Friday, 27 July 2018

Denbigh Villas ..... the house that lost its name

This is the story of two houses in Chorlton and how they seem to have lost their name.

Denbigh Villas, 2018, on the cusp of an exciting future
They were built in 1877 and were called Denbigh Villas and they began as fine residential homes, became a school in the early 20th century and finally ended their days as flats.

Now they are in the process of being developed into a series of apartments by Armistead Properties.*

And here comes the surprise because having started off as Denbigh Villas, the Council does not recognise the name and will not grant permission for it to be recognised as the official address.

It would appear that they have no record of such a name, falling back on the Post Office who does not list it as Denbigh Villas.

Added to which the Council does not accept the word Villa as an appropriate name, suggesting instead the word “House”.

Denbigh Villas, circa 1910, Mr Dadley's school
All of which is a little odd, given that in 1877 the Council’s own rate books record it as Denbigh Villas when it assessed the new houses on High Lane as having a rateable value of £46.

True by 1900 they had dropped the title on the Rate Books, but the name appears on the stone post outside the houses, and no doubt the postman would have delivered his letters to “Denbigh Villas”.

But perhaps that has something to do with its change of use into a school, run by Miss Booth who occupied just one of the two properties and a little later Mr Dadley who expanded the school into the other house.

And it may also be Miss Booth who confuses things by  listing the house as Springfield in 1904 in a local directory.

While Mr Dadley dropped all pretence at a name, preferring to advertise the place as Mr Dadley’s Grammar School specialising in training for “Law, Medical Accounts, Prelims, University, and Civil Services Exams” and listing it in the census record for 1911 as Chorlton, High Lane, School.

Denbigh Villas, 2016, waiting for change
I have to say, Mr Dadlely may be accurate with the address, but it suggests a slightly unromantic side to his nature.

I prefer Denbigh Villas, because that was its name, and it was where Josiah Thomas Slugg lived in the 1880s.

He is fascinating chap, who is best remembered for his book, Reminiscences of Manchester, published in 1881 which is a wonderful description of the city in the 1830s which includes vivid accounts of the stage coach inns, the shops and personalities that occupied the main streets, along with a detailed description of a journey Mr Slugg took on the Liverpool to Manchester Railway soon after it opened in 1830.

So Denbigh Villas has history, and has Chorlton history, so for that I think it should be allowed to continue to retain its historic name.

Next; Denbigh Villas ....... and the mystery of the missing coach house

Location Chorlton

Pictures; 57-59 High Lane, 2016 from the collection of Tony Goulding, in 1910 from the Lloyd Collection and in 2018 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Armistead Properties,

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