Denton Local History Society

Articles

Selected articles from back issues of the Dentonian magazine and other intersting links

THE WOOLFENDENS of DANE BANK - Part 1 by F Brown

Although most people will know that Denton was once famous for its hatting industries, some may not be fully aware of the vast contribution made by the Woolfenden family of Dane Bank; but perhaps the story should be told from the beginning.

The earliest reference to hat making in Denton dates back to the sixteenth century when local farmers first learned to make felt. This could be made from animal hair, wool or rabbit fur, where the hairs were rubbed together in varying directions and with the application of warmth and moisture, they firmly bonded or matted together. Having no further skills in this industry, most of this ‘felt’ was then sold to merchants in Stockport or Manchester where it was further processed into hats.

Many years were to pass before Denton people, working in their own homes, began to carry out further experiments in felting. Various liquids including beer, spirits and resins and a variety of processes were tried out to strengthen, stiffen and shape the felt. Eventually they succeeded in making their first hats, and during the eighteenth century these family businesses became known as cottage industries. By 1800 there were four such industries in Denton and their numbers were rising steadily.

In 1819, a young man by the name of Joseph Woolfenden, the son of a farmer, came to Denton and acquired ‘Dane Shot Bank Farm’ - also known as ‘Dane’s Head Bank Farm’ at the time. It covered the area now occupied by the housing estates of Thornley Lane, Windmill Lane, Dane Road, Kent Road, Anson Road, Windsor Road, Delamere Road etc. (The street plan below shows how the area developed in 1939). The fields covered forty-six acres and included a large farmhouse and several out-buildings.

  This street plan shows how the area appeared in 1939

This street plan shows how the area appeared in 1939

Joseph, originally from Bury, was forty-three years old at the time, married to Mary and they had eight children. Note that he did not buy the farm, it was only available to rent. It was many years later before the family actually owned it. So the old farmhouse, built in the eighteenth century, became their family home. It was sited on Windmill Lane and it is still there today. The picture below was taken in the early twentieth century but surely gives a good indication of its appearance when the family first moved in.

Windmill Lane and the Entrance to High Bank. The three houses lie to the left of the carriageway.

As time went by, Joseph proved to be very successful with his cattle and poultry, but his crops did not fare so well. As the local rabbit population became acquainted with his crops, they raided them in ever increasing numbers. So Joseph and his two farm labourers were obliged to set traps for them. One day, as he was handling the dead rabbits they had caught, he remarked what beautiful fur they had and what a waste it was destroying them. So he started experimenting with the fur as others had done before him. Eventually, he met with success. In the early 1820s, Joseph and his family started making hats in their home. Their five eldest children, who had previously helped on the farm, would then be between fourteen and twenty-three years of age. So their schooldays (and farming) were over, and under their father’s instructions, they were then learning a new trade. As they mastered these new skills their efficiency improved and their new income augmented the farm income. This was vital because of the size of their family. By this time there were eleven of them – the parents and nine children. Obviously this meant more to feed and clothe but they then had more cheap labour for their business. Their output steadily increased and by 1830 they were making the hats in an adjacent workshop in addition to the farmhouse. The processes would probably be similar to those described in such books as ‘Denton and the Archaeology of the Felt Hatting Industry’ by Michael Nevelle, ‘Looking Back at Denton’ by Alice Lock, and my book ‘About Denton’. The town then had at least twenty-five such industries, making it the third largest hat making centre in the North West. It should be noted that although Joseph was the one who first instigated hat manufacturing into his family farming business, he never relinquished his grip on farming.

By this time, his eldest sons and daughters were married and had started families of their own – see family tree. The old farmhouse was no longer adequate, so they moved out and obtained new homes for themselves. Unfortunately, there are no records for that period to show just where they went to. So, Joseph developed his new industry from scratch and built it up into one of the largest and most successful hatting industries in Denton and the North West. He became very well known and held in high esteem and yet he allowed his sons to run the business and claim credit for it. In the census returns for 1841 and1851 it simply states that he is a farmer. It was also during this period that the total output of hats in Denton and Haughton together, reached a record two thousand dozen per week. This was said to be partly due to a steady increase in the population which had reached a total of almost seven thousand people. Unfortunately however, this euphoria did not last. Due to problems caused by the Corn Laws and workers going on strike for higher wages, it led to many people losing their jobs. Thus the hatting sales slumped and put many people out of work. There came about a great depression which lasted right through the 1840s to the early 1850s. But in spite of this, in 1848, Joseph, together with several other well known hat masters, made a generous donation towards the building of Christ Church School on Manchester Road (where the motorway now runs). Sadly, he died in 1853 at the age of seventy-seven. This must have been a terrible loss both to the family and the general community.

