped in oppressive marriages. Read more in Warrington People.
The Folly is marked on the 1844 map, giving Folly Lane its name. Also on Folly Lane is the Villaggio hotel and restaurant, but it will be more famous to locals as Tyrol House.
Bewsey Cottage is shown close to the junction of Folly Lane and Longshaw Street on that map. Next to Bewsey Cottage was Folly Farm; their location was just to the right of the railings on the photo below.
My photo of the former Railway Prospects was taken on 3 Oct 2014
This row of white terraced houses were known as Railway Prospects during the days of Dallam Shed 8B. According to the 1881 Census, they were occupied by railwaymen. Allcard Street alongside is named after William Allcard, the railway engineer who pioneered the Grand Junction Railway from Birmingham to Warrington. Allcard (1801-61) was also appointed as a chief engineer on the Liverpool to Manchester Railway by George Stephenson, and drove the “Comet” at the opening in 1830. Allcard went into partnership with William Buddicom to build locomotives. He also built carriages in a factory behind Bank House where he lived from 1839-1854. He was twice mayor of Warrington before retiring to his native Derbyshire. In the 1990s the row of houses on Folly Lane were converted for use as small businesses, but in modern times they are now private residences once more.
In the centre of the estate, Bewsey Park was built to cater for leisure and recreation. Three bowling greens, a children’s play area and a pavilion were part of the park, with the main entrance on Troutbeck Avenue and two smaller entrances at the south-east and south-west sections of the park. However, those two southern entrances are now blocked up. The pavilion has been rebuilt in recent years and is now known as Bewsey Park Pavilion.
In my final year at school, when we only needed to attend when we had exams, I played bowls on Bewsey Park with my friend. My dad belonged to various bowling teams during his lifetime and often used the greens.
There are two primary schools in the area, Bewsey Lodge Primary on Lodge Lane (opened in 1932) and St Alban’s Catholic school on Bewsey Road (opened in 1936).
From 1934 to 1993, Bewsey Secondary Modern (later High) School occupied land to the west of the Lodge Lane junior school with access from Clap Gates Road and Lodge Lane. This building was later used by the council’s Social Services department who had moved there when the lease for Priestley House (now Bank Quay House) on Sankey Street ran out. The road leading to the old school building from the northern end of Lodge Lane in Bewsey is called Lockton Lane. It had been suggested that the old school building be renamed Lockton House, but after public pressure the name of the school was retained in part (it was called Bewsey Old School). I don’t know the significance (if any) of the name Lockton to any part of Bewsey’s history.
The school was demolished in May 2013. Read a more detailed history in The Bewsian. Clap Gates Road is named after Clap Gates Farm which once stood close by. Next to the former council buildings is St Rocco’s Hospice, which was originally on Orford Avenue. Towers Court is one of the local street names (off Lodge Lane).
The Bewsey school field was once known as The Towers. It was named after Tower House, a house shown on the 1888 OS map. The building became The Towers Labour Club in July 1948. The Beatles performed there in 1963.
The club was relaunched on 3 May 1965 and names such as Hylda Baker, Mike Yarwood, Danny Williams and Kathy Martin performed there. Others to appear included Sandie Shaw and Adam Faith. The site is now occupied by houses on Towers Court.
Warrington and Newton Railway (1831)
The building to the rear of the pub in my photo was Dallam Centre, an adult support centre. This is where the platform for the railway line was located.
A year after the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened in 1830, a branch line from Newton Junction (now Earlestown) to Dallam Lane, Warrington, was opened. The Three Pigeons pub is always thought to have been used as the ticket office for the railway.
With the opening of a line from Birmingham to Warrington, the line was taken over by the Grand Junction Railway on 31st December 1834, and again by the London & North Western Railway on the 16th July 1846. The station moved to Bank Quay and the Dallam Lane facility closed.
The area has changed again in recent years with the opening of The Base, an office unit built in 2015, and the University Technical College (UTC) which opened in September 2016, both in the area of the railway station.
Cheshire Lines Railway (1865/1873)
The Cheshire Lines Committee railway bridge separating Bewsey from Whitecross, as seen on 11 September 2006.
The Cheshire Lines Committee was founded in 1865 and provided railway lines in Cheshire and Lancashire. Their line from Liverpool to Manchester opened in 1873 and passed through Warrington at Bewsey. Soon after it left Sankey travelling east, the line turned north-east and ran through land that was once part of Clap Gates Farm. It crossed over Folly Lane at its junction with Bewsey Road.
The original Warrington railway station was planned to be at the junction of Winwick Road and Kerfoot Street where Matalan is today. However, locals felt this was too far away from the centre of town and so a deviation of the line was built. This line ran between Greenings Wire factory and the workhouse that eventually became Warrington Hospital to a station on Winwick Street named Warrington Central.
This line became known as the loop line, with the original straight or avoiding line (i.e. avoiding town centre) opening in 1883 and meeting up with the loop line at Padgate. Parts of the ‘straight’ section embankment still exist in Orford, mainly because nothing was built on it. Read more about the school’s history in The Bewsian, and the railway in Making Tracks.
