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Friday, 16 August 2019

Peterloo part 6

In 1819 less than 2% of the population had the vote and there had been some agitation by the Radical Reform movement for democratic change. Magistrates feared civil disturbances and were reliant on the volunteer cavalry- the Yeomanry, to help keep the peace.On the 16th August 1819, 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s field, Manchester to listen to radical orator Henry Hunt speak on electoral reform. At half past one, the Yeomanry were sent in to charge and disperse the crowds. An estimated 18 people were killed and over 700 injured. The massacre became known as Peterloo.

The Cheshire Yeomanry were in attendance at Manchester. Sir John Fleming Leicester was the first commander of the Cheshire Yeomanry and in our collection of the papers of the Leicester Warren family of Tabley there are many first-hand accounts of events of the day and in the build-up and aftermath. To mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo we will be sharing transcripts of these letters on our blog.


This final letter is from John Hollins to Sir J F Leicester Bart, Colonel of the Cheshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. It refers to Henry Hunt (the key speaker on the day of the Peterloo Massacre,) Sir John Byng (the General Officer Commanding the Northern District of the British Army), Lieutenant-Colonel Townsend of the Cheshire Yeomanry, and home secretary Lord Viscount Sidmouth. 







                                                                                       Knutsfd  Thursday Even.
19th August 
Dr Sir John, 
          You wd  receive by the Post of last night my Letter incloseing a State of Facts relative to the Affair at Manchester after Hunt ascended the Hustings – but time wd not admit of its being written in the way I had wished – this morning the Gentleman I was obliged to for it himself made out the account correctly and also such particulars as appeared material prior to Hunts appearing – both particulars I therefore send you in a Parcel addressed to you at the Post Office wh I therefore trust you will receive herewith – if that shod  not be the case the Parcel will be found at the Mail Coach office & contains also Mr Moneypenny’s Plans…

(a long paragraph on proposed alterations to Tabley follows, which I omit)

          In regard to the Manchester Expedition it is right you shoud  know the men have conducted themselves in general in a very praiseworthy manner – indeed I have not heard of a single instance in which there has been a Man in Liquor or guilty of any irregularity – From the accounts you have recd  & the particulars you now receive you will no doubt be satisfied that our presence at Manchester tended very greatly to prevent the Commencement of a Rebellion – It is also pretty clear that in Consequence of Sir John Byng’s absence frm  Manchester (hole in page) on Monday if any difficulty had occcured Every Thing wd have been in confusion as one proof of wch  the officer commanding wish’d to have sent one of our Troops to Bury instead of a Troop of Regulars - & the word hereof he found himself obliged to apologise to Lt Col Townshend – alledging it arose from the Hurry of the moment – and proofes that this officer ordered all the Infantry away from Macclesfield on Monday Eveng – altho Sir JB had assured you that Town shd  be effectively guarded, during the absence of the Yeomanry & as soon as they were gone then mischief began which you are acquainted with.

If you should conclude on sending Ld Sydmouth a copy of the particulars (wch you probably may as it is more particular than any thing likely to appear in print or may have come to his Knowledge you may assure him it is what may be depended on & wd if necessary be proved on oath by the Gentleman by whose assistance it was made out – There is an idea of indicting Hunt for Murder in which Case the condn of the Gentleman might be material – or indeed in any prosecution against Hunt.    I hope to hear in your next a better account of yr Health   Yr obdd

                                                                           John Hollins

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Peterloo part 5

In 1819 less than 2% of the population had the vote and there had been some agitation by the Radical Reform movement for democratic change. Magistrates feared civil disturbances and were reliant on the volunteer cavalry- the Yeomanry, to help keep the peace.On the 16th August 1819, 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s field, Manchester to listen to radical orator Henry Hunt speak on electoral reform. At half past one, the Yeomanry were sent in to charge and disperse the crowds. An estimated 18 people were killed and over 700 injured. The massacre became known as Peterloo.

The Cheshire Yeomanry were in attendance at Manchester. Sir John Fleming Leicester was the first commander of the Cheshire Yeomanry and in our collection of the papers of the Leicester Warren family of Tabley there are many first-hand accounts of events of the day and in the build-up and aftermath. To mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo we will be sharing transcripts of these letters on our blog.


