In 1958 in the last gasps of the story of the house, it made a news for itself. The Stockport Advertiser ran this article on 12 June 1965. I think it’s a nice enough tale to reproduce in full, albeit from an old source, together with another unseen picture
After Frank Tylecote’s death at the end of 1965, the house was too big for Mabel to live in on her own, and so it was put up for auction. This advert appeared in the Guardian on 18 June 1966.
At the Estate Exchange 45 Fountain Street Manchester 2 on Wednesday June 29 at 3:30 PM.
Heaton Lodge, 291 Didsbury Road, Heaton Mersey
Stockport 2 Miles, Manchester 6 Miles
Suitable for institution purposes or as a private residence.
Accommodation 3 Reception rooms, Billiards room, Domestic Quarters, etc, 9 Bedrooms, Bathroom, Out Buildings standing in grounds of 3 Acres.
Outline planning consent for residential development
Solicitors, Messrs March, Pearson and Green, 1 Central Street, Manchester 2
Five days later the Stockport Express reported “Heaton Lodge to come down.” Dunlop Heywood had bought the house and grounds for housing development. The houses were built by early 1968 and advertised in glossy brochures as the Milbury “Dream House”
We were lucky enough to move there on 8 August 1968, coming from Ladybarn Manchester, where I had grown up. It was exciting to pack possessions, plus I got a ride in the Pickfords Lorry as it made its way along Parrs Wood Road and Didsbury Road, which really topped the day for me (I was 9 years old at the time.)
As we had chosen to move into the Show House, number 18 (my parents figured that it would mean we had a predecorated house – this did work after a fashion, but I remember that my bedroom had an orange hessian wall weave wallpaper, which perhaps didn’t stand the vagaries of fashion and as stillettos were the height of fashion every stair was pockmarked with small indentations)
As we were moving into the Show House, we were involved in some publicity photos, and in them you can see my sister starting early on the fizz. For the curious, the lady looking out of the window whilst we are handed the keys was Sylvia with whom we had become friendly on previous visits to watch progress – she ran the Show House, and seemed terribly sophisticated to me because she drove a red Simca car.
At the time neither Catherine House, nor Cannock Drive were built. West Bank, was still standing and being used as some sort of approved school, so we were warned not to go near it. The area that Catherine House occupies was pure wasteland as it had been razed by the builders. As such it made an excellent play area.
Heaton Lodge 1938 Copyright National Library of Scotland
Both the ponds below Heaton Lodge were still there (under the “e” of Lodge and “n” of Bank on the 1838 map above The smaller pond was however totally silted up, which allowed us to christen it the “swamp” and we had great fun retrieving old wellingtons (or our own which got stuck in the mud.) Just under the swamp was an old overgrown greenhouse which had belonged to one of the houses (the wall is still visible if you look out towards the Mersey from Catherine House). It had grapevines, which still just about had fruit. The prime attraction for the children who lived on the Court was to hurl stones over the wall and hear the glass break. The area past the greenhouse was out of bounds as it belonged to the Institution, this did not stop occasional forays to the lakeside, but this was always done with wary eyes, lest we ended up joining the inmates.
Fortunately there was someone who appreciated the lost beauty of an abandoned garden, Heidi Howcroft , an Anglophile German writer on gardens, remembers Lodge Court in the late 1960s. To be fair, she was a mature 15 year old at the time, and I was only 9.
In my vague memory, I carry in me a picture of the walled gardens of the big houses of the place where I grew up as a teenager. On a hill with direct views of the factories along the Mersey and the Cheshire plain in the distance, wealthy Victorian merchants built their homes. These were smaller, middle class implementations of larger mansions which included everything their larger counterparts possessed including unwalled kitchen gardens. At the end of the 1960s, only the ruins of these large-scale buildings remained. The houses and gardens were simply too big, and there was a glut of these houses for sale. And so, they were split or demolished, the land being used for building or simply returned to nature.