On 28 and 29 August 2021 the two bridges carrying the railway into Warrington Central station from the west alongside Midland Way were replaced. The bridges were transported by road and carefully manoeuvred along Bewsey Street and then lifted into place by hydraulic jacks.
The photos here show some of the operation.
The Sankey Brook, which runs through Bewsey, was originally just a few small channels of water. In 1757 the Sankey Canal, one of the first canal since Roman times, also known as the Sankey Brook Navigation and later the St Helens Canal, was opened in part along the west side of the estate.
The authorities originally planned to make the Sankey Brook wider and deeper in order to transfer coal from St Helens to Widnes. It would also transfer sugar from Sankey Sugar Works at Earlestown. However, they changed their plans and built the Sankey Canal alongside it.
Also flowing through Bewsey is Dallam Brook, which is shown on the modern maps by that name, but is in fact the River Atherton and marks the northern boundary of Bewsey.
I learned of the name River Atherton at school. It was known in the past as the stinking brook, for obvious reasons. It is seen here after flooding in the area in 2014.
Bewsey Lock is one of a series of locks on the Sankey Canal. The information board here shows the workings of the lock.
Built from sandstone blocks, the lock measures 76 feet 9 inches (23.39 metres) long by 17 feet 7 inches (5.36 metres) wide by 12 feet 3 inches (3.73 metres) deep.
I was once given a chance to open a set of gates (not at Bewsey – the canal shut down in the year I was born) and I was surprised how easy it was. I expected the weight of the water to push against me but this wasn’t the case.
Bewsey Meadows was created was created in 2008 when land close to Bewsey Old Hall was developed out of a former landfill tip (known, unsurprisingly, as Bewsey Tip). See photos and more detailed information in Warrington Green, with information and photos of the Sankey Canal in On The Waterfront. The photos were taken on 18 May 2011.
Bewsey Road and Dallam Lane were the locations of some of the town’s biggest industrial sites, including Greenings Wire, British Steel, Lancashire Steel and Sterling Cable. One of the reasons for this location was the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 and a branch line from it the following year, which later ran under Bewsey Road and linked with Warrington Bank Quay. Some of the companies, including Greenings Wire, had a branch line linking directly to the railway, which made it easier to transport their goods around the country.
I will start my story with wire drawing, which began long before the Industrial Revolution. Would you believe it goes back to the Old Testament and the book of Exodus? “And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.” Exodus 39 verse 3 (King James Version).
I am led to believe there is mention of wire drawing and weaving in Homer and there is a sample of wire in the Kensington Museum which has been dated to 1700 BC.
Warrington was known as the town of many industries. For a more detailed study of industry in the town, see Warrington at Work by Janice Hayes and Alan Crosby (Breedon Books Publishing). We will also look at companies in other locations on the Bewsey estate.
William Houghton established a wireworks in Tanners Lane in 1775. See the Culture Warrington website for a timeline of the industry in the town.
N. Greening & Sons
Some information here from Grace’s Guide and A History of Greenings 1799-1949.
Nathaniel Greening was born in 1780.
He married Elizabeth Wild in Liverpool in 1804.
Nathanial was described as the room keeper in the newly-formed Warrington Institution in 1812. This institution was formed by people interested in literary and scientific matters and met in the Museum of Natural History. That museum was established by Greening himself due to his interest in birds, reptiles and other animals. The exhibits eventually became part of the council-owned museum from 1848.
1841 Nathaniel Greening, aged 60, lived in Bank Street with Mary Greening, 50; Noah Greening, 15; John Greening, 15; Nathan Greening, 12; Sarah Greening, 11, and Hannah Greening, aged nine.
1852 Nathanial Greening died in Warrington aged 72.
The Greening family appear in the wire-drawing industry at a very early stage. As far back as 1494 we hear of Christopher Greening manufacturing needles in St Omer. A descendant of his was among those employed in the manufacture of needles in the Tintern Abbey Wire Mills in 1600.
On 9 April 1756, Benjamin Greening was born. He was the father of Nathanial Greening, who was born on 12 April 1780 in the hamlet of Cambridge near Dursley, Gloucestershire. Nathaniel was the founder of N. Greenings & Sons Ltd.
Nathanial started that venture in 1799 near the Lion Hotel on Bridge Street, where he carried on the wire trade for some time. According to the Warrington Examiner of 19 January 1889, Captain Ainsworth, a copper smelter, invited Nathanial to come from the Tintern Abbey works to start a business of copper wire-drawing. However, something prevented Ainsworth from going on with the project, resulting in Greening setting up on his own.
Around 1807/8, Greening went into partnership with John Rylands Snr, who was at this time a manufacturer of sail-cloth, cart-sheets, and other like fabrics. Rylands continued to manufacture the same products for many years as well as being in partnership with Nathaniel Greening in the wire trade. The partnership was known as Messrs. N. Greening and Co and changed to Rylands and Greening in 1838.
