Chaseley, also known as Chaseley Hall, was a large house dating from around 1832 set in a landscape of eleven acres The site is now occupied by Buile Hill High School. Constructed in stone in the classical style, Chaseley was built for Robert Gardner, a prominent Manchester cotton manufacturer and businessman. Chaseley was Gardner’s main residence for over 30 years, providing a home for his four children, his wife Elizabeth and sister-in-law Frances Atkinson. The house also included extensive outbuildings, and accommodation for a butler, servants, gardeners and housekeeper. The gatehouse on Bolton Road and carriageway was also integral to the estate. All that remains today are the entrance gate piers, possibly some of the perimeter walls and the line of the current Chaseley Road which follows that of the original carriageway.
Gardner may have been influenced in his choice of the classical style by local houses such as Claremont (1780), the Heywood’s home to the west, and the nearby Buile Hill (1825) built for Thomas Potter, a Manchester merchant and influential Unitarian with whom Gardner must have had dealings. Gardner’s architect of choice at Chaseley was the Manchester architect Richard Tattersall. Chaseley is thought to be Tattersall’s first architectural commission. Illustrations of the exterior and interior of Chaseley were included in the sale of Tattersall’s effects after his early death in 1844, their current whereabouts are unknown, however. Tattersall was also the architect of the Manchester and Salford Bank of 1836 where Gardner was Secretary. Tattersall’s bank, also in the Classical style, still exists at 10 Mosley Street, Manchester. https://manchestervictorianarchitects.org.uk/buildings/manchester-&-salford-bank-10-mosley-street-manchester
Gardner died at Lytham in 1866. In September of that year ‘the greater portion of the contents’ of Chaseley were removed and auctioned at a two-day sale in central Manchester. The auction listing reveals a long list of ‘handsome household furniture’ including marble topped console tables, an oak library table topped with leather, damask upholstered rosewood chairs and settees with ‘en suite’ drapes, glass chandeliers, four-poster beds, numerous sets of china and glassware and an ice refrigerator. Gardner also possessed a large collection of oil paintings of which thirty were auctioned including a Rubens, Teniers and Perigal. The 300 books included in the sale revealed Gardner’s literary preferences which included books on architecture, a full set of Scott’s Waverley Novels, the works of Bunyan and Byron and 33 volumes of the journals of the Parker Society which was established to publish the work of early Protestant writers and reformers. Family portraits by David Parry and others were kept by the family with whom they remain today. (Some can be seen on Robert Gardner’s page).
After Robert Gardner’s death in 1866, Chaseley and its surrounding parkland, was bought by Charles James Heywood, a partner in Heywood Brothers Bank in Manchester. C. J. Heywood lived at Chaseley, with his wife Anna Margaret, from around 1868 until his death in 1905 at the age of 70. Heywood appears to have made few alterations to the buildings and its surroundings with the exception of adapting and extending the stable area as an indoor tennis court in 1879 and adding several greenhouses. In his will C. J. Heywood left the Chaseley estate to his older brother, Thomas Percival Heywood, his heirs and assigns, with the proviso that Anna should have the option of living in the house for the rest of her natural life. Anna died in 1922 and was interred in the family vault at St John’s, Irlams o th Height alongside her husband and their infant son.
Chaseley gets new residents and is renamed In July 1924 tenders were sought for the demolition of Claremont House, a large Georgian house of c1780, which had been the main residence for senior members of the Heywood family since the early nineteenth century. Claremont and its extensive outbuildings were demolished, and the land between the present Manor and Claremont Roads was developed for housing. At this point, Chaseley became the main home in Pendleton for several Heywood family members, including Isabel, Monica and Etheldred. Robert Gardner’s Chaseley was re-named Claremont in memory of the Heywood’s previous main residence and in acknowledgement of the Claremont baronetcy. Elderly members of the family lived on at the second Claremont House eventually leaving the area in the 1930s to live at The Grange, Much Wenlock. During the Heywood sisters residency Chaseley/Claremont became the centre for many fetes, garden parties, fancy dress parties and fundraising for the Manchester & Salford Blind Aid Society and Holy Angels Church. In 1937 the former Chaseley and accompanying land was sold to Salford Education Committee as a site for Salford Grammar School.