Considering the rest of the family, it is not clear where they had been living. The 1841 and 1851 Census Returns just give their names and state that they lived in Dane Shot Bank (or Dane Shut Bank). But this is not a street, it is an area. The title ‘Dane Shot Bank’ commemorated the Danish chief who was shot there by bow and arrow (see my book ‘About Denton’). This unpleasant name was finally replaced by High Bank in Dane Bank and really refers to the high ground on the south side of Windmill Lane. So it was rather amiss to simply state that they lived in Dane Shot Bank, especially as there were no houses in this vicinity, except for a few newly built ones in the area now known as High Bank. The wealthy Woolfendens had them built specifically for their growing family. The 1851 census names the numerous family members in three separate houses and one such home also had three servants living there. This surely indicates wealth and large houses, but they would obviously need more than just three houses, or four counting the Windmill Lane house. Perhaps there were more and perhaps they had been living in them since the 1830s. Clearly this is when they were first needed, but they were not mentioned in the early records.

It is not until the 1861 census however, that we see a proper address. It states that no.5 High Bank (a large house) was the home of Joseph (junior) age 53, his brother James and their sister Ann and her husband. The 1871 census confirms this and also states that their brother Elias and his wife and family live at no. 2 High Bank. The information in the following returns is also brief, but states that their brother Henry Leyland Woolfenden and his family also live at High Bank. In 1881, James and his wife Ann employed 150 workers in their hat works, still lived in High Bank but now had a house of their own. And Elias, 60, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Eugenie still live at no.2. The 1891 census confirms that the above people are still in situ and in 1901 and 1911 Mrs. Elizabeth Woolfenden, (then a widow of 59) lived at no.6 with her son James. This last census also states that Elias is 90 years old and still lives at no.2 with his daughters Margaret, Alice and Eugenie, and grandson Ellis, and their house has eight rooms not counting bathroom or scullery. The reason for supplying all these details is to try to solve a mystery which will shortly unfold.

To provide access to this high-class estate, a private carriageway was laid at right angles to Windmill Lane, and three large houses were built along the east side of it allowing ample space for gardens. Brick walls were built to each side of the carriageway running along Windmill Lane, thus adding some degree of privacy. Two ornamental wrought iron gates barred the entrance to the estate and these hung from large stone pillars set back from the lane. The pillars were engraved with the words High Bank. The walls curved around to meet the pillars and thus create a very impressive entrance. Fortunately, these features still exist today as shown in the recent picture below. When finished, the houses accommodated most of the family, though some were obliged to live elsewhere. Those houses are still there today, as shown in the pictures which follow. They are numbered 1, 3 and 5, but where are numbers 2, 4 and 6 which should surely be to the west side of their carriageway?

Windmill Lane and the Entrance to High Bank. The three houses lie to the left of the carriageway. To be continued

STURTEVANT ENGINEERING CO. LTD.

In the 1870’s, Mr. B.F. Sturtevant, of Boston, U.S.A., had the genius to foresee the enormous field open to anyone who could “ put air to work ”, efficiently and initiated investigations into fan technique.

From the researches and experiments he designed and developed a range of fans of various types, each suited to a particular duty and thus began a new industry which developed into an important branch of engineering.

The data compiled by Mr. Sturtevant was made available to Mr. G. A. Mower, who, in 1884, founded the British company. At that time, fan engineering as we know it, did not exist in this country, or in Europe and was only in its infancy in the U.S.A.

For many years, Mr. Mower imported his fans from the Boston works of Mr. Sturtevant, but losses around the time of the Great War, forced manufacture in the U.K., firstly in a small London works and later, by sub-contract, at the Denton premises of Progressive Engineering Company, Vinery Works, Town Lane, Denton.

Fan construction in the early days.

