Built by John Brier, then
owner of Oak Bank Mill,
this large house was constructed in 1858, overlooking the mill.
His development included a lodge cottage at the end of the drive
where it adjoins Shrigley Road, a coach house used for stabling
of horses and garaging of the carriage, and landscaped gardens
which included a large number of trees, rockery around the edges
of the original quarry, and a summer house on top of the hill
above Beeston quarry with a path up the hill to reach it. The
main drive from Shrigley Road passed
along the lower garden before turning up to the front door (picture
below). Much of this drive is today burried beneath the garden.
Bank Drive is largely the original
access to the coach house and the tradesmans' entrance to what
was the back of the original house.
The site of this house was
originally a quarry, part of Beeston quarry, cut into the hillside.
In order to provide an adequate and private location, Brier built
a huge terrace wall around the lower side of the site. This extends
for several hundred feet in length and varies in height up to
16 feet high. At some points there was a rake of two or even three
terrace walls, one above the other up the hillside. A flight
of steps provided access down to the the back of the mill. All
of these features remain today.
house was built of local stone. Regretably, we don't have a picture
of the full house, but a few pictures showing just small corners,
such as that including the front door (left) and the side and garden
(below). However, that is enough to show that this was a sumptuous
mansion. The front door frame was particularly elaborate surrounded
by a beautiful stone frieze. Dr
John Coope believed that this might well have been carved
by the Kerridge sculptor, Alfred
is thought to have been a fire in 1905 which damaged part of the
house. The undamaged part remained in occupancy until about 1930
when it was abandoned. Local children played on the site for many
year after and regarded the partly roofless building as very spooky!
The local scouts used the separate coach house as their scout
hut. There were huge greenhouses on the bank above the house, complete
with a boiler house to provide heating.
At some point around the end of WWII the house was demolished
and most of the stone was removed from the site. The flat ground
including where the house had stood was then concreted over and
the whole site including the lower gardens was used to stockpile
coal. At some point the last of the coal was removed and the site
closed up. Nature took over and very large numbers of sycamore
trees grew over the site and among the surviving original trees.
In 1983/84 the site was opened up and four detached houses were
built around the edge of the concrete slab. This slab was later
broken up but not removed. It was covered with soil for front lawns
and driveways to the houses. As an occupier of one of these houses
I can tell you that, besides the fantastic view across the village,
there are two notable aspects of the site's past - my garden was
covered in nutty slack, and I continue, even after 30+ years living
there, to find shards of glass, particularly around where the greenhouses
A search of Google books for J. Brier brings up some indications
of John Brier jun's (probably son of the house builder) interest
in gardening and photography:
Gardening Illustrated, 1891, volume 12
'Mr. J. Brier, jun., Oak Bank, Bollington, near Macclesfield, for a photograph
of a view on the lawn at Oak Bank.'
The Photographic news: a weekly record of the progress of photography:
'Mr. J. Brier, jun., proposed such a plan in the YEAR-BOOK OF PHOTOGRAPHY for
1876, and there are earlier suggestions to the same effect.'
The Photographic times: Volume 6
'J. Brier, Jr 131 Dry Process.'
I haven't seen the picture from Gardening Illustrated. If he was
so interested in photography, what a pity that we don't have a
collection of pictures of the house and its garden.
My thanks go to those who researched and discovered the history
that is presented in these pages. Please
read the full acknowledgement of their remarkable achievement.
Your Historic Documents
Please don't chuck out those historic documents and pictures! Find
out why here.