Work was carried out at the Bridge Foundry alongside the River Mersey until the firm moved to a site at Church Street. Rylands also had premises in the Cloth Yard on Buttermarket Street where some of the work was undertaken. It was during this time that Greening invented and used the first looms for weaving wire by steam power.
In later years, John Rylands Jnr, Thomas Glazebrook Rylands and Peter Rylands joined the company, but this partnership was dissolved in 1843. Greening and Rylands then became two separate companies, N. Greening & Sons and Rylands Brothers respectively.
From 1843 to 1847 Nathaniel Greening, with his three sons, Timothy, Noah, and John, carried on the wire-weaving trade in a warehouse in Winwick Street. They then moved to the building later occupied by the Farmers’ Stores, at the bottom of Bewsey Street.
In 1851 Nathanial Greening retired from the firm. The business was continued by the three sons until 1854, when Timothy Greening withdrew from the firm and commenced wire-drawing in Froghall Lane. He use the name of Messrs. Timothy Greening and Co for his company before moving to Canada in 1857 to continue in the wire-weaving business in partnership with his son.
After Timothy Greening left the firm of Messrs. N. Greening and Sons, the business was carried on by Noah and John Greening until 1878, when they retired. They left the concern to Nathaniel, son of John Greening and to Linnaeus, son of the late Noah Greening, and grandsons of the late Nathaniel Greening. It became a public company in 1883.
By 1937 the company was listed as wire weavers, metal perforators, screen and wire brush manufacturers. Over the following years their product range had increased to the point where, in 1961, they were manufacturers of woven wire, wedge wire screens, perforated metals, conveyor belts, wire brushes, sieves and all types of wire work. The workforce numbered 1,200 employees.
In 1935, the company had a visit from the Iron and Steel Institute to the Iron, Steel and Engineering Industries of Manchester and District. Their report went as follows:
N. Greening and Sons Ltd., Britannia Works, Warrington.
This firm, established in 1799, has always maintained its place in the forefront of technical developments in the manufacture of screening of every type. Greening’s invented the first machinery for weaving wire by steam power.
Metal perforating is also one of their specialities. The management has always endeavoured to keep their plant right up-to-date for the manufacture of extra strong wire screening, perforated metal plates, and wedge wire screens, and the firm claims to be the largest makers in Great Britain of the goods mentioned.
Their present works are well equipped for the manufacture of woven wire, wire, and all classes of wire goods, perforated plates and sheets in all meshes, holes, and in all metals.
The works are spacious and adjoin the L.M.S. line at Warrington, and are connected therewith by a siding. They have also works at Hayes, Middlesex, and a London office at 16, Finsbury Street, London, E.C.2.
Their products are known and appreciated throughout the world and the plant in use in their works at the present time will challenge comparison in modernity with any in existence. The experience they have had, and the admirable set-out of their works, enables them to provide wire-cloths, perforated metals, sieves and screens, conveyor belts and other specialities to meet every possible demand in design, material, and sizes.From Grace’s Guide.
Greenings site 10 Sep 2006
In later years, as experienced in other industries, the import of cheaper wire products from abroad had an impact on Greenings.
The company closed down in December 1983.
My grandad also worked at Greenings in the ‘lodge’, an office at the entrance to greet visitors. My dad worked at the factory, as did my mum. In earlier days dad was employed in the perforating department and at the end as a boilerman. I think mum worked in the weaving department. On one occasion steeplejack and TV personality, the late Fred Dibnah, paid a visit to the factory and was chatting to my dad about the boilers. Dad said the same man you saw on telly was the same man you see in person. Always willing to chat. On another occasion Fred was driving his steam engine to a rally at Daresbury and dad had given him directions from outside the Longford Hotel.
A view of the empty factory on Bewsey Road on 10 Oct 2003.
Fred Dibnah was hired to demolish the chimney at the factory after it closed. He was never a fan of the ‘dynamite men’ method as he called it. Instead, his method was to remove some bricks at the base of the chimney gradually and prop up the structure with wooden props as the bricks were removed. When he considered that enough bricks had been removed, he then set fire to the props. When they burned through sufficiently, the structure would collapse.
Fred would sound his hooter just before the chimney fell, hopefully in the direction he had chosen. I was there on that Sunday morning. It was around 11am when Fred began to set up for the task and a bystander asked Fred what time the chimney would be coming down. Fred said five-to-twelve (11.55am). The bystander asked if that was because he had calculated all the scientific scenarios and could work out the time it would fall. Fred said, “No, lad. The pub opens at twelve”. Sure enough, 11.55 Fred sounds his hooter and at 12 noon he was supping his first pint of Greenall’s bitter in the Imperial Hotel across the road.
As is often the case, houses were built on the site of the former wire factory. Normally, the street names are named in memory of whatever stood on the site previously. But that wasn’t the case here. The houses stand on Regency Square, Bradgate Close and Longleat Close, among others. Why, you might ask? It’s because the obvious name, Greenings Court, had already been used on a housing estate built on the former Rylands Wire site off Battersby Lane in Fairfield. But I feel sure with a bit of imagination we could have had names such as Nathanial Court, Greening Drive, Imperial Close (the hotel is close by) and Toucher’s Green (Toucher’s was the later name for a bowling club once owned by the company).
