A Short History of Prestwich

Introduction – an Outline History.

 Peter J. Corbally

In 1296 the church at Prestwich suffered a burglary in which a number of charters, placed there for safe-keeping, were stolen. What was lost was probably the whole early history of Prestwich – grants of the Manor to Saxon Thanes or Norman knights, the foundation deeds of the church etc. What we are left with is a black hole and we have to peer into it somehow.

The name, Prestwich, is Anglo-Saxon, probably Mercian. It was translated in a rather ham-fisted manner in the nineteenth century as “The Priests’ Retreat”. In fact “wich” in a place name means an “enclosure” or “place of work”. Prestwich means “the Priests’ enclosure” or the enclosed land of the Priests. Wich should not be confused with wick, which, in the north of England is usually Danish in origin and indicates a dairy farm.

Note the Saxon form,preost, is plural – Priests’ not Priest’s – which implies a religious community, a group of Priests, rather than a single Parish Priest. This fits in with the family tradition mentioned by Sir John Prestwich in the eighteenth century. That his family, the de Prestwich family, had been Thanes of Prestwich from before the Norman Conquest and had founded a monastery in the village which later merged with Stanlow Abbey. The de Prestwich family certainly were the Lords of the Manor of Prestwich up to 1362. Sir John’s claims about the “monastery” have been rubbished, notably by Booker in his Memorials of the Church in Prestwich. But they do seem to bear the hallmarks of a long held family tradition which has a kernel of truth in it. A Saxon monastery need not be the grand imposing edifice we think of in regard to medieval monasteries. It might just have been an enclosure with a wooden church and monk’s huts scattered around it.

The area between the Ribble and the Mersey (where Prestwich is situated ) had a confused history during the Dark Ages. It was part of the Kingdom of Northumbria between 610 and 850 but from 850 to 920 it was in the Danish Kingdom of York. In about 918 King Edward the Elder waged war in the area with his sister, The Lady Ethelflaeda of Mercia. They defeated the Danish King of York and he had to hand over our area – the land between the Ribble and the Mersey. King Edward made the whole area a royal possession run from manors like the royal manor of Salford. But he gave it to Mercia to supervise. Mercians flooded into this area after 920, sent to reclaim the area for the Saxons. Manchester is a name showing Mercian influence and so is Prestwich ( the soft “ch” of the Mercian version of Anglo-Saxon contrasts with the hard “c” of Northumbria. – Manchester versus Lancaster for example).

It is from that period, the tenth century between 920 and 980, that the name Prestwich probably comes. Of course that does not mean to say that there was not a settlement there before that. We know there were Romano-British farms in Prestwich from the archaeological record e.g. at Rainsough.

Robert de Prestwich 1193

Nevertheless, because of that theft at the Church in 1296, the first reference we have to the name of the village and to the manorial family called de Prestwich is the Pipe Roll of 1193.

King Richard I was away on Crusade and his younger brother Prince John attempted a coup. Prince John mustered his supporters at various places such as Lancaster. But King Richard’s Regent, William de Longchamp assembled his own troops in defence of the rightful King. The Regent stormed northwards destroying several of John’s castles and hanging his followers. Prince John took the hint ; he crept away to his lands in Ireland and his followers dispersed homewards.

That still didn’t stop reprisals and Longchamp drew up lists of knights and others who had supported Prince John and fined them. That is how we first hear about Prestwich. Robert de Prestwich held the manor of Prestwich and he had turned out in support of Prince John. He was fined 5 marks as a result. It should be noted that other local squires were also fined – Adam de Bury, William de Radcliffe etc. What they all had in common was that they held some of their land from the Baron de Montbegon of Hornby Castle. Montbegon was a friend and leading advisor to Prince John. So he probably summoned out all his Lancashire vassals, such as Robert de Prestwich, in his cause. Robert de Prestwich might not necessarily have believed that Prince John would make a better King than his brother Richard ; Robert de Prestwich was just obeying a summons from his feudal overlord, Adam de Montbegon. He had to do forty days a year knight’s service for his manor of Prestwich and a quarter of that for Alkrington.

The de Prestwich family held the manors of Prestwich and Alkrington from at least 1193 until 1362. In the end Prestwich went to the Langley family through marriage to the heiress but a subsidiary branch of the de Prestwich family obtained Hulme and Hulme Hall by marriage and became a leading Manchester family from 1350 to 1660.

