Ephraim Hallam's legacy: a shop and its neighbours

A Davenport History Feature - by Charlie Hulme

201 Bramhall Lane, open in time for Christmas 2014.

Bramhall Lane in 1910 with No. 201 marked in orange. The streets created on Ephraim Hallam's land were given names with a Royal, Ducal or Prime Ministerial theme: Windsor Street, Buckingham Street, Peel Street, Russell Street, Cambridge Street - the title of Duke of Cambridge from 1850 to 1904 was Prince George, grandson of George III. He had no children, and the title was held in abeyance until conferred on Prince William in the 2000s. Lancashire-born Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) was a Prime Minister and major political figure of his time, as was Lord John Russell (1792-1878).

Many of the smaller houses in these back streets were declared unfit, and demolished in the mid-twentieth century; the present-day street pattern retains the names, but with a different layout.

Ephraim Hallam's story

Ephraim Hallam (1812-1897) was a mill owner who made his mark on the Stockport area, and his name remains significant long after his death.

His early life is hard to verify, but it is written he was born in Stockport, and as a boy he studied Latin under a Unitarian Minister, and would walk to Manchester every week to attend the Chemistry lectures of Professor Davies, assistant to John Dalton. He set up in business as a chemist and druggist in Stockport, until, on the death of his father, he found himself in charge of a cotton waste spinning mill on Hillgate. This must have been before 1845, as newspaper report of that year tells of a Hillgate Mill employee, William Barton, assaulting him while in a drunken state.

Cotton waste spinning was something of Stockport speciality, re-cycling waste cotton into a product which could be used for candle wicks - an essential commodity at the time - or woven into a coarse cloth for bed covers.

Ephraim's business must have prospered, as he was able to commission a new mill to replace the old Hillgate building, and chose the site in Heaviley, where the mill was completed in 1859. The map above is from the 1870s.

By 1861 Ephraim had moved house from Hillgate to the secluded surroundings of Adswood Grove, with his wife Mary, who appears to have died soon afterwards, as in 1864 he married again, to Hannah Kershaw Andrew of Mossley.

He served the community as a borough councillor, and served as Mayor in 1862-3, during the 'cotton famine' caused by the American Civil War and other factors which led to many workers being laid off. He organised, with other wealthy locals, a fund which collected 300 for the relief of distressed workers. He later served as Alderman and Justice of the Peace.

From 1959 to 1879 he was representative for the Stockport circuit of the Methodist New Connexion.

In 1868, Ephraim purchased Oakwood Hall, Romiley, a gothic-styled mansion which had been designed by Edward Walters for Ormerod Heyworth and built in 1844-5. It became the home of Ephraim, and his new wife Hannah (daughter of Jerry Andrew, cotton spinner of Mossley), for the rest of their lives. A document of 1873 records his ownership of 163 acres of land.

In 1871 they had living with them Margaret Andrew, Hannah's sister, and her son Percy Neville Andrew, whom Ephraim appears to adopted as his own son, and renamed him Percy Neville Andrew Hallam.

An accident occurred at Heaviley Mill in 1871; an iron beam gave way during some building alterations, leading to collapse of part of the building. A worker, John McDermott, was killed.

Ephraim died on Christmas Day 1897, and his wife Hannah in 1906. The mill was sold, and became the Squirrel Confectionery works. That closed in 1968, the mill - including a building of later date which now rejoices in the name of the 'Alcatraz Building' - became the home of a number of businesses of various kinds, a situation which continues today under the name of Hallam Mill.

To the east of the mill was a reservoir - since filled in to make a car park - to ensure a supply of water for the mill engines. There is no surface watercourse nearby, perhaps an artesian well was the source.

Ephraim Hallam had intended to donate to the town, in celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee, in 1897, a piece of spare land adjacent to the mill as a recreation ground, but died before he could sign the deed. However, after some discussion his executors handed over the land at in 1902 the Hallam Recreation Ground was opened.

Ephraim Hallam's will made provision for his wife, and left the residue to any child of his adopted son Percy, who was educated at Clare College Cambridge, and later lived in London where he married, although he had returned to Stockport by the time of his death (leaving no children) in 1899.

Should there be no heir, the estate was to be formed into a foundation to be called the 'Ephraim Hallam Charity'. This was indeed the case, and after some years the Charity was established with the estate 120,000, and 'in addition a sum of 18,500 from accrued income' was used to fund two-thirds of the cost of new building for Stockport Grammar School in open on the western edge of Davenport to replace the school's cramped quarters in the town centre. Opened in 1916, the school still flourishes as an independent school. The main hall is named 'Hallam Hall.'

The Charity has carried out many good works over the years, and still operates despite the unfortunate events in the 1990s and 2000s involving an accountant who appropriated some of the Charity's funds.

After its sale following Mrs Hallam's death, Oakwood Hall had a series of occupiers including a Jesuit seminary and an Approved School for Girls. It was the Kingsmoor School from 1956 to 1963, after which it became derelict and was partly demolished, but was saved and rebuilt in 2007-10 as apartments by a modern-day businessman, Mike Clark (and has a Youtube video). Additional houses under construction in the grounds were destroyed in 2016 by a fire which was said to be 'suspicious', but the original house was not damaged.

