Tarporley Road

Walls Pit House (Hollow Tree/The Partridge)
According to May Bower who was born in the house in 1878, this was originally called Walls Pit House, named after a Mr. Wall. The Wall family lived in Stretton in the 1600s and the current building was constructed in 1791 by John Jackson. In front was a large pit formed from the excavation for puddling clay used to line wells.  The pit was used for potato washing in the summer and proved a good skating rink during the winter months, although care had to be taken with one end being very deep. The pit had been filled in by 1975 but was still in place during the early 20th century, and one of the earliest memories of  Nancy Darbyshire who was born in Stretton was of the local doctor, Harry Bower, collecting leeches for his patients.

The Hollow Tree
The Partridge, formerly known as Hollow Tree / Walls Pit House 

According to the 1841 census returns, Walls Pit House was occupied by four unmarried Whitley siblings: George a surgeon, Peter a solicitor, Ann and Mary; as well as a widowed sister Elizabeth Eaton (nee Whitley).  A brother of the five siblings, John Whitley, married Hannah Jones of Montgomeryshire in 1806. They had at least six children and their eldest son, Charles Thomas Whitley (1808 – 1895), was a great university friend of Charles Darwin. According to the pub’s website there is an inscription by him relating to Darwin which can still be seen on one of the original oak beams in the bar. Whilst he would have visited his family, Dr Charles Thomas Whitley did not live at Walls Pit House, being one of the founder members of the University of Durham.

John and Hannah Whitley’s second son was William Maurice Whitley. He was articled to a clerkship in Liverpool in 1826, but died at the young age of 26 in December 1836 and was buried in Malta.  Documents held at the Cheshire Record Office show that in 1832, aged just 22, William Maurice Whitley paid £3,300 for four fifths of the Walls Pit estate. He gave one fifth to each of his uncles and aunts: George, Sarah, Ann and Mary Whitley. Twelve years later in 1848 George bought the other one fifth which was a mortgage for £1000. As each of the four aunts and uncles died they left their share of the estate to their three surviving nephews including Rev. John; Dr. Charles Thomas and George Whitley. Eventually Rev John Whitley bought all of the estate.

According to the census of 1861 only Ann and her sister Mary remained following the deaths of their unmarried brothers and widowed sister.  By 1868 both Ann and Mary had also died, and a relative Henry William Carlyle/Matthews was recorded as living at Wall’s Pit House.

John and Hannah Whitley had another son, John, who joined the church. Canon Rev. John Whitley was the younger brother of Dr. Charles Thomas Whitley and William Maurice. In 1845 Rev. John married Penelope Carlile, brother of Henry Carlile above. Their son was also called Charles Thomas Whitley and trained as an architect.  By  1880 he moved to Walls Pit, and in 1873 married Amey Hart of London. They had three daughters:  Amey, May and Penelope. Amey died young, May married Harry Bower, the village doctor, and Penelope married George Skelton when she was in her thirties.

On 7 March 1909 Charles Whitley died aged 63 and the census returns of 1911 shows his widow Amey living with daughter Penelope. In June 1914 Amey Whitley died, leaving unmarried Penelope as the owner. Less than three years later, Penelope married Elijah George Skelton and they moved to Whitley soon after.

In 1930 Sidney and Jessie Blundell were living at Walls Pit, followed by Mr John and Selma Clayton in 1939. John gave his occupation as a cotton broker in the register of that year.

In the 1940s Alan Hatton and his wife Millicent Whitley Hatton (née Bower), the daughter of May Bower (née Whitley), lived at Walls Pit House with their son Christopher. In the early 1950s the family moved to Black Jane Farm, Newton. Alan Hatton was a senior partner in Robert Davies & Co and was a director of Greenall Whitley at the time the brewery went public in 1952. Millicent and Alan’s son, Christopher Hatton, became chairman of Greenall Whitley in 1968 aged just 38.

The next residents Mr and Mrs Kenneth Neve lived at Walls Pit House (or Walls Green House as it was often called)  until June 1971, after which it was sold to Mr and Mrs Reynolds.

In 1991 it was converted into a public house called The Hollow Tree.  The “Hollow Tree” after which the pub is named was indeed a hollow elm tree.  It was felled in 1954.  In May 2017, following refurbishment, the pub re-opened as The Partridge. 

