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  • Ashfield House
Grade U

Ashfield House

Ashfield Park Drive, WN6 0EE, Standish

Listed Date: 00/00/0000
Part of Group:
At Risk: No


Ashfield House.  is an elegant English Country House standing in its own landscaped grounds.  Built on land called Ashfield in 1755 by Felix Leach(founder of the Crawford business in Wigan), it was enlarged in 1872 by John Lancaster the then Liberal MP for Wigan.

The building became the offices of Standish Urban District Council and closed in the 1970's.

Currently, a very nice hotel and wedding venue.

The house was the home of two people, Maskell William Peace and John Lancaster, who were instrumental to the industrial success of Wigan in Victorian Times.

Makell William Peace. (Obituary)

MASKELL WILLIAM PEACE, who died at Southport on 9th November 1892, was the son of the late Mr. William Peace, who was formerly the mineral agent for the late Earl of Crawford.

He was born in Wigan on 3rd April 1834, was educated at Rossall School, and, on leaving that establishment, was articled to the late Mr. John Mayhew, solicitor, of Wigan. On completing his articles, Mr. Peace was admitted a solicitor in Trinity Term 1855, and commenced business on his own account in an office in Standishgate, Wigan. Subsequently he removed to 10 King Street, and having taken into partnership Mr. Herbert Booth Bell, the firm was carried on under the style of Peace & Bell. This partnership was dissolved after a few years, on Mr. Bell removing to London. Mr. Peace then entered into partnership with Mr. Henry Ackerley of Wigan, and Mr. William Appleton of Oswestry, and this partnership was carried on under the style of Peace, Ackerley & Appleton, at Leader's Buildings, King Street. Mr. Appleton shortly afterwards retired from the firm, and the business was conducted under the style of Peace, Ackerley and Co. About 1883 this partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Peace joined Mr. Thomas Ratcliffe Ellis, the surviving partner of the firm of Scott and Ellis, ant the combined businesses have since been carried on under the style of Peace & Ellis.

Mr. Peace held numerous public appointments, and filled them with ability. His services as secretary of the Wigan Mining and Mechanical School, from its foundation in 1858 to the present time, will long be remembered in the local history of technical education. He was appointed law clerk and secretary of the South Lancashire and Cheshire Coal Association on the 3rd April 1861, and acted in that capacity up to the time of his death. He was appointed solicitor to the Mining Association of Great Britain in February 1866, becoming secretary of the Association in February 1870, and he acted as law clerk and secretary up to the time of his death.

He was for many years identified with the municipal life of Wigan, first as a councillor, and subsequently as town clerk — a position he filled for a period of more than eighteen years, viz., from 24th September 1866 to 31st March 1885. On the occasion of his retirement from this office, he was presented by the members of the Town Council, and the leading officials of the Corporation, with a beautiful piece of plate and an illuminated address. He was shortly afterwards appointed an alderman of the borough, and was more than once invited to accept the Mayoralty, which he was compelled to decline owing to the state of his own and of his wife's health. On the day of his death he was appointed returning alderman of one of the wards, and his name was placed on several committees. He represented Wigan on the County Joint Committee to enforce the provisions of the Rivers Pollution Prevention Act, 1876, in relation to the river Ribble. He was returned unopposed to the Lancashire County Council as the first Councillor representing the Standish Division, and, on his term of office expiring, was again elected without opposition. He was also appointed Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the Council, a position which his abilities and reputation eminently qualified him to fill.