This led to a greater degree of independence and in 1923, the connection with Sturtevant, Boston, was broken. In 1924, Progressive Engineering moved from the Vinery Works, to the former Lever Bros. hat works, in Acre Street.

Rapid progress was made in the design and installation of complete plants, such as Plenum heating and ventilating, dust exhausting, timber drying, forge-blowing and smoke exhausting etc., instead of merely supplying fans for the purchaser to use as best he could, which had, theretofore been the usual practice.

Amongst other applications initiated by the British company, were the use of fans for Induced Draught, Gas Boosting and Water Gas Plant blowing.

The introduction of the Multistage fan type vacuum cleaner, specially designed for industrial use, revolutionized earlier ideas in vacuum cleaning and Sturtevant Turbine Vacuum Cleaners came into world-wide use.

Sturtevant had been incorporated as a limited company, in this country, in 1899, and in 1929, set up a new trading company, Progressive Engineering Co. (1929 ) Ltd. The entire operation became public in 1944, when the name ‘Progressive’ was dropped. Earlier fans were all of the paddle-bladed type, but, in 1912, the multi-vane, ( or forward- curved ), impeller was introduced.

In the late 1920’s, the company was appointed ventilation consultants to the Mersey Tunnel ( Queesway ) project, and a backward curved fan was developed, thus, in the 1930’s, Sturtevant had a range of radial, forward and backward curved bladed fans, for general industrial and process heating and ventilating applications. The company did not confine itself to fan engineering, but became actively engaged in the the design and construction of crushing and grinding plant for special purposes, such as the manufacture of fertilizers and the preparation of hydrated lime etc., it’s plants and systems being adopted in many parts of the world.

During the winter of 1946/7, a Fordson tractor was used to drive the line shaft during the power cuts and load shedding at that time. Health and Safety!?

In the 1930’s, Electrostatic Precipitation equipment was introduced, for the elimination of grit and dust from the combustion gases in power stations. This equipment was also widely used in cement works and other large industrial plants, where the removal of fine dust was essential, on either hygienic or commercial grounds.

Other Sturtevant Engineering activities provided a comprehensive, advisory, design, manufacturing/contracting and installation service in the following fields: Air filters, driers and drying systems, dust control systems and pneumatic conveying, ( including the systems once used in large stores for the conveyance of money from the counter to the cashier’s office and back ), gas cleaning, industrial vacuum cleaning, process engineering, covering batching and blending plants, lime hydration, crushing, grinding, screening and separation plant, and laboratory machinery. Also, turnkey or package deal projects.

Various expansion projects were undertaken at the Denton works, the latest being in the late 1950’s, when the London ( Bankside ) works was closed. The head office remained in the capital and the company also had a works at Nottingham, E. Reader & Sons Ltd., which was mainly involved in the production of vacuum cleaning equipment.

An aerial view, 1949. Considerable expansion had already taken place, but more was to come in the 1950’s. It was hay-making time at Grange Farm, now the site of St. Thomas More School. Some of the old cottages around Chestnut Street remain. Notice the air-raid shelters, bottom left, in what is now part of St. Mary’s school playground. An old Dentonian, Mr. Charles ‘Charlie’ Foden a relative of Maggie Foden , one of our distance members, once told me that the land centre right, where there is now a playing field, was once the site of a slate works!

In 1965, Drake, Gorham Scull Ltd., acquired control of Sturtevant and in 1968, the company was split into two divisions – the manufacturing division, based at Denton and the projects division, based at Head Office in London. Sturtevant Engineering Holdings Ltd., was formed in 1975 and the Denton based manufacturing division became Sturtevant Engineering Products Ltd.

Due to the problems faced by the engineering industry generally, over the years and the recession, the company ceased trading in 1983. Denton Local History Society acquired a large amount of material, mainly photographic, from the firm and an exhibition to mark the centenary of the founding of the firm in 1884, was staged in Denton Library.

Above, fan components loaded ready for dispatch to Lady Windsor Colliery. Mr. Joe Silver, Painting and Packing Dept. foreman, standing, on trailer.

A.A.

Re-opening of the Bandstand in Victoria Park June 21 2007

Photos kindly donated to the society by Peter Whitehead.