Greenings Remembered – The North Face of Longshaw Street
One of my memories of Greenings was the Christmas party for the children of the workers. One year we were presented with a pen and pencil set. Maybe that’s where I got my passion for writing.
Another memory, also echoed by most older people on the Bewsey Estate was the Greenings buzzer. This sounded at 7.25am and 12.55pm every workday to give the workers five minutes’ notice that their shift was about to start. It could be heard all over the surrounding area and was reproduced in a community play called The North Face of Longshaw Street.
The play was written by Neil Shenton after actor and writer, Colin Welland (Chariots of Fire, Z Cars) turned down the offer.
The play ran for seven nights at the Parr Hall in 1991, with locals involved in the research, art work and presentation.
In 2002 a reprise of the play was presented, again at the Parr Hall, but for just two nights, and I was involved in the research and later given a part in the play. This is how the Warrington Guardian covered the story on 31 October 2002:
Local actors are putting the finishing touches to the reprise of the Bewsey and Dallam Community play – which opens tomorrow, Friday.
The North Face of Longshaw Street was written by Warrington playwright Jo Warburton and is based on Neil Shenton and Clive Fishlock’s original production from 11 years ago.
As well as charting the history of the area, the show focuses on the struggle of Emma, played by Tara Peacock, who is desperate to escape from Bewsey and Dallam.
Donna Sanders, who plays Lady Isabella, and is starring in her first amateur production, said: “Being involved in this production has been an exciting and fun learning experience which has given me the opportunity to meet new inspirational, amazing people.”
The play was directed by Owen Hutchings, Stuart Smith and Sally Beattie.
See Warrington Worldwide for more memories of Greenings.
Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co
Report from Grace’s Guide, and used with permission.
Thomas Knowles was born on 30 May 1824.
Knowles was born at Ince-in-Makerfield, the son of a colliery underlooker.
he began work at the age of nine, working up to fifteen hours a day for wages of half-a-crown a week, from which his father allowed him threepence a week pocket money.
He spent two of the three pence on night school fees and rose through the ranks; collier, then underlooker (an assistant manager, as of a mine, usually engaged in superintendence and overseeing). By 1847 he was the manager at Ince Colliery.
Knowles married firstly Mary Foster in 1846 and secondly Mary Longworth in 1866.
In 1854, he became a partner in the colliery (then employing 200).
In 1873 He became chairman of Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Company and served for two years as chairman of the Mining Association of Great Britain. He was also a director of the London and North Western Railway, and of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company. He was a J.P. for Lancashire and Cheshire. In 1864 and 1865, he was Mayor of Wigan.
At the 1874 general election Knowles was elected Member of Parliament for Wigan. He held the seat until his death at the age of 59 on 3 December 1883.
I don’t have a biography for George Pearson. Can you help? Please contact me.
The company was formed in 1840 to acquire a coal mine at Ince, near Wigan.
The Times newspaper on 4 December 1883 tells us that in 1848 Thomas Knowles (1824-1883), having started work in the mine at age nine, was appointed manager of Ince colliery by its owner, George Pearson in 1854.
In 1873 there was a test at a Pearson and Knowles’ mine of breathing apparatus to allow miners to work in atmosphere of “fire damp”.
Firedamp (sometimes fire-damp or fire damp)
an explosive mixture of gases, usually containing a high proportion of methane, occasionally encountered in pockets underground. It can be distinguished from blackdamp (chokedamp), which does not ignite.Oxford dictionary
In 1873 the company took over the Dallam Forge (featured in the next section) and moved the ironworks to that site. A year later the company Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co was registered on 15 May, to acquire the properties of the firm of the same name (including five collieries) and the ironworks of the Dallam Forge and the Warrington Wire Iron Co.
1877 Rolling mill engines made by Pearson & Knowles featured in The Engineer on 11 May 1877. For those interested in the technical knowledge, the engine had a cylinder of 30″ in diameter, 5 ft stroke. The flywheel was 25′ 6″ in diameter and the whole thing weighed 60 tons. There were four similar engines driving iron sheet mills and one driving a plate mill at the Dallam and Bewsey forges.
An 1881 advert said the following: Engineers and Boiler Makers. Average Weekly Production of Finished Iron 1750 Tons. Registered Brands D – Warrington Dallam; W.I.W.
In The Times of 25 May 1891, the company was described as Iron manufacturers, coal proprietors and engineers, makers of engines, boilers and pumps; bridges, roofs and tanks; blast furnace plant; constructional ironwork; railway wheels and axles.
The Engineer of 5th January 1894 reported that the company “Have done a large part of the structural ironwork on the Manchester Ship Canal”.
In 1898 the closure of the Ince foundry was announced. The reason was due to increased use of steel rather than wrought iron; concentration of puddling work at Warrington.
