Welcome to the Whitley History website, which is a community project aiming to bring together and share photos and stories about the village of Whitley, Cheshire.

If you have any photographs, memories or stories to contribute, or would like more information, please contact me at clare.olver@gmail.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Back in April I paid a visit to The National Archives at Kew – somewhere where I had always wanted to go and it certainly lived up to expectations. After a prolonged winter, spending a cloudless day inside a air-conditioned building seemed a travesty but it was time well spent.

One of the most interesting finds were the Charity Commissioners files of the ancient Whitley School founded by William Eaton in the 1600s.  Little did the Rev’d Belcombe, vicar of Lower Whitley, know when he wrote to Charity Commissioners on 12 March 1858 raising concerns about the condition of a school in the adjoining township of Higher Whitley, that his actions would still be causing disquiet some fifty years later.

Other useful records was the National Farm Survey. This took place at the beginning of World War II when Britain needed to increase home food production. County War Agricultural Executive Committees and district committees under them had exceptional powers to determine the direction of farming at a local level.

The National Farm Survey was begun in the spring of 1941 and largely completed by the end of 1943, undertaken by district committees who visited and inspected each farm and interviewed the farmer.  The farm records are arranged by county and by parish, and were completed in light pencil so digitally reproducing the records is difficult. From the records available the farms have all been updated on the web pages.

Finally, the Valuation Notebooks were copied and all the household details have been updated.  The inspections as a result of the 1910 Finance Act and is  some instances, the household entries even included maps.  As with the farms, where new information has been made available the web site now includes the findings of a great day out.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greenbank, Limes Lane


Can you help? Greenbank has a got a really interesting history through its occupant, Henry Neild a practising Quaker but very little information exists in more recent times. And certainly no old photographs of the house.

There is more information about the house here; and from his obituary which appeared in the Northwich Guardian, we know that Henry Neild was:

…a Justice of the Peace for the county of Cheshire and an income tax commissioner for the West Bucklow Division For some years he was an alderman of the Cheshire County Council, and Chairman of the Whitley School Board, and District Councillor for Whitley Superior, and in each capacity he rendered valuable service his remarkable attention to his duties being very pronounced.

Does anyone know anything or might be able to point us in the right direction? Feel free to reply below or drop a line to Clare.Olver@gmail.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Whitley Village Info


A  quick plug for this excellent website – the one stop shop for Whitley  – a really useful site with everything you need to know about the village: www.whitleyvillage.info

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Happened Next?


If you have enjoyed reading the stories here and want to know more about the residents after 1945, then you should read this wonderful book by Peter Ratcliffe: Memories of a Whitley Lad 1945 – 1960. In this he recalls life in Whitley during that period and includes a list of all the residents, along with many photographs of people and places in the village. Since 2009, over 230 copies have been sold at £5 a copy and all the profits have been donated to charity. If anyone would like a copy please contact him on 730287.

As part of his research for his book Peter amassed a collection of photographs from residents of the village over many years. Peter is keen that these memories and stories live on so has very kindly supplied many of the photos and information here. Thank you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Whitley’s Famous Son


St Bride’s Church Liverpool

Not many people would connect this famous Classical style church in Percy Street, Liverpool with rural Whitley in Cheshire.  The architect was a Samuel Rowland but until now very little has been known about his life. Samuel was born to Samuel and Ellen Rowland at Fogg’s Farm in Higher Whitley on 9 July 1789, and baptised at Lower Whitley the following month. He was the eldest of nine children, and married Ann Hodgson of Liverpool at the age of 25 at St. George’s, Everton, Liverpool. He lived in fashionable Canning Street and became a well-known architect.

