Thomas Baldwin (1859 – 1949)
Greengrocer in Charles Street for over 70 years
The descendants of Thomas Baldwin have provided Hoole History & Heritage Society with some family photographs, which have prompted some local research. The author remembers his mother being served with vegetables by Thomas, who would have been in his 80s, and the photograph of him and his wife confirm the memory. The author also delivered milk to his son, John Miles Baldwin, a painter and decorator at his shop at 21 Charles Street and remembers being paid by him.
The Ancestry website show some research into the Baldwin family which unfortunately contains one or two errors.
Thomas Baldwin was born in 1859 in Burton, Westmoreland, his parents being Henry, who was a molecatcher, and Margaret. He had an elder sister, Mary who married a Chester man, Edward J. Felstead. They were landlords of the Newgate Tavern. After Edward died in 1898 Mary married a Thomas Walker who joined her in the pub. He turned out to be violent, so she left and moved to Faulkner Street. In 1901 he was charged regarding an assault he made on her there. In the ensuing case, which was fully reported in the Cheshire Observer, Thomas Baldwin was called to give evidence. Walker was ordered to pay 5 shillings a week towards her. The 1881 Census shows Thomas Baldwin staying with the Felsteads at 18 Charlotte Street. He was 22 years old and his occupation was a tailor. It was here that he met Elizabeth Riley who would become his wife.
Later Census returns show her as being born in Hoole, but she was actually born in Holt, Denbighshire, the 1861 Census shows her as the daughter of Leonard Reilly, an agricultural labourer who came from Ireland; he was married to Mary, a girl from Holt. The 1871 and 1881 censuses show that Leonard Riley (spelling of surname changed) had moved to No.66, now No.74 Faulkner Street, which was then the last house in the street where he was a cowkeeper, using the yard and outbuildings located there (see Faulkner Street in Streets of Hoole & Newton). At that time the population of Hoole was expanding rapidly bringing with it a demand for fresh milk; a number of residents kept cows which they raised on the field of Cow Pastures, which was behind the early houses of Faulkner and Law Street. Leonard Riley’s wife no longer appears but Elizabeth aged 24 is listed as a dressmaker. One researcher suggests that Elizabeth went to work as a servant in Salford but they had in fact found a different ‘Elizabeth Riley’. Elizabeth's brother, also named Leonard Riley, was appointed as the first park keeper of Alexandra Park in 1904.
Thomas and Elizabeth were married in 1882 and they set up a greengrocery business at 8 Charles Street. This was a wise move because it appears that there wasn’t another one in Hoole. Previously the shop in 1871 had been run by a butcher and in 1881 it was occupied by a printer and smallware dealer.
Thomas Baldwin continued to sell greengroceries for the next 65 years, the only blemish on his shop-keeping record being reported in the Cheshire Observer 3rd November 1888:
They had 8 children and the 1911 Census shows Thomas Edward, aged 21, as a shopworker in clothing; Ernest William, 19, as a clerk at a seed merchant; and John Miles, 17, as an apprentice painter and decorator, probably to Mr. Charles Hutchings at 60 Westminster Road. A ‘Jno Baldwin’ (presumably John Miles) appears in the admissions register of All Saints School in 1903, unfortunately available copies of the register do not include the other children.
When World War I started in 1914 the sons were enlisted, and the following information has been found:
John Miles’ service record appears not to have survived but it has been established that he served overseas and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. This was initially as Private 37391 with the South Wales Borderers, going overseas at some point after 1st January 1916. The Battalion that he was with cannot be identified, but in the photograph he is wearing the cap badge of the South Wales Borderers. At some point between October 1917 and January 1918 he transferred to the Labour Corps as Private 417569, meaning he was likely medically downgraded either through illness, accident or wounds received. For some if not all his time with the Labour Corps he was with 911 Area Employment Company and would have been involved in a variety of non-combat duties. They were part of the 2nd Army, which was re-designated from March 1918. From then until November 1918 they were involved in 19 separate battles.
His elder brother Thomas Edward also served, but again his papers also seem not to have survived. It seems likely though that he was a pre-war Territorial. Certainly the Chester Chronicle of 5th Sept 1914 in an article “Hoole Men Obey Duty's Call” includes "BALDWIN 8 Charles Street RAMC". He was later identified as Pte 362087 No.231 Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps. They were part of 74 Division. They fought in the Middle East campaign throughout 1917 before returning to the Western Front in May 1918 until the end of the War. At least three other Hoole men served in this same unit (out of an approximate establishment of 240 men).
