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White Bank by Jim SantWhite Bank

by Old Boy

How many readers can remember a house situated in Deane? I refer to White Bank. In 1801 a man called Joshua Crook started to work as a handloom weaver and spinner in a house on Spa Road (Where the Navada skating rink used to be).

When textiles began to prosper, he built a small mill adjacent to his house. As this thrived more and more he purchased land in Blackburn Street and built a larger mill. This was the start of Joshua Crook and Co Cotton Manufacturers. Spa road was left for a residence in a more popular area of town, Bradford Place off Manchester Road, then in 1838, having increased his mills, he bought a farm and land at Deane. This had been on site for a good many years and belonged to an old Lancashire family by the name of Blackburne. It was called white Bank Farm.

The farm was demolished and Joshua built a new house on the site, to drawings by one of his sons, Henry. Joshua's widow along with his eldest son Joseph (an MP for Bolton) continued to live on the estate after his death. She was said to have been a very beautiful old lady who made the house the centre of the large family circle. She also kept all the traditions of an old-fashioned country house. Among them the brewing of ale in the brew house.

In 1870 when the widow died, the estate was put up for auction and bought by William Haslam Esq. her Grandson. William was the son of Mary one of Joshua's daughters. She had married into the family of Haslam of Gilnow house. Around this time alterations were made to the house. The family was in possession until 1920 when the house was given to the borough or Bolton by the descendents of Joshua Crook, 1770-1820, the founder of John Haslam and Co. Spinners.

The house itself was situated on the hill of Deane. It was approached from the town of Bolton from Deane Road, part of which was called Pikes Lane in those days. This was just a country lane, on either side fields, a few houses and farms, leading to the village of Deane. With its secluded position, the house was given the characteristics of being in a town and the country, with its thirty acres of land, now Haslam Park, it gave no suggestion that it was near a town. The view from the terrace was a fine one, with its stretch of lawn, bordered, by trees and flowers, sloping down to an ornamental pond, the valley below, through which the trains and the Middle Brook ran, commanding a broad and extensive view of Chorley New Road and the Horwich moors beyond, all combined to make a picturesque landscape, especially in winter time.

The entrance to the estate was facing Melbourne Road, and the drive came out facing Hawthorne Road. Built of brick the house was two stories high, with large bay windows and a columned porch main entrance to the east. On the north side was a secondary entrance between the Dining room and the Breakfast Room, and on the west side the Stable blocks, vegetable gardens etc.

Interior arrangements were spacious and convenient and the halls had polished parquet floors. The walls above the dado were subdued in tone, relieved by family portraits. Oil paintings adorned the walls, some of the works by Atkinson, Grimshaw and Oliver. The drawing and dining rooms, flooded with light from large bay windows and two side windows each, and from these windows, fine views of the countryside could be obtained. In these rooms were large open recessed fireplaces with Marble surrounds and one could imagine a log fire burning in. them, giving out a warm friendly glow. Handsome marble stairs lead up from the hall to the upper floor. There was none of the original furniture left in the house only a marble topped table in the hall and at the bottom of the stairs a statue of the 'Discus Thrower'.

The kitchen etc, where situated on the ground floor and the old bells to summon the servants, still hung on the wall. These are some of the things that I can remember from being a schoolboy.

In May 1922, Haslam Park opened, and on September 22nd of the same year White Bank School, which may bring back memories for many local men, as it was a boy's school in the surroundings of the house.

Alas it is now demolished, and in its place a modern building. White Bank although not a place of real historical value but one, probably of many that gave it character to the different districts of town.