The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Highfield House – Part Six Samuel Lamb

After George Yates’ death, Highfield was put up for sale in 1881, but did not sell until after Ann Yates’ death in 1874

By 1888 Samuel Lamb is living at Highfield. He appears to be no relation to the second inhabitant, also called Samuel Lamb. This Samuel was born around 1847 in Lancashire, in September 1876 he married Fanny Grace Pilling. By this time he is quite successful as they are living at Struan Lodge on Parsonage Road in Withington and describes himself as a Merchant in Calico cotton.

The 1891 and 1901 censuses list them as living at Highfield, together with their children, Lilian (b1878), Samuel (b1880) Charles Joseph (1881-1934), Grace (1882-1930), Florence Ann (1884-1975) and Sybil May (1891-1975).

In 1891 he entered partnership with William Coddington a cotton spinner who had mills in Blackburn and at 15 Chorlton Street Manchester. This was on the retirement of his brother Francis. Sir William Coddington was born in Salford on 12 December 1830, he became MP for Blackburn in 1880 and held the seat for 26 years, being created a Baronet in 1896.

Whilst Samuel Lamb’s business did well for him, it was as a Liberal party election agent that he attained his greatest influence and he was a key figure in the defection of Winston Churchill from the Conservatives to the Liberal Party.

On 5 April 1904 Winston Churchill wrote a letter from Blenheim Palace to Tom Garnett, Chairman of the Free Trade League of Manchester

Dear Mr. Garnett,

The proposal was made to me by Mr. Lamb, the President of the Liberal Association of the Central Division, & was to the effect that I should be nominated by the Free Trade League as a non-party Free Trade candidate; but that the Liberal party in the division should view my candidature with favour, declare at first that they would not oppose me, & in the end bring the whole resources of their organization to my assistance. Mr Lamb was also in a position to say that no Labour opposition would be forthcoming. I thought this suggestion well worth consideration & have in consequence taken no further steps to press matters in regard to Central Sheffield or Central Birmingham, both of wh places have tendered me similar non-party invitations. Will you also consider whether in the event of my challenge to the Oldham Conservative Association resulting in a by election after the Easter recess, the Free Trade League, in the absence of any other Free Trade candidate, would support my candidature.

Yours sincerely,

Winston S. Churchill

The key point of this letter is that Samuel Lamb has lined Churchill up for a seat he would not win for another eighteen months. In acknowledgement of the scheming between Churchill and Lamb, the letter is headed confidential in Churchills hand.

Churchill letter 1904

Extract of letter from Winston Churchill, copyright (Should you be interested in buying the original letter, it is being offered for $14,500)

Coincidentally enough Churchill came to Highfield to address a garden party on 23 July 1904 at Highfield as the guest of Samuel Lamb. The meeting was no small one, Churchill spoke from a raised platform, and the actual garden party was spread over the grounds not only of Highfield but also of Heaton Lodge (Churchill would dine that evening with John Harrop ) and West Bank (owned at the time by Charles H Scott )

Churchill’s speech at Highfield shows him to be a canny operator, talking up free trade, and being self deprecating to effect. It could almost be made today. The full report is attached if you wish to read it.

19040725 Churchill Speech at Highfield

Over the next year or so Churchill made several speeches in Manchester and Samuel held the chair.

However, Samuel was getting richer and it was time to move. In June 1904 the house was once more advertised

An advert in the Manchester Guardian on 11 June 1904 ran:

All that desirable detached family residence, situate near the highway from Didsbury to Stockport, in Heaton Mersey and known as Highfield, and now in the occupation of its owner Samuel Lamb Esq JP. The site is freehold and the house and grounds occupy 26,779 square yards, or a little over 5 and a half acres of land. The property is subject to a chief rent of £111 11s 6d. Highfield is a well built and commodious residence,approached by a carriage drive having an entrance lodge,. The house contains vestibule, entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, morning room, library, billiard room, kitchen, servants hall, ten bedrooms, two bathrooms &c with all the usual offices. There is an enclosed well paved yard, wash-house, coal and wood houses, and other offices, three stall stable, two loose boxes, harness room and carriage house, heated with living rooms over. The pleasure grounds and gardens with lawns are extensive and are tastefully laid out. and planted with choice trees and shrubs. There is also a productive orchard and kitchen garden and also a fine conservatory, rose house, fernery two vineries and peach house. The whole of the appointments of the house are excellent and complete. The drainage has had careful attention. The residence, which is situate a convenient distance from Heaton Mersey Station occupies a choice position in this high and bracing locality, enjoying extensive and picturesque views of the surrounding district extending to the Derbyshire hills. The main front faces south. A portion of the land could be utilised for building on, the building tie being comparitively small. – Further particulars may be obtained from the Auctioneer, 11 Blackfriars Street, Manchester, particulars and orders to view may be obtained from Messrs J R Bridgford and Sons , Land Agents, 28 Cross Street Manchester, or from Messrs Holt Risque and Robson, solicitors, 25 Booth Street Manchester.

It is interesting to note that consideration is already being made to building on the land, the house being big, perhaps it is for an extension, or sub letting land, but Highfield’s days have been numbered.

Coddington & Lamb continued to prosper, albeit raising controversy with their policy of outsourcing jobs and in 1906 they started building mills in Romania, as labour was cheaper there – globalism is not a recent trend.

Samuel moved to Denzell House in Bowdon , where he was to spend the rest of his life. He hosted Liberal party rallies and garden parties there, Churchill returned as guest at a garden party there on 7 July 1906. Samuel also maintained his friendship with his erstwhile neighbour, John Harrop, inviting him there in 1913.

Denzell-House Bowdon

Denzell House Bowdon Copyright Denzell Gardens and the Devisdale

His wife Fanny died on 13 May 1917 at Denzell and Samuel died on December 31 1936 there, leaving a fortune of £34,546 gross (£2.3m in 2019)

In June 1938, Sybil Lamb donated Denzell House to Manchester University for use as the first adult education institution in the United Kingdom, and founded the Lamb Guildhouse whose object was to further adult education through lectures, conferences and field trips. During the second world war, Denzell House was requistioned for use as a maternity hospital. Before settling on Denzell House as a site for an adult education facility, serious consideration had been given to using Lyme Hall for the same.

Of the two children who outlived Samuel, Sybil never married, dying in 1975 in Bowdon.

Florence Ann married Percy Brownsword in 1913. He was her childhood sweetheart, the son of an Iron Founder who had grown up in Thorn Villa in Heaton Norris, and became a solicitor.

Author: allanprussell

Big houses in the Heatons and others that take my interest.

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