John Cassidy - Scupltor

This site celebrates the life and work of sculptor John Cassidy (1860 - 1939).



Map of the Avenue and Woodheys Grange, c. 1910: the gatekeeper's lodge can be seen at the junction with the main road.


The Avenue has two Cassidy connections: James Gresham, engineer and one of the founders of the Gresham and Graven company, makers of brake equipment for railway vehicles, has a house in the The Avenue for a few years until his death in 1914. He commissioned two of Cassidy's major works, Adrift, and King Edward VII, both for presentation to the City of Manchester.

James Gresham is the subject of a page of his own: here, we sketch the history of The Avenue and mention some of its more notable residents over the years.



2000: the same area, full of houses.



A modern Methodist Church occupies the site of Woodheys Grange.





This map, c.1880, shows the  three large houses on The Avenue, 'Woodheys Grange', 'Oakleigh', and 'Ashleigh'.

'Ashleigh', which was originally built for a banker named George Oliver, who purchased the land in 1871 from William Cunliffe Brooks, was the residence of Thomas Craven, who seems to moved there  in the 1880s from his previous home at Merlewood, Wilbraham Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Craven was a mechanical engineer, born in Manchester in 1850, son of James Craven, a stone merchant.  He was a magistrate (JP - Justice of the Peace) and also a deputy Lieutenant of the County (DL - an honorary post to assist the Lord Lieutenant, the monarch's representative in the county.) Little has been written about him, but we assume he was the same Thomas Craven who was a partner of James Gresham.



Either way, by 1910 (above) James Gresham had bought 'Ashleigh' and renamed it 'Oak Bank' after his previous home in Old Trafford. Soon afterwards he renamed it again as 'Gallery House' after the Gallery he established there for his large collection of paintings. After Gresham died in 1914, his widow preferred to live in London, and the house seems to have fallen into disuse.



The main house was demolished, and replaced by a large bungalow whose current owner has retained the name 'Ashleigh.' Some outbuildings remain, as do the associated cottages, incuding one which still carries the name 'Gallery Cottage.'



A modern map shows how new roads follow old boundaries and footpaths. Moorwood Drive and Denesway follow the boundaries of James Gresham's old grounds; Moorwood Drive actually is the old drive leading to the rear of Gallery House and Gallery Cottages. Its stone gatepost and part of its stone cobbled surface remain.



'Oakleigh',  50 The Avenue is the only one of the three mansions to survive in 2009, in very good condition and now housing 13 flats.




The far end of The Avenue is shown on this 1910 map extract, with the Manor House on Carrington Lane, then the home of Robert Neill JP. Demolished about 1963, it is commemorated by the nearby  'Manor House' pub.



The modern map: Carrington Lane had become Manor Avenue by the 1930s.

Building of further houses on The Avenue began in the 1920s, and continued for many years, including some residences which are significantly larger than average. It is still considered very much an 'exclusive' address. The house at 91, The Avenue sold for £730,000 in April 2008.


Some noted residents

Samuel Lord




Samuel Lord, born in 1803 in Saddleworth, emigrated to America around 1821, and in 1826, opened a dry goods store at 47 Catherine Street, Manhattan, New York. He made his wife's cousin, George Washington Taylor,
his partner in the new venture, which grew to become the nationwide chain of Lord and Taylor department stores which is still in business today. In 1866. Lord retired and returned, with some of his family, to England, where he bought 'Oakleigh', where in the extensive gardens he 'delighted in his hobby of horticulture.'



Oakleigh, 2009

He died in 1889, and by 1903 the head of the household was his daughter, Miss Mary Lord, born in New York and recorded in the 1891 Census as 'living on own means' - not difficult, one imagines, as Samuel Lord is said to have left a fortune of nine million dollars. In 1891 Mary's younger brother and two sisters also lived at Oakleigh, but by the time of the 1901 census, Mary's household comprised her niece Kate, and her Companion, Sarah de Lambert, cared for by a cook, a maid and four other servants.

