Sir William Coddington, Bart., M.P., was born at Salford, Manchester, in 1830, the eldest son of William Dudley Coddington, a prominent Manchester merchant, who in 1822 had married Elizabeth, second daughter of Robert Hopwood, cotton spinner, of Blackburn. In 1842 his father settled in Blackburn as a cotton spinner and manufacturer, in partnership with his father-in-law, first residing in a handsome Georgian house in Penny-street, subsequently occupied by William Boyle, of Jap nougat fame. The firm controlled Nova Scotia, Crossfield and the old Wellington Mills until Robert Hopwood's death in 1860, when Nova Scotia passed to Robert Hopwood Hutchinson, and Crossfield and Wellington Mills became the property of William Dudley Coddington. In 1857 he added to his interests by erecting Ordnance Mill, carrying on his extensive business under the title of W. D. Coddington and Sons. He was a J. P. and a member of the town council, dying in 1867 at the age of 68. He left the management of his mills to his eldest son, the future baronet. At the time of his death he was residing in St. George's-place, and was actually engaged in building Wycollar, the spacious mansion at the top of Yew Tree Brow, later completed and occupied by his eldest son.
Sir William was pre-eminently a business man, and under his astute supervision the firm flourished. He took full advantage of the trade boom which followed hard upon the heels of the cotton famine, erecting two mills, Ordnance and Wellington New Mills. In 1864 he married Sarah Catherine, daughter of William Thomas Hall, of Wakefield, residing first at Spring Mount (now the High School for Girls) and later at Wycollar, which was his home for forty years.
He had one daughter, Beatrice, who in 1894 married Mr. Arthur Cayley.
"Many distinguished gatherings have met at Wycollar (writes J. G. Shaw), and none more so than those of 1905, when Sir William and Lady Coddington entertained Princess Louise and the Duke of Argyle, and arranged two dinner parties, to give their intimate friends in Blackburn an opportunity of meeting royalty."
Sir William had musical tastes and in 1875, the year of his mayoralty, he presented an organ to the Parish Church at a cost of £3,000. In 1912 his services to the town were recognised in fitting manner by presenting him with the Freedom of the Borough.
He had a long and distinguished political career, being first elected as member for Blackburn in 1880, in place of Mr. Daniel Thwaites. In 1885 he was re-elected, in company with Sir Robert Peel, and in the following year he was returned unopposed with W. H. Hornby, the pair being again elected in 1892. They fought one more election together as commoners, that of 1895, Sir William being elevated to the Baronetcy in 1896, and Sir Harry in 1899. In 1900 they fought and won once again, but six years later Sir William retired, at the age of 76, and his place was taken by a Socialist, Mr. Philip Snowden.
In Parliament Sir William is best remembered for his work as chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for widening the streets of London and removing various "bottle-necks," such as the historic Temple Bar, which formerly stood where the Strand embouches on Fleet-street. This ancient city gate, which only monarchs might enter by permission of the Lord Mayor, was removed in 1878, on the completion of the new Law Courts. Its site was marked by a griffin surmounting a narrow pedestal. Temple Bar has poignant memories for one Lancashire family, for it was here that the head of the unfortunate Francis Towneley was placed on a spike after his execution on Kennington Common, for the part he played in the "forty-five" rebellion. The original gate, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was dismantled by the Committee and re-erected by Sir Henry Meux at the entrance to Theobald's Park, Hertfordshire.
In committee he was both brief and pointed in his speeches, a virtue he did not always carry with him in more intimate circles. There is a good story of him on one occasion "treating" his friends to a historical lecture in the Central Conservative Club at Blackburn, when he held forth "for three mortal hours" without notes or references, to a somewhat bored, not to say thirsty, audience.
Sir William married again in his 83rd year, his second lady being Miss Aimee Josephine Barber-Starkie. He died at Wycollar on February 15th, 1918, in his 87th year.
By George C. Miller
The name of Adam Dugdale will always be associated with the disappearance of the old property on Blakey Moor. During his mayoralty this area was taken over by the town council for clearance purposes, in connection with the scheme for the erection of the new Sessions House and Public Halls. The price paid altogether was over £80,000, and in reply to protests against this exorbitant price, he frankly admitted that, although he too, was staggered at the figure, the corporation had made the best of a bad job. How bad it was may be fudged from a report published in 1891.