Walls Green Cottage 
Edward Heesom and family lived in this house in 1841 which the tithes map five years later shows it was owned by George Whitley of  Wall’s Pit House.  By 1851 Edward Heesom had died but his wife Ann was living there with her daughter and son-in-law, Catherine and James Harrison. The family stayed at Walls Green Cottage until around 1880. The 1891 census shows occupants John Wyatt a widowed gardener and his fifteen year old grandson, William Billington, a groom, both working for the occupants of Walls Pit House. John Wyatt was still at Walls Green Cottage in 1901 but had moved ten years later as the 1911 census recorded Alfred Holland and his family living there. In 1920 it was John and Frances Sanders, and by 1930 it was John and Martha Bell.

In 1939, Frank and Ethel Simpson were living at Walls Green Cottage having moved from Higher Whitley. Sadly  in 1944 they lost their elder son, Frank Norman Simpson, in the Second World War at the age of 21. Frank, Ethel and their two other children remained at Walls Green Cottage until after 1962 before moving to Bower Crescent.

After 1962 there is no record of the cottage in the electoral register.

Red Barn Door Farm/Bradley Brook Farm
This was owned by representatives of the late William Smith and occupied by Thomas Speed in 1846. Speed was still there in 1861 farming 22 acres.  On 25 February 1863 all of Thomas Speed’s farming and household goods were put up for auction, comprising ‘3 cows and heifers, mare, colt, 2 fat pigs, implements, dairy vessels,  and part of household furniture.’ By August 1863 John Shaw had moved in and was farming 21 acres. John Shaw was born in Hatton around 1818 and was married to Martha, 17 years his junior originally from Manchester. The family remained until John’s death in June 1882 when widowed Martha and her children moved to Barnton.

In 1885 George Baxter and his family were farming, and remained at the farm until at least 1911, when he was aged 72.  The farm was named as Red Barn Door Farm under Baxter’s occupation but reverted back to Bradley Brook Farm as it is known today. An article in the Northwich Guardian in 1902 details the sale of the freehold farm which was connected with the estate of the late John Smith of Stretton Hall. The 21 acre farm still in the occupation of George Baxter was sold to Joseph Sankey of Warrington for £1800.  In 1939, the Baxter family were still farming at Bradley Brook Farm, the children of George Baxter Snr living there unmarried, however by 1945 the family had moved on.

Mrs May Bower from Walls Pit House was the landlord of both Brookside Farm and Bradley Brook/ Red Barn Farm. Joseph Billington took over the tenancy of Bradley Brook in 1943-44, as well as Brookside from George Baxter.  The Walls Pit Estate was split in two parts when Charles Whitley died. Mrs Skelton took the Whitley farms, whilst May Bower took the Stretton ones.

Brook Cottage
In 1911 John Muskett, blacksmith, was recorded at Brook Cottage. By 1939, Charles and Mabel Gibson were living at Brook Cottage.  This later became known as Bradley Brook Farm Cottage. Following the death of Charles, Mabel remained at the cottage with her family until after 1961, and there then followed the Mr and Mrs. John Ross and Mr and Mrs. Alfred Brickley who were living at the cottage in 1974.

Brookside Farm
The tithe map of 1846 shows two cottages and gardens owned by George Whitley of Walls Pit House, occupied by James Barrow and James Simpson. In 1851 James Simpson was aged 51. According to May Bower’s Memories of Stretton, the farm was built by Mr George Whitley of Walls Pit House in 1851 as he did not want the land attached, however foundation stone on  the farm building gives the date of 1853. The first tenant of Brookside Farm was John Acton Starkey as shown by the Conveyance of 1855  from George Whitley to Rev. John Whitley.

The second tenant as shown in the 1861 census was John Acton Starkey. He was followed by William Acton who married Jane Whitlow from Crimwell Pool Farm, Lower Whitley.  Jane was the niece of  John Whitlow who had farmed Old Farm from 1834 until his death in 1867. William Acton died in 1864 aged just 38 and Jane was recorded as the farmer at Brookside Farm in the 1871 census, the 1881 census and was still there in 1891. In all three census returns,  Jane was recorded as head of the household. By 1901 she had moved to Altrincham where she died in 1904.

In 1885 Peter Leigh was living at Brookside Farm but by 1895 it was let to Mr Richard Billington of Dutton, who was farming there in 1911.

IMG_0635 - Copy

His nephew, Joseph moved to Brookside in 1931. The photograph above shows the 1940 harvest  at Brookside Farm where wheat sheaves were hooded to prevent birds eating the corn in the stooks. The stooks were left “3 church bells” to harden the corn, they were then collected with horse and cart to the farm shed to await the threshing machine driven with the steam rollers to sort the corn.

