Fairfield, Shepley, Hooley Hill, Denton and Hyde 1795

The following is an extract taken from Aikin's Book "Forty Miles around Manchester", 1795

Fairfield is a new settlement belonging to the Moravians, near four miles from Manchester and within two fields of the Ashton turnpike road. Though established within these twenty years it has the appearance of a little town. There is a large and commodious chapel, with an excellent organ. The ground plot is laid out with great taste and judgement. It forms a large square. The chapel and some large dwelling houses well built of brick form the front. On each side of the chapel are two deep rows of dwelling houses; on the back front behind the chapel is a row of elegant large houses. These, with the chapel form a large square mass of buildings, round which is a broad paved street, and the whole is flagged round. On the outer side of the street is another row of excellent buildings, which surrounds the whole, except the front; at a short distance from which is a fine row of kitchen gardens, and opposite to the chapel a large burying ground; the whole divided and surrounded with a quickset hedge. One of the houses is a convenient inn with stabling, etc. for the accommodation of those who frequent the place. The neatness of the whole has a very pleasing appearance, and place is frequented by numbers from Manchester.

The cotton manufactory forms a pricipal part of the employment of the inhabitants, including spinning, weaving etc. Tambour and fine needle-work is carried to a great pitch of perfection, and is chiefly sent to London. There are also in this settlement taylors, shoemakers, bakers, and a sale shop for most articles, as well as for the convenience of the settlement, as for the neighbourhood.

The Manchester, Ashton and Oldham canal comes close to this place, which will be of infinite advantage to it, as well for carrying the goods to and from Manchester and Ashton, as for procuring a supply of coals nearly as cheaply as at the pit.

At a short distance is Shepley-hall, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Tame, and now in the occupation of Thomas Phillips, Esq. adjoining to it are the very large cotton factories and extensive bleaching grounds of Messrs. Phillips and Lowe.

The people of Ashton and the neighbourhood about sixty years ago were mostly wholly employed in spinning cotton wefts for check-makers or twists to make fustian warps. They likewise furnished single cotton harder thrown for slight goods. Of late they have fallen more into the practice of making twists and warps for velverets, cotton thicksets etc. The inhabitants of several of the townhsips near Hooley-hill are employed in a hat manufactory set up in a new village called Quebec, on the road from Ashton to Stockport.

Denton, a long, straggling village on the Lancashire side of the Tame, one mile from Harden-hall, has increased much of late, and is principally occupied by hatters, cotton spinners and colliers.

Near the commencement of the eastern horn of Cheshire, which runs up into the wild country bordering on Yorkshire and the Peak of Derbyshire, is Hyde Chapel, or, as it is now called, Gee Cross. The chapel is a dissenting place of worship. About twenty five years ago there was only one house besides; now the place looks like a little town, and forms a continued street for nearly a mile. Near it is Red Pump-street, a new village lately built by Mr Sidebottom.

Hyde-hall, the seat of George Hyde Clarke, Esq. a branch of the Clarendon family, is pleasantly situated opposite Denton, on the Cheshire side of the Tame, upon a rising ground, having gardens sloping down to the water's edge. The building is an ancient hall with a new front. Adjoining to it are extensive stables and other offices, conveniently planned, and the whole supplied with water by a running spring issuing from a height behind the house. In the house are some good paintings, among which is an original whole length of the great Earl of Clarendon. Betwixt the bridge and the house is a mill for grinding corn, for the use of which, as well as that of the water engine on the Lancashire side belonging to some valuable coal mines of Mr Clarke's, is a wear, which throws a broad sheet of water to a considerable depth below, where it has worked a hole many yards deep and wide. The appearance and noise of this cascade have a romantic effect; and the river for half a mile above is made to appear like a lake, forming a fine piece of water well stocked with trout and eels. On each side of the river downards from the garden are high banks, well wooded in which the river is lost for some place, and then seen again at a distance in a sheet of water, formed by a wear belonging to Mr John Arden, for the purpose of another coal-mine engine.

In front of the house, and at a pleasing distance, is a bridge, lately built for the convenience of its owner, and the accommodation of those who frequent his coal pits. It is a neat structure, with a fine arch, and makes a picturesque object from the house. The surrounding land is mostly of good quality, affording excellent arable, meadow and pasture. The estate abounds with coal and will be greatly benefited by the Peak Forrest canal, which passes at a small distance behind the house. As the Tame flows through the middle of Mr Clarke's estate, he enjoys a right to water on both sides. On the whole, the situation of this seat is a very desirable one, being retired and romantic, without the asstance of much art.

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