"Here (says the writer) a triangular area of mean-looking tenements of different kinds, bounded by Blakey Moor, Queen-street and Northgate, and including with it the salubrious localities of Cannon-street and Engine-street, has long been an eyesore and a disgrace to the town. It may be described as an insanitary area. Morally and physically it is about one of the worst localities in Blackburn. A good portion of the property is in a dilapidated condition, it abounds in tramps' lodging-houses and houses of an even worse description, which are the resorts of thieves and other undesirable characters . . One fact alone will serve to stamp the locality with its true character. The average mortality of this particular spot during the last ten years shows the enormous rate of 64 deaths per thousand per annum, or nearly three times the average death rate of the borough . . If opened up, all the property, good and bad, would need to be cleared. But there are two circumstances which stand in the way of dealing with it in drastic fashion. One is the question of expense, always a bugbear when any public improvements are wanted in Blackburn;. the other is the problem of what to do with the wretched inhabitants."
Adam Dugdale could trace back his ancestry in Great Harwood for more than two centuries. His grandfather Nathaniel had three sons, the youngest, Thomas, settling in Blackburn in 1824, after having practiced successfully as a doctor far many years. He it was who built Griffin Lodge and later, in 1852, Griffin Mill. He was a capable business man, being chairman at one time of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, the Manchester and County Bank and the Blackburn Waterworks Company. Returned for Park Ward as town councillor on the town's incorporation in 1851, he was the third mayor of the new borough, the Corporation Park being inaugurated during his term of office.
Adam, his second son, was born on October 19th, 1833, and educated at Hoole's Academy in King-street, whence he proceeded to Bruce Castle School, Tottenham. On completing his education he entered the business commenced by his father, which at one time controlled 92,396 spindles and 1,936 looms. A strong churchman, he took a firm stand against disestablishment, and insisted that religion should be taught in all day schools, making it a rule never to employ a half-timer who did not attend either Griffin Church of England School or St. Peter's Roman Catholic School. St. Philip's Church and School owe their existence to the Dugdale family. The first school was built in 1871 by Thomas Dugdale, his father and Mrs. R, B. Rodgett, his sister, and he himself gave the site of the church, together with £3,100, of which £1,000 went towards the endowment. He also gave the site of the Parochial Hall, which he opened in 1913.
Mr. Dugdale was leader of the local Conservative party for over twenty years, four elections being fought under his guidance. On the extension of the borough to include the township of Witton and Livesey in 1877, he represented the new ward of St. Mark's and was immediately made an alderman.
"In commercial circles (writes Henry Whittaker) he enjoyed a high reputation for business integrity, and took a personal interest in his workpeople, who appreciated the fact that, unlike so many of the cotton magnates of Lancashire, Mr. Dugdale continued to live in their midst.. Although he possessed the fine Gilmonby estate in Yorkshire, purchased in 1904 for £46,590, Griffin Lodge was home to him. He could leave the house at any time of the day by using a private door in the boundary wall, and be inside his mills in a few minutes.” A keen sportsman fond of hunting and shooting, at the time of his death on the 20 January 1917, he was oldest member of the Pendle Forest Hunt.
Henry Harrison, third and youngest son of Joseph Harrison, iron-master, was born in Darwen-street, under the shadow of the cathedral tower, on June 28th, 1834. Like his two brothers, he was educated at Lower Bank Academy, and like them he subsequently joined his father at Bank Foundry. At the early age of 17 he was in charge of the firm's exhibits at the great International Exhibition at Hyde Park in 1851, the year of the town's incorporation. In later years he travelled extensively abroad on the firm's business, visiting European countries, as well as Egypt and America.