Puddling is the process of converting pig iron to bar (wrought) iron in a coal fired reverberatory furnace.
The image shows a Schematic drawing of a puddling furnace.
A, the hearth; F. the grate or fireplace; C, the chimney with a damper at the summit to regulate the draught; D, a bridge separating the grate from the hearth, for preventing the direct contact of the fuel with the iron.Information and image from Wikipedia
In 1898 Pearson and Knowles Iron and Engineering Works at Warrington were noted as having operated for many years a mutual scheme for compensation of workers who suffered an accident. A similar scheme was operated by Pilkington Brothers at St Helens.
In 1899 the company began to build locomotives. Between twelve and possibly eighteen engines were built at this company over the next years. In 1907 the company purchased the Moss Hall Coal Co and the Wigan Junction Colliery Co.
1908. Large number of fatalities in explosion at Maypole no.1 mine near Wigan.
1909. The “acquaintanceship” with Rylands Brothers (manufacturers of wire and wire products) had provided a constant custom for the ironworks; that company was now treated as an affiliated concern in the accounts. A year later the company bought out Rylands Brothers.
1911. The Company had established the Partington Steel and Iron Co to supply the steel needed by the rest of the Pearson and Knowles’ company as well as supply the Sheffield market and other steel users. The new undertaking would have three blast furnaces. Pearson and Knowles took up some of the shares and the others were made available for public subscription.
By 1914 the company was described as ironmasters, engineers, colliery proprietors and wire manufacturers. Specialities: bar iron, WIW sheets and hoops, galvanized sheets and wire rods, railway wheels and axles, bridges and other engineering constructional work, bars, angles, tees and plates.
In 1920 there was an offer from Sir William Armstrong, Whitworth and Co to acquire the ordinary shares of Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co, which was largely accepted. Even so the company had to make an issue of debenture shares the following year.
1927. After several years depressed trade, a scheme of arrangement was proposed to deal with the company’s debts, including the debts of the subsidiary companies. Sir William Armstrong, Whitworth and Co retained its interests in Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co after the merger of other parts of the company with Vickers.
The story continues in Lancashire Steel Corporation…
Lancashire Steel Corporation
Report from Grace’s Guide, and used with permission.
An 1940 advert for Lancashire Steel.
A 1930 amalgamation of the Pearson and Knowles group of companies with the Wigan Coal and Iron Co saw two new companies formed to hold the coal and steel interests separately. The coal business would be called the Wigan Coal Corporation Ltd. The iron and steel business would be called the Lancashire Steel Corporation.
Lancashire Steel Corporation would hold a 40 percent interest in the Wigan Coal and Iron Co. The share capital of Rylands Brothers of Warrington, previously held by Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co also transferred to the new steel company. New capital would be raised which would be used for investment in expanding the Irlam steel plant. The works at Irlam were located on the Manchester Ship Canal, and was an integrated iron and steel works.
The two new companies were formed under the auspices of the Securities Management Trust, formed by the Bank of England to facilitate reconstruction of the iron and steel industry.
In 1932 the company acquired the Whitecross Company of Warrington. It also acquired at or around this time Pearson and Knowles Engineering Co Ltd, Penfold Fencing and Engineering Ltd of Watford, and Fleming and Company of Warrington, makers of fibre core for wire ropes.
A year later Lancashire Steel Corporation and Monks, Hall and Co purchased William Robertson (of Latchford), manufacturers of bright drawn products.
In 1951 the company was nationalised under the Iron and Steel Act and became part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain. Three years later an announcement for a sale of shares in the company was made. This was the second public offer for sale of shares in a company held by the Iron and Steel Holding and Rationalization Agency. By 1961 the workforce at Warrington and Irlam was around 9,000 employees.
In 1963 consideration was being given to relocating the Warrington Works of Pearson and Knowles Engineering Works in order to achieve modernisation.
In 1967 it was one of the 14 largest steel companies, representing about 90 per cent of the UK’s steel making capacity, and was brought into public ownership as part of the British Steel Corporation.
1973 British Steel sold its carbon- and mild-steel wire-making activities at Warrington (Rylands and Whitecross) and at Middlesbrough (Dorman Long) and a new company, Rylands-Whitecross, jointly owned by Tinsley Wire Industries and British Ropes, was formed.
British Steel was privatised in 1988 by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. It had a large site between Bewsey Road and Dallam Lane which no longer trades. The steel industry continues on the site with Total Steelwork & Fabrication, who occupy part of the Warrington Central Trading Estate on Bewsey Road. They began operating from the site in the 21st century and have given over 15 years of service to the town. See their website [mywarrington has no connections with the company].
Report from Grace’s Guide, and used with permission.
George Worsdell was born on 21 May 1821 at Preston, Lancashire, the youngest child of Thomas Clarke Worsdell.
On leaving school he trained under his father at the Crown Street works.
In 1837 he spent a year in Leipzig before returning to England.
In 1841 he joined his father in the carriage department of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. By 1845 he had set up his own business manufacturing railway equipment.
