The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Highfield House – Part Eight Highfield Park Is Built

Joseph Duckworth and Walter Brownsword were still living together in Highfield in 1930. However, soon after that they sold up and moved to Heaton Moor Road. The House and Grounds were sold to William Swann for redevelopment into what becomes Highfield Park

William Swann trained as an Architect with TH Allen of Stockport and then entered into partnership with Stanley Bailey and Edgar John Scaife practising in St Peter’s Chambers in Stockport and at Chapel En Le Frith.

He was born in 1873 in Stockport and grew up on Great Egerton Street in Heaton Norris, marrying Florence Smith in 1898.

By 1911 he is practising in Chapel En Le Frith, living at Aldersyde, near Chinley.

Florence and William have four children, Winfred Florence (1908- c1976) , Kathleen Edith (b 1911) Harold Bailey (1900-1975) and Geoffrey Barlow (1904-1926).

Around 1931 his firm purchases the Highfield Estate from Joseph Duckworth, and his first task is to split the house into three seperate dwellings, which become numbers 1, 1a and 3 Highfield Park. He also moves into the newly split number 1 Highfield Park with Florence and his two girls.

A number of adverts begin to appear in the Manchester Guardian for his properties, similar to this in April 1933:

Heaton Mersey: Highfield Park, Didsbury Road – Detached House, just completed: 2 ents, 3 beds &c, SWANN Architects, Stockport Tel 2325 Stockport and 2308 Heaton Mersey

The houses are picked up quickly, and Highfield becomes an upmarket area to live in Heaton Mersey. There is also a fast turnover, as number 14 is up for sale again in 1934.

By the end of the 1930s Highfield Park is fully developed and occupied. William did a fine job mixing modern styles with the traditional build of the original architect, Richard Lane in the 1830s matching well with the more modern art deco style of William Swann a century later, as the picture below from 1938 shows:


Highfield Park, 1938 courtesy Phil Page Via The Heaton Mersey Facebook Site

Apart from the trees and the laying of a tarmac surface there is little change today, over 80 years later.

Highfield Park 2019 Copyright Allan Russell

On 28 August 1934, Winifred Florence Swann married the Reverend Bernard Sharp of Walthamstow at St John, Heaton Mersey. William Swann was now a person of importance as the wedding merited two paragraphs in the Leeds Mercury, the bride wore a dress of ivory satin beaute, over which was an ivory net veil and a fine coronet of orange blossom. She carried a sheaf of Madonna lilies.

William Swann died in 1937, and Florence in 1938. After that Frederick Walter and Emma Louisa Goodhall (both born in 1876), moved into number 1 with two of their daughters, Lillian Adelaide (1904-1975) and Edna Phyllis (1909-1972).

Frederick and Emma were born in the Black Country, in Kings Norton, and Frederick had followed many trades such as Publican’s Assistant, Manager of a Brassfounders and even a Commercial Traveller. His itinerant lifestyle took him eventually to number 1 Highfield Park.

Frederick died sometime during World War II, and Emma in 1954. Edna and Lillian were still living at number one in 1955.

At number 1a Highfield Park, we find James and Patricia Ogg. James was Company Secretary of Walker & Homfrays “Woodside” Brewery on Wilmslow Street in Salford. This brewery was bought out by Wilsons in 1949. We can’t enjoy either beers anymore, but you can savour a beermat:


Walker & Homfray Beermat

James and Patricia were still living at number one in 1955.

In the other half of the divided main house at number three, the first inhabitants were Harry Albert and Emma Mince who moved in at the beginning of the 1930s

Harry Albert Mince was born in 1872 in Nottingham and brought up in the St Mary Lace District. He was educated at the High Pavement School there before moving on to study at University College Nottingham.

Harry’s father, William, worked in the Lace business, rising from errand boy to clerk and finally Warehouseman, marrying Mary Benson, a Lace Warehousewoman in 1865.

Harry became a journalist, first on the Nottingham Daily Express in 1890, before moving to the Rochdale Observer in 1894. In 1895 he married Emma Ferrier, a schoolmaster’s daughter from Liverpool, and they moved to Sheffield with Harry working on the Sheffield Independent then the Sheffield Telegraph. They spent a brief time in London working in the London News Agency, before moving back to Rochdale, where he edited the paper from 1908 to 1917. The then spent four years as sub editor for the Daily News, before ending up as the Northern Correspondent for the Times.

Harry was present in June 1921 when Albert Einstein came to Manchester and delivered his first lecture in England at the University. That Einstein only spoke in German was no issue for Harry as he was a polyglot, and famously filed his report over the telephone, translating his German shorthand. You can see how well he managed in the report attached below:

1921 The Times Einstein’s First UK Lecture

He also reported on the funeral of Michael Collins. Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State, who was assassinated in 1922.

Harry was not only fluent in German , but could also speak Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, Czech and Russian, as well as Classical Greek and Latin. He was not only fascinated, and able to appreciate Science, as his transcription of Einstein shows, he was also a keen Historian and walker, owning a cottage near Hardcastle Crags above Hebden Bridge.

Those were the days when journalists stuck to journalism, and Harry was an old school journalist. The Leeds Mercury, in an affectionate tribute said he had no taste or talent for modern brevity, he had to get in every point…… Harry Mince was a good friend. He gave me encouragement at a time when I was sorely in need of it, When I think of puffed up nobodies trying to slight the reporters, I am proud to think of men like Harry Mince.

During his career, unlike the celebrity press today, Harry never got a byline, he was always the Northern Correspondent of the Times. On his death he merited an obituary in the Times and The Manchester Guardian, as well as appreciations throughout the Press, but I have only found one article in the Times with his attribution, and that is on the letters page


The Times 7 January 1928

Of all the inhabitants of Highfield, Harry was the man I would have loved to have met.

Harry died on 19 November 1938, he left £3,896 14s 1d in his will, which approximates to £250,000 in 2019 prices. Emma lived on at Highfield for many years, but the house eventually got too big for her, and she had it divided into three flats, in 1955 we see her in Flat 2, whilst Flat 1 is occupied by John H Kain, and Flat 3 has Lily Chatfield. Harry and Emma had no children. Emma died in 1969 in Edgeley Grange Nursing Home.

I can find no pictures of the Swanns, Goodhalls, Oggs or Minces. Of subsequent inhabitants we have the Pillings, whose daughter Kathleen May Pilling married at St John, Heaton Mersey in March 1940


Kathleen May Pilling Marries, Manchester Evening News 28 March 1940

Another resident of note was Eric Robson, a senior lecturer in History at Manchester University. Born in Malton in Yorkshire, he graduated from Manchester with a first class degree in Economics, Politics and Modern History in 1939, subsequently seeing war service in West Africa and Burma, rising to the rank of Major.

In 1946 he returned to Manchester to lecture in history. He married Mary Marsland in 1949 and in 1951 published Letters From America, a collection of contemporary letters about the War of Independence. He was destined for a brilliant Academic career, but died suddenly in 1954, aged just 36.

Highfield was now, and remains an upper middle class cul de sac in a very pleasant part of Heaton Mersey. As I said at the outset, I was always aware that Highfield House had once existed, it was only six months ago I realised it was still there. Infact, I was so excited to discover its continued existence, that I rushed out in the January snow to take a picture, lest it be demolished before I got to see it. It has a fascinating history, I hope you enjoyed the journey with me.


Copyright 2019 Allan Russell

Author: allanprussell

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

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