To the citizens of Denton, our bandstand is a very important structure and well deserves it status of a Grade II listed building.Over the years, it has been the means of providing a great deal of pleasure to many local people. Although its appearance and condition have varied between many successive bouts of renovation, it has always remained in regular service and in recent years, has contributed to the park's entry in the 'Britain in Bloom'competition.

Since, howevesthe veryfunction of the bandstand is to create a venue for the bands, its storycan-not be told without mention of the many bands which have played on it so7r the years.Although it was not built until the early 1900s, the need for a bandstand existed long before then.

Denton's very first band was formed in 1818 and began playing in public for various celebra-tions.The townspeople, and especially the hatter Joseph Howard, had subscribed generously to the appeal for funds. They were able to buy a set of instruments, music paper and instruction books for a grand total of 5210.The big drum was duly painted with the title 'Naughton & Denton Band'. Haughton, however, was at that time, a separate town and the Dentonians, who outnumbered the Haughtonians, objected to this and no the name was eventually changed to 'Denton & Haughton Band'. It was very popular and played for many years. Up until 1869, it led the Saint Lawrence's Sunday School Scholars'Walk at Whitsuntide.

But since 1859 it had a rival.This was the Baxendale's Band, named after their small factory at the top of Taylor Lane. As they went from strength to strength, they had to move their headquarters; first to the Bowling Green Inn and then to their own Band Institute on Ashton Road.They needed a new name and so they called themselves the Denton Original Band.Thisdistinguished it from the Denton & Haughton Band and indicated that it was the original 'all Denton bane As its popularity grew, it eventually eclipsed its old HAI. Its greatest achievement came in 1900 when it won £75 and the 'One Thousand Guinea Chaenge Cup' at Crystal Palace, having competed against entrants from all over Great Britain and the continent. There was much rejoicing in Denton at the time and this was the first band to play on our new bandstand in about 1908. The band had many assignments and a new custom started in 1900. Whenever a member left the band to go and fight for his country, he was given a great'send-offi He was marched from his home to Denton Station by the entire band and a procession of well-wishers. The band played patriotic marches and hundreds of people turned out to watch.

In the early 1900s, the hafting industries presented the band with a beautifully crafted mace which was proudly carried by the drum major when marching. The top of the mace was adorned with a model of a bowler hat to symbolize what Denton was famous for. Over the years, the mace led many processions but, alas, the mace is now lost.

By 1919, when they celebrated their Diamond Jubilee, they were meeting in a dining room at the Market Place but moved later to the King's Head and then in 1973 to Denton Cricket Club on Egerton Street. In 1979, following a fire in their bandroom, the band folded but from this, came the Crown Point Band and the Oldham Batteries Band. The latter name was derived from their venue which was Oldham Batteries'Sports and Social Club but,as some members came from the former band, it soon regained its title of the Denton Original Band. In the 19905, it again reformed and adopted the title of Denton Brass.This is still with us today and they practise in their room at the Silver Springs Hotel Ashton Road.

In addition to the local bands, many others from all parts of the UK have played on our bandstand over theyears, and still do.They cover alrypes,such as military bands and especially colliery bands. BeforeWorldWar II, brass band concerts tookplace there every Sunday aftemoon and evening during the summer months. Listening was free but there was a collection box there if anyone wanted to give anything. But people had to pay the park attendant if they sat down on the folding seats provided. Since there were no transistor radios or televisions in those days, these bands were popular with old and young alike as they provided virtually the only music most people ever heard. Every town was proud of its bandstand and almost every park had one.ln the 1920s,when my parents were in their teens,they regularly used to listen to the bands and dance to them. Thanks to Tameside Council, our popular bandstand has once again been restored to its former glory.The restoration work, which included repainting, re-roofing and new steps,was completed in spring 2007.Hopefully bands will continue to play there regularly throughout each summer.

Frank Brown.

Denton Local History Society

THE HISTORY OF THE DENTON ORIGINAL BAND

by F. Brown

from Issue 70 of the Dentionian

As most of our members know, our local band has recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. It is a wonderful achievement and their members have every right to feel proud, but I cannot help but see another side to this. I hope they will not take offence if I tell this little anecdote.