"Joseph Harrison (wrote J. G. Shaw), who wished his sons to rise in the world, shrewdly decided to give each a separate trade. William was put in charge of the business of the firm, John was an iron-master, trained to the trade of a fitter and would soon be ready to take charge of the foundry. Henry was destined to become a cotton spinner and manufacturer, after a few years experience of foreign travel. So Joseph bought the old sawmill on the right-hand side of Highfield-road, just across the canal and in 1852 the name of Joseph Harrison and Co. appeared in the directory as cotton manufacturers at Highfield Mill. The spinning mill there was built later, together with the weaving shed in Chadwick-street, Novas, and the weaving shed called Witton Mill adjoining Dr. Dugdale's mill at Witton. When the foundry was broken up, about the time of Mr. Henry Harrison's marriage, these mills became the portion of the youngest son and it was success in the cotton business that raised Henry to eminence, just as the iron business raised his father."
In association with Edgar Appleby and Eli Heyworth, Henry Harrison founded the Blackburn Chamber of Commerce, of which he was president to the end of his life: in 1877 he entered the town council as representative of St. Mark's Ward, was at once made an alderman and took his seat as such for over 36 years. In 1880 he was made mayor and county Justice of the Peace, and valuable services to the community were fittingly awarded when in 1909 he was made Freeman of the Borough. He was Blackburn's third Freeman, his two predecessors being the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Sir Harry Hornby.
" When the Galligreaves estate was cut up for building purposes, the first thought of Mr. Harrison was to preserve open spaces for the use of the inhabitants. He set apart a large plot of land in Hollin Bridge-street as a playground for girls and young boys . . The Harrison gymnasium near Harrisons' crossing is an educational and recreational institution of the type that appeals to athletic young men better than school and libraries and certainly it is appreciated by the young men for whom it was intended. It was built in 1909 and in that year handed over to the Corporation as a gift. Side by side with the gymnasium is a not less important Institute for Girls and Women . . . opened on September 16th, 1911, by the Hon. Maude Stanley."
So wrote J. G. Shaw in 1930, and the two institutions still remain as tangible evidence of Henry Harrison's benevolence. In addition, it is recorded that in his will he left over £82,000 in specific legacies to thirty-five different charities, including the Blackburn Infirmary, the Grammar School and Manchester University.
In 1872 he married Miss H. S. Maude Bower, purchasing Oozehead House in Preston New-road from William Dickinson, and altering its name to " Stanley." Mrs. Harrison worked hand-in-hand with her husband in his many charitable enterprises, the long succession of private dinner parties at which she presided over many a gathering of brilliant and distinguished guests, long features of the town's social life.
Here Henry Harrison died on February 25th, 1914.
by George C. Miller
James Hoyle, son of the late Joseph Hoyle, Cotton Manufacturer of Blackburn, was born on May 23rd, 1822, and educated at Blackburn Grammar School. He was married to Miss Ann Rushton, daughter of Kenyon Rushton, of Greenbank House, Wiswell, at Whalley Parish Church on March 10th, 1864.
At the age of fifteen, he became a clerk at the offices of the Union Company of Carriers on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. In 1850 he was appointed agent and three years later outside traffic manager, a position he held until 1874.
Those who have only known the canal in the years of its decline, its once populous waterways over-grown with weeds, its spacious warehouses ruinous and empty and its tow-paths fallen into decay, can hardly realise the excitement its coming roused among the people of Blackburn or the high hopes of increasing trade it brought to the merchants and manufacturers of the township. Yet it was not a thing of ephemeral growth.
Conceived in 1768 (when Brindley, the presiding genius of England's canals, made an independent, or, as he termed it, a "ochiler" survey, spelling not being his strong point), it was not finally completed until 1816, the final stage being that between Blackburn and Chorley. Its original cost was estimated at £259,777 and the canal as planned was to be 103 miles in length, 42 feet in width and 5 feet in depth. As intended in the original Act, the canal would have been cut through Colne, Marsden, Padiham, Whalley, Samlesbury and Leyland, by-passing both Burnley and Blackburn and it was not until 1794 that a deviation was sanctioned to include these townships.
When the Leeds and Liverpool Canal finally reached Blackburn in 1810, the auspicious event was made the subject of great rejoicing. This was something unique in the town's history, something that could never happen again-the inauguration of a new era.
" There is now (wrote the editor of the " Blackburn Mail") a direct communication between this town and Hull, and should the Corsican tyrant ever consent to peace and free trade with the Continent, Blackburn may with facility send her manufactures by water to most of the seaports in Germany."