Bramhall Lane 1965

(Based on the telephone directory)

189 Dierdre (gowns)

191 Hirst N.J. Chemist

197 District Bank

199 Barnett J.T., Wines

201 Marshall E.B., Furnisher

203 Staley, R. Greengrocer & Fruiterer

203a Whalley JE. Butcher

205 Fleming, F A Boot and shoe retailer

207 ?

209 Williams, John & Sons, Grocer

213 Freda / Heywood, Susan. Ladies' Hairdresser



219 Post Office

221 Royle (Butchers) Ltd

223 Richards. Hair Stylists

225 Bayley's boot and shoe retailers

227 Smith H.E & E.W.,  Chemist

229 Williams & Glyn's Bank

233 Siddle Mrs Winifred M., Confectioner

235 Burgon's Grocer?


We have used mainly the Ancestry,  Land Registry and Stockport Image database in compiling this piece, as well as postcards in our own collection.

The Stockport 1914-1918 website is no longer online, despite its author's attempts to interest the Council in taking it over; our link goes to the copy held at the Archive.org site.

Contributions are very welcome at at info@davenportstation.org.uk

203 Bramhall Lane

The arrival in 2014 of a new business at the former 'Davensport' shop at 201 Bramhall Lane prompted us to have a look at the history of this shop and its neighbours. The picture above, dating from the 1920s, shows John Edward Smith's butcher's shop which had been created from half of the double-fronted semi-detached house No. 201; presumably the family continued to live in the other part. Its conjoined neighbour beyond, no.203, had already been transformed from a house to shops, including the single-storey extension which can still be seen today. Robinson's confectioners and Shorrock's fruiterer can be made out on the print.

All the other houses further along had also already been converted; all would have had front gardens when built, like the one in the picture. The developers who built these houses in the 1880s saw little need for a range of shops: middle-class families had their provisions delivered to their homes.

This picture, already historic although taken in 2009, shows the same view in more modern times; the cleverly-named 'Davensport' sporting outfitter was set up here in the early 1980s, but by 2009 had relocated across the road to a former Ladies' Outfitters at 98 Bramhall Lane, whilst Beeley's, a Stockport-based chain of bakery shops, traded in one part of No.203. 

Back in 1901, the house was the home of Joseph Green, a Stockport-born 'Physician and Surgeon' with his wife, two children and live-in cook.

The Beeley company ceased to trade as a bakery not long after the picture was taken, and the Davenport shop became 'Just Desserts Bakery' which in 2018 sells a wide range of takeaway food as well as its trademark cakes.

The 'Garden of Eden' greengrocery beyond, established in 1986, occupied the other two parts, and was a fine shop much-valued by many locals. The picture above is a still from a YouTube video made for the original management in the heyday of the business. Sadly, after changes of management in the 2000s, with periods of closure, it seemed to lose its way, and closed for good in 2016;  by at the end of 2017 the premises remained shuttered.  However, in 2018 the shop was taken on by Peter Sweeney for conversion to a 'bistro'-style restaurant to be known as '203 the Lane'  which suffered some early setbacks and closed for a while, but re-opened and still trades in 2020.

The buildings beyond No.203, in a quite different architectural style, are on land formerly owned by the Dundonald family, and were built some years later: their story will eventually feature in another article.

The layout of the buildings and roads along this part of Bramhall Lane is rather disjointed. To see how this came about we need to go back the Tithe Maps compiled around 1850, which detail the owners and occupiers of each 'parcel' of land. An extract is shown, colour-coded by land-owner, on the left of the image above, with a 1910 map of the same area alongside. The three fields coloured in white - subject of this article - were owned at that time by a Mary Alcock,  the wife of John Alcock, a Cotton-mill owner who lived in Bredbury. They were rented to various farmers.

The green areas were owned by Lloyd Bamford Hesketh, and were later developed with the streets given names relating to his wife's family, Winifred, Countess of Dundonald. The pink area, including the odd triangle on the east side of Bramhall Lane, was part of Cale Green Farm, at that time owned by the 'Trustees of Dr. Thompson'. As the 1910 map shows, the odd triangle is preserved in the shape of the backyards of the terraced houses later built there and the mill buildings.

Not long after the date of the Tithe Maps, Mary Alcock's land was bought by Ephraim Hallam. On the northern part he  built a cotton-spinning mill, Hallam Mill, which opened around 1859, and the row of almshouses in Hallam Street. The southern field he sold for building development, except for the area which was retained as a recreation ground and bequeathed to Stockport Corporation on his death in 1897.

201 Bramhall Lane

Most of the remaining area became streets of terraced houses for workers, except for the frontage along Bramhall Lane which he reserved for larger houses. The land was sold in 1875 to Robert Johnson and David Fogg. Census records show that Johnson was a Book-keeper and Fogg a Mill Manager; they managed Hallam Mill on behalf of Mr Hallam (it is notable that Fogg named one of his sons Ephraim). They took for themselves the prime locations on Bramhall Lane and built houses for themselves and their families; by 1881 Johnson lived at no.189 (in 2014 the 'One Stop' Convenience store')  and Fogg at no. 203. By 1901 David Fogg had retired, and moved to 195 Bramhall Lane. The 1911 census found David Fogg aged 81, living with his son Ephraim Ernest Fogg and family at 18 Beech Road.