Mr. Peace was the author of several books relating to mining law, and his works on the Coal Mines Regulation Acts and the Truck Acts were accepted as authorities on these subjects. On all questions affecting the law of minerals he was an admitted authority, whilst on questions arising on Private Bills in Parliament his opinion was frequently sought in the interests of coalowners, property owners, and traders generally, with the view of obtaining protective clauses. In connection with the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1888, Mr. Peace was actively engaged, as representing the Mining Association, on the Board of Trade inquiry into the revised schedules and classifications of the various railway companies, and, subsequently, on the inquiry before the Joint Select Committee of Lords and Commons on the Provisional Order Bills which were brought in to confirm those schedules. Mr. Peace was engaged up to the time of his death in the Board of Trade inquiry into the revised schedules of the various canal companies, and railway companies owning canals. As a conveyancing lawyer, particularly as regards mining leases, he was also an authority. He was the Secretary to the Board of Examination for mine managers certificates for the districts of North and East Lancashire and. Ireland, and West Lancashire and North Wales. He was appointed solicitor and secretary to the Lancashire and Cheshire Coalowners' Defence Association on the establishment of that organisation in June last.

At the last annual meeting of the Manchester Geological Society, Mr. Peace was appointed President of that body for the ensuing year. Amongst his numerous other appointments he was the solicitor for the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Permanent Relief Society, the Central Association for dealing with Distress caused by Mining Accidents, and the Colliery Managers' Association, while in addition to his public appointments, he was the secretary of the Wigan Coal and Iron Company, Limited, from the beginning of 1870, as well as secretary to the Cossall Colliery Company, Limited, Nottingham, since its formation in 1877, and to the Colliery Guardian Company, Limited.

Mr. Peace was a prominent Freemason, and when the Volunteer movement was originated in the Wigan district, he interested himself in connection with it, and was appointed Lieutenant of the Haigh corps. He had been a member of the Iron and Steel Institute since 1876.

Source; 1892 Iron & Steel Institute

John Lancaster Obituary 1

JOHN LANCASTER was born at Radcliffe, near Bury, Lancashire, on 19th September 1815, and from a very early age showed a strong liking for mechanical and mining engineering.

When about twenty years old, he joined one of his brothers in boring for coal on Chat Moss; and in 1841 he projected and carried on the sinking of the shaft for the colliery at Patricroft, through the permian formation, reaching coal at a depth of 440 yards.

Whilst engaged in the practical management of this colliery, he started about 1844 the lower cannel pits subsequently belonging to the Ince Hall Coal & Cannel Company.

In 1845 he started the Kirkless Hall Company, Aspull, near Wigan.

From 1847 he acted for several years as mineral agent to Lord Mostyn, at Mostyn Colliey.

From 1849 to 1856 he had the management of Earl Granville's ironworks and collieries at Shelton, North Staffordshire, and erected the Shelton Bar works

In 1855 he took charge of sinking the Shireoaks Colliery near Worksop, 520 yards deep, which was completed in 1858.

From 1856 to 1860 he built five blast-furnaces at the Kirkless Hall Iron Company, which were the first iron-smelting furnaces in Lancashire, excepting two small charcoal furnaces at Ulverston.

From 1865 to 1870 he was chairman of the Wigan Coal & Iron Company, comprising the Kirkless Hall and other works.

Subsequently he was for the rest of his life chairman of the West Cumberland Iron & Steel Works.

Other works with which he was concerned were the Bestwood Coal and Iron Works, near Nottingham; the Eldon Colliery, Durham; and the Nantyglo and Blaina Collieries in South Wales.

He was the principal originator and the chairman of the Lancashire Union Railways, started in 1866 and publicly opened at the end of 1869.

From 1868 to 1874 he was one of the members of parliament for Wigan, and took a prominent part in connection with the Mines Regulation Bill, having previously hold the office of president of the Mining Association of Great Britain.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1863, and in 1864 gave a description of the Blake stone-breaking machine, which he had introduced at the Kirkless Hall Iron Works (Proceedings 1864, page 20); and in a discussion in 1867 (page 184) he gave some particulars of cost of sinking bore-holes. From 1871 he resided at Bilton Grange near Rugby; and having been placed on the commission of the peace for the county of Lancaster in 1865, was afterwards appointed deputy- lieutenant for Warwickshire.

His death took place at his residence in London on 21st April 1884, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, after a brief illness.

Source: Graces Guide

John Lancaster - Obituary 2

JOHN LANCASTER, who died September (sic) 21, 1884, was born at Radcliffe, neary Bury, Lancashire, on September 19, 1815, and was one of seven sons of Mr. John Lancaster, of that place.

