Parr’s House is shrouded in mystery, few photographs exist, and those that do, do not show the whole house. We have a glimpse of it taken at the Mafeking celebrations around 1900. I took the washing down for you to afford a better view.
We also have one taken just before demolition, looking from the terrace towards the Crown Inn.
And that’s it, just a few glimpses of a house that had so many influential people pass through its doors.
After Henry Pearson’s death, the house was put up for sale for one more time, and our next resident was Robert Matthews.
Robert was born on 23 December 1854 in Wigton, Cumberland to Humphrey Matthews and Ann Grey. Humphrey was was an engineer who built agricultural implements. Robert followed in his footsteps and in the 1870s he moved to work R&W Hawthorne in Newcastle Upon Tyne and then worked at J Wigham Richardson and Company in the same city. By 1878 he was chief draughtsman at Bell, Lightfoot & Company.
Around this time Bell Lightfoot & Co built a large beam pumping engine for the Hull Waterworks, the engine was in operation between 1876 and 1952 and is preserved at the site. On the dissolution of the Bell’s partnership (administered by William Barclay Peat ¹) Robert went to Dartford as managing draughtsman in J & E Hall whose chief product was refrigeration machinery for shipping meat from Australia.
In 1880 Robert moved to Manchester where he joined Goodfellow’s of Hyde, eventually becoming a partner, the firm working under the style of Goodfellow & Matthews, who manufactured rope gearing and refrigeration machinery
Finally in 1891 he became a director of Sir Joseph Whitworth & Company and remained in that position until the company amalgamated with Messrs Armstrong Mitchell and Company into Armstrong Whitworth, at which point he was appointed head of the engineering branch in Manchester.
We have briefly met Sir Joseph before, as he married Mary Orrell.
During his time at Armstrong Whitworth, Robert was President of the Engineering Employers federation, and a Council member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for ten years, as well as being a member of the Institution of Civil and Electrical Engineers, and of the Naval Architects.
In September 1877 he married Jane Corbett in Newcastle, and on moving to Manchester they lived at Parr’s House until his death on 13 June 1923. Jane’s father and mother Thomas Corbett and Ann Taylor came to live with them at Parr’s House in the 1890s. Thomas was also an Engineer from Newcastle and the relationship presumably derived from his time there.
Robert and Jane had five children, Thomas (1879-1880) , Robert (b 1884), Arthur (b 1886) Lillie (b 1890) and Jennie (b 1895)
After Robert’s death Parr’s House had no further inhabitants, and it was demolished for housing, leaving no evidence of the grand house that once stood there. Parr’s House has disappeared from history. We do not have any pictures showing it clearly, nor do we have pictures of any of its inhabitants since John Illingworth, whose fame still resonates in Central America.
Except, perhaps… does this gatepost in the Crown Inn Beer Garden originate in Parr’s?
¹ In our continuing spotlight on famous accountants, William Peat, is the “P” in KPMG
Copyright 2020 Allan Russell