The official opening ceremony took place on June 21, when a procession of twenty-seven vessels reached the Eanam wharf (where the head of the canal rested for a further six years) to be received by a vast concourse of townsfolk.
The fleet was led by a barge containing the Canal Committee and this was followed by a vessel belonging to the proprietors of the canal, with the Blackburn Band on board. Next came the Burnley pleasure boat, with ladies and gentlemen of that town, closely followed by Messrs. Peel's vessel, with two bands of music. All the vessels had flags and pendants flying and were so crowded with passengers that it was estimated not fever than 7,000 people were on the water. Their reception was in the nature of a triumph.
“Multitudes kept pace with the vessels all the way from Enfield, which, when joined to the great number of spectators assembled at Eanam, formed a concourse of at least 25,000 people, besides the crowds on board the different vessels. Cheers were constantly exchanged from the water and the land, the different bands played ` God save the King,' ` Rule, Britannia,' &. Such a happy occasion was never remembered in this trading and increasing town by the oldest inhabitant living.
As Blackburn was now regarded as coming under the category of an inland port, a list of arrivals and departures from the Eanam Dock was duly inserted in the " Mail," from which we may learn that the good ship " Hearts of Oak," laden with ten bales of yarn, nine puncheons of molasses, two hogsheads of tallow and other sundries, arrived safely on June 27, as did a number of others, including the " Ten Sisters," the " Defiance " and the " Nelson," to say nothing of 14 barges, laden with 380 tons of coal.
Alas, its glory has now departed and one may walk along its deserted banks from one end of the township to the other without seeing a single survival of England's wooden walls, either in dock or outward bound.
For many years James Hoyle was connected with the old Blackburn Gaslight Company (which had its first works and office in Jubilee-street) and from 1866 until its dissolution in 1877, when it was taken over by the Corporation, he was vicechairman. For 30 years he was a member of Blackburn Town Council, being first elected as a Conservative for St. John's Ward in 1878. In 1883, at the end of his first year of office as mayor, he was made an alderman.
His mayoralty was remarkable for two things: first, although his election m the first instance was not unanimous, the Liberals abstaining from voting, his conduct as chief magistrate was so exemplary that he was asked to assume a second term of office without a single dissenting voice: second, it was during his mayoralty that a public fund was opened on behalf of the widows and children of the men killed in the Altham Colliery disaster of 1883.
Among other offices held by him during his public life, he was Vice-chairman of the Gas Committee; Vice-chairman and subsequently Chairman of the Finance Committee and Vicechairman of the old School Board, which later became the Education Committee. He was created a Borough Magistrate in 1884.
Besides being for many years chairman of the Board of Guardians, he had along connection with the Royal Infirmary, being for two years chairman of the Board of Management. Identified all his life with Blackburn Parish Church, he held office under no fewer than four vicars. He was also interested in Wilpshire Orphanage, Bent-street Ragged School and other charitable institutions.
James Hoyle died on April 27th, 1909, and was buried at St. Mary's Church, Mellor. It was once said of him: " He never had anything but good to say of all, and if he could not say anything good, lie would not say anything at all."
Of Scottish descent, Sir John was born in John-street, Blackburn, on September 16th, 1854. His father, a native of Rigg, near Gretna, set up as a draper, and after travelling with a pack for many years, entered into partnership with Henry Shaw at Salford Brewery.
Sir John was educated at Lower Bank Academy in Dukes Brow, from which local seminary he passed by way of Annan Academy and Lancaster Grammar School to Glasgow University. In 1878, on his father's death, he took over the management of the brewery, also succeeding to his father's estate in Annan. In 1888 he was elected mayor of Blackburn and for twenty-seven years represented Darwen in Parliament. He fought six hard elections, winning all except one when, to quote one of his ardent supporters, " he went in for a short rest cure," necessitated by his defeat at the hands of F. G. Hindle.
In 1895 boisterous scenes occurred at Darwen on the polling day and it is on record that, in touring the town afterwards, the newly-elected Member met with a particularly hostile reception in the Stoney Flatts district, a hotbed of Irish Radicalism. Here he was struck on the face and hands by stones, whilst a stick was thrown at a member of the fair sex who was occupying the carriage.