After the War the greengrocery business continued in Charles Street; Elizabeth died in 1924 but Thomas (for some reason known as ‘Skinner’ Baldwin) continued to run the shop until his death in 1949. His daughter Miss Elizabeth Baldwin continued the business before she died in 1960. The premises then became a paint shop run for several years by W. Caldwell.
After serving during the War, John Miles resumed his career as a painter and decorator. A 1933 Directory showing that he was living at 21 Charles Street, perhaps over the shop run by Mr. C. Hutchings, described as a paper hanger and decorator as it would appear that John Miles eventually took over the business. After he retired in 1980, the shop became a laundromat. It is now a carpet shop.
John Miles's son, John Edward Baldwin became an architect and he designed the Pepper Street Car Park, being responsible for the column on which the Coade Stone Lion (once the symbol of the Lion Brewery which had previously occupied the site) was placed.
The final photograph supplied by the family shows Thomas Baldwin delivering fruit & veg from his horse and cart in Vicarage Road. One caption says that it is of him and his son, Charlie which caused great confusion because there is no trace of a son called Charlie. Further investigation revealed that the boy was actually John Miles and it was the horse that was called ‘Charlie’.
In 1897 Thomas Bater with his business partner William Schofield Williamson purchased the residual estate of Hoole House which stretched from Hoole Road to Hoole Lane and from Hamilton Street to Park Drive. Their purchase was very significant in terms of the layout of that part of Hoole which we know today.
Thomas Bater was born in Barnstaple, Devon and by the age of 19 was farming 250 acres of prairie in Canada from which in 1887 he was exporting cattle to Liverpool and Birkenhead. He returned to England and built a successful business in the livestock and meat trade at the Woodside Meat Exchange. He made frequent trips to the United States to negotiate deals with ranchers and in 1904 was President of a festival in Birkenhead for all those concerned with the foreign meat trade.
In 1896 the Rt Hon Claude Hamilton Vivian, who had inherited Hoole House and its estates from his great aunt Martha Hamilton in 1893, succeeded to his family's seat at Plas Gwyn in Anglesey. His estate of some 96 acres was sold by auction, the House and 61 acres being bought by Mr Edward Thomas of Denbigh. Within a year Mr. Thomas sold Hoole House to Mrs Elizabeth Potts of Hoole Hall and the remaining land to Messrs Bater and Williamson who seized the opportunity to invest in the rapidly growing residential development which was taking place. They sold parts of it to adjoining property owners and builders and their names appear in the deeds of houses in Sumpters Pathway and Clare Avenue which were built by Henry Sumpter and Henry Crowder respectively; houses were built on Bater Avenue, a new road linking to Panton Road.
In June 1899 the remaining land which was named the "Vivian Building Estate" was broken into building plots for sale by auction. These included the 6.231 acres that Hoole Urban District Council wished to purchase for the provision of a public park and the Council had to negotiate terms with Bater and Williamson, whose initial conditions included an expectation that the Council would lay down surrounding roads, sewerage, gas and water mains, that certain entrances would be created and that activities in the park should be restricted so as not to cause a nuisance to nearby residents. These led to heated debate in the Council Chamber and numerous visits to the vendors' offices in Birkenhead. Eventually the deal was completed, and the first part of the park opened in 1904.
The other plots and groups of plots were sold to individuals including a Mrs Kennedy who eventually sold some of her land for the allotments and Thomas Smith, a farmer and Clydesdale horse breeder at Blacon Point Farm, who also sold land for the allotments. His son, Cecil Plumbe Smith, a partner in Walker, Smith & Way, Solicitors also purchased some of the land which the Council then acquired for the extension of the park and for the establishment of the playing field with covenants restricting their future use. Cecil Plumbe Smith who lived at Newton Hall and then Folly House also bought the land on which Lime Grove and surrounding streets were built, his name appearing in the deeds of property there.
Shortly after Thomas Bater's death in 1917 the name of Bater Avenue was changed, and it became a continuation of Panton Road.
Dr. Francis John Butt (1863 – 1933)
Francis John Butt was Hoole's Medical Officer of Health for over 30 years and his contribution to the life of the area shows him to have been a remarkable man.