On 27 March 1851 he married Jane (1820/21–1903), the youngest daughter of Edward Bolton, a prominent local Quaker.
By 1857 there was a downturn in his health and was declared bankrupt when his business failed.
1872 After making a recovery he retired due to ill health and died on 1 December 1912 at his home in Lancaster.
Dallam Forge opened in 1845 and had two branches, one at Ince near Wigan and the other in Warrington. In 1840 the company began supplying merchant iron. A year later George Worsdell acquired the company.
The success of the company was reward at the Great Exhibition of 1851 when Dallam Forge was awarded a gold medal in the “for excellence of iron and of railway plant” section. Five years later William Henry Bleckly joined his father Henry Bleckly at Dallam Forge. William Became treasurer of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1901.
In 1857 the business was failing and Worsdell retired due to ill health. However, in 1865 a new management structure was put in place and the company began to prosper once again.
In 1867 the company was featured in and article in The Engineer about steam cranes. Soon after this the Bewsey works amalgamated with Rylands Brothers.
Dallam Forge faced stiff competition from the established iron districts so it developed business in supply of wire rod for wire making industry, later expanded into sheets and hoops.
In 1873 Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co took over the Dallam Forge and later moved its ironworks from Ince to that site. A year later the company Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Co was registered on 15 May, to acquire the properties of the firm of the same name (including five collieries) and the ironworks of the Dallam Forge and the Warrington Wire Iron Co.
The company made a plate girder bridge over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Higher Shuttleworth (Bridge No. 120). Photos here.
In 1930 it became part of the Lancashire Steel Co, remaining in production until July 1980.
The following stories are from the newspapers as stated.
1890 ‘Sad Fatality at a Warrington Forge. On Tuesday morning a labourer, named John Robinson, 55 years of age, who resided at 15, Wright-street, was killed the yard of Dallam Forge. Warrington, where he was employed. Deceased, along with two other men, was removing an iron casting from the fitting-shop, when some wood packing rolled from under the casting over deceased’s body. Dr. Adams was sent for, but Robinson was dead before he arrived.’ (From Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 5 July 1890.)
1904 ‘A WARRINGTON WORKMAN CRUSHED TO DEATH. George Woodward (45), a crane driver, employed by Messrs. Pearson and Knowles, at Dallam Forge, Warrington, was crushed to death yesterday. He was engaged, along with other men, moving a pair of wheels from one side of the yard to another by means of a steam crane. As the wheels were being lowered the crane post broke, and the crane fell over on its side, with the man under it. Woodward. who resided in Wilson Street, was married man, and leaves a wife and four children.’ (From Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 6 April 1904.)
1913 ‘Mr. Edward Beck, one of the founders of the Dallam Forge Company, left estate valued at £162,262. Duties amount to about £32,000. Subject to certain life interests, deceased bequeathed £5,000 to the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution, and [a] like sum to the United Kingdom Beneficent Institution.’ (From Cambridge Independent Press, 23 May 1913.)
The factory site on 18 January 2007
Originally known as Pictons, the business started life in 1833. It then became Marsden and when Marsden bought out Vanplan in 1986 the company was renamed Marsden Vanplan.
Their Warrington production plant was on Longshaw Street in Bewsey. They operated from Napier Street, Howley in earlier times. One of the vehicle chassis built by them were for the Bristol LHL (Lightweight chassis, Horizontal engine, Long) buses. They also specialised in removals and furniture vans. The company was dissolved in 2014.
Whyman’s foundry took over the site of Hope Hospital at the northern end of Dallam Lane close to Kerfoot Street in 1902. Whyman’s made cast iron products. Caldwell’s now occupy the site. Caldwell’s started out as Stockton Heath Forge in 1770 and made spades and shovels.
To read more about Whyman’s, and indeed more on the industry of Bewsey, see H. Wells book Warrington’s Past, Market Place to Bewsey Old Hall.
Tetley Walker’s Brewery
Walker’s brewery on Dallam Lane on 16 February 1996.
Advert for Walker’s
Peter Walker was the owner and master brewer of the Fort Brewery in Ayr, Scotland, which he established in 1817. He later moved to Liverpool to open a brewery in Everton before settling in Warrington.
In 1846, he took over Pemberton’s Brewery in King Street (where Golden Square shopping centre is today) and, having admitted his son Andrew to the business, started trading as Peter Walker & Son.
The company became Walkers of Warrington in 1864 and Peter opened the Dallam Lane brewery in 1866. Walker retired in 1873 and died in 1879. The company continued to grow and merged with Cains Brewery to form Walker Cains in 1921 after Robert Cain’s death. Another merger in 1960 saw an alliance with Joshua Tetley & Son to form Tetley Walker. In 1967 there was a £3m upgrade to the Dallam Lane brewery. The site closed in 1996 and the land is now home to the Halliwell Jones Stadium and a supermarket.
During the time the company operated, they sold their products in many regions. The following photos show pubs affiliated with Walkers, which is great for us historians.
