The Ashworth family owned cotton mills: New Eagley Mill and Egerton Mill. John Ashworth built Oaks Hall 1820; it stood on a cliff above New Eagley Mill. He then gave it to his son Henry Ashworth when he married 1823. Henry Ashworth employed fellow Quaker and architect Richard Lane, (he bulit 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester home to William Gaskell and writer Elizabeth Gaskell).
Heating for the Hall was designed by Benjamin Hick who was related to Henry Ashworth.
Henry Ashworth Son of a wealthy cotton merchant., Henry Ashworth along with his brother Edmund, built the family business into one of the most technically advanced cotton trading companies in the country.
With other manufacturers the Ashworths objected to what they saw as parliamentary “interference” in running their mills; through limiting working hours and the employment of children via the Factory Acts. It was not that Henry and his brother were exploitive employers – they built houses, schools, a library and reading room for their workers – but they genuinely believed that business owners should be able to make their own decisions.
Henry was also a founder member of the Anti-Corn Law League, supporting free trade. He was a close friend of Richard Cobden.
He left Oaks Hall 1880 for a tour of Italy, caught a chill in Rome and died a few days later in Florence; and was buried in the Protestant cemetery there.
The National Portrait Gallery hold a portrait of Henry Ashworth in their collection (above)
The Hall was demolished 1956. However remnants of the Hall can be located behind the fields and in the woods, top of Green Way.
The base of an ornamental fountain seems visible. Rhododendron trees, too, show there were once formal gardens planted, and in the undergrowth
stonework from the Hall can also be found. (see below)