His father, also Francis Butt, appears in the 1851 Census as a clerk in the Inland Revenue, and by the 1861 Census then aged 59 had married Francis's mother Mary Cawley who was 30 years younger than him. He was still listed as an officer of the Inland Revenue, also a City Councillor, but his wife's occupation appears as a jeweller and silversmith, their address being Eastgate Street.
Francis John Butt was born in 1863, his father died in 1869, and in the 1871 Census his widowed mother appears as a goldsmith employing 2 men at the Eastgate Street premises. Francis went to the Kings School and then became a medical student, living at the age of 18 at No.8 Curzon Park with his mother and sister Mary Leonara. He went to medical schools at University College London and at Edinburgh University, worked in Nottingham Hospital and qualified in 1887.
In 1892 Francis married Harriette Hirsch and their first home was 3 Allington Terrace, now No.37 Hoole Road. They had four children, Hortense Nora in 1893, Francis Alfred 1896, Edward Sculthorpe 1899, and Harold Walthew 1900. His wife died suddenly in 1900 and the 1901 Census shows his sister had moved into Allington Terrace to look after the children. The Census also shows Hortense aged 8, as a residential pupil at Miss Neville's school at "The Elms". One of her fellow pupils was Clare Helen Dobbins, the daughter of "Patsy" Dobbins, the well-known canal side scrap merchant, who lived in Newton Lane. In 1903 his youngest son Harold died. Later that year Francis remarried to Charlotte Barell and they had a son John Everett. During this time the family moved across the road to "The Limes" where the doctor was to practice until 1929. (More information on the property can be found in the article on 'Kilmorey Park' in Hoole Road).
From the time of his arrival in Hoole Dr. Butt played a large part in local life. Newspaper reports show that he was a popular doctor, always on call, frequently giving evidence. A notable inquest was on the wife of William Farmery, landlord of The Beehive, who died suspiciously of strychnine poisoning. Dr. Butt became Medical Officer to the local Great Western Railway Company, visiting doctor to children's homes at Dodleston and Saughall and an assessor for several insurance companies.
In 1894 he was elected to the newly formed Hoole Urban District Council and was soon making well informed and considered contributions. A supporter of provision for the wellbeing of inhabitants he was behind the proposals to provide the public park, the first part of which opened in 1904, and the bowling greens which followed. Although a newcomer to Hoole he was not in favour of its amalgamation with Chester, an issue raised several times in the early 20th century. In 1900 Dr. Butt became Chairman of the Urban District Council, but when the post of the Council's Medical Officer of Health became suddenly vacant, he resigned his position and was appointed to the post which he occupied for 33 years. He was instrumental in opening a Child Welfare Centre at No.55 Hoole Road.
Copies of his Medical Reports for 1905, 1913, and 1925 which contain a lot of interesting information about the District at approximately 10 year intervals, can be found at archives provided by the Wellcome Foundation:
They are all attributed to ‘Medical Officer of Health, Hoole U.D.C. Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)’
When he joined the Council in 1894 moves were being made by fellow member Richard Cecil Davies to form Hoole Volunteer Fire Brigade and Dr. Butt became heavily involved in its operation. He was appointed as Surgeon Lieutenant, he immediately provided St Johns Ambulance training for its volunteers and was a regular attendee at all its events, in 1919 receiving a 25 years’ service award. More information on Hoole Volunteer Fire Brigade is in preparation.
Dr. Butt was a founder member of a revived Hoole Cricket Club, playing as wicket keeper. He became its President in 1896 and reports of its dinners (unhealthily called smokers) at the Ermine Hotel show how a lot of off-field activity was enjoyed.
This was the time when Chester Football Club had its ground in Hoole, first at Faulkner Street and then on the site of Hewitt Street. Chester F.C. had origins from the Kings School F.C. and in the 1896/7 season Dr. Butt became a committee member. More than that he also appears to have been the team doctor, being on a number of team photographs of the time.
Hoole Alexandra Park Bowling Club was established in 1912 using the new bowling green, and in 1914 Dr. Butt presented ‘The Butt Cup’ so as to stimulate competition among the members. After ten years it was won outright by T. Bennion and he gave a replacement which is still played for today. The Doctor encouraged the provision of another green - No 3 at the Panton Road end of the playing field, and the putting green which opened next to the tennis courts. He himself had played lawn tennis representing in 1893 Chester in a match against Wrexham. He became an enthusiastic golfer playing at both The Bache and Curzon Park Golf Clubs.