Joseph Billington played an active role in village life having served as a member of Stretton Parish Council for over 30 years service, the last ten as Chairman.  He was also on the Runcorn Rural Council as a District Councillor and Chairman of that for the year 1968-69. By 1971, Joseph and his wife Edith had moved out to Mendreath, Tarporley Road and son Thomas Billington was farming Brookside. Thanks to Jack Billington for the additional information -who is another of the four Billingtons born at Brookside Farm mentioned in May Bower’s Memories of Stretton.

Brookside Farm from Jack Billington
Brookside Farm

Rooly Moors (Rooley Moors)
In 1841 Rooly Moors was occupied by George Cooke and his family. The tithe map shows it was owned by the representatives of late Holbrook Gaskell and occupied by George Cooke with Joseph Burgess and Thomas Cooper as under-tenants. Thomas Cooper was a bricklayer born in Comberbach who married Mary Whitley.

John Drinkwater from Weaverham farmed from 1851 until around 1868 when he moved to Tanyard Farm in Well Lane.

Peter Woodward and his family followed. He stayed for around twenty years before moving to Fox Farm, Antrobus in 1891. His son Peter did return to the village in 1898 when he married Catherine Walker from Lower Hall and he farmed there. In 1901 Frank Millington, a butcher, had moved in to Rooley Moors but by 1911 Charles Holland, an agent in a brewery, was living there with his family. From 1915 the Oldfield family were living at Rooly Moors. By 1939 Thomas and Ruddick lived at Rooley Moors before the Cawley family arrived in the 1950s and were still living there in 1974.

7 thoughts on “Tarporley Road”

  1. In the 1940s Mr Alan Hatton and his wife Millicent Whitley Hatton nee Bower, the daughter of May Bower nee Whitley lived at Walls Pit House with their son Christopher , until the family moved to Black Jane Farm in the early 1950s.

  2. Hi, I’ve just read your item on Stretton as I am researching my family, the Gibsons who lived at Bradley Brook Farm. Mabel lived there with her husband who was called Richard Percy Gibson and her children – Dorothy, John, Frances, Oliver, Richard and Charles. They were living there from at least 1932 as that was the address on my Grandmothers marriage certificate.

  3. That is a very interesting comment, but not quite correct in my opinion.
    The Baxters lived at Bradley Brook Farm in the 1930s which is now a house with a large garden and the farm buildings are a bungalow. The land behind these houses which used to belong to Bradley Brook farm was divided between my nephew David Billington and his married sister. Some is now farmed by another nephew Geoffrey and some became the Fisheries.
    The Baxters moved out around 1942 and moved to Appleton. These Baxters are given in the 1901 and 1911 census. My father living next door at Brookside Farm, became the farmer for Bradley Brook Farm in about 1942.
    As far as memory serves me I believe the Gibsons lived in the cottages opposite Duncalf’s garage in the 1930s and 1940s, whilst I lived at Brookside Farm from 1936 until 1959.
    The cottages were called Bradley Brook cottages I believe The Cheshire Tithe maps of circa 1850 show that these cottages, in those days there were two, were owned by George Whitley.

  4. My husbands G Grandfather was John Shaw who farmed at Red Barn Door Farm Are there any photographs we could see of the farm.Where can we find its location in Stretton.Thanks Rosemary

  5. Bradley Brook Farm House can be found on the photos on Google maps on the left hand side of the Tarporley road going south after the Walls Pit House and Brookside Farm..
    The house is now rendered in white over the old red brick. Car parked on grass verge.
    Also its location is shown on an Ordnance map of 1897, on http://www.francisfrith.com/stretton,warrington,cheshire/maps.
    Its on the A49 south of the junction 10 of the M56.

  6. Jack, many thanks you are a fountain of knowledge, when time allows we will follow your directions and go to see where Peter’s G Grandfather farmed all those years ago. Rosemary.

  7. My grandparents lived in number 2 Bradley Brook cottages,their first child born in1910,died as a baby,Auntie Irene (Rene) 1918 ,father Donald 1920,my grandmother died in 1962 ,grandfather died tragically in1963 through injuries caused by being knocked off his bike as he turned into Pillmoss Lane whilst taking his laundry to my aunt Francis (Cassie) in Hatton lane.After gra ndads death the house was bought from the landlords by my Aunty who lived there until Vale Royal council sold it to cover her care fees.

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