The Dockers Move in Developments in the area were halted because of the 1939-45 war. For a short time the second Claremont appeared to be used as a home for wartime Polish refugees. Later, at the height of the Second World War, it became a rest centre for dockers working at the nearby Salford docks. From 1942, sanctioned by the Ministry of War Transport and following a campaign by Salford Alderman J A Webb, Claremont entered into a new phase of its history receiving national media attention when the house was earmarked as a dockers’ rehabilitation centre. Newspaper reports give a flavour of the issues surrounding the necessity of keeping the docks and other industries functioning during wartime before the foundation of the NHS.
‘REST CENTRE FOR DOCKERS – LANCASHIRE EXPERIMENT An experimental rehabilitation centre for dockers is to be opened at Claremont, Pendleton. Lancs., in an effort to get to the root of much absenteeism among dockers and ultimately among all workers in heavy industries. The Ministry of War Transport, in agreeing to the conversion of part of the dockers’ hostel at Claremont, has adopted the suggestion of Alderman J. A. Webb, Manchester area secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and one of the newly appointed regional coal commissioners. It is hoped that the centre will restore to absolute fitness dockers suffering from the after effects of illness through having at some time been forced to return to work before they were properly recovered. The centre will be in the charge of a medical officer receiving £l.OOO a year, and its modern equipment will include a gymnasium. Men whose condition is such that they cannot stand up to the strain of the standard five and a half day week will attend daily for rest and treatment and their families will allowed 50s a week. The centre at the start will accommodate fifty men. Alderman Webb told the Daily Post that inquiries at the Manchester docks showed that more time was lost through the after-effects of illness than through accidents and injuries. The scheme, if successful, will be applied to all dock areas, and ultimately, he hoped, would be taken up by the heavy industries’. Liverpool Daily Post – Saturday 11 July 1942
Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour and former General Secretary of the Transport and General Worker’s Union visited the centre in September 1943. The Liverpool Echo reported ‘Making Dockers Fit Again Scheme May Extend To More Areas It is expected that all the 50 dockers attending the new dockworkers’ rehabilitation centre at Salford will be able to return to work after treatment. This was announced to-day by an official at the centre, the first of its kind in Britain. If this centre is a success others will be opened in dockland areas. The 50 patients at Salford are mostly convalescing from accidents, although few have sciatica or gastric complaints. The plan is to follow up hospital treatment with remedial exercises and other aids to convalescence. The men clock in the, mansion called Claremont, with spacious grounds—at 9 o’clock each morning, and are treated under the direction of Dr. J. P. Broom. They go home 5 p.m. Meals are provided on the premises.’
The centre carried on its work into the early 1950s and as well as the treatment of industrial injuries, rheumatic and long term sickness, lectures on economics, international affairs and sexual health were provided alongside darts, billiards, fretwork and carpentry. However, the early promise of additional centres across the country did not materialised and Claremont remained the only rehabilitation centre run ‘by and for the docks industry’. When the Manchester Guardian carried a detailed report ‘The House on the Hill’ in 1951 the Claremont Rehabilitation Centre’s future was uncertain despite its undoubted success in treating over 350 dockers each year, many of them from other ports across the north of England. The land, earmarked for a new Salford Grammar School, and the foundation of the NHS both heralded the death knell of Robert Gardner’s elegant and classically inspired mansion now in need of improvement and modernisation at a conservative estimate of £15,000. When the question of a further 25 year lease took hold Salford Grammar School Parent’s Association mounted a media campaign, appealing to the Ministry of Education, local unions and MPs, protesting that the retention of the house and its extensive outbuildings would create ‘crippling restrictions’ on the playing fields so desperately needed for the new school. The appeal to the Ministry of Education was successful and in September 1953 the Dock Labour Board was given notice to quit to make way for the new Salford Grammar School playing fields. The rehabilitation centre closed on October 20th 1954 and Chaseley’s fate was sealed.