This letter is from Lieutenant-Colonel E.V. Townsend to Colonel Sir J F Leicester Bart of the Cheshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. It also refers to Lieutenant-Colonel George L'Estrange, who was the military commander in Manchester in 1819.


DLT/D463/6/90 (i)

DLT/D463/6/90 (ii-iii)

DLT/D463/6/90 (iv)

Captn  Barra would have waited upon you, but he is gone to Macclesfield.

                                                                   Wincham ½ past 3 o clock

                                                                             August 18th 1819

Dear Sir John

          You will be happy to see by the date of my letter, that we are returned from Manchester; towards evening yesterday the most alarming reports were given upon oath, that Manchester was to be attacked & that large bodies of Pikemen were   assembling near Middleton, Oldham & -------- I placed a Squadron in some stables near St Peters church and at nine in  the Town getting very riotous &, disturbed, the whole regiment was turned out, & kept under arms ‘till near one; when everything was quiet the 6 Troops went to quarters – just as I had dismissed the men an express from Macclesfield arrived, saying the Town was in an uproar & requesting troops: Col L’Estrange permitted me to dispatch the Macclesfield Squadron who will if they have an opportunity soon settle matters – I can not sufficiently express my satisfaction at the soldierlike conduct & willing exertion of every individual from the Major downwards of the whole regiment  - the Magistrates will not I am positive send for us without the extremest necessity, when I am  sure all will turn out with the greatest alacrity all the regulars agree, that we are fit for any service, but most truly do I hope those services may not be required – Heat, anxiety and being perpetually on horseback has tired me so much that I can not write more than that I remain

                                                          Most truly yours

                                                                   E V Townshend


I do firmly believe the Regiment would delight in a fight tomorrow, the weather was very hot, therefore as we were continually under arms, it was better to be any where than in a stable or ale house particularly as we had no fast work.

(In different script) The Magistrates of the two Counties of Cheshire & Lancashire request Lt. Col. Townshend will accept for himself, his Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates their best thanks for the energy, tempered by humanity, which was displayed in their conduct yesterday, a conduct peculiarly characteristic of the British Soldier.  New Bailey Court House August 17th 1819.


Monday, 12 August 2019

Peterloo part 4

In 1819 less than 2% of the population had the vote and there had been some agitation by the Radical Reform movement for democratic change. Magistrates feared civil disturbances and were reliant on the volunteer cavalry- the Yeomanry, to help keep the peace.On the 16th August 1819, 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s field, Manchester to listen to radical orator Henry Hunt speak on electoral reform. At half past one, the Yeomanry were sent in to charge and disperse the crowds. An estimated 18 people were killed and over 700 injured. The massacre became known as Peterloo.

The Cheshire Yeomanry were in attendance at Manchester. Sir John Fleming Leicester was the first commander of the Cheshire Yeomanry and in our collection of the papers of the Leicester Warren family of Tabley there are many first-hand accounts of events of the day and in the build-up and aftermath. To mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo we will be sharing transcripts of these letters on our blog.


This letter is from Captain James Newton of the Stockport Troop to Sir J F Leicester Bart, Colonel of the Cheshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. 

Reference DLT/D463/86 (i)

Reference DLT/D463/86 (ii)



                                                                                   
Star Inn, Manchester, 2 o Clock PM
17th Augt 1819


Sir,

I have this moment had the honour to receive your very handsome letter and will on our next Parade communicate the contents to the members of the Troop. I beg leave to inform you that the Wm Birch who signed the request is the same person who was shot, he has been lately removed from his Fathers House where he was conveyed after being shot to his own and will I (am) happy to say recover soon, the ball is not extracted and unfortunately the Surgeon cannot find out where it is deposited.

