9 January 1904

Distribution on Tuesday

The committee trusted with the distribution of Lady Stamford’s gift of £100 have decided to dispense the various articles on Tuesday, between 2 and 4, in the borough court room, in the Town Hall. Everything will be made up into parcels to the value of about 5s. The bulk of the recipients have selected flannels, blankets, calico, coals, &c, and the clogs will be distributed throughout the schools. The distribution will include the Mayor (Alderman Allen SHAW), the members of the committee, the honorary secretary (Major BRADLEY), and the lady health visitors. There were originally 600 applications for relief, but these have been reduced to between three and four hundred.

We regret to record the somewhat sudden decease of Mr Charles William WHITEHEAD, tailor and clothier, of the Avenue, Ashton, whose demise took place on Monday night last, at the comparatively early age of 53 years. The illness which terminated in his death was only of a week’s duration, yet it was sufficiently apparent to his family and friends that he never thoroughly rallied from a severe attack of rheumatic fever, which greatly robbed him of his accustomed vitality and strength, and his health was consequently extremely precarious.

In politics he was an earnest Liberal, and a member of the Central Liberal Club, Stamford-street. The primary cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis, and notwithstanding the best skill of his medical attendant, he succumbed as stated. He was a well known and respected member of a family who had been long in business in the town as clothiers and the drapery trade, and was in regular attendance with his family, when well, at the Sunday services of the Methodist New Connexion Church, Stamford-street. The funeral took place yesterday (Friday) afternoon at Dukinfield Cemetery, and was well attended by a large number of sorrowing relatives and friends.

On Saturday the Spiritualists of Ashton and district were all interested in a wedding which took place at the Hall of Progress, Barlington-street. The service was conducted by a lady, Mrs HAMER, of Shaw, near Oldham. The contracting parties hailed from the adjoining borough of Dukinfield, their coming to Ashton being because no meeting room in their own township has as yet been licensed.

Mr William Leonard GEE and Mrs Eliza Ann THORP were the happy couple. The service was conducted in a very earnest and solemn manner, during which it was particularly noticed that the equality of sexes comprised one of the cardinal points amongst the Spiritualist people, whilst a principle of love in the home became to them one of fundamentals of character.

Quite a large congregation of friends were present, who were silent witnesses to the union of two acquaintances who solemnly took upon themselves the dual principle of companionship, which can only be sundered at the termination of an earthly combination of experiences. On returning from the vestry, after attesting and ratifying their compact, Miss Harriet PLATT played the “Wedding March,” and the happy pair drove away amid the plaudits of their friends for a very happy new year amidst a shower of confetti.

Had Had a Drink. — Sarah BUTTERWORTH, when asked if she was guilty to being drunk, at the Ashton County Police Court on Wednesday, put in the plea that she was not drunk, but had had a drink. It was stated that on the 19th of last month she was lying on the footpath in a drunken condition. She was fined 2s 6d for costs.

Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society. — Owing to the preparations for the recent Sunday, the Mutual Improvement Society has commenced the season rather later than usual. There was, however, a good attendance at the inaugural meeting on Thursday, presided over by Mr J COPELAND, when a capital paper was read by Mr J DAVIES on “The law and the Gospel.” The essayist showed the necessity of the law in order that the Creator’s rights might be maintained, also the effect of law upon the life of man, and pointed out how disobedience provoked God’s wrath, and the consequent loss of man’s position. A lively discussion followed, and Mr DAVIES was awarded a hearty vote of thanks for his most interesting essay.

Breach of the Peace. — Maggie HOWARD was charged on Wednesday, at the Ashton County Police Court, before Mr Herbert JOHNSON, with committing a breach of the peace at Bardsley, on the 19th December, 1903. She pleaded not guilty. — Constable BARBER said that he was walking along Oldham-road, in company with Sergeant LEEMING, when they met defendant, who was shouting and swearing. She was requested to stop it and go home, but she took no notice, and called to her husband to put on his clogs and come and fight.

