The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Bank Hall – Part Six: Major George Arthur Fernley

After the death of John Leech, the Philips family leased the property to George Arthur Fernley a captain in the Stockport rifle volunteers, and local cotton spinner.

George Fernley was the son of Thomas Fernley and Maria Barnes. Thomas was born in 1789 in Stockport bought Weir Mill (which is under the rail viaduct now) in 1824 from John Collier. He married Maria Barnes around 1836 and they lived together at Lark Hill in Cheadle. Thomas described himself on the 1851 census as a Master Spinner of Cotton. He died on 5 July 1867 and was buried five days later at Tiviot Dale Methodist Church in Stockport.

Maria Barnes was the daughter of Robert Barnes and Maria Roworth. Robert Barnes Senior was born around 1763 and some reports have him as being a banker in Kendal, however this is unlikely as he is described as a Cotton Spinner from Manchester in his marriage documents. Maria and Robert lived together on Bloom Street in Manchester.

Robert died on 29 November 1824 at Newton Lodge in Miles Platting, and his Maria Barnes (nee Roworth) on 13 September 1839.

Robert and Maria Barnes had two sons and a daughter, Thomas Barnes (born 1794) and Robert Barnes (1800-1871).

Robert, Maria Barnes’ brother had a great influence on the Heatons.

Robert Barnes Junior was born on Bloom Street on 11 July 1800. He married Mabel Louisa Bindloss, the daughter of a local silk merchant and cotton spinner at the Manchester Collegiate Church (now the Cathedral) on 10 January 1833 and they lived on Oxford Street. Maria died young, aged 30 in 1842.

Robert and Thomas worked together and built up their father’s business even more. Between 1851 and 1853 Robert was Mayor of Manchester, and in that time Manchester attained city status, and hosted its first visit from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Marble Bust of Queen Victoria Presented by Robert Barnes to the Corporation Of Manchester.

By 1851 Robert is living at Brookside House in Chorlton, he is a cotton spinner employing 500 people. Around this time he retires and purchases the Harefield Estate, near Rickmansworth, but maintains his Manchester property.

He was a great benefactor for Manchester, and donated in 1869 £9,000 to build a hospital in Monsall, called the Barnes House of Recovery, and a total of £26,000 (£3m in 2019) to buy land and build a hospital in Cheadle, The Barnes Hospital, at the same time he founded the Barnes Industrial School in Heaton Mersey with a donation of £20,000.

The Barnes Industrial School, The Winter Gardens Barnes Hospital & Barnes Hospital

Robert Barnes died at 07:30am 25 December 1871 at his residence, Oakley in Fallowfield.

Oakley Fallowfield copyright

He left £160,000 in his will (£18m in 2019). Barnes Hospital opened in 1875, and is now a housing estate, Oakley is now the HQ of USDAW. The Barnes Industrial School was opened on 2 July 1871 by the Bishop of Manchester. It was originally intended to have a mixed intake but became an Industrial School, taking in 200 boys committed to detention by magistrates. Some of the intake were voluntary cases – some of the first inhabitants were transferred from Ardwick Green Ragged School.

Barnes Hospital – Copyright Ian Littlechilds and Phil Page

The home and grounds covered seven acres, and the boys were trained in such skills as tailoring, shoemaking, gardening and carpentry as well as helping out around the grounds and kitchens. The school closed in 1955. I remember it well on my daily bus ride to school, passing it on the 316. It was later demolished for housing.

Let’s return to Bank Hall, Maria Barnes, Robert’s sister was born on 9 February 1799 and baptised at Gravel Lane in Salford. After she married Thomas Fernley, they moved to Lark Hill, and she lived there until her death on 13 January 1864, she was buried at Tiviot Dale.

Thomas and Maria had five children, the youngest of which was George Arthur Fernley who was born on 4 June 1839 at Lark Hill. In 1859 he was one of the founder members of the Stockport Rifle Corps and he followed his father into the cotton trade.

In 1863 he married Laura Hart, who had been born in Dover and brought up in London, at St Martin In The Fields. The couple moved to Heath Villa which may have been in Cheadle, near Abney Hall.

George Arthur Fernley

In 1864 George was promoted to Captain in the Rifle Corps, and two years later becomes a Magistate for Stockport. He was elected to Stockport Council in 1867 for Middle Ward, and subsequently represented Edgeley. He became Mayor in 1874, retiring as a councillor in 1884, a few years after an unsuccessful campaign as a Tory candidate in parliament in 1880.

He was promoted to Major in the 4th Batallion of the Stockport Rifle volunteers in 1878.

George and Laura moved to Bank Hall around 1874, and appear there on the 1881 census. However by 1891 they have moved to Westwood in Fairfield near Buxton. Fairfield has now been subsumed by the sprawl of the A6 from Buxton, but was once a quiet hamlet.

Fairfield as was, and Westwood as is

George still maintained his ties with Stockport and in 1891 although living in Buxton, he is still running Weir Mill, for Thomas Fernley and Sons. At that time the mill has 60,000 spindles and 900 looms. They also had an office on York Street in Manchester.

Weir Mill

Laura died in May 1896 taking the air at Abergele. After that George married once more to Josephine Tunstill (1857-1947), daughter of Joseph Tunstill of Brierfield Mill in Burnley. George died on 6 February 1914 in Buxton and was buried four days later in St Mary, Cheadle, alongside his first wife.

At the time of his death, the then mayor Mr T W Potts, said there were more children in Stockport christened George Arthur than any other name, and that was a testament to his great popularity. Unfortunately, the only remembrance we have today of his name, is Fernley Road in Mile End.

George and Laura had four daughters. The first, Florence, died in infancy in 1865.

Maria Beatrice was born in 1867 Stockport. She lived with her parents until at least 1901. In 1911 she took a holiday to Guernsey, staying at the Old Government House Hotel in St Peter Port. She died in 1938 in Crosby.

Laura Maria Fernley was born in January 1869. She married William Alfred Ball, son of Edward Ash Ball, a Cheshire Stockbroker in 1890 in St Andrew , Westminster. The couple lived in London, William dying in 1937.

Edith Maud Fernley was born in December 1869 at Heath Villa. She married Percy Shaw in Buxton in 1900 and died in Bakewell in 1928.

Copyright 2019 Allan Russell

Author: allanprussell

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

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