Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Waltham House ............. another of the lost houses of Edge Lane

Waltham House, 1959
This is Waltham House in the spring of 1959 and it was coming up for its 96th birthday but like many of those grand houses stretching along Edge Lane it had seen its best years.

It had been built in 1863 and was the home of Frederick Townley who a decade or so later had moved up the road to Stockton Range opposite the new church.

By then Waltham House was home to the Mr and Mrs Fowler, their three daughters, three servants and Mr Fowler’s brother.

Mr Fowler and his brother were “provision merchants” with a business on Corporation Street.

And in the fullness of time I will come back to the Fowler’s but for now it is their twelve roomed house which interests me.

Waltham House was one of the more impressive properties along that bit of Edge Lane which runs from  High Lane up to the junction with Wilbraham Road.

It was a big detached property standing in extensive grounds, set back from Edge Lane and approached along a curving drive.

And it would have been one of those properties you couldn’t have missed given that it had two entrances from the lane and before Wilbraham Road had been cut in the late 1860s would have commanded fine views north across open land up to Longford Brook and south to Turn Moss.

Not that the curious passerby would have seen much of the house as the front and rear were screened by rows of trees and  the northern boundary hidden by a line of green houses.

Waltham House 1893
That said it appears on the OS maps by name all of which I suspect would have gratified its owners who no doubt lived comfortable lives secluded behind those trees and that long stone wall which still runs along the lane.

Their neighbours might not have had their homes recorded on the OS map but were still proud enough of their properties to bestow fine sounding names on them.

West of Waltham House was Edgecombe Mount, Waterford, Hascombe, the Oaks and Thornlea, all built by the 1870s.

But these splendid names did not save them and most went during the 20th century.  Too big and too uneconomic to run their very size along with their grounds made them perfect for late 20th century redevelopment.

And now pretty much all that is left are the stone walls that fronted Edge Lane and the odd gate post with a lost name carved on it.

Waltham House, 1907
That said Thornlea has survived as the name of the flats that now occupy the site.

All of which brings me back to Waltham House which lasted longer than most and which during the last war was used by the Civil Defence, according to A E Landers who took the photograph of the house back in 1959.

It is an intriguing little story which needs following up but for now I am racking my brains to see if I can remember it.

In 1969 it appears not to have been occupied and may have been demolished when Belgravia Gardens developed, which means I should remember it.

Sadly I don’t and that more than anything reinforces that simple observation that you should never take anything for granted.

Pictures; Waltham House, nu 14 Edge Lane, A E Landers, 1959 m17783, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and detail of Edge Lane in 1893 from and the OS map of South Lancashire, 1893, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, and Waltham House from  1907 OS map

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