The other buildings he designed include:

    • Pleasant Chapel Scotch Secession Church (1827) – Mount Pleasant Chapel was opened in 1827 as a Scotch Secession Church. Its members were Scottish immigrants who had met, since 1809, in Gloucester Street Chapel, on the site of Lime Street station. The Chapel became a United Presbyterian Church in 1847 and, in 1877, a Presbyterian Church of England. The Chapel was closed in 1939 and destroyed by enemy action in 1941. The site was sold in 1945
    • North Dispensary, Vauxhall Road (1829)
    • The Royal Bank, Liverpool (built 1837-38), Dale Street, Liverpool for The Royal Bank
    • Deane Road Cemetery, Liverpool (oldest Jewish cemetery), the most striking feature of which is the Grade ll Listed entrance façade: http://www.deaneroadcemetery.com/
    • St James’s Church, Latchford, Warrington, 1829 and is still in use today.
    • Bootle National School, the foundation stone of which was laid on 28 August 1835,

Rowland’s influences included his uncle William Byrom, the brother of Samuel’s mother Ellen. the brother of his mother Ellen. He was born in Moore, Cheshire in 1768 and baptised at Daresbury church. William was also an architect from Liverpool, and designed Renshaw Street Unitarian Chapel.  William Byrom was married to Sarah Hope, the daughter of John Hope, architect (1734 – 1808), and was a witness to the wedding of Samuel and Ann Hodgson.

Another one was John Hope – the father of his aunt Sarah, wife of William Byrom. John Hope designed Holy Trinity Church, Wavertree in 1794 which is considered to be Liverpool’s best Georgian church. He also worked on Rode Hall for Randle Wilbraham III and Enville Hall, Enville, Staffordshire. Sarah’s sister, Elizabeth Hope was married to William Lowndes of Ramsdell Hall (near Rode Hall).

Samuel died on 26 December 1844 at 31 Imperial Square, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, at the age of 55 after a “long and severe illness”. In his will he left detailed instructions as to his burial:  ‘my body may be buried in Duke Street Cemetery or in Everton Church yard at Liverpool aforesaid and in a dry vault to be build there and I direct that the same vault shall be enclosed with iron railings and that the body of my dear wife Ann Rowland on her decease may be buried in the same vault and that the body of no other person shall at any time be buried therein.’ He was buried on 2 January 1845 at St George, Everton, Liverpool.

In his 22 page will, Samuel Rowland left detailed instructions as to the establishment of a trust fund. He also made a number of legacies: to his cousin David Rowland, his sister in law Mary Elizabeth Hodgson he left an annuity of £150 pounds a year. To his nephew James Stelfox, and niece Elizabeth Rutter (nee Rowland) he left £25 a year. His Godson was Charles Rowland Goodson, and he was left £250. Samuel left £500 to his brother-in- law Henry Hodgson, and he was particularly generous to his brother Peter Rowland leaving £2,000 (approximately £230,000 today).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sister site


The History of Whitley is a new website created at the beginning of 2016. At the moment it’s still looking a little bare, with few photographs or memories. Each week more details are being added, and I’ll upload some photos shortly. If you know of information that you are happy to share, then feel free to comment on the bottom of the relevant page for all to see or send an email to Clare.Olver@gmail.com. There is lots of information of neighbouring village of Stretton on this sister site: History of Stretton.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1939 Register – new information available

1939 Register of Whitley

A valuable new resource, the 1939 Register, is now available to provide more information about the residents of Whitley just after the outbreak of the Second World War. It was taken on 29 September 1939 and provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England. The records were used for identification cards and, once rationing was introduced in January 1940, to create ration cards. The reason why this register is so useful for looking at the history of the village is because the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire during the Second World War and no census was taken in 1941.  It provides very precise details of the occupations, rather then the general terms used in census returns.

However, don’t get your hopes up too much as much of the information researched to date has been incorrectly transcribed which makes searching for an individual very difficult, and lots of the personal details are still redacted. This is true if anyone is still alive or if no record of the death certificate can be matched to the individual.

Over the next few weeks, most of this information will be added to the History of Whitley website and will provide an interesting insight into life that was soon to disappear.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment