31 May 1902
THE RUINED LODGE AT JOWETTS
A structure in Ashton which
may almost be called historic is at present in course
of demolition, a structure with which is associated
not a few stirring anecdotes. We allude to the dismantled
lodge at one end of which is known as Jowetts
Walk, Manchester-road, and which has been for a long
time an object of curiosity to many unacquainted with
its history. The lodge has been purchased by Messrs
Taylor Bros, contractors, who are razing it to the ground
and levelling up the land round about.
When the lodge was erected by the late Mr Hugh MASON,
it created quite a furore on account of the opposition
of the late Mr Isaac Watt BOULTON, JP, of Ashton, which
led to litigation.
In order to understand the case one requires to start
with the correspondence on the disputed question, which
was published in 1877 at the closure of the trial. It
appears that on the 16th June, 1875, Mr Henry HALL,
of the Stamford Estate Office, wrote to Mr Hugh MASON
regretting that his repeated endeavours to secure united
action on the part of the owners of the mansions in
Jowetts Walk (Mr Hugh MASON, Miss MELLOR, Mr John
NIELD, and Mr I W BOULTON) for the erection of two lodges
to prevent trespass and damage to trees, &c, had
not been successful.
He agreed with Mr MASON that something should be done
to prevent the nuisance and injury that were constantly
occurring from allowing the public to traverse the road
leading past the houses and to roam over the open ground
adjoining, thus frustrating the object of Lord Stamford
in agreeing to keep such ground unbuilt upon for the
benefit of the several residents. When the building
ground was laid out by his Lordship he erected large
gates at the east and west entrances, but they were
gradually broken down by trespassers, and stolen as
there were no lodgekeepers to keep an oversight of them.
Mr HALL further averred that it was entirely within
the intention of Lord Stamford that lodges such as that
suggested by Mr MASON should be put up, and that he
saw no objection in Mr MASON erecting a lodge at the
west entrance gate, providing the several residents
had full and free passage at all hours of the day and
night. Copies of Mr Henry HALLs letter were sent
to Alderman BOULTON, Mrs NIELD, and Miss MELLOR, the
other tenants of Jowetts Walk.
On the following day (17th June, 1875) Mr I W BOULTON
replied to Mr HALLs letter. He said, No
one is more annoyed at the trespass and damage done
to property than myself and whilst fully appreciating
the necessity of lodges, I must strongly protest against
Mr MASON being allowed to erect a lodge and keep at
it his sole expense. I am quite willing to contribute
towards the cost of erection of lodges, and payment
of men in attendance, but I do not see that I ought
to have to pass through a lodge that would be called
Mr MASONs, and consult Mr MASONs lodgekeeper
to get to my own residence. I shall be glad to confer
with Mr MASON as to the design of the lodges and amount
to be spent on their erection, &c.
Negotiations thus went on until October 1st, 1875, when
Mr Robert EVANS, acting as solicitor for Mr NIELD, Mr
BOULTON, and Miss MELLOR, prepared a draft deed of covenants
between the parties as to the projected lodges. During
the interim, however, Mr MASON began to erect the westerly
lodge, and, as the works were proceeded with rapidly,
Mr EVANS urged upon him the completion of the deed above
alluded to in the interests of his clients.
The reason of the delay was given to Henry HALL in a
letter from Mr MASON, dated October 16th. You
may wonder why, he said, I have not seen
you regarding the document sent by Mr EVANS, solicitor.
I cannot find my deeds of the property. I thought possibly
you might have retained them since the last purchase,
and I at once wrote to you. You replied you had not
got them. I then wrote to Mr George HADFIELD, my solicitor,
and he replied from Buxton that he was extremely poorly,
and under medical treatment, and could not return to
Manchester for several days, and until he examined his
safe he could not say positively if he had the deeds.
A further communication to the same subject came two
days later, when Mr MASON said: Referring
to my letter of 16th, explanatory of the unavoidable
delay in setting the conditions and terms for preventing
trespass and damage on the property of myself and neighbours,
allow me to remind you that I have tried earnestly for
fourteen years or more, as you well know, to bring about
a friendly and equitable arrangement, and that I now
am desirous as ever I have been to effect my original
purpose. The unavoidable delay. He thought,
ought not to postpone the erection of the lodge, and
so the building of the lodge went on. Matters then hung
fire for another month.
Mr BOULTON and his neighbours waited for the friendly
settlement to come off. It didnt in the
time allowed, and just to remind Mr MASON that they
could be nasty too, if they liked, they pulled up the
hurdles and knocked down the walls. Mr MASON was naturally
indignant, and loud in his complaints. Mr Henry HALL
also endeavoured to throw oil on the troubled waters,
and he recommended that the whole matter should be referred
to the discussion of two impartial gentlemen. Both parties
agreed to this and negotiations went forward, more or
less amicably for another month.
But on December 29th, 1875, Mr EVANS signified to Mr
HALL that as Mr MASON appeared in no hurry to complete
the agreement, there was only one course open. Unless
the deed was completed and signed by Mr MASON by the
following day, his clients would take steps to abate
the trespass committed by Mr MASON in a summary manner.
As Mr MASON did not sign the deed on the following day,
Mr BOULTON carried out the threat implied in Mr EVANSs
letter. On December 31st, 1878 he unroofed the lodge,
and in other ways retarded the work of completion. That
put an end to negotiations, although more letters were
exchanged on the subject.
When negotiations had gone on long enough, and no friendly
undertaking could be arrived at, Mr BOULTON took the
law into his own hands, and began pulling the lodge
down as often as it was built. He went about the work
upon the short and sweet principle, and did as much
damage as possible in the shortest as it was built.
He organised sufficient men, and each time it was only
a question of about half an hours work.
Before the men were two minutes on the ground a great
crowd began to gather round, and many sharp retort was
made and received. There were generally about a dozen
men engaged at the work, and they set about it early
in the morning, before many people were up and about.
They used a battering ram, or got a chain with hooks
at both ends. One end they fastened to the chimney,
and the other to a lurry with three or four horses in
it. One crack of the whip and the work was done. The
crowd cheered or hooted, as the case might be, and having
accomplished their purpose the men went home.
After Mr BOULTON and Mr MASON had grown tired of attacking
and repairing the lodge matters went a step further.
One Monday morning Mr BOULTON and two of his men, Edward
KNOWLES, of 105 Moss-street, and David HILL, of Back
Portland-street, appeared at the Borough Police Court,
to answer to a charge of wilful damage to the lodge
on Jowetts Walk. There was a crowded court, and
the late Mr N BUCKLEY presided over a good muster of
The hearing lasted for some time, and counsel lengthily
went into the legal aspects of the case, pro
and con. Eventually the Bench agreed to send
the defendants to the Assizes for riotously and tumultuously
assembling and doing damage to private property, and
interfering with public peace. At the Manchester Summer
Assizes of 1877, the case came before the Grand Jury.
After careful consideration, the Grand Jury threw out
the bill, and the defendants were dismissed. This was
practically the end of it.