Samuel Lord's memorial in Brooklands Cemetery, an impressive edifice, was refurbished in 2010 at the expense of the Lord and Taylor company, following a suggestion by local historian and archimist Michael Riley.

Kate Lord, Samuel Lord's daughter, married Ernest Soares (1874 - 1926), a partner in the Manchester law firm of Allen, Prestage and Soares, solicitors, of Manchester. He lived in the large house on neaby Washway Road which is now the Woodheys Club. In 1900 he was elected to the House of Commons for Barnstaple and served in the Liberal admninistration of H. H. Asquith as a Junior Lord of the Treasury from 1910 to 1911.

George Wilkes, gardener, lived in a cottage in the grounds with his wife and daughter, and in the coach house, Gant Cook, their coachman, and his family. By 1910 the family appears to have left, leaving Mr Wilkes in charge of the house as caretaker. Perhaps they moved to a smaller house.

William Henry Fowler


William Henry Fowler, recorded at Oakleigh in 1918, was an engineer and publisher of books and magazines on engineering. Born in 1853 in Stockport, the son of William Fowler, pork butcher of 138 Egerton Street, he
trained as a draughtsman and studied at Owens College in Manchester before becoming general manager of Chadderton Iron Works in 1888.

However, he soon took to writing, and in 1891 he became Editor of The Practical Engineer,and as The Scientific Publishing Company, went on to publish Fowler's Mechanical Engineer's Pocket Book, which was updated regularly until the 1970s: indeed the present writer owned a copy in his early career as an engineer.



In 1914, Fowler moved to what one source surprisingly describes as a 'smaller house' - Oakleigh - where he he set up a workshop. Perhaps it was the coach house (seen above) in the grounds of the main house? With his son, Harold, he formed a company to build and sell a  pocket calculator they had patented, a rotary version of the slide rule.



In 1920 they moved their manufacturing business to the Station Works, Chapel Road, Sale, a former Congregational  Chapel. W.H. Fowler died in 1932; his son, and later his former manager, carried on the company until 1988. Some of their products can be seen in the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester.


Elizabeth Walker




Elizabeth, the wife of George Harrty Walker, export merchant, of Woodheys Grange, was an enthusiast for Persian cats, breeding  Chinchilla Persians in a cattery in the grounds of the house.

She, as well as her son, J. Alan Walker, daughter, Ottoline, were both portrayed by Cassidy. For more about the Walkers, see our feature The Walker Family of Woodheys Grange.


Lady Marion Macara




Lady Marion Macara, née Marion Young, who lived at 'Woodcroft' from 1932, was a member of the Bannerman family, of the Manchester cotton-spinning firm, related to the Campbell-Bannerman family which gave rise to a British Prime Minister.

She married Sir Charles Macara (1845-1929), a Scotsman who married her in 1875, and became managing director of the Bannerman firm, in 1880.  He was later President of the International Federation of Master Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers.

The couple made their home in St Annes on the Fylde coast, where, in a disaster in 1866 the whole crew of the St Annes Lifeboat drowned; this led the Macaras to take a lead in organising fund-raising.

Mrs Macara, it appears, moved her family back to Manchester after the death of her husband. The 1942 directory lists Misses Lillian & Alice Macara, two of her four daughters who would have retained the house after her death.


Alfred Higson OBE (1871 - 1961)




Alfred Higson was the son of Henry Higson (gardener at 'Ashleigh' who worked for Thomas Craven and James Gresham.) Alfred styles himself  'professor of music' in the 1901 census; by then he had impressive credentials – ARCO, ARCM, LRAM and ISPM – and was advertising as a teacher of pianoforte, organ and singing. At the age of 20 he been the conductor of Altrincham Choral Society, and he went on to form a choir in Sale, and conductor other choirs including the Warrington Male Voice Choir, on whose website there is a detailed biography.

