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Gorse Hill Farm, Chadwick Lane, Urmston

Gorse Hill Farm, also known as Nancy Holt's Farm, was built in the 18th Century and stood on the west side of Humphrey Lane at a point now occupied by houses at the beginning of Mount Drive and Humphrey Crescent. The grounds covered some 23 acres. There were three ponds in the grounds of Gorse Hill Farm close to the point where the community centre stands today.

William Allen had purchased lands in the area in 1765, but he became bankrupt and in 1790 this part of his land was sold to Josiah Johnson Smith.
 
In 1870, the Cheshire Lines Committee began work on an extension to their rail network - The Cheshire Lines Railway, approximately 55% of which was in Lancashire. The new line, which opened in 1873, ran for 34 miles from Manchester to Liverpool via Warrington, and cut straight through Gorsey Brow and Humphrey Lane.  As a result, a special crossing of the railway (placed near the end of what is now Hilrose Avenue) had to be made purely for farm purposes. To access the crossing, a small track was built running westwards near the railway from Humphrey Lane to the new crossing about 200 yards away. The 1845 boundary of Gorse Hill Farm, and the railway line and farm track, are shown in these maps dated 1846 and 1888 respectively.
 

 
In the other direction from Humphrey Lane, a narrow path led across the fields to Stretford.
 
 

Looking northwards along Humphrey Lane - about 1930.
Land on the left of the lane belongs to Gorse Hill Farm.
Manor House and Cottages are to the right just outside the picture.


Gorse Hill Farm was addressed as Chadwick Lane, which ran from Humphrey Lane along the southern boundary of the farm towards Urmston. Chadwick Lane, known to have existed since 1770, is thought to have been named after Thomas Chadwick who lived at a large house called The Grove which stood at the junction of what is now Clevedon Avenue and Durnford Avenue. Mr Chadwick often used the lane for travelling to business or to Church with his horse and carriage. Chadwick Lane was mainly a narrow dirt-track, with the end closest to Moss Road (now Moss Vale Road) being cobbled. Chadwick Lane is referred to as Lovers Walk in early photographs. In 1959, when the motorway was being built, Chadwick Lane was widened, resurfaced and renamed Bradfield Road.
 
Chadwick Lane before 1900
 
 
Chadwick Lane about 1930 (Lover's Walk)
 
 
Chadwick Lane 1930 (near Moss Vale Road)
 
 
Residents of Gorse Hill Farm:
  • 1790 - John Beswick.
  • 1825 - John Timperley, an attorney.
  • From 1876, William Holt and his wife Nancy, who were market gardeners, resided at the farm. There was an orchard fronting Humphrey Lane, and near to the farm gates was always a sign advertising potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables for sale. After the death of her husband, Nancy Holt managed the farm on her own, and from around 1900 it became known locally as "Nancy Holt's Farm".
  • From 1920 - Stuart Bancroft.
  • From 1925 - John Twigg, the last person to live at Gorse Hill Farm.
Gorse Hill Farm and surrounding land was sold in 1934 to Messrs. Longworth & Taylor for building purposes, and the farm was demolished in 1937. This portion of land now incorporates Mount Drive, Southbourne Avenue, most of Humphrey Crescent, the most northern tips of Humphrey Lane and Firwood Avenue, the nearby portion of Bradfield Road (previously Chadwick Lane) and, on the other side of the railway line, Abbey Close and the very end of Foxdenton Drive.