After the death of Maria Marshall the House was once again up for sale. It was bought around 1870 by William Roby Barr. In 1868 William is shown as living at Norris Bank House in Heaton Norris, this was on what is now Didsbury Road out of Stockport before you reached the top of the hill at Bank Hall. However, as we saw in part two, William married one of the Eskrigge family, Julia, who lived at West Bank house. He obviously wished to consolidate this and move next to his inlaws, and in 1870 he is shown as a resident of Heaton Lodge. This was a power marriage as the Eskrigges had both millowning and civic connections, as well as being nonconformist liberals.
William is the first occupant for whom we have an image
William Roby Barr, Stockport Library Services
He came from a family of Scottish nonconformists, and his grandfather Matthew Barr was a silk weaver in Manchester in 1799. William’s father, Nathaniel, was born on 30 December 1798 in Manchester, and he married Ann Carruthers at St John on Deansgate, Manchester in 1830. By 1832 he is living on Caygill Street in Manchester (which is now near Trinity Way) and describes himself as a Salesman. In 1841 they have moved to upmarket Burlington Street and he is now styled as a Merchant.
William was the first of three children, born on 29 December 1831 and baptised at Grosvenor Street chapel. He married Julia Adelina Eskrigge in 1856 in Stockport.
This puts him into partnership with the Eskrigge family of West Bank, His brothers in law, Thomas and William Linton Eskrigge, give him powerful connections and by 1860 he is appointed an overseer of the poor for Stockport. By 1864 he is running first Newbridge Lane, then Park Mills in Stockport (which has just suffered a devastating explosion under Henry Marsland’s ownership) The description of this gives an insight to the hazardous conditions under which the millworkers had to carry out their duties:
“At about quarter after five o’clock on Monday afternoon the boiler suddenly burst with a very loud noise. The boiler was lifted from its bed and carried the whole length of the quadrangle, and it struck the six story mill with such violence as to pass through the wall which was 2 feet 4 inches (71cm) thick. The consquence was that very nearly the whole front line of the building carrying with it the floors for about almost one half their breadth. The works in the other buildings were instantly stopped, the men rushed into the yard and in a few minutes made and attempt to get out some of the unfortunate creatures who were buried in the ruins. Three men , who were the only persons on either of the three lower floors at the time of the explostion, were got out very shortly after an organised attempt was able to be made to scale the ruins; none of these men were seriously hurt, as the bricks and rubbish formed a gradual slope up to the third or fourth floor, some of the firemen and others scrambled up and got out a number of men who were only slightly covered or were so much frightened to have lost their presence of mind.. But when these efforts had been continued for six or eight minutes, a dense smoke rose from the ruins and the whole spot was instantly enveloped in flames.“
Bells Life, 23 March 1851
Amazingly only twenty were killed. This was not a one off event, earlier that month there had been a boiler explosion in Riga Street in Manchester. That time the mill owner was found guilty of manslaughter. In this case a verdict of accidental death was recorded, and recommendations made for the strenghtening of the boilers in future. Henry Marsland was luckier than his workers, or perhaps had more influence in Stockport.
The danger of fire was ever present. In April 1871, Eskrigge and Barrs Park Mill was again engulfed by fire, and although no one was killed this time, there was £18,000 of damage -about £2.1m in todays money. The next but one inhabitant of Heaton Lodge would solve this issue.
William’s connections serve him well, and in 1865 he is asked to be Mayor of Stockport. In 1863 John Eskrigge had been mayor, and in 1864 it was William Linton Eskrigge’s turn.
John and William Linton Eskrigge – Stockport Library Services
The Eskrigges were an old Stockport family, their seat for 200 years was Hollywood House, they originated from near Lancaster. William Linton’s politics were Free Trade, and it was he who lobbied for the statue of Cobden to be erected in St Peter’s Square in Stockport. Thomas Eskrigge Senior met James Kershaw in 1841 in Warrington and they set up Mersey and India Mills as grass was growing in Heaton Lane in 1841 and Stockport was “to let” Thomas Junior took over the business from him, and he retired to Marple. On the way he married Sir Ralph Pendleburys stepdaughter. Like his brother he was a staunch Liberal and nonconformist.
William Barr assumed the mayoralty after his Brothers In Law, he created a stir when he was the first mayor not to attend services at St Mary, using his own church instead.
As well as a businessman and public servant he also turned his hand to academic matters in the way that the Victorians often did, and was a member of the Royal Geological Society and frequent contributer to the Manchester Geographical Society, publishing a paper on the Quartenary Deposits of the Mersey
After Heaton Lodge he moved to Fernside in Cheadle Hulme and died in July 1875 aged only 43 there. His wife moved to Seymour Villa, 16 Priestnall Road, moving down the road to number 4, shortly before her death in 1905, aged 72.
William had one brother and one sister, his brother Joseph Henry Barr followed the family tradition by marrying into the Eskrigges, and wed Julia’s sister Ann. He became a General Practitioner living on Ardwick Green in Manchester and then in Brighouse before dying in Stockport aged 51 in 1889
Joanna, his sister lived on her wealth and never married, although she did not marry an Eskrigge, she lived with her sister in law Julia for the last 20 years of her life, dying in 1907 aged 73. She is buried at Willow Grove cemetery in Reddish
William and Julia had three children, Charles Eskrigge, George Frederick and Ernest Edward.
Charles Eskrigge Barr was born in 1861 and married into a Scottish nonconformist family, marrying Isabella Williamina Butters Adam in 1871. He was listed as a Bleachers Foreman in Stockport in 1891, before moving to Bolton where he managed a Calico Bleachworks. He died around 1942 in Wallasey near Liverpool, leaving £3,877
George Frederick Barr, born 1863 trained in the administration side of cotton, being a cashier in a cotton mill in 1901 before becoming a cotton salesman. He died at 56 Mersey Road, Heaton Mersey in 1911
Ernest Edward Barr (1881-1916) also became a cotton salesman. He married Rosa Howard in 1895, and plied his trade selling cotton in Derbyshire, living at Goyt Bank. He is buried along with his aunt, Joanna at Willow Grove.
Like the Marshalls before them, their wealth was only fleeting.
Copyright Allan Russell 2019