He married in 1902 and left The Avenue, but continued to live in Sale for the rest of his long life.

He was created one the first honorary freemen of Sale  in 1945, and four years later he was awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List.


Thomas Edward Allibone FRS (1903-2003)


Thomas Allibone

A physicist, born in Sheffield, he worked with Rutherford, Cockcroft and Walton at the Cavendish Laboratory of Cambridge University, where he was involved in the early days of particle acceleration, later moving back to Metropolitan-Vickers (where he had earlier trained) to head their high-voltage laboratory in Manchester.

Metropolitan-Vickers became an important military asset in World War II, and Allibone worked on radar and war-related electrical projects, before being transferred in 1944 to the British team working on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb.

81 The Avenue was built for him; rumour has it that this included a nuclear shelter  deep under the garden.


Links and References:

History of Sale, by Sale Community Web

The Sale and Altrincham pages - by John Laidlar

Trafford Lifetimes: excellent online database provided by Trafford Council.



Special thanks to Dr Minne of the Royal British Society of Sculptors for solving the riddle of Cassidy's last address, and to John Laidlar for assistance with these notes.


'The Avenue'. Ashton-upon-Mersey, Cheshire


In 2009 we discovered that after being compelled to close his rented studio in Lincoln Grove, Manchester in about 1928, because the land was required for a factory, John Cassidy gave his address to the Royal British Society of Sculptors in 1928 as Woodheys Grange, Ashton-upon-Mersey. This finally solved the mystery of the 'last-known address ... in Ashton-upon-Mersey' referred to by other writers.

Today, The Avenue is usually considered to be in Sale rather than the adjacent area of Ashton-on-Mersey; both have been part of the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford since 1974. It is a straight road, tree-lined as its name suggests, created as a private estate to develop the area. It runs from the main road, once the Roman 'Watling Street' now the A56, in a north-easterly direction to Moss Lane. Laid out to the order of Samuel Brooks in the mid-nineteenth century, it was provided with a lodge and resident keeper to keep out unwanted travellers. Three large houses, with their associated coach houses and cottages for servants, were erected along its length. Some maps say it was originally called 'Brooks's Avenue' after William Cunliffe Brooks, a banker and property developer who laid it out, but elsewhere we read that it was called 'Woodheys Park.'

I have collected information from Street Directories in the Trafford Local History Library, and from the online Census records, about this house and its neighbours; the picture above is Woodheys Grange, date unknown. The house, home for many years of businessman George Harry Walker and his family, was demolished after he died in 1930, and the site lay empty, becoming surrounded by new suburban houses, until was eventually used in the 1960s for a modern Methodist church.  See our feature The Walkers of Woodheys Grange.


The Avenue, 2009, looking towards the church which replaced Woodheys Grange.


Note about the directory entries: we have followed the original spelling, including abbreviations of names. Square brackets [ ] indicate things added from later years or other sources.

The Avenue, 1903 Street Directory

Jones Henry, game keeper
Craven Thomas, J.P., D.L., Ashlea [?Ashleigh]
Lord Miss [Mary], Oak Leigh
Walker George Henry [Woodheys Grange]
Wilkes George, gardener
Newton Robert, farmer



The Avenue, 1906 Street Directory

Jones Henry, game keeper
Lord Miss, Oak Leigh
Walker George Henry [Woodheys Grange]
Wilkes George, gardener
Newton Robert, farmer
Blunt Charles, Manor House



The cattery at Woodheys Grange, c. 1903.


