The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Mile End Hall – Part Two: Samuel Lees

Our next resident is a Padfield Mill Owner who followed the Dysarts through the doors of Mile End Hall on his way up the social ladder, one Samuel Lees.

His father, Robert Lees lived at Alt Hill in the forgotten hamlet of Husthwaite, which was between Ashton and Oldham. He had a keen interest in old English sports, particularly Rush Carts. This is a tradition still maintained in Saddleworth, the next Rushcart festival is 22-23 August 2020. If you like Morris Men and Hey Nonny No then pay a visit, if not, it’s best to stay clear that weekend.

The Saddleworth Rushcart – Oldham Chronicle

Robert was by trade a farmer, but his authority on Rushcarts put a unique artistic bent on the examples he built. Those constructed under his supervision were much admired and his fame spread. It was for this reason that he was called over the hill to Padfield in Derbyshire.

His celebrity got him far, he fell in love and on June 2 1793 married Sarah Barber, the daughter of one Mr Barber, a local cotton manufacturer, who lived in a house on the main road, subsequently occupied by The Padfield Liberal club.

Padfield Liberal Club – the home of Mr Barber by “Chris”

Robert and Sarah moved to Little Padfield. Robert was a man of means, he had other skills apart from Rushcarts before he married Sarah, as he was able to build Padfield Brook Mill in 1793 on land owned by the Howard family, and start working it. This mill was water powered and one of the first to be built in the area.

On 29 September 1807 he took out a lease there for 89 years at a rent of £10 pa. (approx £911 in 2019), they then lived at the adjoining house.

Robert and Sarah had five children. Henry (1794-1870) who married Elizabeth Stead (1801-1828) and worked the mill at Woolley Bridge in Derbyshire. Henry and Elizabeth had two sons, one of which emigrated to Australia and died in Pakenham, near Melbourne.

The second child Mary Lees (1796-1878) married John Rusby (1804-1844) , a local surgeon. Their son, the Reverend William Henry Rusby gave funds to build the church in Glossop.

John Lees (1798-1836), the next child, married Hannah Booth (c 1805- 1836) of Stockport. Both John and Hannah died young. Their children Thomas Booth and James Robert Lees went to live with Mary Rusby, their aunt, and worked the mill at Padfield Brook. The brothers lived together and don’t appear to have married. Thomas died in 1901.

Edward Lees, (1806-1841) also did not marry.

It is Samuel Lees, the youngest son, who lived at Mile End Hall, and who built on the achievements of an already succesful family. He took over Padfield Brook Mill from his father and went on to greater wealth.

Padfield Brook Mill in 1960

Samuel was born on 21 January 1808 in Padfield, and baptised at Mottram Independent Church in Tintwistle the following month. By 1835, just before his father’s death, he is running the mill and by 1841 he employs 103 people there.

In 1866 he sold the mill to Thomas Platt of the Platt brothers who owned other mills in the area. Today, the mill has now gone, and it is only Padfield Brook House which survives.

On 19 August 1835 he married Elizabeth Wood, the daughter of John Wood and Alice Hill. John Wood was born in 1785 in Marsden. In 1815 he came to Glossop and rented a mill there on Shelf Brook. By 1816 he was dealing with 22 firms and had a turnover of £30,000 (nearly £3m today). He bought further mills in 1818 and 1819, and expanded them, to become a very rich man. He died in 1854.

By 1841 Samuel Lees was based in the centre of Manchester at 10 Marsden Street and he styled himself as a cotton manufacturer and twist dealer, living at 10 Upper Brook Street in town.

However, whilst in those days it may have been safer to walk around town at night, it was still fraught with issue. On Saturday 3 December 1853 he was returning home from his offices at around 7:30pm when before he reached the end of Rusholme Road he heard steps behind him, and an arm wrapped around his neck. He turned round quickly and managed to topple his assailant, but saw something bright on the ground. At that point four other men came out of the shadows and Samuel ran into the centre of the road looking, in vain, for assistance. He started walking down the middle of the road, and reaching Sydney Street, the attacker made a second rush at him.

Samuel again kicked out, and the man rolled over. He managed to get to Charles Street, and at a tripe stall he saw the would be mugger cursing and asking after Samuel’s whereabouts. Fortunately he got to a police station where he made a report.

It transpires that the same man had knocked out a Mr Bent who was on a crawl of public houses including the Feathers Inn on London Road and the Medlock Inn. Mr Bent was easier prey as his inebriation had caused him to remember nothing until he was struck down. Bent did follow the attacker , but after being persuaded by friends he decided to cut his losses, and lick his wounds back at the Medlock, with his remaining pennies, having in the process lost the substantial amount of £2-7s (£2.35 or around £300 in today’s money) which were his wages.