No. 201 was unoccupied in 1881, perhaps awaiting a tenant. By 1891 one had been found, in the shape of James Bourne, a metal agent (buyer and seller of metals) who had inherited the business at 6 John Dalton Street, Manchester, only to find himself bankrupt by 1889 and working for another company. By 1901 he was self-employed again and living at Turf Lea, Ridge End, Marple.

The next resident of No. 201 we have been able to trace - he he is recorded as such (with mis-transcribed name) in the 1901 census - was George Edward Bouskill, a cotton waste dealer, who with his partner Samuel Rigby of Bramall Mount (on Bramhall Lane, a short walk away) carried on their business under the name of Samuel Rigby & Co. in a warehouse converted from the former weaving shed of Spring Bank Mill, Wellington Road South, Stockport, adjacent to the station.  The firm was still at Spring Bank Mill in 1924, but by the 1930s had been sold to Cookson Brothers, and later demolished.

We know more than the average amount about Stockport-born Mr Bouskill, for the unhappy reason that both his sons were of the age to fight in The Great War, and only one returned. Born in Stockport in 1866, he married Sarah Emily Miller in 1890. They lived at 41 Beech Road, and 'The Hollies', 128 Buxton Road before moving in to No.201, where they stayed until around 1914, before moving into 'Bramhall Grange', a large house on Bramhall Lane South opposite present-day Grange Road, across the border in Bramhall.

The 1911 census, whose transcribers also had trouble with his name, shows the occupants of No.201 as George Edward Bouskill (age 44), Cotton Waste Merchant, his wife Sarah Emily and their two children Clifford  Bouskill (17) and Edward Bouskill (14) with a general servant Nellie Smith (aged 19, born in Rugeley, Staffordshire.)  Clifford was working in his father's firm until he answered Lord Kitchener's call, and found himself involved in the tragic events at Gallipoli. He survived the war, and in 1922 married Doris, daughter of James Pailin, who lived at 'Romanhurst', 229 Bramhall Lane South, a large secluded house set back from the road on the edge of Bramhall Park.

Edward Bouskill was a student at Manchester College of Technology at the outbreak of the war, and after twelve weeks' training in the Manchester University Officer Training Corps. became a Second Lieutenant in the 22nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He died in 1917 at the Third Battle of Ypres, and is commemorated on the St George's Church war memorial, as well as the Bramhall and Stockport Memorials; today his story can be found on the marvellous Stockport 1914-18 website.

After the Bouskills left, No. 201 became J.E. Smith's butchers' shop, as described above, and remained so for many years, as John Edward Smith is mentioned in a Land Registry record for No.201 in 1956, and the business appears in telephone directories for the last time in 1958.

John Edward Smith was born around 1880 in Leek, Staffordshire. the 1911 census lists him as butcher working from home a few doors along at 213 Bramhall Lane, a smaller shop which later became part of the grocery shop we know as 'Spar.' His household included his wife Isabelle Smith and his three sons, John Edward Smith (junior), Arthur Smith and Eric Smith, as well as his brother, Sydney Smith.

From 1959 to 1965, Telephone Directories record 201 Bramhall Lane as the premises of E.B. Marshall, furnishers, who had previously operated from two 'China and Glass' shops at 20 Bramhall Lane and 341 Buxton Road. Mr Marshall did not live on the premises, but at 57 Bridge Lane, Bramhall. Perhaps by this time the shop front was extended to the full width of the house.

The later occupiers of No.201 for 20 years before 'Davensport' opened (1980s?) are difficult to research as there are no simple ways to locate the information. Can anyone remember, or suggest a way to find out? After several years as an empty, shuttered, eyesore, the premises re-opened in late 2014 as a discount store.

Further north...

Above, a 2009 view (with Buckingham Street on the left) from further north showing the row of former houses,also on Ephraim Hallam's Land, from 191 to 199, which have the same origin as 201 and 203 (seen in the distance). No.191 has served continuously as a pharmacy since it was established by William Banks in the 1890s.  A future article will cover these in detail

Looking north in 2015 showing (left to right) 175, 177 and 179 Bramhall Lane, and beyond, the entrance to Hallam Gardens. These were built as houses but soon became shops.

This fine old picture from about 1910 shows No.175, today's coffee shop, which seems to have had a particularly elaborate makeover to create a shop front and flat above, and the Hallam Recreation Ground. A children's swing can be seen behind the fence.

For more about No. 175-179, and our research about Mary Alcock, former owner of the land, see our 2019 feature Cabinets to Coffee.

Hallam Mill from Hallam Street, 2015. The '3P Paints' sign covers the name 'SQUIRREL'.

Opposite Heaviley Mill, Ephraim Hallam provided this row of houses, Hallam Terrace,  on what became Hallam Street. They have the look of a row of almshouses, but were actually homes for the senior staff of the Mill and others.

Written by Charlie Hulme. Last update  June 2020.