From a very early age he showed an enthusiastic liking for mechanics and mining engineering, and when about twenty years of age he and his brother bored for coal on Chat Moss.

In 1841 he projected and carried on the sinking of the colliery at Patricroft through the Permian formation, when coal was cut at a depth of 440 yards. This colliery was worked by his father and partner for several years, and during its whole life the deceased had its practical management. Whilst engaged with this colliery he projected the lower cannel pits at Ince-in-Makerfield, along with Mr. H. King, of Rochdale, about the year 1844. The lower cannel pits were sold in the year 1845 to. the present Ince Hall Coal and Cannel Company.

In the year 1845 Mr. Lancaster started the Kirkless Hall Company, Aspull, and there laid the foundation of that great concern—the Wigan Coal and Iron Company—which has since developed into one of the largest mining companies in the kingdom.

In the year 1847, Mr. Lancaster became mineral agent to Lord Mostyn at Mostyn Colliery, Flintshire, and continued to fill that post for several years.

From 1849 to 1856 he had the management of Earl Granville's ironworks and collieries, Shelton, North Staffordshire, and he erected the Shelton Bar Ironworks, in which Earl Granville is and was from the first largely interested.

In 1855 he took charge of sinking a new colliery at Shireoaks, near Worksop, 520 yards deep, for the Duke of Newcastle. This colliery was completed in 1858, and has been, and still is, very successfully worked by a company, which bought, it and leased the mines from the Duke. In the year 1858 Mr. Lancaster and his partners built the Kirkless Hall Ironworks. Five furnaces were built from 1856 to 1860, and they were the first erected in Lancashire, with the exception of two small charcoal furnaces at Ulverston. The Kirkless Hall Works have been extended from time to time until they now comprise ten blast furnaces.

In 1865 the Wigan Coal & Iron Company was formed, with a capital of over two millions, by an amalgamation of the collieries belonging to and worked by the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres and the collieries and ironworks carried on by Mr. Lancaster and his partners. The concerns taken over were the Haigh and Holland Collieries, the Kirkless Hall Collieries and Ironworks, the Standish and Shevington Cannel Works, the Broomfield Colliery, and the pits worked by Mr. J. Taylor under the style of the Standish Coal Company. Mr. Lancaster was appointed the first chairman, and he continued his connection with the concern until 1870, when, owing to certain differences, he withdrew from the company. From that time until his death he was chairman of the West Cumberland Iron and Steel Company. He was also a partner in the Eldon Colliery, Durham; the projector and the chairman of the Bestwood Coal and Iron Company, near Nottingham; and a partner in the Nant-y-Glo and Blaina Collieries, South Wales.

Mr. Lancaster took an active interest in railway development. As chairman of the Lancashire Union Railway Company he rendered services to the coal trade of that county which were recognised in August 1865 by the presentation to him of a service of silver plate, for the purchase of which over £400 was raised by public subscription.

One of the most notable events in the career of the deceased gentleman was his rescue, on the 19th June 1864, of the captain and crew of the Alabama, after the fight between that well-known Confederate .cruiser and the Federal war-steamer Kearsage. On the 25th March 1866 Mr. Lancaster was returned as member of Parliament for Wigan, and sat for that constituency until 1874, when be was opposed and defeated. He was placed on the Commission of the Peace for the county of Lancaster in 1865, and shortly afterwards he was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant for Warwickshire.

Mr. Lancaster was an original member of the Institute, and had acted on the Council from 1870 until the time of his death. He was a tolerably regular attender at the meetings of the Institute, and occasionally took part in debate. He was also a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a member of the Board of Management of the British Iron Trade Association, and a member of Council and past-President of the Mining Association of Great Britain.

He married, in 1841, Euphemia, eldest daughter of Mr. Gibson, of Johnstone, near Glasgow, who predeceased him.

Source: 1884 Iron & Steel Institute

John Lancaster was one of theprime movers in establishing the Wigan Infirmary, opened in 1873.