Sunday, April 26, 2015

John Hough's obnoxious brickworks

 Old Buildings, Cross Lane, Salford
Old Buildings, Cross Lane, Salford.
“From the work usually known as ‘James's Views,’
published May 9, 1825.” Source:
Old Manchester, Plate 33
"On Saturday last, a case of considerable importance to the public of Manchester and Salford came on for hearing in the Salford County Court, before J.W. Harden, Esq , the judge of the court. and a respectable jury."
So began an article in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on November 2, 1850.

The case of 'considerable importance' was brought by Mr Edward Foulkes, an attorney, who claimed that his garden at Grove House, Salford, was being damaged by smoke coming from the kilns of the brickworks nearby. The kilns, which had been erected over the previous six months, could have been built further away - 
"But the kilns, as they had been erected, smoked away within a very few yards of the boundary of the plaintiff's grounds. At the present cold season the smoke was a great nuisance, but in summer it was almost intolerable, and it was clear that the defendant sought to carry on his business in the most obnoxious manner."
Not only that, but the owner of the offensive brickworks had recently built a pig-sty right on the boundary of Mr Foulkes property. The obnoxious owner of the brickworks was John Hough.

Since the brickworks in question were located in Cross Lane in Salford, it seems highly likely that this was the same John Hough who was to become the great grandfather of Alice Hough

John Hough and his wife Elizabeth (nee Hurst) lived in Cross Lane most of their married lives, and according to the census of 1851, John was a brickmaker employing six men. All of his sons were brickmakers, including William, the father of Albert Hough, who was Alice's father and also a brickmaker.

The lawyer for the plaintiff, Mr Whigham, called on the expertise of horticulturalists and gardeners, who agreed that the smoke from John Hough's brickworks had reduced the productivity of Mr Foulkes vegetables and fruit trees. His rhubarb was blighted. He was seeking a sum of £50 in damages.

The court case was of public importance because, as John Hough's lawyer, Mr Wheeler put it:
"The jury were asked to determine whether, in this particular neighbourhood, a trade which had existed time out of mind, and one which was growingly prosperous to all concerned in it, should be absolutely put a stop to, or, if pursued at all, to be pursued with eternal law-suits. or threats of law-suits pending over those engaged in it."
The whole area, he argued, was one vast brick-field from which Manchester and Salford were supplied with bricks. Besides that, the nearby chemical and dye works could have been the cause of the damage to Mr Foulkes garden.

Salford museum and art gallery
Salford Museum and Art Gallery, opened in 1856 -
buildings like this required a lot of bricks.
It seems Mr Wheeler's arguments impressed both the judge and the jury. 
"His honour, in summing up, said the evidence of injury by the pig styes was very slight - that the plaintiff had withdrawn that part of the complaint relating to the water course, and that the remaining injury would be as to the damage alledged (sic) to be done by the smoke proceeding from the brick-kiln. He considered the occupancy of the land by the defendant suffciently proved. and the questions for the jury were: - had damage been done; secondly, had such damage, if done, been occasioned by the brick kilns of the defendant; and third, what was the amount of such damage. The judge then reviewed evidence of the plaintiff.—The jury retired, and, after a short absence, brought in a verdict FOR THE DEFENDANT".

The capitals are in the original article - was the editor shocked or pleased by the decision of the respectable jurors? Whatever his opinion, John Hough must have been very happy that he was now able to continue to run his brick kilns on Mr Foulkes boundary.

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