”Now,” said Maggie to the constable, when he had finished, “was I using bad language; tell the truth mind.” — The Constable: “Yes, you were.” — “You are telling a lie.” — Sergeant LEEMING corroborated the statement of Constable BARBER, at which Maggie waxed wroth, and shouted, “Oh! He has a grudge against me. There is not one Waterloo bobby who can do his duty. Call Fred TRUELOVE.”

Fred TRUELOVE and Esther BRADBURY, both of Lees-street. BARDSLEY said defendant never used bad language. She was not accustomed to do so. — The Deputy Clerk: You don’t know much about her when you say that. — Defendant was bound over to keep the peace for three months.

”Sir. — During the prevalent cold weather, I have noticed that in spite of the generally overcrowded state of the cars, the ventilators are nearly always closed, and the air insufferably stuffy and poisonous to those who breathe it. Cannot the guards be instructed to see that some at least of the ventilators are open, and thus prevent the spread of bronchitis and other lung diseases, which are due principally to the want of fresh air? It would be a good thing if the drivers also would open the door at their end of the car on arrival at a terminus, and not close the other until the car began to move on the return journey. This would change the air inside once at least every trip.”

The above is part of a letter published in to-day’s “Manchester Guardian,” and I would respectfully commend the comments and suggestions therein to the consideration of our local authorities, as they are most applicable to our own tramcars, in which there is, to my mind, far too little facility for sufficient ventilation even when all the windows are open.

If instructions were given that the ventilating holes in the door at the head of the car, behind the driver, should always be open, more effective ventilation would result than by opening half of all the other so-called ventilators.
Yours, &c, Hebert KNOTT

Shortly after four o’clock on Tuesday morning an employee of Messrs Daniel Adamson and Co. noticed that fire had broken out in the Albert Mill belonging to the Newton Moor Spinning Co. Limited, which is situated across the Great Central Railway opposite the engineering works. He very promptly apprised the mill watchmen of his discovery, and that individual lost no time in summoning the fire brigades of Ashton, Stalybridge, Dukinfield, and Hyde.

The mill, of course, had not commenced working, and, in fact, the hands had not begun to assemble, so the fire had free scope until the arrival of the firemen. The first to appear was No. 4 van of the Dukinfield brigade in charge of Corporal ALLCOCK, followed by the other sections under Captain HENCKEY. The top room was then in flames and the fire furiously raging. The above mentioned brigades also appeared, and in a very short time a large number of jets were got to work, an ample supply of water being obtained from the mill reservoirs and the mains in the neighbourhood of the mill.

The mill was five storeys high, and considerable pressure was necessary to effectively throw water to that altitude, but the appliances of the brigade were equal to the occasion. The roof fell in about half-past four o’clock, and the darkness of the morning was brilliantly illuminated, people outdoors being able to see the fire for miles around. Fortunately the mill is fireproof, and owing to this wise precaution in the construction of the fabric the flames were confined to the top spinning rooms, where it originated. This was entirely gutted, and the machinery, of course, destroyed.

The vast volume of water poured into the building by the combined fire brigades caused considerable damage to the machinery and material in the four lower rooms, and the loss to the company will be several thousand pounds. About 100 people will be thrown out of employment for some time.

It was 4.37am before a telephonic communication was dispatched to the Ashton Police Station summoning the fire brigade, by which time the fire had got a firm hold, the upper portion of the mill being in flames, but it reflects the utmost credit on the discipline of the brigade that within ten minutes of the call they were dashing along with the “Heginbottom” steamer at full speed past Dukinfield Town Hall.

On arrival at the mill, a portion of the roof had fallen in. Three jets were got to work from the mill reservoir. The brigade worked valiantly, and almost an hour elapsed before they got the upper hand of the flames. Whilst the excitement was at its height, an unfortunate accident occurred.

Inspector McFEELEY and Constables WHITE and ROLLINSON were playing on the flames from the floor of the upper storey when the only portion of the roof left standing suddenly collapsed. All the firemen were struck by the falling debris, happily without serious results, by Inspector McFEELEY had his arm crushed, and had to be medically attended. A Hyde constable was also injured by the fall.