The Avenue, 1910 Street Directory

Bennett James, lodge keeper
Gresham James, Oak Bank
Wilkes George, Caretaker, Oak Leigh
Walker Geo. Hy, Woodheys Grange
Newton Robert, farmer
Neill Robt.Wm. J.P., The Manor House




The Avenue, 1913 Street Directory

Bennett James, lodge keeper
Gresham James, Gallery House
Higson Henry [Gardener]
Knight Frank
Brown Arthur
Walker Geo. Hy, Woodheys Grange
Newton Robert, farmer
Lindsell, Frederick Raymond B., The Manor House



The Avenue, 1915 Street Directory

Bennett James, lodge keeper
Gresham James, Gallery House
Higson Henry [Gardener]
Knight Frank
Brown Arthur
Walker Geo. Hy, Woodheys Grange
Newton Robert, farmer
Walker Alan, The Manor House

[note:Gresham died in 1914]


The Avenue, 1918 Street Directory


Fowler's 'assembling room' - believed to be at 'Oakleigh'

Muirhead & Willcock Ltd, Nurserymen
Schofield Ernest, Lodge Keeper
Fowler William Henry, Oakleigh
Cliffe Arthur Henry
Walker Geo. Hy, Woodheys Grange
Newton Robert, farmer
Walker Alan The Manor House
Bennett James




The Avenue entrance gates and Lodge, c. 1920. The Manchester Corporation tramway extension from Stretford to Sale and Timperley started operating in 1906, and beyond to Altrincham in 1907. Buses took over the route in 1931



The Lodge, 2009. No gates or tram lines, and the Lodge, long a private residence, has lost its spire.



The Avenue, 1929 Street Directory

Bellas Jas. Wm., Lodge Keeper
Owen Fred, private hotel (Oakleigh)
Walker George Henry (Woodheys Grange)
Aldred Thomas H. (Fernlea)
Booth Misses Edith M & Clara (Boothlea)
Dean Harry (Ashlea)
Featherstone Walt. (Hopewood)
Broadhead Ronald Wynn (Dodona)
Jackson Fredk. Wm. (Dyserth)
Parmiter Herbt. Dugdale (Caer Gwent)
Yapp Jas. Arnold (Ashton Knoll)
Oldroyd Geo. Hubert (Moss cott)
Carr Mrs Mary (Beechcroft)
Begg Miss Jane (Moss Edge)
Ratfcliff Jn.Hy (Clovelly)
Garner Tom (New Spinney)
Walker Alan (The Manor Ho)



The Avenue, 1932 Street Directory

Left Side

[no houses listed]
--- here is Carrington Lane ---

Right side

[6] Thompson Alan (Briers)
Ferguson Jas. (Tembani)
Place Sunter (Homegarth)
Beattie Leslie (Malvern)
Owen Fred, private hotel (Oakleigh)
Aldred Thomas H. (Fernlea)
Booth Misses Edith M & Clara (Boothlea)
--- here is Denesway ---
Dean Harry (Ashlea)
Featherstone Walt. (Hopewood)
Broadhead Ronald Wynn (Dodona)
Jackson Fredk. Wm. (Dyserth)
Macara Marion Lady (Woodcroft)
--- here is Moss Lane ---
Garside B.H. (Moss Cottage)
Jolley Wm. (Beechcroft)
Jonas Thos. (Aysgarth)
Begg Miss Jane (Moss Edge)
Ratcliff Jn. By. (Clovelly)
Dugmore Albt (Belvedere)
Haworth Wltr. (New Spinney)
--- Here is Carrington Lane ---



