Glossop Heritage Trust

Theo Walter Ellison's Glossop Dale Reminiscences.


The Rhodes Family (published 8 February 1935).

Thomas Rhodes, of Mersey Bank, Hadfield, was the son of one of three brothers, Thomas, Herbert and William, who were in partnership as woollen manufactures at Tintwistle, the business having been founded by their father more than a century ago. He married Mary Shepley, sister of William Shepley, of Brookfield, at whose mill he was first engaged, and then occupied the Arrowscroft Mill, Hollingworth, until he built and completed in 1859 the Mersey Mills to which he then removed. In 1862 he built the grandiose mansion ‘Mersey Bank’ at Hadfield, and in 1874 the Hadfield Mills.

He was one of the first Councillors for the Hadfield Ward, but did not attain the office of Mayor. He was a Justice for Derbyshire (1870) and for the Borough (1883). I remember him quite well, having on occasions to ride over to Mersey Bank, and also to the counting house at the Mill, and also heard his speech at a political demonstration in the Turn Lee Mills of Olive and Partington on the eve of the Parliamentary Election in 1885.

Part of Mersey Mills now in Derbyshire was formerly in Cheshire, the boundary having been changed when the course of the river was diverted after a cloudburst. Thomas Rhodes died in April 1883, and the mills were then carried on by his son, George Wood Rhodes, and the Hadfield Mills by his sons, Wm. Shepley Rhodes and Herbert Rhodes.

William Shepley Rhodes was the son of Thomas Rhodes by his first wife Mary, sister of William Shepley. His association with the Municipality was of importance. A Councillor for the Hadfield Ward in 1874-1893 (except one year, 1883-4) and Alderman 1883-4; he filled the office of Mayor for two years, 1891-3, and was Justice of the Borough (1883). The corporation reservoirs were the subject of his particular care and attention.

His Mayoralty was enhanced by an exquisite ball in the Victoria Hall, given to the members and officials of the Council, the Justices and many invited guests, his sister, Miss Amy Rhodes, graciously officiating as Mayoress.

Originally associated with his father at the Mersey Mills, he carried on with his brother Herbert the Hadfield Mills, as ‘Thomas Rhodes and Son’, which after his death were transferred to ‘Thomas Rhodes and Son (Hadfield) Ltd.’, who continued the business from 1895 to 1932 when they were taken over by the present Company, ‘Thomas Rhodes and Son (Hadfield, 1932) Limited’.

In his early days a strong athlete, W.S. Rhodes enjoyed a game of cricket and later was President of the Glossop Cricket Club and Chairman of the Executive Committee. A good sportsman, he spent many Saturday afternoons walking the moors, and took part in the seasonal grouse shooting with keen relish. When the Snake Pass was blocked by the severity of a snowstorm, William Shepley Rhodes was the first to brave the elements and surmount the drifts of snow, before the way had been cleared.

His commercial qualifications found scope for useful employment in other directions, and led to his appointment as Chairman of important colliery companies. He resided at Mersey Bank, was a bachelor, and died in 1894.

Herbert Rhodes was the fourth son of Thomas Rhodes and was born in 1863. High spirited inquisitive yet courageous, and a kind hearted man, he embarked with ardour upon a commercial, municipal and parliamentary career, too soon to be cut short.

Sharing with his brother, W.S. Rhodes, the responsibility and management of the Hadfield Mills, he was a Councillor for the Hadfield Ward in 1885, and Alderman and Mayor 1895 to February 1897, when he died during his Mayoralty; a Justice for Derbyshire and for the Borough (1886); County Councillor for Hadfield Ward 1887-90; and he contested the High Peak Division, which he lost by nine votes. As previously mentioned, he contributed £2,000 to the cost of the Victoria Hall and Free Library in 1887.

A Banquet at the Queens Hotel, Manchester, and a Ball at the Victoria Hall, Glossop, given by Mr. and Mrs. H. Rhodes, the Mayoress (formerly Miss Constance Whalley) provided the customary entertainment to the delight and gratification of their numerous guests.

When my father, T.M. Ellison, died (November 1896) and the late Charles Davis, who was a member of the Council, was an applicant for and appointed to the position of Town Clerk, having first resigned his office as Councillor, a course which was then permissible in law, the decision did not meet with the approval of Herbert Rhodes, who expressed his displeasure.

A Similar situation has been foreshadowed today, on the pending vacancy of the Town Clerkship. The Local Government Act 1933 contains a provision forced upon Parliament by public opinion, which disqualifies members of the Council for the office of the Town Clerk unless they have ceased to be such members for a least twelve months.

Herbert Rhodes resided at the Woodlands, Stalybridge, and left two sons – Wm. Herbert Rhodes, Chairman of Directors of Thomas Rhodes and Son (Hadfield) Ltd., and Thomas Stanley Rhodes, who married Miss Mabel Russell and died in 1911 as the result of an accident.

Sir George Wood Rhodes, Bart., though neither a member of the Council, nor a Justice for Derbyshire or the Borough of Glossop, was as Chairman and Managing Director of Thomas Rhodes Limited, for many years associated with the Mersey Mills; contested the Hyde Division in Parliament in 1895, and received a baronetcy in 1919; resided in London, having a small business residence at Mottram; married Miss M.C. Phillips, of Liverpool, and died in 1923, aged 63 years.

His elder son. Colonel J.P. Rhodes, D.S.O. and Croix de Guerre, was M.P. for Stalybridge and Hyde, and his daughter married the Rt. Hon. Ian MacPherson, K.C.


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