(1756 - 1828), Businessman.
His house on Hillgate, Stockport,
and its subsequent ownership by the
Christy family of hat manufacturers
Born in Lancashire, Samuel Oldknow served an apprenticeship in his uncle's draper's shop at Nottingham. He then moved to Stockport where he established a mill for the manufacture of muslin.
Muslin is a finely-woven unbleached or white cloth produced from corded yarn and it was mainly used to make curtains, sheets and dresses.
In 1793 Oldknow opened another mill at Mellor and this was at the same time that he was the chief promoter for the construction of the Peak Forest Canal and Tramway
to supply limestone and coal to a battery of lime kilns that he proposed to build at Marple.
He was a highly motivated and ambitious man who wanted to expand his business interests but, as he was lacking in financial skills, he was unable to raise capital in London where he sold his textile products.
As a result of this, he turned to his friend, Richard Arkwright Junior, for substantial loans, which were granted to him.
In order to expand his textile business he needed to move to Stockport, so he built a house on Higher Hillgate (now No. 27), and adjoining this he built his muslin mill in the 1780s.
Here he installed spinning mules, invented by Samuel Crompton in 1779, and looms, the mill being powered by a Boulton and Watt steam engine.
Subsequently, the mill closed and the hat manufacturers, Christy and Company, occupied the site. The hat works remained open until 1997 following which it was demolished but Oldknow's house was left standing.
The hat-making firm of Christy & Company was founded by Miller Christie (1748 - 12 June 1820) and his works was in Bermondsey, London, south of the river Thames (becoming known as the House of Christy
The surname spelling can be either 'Christie
' or 'Christy
'. A later member of the family to own the company was William Miller Christy (d.1858) and in 1826 Christy & Company
bought out a firm of hat manufacturers in Stockport and established their works on Hillgate.
The tithe map of the Hillgate district for c
.1850 shows that Samuel Christy was the occupier of the works site, the landowner being Lady McDougal.
.1833 the company founded Fairfield Mills in Droylsden, situated on Manchester Road, adjacent to the Hollinwood Branch of the Ashton Canal.
This became known as W M Christy & Sons Ltd after William Miller Christy. The success of this company was due to the manufacture of their Royal Turkish Towel
which was introduced at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and was favoured by Queen Victoria. Another successful introduction was the Terry Towel
In 1859 Wakefield Christy (6 Dec 1835 - 22 Feb 1898), son of Thomas Christy and great grandson of Miller Christie, was sent from London to manage hat production at their Stockport works.
On arrival he move into Hillgate House (Oldknow's house) where he was joined by his mother, Jane Sandwith, sister, Ellen Sophia (b.1837), and brother, Stephen (b.1841).
Following the death of Colonel William Davenport Davenport of Bramall Hall in 1869, the Christy family took a seven-year lease on the hall.
When the lease expired in 1876, and after 17 years in Stockport, Wakefield Christy returned to London with his family.
Col Sir Geoffry Christie-Miller, 1957.
On Wednesday, 28 August 1872 Wakefield Christy married Mary Elizabeth Richardson at Kircassock, County Down. The couple had two children while they were living at Bramall Hall, Sydney Richardson (b.1874)
and Edith Mary (b.1875). Sons, Charles Wakefield (b.1877) and Geoffry (b.1881), were both born at Kensington. As Col Sir Geoffry Christie-Miller he subsequently owned Christy & Co
and in turn the company passed to his son, Lt Col John Christie-Miller.
Stephen Christy married Blanche Chichester at Tavistock, Devon, in 1876 and the couple moved into Highfield, Bramhall.
Their first child, Hugh Archibald, was born at Highfield in 1877. Subsequent children born there were Stephen Henry (b.1879), Margaret Blanche (b.1882) and Muriel Harriet (b.1885).
In 1873 Ellen Sophia Christy married John Harvey at St Mary's Church, Stockport.
Thomas Christy and Jane Sandwith Wakefield were married on the 16 July 1829.
Thomas possibly died in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1846 and his wife died in Chelmsford in 1888, aged 84 years.
In 1890 the family surname of Christy was legally changed to Christie-Miller by Royal Licence.
Although the doors and windows of the house were boarded up, it began to suffer from the effects of vandalism and the weather and soon it was in a state of disrepair.
However, as a result of the Hillgate Townscape Heritage Initiative Scheme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Hillgate Regeneration Scheme commenced and the house was saved.
Because of its historic importance and connection with Samuel Oldknow, the house is now listed as a Grade II building. It has now undergone a sensitive restoration by Fairclough Homes
and on completion it contained seven apartments.
Prior to the commencement of the development, an archaeological survey of Oldknow's muslin mill site was undertaken. A number of interesting finds were made, including the remains of the original engine house.
The mill foundations were also revealed and all artefacts, including clay pipes, have been placed in the care of Stockport's Heritage Services for display at the restored Staircase House in the Market Place.
|Samuel Oldknow's house on Higher Hillgate, Stockport, undergoing restoration and conversion, 20 May 2007.