When Hoole Literary Institute was formed in 1897, he became its Vice-president and was a keen member of Hoole School of Cookery which held meetings in the 1900s. For a number of years he sat on the bench at Chester Police Court.
Dr. Butt was the parade marshal of the procession to Alexandra Park in 1911 celebrating the coronation of King George V, leading it in his car which was decorated with roses. He employed a chauffeur, Samuel Gorham from Peploe Street whom he allowed to keep pigeons in the space above his garage.
Many of the social events Dr. Butt attended ended with recitals and a sing song; invariably the Doctor would be a contributor, 'My darling Clementine' and 'There is a tavern in the town' being a part of his often reported repertoire. In a fund-raising event in 1902 for the Hoole Volunteer Fire Brigade he is actually listed as one of the artistes appearing!
His obituary in 1933 reported how "he had served the Hoole Authority conscientiously and efficiently, his annual reports to the Council being instructive and models of clarity. He was always proud of the health record of the District and used to claim it as the healthiest spot in the area".
He certainly made the most of it.
Architects, Residents & Public Servants
Spanning a period of nearly 80 years, the footprint the Davies family left on the development of Hoole in the late 19th Century was significant. They were architects and the developers of six major houses in Hoole, closely involved with the development of the township over the 19th century, as well as respected businessmen, with one family member becoming one of the most charismatic political leaders of Hoole Urban Council and later of Chester City Council. The full story can be found at The Davies of Hoole.
Butchers in Hoole for 115 years
This article traces the history of the Dinwoodie family's butchers' business in Hoole. A chronology of John Dinwoodie Senior (1817-1892) who ran butchers' shops in various parts of Chester appears as an Appendix (below).
John Dinwoodie Junior was born in 1842 and married Mary Ann Lanceley, a plumber's daughter in 1860. In the 1861 Census they were living at 22 St. Anne's Street in Newtown, Chester. By December 1861 he was running a butcher's shop at 2 Faulkner Street. Possibly his father set him up in business as a wedding present. A later advertisement claims that the shop was established in 1860.
A newspaper article in 1861 on the provenance of Christmas livestock shows John Dinwoodie Jnr displaying in his Faulkner Street shop, two heifers bred in Helsby, ten sheep from Charles Higginson's farm in Hoole Village and two pigs from Shocklach. John was then 19 years old. A similar article in December 1876 said that he had some of the highest priced beasts from the Ermine Show; also excellent mutton from sheep bred by His Grace the Duke of Westminster.
In 1872 a son, Frederick Turner, was born and in 1875 a second son, John Hamilton, who only lived for 20 months.
John Jnr. was elected to the Hoole Local Board. In 1869 he was appointed as one of the two overseers for the Township of Hoole, and in 1876 took the chair of the Vestry Committee (Local Township Council) at its meeting in the Bromfield Arms. A black mark occurred in 1870 when he was charged with having a 56lb weight, 2lbs light and was ordered to pay costs of 4s 6d.
An advertisement in 1878 shows his involvement in the letting of No.1 Hamilton Terrace on Hoole Road. Following this, the family moved to Manchester, the 1881 Census showing them living at Moss Side, his occupation being a butcher and cattle dealer. No records have been found to show what happened to the business in Manchester. Whilst they were there the shop in Faulkner Street was occupied by Samuel Weaver, a butcher and cattle dealer from Newton.
In 1882, soon after the family returned to Hoole, John Jnr. died at the age of 41.
After his death, the business at 2 Faulkner Street was carried on by his wife, Mary Ann. Her signature can be seen on the Memorial (Petition) drawn up in 1889 to access the General Railway Station from Hoole.
At the age of 13, son Frederick can be found playing cricket for Hoole 2nd XI, All Saints Church and its Choir; it is not known if he was actually a member of the Church. He went on to play for Hoole 1st XI into the early years of the 20th Century and took an active interest for the rest of his life. In the 1890s he became Secretary of the Hoole Literary Institute which met in Faulkner Street.
In September 1890, the premises described as "a dwellinghouse, shop, stables and outbuildings in the occupation of Mrs. Dinwoodie, butcher" was sold by auction. Mrs. Dinwoodie continued the business there assisted by her son Frederick until at least 1902. By 1905 the shop was no longer a butcher's and had become a greengrocer’s.
