F is for factories, farming and freemasonry

Factories, farming and freemasonry. An odd combination which comes together in the life of Charles Patrick.

Patrick married Mary Ann Ashworth, daughter of John Ashworth who built Springhill House, and is ‘the Capting’ of ‘the little girl and the Capting’ blog below. He towers over the history of C19 Springhill to the extent that in his will he left ‘land north of Newchurch Road’ to one niece and ‘land south of Newchurch Road’ to another...

But back to F.

F is for factories
East Lancashire was covered in factories; initially woollen, latterly cotton, felt and slipper. With the factories came the rows of back-to-back houses, and the smog, and the noise, and the poor working conditions. Gradually a series of factory acts were passed to regulate the hours and conditions of women and children in particular, and created the role of factory inspectors to ensure that these new conditions were upheld.

Patrick was sub-inspector of factories for the Rochdale district, bringing numerous prosecutions against mill owners for infringement. He did not appear to be shy of bringing charges against his friends, though of course we don’t know how many were dropped after a ‘quiet word’. His expertise in inspection led him to undertake prison inspections as well.

F is for farms
Patrick appears to have fancied himself as a gentleman farmer, with a farm abutting on his house. Over his 40 years in Springhill he extended the farm by buying up adjacent fields as they became available. There was a separate paddock and orchard.

Patrick’s main interest in agriculture was in horses with a considerable stable, sufficient to employ a groom. These were used for carriage, hunting and yeomanry duties and he regularly won prizes at local agricultural fairs. As well as prizes for horses, he won prizes for pigs and poultry.

The farm continued as an active farm until the land was sold for housing in the 1980s. The development was quite tasteful and in keeping with the area.

F is for freemasonry

That Patrick was a freemason is inferred rather than documented. I have not been able to confirm membership of a specific lodge.

In his will he makes a bequest to ‘my valued friend Clement Molyneux Royds the masonic ring bequeathed to me by his esteemed father’. The Royds were prominent in Rochdale freemasonry (and everything else in Rochdale) and Patrick was a close friend of the family.

The foundation stone for Edgeside church, which Patrick largely endowed, was laid with ‘full masonic ceremonial’.

(in addition to freemasonry, Patrick was active in the church, the Conservative Association and the local hunt).

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