George Howard Ltd
The main entrance to George Howard recycling site on Folly Lane. The photo was taken on 9 August 2007
A long-standing firm in the district was George Howard Ltd recycling centre on Folly Lane. The company started out as a second-hand furniture store in Froghall Lane in the 1890s. In 1914 the company moved to 94 Folly Lane and became George Howard Ltd in 1921.
In the 1950s the family operated the Royal Court Theatre in Rylands Street, town centre until it closed in 1957. The Folly Lane site operated until 21 January 2010 when the land was repossessed under the Law of Property Act 1925. A housing estate is now built on the site and known as Folly Farm Close, named after Folly Farm – the farmhouse was on west side of Longshaw Street close to its junction with Folly Lane.
Close to Howard’s site is Hawthorne Business Park on Hawthorne Street.
Longford Wire Co Ltd
Report from Grace’s Guide, and used with permission.
An 1876 advert for Longford Wire Company
Further along Folly Lane over the railway bridge was Longford Wire Co Ltd.
An 1874 Advert reads ‘A WARRINGTON WIRE IRON AND STEEL COMPANY. A Manchester contemporary published the following:
“The following company has been recently registered : LONGFORD WIRE, IRON, AND STEEL.
This company proposes to carry on the business of wire-drawing, and to make and vend wire-drawing machines. It was registered with a capital of £9,900, in shares of £10 each, the first subscribers (number of shares in brackets) being :
*Charles John Holmes, Bridge Street, Warrington, woollen draper (50)
*Sylvanus Reynolds, Latchford, Cheshire, farmer (100)
J. Pierpoint, 4, Bold Street, Warrington, architect (75)
Roger Hind, 1, Manchester Road, Warrington, engineer, (50)
*John Geddes, Bold-street, Warrington, tea merchant (100)
John Houlton, Poulton, near Warrington, farmer (30)
*Gilbert Greenall, M.P., Walton Hall, Cheshire, brewer.
The number of directors to be six. The first are to be those subscribers whose names are marked with an asterisk. General meeting to determine remuneration.
An 1897 advert for the No 49 Home trainer bicycle.
In 1897, the No. 49 Home Trainer, made by The Longford Wire Co., was exhibited on Stand No. 218 at the Stanley Show. Price 45/-. Weight 20 lbs. Fixed under the back wheel of the bicycle, the equivalent of one mile was ridden while the machine covered 15 feet.
A. E. Walters, a professional racing cyclist, and holder of the world’s record for 24 hours (634 miles 770 yards, Paris, 1899) fulfilled a 12 weeks’ engagement at the London Pavilion in 1898, pedalling the equivalent of a mile on the stage. A letter from Walters, recalling the incident, was attached to the exhibit. The bicycle was purchased in Brighton.
An 1892 advert for Longford Wire Beds
The company also manufactured steel wire mattresses and bedsteads. Richard Fairclough of Fairclough’s Flour Mill was a director of the Longford Wire Works for 20 years.
I don’t have a date for the closure of the works, but my photos below of the land after the building was demolished and construction of its replacement, Gateway 49 business park, were taken in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
If anybody can help with the date of closure, Please contact me.
Report from Grace’s Guide, and used with permission.
Sterling Cables of Enfield and of Aldermaston was incorporated as a company in 1939. In 1940 A. C. Cossor purchased the whole of the share capital of the company and reorganised the business.
In 1942 the company acquired Lancashire Cables Ltd and disposed of its interests in Sterling Batteries Ltd. Warrington-based Lancashire Cables were incorporated as a company in 1937 and made heavy duty cables (up to 11kV duty).
In 1946 a factory was established at Aldermaston for Sterling Cable Co and two years later Sterling Cable Co (Aldermaston) Ltd was formed by merging Sterling Cable Co and Lancashire Cables. The operations at Enfield were transferred to Aldermaston.
In 1975 the company acquired Greengate Cables Ltd of Trafford Park, Manchester, specialising in rubber and elastomeric technology. In 1983 the various companies in the group were merged to form Sterling Greengate Cable Company Ltd.
By 1990 Sterling Greengate was the sixth largest cable maker in the United Kingdom. It employed 611 people. Mains cables were produced at Warrington; PVC armoured wiring, elastomeric wiring cables and small mains cables information, control and instrumentation cables were produced at Aldermaston.
I can’t remember if my dad worked at Sterling Cables, but he often spoke about the company.
Syd Hall Motors
Syd Hall Motors on Folly Lane, as seen here on 23 January 2009.
Hall’s was a car dealership operating a Peugeot franchise on Folly Lane. The showroom stood on the site of a house called The Folly mentioned earlier. The business was set up by Penketh man Syd Hall in the mid-1960s. At one stage his family had seven dealerships, with another garage on Kerfoot Business Park and branches in Birkenhead, Runcorn, Crewe, Widnes and Chorley.
The company went into administration on 14 January 2009 with the loss of 40 jobs.
After the company closed his daughter told the Warrington Guardian, “He started the business in the 1960s, it was like Kevin’s lock-up in Coronation Street,” she added.