Sir Adam de Prestwich, Lord of the Manor from 1275 to 1319, started a collection of deeds relevant to his estate in 1297. No doubt it was in response to the theft of charters from the church. He preferred to keep important documents under lock and key at the Manor House from then on. The Langleys continued collecting deeds and the collection grew into the Agecroft Deeds, a series that runs from 1297 through to the early nineteenth century. Most of the early deeds from 1297 to 1561 were about Prestwich. The Agecroft Deeds are a rich seam of material on the history of Prestwich which so far has not really been tapped.

The large Parish of Prestwich.

Something should be said about the Parish of Prestwich. Historically it was huge, stretching from the Irwell to the Pennines beyond Oldham. The original Parish included Prestwich itself, Alkrington, Tonge( Middleton ), Chadderton, Heaton,Oldham, Werneth, Royton and Crompton. It covered about fifteen miles west to east.

Large medieval parishes like Prestwich have been subject to historical research in other areas of England. A hypothesis has been put forward that they show the boundaries of “unitary estates” from the Roman period. The Romans and Romano-British created big estates in order to get a mix of all kinds of farmland in them – arable land, pasture, meadow, moor, heath etc. It is not known whether Prestwich parish was one of those unitary estates but there are Roman remains scattered across the area.

Also in Saxon times when an Earl or King founded a monastery or religious house he endowed it with a large hinterland designed to be big enough to support the monks. That takes us back to Sir John Prestwich’s assertion that his family had founded a monastery in the village. Even if there was not a monastery, the Church at Prestwich might need a substantial area to draw tithes and fees from in order to support it.

This area was poorly populated, there were few people here until the sixteenth century. Perhaps in a poorly populated area the parish would need to be large as a matter of course simply because of the scattered settlement. Eccles and Middleton, the two neighbouring parishes were also large in extent.

Also in the Saxon period “Minsters” were mother churches that served large areas. The extensive Parish of Prestwich would seem to fit that description. It might be better to see St. Mary the Virgin, Prestwich as originally a Saxon Minster.

Eventually the large parish of Prestwich became untenable, it came to be called Prestwich-cum-Oldham which reflected the fact that Oldham had outgrown its parent like a cuckoo in the nest. Nineteen parishes ended up being carved out of the medieval parish of Prestwich.But the Mayor of Oldham is still one of the Patrons of Living of Prestwich.

Medieval Agriculture.

Prestwich was in the western zone running north to south through England of dispersed settlements. There was no nucleated village there but a strong scatter of farms (“folds”) etc. This does not mean to say that it was not a village with a strong sense of community – it was and it still has a strong sense of being a community despite being submerged in the conurbation.

The form of agriculture practised in Prestwich in the medieval period was probably not the classic Open Field System with three fields. The early maps of Prestwich show a tangle of haphazard fields with patches of regular co-axial fields jumbled in with them. The chaotic field boundaries suggest that the land was enclosed early on by agreement between peasants or on the orders of the Landlord. One document from about 1340 is quoted in the history books to show that forest was cleared in this neighbourhood and the land enclosed straight away in individual fields rather going into a common field system.

The presence of old enclosed fields also suggests that animal husbandry was important. Prestwich, with its sandy soils, can never have been a real crop-growing area. Sheep seem to have been important in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and it is possible that the Langleys, after 1400 turned Prestwich into a series of sheep ranches – Polefield, Diggle Fold, Hardmans Fold, Poppythorn, High Bank, Sedgley, Greengate, Woodhill, Prestwich Wood etc.

The inventories of Prestwich residents, there are about thirty of them from 1536 to 1759 in the Lancashire Record Office, will show what the balance was between arable farming and animal husbandry. But again, incredible as it may seem, the Wills from Prestwich ( there are over 300 of them between 1536 and 1858 ) and the inventories that accompany some of them have not been used by Prestwich Historians so far.

Prestwich also had common land however. It was the triangle of land between Sheepfoot Lane, Bury Old Road and Middleton Road, variously known as Fohcastle Moor and Prestwich Moor. It was finally divided between Crumpsall and Prestwich in 1484 following disputes over turf cutting on the moor.

The Prestwich Manor Court Rolls ( in Chethams Library) for 1561 to 1570 show that management of the common land was a major concern. This Manor record also suggest that despite holding individual farms there were collective aspects to farming, such orders about when to remove ringyards ( temporary field divisions) and when to cut or prune trees. The Manor Court also orders all tenants of the Lord of the Manor to grind their corn at the Lord’s mill ( presumably Kersal Mill). The mill was also instructed to work 24/7 “while there was work and water” except between Saturday evening and Sunday evening

The area of Prestwich Moor or Commons was mentioned in the 1663 Terrier as being “newly improved” and it was finally enclosed in about 1720. This was during the tenure of the Cokes as Lord of the Manor.

