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The History Of Breightmet

by Julie Hewitt

Roscoe Fold

As its name suggests, Roscoe Fold was a square of cottages erected well before the church or school was built, which I believe were named after Alice Roscoe.

Roscoe Fold was built around 1800 and was totally isolated by farms, with Holts farm lying opposite. Three of the eleven cottages held the services for Sunday and normal school. The pupils would climb upstairs by a ladder and the teacher would sing from above for those below. Most were handloom weavers who would make bedspreads from morning til night in the cellar to be sold onto Bolton people.

Roscoe Fold School now stands on the site and adjacent are new flats, this area was originally the Church Hall the very first school and here is its story.

Breightmet Hall

All evidence that this Hall ever existed disappeared forever, when the Breightmet Hall circular changed to the 561 bus route. Actually its hard trying to get the youth of the estate to believe it was here.

After the council bought the Hall and gardens from the Glaister Family in the 1930's, they knocked it all down for the building of a housing estate. This was to help with slum clearance happening in the centre of Bolton, for the building of the new Market Hall.

Now rewind 607 years previous to a time we believe Hall's history began. During the year 1337 Edward III transformed the town. He encouraged weavers, cloth makers and dyers from the Netherlands and Flanders amongst others, to come to England and they would receive fit places and diverse privileges. Seventy came that year and so began the cotton revolution. It is thought the Hall was erected for one of these families.

Jans de Zoetclyffe, who settled near Bolton Le Moors, married a daughter of Geoff Greenough of Breightmet Hall and his brother Samuel de Zoetclyffe married a sister of Mr Radclyffe the founder of the Todmorden Family in 1339.

The land around the Hall was sufficient for tenant farmers, bleaching, mining, etc. Eventually a toll road was created for a bit of extra money. The present building though, which was demolished, was only 300 years old. Therefore around 1630 it must have been rebuilt on the original foundation. We know this from a floorboard found with the year 1630 on it. There was no other evidence of a date.

The Baguley's from Duffield owned the estate up until 1725. In 1767 one of them was confidant and chaplain to James the 7th Earl of Derby. John Baguley owned Derwent Hall for several hundred years; he also served as High Sheriff for Derbyshire. Tom Baguley was member for Stamford in Lincolnshire in 1594. Then to the office John Baguley was elected in 1628 and his son then in 1649. The former Lord of Breightmet Hall, William Baguley resided at Kearsley Hall in Dean.

Next came the Parkers of Cheshire. They never lived in the Hall, but certain months they lived at Oaken Bottoms lower down the stream. A local eccentric the Reverend James Parsons Folds or "Owd Parson Folds" acted to the capacity of agent to Reverend John Parker. Reverend Parsons worked at the mission of Crook Street and Bolton Parish Church. He was well known and respected he even wrote a book entitled "The sayings and doings of the Reverend Parson Folds".

The Parkers sold the Hall to the Hampson's just after 1825. Mr William Hampson the new owner died on October 18th 1851 he was a farming manufacturing from Radcliffe. This family can be traced back over 300 years in Radcliffe. There was always a William at the head of the family. Nine successive William's slept on the same bedstead at Breightmet Hall.

After the late Mr Hampson bought the estate it was said that when out walking with a friend who asked, "You don't have enough to pay for it?" He did some figures amounting to thousands, which was the gross amount for the estate. Then said, "Whatever he may be short, the Hampson's to a man and aye woman too, would help him out."

The story of two clergy residing at the Hall is worth retelling also. Reverend Jenkins on September 11th 1826 became the first clergyman appointed to the Holy Trinity Church. He also died there but twice. The Reverend was reported dead and he should have been interred on such a date at Holy Trinity. Well he wasn't and heard about this.

(Gilpin like) he galloped up Bury Road on his nag, not for a Gilpin purpose, just to show he was still alive, but with as Gilpin a fury. He stopped at the Hare and Hounds for ale, and then gave it to all his servants as more proof.

Before Jenkins another clergy who also lived and died at the Hall, now buried at Bolton Parish Church has a tale. After being buried his spirit has been seen on horseback riding up Bury Road and calling at the Hare and Hounds for a beer. So many times, an exorcism had to be done by a Dean Church clergyman. This didn't work and he is still haunting the mansion grounds.

There are a couple of other legends about the Hall, one of which has proven to be true. A lady disappointed in love strangled herself and she is still seen dressed in black with the rope round her neck wittering. On further investigation I found that a lady aged 61 by the name of Jane Knowles under the care of Reverend Parson Folds did in fact hang herself. She is buried in Chapel Brown cemetery.

She had an illegitimate child, was kicked out of one town to the next and ended up a vagrant. Parson Folds housed her and maybe there she found peace in them beautiful gardens. She came from a well to do family.

Many years ago a certain tenant who had a very wild temper had a servant boy. The boy disappeared never to be seen again. Talk was he had been murdered, anyway years later human bones, said to be the boys turned up in the gardens of the Hall.

We know the original thick it the ford bridge was a rope bridge. So the owners used the Waggon Road at the back of the Hall as a toll road. Also the hill in front of the Hall was mined for coal. The only other family I could trace before the last family residing there was on the 1881 census.

The final owners who sold up were the Glaister family. They sold it with its gardens and land for the building of corporation houses.

Apparently it took years to knock down and fill in the old hall. Without this Hall we would not of had a primary school 'Roscow Fold' to be exact my school, my childhood.

William Baguley, Nathaniel and William Hulton with help from Suzannah Brooks founded this school. Edmund Brooks of Harwood provided the books. In 1725 by his will William Baguley left money for the building of this school on land required by Nat Hulton. Before this school at Roscow Fold was administered in a one up, one down house, the master would shout up the ladder his hymns.