The Crowd were yesterday dispersed in a very effectual manner, and everything remained quiet until 5 o Clock this morning, when the Guard were called into the Quarters, the Mob taking advantage of this, pulled down a house in Oldham Street, many I am told are shot by the 88th Regt who were called out upon the alarm being given. Your Regiment paraded this Morning for the purpose of marching to our Homes, when an Orderly arrived from Col L’Estrange to march two Squadrons towards Hollin Wood and Oldham – an express having arrived that they were assembling in large numbers, we lost no time in marching and unfortunately found the report false. In my humble opinion the row is not quite over; it is determined by the Magistrates that two Squadrons remain on duty the other to march Home; at present it is not known which, but shall be informed this afternoon upon Parade at ½ after three o Clock. I apologise for troubling you with this information as the report from the Regiment will be more full and more satisfactory and beg leave by expressing my sincere regret for your present severe indisposition which I truly hope will be of short duration.

P. S. I send you a Manchester Paper
with the news up to 1 o Clock this day
                                                                                     I have the Honor
                                                                                            Sir John
                                                                   your most obt & faithful Servt
                                                                   Jas Newton jnr
                                                                    Capt S.Troop
To Col. Sir J.F Leicester


Thursday, 8 August 2019

Peterloo part 3



In 1819 less than 2% of the population had the vote and there had been some agitation by the Radical Reform movement for democratic change. Magistrates feared civil disturbances and were reliant on the volunteer cavalry- the Yeomanry, to help keep the peace.On the 16th August 1819, 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s field, Manchester to listen to radical orator Henry Hunt speak on electoral reform. At half past one, the Yeomanry were sent in to charge and disperse the crowds. An estimated 18 people were killed and over 700 injured. The massacre became known as Peterloo.

The Cheshire Yeomanry were in attendance at Manchester. Sir John Fleming Leicester was the first commander of the Cheshire Yeomanry and in our collection of the papers of the Leicester Warren family of Tabley there are many first-hand accounts of events of the day and in the build-up and aftermath. To mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo we will be sharing transcripts of these letters on our blog.

This letter was sent on behalf of Lieutenant-Colonel Townsend of the Prince Regent's Cheshire Yeomanry to Sir J F Leicester Bart, Colonel of the Cheshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. 

Reference DLT/D463/6/85 (i)
Reference DLT/D463/6/85 (ii)




                                                                             
Manchester

                                                                             12 o clock A.M.

                                                                             Tuesday

Dear Sir John,

                   I am quite convinced that our services were necessary & have been of service (deleted) use. The Town was very riotous at dusk last night, our regiment there patrolled the streets ‘till 11 o clock, two of the Stockport were hurt, but the rest all well, we paraded at nine o clock this morning & were marching off when we were recalled, what for I cannot discover, but all the troops are under arms, then Captn  Hollins & Newton’s Squadrons are gone somewhere  - time will show where, the men are very steady and have mustered capitally. I do hope we shall get off this evening but doubt it – 26 are in the infirmary, I can not make out how many are killed, we have orders to fire when attacked.

                                      For E V Townshend

                                                P.L.Brooke

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Peterloo part 2

In 1819 less than 2% of the population had the vote and there had been some agitation by the Radical Reform movement for democratic change. Magistrates feared civil disturbances and were reliant on the volunteer cavalry- the Yeomanry, to help keep the peace.On the 16th August 1819, 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s field, Manchester to listen to radical orator Henry Hunt speak on electoral reform. At half past one, the Yeomanry were sent in to charge and disperse the crowds. An estimated 18 people were killed and over 700 injured. The massacre became known as Peterloo.

The Cheshire Yeomanry were in attendance at Manchester. Sir John Fleming Leicester was the first commander of the Cheshire Yeomanry and in our collection of the papers of the Leicester Warren family of Tabley there are many first-hand accounts of events of the day and in the build-up and aftermath. To mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo we will be sharing transcripts of these letters on our blog.


The following letter is from the Earl of Stamford and Warrington, George Harry Grey to Sir J F Leicester Bart, Colonel of the Cheshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry. The note at the bottom of the page is from Major Trafford, commander of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry.