The "Book of Memory," now in the entrance of the Town Hall at Blackburn, owes its existence to Sir John, who at the opening of the War memorial wing of the Infirmary suggested its preparation.
It was as owner of the famous colt "Solario" that Sir John name became a household word on the turf, when with this brilliant three-year old he won his first classic race, the St. Leger of 1925. In the following year he declined to part with the animal for £100,000, a sum offered him by the Aga Khan. In that year the horse ran away from noted rivals in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, "defeating the lot as if they were mere platers."
A wonderfully realistic painting of "Solario" by A. F. Munnings, R.A., with Childs in the saddle and the beautiful Ascot racecourse in the background was exhibited in the Blackburn Art Gallery in 1929, together with a portrait of the owner in oils by Sir William Orpen.
A keen sportsman in his youth, Sir John was a playing member of the early Rovers Football Club, as well as a successful sprinter.
"I was almost as bald then as I am now (he once said) and at one meeting it was amusing to hear the spectators, as I carried off the prize is a number of events, shout, 'Why, the old chap's won again."
Sir John Rutherford died in London in February, 1932, aged 77 years.
By George C. Miller
Thomas Higson was born in Freckleton-street, then known as Cross-street, in 1824, in a house nearly opposite the site of Chapel-street Independent Church. His parents removed to Yorkshire while he was yet a child and here he was apprenticed to the trade of a joiner. Lured by reports of Blackburn's prosperity, he returned to the town of his birth in 1845, but only remained a few months, working for Robert Baron, joiner and builder, of Clayton-street. In 1850 he returned yet again, this time to stay, bringing his wife and young family. Here he worked for a short time for Lawrence Livesey, but a year later set up in business with his uncle, George Walker, as a partner. No fewer than twelve cotton mills were built in Blackburn that year, together with row after row of cottage houses for the workers who flocked into the town.
In 1864, as the cotton famine came to an end, he entered the cotton trade, thereby emulating his grandfather, who, according to J. G. Shaw:
“came to Blackburn from Bolton in the year 1810, to join the little army of chapmen or putters-out, who were developing the great handloom weaving trade of the Blackburn district and sending Blackburn calico, grey, bleached or printed, to all parts of the world. There were two spinning mills in Blackburn at that date, and middlemen were needed to provide warps and weft for the weavers, whose homes were scattered far and wide, and to receive and distribute the cotton piece-goods which the weavers rought into town on their shoulders and in farmers' carts every week, taking back new warps for another week's work. The inter-mediate trade of warping and sizing became rapidly of increasing importance, and Mr. Higson, besides having a warehouse for his chapman's business in Cannon-street, set up a sizing business at Little Peel, on a site now occupied by Belle Vue Mill. His enterprise in the cotton trade was not rewarded by success."
Thomas, shrewdly suspecting that the end of the American Civil War would be followed by a boom, built Unity and Pearson-street Mills in partnership with James Edward Sharples. The firm prospered, extending its business by the purchase of Peel and Roe Lee Mills, whilst later still Canton Mill was added to the group.
In politics Thomas Higson was a Liberal, but his broadminded outlook on life made him many friends outside the party caucus. In 1889, after keeping the mayoralty to themselves for twenty years, the Conservative majority in the town council paid a tribute to his fine qualities by selecting him as mayor. His election was moved by Alderman Whitely (afterwards Lord Marchamley) and seconded by Councillor Gregson. He had served on the council for twenty years, succeeding Councillor Beads as the Liberal leader.
He died in 1891, at the age of 67 years. He was three times married and had fourteen children.
The fourth son of John Baynes, Fred Baynes was born in 1848. His great-grandfather, Thomas Baynes, of Lancaster, had a son John who came to Blackburn in 1834 and was for seventeen years a partner in the firm of James Pilkington Bros and Co., of Park Place and Knuzden Brook Mills. The latter was destroyed in 1885 by fire, when two firemen and five other persons were killed.
After a dissolution of partnership he took over, first Cicely Bridge and then Furthergate Mills, employing over 1,500 operatives. He became Mayor of Blackburn in 1858 and died at sea in 1873, on a return voyage from America.