The Holland- Langley dispute over Prestwich 1362 – 1416.

Prestwich was ravaged by a dispute about ownership of the manor between 1362 and 1416. The last de Prestwich in possession, Agnes de Prestwich, died childless in 1362. Her sister, Margaret, claimed the manor. Margaret was married to Robert de Holland and had seven children but she had, at the age of 15, taken the vows of a nun. This disbarred her, in the eyes of the Church and of the Law, from owning or inheriting land or property. Consequently her cousin, Joan de Langley, claimed the manor for herself.

Many bitter struggles ensued, men were killed fighting in Glossop ( Derbyshire )over this issue in 1402 ! One highlight was the seizure of Prestwich by Robert de Holland on the Monday morning after Ascension Day in 1374. He chucked out of Prestwich both the Sheriff of Lancashire and the young Langley heir, Roger de Langley and his sister. The Langley children were left to roam the cloughs and woods until rescued by a loyal woodsman. He conveyed the children to the care of the Duke of Lancaster. This episode in the history of Prestwich is said to be the basis of the Pantomine plot of “The Babes in the Wood.”

Legal and physical battles followed on from this and the Hollands finally gave up their claim to Prestwich in 1416. Margaret de Prestwich’s grandson, Peter Holland, accepted that he could never be Lord of the Manor of Prestwich and Alkrington because his grandmother had been a nun for a few years in her youth.

The Langleys of Agecroft Hall.

The Langley family of Agecroft Hall held Prestwich until 1561. They owned the manors of Prestwich, Alkrington, Pendlebury, Tetlow ( north Salford ) in addition to other lands in Bamford, Pendleton, Swinton, Chadderton and Oldham. At the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1540s Sir Robert Langley bought Kersal Cell and its lands as well.

The Langleys also owned the Advowson of Prestwich Church and were Patrons of the Living. They appointed a succession of Langley Rectors from 1412 to 1632. Every Rector in that period was called Langley and was a member of the family.

The Langleys lived at Agecroft Hall, a superb medieval Courtyard Manorhouse. This was about 100 yards behind the present day dog kennels on Agecroft Road.

When the last Langley, Sir Robert Langley, died in 1561 the whole estate was divided up between his four daughters who were co-heiresses. Prestwich went to Margaret Langley and then from her to her descendants the Cokes of Longford Hall, Derbyshire. If the Langleys had had a son and kept on going it is not unlikely that they would have emerged as Peers of the Realm in the 17th century, they were so prominent and so wealthy.

The Cokes ( pronounced “Cook”) held the manor of Prestwich until 1794. All the manorial records of the Coke’s period in Prestwich from 1669 to 1794 are in the Drinkwater Deeds in the Lancashire Record Office in Preston. This is another rich seam of Prestwich history which, unbelievably, does not seem to have been touched by the historians of Prestwich thus far. The most famous Coke, a figure of national importance, was Thomas William Coke ( 1752-1842), Earl of Leicester who was a major contributor to the Agrarian Revolution of the 18th Century. T.W. Coke was Lord of the Manor of Prestwich from 1776 to 1794.

Peter Drinkwater was a famous Manchester mill owner, employer and friend of Robert Owen, who bought the title and remaining lands of the Lord of the Manor of Prestwich from Thomas William Coke in 1794. Peter Drinkwater lived at Irwell House in what is now Drinkwater Park. The Drinkwater family held the Manor of Prestwich until 1912 when all Feudal Titles, Rights and Privileges wewre abolished.

The Industrial Revolution.

Prestwich in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries remained a rural backwater, lightly populated, with an important church to be sure but with an absentee landlord until 1794. Transport links were poor and Prestwich was just surrounded by a spidery network of narrow country lanes and farm tracks. A turnpike road of 1754 ( Bury Old Road ) passed half a mile away to the east.

That situation changed gradually. Prestwich became a weaving centre as did most of the neighbourhood. Silk weaving, which was a refined art, spilled over from Middleton into Prestwich, especially at Bowlee and Rooden Lane. Silk weaving had been brought into Middleton in the late 17th century by Huguenot refugees from France. But it was domestic industry based in weaver’s cottages.

Middlemen called Putter-Outers or “Manufacturers”. Collected raw materials from warehouses in Manchester and distributed them to weavers to make up on looms in their own cottages. The Putter-Outers delivered the finished goods back to the warehouses and the process revolved on a weekly basis.