The Avenue, 1936 Street Directory
Washway Road, A on M, to Manor Avenue

Right side

[2] Bell Jn. Hy. (Greenway Lodge)
[4] Winders Randolph Jas. (Maysholme)
[6] Thompson Alan (Briers)
[8] Rawson Jn. (Edale)
[10] Dawson Frank (Grasmere)
[12] Ferguson Jas. (Tembani)
--- here is Thornham Road ---
[18] Place Sunter (Homegarth)
[20] Beattie Leslie (Malvern)
Owen Fred, private hotel (Oakleigh)
Oakleigh cottages:
Davies Fred, chauffeur
Rigby Jas. moulder
Stanway Mark gardener
Watman Lisle (Ringwood)
Booth Misses Edith M & Clara (Boothlea)
--- here is Denesway ---
Dean Harry (Ashlea)
Featherstone Mrs Hariette. (Hopewood)
Davis Jas Market Gardener (Alfriston)
Bolton Sidney A (Gallery Cott.)
Knox Regnld., Gardener (Gallery Cott.)
Ralmer Wltr, Driver (Gallery Cott.)
Parmiter Herbt. Dugdale (Caer Gwent)
Jackson Fredk. Wm. (Dyserth)
Macara Marion Lady (Woodcroft)
--- here is Moss Lane ---
Garside B.H. (Moss Cottage)
Jolley Wm. (Beechcroft)
Dapp Fredk. Schlater (Aysgarth)
Begg Andrew Buckley (Moss Edge)
Ratcliff Jn. By. (Clovelly)
Dugmore Albt (Belvedere)
Haworth Wltr. (New Spinney)
--- Here is Manor Avenue ---

Left Side

Richardson Wm. (Dorcot)
[5] Richards Leslie Cameron (Beauly)
Trenbath Harold V. (Fairways)
[37] Mills Ernest Drury (Greenland)
[39] Burrows Thos. Edwd. (Roxburgh)
Highet Jn. Wallace (Bradda)
Mason Edwd. Harry (Beechwood)
[47]Thornhill Jn. T. (Southerndown)
Entwistle Jn. Edward, salesman (Blenheim)



The Avenue, 1942 Street Directory
Washway Road, A on M, to Manor Avenue

Right side

2 Bell Jn. Hy.
4 Winders Randolph Jas.
6 Thompson Alan, director
8 Rawson Jn.
10 Dawson Frank
12 Ferguson Jas.
14 Fleeson Marcus. fire insur. official
--- here is Thornham Road ---
16 Jordan Jn. Nathaniel managing director
18 Place Sunter
20 Beattie Leslie
22 Savill Jsph, A.
Clyne Hyman (Samdore)
28 Atherton Jsph., departmental manager
--- here is Sandown Drive ---
Watman Lisle (Ringwood)
Booth Miss Edith M. (Boothlea)
--- here is Denesway ---
Dean Harry, bldr. (Ashlea)
Leonard Mrs Magdalena (Hopewood)
Davis Jas Market Gardener (Alfriston)
Bolton Sidney A (Gallery Cott.)
Knox Regnld., Gardener (Gallery Cott.)
Ralmer Wltr, Storekeeper (Gallery Cott.)
Parmiter Herbt. Dugdale, insur. manager (Caer Gwent)
Reimann Heinz Erwin, manager (Woodlands)
58 Leonard Wm. Jsph., managing director
Jackson Fredk. Wm., wire-operator (Dysarth)
Macara Misses Lillian & Alice (Woodcroft)
--- here is Moss Lane ---
Braather Emil, electrl. enginr (Moss Cottage)
Jolley Wm. (Beechcroft)
Dapp Fredk. Schlater, director (Aysgarth)
Begg Andrew Buckley (Moss Edge)
72 Walker Sidney, engnr
Kershaw jsph., steel mer. (Ellerslie)
Craven W, Danl. Chas, manager (Stokesay)
78 Miller Arth C., haulage cntrtr.
Haworth Wltr. (New Spinney)
--- Here is Manor Avenue ---

Left Side

1 Cleathero Percy Wm. travellr
3 Norrish P.L., M.A., schoolmaster
5 Richards Leslie Cameron elec. engnr.
7 Longwth Edwd., scientist
9 Davies David Regnld, electrical engnr
11 Thornton Wm, Sidney
13 Jones Jn Ronald
15 Bowden Regnld, clerk
17 Lucas Wm. H., insur. official
19 Green Jn. M. motor factor