Our Hyde reporter writes: — At 3.40 on Tuesday morning the night watchman at the Victoria Spinning Company’s Mill, Newton Wood, discovered a fire in the upper storey of the mill. He got some assistance and commenced to play on the flames, but his efforts were futile. About the same time a signalman named Thomas DRURY, who is stationed in a box at Hyde Junction, near the mill, saw the fire, and telephoned to the Hyde Fire Station, and a messenger was at once despatched to the Police Station.

The alarm was received at the Fire Station at 3.58, and in a minute or two the Hyde brigade, under the captaincy of the Chief Constable (Mr J W DANBY), assisted by Sergeant ATKINSON and ten firemen of the borough police force, turned out with the engine “Neptune,” and only a few minutes elapsed ere they were at the mill. They found the street of the mill shut when they arrived, and some little delay occurred before they got inside the mill yard.

Here they discovered a plentiful supply of water, and without further delay coupled up the hoses and got a steady stream playing on the flames. They worked exceedingly hard, directing their efforts to prevent the spread of the conflagration to other parts of the mill. Still the fire, which had got a very firm hold, continued to make headway, and at 4.40 the Ashton brigade was sent for, and arrived ten minutes later.

They brought the steam engine, and the brigade consisted of nine firemen and Inspector TOLSON and Inspector McFEELEY, and they combined splendidly with the Hyde Brigade, both working very hard. Dukinfield Brigade turned up sometime after the Hyde Brigade, and with a few lengths of hose they joined hands with the other brigades, and continued their operations after the others had left, the fire being finally subdued at 7.30am. Stalybridge engine was sent for at six o’clock, and lost no time in arriving on the scene, and co-operated ably with the other brigades.

About six o’clock in the morning Inspector McFEELEY, of Ashton, and other firemen, amongst whom were Constable LEES, of Hyde, were playing on the fire when the roof of a staircase fell in, pinning Inspector McFEELEY’s arm to the window sill, and Constable LEES’ body was pinned to the same window ledge. The latter was very held very fast until other men went to his assistance and extricated him from his unenviable position. He was in considerable pain, and was sent home in the Hyde fire float, and at once got to bed. At the time of writing he was still in great pain, but no dangerous results are anticipated. Dr DANIELS attended him. Inspector McFEELEY’s arm was very stiff and sore, but apart from this he was not hurt.

The Hyde Corporation some time ago approached the Dukinfield Corporation with a view to making terms whereby Dukinfield should contribute towards the support of the Hyde Brigade, but Dukinfield Corporation refused to entertain any proposal of the kind, and in consequence Hyde decided that they would not attend fires in their district.

The mill is situated just inside the Dukinfield borough boundary, but in spite of this decision, Hyde went to their assistance, and if it had not been for the Hyde, Stalybridge, and Ashton brigades and engines there is no doubt that the mill would have been burned down. The whole of the mill is stopped in consequence of the fire, and the damage is estimated at between £1,500 and £2,000, which is covered by insurance.

Interesting Reminiscences

In accordance with notices previously issued by the directors, the reading-room and library of the Mechanics’ Institution, Ashton, were closed on Saturday last, and the institution itself to all intents and purposes lost its identity with the end of the year, and will now practically be continued as a branch of the Technical School. The old board of directors will be disbanded, and when the conveyance to the Corporation is complete in all its details, the institution will be carried on entirely under the aegis of the Education Committee. After the formal transfer has been effected it is proposed to have a dinner and “celebration of their own funeral,” as one of the officials quaintly put it.

A meeting of the Higher Education Committee is to be held next Monday, when the scheme recently received from the Board of Education will no doubt be approved. The idea is at present to transfer the offices of the secretary (Mr D H WADE) and the assistant secretary (Mr Ira MARSLAND) to the institution. Mr WADE at present uses a room at the Technical School for his secretarial duties, while Mr MARSLAND finds accommodation at the Parish Offices, a very inconvenient arrangement on account of the two officials being so widely separated.

