A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This township, on the western bank of the Irk, has an extreme length of nearly 2 miles, and an area of 919 acres. The high land in the northern part slopes down to the Irk, and more gradually to the south, where the Irwell is the boundary for a short distance. The district called Cheetham Hill is partly in this township and partly in Crumpsall and Broughton; Smedley is to the east of it, near the Irk; Stocks, a name which can be traced back to 1599, is on the border of Manchester, north of Red Bank; and Peel, an old house, formerly moated, is close by. (fn. 1) Cheetwood occupies the southern half of the township, (fn. 2) in which also lies Strangeways. Alms Hill, or Ormsell, lies to the west of Smedley. The population of Cheetham and Crumpsall was 49,942 in 1901.
The district is now entirely urban, being a suburb of Manchester. The principal roads are those from Manchester to Bury, the older one going northward through the middle of the township, and the newer and more direct one near its south-west border. The latter follows the line of the Roman road from Manchester to Ribchester. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's Manchester and Bury line runs near the eastern border, by the Irk, and a branch to Oldham separates from it; Victoria Station, Manchester, the head of the company's system, lies in this township at the junction of the Irk with the Irwell. (fn. 3)
Some neolithic implements have been found. (fn. 4)
The hearth tax returns of 1666 show that there were seventy hearths liable in the township. The largest houses were those of John Hartley, John Symon, and Edward Chetham, with thirteen, seven, and six hearths respectively. (fn. 5) A Cheetham halfpenny token was issued in 1668. (fn. 6)
A workhouse adjoins the railway station. The principal buildings in the township are the assize courts, with large gaol adjoining, on the site of Strangeways Hall. The other public buildings include a town hall, erected in 1855, fire police station, free library 1878, assembly rooms, and baths, also the Northern Hospital. There is a small modern park. A wholesale fish-market was opened at Strangeways in 1867, but is now given up. The industries include breweries, bleach and dye works, and many smaller industries carried on by Jews. The unoccupied land is utilized for brick-making. On Cheetham Hill there are children's homes.
In 1212 Roger de Middleton held a ploughland in CHEETHAM of the king in chief in thegnage by the annual service of a mark, and Henry de Chetham held it under Roger. (fn. 9) The mesne lordship of the Middleton family quickly disappeared, (fn. 10) and in later times Cheetham was said to be held directly of the king as Duke of Lancaster by the Chethams (fn. 11) and their successors. Sir Geoffrey de Chetham appears all through the middle of the 13th century, and was evidently a man of consequence. (fn. 12) After his time the manor is found to be held by the Pilkingtons, (fn. 13) the tenure being altered to knight's service, (fn. 14) and on their forfeiture in 1485 it was granted to the Earl of Derby, (fn. 15) and descended like Knowsley down to the middle of the 17th century. (fn. 16) There does not appear to be any later record of a manor of Cheetham, the estate probably having been dismembered by various sales. (fn. 17) Lord Derby, however, is still the chief landowner.
The principal estate in the township, apart from the manor, was that called STRANGEWAYS, (fn. 18) long held by the family of that name, (fn. 19) but sold about the middle of the 17th century to the Hartleys, who retained possession for several generations. (fn. 20) In 1711 it was bequeathed by Catherine Richards, widow, to Thomas Reynolds, ancestor of the Earl of Ducie, the owner in 1850. (fn. 21) The present earl owns land in the township.
A minor estate was SMEDLEY, acquired on lease by Edward Chetham in 1640 from Lord Strange. (fn. 22) He had a legacy of £2,000 from his uncle Humphrey Chetham, (fn. 23) and in 1659 was mortgagee of Nuthurst, (fn. 24) which his younger son Edward afterwards purchased. James Chetham, the eldest son, succeeded to Smedley in 1684, (fn. 25) and dying unmarried in 1692 bequeathed it to a brother George, (fn. 26) whose son James, high sheriff in 1730, (fn. 27) also dying unmarried, was succeeded by his sister Ann. (fn. 28) She bequeathed it to her 'cousin Edward Chetham' of Nuthurst, son of the last-mentioned Edward. (fn. 29) On the division which took place in 1770, after his death, Smedley passed to his sister Mary, wife of Samuel Clowes. (fn. 30)
The Langleys of Agecroft held a portion of Cheetham as part of their Tetlow inheritance; (fn. 31) and a few other families occur as having had estates in the township. (fn. 32) The Brideoaks of Cheetham Hill (fn. 33) produced a Bishop of Chichester. (fn. 34)
The principal contributors to the land tax in 1795 were Lord Ducie, James Hilton, and James Heywood, together paying more than a third. (fn. 35)
In connexion with the Established Church St. Mark's was erected in 1794, the first church in the part of Manchester parish lying between the Irwell and Irk; a district was assigned to it in 1839. (fn. 36) It was followed by St. Luke's, 1839; (fn. 37) St. John the Evangelist's, 1871; (fn. 38) and St. Albans, Cheetwood, 1874. (fn. 39) St. Thomas's, 1863, described as in Lower Crumpsall, is within the township of Cheetham.
The Wesleyan Methodists have three churches; (fn. 40) the Primitive Methodists and the United Free Church one each. The Congregationalists have two churches, one in Bury New Road, usually called 'Broughton Chapel,' and one at Cheetham Hill. (fn. 41) The Salvation Army has a meeting place in Hightown.
The Presbyterian Church of England is represented by Trinity Church, Cheetham Hill, built in 1899; the cause originated in 1845. (fn. 42) The Welsh Calvinistic Methodists also have a chapel. The Unitarians formerly had a chapel at Strangeways. (fn. 43)
The southern end of the township having a large Jewish population, British and foreign, there are nine synagogues, some of the buildings having formerly been used as Nonconformist chapels. (fn. 44) A hospital and dispensary have been founded, and there is a Home for Aged Jews. A Talmud Torah school has been opened.