This appears to be the time when Frederick who was then in his 30s took over the business from his mother. He moved to the butcher's shop previously run by Edward Hopper at 65/67 Faulkner Street. Those premises had only been built some 10 years earlier. Hoole History & Heritage Society has looked at the effect in 1906 of the opening of the Cooperative store in Walker Street which contained a butcher's shop. At that time there were five independent butchers in Hoole. See Retail & Trades for a history of Butchers' Shops in Hoole.
The 1911 Census shows Frederick living at 67 Faulkner Street with his wife Sara and 5 children: John Hamilton born 1902, Hilda Mabel b.1903, Dora Adelaide b.1904, Marjorie Louise b.1905, Roger Frederick b.1906 and Ruby Lillian b.1909.
The date of the well-known photograph of carcasses hanging outside 65/67 Faulkner Street seems to be confirmed as 1909, Mary Hayward (nee Dinwoodie) wrote in Chester Memories Facebook that the picture included her father, Roger Frederick, then aged 3. Another later photograph shows the shop frontage tiled with the family name.
By 1922 Frederick had opened another shop at 20 Walker Street, perhaps like his grandfather before him, setting up one of his sons there. This shop had also previously been a butcher's shop run by George Harvey. It closed in 1969.
Also, by 1922, Frederick had moved into the prestigious area of Hoole Park living at No.7 - interestingly next door to another butcher, Edward Bagshaw. Frederick was a member of Hoole Bowling Club. His daughters Ruby Lillian and Hilda Mabel were apparently formidable tennis doubles players; they both played for Upton Tennis Club. Ruby won the Ladies Singles Tournament at Hoole Alexandra Park three times in the 1930s. She also played hockey and was a member of Cheshire County Ladies Hockey Team.
Frederick became President of Cheshire's Master Butchers Association and a Freeman. He died in 1935 but his wife Sara continued to live at Hoole Park until 1956 when she died aged 82. Her obituary confirmed that their two sons had taken over the business. An advertisement appeared for the shops in the 1951 Festival of Britain Handbook.
John Hamilton Dinwoodie married Kathleen Mary Heath and eventually lived at 40 Park Drive on the then newly built Hoole Lodge Estate; his brother Roger Frederick lived with his wife Eileen at 112 Faulkner Street.
The business at Faulkner Street closed in 1974 when 115 years of Dinwoodie butchers' shops in Hoole came to an end.
John Hamilton died in 1991 and Roger Frederick in 1999.
John Dinwoodie Senior (1817-1892)
Dates relate to incidents and are not necessarily start dates.
1817 Born in Dumfries, Scotland
1838 Came to Chester (advertisement in 1858 indicates 20 years as a butcher)
1838 Married Rebecca
1841 Petitions for Insolvency
1842 Son John born
1849 Shop in Frodsham Street
1851 Residing at Cottage Street, Great Boughton (Census)
1856 Shops at Eastgate Street and No.9 Watergate Street (run by his wife)
1858 Announced that his shop in Eastgate Street was closing down because it was about to be demolished
1860 Set up son in shop in recently built Faulkner Street
1861 Living at Garden Lane (Census)
1863 Made bankrupt
1863 Shop in Chester Market
1876 Shop still at Watergate Street (provenance of Christmas livestock described)
1882 Gave evidence at Court about cruelty at Cunnah's Bowling Green cattle sales
1892 Death announced
Kemp family in the 19th century
From Agricultural Labourer to Market Gardener and Boot and Shoemaker to Tea and Coffee Merchant
The Post Office Street Directory of 1857 was the first directory to list businesses in Hoole. There were just six entries for the newly built Faulkner Street, including the Faulkner Arms, and one of these was a boot and shoemaker, William Kemp. In the 1851 Census William Kemp, born in Plemstall and aged 22, was listed as living at Hoole Bank with his wife Mary aged 20 who came from Ellesmere in Shropshire, his occupation being a boot and shoemaker.
Ten years earlier William then aged 12 was living in Hoole Village with his parents John and Margaret, their ages given respectively as 25 and 40. Investigations into Plemstall Church records show that John was born on 6 February 1803, so his actual age was 38, and he married Margaret Hughes from Hope in Flintshire on 18 October 1827. There were two other sons from the marriage, John aged 6, Edward aged 3, and a daughter Jane who was 10.
John Senior was an agricultural labourer working for the Grindley family at the original Hoole Hall. This had been acquired by the Hamilton family from the Rev John Baldwin, Rector of Plemstall, who changed his name to Rigby as required by a legacy, before leaving the area. The Hamiltons rented the Hall, which following severe damage in the Civil War had become a farm, to John Grindley, a druggist whose business was in Northgate Street, Chester.