One day, when I was a boy, I was watching my father working and he said, "Do you see this hammer son? It has now been in the family for three generations." I said, "Gosh! It must be very old." He said, "Yes, and in all that time it has only ever had three new shafts and two new heads, but it's the same hammer." Well I know it's not very funny but it's a similar situation with the band. They have changed the instruments, the music and the uniforms several times. The band name and the venues where they rehearse have also changed and, of course, they are not the same people who started it all, but they are 'the same band'. I hope they see the funny side of this and realize that I admire the band, and as I said, no offence is intended.

In June this year they asked the D.L.H.S. to prepare an exhibition for them to be used in their 150 year celebration. This took the form of a big Band Concert which was held at Hyde Town Hall on Sat. 4th July. (Denton didn't have a venue that was big enough). Frank Rhodes, myself, Jean and Jill assembled the exhibitions we had prepared, accompanied by several other members of our society who were also invited. The band played well, the hall was packed and everyone had a wonderful evening.

The same display boards were set up again in the alcove in the library for the month of September and were also used in the September Show on 19th and 20th at the Festival Hall. The theme this year (2009) was a display of all our recently acquired artifacts under the title of 'Look What's Turned up'. A detailed account of this, together with a photograph of us, appears in the current Tameside Reporter.

The event also coincided with the re-opening of our meeting place Room 10 after Tameside Council had kindly renovated it in answer to our requests for a new layout. Thanks to all those members who worked so hard over the months emptying the room, bringing things from the Nurse's Home and finally reinstating everything back into room 10.

The opening ceremony was preceded by an excellent performance from the junior section of The Denton Brass in their meeting room. Councillor Brenda Warrington congratulated them and then, followed by our local MP Andrew Gwynne, other guests and our members, she walked to the door of room 10 and made another short speech. She then cut the ribbon across the doorway and declared our room open. We all went inside and were pleased to hear our guests admiring the interior. This was followed by drinks of wine and a buffet lunch.

Later, we went down to the Pennine Lounge where, once again, our guests gave praise on our displays including the band story. We could sum up by saying it was a very successful day and thanks to all who took part.

For the benefit of members who didn't have the opportunity to see the Band Exhibition or the September Show, here is a repeat of The Band Story.

The band was first formed in 1859 by Thomas Baxendale who later founded the Alpha Mill. This was the large cotton mill off Manchester Road near the railway. At first, the band was known as `Baxendale's Band' and their headquarters was his original small factory at the top of Taylor Lane. Since early days they met up with stiff competition from other bands in neighbouring towns and even one in Denton. This was the 'Denton & Haughton Band' which had formed in 1818 and until then had been the only local band we had; though, of course, Denton and Haughton were two separate townships at the time.

Baxendale's Band went from strength to strength and soon had to move its H.Q., first to the Bowling Green Inn, then to their own Band Institute on Ashton Road. They needed a new name, so they called themselves the 'Denton Original Band'. This distinguished it from the 'Denton & Haughton Band' and indicated that it was the original all Denton Band. As its popularity grew, it eventually eclipsed its old rival. Its greatest achievement came in 1900 when it won £75 and the 'One Thousand Guinea Challenge Cup' at Crystal Palace, having competed against entrants from all over Britain and the colonies. There was much rejoicing in Denton at the time. The cup was kept safely at Denton Town Hall and a security of £1000 had to be given for its custody. It was at this point that they changed their name to 'Denton Original Prize Band'. They then ranked with the highest class bands in the country.

`send-off'. He was marched from his home to Denton Station by the entire band and a procession of well-wishers. The band played patriotic marches and hundreds of people turned out to watch.
In 1906 Mr. Albert Parke, a Denton Hat Manufacturer, presented the band with a beautifully crafted ebony mace which was proudly carried by the drum major when marching. The head of the mace featured a solid silver bowler hat to symbolize what Denton was famous for, and over the years the mace led many processions. By 1919, when they celebrated their Diamond Jubilee, they were meeting in a dining room at the Market Place but moved later to the King's Head, and then in 1973 to Denton Cricket Club on Egerton Street. In 1976 they formed a second band known as the `B' band. Initially this was for training young members to reach the required standard for transfer to the 'A' band; but it eventually became recognized for its own merits. Following a fire in their band room in 1979, which destroyed their music and some of their instruments, they temporarily disbanded. A short time later they obtained a new venue at Oldham Batteries' Sports & Social Club along Hyde Road. The bands were then re-formed; the 'Denton B Band' kept its name and the 'A' band became 'Oldham Batteries Band' but not for long. Because some members came from the former band, they soon changed their name back to 'Denton Original Band' but didn't include the word 'Prize'. The mace was then re-presented to Mr. Ted Harrison, musical director of the band, by Mr. Dennis Holden, managing director of Oldham Batteries Ltd. to mark their new sponsorship.