“He was a mechanic. He used to fix cars up and sell them on. Then he opened a bodyshop doing up old bangers and selling them, and then in 1977, got a franchise with Chrysler.
“We just want to thank everybody very, very much for their business over the years”.
The site is now occupied by a different business.
Around the Estate
The first two images above are of businesses on Longshaw Street. The third is the former post office on Folly Lane. Another post office was located on Lovely Lane in Whitecross close to Sankey Green roundabout. To save costs, the post office closed many branches and there is now one post office for the two estates of Bewsey and Whitecross, located in the petrol station opposite Warrington Hospital.
Longshaw Street Community Centre was on the site of the former ambulance station. The ambulance station is now on Farrell Street in Howley. The second image shows the now-demolished rent office for Warrington Borough Council. It takes us back to the days when we used to pay our rent in cash before direct debits and online payments were adopted. In fact, even before those days the council used to send staff out to houses to collect the rent in cash. No company would risk doing that today. Since those days the housing stock of the council has come under control of a social landlord, originally as an at-arms-length company of the council, then as Golden Gates Housing Trust and now under an umbrella organisation called Torus. The third building here is the electricity substation on Boteler Avenue. I include it simply because of the architecture – they look like portacabins today with no character.
The rather creepy footpath known as The Gullet, which runs from Bewsey Road to Froghall Lane. It is seen here on 21 March 2012.
The Gullet is a walkway alongside the West Coast Main Line linking Bewsey Road with Froghall Lane, and is still in use. I asked my Facebook friends for their memories, with emphasis on why it is called The Gullet. Quite literally, the meaning of the word gullet is the passage by which food passes from the mouth to the stomach; the oesophagus. Many of my friends echoed that and described the walkway as being like that. Another reader suggested it was an alternative name for a snicket or a gunnel (both words mean a narrow passage between buildings; an alley).
Halfway along the path is a brick tunnel taking you under the former Cheshire Lines Committee railway line now operated by Northern Trains, TransPennine Express and East Midlands Railway.
With thanks to my friends at Warrington Memories on Facebook I now present some of the things people remember about the pathway.
We used to put our hand to an imprint in the tunnel. Walked it hundreds of times as a child. It always gave me the creeps walking through that tunnel!
Going through there always seemed like a good idea, until I got half way through and was so terrified I would run the rest of the way.
We used the gullet a lot back in the day, I wouldn’t step foot down there now.
Used it a few times but didn’t like going through the tunnel part. Heard tales about someone being murdered in it, so was said it was haunted.
Spent many an hour playing down there was always a dare to go through in the dark.
A rumour was that somebody was murdered in the tunnel we used to use as a cut through to get to Bewsey road back in the 60s.
Wasn’t the story that a young girl was so alarmed when she came across a tramp living down there that she literally died of fright? Seem to remember it from a Wally Barnes book from years ago.
I remember walking through there with my dad. It was in the 50s. My grandparents lived in Nicholson Street and we walked to the Co-op on Bewsey Road.
The darkest tunnel I’ve ever seen at night.
Lived on Bewsey Road. Walked through many times going to Bank Park, always daring others to walk down when it got dark.
Don’t go there. It’s haunted.
Walked through The Gullet from Wakefield Street to Lancashire Steel [on Bewsey Road].
I lived in Nicholson Street. Had to go through there every day on the way to Bewsey school. Tunnel was always scary. Sometimes flooded.
Gullet was my quick route from Bewsey to the Co-op in Sankey Street three times a week to pick up groceries.
In the old days a group of us used to train spot. I lived [by] Froghall Bridge just opposite the Gullet.
The Gullet was said to be haunted from people in the funeral shed (accordingly to Wally Barnes stories).
Wally Barnes wrote a ghost story about it ‘The Little Girl of the Gullet’.
Used to play down there as a kid and collect blackberries for my gran to make pies and jam.
As a kid we walked down it hundreds of times.
Went down this many times in my younger days, then men would just appear from nowhere. Stopped using it. Did not know it was still usable. Don’t think I would walk it these days lol.
We lived on Lilford Street, opposite St. Albans school. We used that tunnel often to go to Bank Park and the swimming baths back in the 1960s. We were all terrified of the path and especially the tunnel. It was rumoured that a girl had died there. We went to St. Albans school and church as children, fond memories for sure.
The steps from Froghall Lane entrance
Approaching the tunnel from Froghall Lane on 10 Sep 2006
The Bewsey Road Entrance
Approaching the tunnel from Bewsey Road on 10 Sep 2006
Did we dare go closer? Yes, but the stories made us wary.
As we have seen, some nice memories of The Gullet, some not so nice.
Whatever the reason for the name of the pathway, it has some sort of official name in that the railway maintenance crews are led to it by their own signage.
To finish off, here is a photo I always wanted to take – a train passing on the east-west line over the viaduct and one passing on the north-south line at the same time below it.
After nearly 20 years of trying I finally got it…with a little bit of help from the photo editor.
You didn’t really think I stood there for 20 years waiting for two trains to meet, did you?