The 1841 Census shows John and Katherine Grindley with their 5 children and 12 servants living there. It appears that Mrs. Grindley ran the farm and was a frequent exhibitor of livestock at local agricultural shows. In 1861 John Kemp Snr. was awarded 10s. as a prize at the Dunham Hill Agricultural Show for 40½ years long service with Mrs. Grindley and her predecessors, meaning that he started there at the age of 16.
Although John Kemp worked at Hoole Hall he did not live there and the Tithe Records of c1839 shows that he was a tenant of a cottage belonging to the Earl of Shrewsbury on the north side of Warrington Road close to the smithy and the Royal Oak.
By the 1861 Census he had moved to Air (sic) Lane and in 1868 the sale was advertised of “a cottage and premises in Hare Lane, Hoole with the croft adjoining now held by John Kemp”. Hare Lane ran from Hoole Road through Pipers Ash to Vicars Cross and in the 1881 Census John, then aged 78 was listed as a market gardener at Pipers Ash Cottage. His wife Margaret had died there in March 1873 aged 75 and John died in 1884 aged 81.
Returning to William Kemp. Although the son of an agricultural labourer it is likely that Mrs. Grindley encouraged William’s father to ensure that he and his siblings received some education, and a plaque in Plemstall Church shows an active school was held there “Charles Hurleston of Newton Esq. left a sum of £50 the interest to the Schoole 1828”. No information as to where William learnt his trade as a boot and shoemaker has been found. His brother, John Junior who continued to live with his parents was also a shoemaker and is likely to have worked in the business.
It is possible to pinpoint exactly the property which he occupied in Faulkner Street. No.4 was the last in a block of four newly built on Thomas Faulkner’s land called Bishopsfield or the Flookersbrook Field. An auction sale of these in March 1854 with some adjacent properties show that William Kemp, shoemaker occupied one of them, the block being the first built there actually bearing the name Faulkner Street which can be seen today.
In 1856 a row of eight properties was erected to the north of there on land purchased from Maria Moor, the boundary being at that precise point. These were numbered 1 to 8, so in the 1861 Census William Kemp’s house appears as No.12. In the 1860s the properties in Faulkner Street were renumbered again, odds on the eastern and evens on the western side. No.12 became No.29 and the 1871 Census shows William and Mary still living there but he had become a tea and coffee merchant, perhaps because of the increasing competition.
The demand for footwear was consistently high as people had to walk to work, be it on the railways, at the leadworks or other heavy industries, at Dicksons’ Nurseries or in the retail and service trades of Chester. The growing population resulted in many feet needing shoes and the changing sizes of children’s feet increased the demand. To own more than one pair of shoes was unusual so the demand for shoe repairs was also high. In the second half of the 19th century there were as many as six cobblers operating in Hoole.
All did not go well for William. His wife died, his new business did not succeed, and he moved to live at 56 Faulkner Street where in 1881 his occupation was given as a gardener’s labourer. He had remarried and at the time had a son aged 1. He died in 1893 and was buried in Overleigh Cemetery.
Although there was no continuity older Hooligans will remember that Jack Smith’s shoe shop was also located in the block of four original shops, the business being set up by his father William in 1901. Mr. Fruity was the latest occupant.
The frequent re-numbering of houses gave cause in April 1867 for Mr. Owen, postmaster at Chester, to complain to the Hoole Local Board of the difficulty the postmen experienced in delivering letters owing to the doors of houses not being numbered. The tender of Mr. Southcote for numbering the house doors in Bishopsfied, at 3d a door, was accepted.
If you walk along the canal tow path into Chester you will see a plaque on the City Road Bridge, showing that the ironwork was provided by J. Mowle & Co. in 1863. James Mowle’s foundry was in Egerton Street but he lived in Hoole where he played a significant part in the life of the local community.
James Michael Boxer Mowle was born on 5th July 1824 at Deal, Kent, and when his family moved to Hull he went to college there and then spent two years in Germany working in their heavy metal industry. After coming to Chester, he married Elizabeth Brocklebank, the daughter of the Rev. J. Brocklebank, the Vicar of Delamere, at Plemstall Church on 26th July 1852.