Dunham Massey 
Thursday 5 o’clock P.M.
12th August 1819

Sir,

I have just received a Requisition from the Chairman of the Select Committee of the Magistrates of the two counties of Cheshire & Lancaster assembled this day at the New Bailey Court House to request I would order The Prince Regent’s Regiment of Cheshire Yeomanry Cavalry to march to Manchester early on Monday morning the 16th of August. I therefore desire you will immediately take the neacessary measures for that purpose

Signed
Stamford & Warrington
Lieut



Coll Sir J F Leicester Bart.
(Different hand)


Dear Sir John,

I have given orders for the Troops to March and assemble on Monday Morning 16th Instt at ½ past 9 o’clock at Sale Moor –

Yours Most Faithfully
Major Trafford                                                                               
(commander Man&Salford)

Tabley ½ past 8 o clock

PM 12th Augt 1819

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Peterloo

In 1819 less than 2% of the population had the vote and there had been some agitation by the Radical Reform movement for democratic change. Magistrates feared civil disturbances and were reliant on the volunteer cavalry- the Yeomanry, to help keep the peace.On the 16th August 1819, 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s field, Manchester to listen to radical orator Henry Hunt speak on electoral reform. At half past one, the Yeomanry were sent in to charge and disperse the crowds. An estimated 18 people were killed and over 700 injured. The massacre became known as Peterloo.

The Cheshire Yeomanry were in attendance at Manchester.  Sir John Fleming Leicester was the first commander of the Cheshire Yeomanry and in our collection of the papers of the Leicester Warren family of Tabley there are many first-hand accounts of events of the day and in the build-up and aftermath. To mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo we will be sharing transcripts of these letters on our blog.


The first letter is from Lord Viscount Sidmouth, the home secretary, to the Earl of Stamford and Warrington George Harry Grey. 

Reference DLT/D463/6 (49)

Reference DLT/D463/6 (49)


                                                                                                       
                                                                                         Whitehall 7th July 1819


My Lord,


The numerous Public Meetings which have lately taken place at Stockport & the adjacent Parts of Lancashire, their manifest purpose & the Language which has been held at them have engaged the serious attention of His Majesty’s Government. – Your Lordship’s presence under these circumstances in the County of which your Lordship has the Charge, cannot but be highly desirable and important, in order that, under your Lordship’s Authority, the most prompt and efficient means may be adopted for the preservation of the Tranquillity of the County of Chester.
The utmost Vigilance, and activity on the part of the Magistrates in those Districts to which I have referred is indispensably & urgently necessary to maintain, an enforce if requisite, Obedience to the Laws and to bring to Justice those offenders by whom they may be violated. – For those Purposes, it is earnestly hoped that the Power of the Civil Authorities will be fully sufficient: but as a Measure of Prevention Your Lordship is desired to give immediate Directions to the several Corps of Yeomanry Cavalry in the County of Chester to hold themselves in readiness to attend to any Call for support and assistance, which, in case of necessity, they may receive from the Magistrates and the utmost confidence is justly placed in the Zeal, and Promptitude with which, under such circumstances the Call will be Obeyed.

 I have the honour to be
    My Lord
     Your Lordship’s
      Most Obedient
       humble servant
        Sidmouth


The Earl of Stamford & Warrington

Friday, 26 July 2019

June 1919 at the Sailors and Soldiers Rest


This blog post was written by our volunteer Susan Chambers. 




The visitors' book from the Sailors and Soldiers Rest at Crewe Station (D 4998) records over 1600 troops passing through in June 1919, many of them jotting down various comments alongside their names and service details. Some were travelling to and from various Army bases from all over Britain, (eg Sniggery, Lark Hill, Aisne Barracks) and many were returning from Europe and further afield: Dublin, Cologne, Mons, Constantinople, France, India, Mesopotamia, Salonica, Palestine, Eastern Turkey, Alexandria, North Russia to name a random few.

Sailors from HMS Caesar, Dauntless, Valkyrie, Erin, Caledon, Conqueror, Lion, HM Submarine L17, Minesweeper Buckie, were calling at the Rest, no doubt for the endless supply of mugs of tea!

Prices of essential items from the Rest's records. 



The visitors books are a fascinating source of information on the aftermath of the Great War, and the time it took to disperse the troops since the Armistice; and so many of them were off to deal with other problems in the world, such as Ireland, India and Russia.

A number of Canadian troops based at Kinmel Park Dispersal Camp (near Rhyl), were passing though the station after having had a brief  break before sailing home. Several soldiers had died in early March in a riot at Kinmel, prompted by their frustration at the slow progress in repatriating them, which entailed  a complex business of medical testing, clothing and equipment issue, and long administrative form-filling, after which they were sent on leave before returning to Kinmel ready to set off for Canada.  

