Monday, 20 August 2018

The secrets of Mr Pooley’s fine residences in Cornbrook

Now, the casual visitor to Princess Street which is off Chester Road might think there is nothing much here.

Pooley's Buildings, 2018 from St George's Park
But walk past the modern housing, and the site of the old workshops which are under redevelopment and there at the bottom facing St George’s Park  is Pooley’s Buildings, which later became known as Pooley’s
Houses and date back to the earlier 19th century.

They are a particular favourite of Andy Robertson who came across them recently and set a debate going over the two stone inscribed blocks in the wall of the property.

Andy thought the houses dated from 1800, and I think they were actually built in 1820.

Getting closer, 2018
They are on all the maps from the 1840s and early 1850s, but are missing from Greenwood’s map of 1819 and a trawl of the Rate Books shows that they first appear in 1820.

Back then there were six properties listed under Pooley’s Buildings, all of each paid four shillings a week in rent with an annual rateable value of £16 each.

The six tenants were a James Dobar, William Jennings, James Kenyon, George Norris, John Leech and Samuel Johnson.

Pooley's Buildings, 1844
I doubt we will find out much about any of the six, but thirty years later their successors included a Mr James Gregory, who described himself as a manufacturer, William Galloway, iron founder and Charles Hay, wine merchant.

And given the availability of census records and other official documents it should be possible to build a picture of these three.

Judging by the maps of the period they had chosen to rent in a very pleasant spot.  The properties faced north on to a wooded park, stood in extensive grounds, which was bordered by the Corn Brook which ran through Cornbrook Park.

And mindful of the unrest which spilled out only the year before in St Peter’s Field’s leading to the deaths of fifteen innocent people at the hands of Yeomanry, it must have been reassuring for our first residents to know that the Cavalry Barracks were close by.

Of course within twenty years the land to the east and north had been developed with rows of terraced houses while factories, mills and iron works had sprung up along the Duke’s Canal just minutes away from the secluded surroundings of our houses.

But even in 1894 when Cornbrook Park had been lost to more urban sprawl, Pooley’s Buildings still had a large garden with a fair number of trees.

There is still much to uncover about the properties and in time I may get to know more about Mr Pooley whose footprint on the official documents of the period remains non existent.

All I can say with confidence is that by the 1850s his portfolio of properties was extensive, and included buildings on that other Princess Street in town as well as Lloyd Street, Jackson’s Row, Cooper Street, and across Hulme.

Location; Cornbrook

Pictures; Pooley's Buildings, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson and Pooley's Buildings, 1844, from the Manchester & Salford OS, 1844, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,  http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

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