A famous Putter-Outer in mid 19th Century Prestwich was “Roger Yates ut neest”. Roger Yates of Cuckoo’s Nest. His house and warehouse extension are still in existence. Roger walked into Manchester several times a week with his wagon to deliver woven goods and collect supplies  for his weavers.

Handloom weaving reach its peak in the 1790s and weavers were temporarily an elite group. But machines and factories gathered pace and wages fell. Weavers from all over the region met at Prestwich in 1816 in a “Weavers Parliament”. Their aim was to obtain guaranteed rates of pay. But weavers’ living standards continued to decline and Handloom Weaving was a poor job by the 1840s. Domestic Handloom weaving was finally killed off by the Manchester Cotton Famine 1864-66. The Civil War in America stopped supplies of cotton to Lancashire and the Industry ground to a halt. There was considerable distress in the Rooden Lane area of Prestwich during the Cotton Famine.

Another aspect of the textile industry that flourished in Prestwich was bleaching and dying. The first whitster mentioned in the Prestwich Parish Register was in 1678. Whitsters were bleachers who soaked cloth in alkali ( a mix of potash and lime ) and then laid it out in fields ( “bleaching crofts” ) or hung it on tenter lines with tenter hooks for several months.

In the early 18th century they started using chemicals (Sulphuric acid at first and then chloride) to bleach the material. Bleaching developed steadily in Prestwich through the 18th century. There seemed to have been three main sites for it – at the bottom end of Prestwich Clough, in Spring Vale adjacent to Hilton Lane and at Kersal Moorside ( on the Singleton Brook in the George Street area of Sedgley ).

A whitster called Issachar Thorpe was the first local person to step up to bleaching on an industrial scale in his bleach works at Bunker’s Hill in about 1777. Issachar Thorpe had Dams Head Lodge built to supply his bleach works and dashwheels with water. Thorpe’s premises later became Wardleworths ( famous for its Turkey Red dyes) and then turned into the Waterdale Bleachworks.

But as late as the 1851 Census we still find five men describing themselves as “crofters” i.e. working in bleaching crofts in the old way.

Bleaching and dyeing was a major part of Prestwich life in the 19th century. In the 1881 Census, James Buckley, who had the Prestwich Clough Bleach and Dye Works at that time was described as “Bleacher employing 103 men”. And Buckley’s was just one of three or four bleachers and dyers in Prestwich at the time.

Later Developments.

The whole prospect of Prestwich changed in 1828. In that year the Turnpike Road from Manchester to Bury was opened. It followed the line of the old Roman road out of Manchester upto the centre of Prestwich where it diverged to head round the end of Mere Clough and join Bury Old Road in Besses o’ th’Barn.

The new road in 1828 transformed Prestwich; it turned the quiet village into a suburb of Manchester. Prestwich was now on the map – it was halfway between Manchester and Bury whereas before it was not halfway between anywhere and anywhere else, it was just in the middle of nowhere. Wealthy people from Manchester and Salford bought up land and built large Victorian villas ( Elderslie, Hornby Lodge etc ) on or near the new road.

Bury New Road also realigned Prestwich on a north-south axis. Previously there seems to have been a scatter of houses and farms and cottages. Bury New Road cut straight through it all, gave it a unifying theme and a “High Street” section.

Trams and their routes on both main roads through Prestwich also affected the march of bricks and mortar around the 1900s.

Following Public Health reforms in 1848 each County was required to set up Lunatic Asylums. Lancashire established three of them. The one serving Greater Manchester came to Prestwich in 1851. Part of the reason for choosing Prestwich was because it was still rural ; good air and country walks were part of the treament for lunacy in those days. Basically the Asylum / Hospital occupied the land of the historic Prestwich Wood estate bought from the Milnes family.

The next step came with the railway in 1879. After the railway was built vast swathes of housing grew up within easy reach of the four stations – Bowker Vale, Heaton Park, Prestwich and Besses o’th’ Barn. The Earl of Wilton also tried to sell Heaton Park at the same period, luckily there were no takers or that would have disappeared under housing.

Prestwich became an integral part of the Greater Manchester conurbation.

Its history is still of great interest though and there is much research to be done – in the Agecroft Deeds, the seventeenth century Inventories with the Wills and in the Drinkwater Deeds.

The places ending in “wich”

There are two areas where placenames end in “wich”.

1. Area 1 is a group of Mercian wichs starting at Droitwich in Worcestershire.

Prestwich is at the northern end of this group i.e “Prestwich” is a Mercian name probably from the mid tenth century.