However on their return to camp they often found that their allocated sailing was cancelled because of strikes or unavailability of a ship (or even preference given to Americans, it was suggested).  The incidents in March had stemmed from their bitter frustration.


Comments from the Canadians included:
                                           
‘another week to stop in British Isles’

‘me for that next boat to Canada’

‘Coming back off last eight days leave with Big head to be Demob.’

‘Big Head before Demob’ (Big Head -?hangover?)

‘Returning to “Gods Country” next sailing’

Some of the Canadians signed themselves as being from the ‘Little Black Devils’ (Royal Winnipeg Rifles).

Several men from the 3rd battalion North Staffs Regiment Band were heading for the Curragh Army Camp, County Kildare to assist with the Irish troubles;  

Gassed at Mons’  

'The above is a photo of an aeroplane out of sight’

‘I wish I was a Corporal’

On June 24th and 25th a total of twelve men of the 2nd Battalion of Seaforth Highlanders signed the book, recording that they had arrived from Fort George in Inverness and were on escort duty for German soldiers being taken from Scapa Flow to an interment camp near Oswestry. There was some confusion amongst the allies as to what would be done with the German fleet, but rather than hand it to the enemy the Germans had ‘scuttled’ their vessels (sunk them) on June 23rd:


‘Escort Duty. Taking Jerry from Scapa Flow to Oswestry, Wales (some job)’



 Many men were from Prees Heath, the huge Army camp near Whitchurch, and one from the Royal Army Pay Corps noted:

'Diddled out of breakfast this morn at Prees Heath Dispersal Station due to usual Army muddling. Very glad I was diddled after enjoying your excellent fare in this establishment’.

From two Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers: Get a new pen’ ; ‘Here Here a New Pen, yes’.  

And later the same day from an Australian: ‘Good…not the pen’ and from a Mons soldier ‘This is a fine place but a D….rotten pen’.

It’s interesting to note how often ‘civility’ is mentioned, as if the troops were not accustomed to it:

'First civility received since 1914’

'Civility, which is a lot’

'Respect & Civility at Crewe YMCA’  


‘It is a great pleasure to be in a civilised country’,  from a Corporal in the Royal Scots just returning from Russia, and from a Sergeant travelling with him ‘No Blockhouse, No Snow, No Bolos’ (a sort of machete much used in WW1)


A few random jottings:

‘Watching others get their ticket (official discharge) is good sport, some may say, but I don’t. You soon get stricken down with the latest disease “Dispersalitis”.

‘Dinkum, everything in tip-top order’ from a member of the Royal Australian Air Force Base in Queensland.

24th Battalion Machine Gun Corps ‘Badly Wants to get Home. London’

‘Good luck to the lady who gave us the dinner, her praises I shall sing for ever & ever’

‘Tired , hungry & broke but received a Hearty Welcome’

‘Demobbed today, plenty happy and glad’

‘Any volunteers for North Russia?’

‘A friend  in need after 36 hours. The Last lap’

‘Tray bonne’ ‘Tray bond’ ‘Dobra’ ‘On his way home Napoo’

‘Happy Though Married’  ‘Happy and not Married’ followed by ‘Lucky boy’

‘Going to see my girl’.


Thursday, 18 July 2019

Many moons ago ...

Is it ambitious to attempt to celebrate the anniversary of the Moon landing using Cheshire’s collections? Not with Chester’s Bishop John Wilkins as inspiration.




A Discovery of a New World, or, a Discourse Tending to Prove, That 'tis Probable that There May be Another Habitable World in the Moon was written in 1638 when he was 24. In it he speculated that man in a ‘flying chariot’, perhaps propelled by gunpowder, could arrive at the moon, where he may discover a new world where the earth is perceived by any inhabitants up there as a moon. He would go on to propose a universal language and standard unit of measure over 100 years before the metric system, and was a founding member of the Royal Society while at Oxford. He became Bishop of Chester in 1668. By then his understanding of the gravitational pull of the earth had already been disproved, but the copy we hold of his book speculating on a space mission was reprinted in 1684 so clearly still had its attractions.



