Sunday, 27 May 2018

Apologising to Mr Lightly Simpson of Beech Road

Now Lightly Simpson is not a name you forget and ever since I first came across him I have wondered about his life and career.

Chorlton Row, now Beech Road in 1844
He came from Tadcaster and was born in 1810.

And I have done him a big injustice because he appears in the census for 1841 living on what is now Beech Road listing his occupation as “druggist” and I naturally assumed he was one of our shopkeepers, worse still I said so in the book.*

It did seem a tad odd that a small rural community like Chorlton should have a druggist but there he was living with his family somewhere near the bottom of the road where it runs into the green.

But it transpires he was much more than just a country chemist having a prestigious shop in the heart of the city which he opened in 1830, two more in the suburbs and was granted a patent for his invention of a better way of preparing colours for printing cotton and other fabrics.

Lily Cottage, later Row House circa 1980
All of which he had achieved by the age of 25 and which by the late 1840s he had left behind plunging instead into the wonderful and exciting new business of railways, ending up as a director on numerous companies.

None of which I knew until Mr Bill King made contact and asked me about Lightly’s connection with Chorlton and as they say a whole new chapter emerged.

But because this is still a piece of research in the making I shall not trespass on Mr King’s work until he has published it.

Lilly Cottage, later Row House 2008
Instead I shall fasten on the time Mr and Mrs Simpson were living on Beech Road which looks to be no more than three years from the June of 1841 to 1844.

They are on the census for 1841 which was taken in the June, but do not appear on the directories which will have been compiled in late 1840.

One of their sons was born here in 1842 but they were in Burnage two years later for the birth of their next child and by 1851 were in Flixton where Lightly and his eldest son described themselves as “retired druggists.”

All of which just leaves the question of where they lived on Beech Road.  I had assumed it might have been one of the wattle and daub cottages underneath the Trevor, but given that our Mr Lightly was already a man of substance I suspect it would have been all together a much grander affair.

Chorlton Row and its residents in 1845
Sadly I doubt that we will ever be able to locate it.

There are a number of possible properties all of which have long since been demolished but if pushed I think it might have been Lilly Cottage which was a fine looking house which stood on the corner of Acres Road and Beech Road.

It had been the home of the Blomley family in the early 19th century and in 1845 was occupied by a Mary Holland.

Later still it was the home of William Batty when it was known as Row House.

And it was still there as late as 2008.

In time I might come across more evidence, but the most detailed records for Beech Road are the Rate Books which begin in 1845 and the Tithe schedule which dates to the same year.

Alas by then Mr Simpson had moved on, but at least I can now be sure it was not from a chemist shop.

Pictures; detail Chorlton Row, now Beech Road from 1844 OS map of Lancashire, courtesy of Digital Archive Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ and Row House in 1980 and 2008 from the collection of Lawrence Beedle

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/the-story-of-chorlton-cum-hardy.html

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