The Mercian “wich” means a an enclosure or a place of work of some kind.

2. Area 2. The coastline of S.E. England has a string of ports ending “wich” e.g. Sandwich in Kent , Ipswich in Suffolk.

London itself was “Londonwich” in the eighth cenury and this south-east version of wich means “a trading place”.

56 Replies to “A Short History of Prestwich”

  1. Josephine Jackson

    Although I live in Cornwall ,I moved from Prestwich some years ago ,and my ex husbands family are from Prestwich ,and of whom ,some are buried in St Margarets .I found this article to be very interesting .Thank you for your efforts !

  2. Samantha Prestwich

    I myself am a descendant of the Prestwich family, and found this article amazing. It is strange to think that the places that I have lived all my life have been at some stage owned by my ancestors…..V.Strange!

    • glynis mitchell

      Hi just looking on line and saw your name prestwich. I was glynis prestwich before I married and was born and bred in Manchester not far from the town of prestwich which we all started from in Anglo Saxon time from what is on the internet. It would be good to hear from you.

  3. Donna Thornley

    Came across an opening whilst in the woods in Drinkwater Park, off Clifton Road yesterday and noticed a low wall, which was obviously once the front of a vast house. I could ‘see’ the elegant house, in full glory. It intrigued me so much, I googled to see if I could find out anything about it. Irwell House, once owned by Peter Drinkwater. Haven’t found a drawing or photo yet but I’d love to know more on the house. Wonderful walk!

      • T.J. Holland

        Fascinating. Came across this string while researching “-wich” as a place name suffix. Imagine my surprise at the connection to Agecroft. My grandmother married the boy who grew up in the reconstructed Agecroft. It is a house-museum now, but was (re-)built as a home for/by TC Williams. Took her down to Richmond when she was in her nineties and toured the place. Wonderful to hear her recollections of the beautiful Hall, visits with her in-laws and (especially) their engagement party there before the War.

        • Gill Brownson

          Excellent article, thank you.

          My Father was born at no 65 Bury Old Road. If anyone has any information and/or photographs of the house, I’d be very keen to see them please.

  4. Janne Prestwich-Gee

    I accidently came across this article and found it so fascinating. There is such a wealth of information. Thank you so much. I live in the U.S. in TX. I wish I knew how I could read the Agecroft deeds. Let me know if you have any ideas. Some day I hope to travel to Prestwich. Once again, Thank you.

  5. Gareth Tudor

    In 1968, my family moved from Preston (where I was born in 1967) to Willow Road in Prestwich. We lived there until July, 1974 when we emigrated to Australia. I have recently become fascinated with the Saxon part of my heritage, having been merely interested before this. I wondered which of the seven kingdoms Prestwich was in, and a series of Google searches led me to this page. Thank you for a well set out and easy to understand history.

  6. L.M.Crux Mercer

    I am a former resident of Prestwich, I was told that in the area of Sandyway/Sandy Meade there was a Convent/Nunnery directly linked to St.Mary’s Parish Church. I can’t find any references to the in any websites about Prestwich. Does anyone know if this story is true?
    Also, another story about a large house where Eagles Nest flats now stand?
    I lived in the Sandyway/Sandy Meade area & was told these stories when I was growing up by our elderly neighbours.
    I would be grateful of any information on these two stories. The history of après twitch is fascinating!

  7. Pamela Long

    I lived in Prestwich along with my family for many years, my grandparents from the 1920s.Recently I visited Cape Town in South Africa and was very interested to find an area/street named Prestwich which had been excavated and, graves were found which were thought to be slaves ,victims of shipwrecks ,the poor. Prestwich Memorial Ossuary-Memorial Garden-Visitors Centre has been dedicated to their memory and their remains are reinterred on the site. I asked for any information about the name Prestwich but they couldn’t help. Here’s hoping somebody out there could shed some light on this interesting place.

    • Pamela Long

      Hi Kevin
      I have just heard from my contact in Cape Town and just wondered if this might be of interest to you, apparently the name Prestwich, Manchester is not connected to the area in Cape Town but there is a Prestwich Street which is named after a William Prestwich a flour mill owner(source “A Bowlful of Names” by Peter Hart 2011)Anyway he did say if he gets any more information he will forward it to me and if it seems relevant and if you would like me to I will send you a copy.
      Kind Regards

    • Mary Prestwich

      I live in Washington State (USA) and found this article interesting as I am also researching the surname for the family tree. My husband’s family is from Idaho as well. Perhaps we are related? 🙂

    • Janne Prestwich-Gee

      Hi Kevin, my family too has lived in Idaho for a number of years. I think we might be related. Moved from TX to Utah. Might have have some information. Let me know.