Povah family of Upton, Macclesfield collection D 4562

Two hundred years later, in Macclesfield, Charles and Frances Mary Povah are photographed in their observatory at Sunny Bank, with the equipment that helped them take a photograph of the moon that survives in their family papers. Charles Povah’s career was in insurance, he was also prominent in the North Western branch of the British Astronomical Society and spoke on a range of subjects to a variety of audiences, including to novices and children on the solar system.


Leicester-Warren family of Tabley collection DLT/B29

Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire Image Bank c06227



The Povahs were keeping up a tradition of fascination with astronomy on the east of the county. The prolific scholar Peter Leicester compiled a volume of knowledge about the universe at Tabley near Knutsford in the seventeenth century. And of course Jodrell Bank, also near Knutsford, was chosen as the site for the University of Manchester’s observatory and the radio telescope that played its part in monitoring the Luna and Apollo missions in the race to the moon.

What about the impact of the moon landing locally? Cheshire newspapers reported on the role of a Chester sub-postmaster, one of 12 amateur astronomers in the country tasked with keeping the moon under observation from the telescope mounted in his garden. In response to an urgent request from the astronauts for any information about unusual brightness they had seen, Mr Baum was able to telegram the Lunar International Network of Observers HQ with details of the transient lunar phenomenon that he had witnessed from Boughton on 20th July.  Meanwhile Cheshire Life magazine reflects on the moon landing in September and it is clear that ‘if we can get a man to the moon why can we not …?’ is already a common complaint. We also checked magazines in our school collections for 1969 expecting to find plenty of space inspired creative writing. In fact stories and poems are deeply reflective, trying to make sense of human achievements on the moon at a time when the scale of human misery inflicted by the famine in Biafra and the Vietnam war are teenagers’ main preoccupations. One impact of the space race on education would come later – Cheshire County Council supported Cheshire from Space an education pack complete with slides of satellite imagery of the county in the early 1980s.




One final Cheshire connection? When the points of a crescent moon are upwards … that’s a ‘Cheshire moon’!

Lewis Carroll collection LC3/ALI/7 1981

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

A Week in the Archives - Work Experience


This blog post was written by work experience students Ben and Laura from Christleton High School. 


Repackaged Hartford Parish Council records. 


"On our first day at the Cheshire Archives and Local Studies office, we learnt how to properly package, catalogue and conserve documents of varying types and ages; for example, using linen wraps and non-acidic boxes to stop them from decaying so they will keep for longer, or how to properly handle old photographs. We spent most of the day cataloguing Hartford Parish Council records from 1833 to 1982, including minutes from a meeting discussing triangular fields and trees.

On the second day, we catalogued photographs from a man named George Haswell’s album, dating from around 1900-1909. This involved transferring them to protective sheets and trying to work out where the pictures had been taken. While the majority of photos included villages, churches and his family, others were more unusual, such as a shrunken head and melted metal statue. 


Items from the George Haswell collection. 


Donald Insall photograph. 
We also began transferring architectural photo slides to more protective plastic wallets so they would not be damaged. These photo slides were taken by Donald Insall when Chester was under refurbishment, and give a glimpse of what the city was like during the 1960s and 1970s.

On the third day, we finished transferring the slides to their new sleeves, and then began work on cataloguing duties on land values from Macclesfield and Sutton. We finished two of 32 folders in two and a half hours. Over the final two days of our placement, we finished cataloguing these documents, and transferred maps to more conservation friendly housing for use in another project.

In our final afternoon, we did some back ground research into William George Haswell, in order to understand who he was. We found out that he was one of many masons in his family that worked on the Chester Cathedral, and was a master mason. George was a member of the United Grand Lodge of England Freemasons, becoming initiated on 1st October 1891. 

Advert for William Haswell, Mason. 
He spent his life working on different architectural projects around the country, but stayed living in Chester, running his family’s business. George was also an active member of the community, serving on the Chester Town Council between 1900 and 1903 in Trinity Ward. 

As the head of “Haswell and Son architectural ecclesiastical craftsmen”, he assisted in the refurbishment of the Chester Cathedral in 1918-1932, and the Birkenhead Priory in 1897-98. 