Edward Hooper, the landlord of the Medlock testified that the prisoner, Robert Gibson Smith, a foreman at Ormrod’s foundry had seen Bent and Smith come in together to drink three glasses of whisky each, after which they left and Smith returned half an hour later dripping in blood.

In his defence Smith claimed that he had left the public house, seen Lees, and mistaken him for a friend, and rushed, as you do, to put his arm around him to greet him, which Samuel, the only sober party around, had not unreasonably, mistaken for an attack.

Should you think that magistrates today are lenient, Smith was unconditionally discharged on a promise that he gave his honest assurance that he would not molest Samuel on account of the events of the evening.

By 1860 Samuel had become a director of the Great Kanawha company, which had been set up to exploit the resources around the Kanawha river in Virginia in the United States, and had moved to 40 Dover Street in Manchester. The Kanawha company, at promised returns of 10 to 15% promised riches for those with funds to invest.

He also around the same time became a director of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, and in 1863 laid the keystone on the Marple railway viaduct which runs parallel to the canal acqueduct.

The Railway Viaduct from the Benjamin Outram designed Acqueduct in Marple. The Acqueduct stands 33 metres above the Goyt, and it is a nasty sheer unfenced drop on the other side of the canal.

In his speech to mark the laying of the stone, he noted the speed of construction two years for the railway, compared with seven for the acqueduct (in Outram’s defence he had to make sure it carried the Peak Forest canal and was watertight, it is also the tallest masonry arch acqueduct in the UK ) The rail line went through Marple, along the Goyt Valley, to Chapel En Le Frith and onwards to Buxton and Rowsley, where it joined the Midland Line to London, giving the shortest and quickest route to London from Manchester.

In 1871 his wealth was sufficient for him to move to Mile End Hall in Stockport, but they did not stay long there, moving back into the Peak District, at Matlock Bridge, and then to Ayleston Hill in Hereford where he died in 1896 aged 88. Elizabeth died five years later in January 1901 in their last house.

Elizabeth and Samuel had one daughter, Sarah, who was born in 1837. She married James Murgatroyd FRIBA on 1 June 1859. James was the son of Squire Murgatroyd (1807-1866) and Eleanor Gibson.

Squire was a cotton carrier and boatman from Warley in Yorkshire. He came over to Rochdale and married Eleanor, rising through society, living first in Wardle, Rochdale, then Ardwick Terrace, and Shakespeare Street, finally residing in relative luxury at Lime Field House on Thomas Street in Manchester.

James Murgatroyd (1830-1894) was educated at Chorlton High School and the Handelsschule in Leipzig, gaining there an interest in architecture. He went to train at the practice of a family friend, Alexander Mills, and on completing his articles he travelled on the Continent for a few years, returning in the 1850s to his old stomping ground of Mills and Company, which in 1853 became Murgatroyd and Mills. The first major contract he undertook was the alteration and reconstruction of the Royal Exchange in Manchester. The firm also designed the extensions to London Road Station and carried out work for Manchester Grammar School, The Manchester High School for Girls, The Grand Hotel, Manchester and the County Bank. Further afield they designed the Docks Offices at Grimsby and the Southern Hospital in Glasgow.

Mills and Murgatroyd were not beyond smaller commissions, they designed the drinking fountains at Victoria, London Road and Central Stations in Manchester, as well as carrying out many projects in Glossop, in deference to his father in law, including the baths at Howard Park, Woods Hospital, and another public drinking fountain. James died on Boxing Day 1894, at Warley, their house in Didsbury and was buried at Southern Cemetery in Manchester on New Year’s Eve.

They had eleven children, amongst them, Edith Eliza Murgatroyd who married Tom Harrop Sidebottom, MP for Stalybridge between 1874-1880 and 1885-1900, and Samuel Lees Murgatroyd OBE who became a noted railway man, finishing his days as Permanent Way Engineer for the LNER in London, enjoying a long retirement between 1929 and 1957, when he died aged 93.

Another son, Arthur James Murgatroyd followed his father in his architectural practice, but seems to have run it into the ground and he died apparently bankrupt at Sunnyside on Marlborough Road in Buxton in 1931, aged 65.

Next time we will meet someone who was perhaps intoxicated with his wealth, and spent it too quickly and unwisely.

Copyright 2019 Allan Russell

Author: allanprussell

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

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