Such a building was right on our doorstep and was the favourite playground of my younger brothers who regularly disappeared into the undergrowth. Our modern terraced housing estate was built on the site of one such big house, Heaton Lodge, and whoever wandered away from the manicured estate and descended the hill, discovered the old garden, including the greenhouse and the remnants of the kitchen garden. These secret gardens of Heaton Mersey … now belong to the past and have long since disappeared under concrete and asphalt.
Heidi lived with her brothers and parents on the block that house 31-39 Lodge Court. We were on the block containing 18-22. The first inhabitants of those houses, I am going to view as the successors of the Tylecotes, firstly because that’s roughly where Heaton Lodge stood, secondly because I can remember their names, and finally because it’s my blog and I can do what I want.
As I said, we lived at number 18, me , my sister Wendy, and my parents. At number 20 there was Mr and Mrs Cyril Lindley. Cyril was the staff photographer for Cheshire Life, he passed away around 1984. In number 20 lived Dr and Mrs Forster. They were our scourge, I felt firstly conned because Dr Forster was not a proper doctor apparently but only something called a PhD, of which my 9 year old brain had no concept. As a result I decided it must have been him who kept demolishing the tree house we had built in the “undergrowth” described by Heidi above, which we had dubbed “Conker Valley” due to the healthy supply of Horse Chestnuts it gave us. On reflection Dr F was probably innocent of the trumped up charges, and balancing planks precariously on trees, fixed only with rusty nails was always doomed to result in failure.
Finally at 22 we had the Moorhouses, Jonathan , Rosemary and Mr and Mrs. Jonathan saw himself as the young rake of the court and regularly terrified the parents of the area by tearing around the estate in his blue Mini Cooper. With his moustache we thought him rather cool, and was the nearest thing we had to Richard O’Sullivan in Man About the House.
The estate was not quite finished when we first moved there, which gave us ample opportunity to play on the dumper truck, climb into houses under construction, and chat to the builders, we may have been young and naive, but we did notice one brickie, Simon, a young lad of 18 or 19 was getting a few more invites into the houses of the young mothers of the estate than perhaps resupplying his colleagues with sugar for their brews merited. However, as he never chided us for upsetting loads of bricks from his dumper truck, we kept stumm on our side of the implied bargain.
One of the inhabitants, who I shall only refer to as “PD” drove a very flashy sports car. The source of his wealth I discovered from a friend a few years later after we saw him on the local news was that he ran an upmarket escort agency. He had told us it was a model agency, which explained the leggy girls who visited. This came as no surprise to the residents as tales of audible bondage sessions in his bedroom sessions were common currency amongst the Court.
And even that famed nemesis of Rita Fairclough, Alan Bradley turned up once, albeit when playing a part for Crown Court (accused of murdering his wife, some things never change).
Copyright ITV Studios – From Crown Court
In a strange coincidence there were two Allan Russells who lived on the estate. Firstly of course me , but a few years later , another Allan Russell moved into number 1, he in a further quirk had taught one John Mott (of Joseph Mott House on the A6 next to the Cemetery) photography, and John in turn taught me.
My times at Lodge Court were happy, and as in all childhood memories, summer holidays of six weeks lasted forever, the sun shone all the time and we had an exciting playground to explore which allowed our imaginations to run wild. I still treasure the thrill of rushing down the hill in homemade go-karts and trying to avoid coming to a halt amongst beds of nettles.
My next project will be to document the history of Highfield next door. I was going to look at West Bank, as I saw it every day from my bedroom window (of course I had no idea it had once been a house, it was an Institution at the time, and I presumed it had always been thus, as it was far to big for people to live in.)
However, I had always assumed that Highfield had been demolished. It seemed sensible, Lodge Court replaced Heaton Lodge, so Highfield Park should have replaced Highfield House. I laboured in this illusion until the following Google image appeared on a local history facebook page.
Not only was it hiding in plain sight, it was but 70 meters away from where I grew up!
Copyright Allan Russell 2019