Winchester Way

We used to live on Winchester Way the road was put on when the council built the estate. It cut straight through the Halls land from Thicketford Brow to Withins Lane. We were building a pond in our back garden and came across three miniature tankards, one bronze, one pottery and a very strange enormous stone flag. We sent these to Angela Thomas, Bolton Museum's archaeologist. We found they dated back to pre Elizabethan times before 1725. The slab we were told would have been an outbuilding floor or ceiling of a cellar, which probably was part of the old Breightmet Hall. The thing I miss about moving the most is the family of foxes we watched every night and the very timid, little brown deer. It also took a while to get used to the silence at night, when normally the owls would be hooting and screeching.

Thicketford Farm

The name Thicketford originally was Thick I Th Ford. As the trees along the riverbank were so dense you could cross them by going from tree to tree. Our river is called Bradshaw Brook, which leads to the River Croal. This is probably the reason why we had a rope bridge. All the other forms of traffic had to do a full circular via Harwood or Bury Road. Later the owners of Breightmet Hall cut a straight line right through the land from Bury Road to Thicketford Brow. Thicketford is the riverside area of Breightmet, in past times known among many things as Bright Meadows. In my eyes, an area of natural beauty, and a gift to the people on this council estate.

Bradshaw Brook Banks was the home and farm of Mr Hamer. He was a dairy farmer; he occupied a lot of land, as well as other farms in the area. One bad year there was a disastrous flood along the banks, so bad that it took up the whole farm. Mr Hamer had to rebuild his home and farm somewhere safer. So she decided to build it on the top of the hill just behind the original farm. Now all maps know the top of the hill as Top O'th Brow. You can still see the old farms foundations and gateposts.

This farm still stands today, along with the workers houses, but that is all. Now the fields have been sold for building on, the workers houses, now owned by the Mental Health Team. While the out buildings are now a car park. Thankfully in his will Mr Hamer stated the house was to be left to the Church of England for the soul use of large families, as his daughter had moved to America.

During the wartime year's four sisters of Mercy lived at the farmhouse, using it as an infirmary for sick and injured soldiers. Watermillock and Crompton Fold Hall were used in the same manner. In 1955 one of the nuns passed away. It was at that point they moved out and down to Tonge Moor. The house was called Briarfield and ended up as an office for social services. The police then asked to buy it for the use as home for delinquents; this was refused, the promise kept. The first family to move in were called Greenhalgh; little can be remembered of this family.

Next the Heaton's another large family. They moved in November 1973. Mr Heaton did lots of work during the first three years of being there. He had to rip out the air raid shelter in the rear yard, as it was dangerous. Internally the living area was separate to a back room. Anyway all this including the dividing wall was removed. Around the edge of this room were stone slabs on bricks and in the centre was a massive square stone with grooves running down each side. This was the slaughter stone, and is now in the front garden. There are fireplaces both up and down stairs. The original airier also had to be replaced in what was the original kitchen.

The garden has changed as well. Now it is a lot smaller but you can still see the York stone flags and cobbles. The wall around the house holding the garden is now a normal council brick one, before it was stone, with gateposts surmounted by a pair of big stone balls - a well-known neighbour stole these. This has all gone as well apart from one section of stone being used as a bench now. The big front door has been replaced with a narrower one. Someone had filled the cellar with concrete, which is now causing problems.

The council built up and around the houses. Therefore there were problems with delivery of letters, so the house was renamed 19a Thicketford Brow.

Many people have had strange experiences at the house. The nun has been on many occasions, especially around children and someone who has been ill. Mrs Heaton's family believe, it was the nun who held her hand constantly, when she was critically ill as a child. The babies of the family seem to be protected by her too.

An old lady with a connection to a photograph has also been seen. She's like a Victorian busy body that doesn't like anyone getting in her way. Dark shadows and lights in the corner of rooms have happened too. Figures going upstairs, keys jangling and doorknobs turning add to it also. Myself I sensed a large ginger and white tomcat.

Tracey pope is now the head of the house with eight children; she is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Heaton.

Arthur BARLEY - Head - M - Male - 55 - St Marybourn Or Marylebone, Middlesex, England - Solicitor Clerk To County Magistrate For Division Of Bolton -
Henrietta BARLEY - Wife - M - Female - 41 - Sharples, Lancashire, England - -
Elfrida O. BARLEY - Daur - U - Female - 18 - Breightmet, Lancashire, England - -
Hilda O. BARLEY - Daur - U - Female - 20 - Breightmet, Lancashire, England - -
Ethlberta O. BARLEY - Daur - U - Female - 15 - Breightmet, Lancashire, England - Scholar -
Therse SCHOLL - Governess - U - Female - 25 - Hanover (F) - Governess (Prof) -
Johanna PAFRE - Visitor - U - Male - 31 - Hanover (F) - Professor Of The German Language -
John WOOD - Visitor - M - Male - 32 - Bolton, Lancashire, England - Mechanic In Cotton Factory -
Eliza WOOD - Servant - M - Female - 41 - Hereford, Hereford, England - Housekeeper & Cook Domestic -
Mary Tucks NORTA - Servant - U - Female - 26 - Louth, Lincoln, England - Housemaid Domestic -
Emma HODGSON - Servant - U - Female - 23 - Thornton, York, England - Waiter Domestic -
Mary Ann OWEN - Servant - U - Female - 25 - Monmouth, Monmouth, England - Laundress Domestic -
Isa BAR - Servant - U - Female - 27 - (B S), France - Scullery Maid Domestic -
Olivia DAVIS - Servant - U - Female - 19 - Tillington, Hereford, England - Kitchen Maid Domestic -