He was born in 1862, and died in September 1938, after retiring in 1934. He married his wife Mary Elizabeth Haswell in 1888 and had a son called Frank Terrey Haswell in 1889. Frank was a sculptor and served in the Royal Navy Reserve during the First World War."

1911 census entry for William Haswell, his wife Mary Elizabeth and his son Frank.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Rebellious, Radical and Remarkable: Remembering John Tomlinson Brunner

This blog post was written by our volunteer, Megan Grainger, to commemorate the centenary of the death of Sir John Brunner. Sir John Brunner was a British industrialist and co-founder of the chemical firm Brunner Mond and Company. He was Liberal M.P. for Northwich from 1885-1909 and was a Privy Councillor in 1906. 



“….a career of almost unexampled prosperity’


This statement made by the Western Daily Press provides the most apt introduction to Brunner. It defines his continued significance; the reason he remains embedded in the History of the Northwest and why a hundred years after his death we continue to commemorate the life of Sir John Tomlinson Brunner. 

The quote itself is a direct reference to the enormous financial successes of Brunner, Mond and Co, and it was through this success that Brunner was able to fund his own philanthropic agenda. In remembrance of the centenary of his death on the 1st July, this posts seeks to commemorate not simply the financial and political success of John Brunner but his character, and his dedication to his workmen, to his locality and to progressive reform, as it is this that remains his greatest legacy.

The perseverance and dedication that went into Brunner's endeavours is evident in the projection of his career. Brunner held a clerical post at Hutchinson’s alkali works in Widnes for a number of years, a position that was fundamental to the course of Brunner’s life. It provided him with invaluable business acumen and was the meeting point for his friendship with German chemist Ludwig Mond, a friendship that would become the catalyst for the company that transformed Brunner into a powerhouse of the British chemical industry. By 1873 the works at Winnington had been purchased and Brunner, Mond and co. was in its infancy. By 1888 a memorandum between E J. Milner and Brunner includes a letterhead identifying the expansion and success of the business, listing works at Winnington, Northwich, Betchton and Sandbach.

c11221 Brunner Mond & Co. arch.
The motto on the arch reads: "Northwich thanks best friend Sir John."

However what was truly remarkable about Brunner is best demonstrated through his condemnation of a compulsory pension subscription for the working classes. Written in November 1888 between Brunner and his colleague the letters highlight Brunner’s commitment to fairness, he states, ‘such a rule to me is hateful.’ He found the scheme to be coercive, obliging his workers to sign over a percentage of their hard earned wage to the company and instead proposed sacrifices on behalf of the company would be better channelled into facilities, such as, societies and places to bath.

This example of altruism is not singular and a Northwich Guardian from 1899 identifies further the many ways in which Brunner sought to support his workers. It outlines the introduction of a sick and burial club, free medical care for those in service, a week’s paid holiday and also details the pride of Brunner in taking even further the employer liability of Act of 1881 by providing compensation for any death or injury at work regardless of fault.

As Brunner, Mond and co. expanded so did Brunner’s ability to give back and he did not restrict his benevolence to those in his factories. Compelled by his Unitarian beliefs imparted to him by his father, Brunner championed education; he funded schools, a free library at Northwich and endowed the chairs of economics, physical chemistry and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool.

c08335 Portrait of Sir John Brunner in the foyer of the Brunner Library

The courage and conviction Brunner demonstrated in business was no less fervent in his politics. Elected liberal MP for Northwich in 1885 he carried his progressive approach all the way to Westminster, earning recognition for his commitment to liberalism in 1906 when he became a Privy Councillor. During his time in politics Brunner championed home rule in Ireland, trade unions and welfare reform, he even braced the scorn of supporting a conciliatory approach towards Germany after WW1, so embedded were his beliefs to what was just. He was described as aggressively liberal, and perceived as radical but never was he apathetic.

There is much to remember Brunner for and in the vein of remembrance it is pertinent to end with a quote from Brunner himself. One that defines his beliefs, his forthright character and the humour he retained even in his disdain for those that refused to keep up:

‘The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce is a bunch of old toffies. They drive out of commerce any man who shows signs of a reformer in any direction and I do not consider them deserving of help.’


