Worsley Village

In the first known document dated 1195, relating to Worsley. Hugh Poutrell gave to Richard, son of Elias de Workesley, for his homage and service, the manors of Worsley and Hulton. During the following two centuries some thirty different spellings of Worsley occurred including Workel, Whurkedeye and Werkesleia with most common, Workedsleigh. By 1450 the present spelling came into use.

There is no certainty about the meaning of the place name but ‘cleared place which is cultivated or settled’ has been suggested and from early spellings it is considered that there could have been a British settlement at least as early as the Roman period, 55 AD to 410 AD.

A Roman road from Manchester to Wigan passed through Worsley crossing Worsley Road between Drywood Avenue and Drywood Hall (now an Independent School) and crossing Walkden Road near to St Marks Church, carrying on through the Marriott Worsley Park Golf Course towards Mosley Common. Two hoards of Roman coins have been found in the Boothstown area, The first find was in 1947 when 2 earthenware pots containing 540 coins dated from 250 – 275 AD were uncovered in a quarry between  Border Brook Lane and the East Lancashire Road. The second consisting of 800 bonze coins was uncovered when the foundations were being laid for Falconwood Chase off Leigh Road. Could two coin finds in such close proximity suggest a roman settlement in the Boothstown area?

A second Roman road deviated off the Manchester to Wigan Roman road at Chorlton Fold, Monton and passed through Walkden and Little Hulton on the line of the current A6  on its way to Blackrod.

Following the Norman Conquest the whole of Worsley lay in the Manor of Barton and it is probable that a member of the family holding Barton acquired the Worsley lands and acquired the name de Worsley as his personal name. At that time Worsley included parts of Swinton and Pendlebury and a large swathe of Chat Moss.

By 1385 the male line of the de Worsley family had ended and the estate passed into Massey family’s possession. In 1480 the estate was passed on to the Brereton family of Malpas in Cheshire. In 1580 Sir Richard Brereton married Lady Dorothy Egerton and on her death Worsley was inherited by her half brother Sir Thomas Egerton who later became the Lord Chancellor of England, thus began the link to the Egerton Family.

The current Worsley Old Hall was built around the end of the 16th century in the vicinity of a house built in 1376, which consisted of ’a hall, chamber, chapel and kitchen’. The Old Hall has been extended over the centuries as can be seen from the differing styles. The area stands on a massive outcrop of coal where the seams could be mined from ‘bellpits’.  Coal production became the main income of the estate but delivery to Manchester was costly as the only means was pack animals on toll roads. 

When the estate came into Francis Egerton, the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater’s possession in 1748, his late father, Scroop Egerton, had already been explored the opportunity to construct a waterway from Worsley to the River Mersey at Hollins Ferry to carry coal on the Mersey Irwell Navigation into Manchester. The estate manager, John Gilbert, together with the Duke modified the plans and with the engineer, James Brindley, built the Bridgewater Canal via Monton to meet the Mersey Irwell Navigation at Barton which was closer to Manchester.  However, there was very little profit after transferring the coal onto the River Irwell. So the canal passed over the River Irwell on the Barton Aqueduct into Manchester and latterly to Ellesmere Port in the Mersey estuary.

With the canal in place, John Gilbert exploited the coal reserves lying north of the village by constructing underground canals which had the dual purpose of draining the coal workings and transporting the mined coal to the Delph at Worsley for onward shipping by the canal to Manchester. 

Worsley village expanded as a result of the canal and became an industrial estate with supporting trades for the canal and the mines. Prior to that the only industry in the village was the corn mill, which was located between the Delph and Mill Brow.

After the 3rd Duke’s death, the estate was placed into a trust for the benefit of his nephew who had to adopt the Dukes’s surname. The inheritors were absentee landlords until the 1840’s when the 1st Earl of Ellesmere took over the family’s fortunes and moved to Worsley with his family. He had a New Hall built south of the Old Hall, which unfortunately was demolished in 1949 after a fire. The Earl and his wife Harriet commissioned St Marks Church and greatly raised the living standards of the local population.  

The Earl of Ellesmere’s family disposed of the Worsley estates in 1923 due to death duties, to a company aptly named  Bridgewater Estates which was acquired by Peel Holdings in 1983.

In the mid 19th century the focal point for coal production moved towards collieries in Walkden, Little Hulton and Farnworth areas and railways began to carry the coal from those pits to the canal. Worsley became an industrial backwater. In 1904 the area, which is now known as Worsley Green, was cleared of its industrial buildings and replaced by houses built in the quasi-Tudor style.

Today, Worsley is a vibrant village and has now evolved into a dormitory of Manchester within the City of Salford.















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