The evening continuation classes held at the institution during the past few months will be continued as usual under the auspices of the Education Committee. It is beyond question that the Ashton Mechanics’ Institute has nobly fulfilled the work of education for long years, but the results of recent legislation demand a readjustment of educational work, and all over the country these institutions have given place to the more modern technical schools.

At one time the Ashton Mechanics’ Institute was the only educational institution in the town. In its palmy days it had a very large membership, amongst its original supporters being the late Mr Hugh MASON, Mr Geo. HEGINBOTTOM, Mr Chas. HINDLEY, M.P., Mr Samuel ASHTON, Mr Robert GOULD, and Mr John MILLS, along with Mr William TIPPING, the respected Ashton nonagenarian, the latter of whom is the only survivor of the original founders, and was a member of the institution up to the last.

It is interesting to recall the early days of the institution, and the many vicissitudes through which it has passed in the admirable efforts of the promoters to continue the educational work for which it was formed. When in the year 1825 the little organising band first launched out on the project for increasing the educational facilities of working men, they took in the only available building in the district, viz the old court-house in Old-street, demolished many years ago, and it is easy to imagine the influence of environment of a court-house and its associations upon those in quest of knowledge and refinement.

The court-house was fitted up a library of books, and on excellent amount of chemical apparatus was presented by the late Mr Chas. HINDLEY, M.P. The late Mr Chas. CLAY was one of the earliest lecturers, and some of the experiments which he performed before the students are at the present day engaging the attention and research of scientists.

Electricity was then an invisible force about which very little was known, and the doctor realised its mystic power in restoring lost animation. Some of his experiments would probably bring him under the bann of the present-day anti-vivisectionists. Rabbits were reduced to a state of coma or asphyxiated and re-animated by the application of electricity. The eyes of the students were naturally all agog when they saw “bunny” prick up her ears under the spell of the electrical apparatus.

The institution continued its good work in these premises for a year or two until discord was set up by the introduction of the religious element, which caused a split. Books, described at the time as of an atheistic tendency, were introduced, and whilst they were upheld by one section of members, the others clamoured for their suppression. The result was that the institution was closed, and the books were taken possession of by the late Mr Chas. HINDLEY, M.P., who had them conveyed to his residence at Dukinfield, Mr Wm. TIPPING assisting to pack them up for that purpose.

After a time a movement was set on foot for re-opening the institution, and Mr HINDLEY offered to place at their disposal the mansion which formerly stood on the site of the Tudor Mill, but the building was considered too far away from the town, as there were very few houses in the vicinity at that time. Ultimately the institution became established in a house at the top end of Church-street, left empty by the death of Dr OGDEN. Owing to its close proximity to the churchyard and associations with the dead, on account of the main entrance being immediately in front, the members, who rapidly increased in number, after a year or two began to look out for fresh premises.

As Mechanics’ Institutes were being built all over the country, it was decided to build one in Ashton, and the present structure was erected, a house on the site, occupied by the late Mr Justice SOUTHAM, mill owner, being demolished for purpose. From that time onward the institution flourished, and many men of mark received their early tuition and inspiration within its walls.

Mr Thos. PARRY became secretary of the new building, and Mr Henry HALL, J.P., was added to the directorate, and was vice-president up to the ends. Mr BOTTOMLEY (solicitor) has been connected with the institution ever since 1855, and has filled respectively the offices of hon. Secretary, vice-president, and president.

Of late years, the membership of the institution has dwindled away, but the curriculum of instructions has been kept up and adapted to modern requirements, and last year the Government grant earned in connection with the science and art classes was the best for years. The library of books is to be handed over to the borough free library.

There are a number of valuable works, including a complete set of “Punch” magazine of art, from the commencement of the issue, and a number of standard works purchased out of the Samuel OLDHAM bequest. The late Mr Geo. HEGINBOTTOM gave a number of valuable books, known as the HEGINBOTTOM library, for which a special case was provided.

Creative Commons License Rhodes Family History by Ian Rhodes (© 1999-2021) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://rhodesfamily.org.uk.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting me.