35 Lunt Noel North, A.C.A, Chartered Accountant
37 Mills Ernest Drury
39 Burrows Thos. Edwd.
Key Rbt. B (Bradda)
Mason Edwd. Harry (Beechwood)
45 Marshall Fredk. Herbt.
47 Thornhill Jn. T.
Entwistle Jn. Edward, salesman (Blenheim)
McMurtry Miss (Newholme)
Boothman Lawrence (Conlaw)
Mont Mrs D (Halcyon)
Bird Thos Ernest, company director (Northwood)
Crossfield Eric R (Allways)
Sykes Roland (Sunnymead)
--- Here is Meadway ---
63 Halson Leonard, process supervr
65 Claridge Jn. G.,warehsmn
67 Ritchings Hector, travllr
69 Barnaby Mrs Marjorie Phyllis
71 Bancroft Mrs Matha Ann
73 Smith Jas., travellr
75 Cole Sindney Fras. travllr
77 Dawes Jas A
79 Gray Jn. electr. engr.
81 Allibone Thos. Edwd.


The Avenue in the 1901 Census


Oakleigh Gardener's cottage

George Wilkes (head) age 55, gardener
Mary Wilkes (wife) age 58
Alice Wilkes (daughter) age 20

Oakleigh

Mary T. Lord (head) age 59. living on own means
Sarah E. de Lambert (companion) age 52
Kate Soares (niece) age 6
Sarah Skelhorn (cook) age 50
Susanna Masters (ladies' maid) age 43
Sarah A. Astbury (housemaid) age 38
Elizabeth A. Peters (housemaid) age 21
Elizabeth A. Atkinson (kitchenmaid) age 25
Mary Janes Dorey(?) (nurse) age 25

Coach house

Cook Gant (head) age 38, coachman
Lucy Gant (wife) age 38
Eleanor Gant (daughter) age 15
Harry Gant (daughter) age 13
Mary Gant (daughter) age 9
Amy Gant (daughter) age 6
Jessie Gant (daughter) age 2
William Heale (lodger) aged 20, groom


Ashleigh

Thomas Craven (head) age 51, Mechanical Engineer
Annie E. Craven (wife) age 48
Edith M. Craven (daughter) age 21
Thomas L. Craven (son) age 19, Army S.
William Copeland (footman) age 23
Florence Hamey (lady's maid) age 28
Elizabeth Marshall (housemaid) age 33
Laura Hyde (housemaid) age 21
Catherine Robertson (housekeeper) age 59
Elizabeth Furness (cook) age 43
Elizabeth Lang (housemaid) age 31
Aloce Johnston (housemaid) age 18

Ashleigh Gardener's Cottage

Henry Higson (head) age 57, gardener
Hannah Higson (wife) age 66
Alfred Higson (son) age 30, professor of music

Ashleigh Groom's Cottage

Ernest B. Swain (head) age 25, groom
Martha A. Swain (wife) age 28



Woodheys Grange Groom's Cottage (?)

James Searle (head) age 21, groom
Thomas Owen (lodger) age 18, groom

Woodheys Grange

George H. Walker (head) age 44, Merchant - export
Elizabeth M. Walker (wife) age 44
James A. Walker (son) age 18
Ottoline M. Walker (daughter) age 11
Bertha Valeke (governess) age 24 (born in Belgium)
Rose Bailey (cook) age 36
Minnie Magralt (?) (waitress) age 26
Lilian E. Holden (housemaid) age 18


Some modern views of The Avenue




James Gresham's gates and drive, 2009



Surviving old outbuilding of Ashleigh / Gallery House, 2009



Gallery Cottage, 2009



Oakleigh, 2009. It spent a number of years as a private hotel.



'Limefield', 91 The Avenue: a modern house, built in traditional Cheshire style, and follows the arboreal naming tradition started by 'Ashleigh' and 'Oakleigh.'



81 The Avenue: once home of Thomas Allibone FRS, and typical of the 1930s homes in the area.


Written by Charlie Hulme, March 2009. Updated November 2010 and October 2012..