This blog post was written using the following items from the Imperial Chemical Industries collection at Cheshire Archives:
  • DIC/BM7/11 Original letters and enclosures from John Brunner and his secretary Thomas Ellis, chiefly to Edward Milner, relating to affairs at Winnington and Sandbach works, and within the alkali industry in general. 22 Aug 1885-1815 Nov 1888
  • DIC/BM15/43 Miscellaneous correspondence and other papers compiled by A S Irvine, Manager, ICI Alkali Division Information Service, relating to the life of Sir John Brunner (1842-1919).
  • DIC/BM7/2 Chiefly comprises letters written by Ludwig Mond to John Brunner during a visit to Belgium and Germany Aug-Sep 1876. Relates to business and family affairs. 1876-1877
Images are from Cheshire Image Bank



Friday, 24 May 2019

The Month of May 1919 in the Sailors and Soldiers Rest



Crewe: Soldiers' Sailors' Rest, Nantwich Road (ref. c00801)


The signing of the Armistice in November 1918 ended the major part of the hostilities of the First World War. However, it took many more months to organise the return of the vast numbers of men scattered across the globe. 

One of our previous blog posts, “Crewe Station - the Heart of Britain’s Railways in World War I”, focuses on the Sailors and Soldiers Rest at Crewe Station and the two Rest visitors’ books held at Cheshire Archives.

These books give a fascinating glimpse into the experiences of the men that stayed at the Rest. Many called in at the Rest for a cup of tea, a meal, or a bed for the night, while others killed time between trains. 

Their comments often included grateful remarks about the hospitality, their relief at being demobilized, or regret at having more time to serve after a spell of leave.


A copy of a local news magazine published in March 1916 by Eardleys, the major printing company in Crewe, is pasted into one of the visitor books and states:

“The crude verses the men have written, the sometimes misapplied quotations, and the slang methods of expression, form an interesting study and throw a curious light upon the varied personality of the visitors.”

Battles were said to be fought over again, trench incidents recounted, and, according to Eardley, “…one has an excellent opportunity of studying the tranquil humanity which makes Tommy and Jack conspicuous among the fighting units of the world”.

In the month of May 1919 over 2,000 men passing through Crewe signed the book, well illustrating the world-wide nature of the Great War. Destinations included Cape Town, New York, Miami, Victoria BC, Adelaide, Nicaragua, Johannesburg, Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, and Arkinsaw, and of course many places in Britain including Chester. 

Journeys had started in Germany, Italy, Palestine, France, Bulgaria, Malta, naval bases from Scapa Flow to Plymouth, and  RAF airfields including Shotwick, (a few miles from Chester), and RAF Shawbury in Shropshire.  Many were travelling to and from Prees Heath, a massive army camp near Whitchurch.

A number of the troops, including many from the Royal Field Artillery, were heading for North Russia, via Crewe, as part of the Russian Relief Force. This was partly to keep the Bolsheviks back whilst the allies were evacuated and also for other plans that Winston Churchill was said to have devised.



Some other messages from the troops included:

“Fed up waiting at Crewe 5 ½ hours”

"Is the bacon still rationed? Once more unto the breach”

"Treated extremely well at Crewe”

“Always open when others are closed”

"Waiting for an airship”

“Cymry am byth”

“Tray Bon”

“Puggled to the wide” (said more than once!)

“I wish the pubs were open, I am dry”

“Here all night without a pint” (the Rest was established by the Church of England Mens Society in a Temperance Union mission room...)


And from a member of the Field Survey Battalion, Royal Engineers:

“If on earth there is some bliss, It is this – It is this – It is this!”

It is interesting to attempt to trace the details of some of the men who stayed at the Rest using online resources. For instance, Acting Lance Corporal Walter Shard, formerly a joiner of Towers Cottages, Poynton, joined up in September 1914. 

He was a hospital orderly in the Royal Army Medical Corps for 3 ½ years and in August 1918 he contracted Trench Fever, resulting in pains around his heart and shortness of breath.

He left the following heartfelt phrase in the Visitors' Book: 

“Happiest day of my life viz:- FINAL DEMOB”





This blog was written and researched by one of our volunteers, Susan Chambers. Susan will be blogging more about the Sailors and Soldiers Rest in the coming months - check back soon to hear more stories from Crewe!