Fred, his fourth son, was educated at the Old Grammar School in Freckleton-street, he and another brother being the first to join when it was re-opened in 1855, on the appointment of Thomas Ainsworth as headmaster. Later he went to Rugby under Dr. Temple and then to Cambridge, where he was prizeman of his college and took his M.A. He began a scholastic career at Beaumaris Grammar School but soon entered his father's business, controlling it till 1905, when it became a limited company.
Elected mayor of Blackburn in 1896, his term of office coincided with the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and thanks to his initiative the local celebrations on June 22nd were well worthy of the town and the occasion. Whilst residing at Samlesbury Hall in 1900 he was made High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant of the County, a double honour. Here he entertained the pupils of the Royal Cross Deaf and Dumb School, Preston, and gave more than one memorable garden party.
A Conservative, had it not been for his advocacy of Protection and Colonial Preference as a remedy for bad trade, by which he found himself at variance with most other manufacturers, he might have represented the Borough in Parliament. When Joseph Chamberlain visited Preston in 1905 to deliver his famous speech on Tariff Reform and the Cotton Trade, Mr. Baynes supported him on the platform. He was also the first chairman of the Cotton Trade Tariff Reform Association.
He died in November, 1917.
By George C. Miller
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Born in 1831 Robert Carr Radcliffe was the fourth son of George Radcliffe, land and mining surveyor, who was for many years agent for Joseph Feilden, of Witton Park, and one of the first members of the Blackburn Board of Guardians. Robert was educated at Lower Bank Academy and Blackburn Grammar School. After studying surveying under his father he entered the legal profession, was admitted in 1856 and returning to Blackburn went in partnership with his brother Thomas. In 1878 he was appointed clerk to the Guardians, succeeding that quaint end lovable character, Peter Ellingthorp. Other posts he held included that of clerk to the governors of Leyland's Foundation, which supervised the affairs of the Girls' Charity school in Thunder Alley; governor of the Grammar School; a member of the council of the High School for Girls; manager of the Parish Church Higher Grade School and for more than thirty-five years churchwarden of St. Leonard's, Balderstone. He was mayor of the borough for 1879-8 and it was owing to his initiative that a convalescent home for soldiers invalided from South Africa was instituted in the area. This was a house on his estate at Balderstone, equipped to accommodate seven invalids, a matron and her assistant, and called, in his honour the Radcliffe Convalescent Home.
By George C. Miller
It is largely due to the initiative of Eli Heyworth that Blackburn possesses Queen's Park with its fine boating lake. The latter, constructed as a reservoir by the old Blackburn Waterworks Company, was situated on land belonging to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the whole was ultimately obtained as a free gift from this body and adapted to its present purpose. The lake itself is formed by impounding the waters of the Audley brook.
Eli Heyworth, son of James Heyworth, a Chorley cotton manufacturer, was born in that town on August 16th, 1389, and educated at Chorley Grammar School. He began his commercial career at Cross Hall Print Works, under a brother-in-law of Richard Cobden. In 1863 he came to Blackburn, purchasing Audley Hall Mill in 1871, and later erecting another large mill alongside, the whole having a capacity of 2,200 looms.
In many ways Mr. Heyworth was ahead of his time. He devoted much care to the health and well-being of his employees, establishing a creche for nursing. mothers employed in his mill as well as providing a spacious dining-room for their benefit. In business he successfully demonstrated the principle of direct supply as between producer and retailer, by which means he was enabled to keep his operatives at work during periods of prolonged trade depression.
As one of the founders of the Technical School, he took a practical interest in the work of its pupils, and one of the looms in his shed was always available to test or demonstrate new designs or improvements in textile machinery produced by young inventors. He entered the town council in 1874, representing Park Ward as a Liberal, and in 1898 was chosen unanimously for the mayoral office. Prior to this appointment he had the satisfaction of carrying through a scheme for erecting a statue to the late W. E. Gladstone, whose commanding figure, with its outstretched hand, was until recently such a familiar feature of the Boulevard, having been more than once the subject of good-humoured pranks on the part of youthful and less responsible members of the community.
In 1892 he made a bid for parliamentary honours, along with W. Taylor, after having been chairman of the Liberal executive and president of the council for some years. I also recall that he was a manager of my old school, the Public Higher Grade School in Preston New Road.