Due to an industrial recession in the 1980s, Oldhams were forced to withdraw their sponsorship of the bands and moved them into the foyer at their Edward Street entrance. It seems that this was not satisfactory for soon afterwards the 'A' Band moved into the building of the Co-op Bank in Amelia Street off Ashton Road and the `IV Band moved to Egerton Park School.

In 1991 the Denton Original Band came second (out of 25) in the 'North West Area Finals' held at Blackpool. This was considered to be a wonderful achievement as it qualified them to enter the 'National Finals' held at Wembley where they came 10th out of 32. Following this success they were approached by many other bands who tried to poach the members for their own bands.

In 1993 vandals broke into the premises in Amelia Street and set the building on fire causing the loss of music, instruments and uniforms. Being also without a venue, the old 'A' Band folded once again but did not re-form. Sonic time later, the `B' Band, which had once been the junior section of the old band, moved their venue to the Denton West End Working Men's Club in Grosvenor Street and were then known as the 'Crown Point Brass'. Fortunately, some items of the original band, including the precious mace, still survived and led by their popular conductor, the late Jack Hansford, they continued to be one of the leading bands of the Manchester district. They moved again in 1999, this time to the Silver Springs Hotel on Ashton Road and they also changed their name to 'Denton Brass'.

In time, the band became a victim of its own success, because it eventually outgrew the size of the band room. Thus in 2005 they moved to a large room at Denton Library in Peel Street where they now share the first floor with the Denton Local History Society who have written this story and assembled this exhibition. Pi Brown.

Denton Police Station.

Work is scheduled to begin on this fabulous, historic building in March 2006. Situated close to the countryside, The Old Police Station is within easy reach of the M60 and is just a 20 minute commute to central Manchester, 15 minutes to Stockport and just half an hour from Sheffield.

It’s easy to say that Denton Police Station is an historic building, but here’s the proof, cut and pasted from the web site of Greater Manchester Police Museum…

Greater Manchester Police Museum in Newton Street is to get a major new attraction, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £126,500. The grant, announced today (Wednesday 16 July), will help to relocate an original 19th-century courtroom from Denton Police Station to the museum, contributing to the city’s tourism and regeneration. The courtroom at Denton Police Station dates from 1895, and is the only one of its type in the North West.

We’re delighted to have acquired such a famous landmark. Our plan includes the restoration of the original building. In fact, one lucky purchaser will enjoy the unique benefit of the courthouse's beautiful ceiling. Add to that the creation of a new, sympathetic terrace fronting Market Street, and we think you'll agree that this development is indeed a local landmark. Work will take 9 months to complete and will begin in March 2006. We're ready now to offer apartments for sale ‘off plan'.

Interest in this development is already considerable and we would urge parties to stake their claim now. Pre-release information will be published in ‘One Step Ahead’, our electronic newsletter - sign up! And finally…

A funny thing happened on the day surveyors arrived on site to conduct a technical survey, soon after our acquisition of the building was completed. The holding cells were still intact, and one unfortunate chap managed to get himself locked in one… And, according to the First Law of Sod, it was the only cell for which we did not have a key...

Within an hour, a team from The Manchester Evening News was on the scene and the following day the incarcerated individual found himself prominently featured in Britain’s leading regional newspaper. To add to his dismay, the story was then picked up by the national newspapers. The Daily Mirror, The Star, The Sun; The Daily Express and the Daily Mail all featured the unfortunate’s day of misery in clink.

It was the volume of interested phone calls we received from members of the public as a result of this coverage that led us to believe that Denton Police Station will be our fastest selling project to date.

Images and text http://www.pulselifesupport.com last updated 2006.

Website now defunct.

Menu