Hoole Road

From the Bridge to Lightfoot Street

The Earl of Shrewsbury was Lord of the Manor of Hoole from 1510 and the earliest Estate Plan (extract shown) outlines his lands here in 1789. The ancient bridge crossing Flookersbrook can be seen on its western edge as can The Ermine, the isolated building to the north. The schedule with the Plan states that there were houses here and the tenant of Plots 1 & 2 was William Hale, a butcher.

1789 Earl of Shrewsbury’s Estate Plan (with permission of the Cheshire Record Office)

Hoole’s Tithe Map, some 50 years later, provides more detail. Close to the bridge was the aptly named Bridge Cottage leased to Thomas Bowers, a druggist whose warehouse fire in 1828 threatened to destroy the heart of Chester; he sub-let the Cottage to William Darlington, a smith and wheelwright in Canal Street; unfortunately it was in the path of the railway line into Chester Station and was demolished.

The next property to the east was Brook Lodge and its Tithe Map tenant, John Broster, a printer and publisher described it in the Chester Guide 1828 as follows:

Brook Lodge in the village of Flookersbrook is an object well worthy of notice for the quantity of ancient carved work it contains. The portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh and his Lady with the family arms are inserted in the front door.”

When the railway companies acquired land on the western border of Hoole & Newton, they diverted and culverted Flookersbrook in order to build the General Railway Station, Brook Lodge was included in their purchase and they continued to lease it, their occupant in 1841 being George Pickering, who was the drawing master of Chester; he held painting classes here and is remembered for his pictures of Lady Broughton’s garden at Hoole House. In 1851 Edward C. Walker was the tenant. Then aged 25, occupation lead merchant, he went on to run the Lead Works.

The railway companies then used Brook Lodge for their employees; in 1861 it was the home of Robert Lewis Jones, the Station’s General Manager, and in the 1870s and 80s, William Comber, their Goods Manager lived there. It was eventually converted into offices. The Hoole Entrance to the Station was built on its land in 1893 (see Hoole Bridge article).

Brook Lodge was the original No.1 Hoole Road and next door Flookersbrook House was No.3. This was re-named The Grange and still stands today, re-numbered as No. 1. Early maps show the properties side by side with large ornamental gardens. In 1851 John Maddock, a tallow chandler, was in residence followed by John Tatlock, a solicitor and Coroner for the City of Chester. Henry Taylor, a coal merchant lived there in 1864 and the Du Paget family were residents during the 1870’s. By 1881, Richard Grandidge, a wealthy timber merchant and sometime Chairman of Hoole Urban District Council acquired the property; he re-named it The Grange and added the entrance porch, spire and weather vane dated 1897 which we can see today.

Hoole Entrance to the Station, Newsagents, The Grange and the roof of Brook Lodge

During the 20th Century, The Grange had a number of different tenants. In 1926 a newsagents, tobacconists and confectioners shop was built in its grounds adjacent to the Hoole Station Entrance, run until the 1960’s by Hardcastles and then by the Eatons. The Grange Café was also there. At the same time the potential of its gardens on the corner of Lightfoot Street as a retail site was recognised and the shops we see today were built. Over the years their traders changed frequently. Trades included a butcher, boots & shoe repairer, mantle supplier, fruiterers and florists, gramophones and cycle shops. For many years the corner shop was run by Austins the drapers; the authors first suit (for a family wedding) was purchased from there some 65 years ago on hire purchase for half a crown (12.5 pence) a week.

The garden of The Grange on the corner of Lightfoot Street


Article by Ralph Earlam, initially published in ‘Hoole Roundabout’ in April 2017 - http://www.hooleroundabout.com

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