By George C. Miller
Edgar Appleby was born at Enfield on the 7th September 1841. He was the eldest son of Joseph Appleby and Mary Ann Riley. There were three further sons, Arthur, b. September 1843, Walter, b. April 1845, d. March, 1846, Walter b. July 1849, d. September 1850, and two daughters Sarah Ann b. March 1847, Rhoda b. May 1851. Mary Ann died May 1865 and Joseph March 1878.
Edgar was educated for a while at a school in Accrington run by Dr. Bailey later moving to the Grange, Thorparch. At 17, he joined the family’s milling business, and on the death of his father in 1878, together with his brother Arthur he took over the running of the business. Over time the business was expanded until they ran one of the biggest milling firms in the country, having mills in Blackburn, Accrington, Liverpool and Bootle.
In 1866 he married Hannah Mary Tattersall of Kirkstall near Leeds, they had seven children, five sons, Joseph b. 10th January 1867, William b. 22nd July 1869 d. April 1870, Harold, b. 7th June 1870, Frederick, b. July 1872, Arthur, b. 1876, and two daughters, Eliza Marian, b. 14th October 1868, d. November 1874, Edith Mary b. March 1874, d. September 1881. The family moved into Whalley Abbey in 1878. In September 1881 the family suffered a sad loss. On their way home Hannah his wife and Edith Mary their young daughter were travelling in the family carriage when the horse bolted, both were severely injured, and after a few days both died of their injuries.
Edgar married Emily Ingham in 1884; there were two children from this marriage, a son, Edgar Ingham, b. 1885, and a daughter Alexandra May b.1888. In that same year they moved from Whalley Abbey to the Grange at Wilpshire. Two years later in 1890, when Wilpshire golf club was established Edgar was to be a founder member and President, although he played little golf himself, his main activity being the hunt. For a number of years he was treasurer of the Pendle Forest Hunt and rode to hounds with them.
In 1893 Edgar became the president of the National Association of the British and Irish millers, he was on the Board of Directors of the British and Irish Benevolent Society and Insurance Company and an examiner of the Flour Milling Class of the City and Guilds of London Institute.
Politically a staunch Conservative Edgar first entered into politics as a member of the Accrington Board in 1864. Then in 1876 he became a member of Blackburn Town Council when he was elected unopposed to Trinity Ward. At the end of his term of office he left the council and for the next six years concentrated on his businesses. In 1885, at the request of the Conservative party he again stood as a councillor for Trinity Ward, winning the seat. November 1886 saw Edgar, against his own wishes, being persuaded to take up the position of Mayor. 1887 was the year of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, and the question arose as to what the town should do to celebrate the event. Being Mayor Edgar had a great deal of input into the project. After much deliberation it was proposed and accepted that a memorial in the shape of a Technical School should be built. Edgar donated £500 pound towards the project on condition that the school was built on Blakey Moor, and that cookery should be one of the subjects taught. A subscription fund of some £15,000 was raised. Edgar requested the Prince of Wales to come in that jubilee year and lay the foundation stone but without success. However when he was elected to serve a further term as Mayor asked the Prince to come, this time the request was accepted. On the 9th of May 1888 the Prince of Wales together with the Princess Alexander Came to Blackburn and with full Masonic honours laid the Prince laid foundation stone of the Technical School. This was a double celebration for Edgar, for not only had he got the Prince of Wales to lay the foundation stone but the Princess of Wales, Alexandra, had agreed to be the god mother of his daughter, who he named after her they were also presented with a silver cup to mark the occasion.
Edgar was the first Chairman of the Technical School Committee which he held for about three years. He was then made a perpetual member of the Committee.
In1899 Edgar became ill and never quite recovered his full health In July 1900 after attending a miller’s convention in Scarborough he became seriously ill, dying at his home, the Grange; on Sunday the 9th of September he was just 59 years old.
The funeral took place at Whalley Parish Church on Thursday 13th September where he was placed in his family vault.
Some other notable events in his life were;
1880, he became a JP for the Borough. A trustee of the Whalley Charities, life Governor of Whalley Grammar School
1886, when the Blackburn Chamber of Commerce was formed, he was made Hon. Treasurer and held that position until his death.
1888, he was made an Alderman; he resigned this position a year later.