  8. mendy simmonds

    I found this very interesting as I live currently in Prestwich, and it is nice to discover more about who used to own and occupy your town.

    • joann cohen

      This is a very interesting and informative article.

      I was born in Lower Broughton and have lived in Whitefield for nearly 30 years and have friends who live in Church Lane, Prestwich.

      From the grounds of the now demolished Philips Park Hall in Whitefield it is possible to follow the trail through Prestwich Woods and through the grounds of the old Clifton House (which remains a secure unit for Prestwich Hospital) and into Drinkwater Park.

      This article will be very useful for my current research into Lower Broughton and Kersal Moor which, of course, would have been the continuation of Drinkwater Park.

      Thank you for a very useful piece of research and I do hope to be able to consult the Agecroft archive in due course.
      Thank you.

    • Fred Plant

      It was the Odeon and a Lidle Supermarket stands on the same site. The Cinema when it originally opened was known as the Astoria. A very large Cinema with a Café which. The café area became a popular Dance Hall in the 1950’s

  9. iN Fryer

    Found the history of Prestwich fascinating, havine been born and spent my early years in the area. I used to work at the local bleach works in Sedley Park known as J&H Bleackleys, up until it closed in 1977. I have found so very little about the company, which is surprising as it was a major employer in the area. Any info/photos of the company would be welcome.

  10. Ian Fryer

    Found the history of Prestwich fascinating, having been born and spending my early years in the area. I used to work at the local bleach works in Sedgley Park known as J&H Bleackleys, up until it closed in 1977. I have found so very little about the company, which is surprising as it was a major employer in the area. Any info/photos of the company would be welcome.

    • Ann Bland ( Oldham)

      Hi Ian
      I have just found this website. I found your article really interesting as I used to work at Bleakleys Dyeworks during the 1960’s. I worked in the Offices.
      I now live in Spain. What happened to all the workforce when it closed down.

  11. Rod ALLEN

    I’ve just come across the website, and found it fascinating. Too many topics for me to comment on, apart from saying that Harry Saunders, manager of the Odeon cinema was a true gentleman, always dressed in a dinner jacket when on duty, with a carnation in his lapel. The cinema was beautifully kept, and I understand he won a number of awards from the Odeon chain. happy days!

  12. Fred Plant

    A wonderful article. I believe that the a man named Hutchinson (sorry no first name) lived at Eagles Nest. As a regular member of the congregation at St Mary’s I recall when I was a young Server at the Church that Mr Hutchinson used to visit the Rector – Rev Canon Francis Paton Williams along with the Wardens at that time in the Vestry after Morning Service. We were always lead to believe that Mr Hutchinson was part of the ‘Hutchinson Press’ which was and probably still is a famous firm of Book Publishers. Regarding the Odeon Cinema I believe the report that it was formerly The Astoria before becoming part of the Odeon chain to be correct. Back in the 1950’s what had been a Café within the Cinema was used as a Ballroom and this was always packed on a Saturday evening with a fantastic 12 Piece Band – ‘The Stardusters’. Lastly I am the Archivist for Prestwich Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society. I believe this Society was formed from Heaton Park Glee Club in 1918. I have been given copies of a Programme for Prestwich Amateur Dramatic Society (NB No mention of Operatic ?) which performed a Play at Prestwich Liberal Club in the late 19th Century. It may be that this Society amalgamated with the Glee Club to form the Society of today. Sadly our original Minute Books, Accounts etc were lodged with the County Archivist a number of years ago and they regret they have ‘gone missing’ We celebrate our centenary in 2018’19 and I would appreciate any old programmes to be returned following copying) or contact from members with memories or memorabilia. Fred Plant

  13. Nigel Wild

    What an enjoyable interesting read from someone who loses interest after a paragraph. I’ve only lived in Prestwich for the last five years and live the local history, but my dads side are Salfordians and a some are laid to rest in Agecroft Cemetery who after checking just escaped the recent Irwell flooding. My dad prides himself as a bit of a local historian as he’s been a big reader in the past as he cant handle a mobile phone let alone the Internet, so I can now put him to the test

    • June Rios

      Hello Nigel I could not agree with you more . I was born onlangley road agecroft and know Prestwich and the surrounding area well. At this present time I am chairperon of agecroft cemetery chapel restoration group we are currently applying for funding to save this grade ll listed bdg

  14. Elaine Cope

    I’ve lived in a small cul-de -sac called Norwood in Prestwich for the past 30 years. The eleven houses that make up the cul-de-sac were built in the late 1060’s. We have a pair of gate posts in the back garden that are from the original house we presume it was Norwood House. I have made half hearted attempts to discover the history over the years but never found any mention anywhere. Just come across this site and wondered if anyone out there has any information.

