Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

How Entrepreneur's Legacy Lives on Today ; Little-Known Mancunian Councillor and MP Was Responsible for Many Innovations in Victorian Britain.In the Final Part of the Edward Watkin's Story, Local Historian Geoffrey Scargill Tells How the Northenden Man's Influence Can Be Seen Round the World

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

How Entrepreneur's Legacy Lives on Today ; Little-Known Mancunian Councillor and MP Was Responsible for Many Innovations in Victorian Britain.In the Final Part of the Edward Watkin's Story, Local Historian Geoffrey Scargill Tells How the Northenden Man's Influence Can Be Seen Round the World

Article excerpt

SIR Edward Watkin achieved great things, from the first public parks in Manchester to his work in Canada.

He was a Manchester councillor and an MP for 30 years.

His Great Central was the last mainline into London until High Speed One in 2007, and some experts say it could be a cheaper alternative to the controhistory versial High Speed Two.

He turned a little fishing village called Grimsby into the biggest fishing port in the world, then created Cleethorpes as a resort for its workers. He was a driving force of railway systems in Belgium, Greece, India and Africa.

He was often ahead of his time, one of 78 MPs who tried to substitute the word 'person' for the word 'men' in the 1867 Reform Act - in other words, to give women the vote. The opposition to his Channel tunnel in 1882 looks laughable now.

He first suggested linking the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans in 1861, 20 years before the Canadian Pacific Railway. What would have been the effect on Ireland's economy and perhaps its if trains could have gone through Watkin's tunnel linking Ireland and Scotland and under the Channel to the Continent? Sir Edward lived in Northenden, at a place called Rose Hill, which eventually became a remand home. In 1990 Rose Hill Remand Home closed.

A year later it was classi-fied as one of the top five per cent of listed buildings in England because of its architecture and its links with great figures in history.

But in the next decade it was allowed to rot, vandals took over, the beautiful copper fireplace was stolen, the carved wooden staircase was set on fire, the stained glass windows were smashed.

In 2003, just before it collapsed, the outside was restored and the inside was converted into luxury apartments.

But there is no sense of history, not even a plaque to show that this was where great people stayed and one of the railway kings of the nineteenth century lived for 69 years, and died.

The house is now called Ashley Grange. The only sign of the historic name of Rose Hill is on a plate attached to an electricity sub-station near the entrance to the house.

In the parish church near to where Sir Edward is buried, a mile away from the remains of Rose Hill, is the Watkin family memorial. …

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