The first advertisement for the iron founding business, under the name Williams & Mowle, appeared in February 1851 when he was 27 years old. His partner was Robert Williams, previously from the Roodee Foundry. Their foundry and adjoining smith’s workshops had only recently been built in Egerton Street for J. Newall & Co. who had been displaced from their previous site on the south side of the original Flookersbrook Bridge by the arrival of the railways in 1840. Newall’s wheelwright shop was actually named in the proposals for both the railways to Birkenhead and Crewe as being near the termination of their lines in Chester. Before Williams & Mowle moved into the Egerton Street premises they were used by Shrewsbury & Chester Railway Company.
During the next 50 years, advertisements illustrate the variety of products made at the foundry:
- copper and iron pans for brewing and the manufacture of salt, sugar, and soap.
- steam engines (travelling if necessary) plus the machinery for thrashing, winnowing, and bagging corn ready for market.
- machinery for all kinds of engineering work including gas and waterworks, railways, mines, and roads.
An article in Farmers Magazine for 1855 suggests that a steam engine built for Viscount Combermere was ground-breaking. An advertisement in 1877 shows that the winding engine and associated steam driven apparatus at Theresa Colliery in Bagillt were built by the foundry. The firm also installed an engine in a lead rolling mill in Bristol in 1880 which was not replaced until 1956.
Their work was not just a local operation. Railway plans show that the Company bought premises next to the lines in the Egerton Street area so that incoming raw materials and out-going finished products could be more easily handled.
By 1863, James Mowle was the sole owner of the foundry which in 1871 was employing 70 men and 150 boys. In 1883 his son, John Adolf came into the business. James retired in 1891 and a new partner was recruited. The firm then became Mowle & Meacock and existed until 1906 when the foundry was demolished. Egerton Street School was built on the site.
In the 1861 Census, the Mowle family were living in Huntington Road (Sandy Lane?) in Boughton; an 1864 Directory shows them at 3 Egerton Terrace in Hoole. In 1866, Martha Hamilton, whose family owned much of the land in Hoole at that time, released the area on which not only was All Saints Church to be built, but also the three large houses to its east: “Grove Villa” (today’s Academy, formerly the site of the Library), “The Oaklands” and “Golden Grove” (The Dene Hotel). Golden Grove was actually the field name given in the Tithe Map to this stretch of land along Hoole Road. James Mowle moved into “Grove Villa” and renamed it “The Cedars”.
Contrary to the Church’s official guidebook, The Cedars was never used as a Vicarage. The first incumbent of the Church since its opening in 1867 was the Rev. Frederick Anderson, who lived at 5 Egerton Terrace until a Vicarage was built in 1885 in Vicarage Road. A proposal in 1886 to build the new All Saints Boys School in the Church grounds was objected to by James Mowle and it was eventually built behind the Bromfield Arms.
James Mowle played a prominent part in the life of Hoole. He was elected in May 1864 to the new Local Board for the regulation of affairs in the Township of Hoole, and although he lost his seat in 1871 reportedly along with several others due to “new blood” on the “retrenchment ticket”, he was re-elected in 1874.
He was Chairman of the Management Committee of the Lecture Hall and Reading Room from 1869, and his name occurs frequently in reports of local activities. He was also a member of Chester Town Council. He was a house visitor to Chester Infirmary, involved in ensuring evening concerts were held in Chester and he was a supporter of the Autumn Sports Days held on the Roodee. As an active supporter of the Liberal Party he was named along with many others as a “briber” in the enquiry into “treating” during the Chester election of 1880 for “donating” £25.00 so that drinks could be bought for potential voters.
James and Elizabeth Mowle had 7 children and at least 2 of them died at a young age. Elizabeth died in 1870 at the age of 37 after 18 years of marriage soon after they had moved into The Cedars. James re-married 2 years later to Mary Ann Ralphs who herself died 4 years later. The family moved to Victoria Crescent in Queens Park where James died in 1912 aged 87.
Additional material, together with transcriptions of the advertisments shown above, can be found at JMB Mowle - Advertisments & Transcriptions.
Footnote: James Mowle’s Egerton Street Foundry should not be confused with the Flookersbrook Foundry of Cole, Whittle & Co. which operated in Charles Street, off Brook Street and eventually became Chester Hydraulics. Addresses given as Flookersbrook were applied on both sides of the stream.
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, September 2017, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Information on World War I service records provided by Dave Rees, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, October 2021, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, February 2022, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, July 2020, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam, January 2018, Hoole History & Heritage Society