    • admin

      Hi there Elaine,

      The area including “Norwood” is shown on the Rainsough and Hilton Park 1915 map that is available from our website in the Publications section

      Another man was enquiring about Norwood a few years ago. His ancestor was the manager of Bleakleys Dyeworks nearby and lived at Norwood.
      I’ll try find the ref to his enquiry.

      The 1901 and 1911 Censuses are online so will show the whole neighbourhood and who was living there.


    • Rosemary Tyers

      I grew up in the end terraced house on George Street just up from Norwood in the late fifties to mid sixties. I remember sneaking into the grounds from the path between George St and Circular road and Bland road. It was a big house with a large front entrance with steps going up. we small kids used to ring the bells and hide in the shrubs. It had a large front garden with a lawn and surrounded by trees and old gnarled rhododendrons which were great for climbing and dens. It was pretty run down by this time and made into flats. The garden was overgrown and I seem to remember you could climb a bank of forget- me- nots the other side and come out on the golf links. Happy days

  15. ian fryer

    Dear Ann Bland, Good to hear from you. What years in the 1960s were you at J&HB? I joined the company in 1962 and worked the lab for the first couple of years before moving the dyehouse at the lodge end of the works. I then became a tech dyer when they introduced crimplene dyeing around 1965. The gatehouse/accounts building is still standing (only just), where I found worksheets from 1955. I also have photos of the lab in the mid 1970s, but that is it? I keep in touch with a few employees still. Do you remember Brian Rostron, John Gordon, John Sharpe and Tony Walton, all of whom were there in the 60s?


    I submitted an item earlier regarding Eagles Nest on Butterstile Lane also re Prestwich Odeon. I also mentioned that I am the Archivist for Prestwich Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (Known better as PADOS). I mentioned that we will be celebrating the Centenary of the Society in 2018-19 and I would greatly appreciate any memorabilia (Programmes, Newspaper Reports, Cuttings etc) also any stories or memories of former members. I am hopeful of publishing a book to mark the centenary of the wonderful Society and would appreciate any information anyone may have. Photographs and Programmes will be copied and originals returned to owners.
    Fred Plant

  17. Clifford Pope

    My great great uncle George Digby Wybrow owned the Eagles Nest in the early 1900s. I have sketches and photographs by my grandfather from 1903 when he stayed with the family.
    The door and steps featured in the 1979 video are recognisable in these.

  18. Sheila davenport

    hi fascinating article Lived in Prestwich in 1970 1980. My family originated from a famIlyich called Burdaky Burdiky Anyone know anything about their origins. May have been involved in the silk weaving in 18th century Prestwich.

    • Shannina Burdaky

      Hi Sheila, I’m one of the Burdaky’s from Prestwich, I can tell you quite a lot about my family history here, I traced us back about 400 years in this town.

      • Sheila davenport

        Hi Shannina Can’t believe I haven’t found your message before now. We could be distautly related. The earliest mention of the name Burdaky that I found was 1705 in whitefield and a Simeon and Rachel Burdaky around 1790. Rachel was called Crawshaw before marriage at St Marys parish church. Would love more info about this family. Sheila Davenport

        • Will

          Hi Sheila, just found this page and your message.
          Re: Simeon Burdaky (1793 – 1866) & Rachel Crawshaw (1796 – 1879). Rachel Crawshaw was Simeon’s second wife (first wife, Mally Holland (1792 – 8/11/1818). Simeon married Rachel on 13 Apr 1819 at Parish Church of St. Mary, Prestwich, Lancashire. The couple had ten children together (and Simeon also had three with Mally).

          Simeon was a descendant of the earliest Burdaky I have found (in Lancashire): Joseph Burdikin (1680 – 1707, ‘Weaver’), who was married to Margaret Greenhalgh (1683 – 1756), they had 3 children; Mary (1703 -1704), John (1705 – 1730) and a, second, Mary (1707 – 1726). Simeon was the Great Grandson of Joseph ‘Burdikin’. (The spelling varies across the years). The family were weavers (mostly) before moving into coal mining, power loom weaving, and newer industries.
          Simeon’s daughter Alice ‘Burdeky’ (1820 -1895) married John Hulme (1810 – 1880) on 1 Jan 1858, St Mary, Prestwich, they had four children; Mary, Abraham, John & Alice.
          Hope that is of use to you.

          • Barbara Murphy

            Hi ,
            Can anyone tell me the origin of Holyrood in Prestwich .
            It means Holy Cross but I would love to know it’s origins .
            Many thanks
            I’m sending the question to you Will as you seem very knowledgeable .

          • admin

            The area was called Rooden and Rooden Lane. Rooden is an old Saxon word meaning ‘clearing in the woods’. The Rector of SFt.margarets Church in the late Victorian period (Rev. Kitson) mangled that up to produce ‘Holyrood’ pretending or believing Rooden had somethiong to do with the religious meaning that you cite. When the housing development took place in the area the developers thought Holyrood was a posher name than Rooden and so the name stuck, a ludicrous mistake.

      • Sheila davenport

        Hi Shannina I found out that the Burdaky family married into the Hulme family living at Park Lane farm whitefield 19th century. Any Hulmes out there who may know more. Sheila davenport

        • Sheila davenport

          Just a PS my mum thinks the Burdaky name could have originated from europe as no records I have found lists this name before the early 1700s maybe immigrants . name could have been Ukrainian not sure tnx for the info

  19. Ian Fryer

    Sadly I have had no more info from people who may have worked at J&H Bleackleys in the 1960s and after it became Fine Jersey in the 1970s. I still have fond memories of the factory and the people who I knew – I think that had the company survived the closure in 1977, I may well have retired there.
    Having said all that, the closure did give me the opportunity to travel the world.
    I still look forward to hearing from anyone that had worked at Fine Jersey, especially if they knew me.
    People I still keep in touch with are: John Sharp, Stan Burgess, Mike Hulme, Tony Walton, Ian Richards.

  20. Chris Lewis

    I grew up on Duckworth Road in the 1960s. It was an idyllic place to be a child. The Clough, St Mary’s Park and Luptons Toy Shop. I went to the National primary and aged 6 was knocked down by a car on Rectory Lane. My mother was in PADOS and a highlight was watching the musicals at the Victoria Theatre in Salford. My maternal grandparents lived in Clifton Junction where we would play in the air raid shelters. I lived in New York and now in London but I miss those Prestwich days

  21. Denise Evans

    Hi, Very interesting reading. I am researching my family history – The Walkden family and Wood family who lived on Rooden Lane. If anyone has any information, I would be grateful, especially if there are any photos of the cottages on Rooden Lane before being demolished. My family also lived in Perkins Yard.
    The mention of Glossop in the Holland-Langley dispute is interesting, because my origins are from Manchester, but I lived in Glossop for many years!
    It has been mentioned in my family that some of my ancestors lived at Heaton Park because either my great grandfather, or great great grandfather – James Dyer was a caretaker there. My granny Dyer had paintings that were passed on to my grandad Dyer which were given to either his father or grandfather when he was caretaker at the Hall as a gift from the family. Unfortunately we don’t have the paintings. On my Walkden/Wood side of the family, the census states that the family were born at Heaton Park, which I suppose relates to the area and not the house!
    Many thanks. Denise

  22. Stephen Epstein

    Apart from my university years, I’ve spent all of my 66 years here in Prestwich and am only now, in these times of ‘lockdown’, truly appreciating the true gem that the Prestwich Clough, Philips Park, Drinkwater Park & Irwell Valley facility really is. Although I cycled much of it with my kids as they were growing up, only now am I walking much of it regularly.
    I have a query!
    On a walk near the bottom end of the Clough, near the old ‘tip’ heading up towards the housing estate behind Butterstile Lane the ‘path’ is lined by a long series of metal poles with what look like ventilation cowls at the top. They seem to be spaced at 20 yard intervals. Many appear to have been refurbished.
    Can anybody explain their purpose?

  23. Sally Brierley

    My father’s family, the Brierleys, founded the Clough Bleaching and Dyeing works back in the 19th century. The business folded in the late 1930s as it couldn’t compete with cheaper imports from the empire. About 40 years ago we went to visit the site, squeezing through the rusty gates to get in. It was very overgrown but the layout was as my father remembered it, with the foundations of the family house exposed and the dyeing pond structures still visible. We’ve got a few photos of the house as it was and a few bits of the business stationery. When lockdown finishes and I get a chance to visit my paternal aunt I will ask her for any documents related to the Clough and scan and post anything of interest. It’s great to see the site is now a public park.

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