Unlocking Stourport's Past

The Heath

The Heath Some of the trees can still be seen from Moor Hall Lane

Reprinted from@@@@@@@book

Henry Hall Beakbane bought the tannery, wharf, sixteen cottages, and a magnificent house in six acres of garden called The Heath all for a sum of £5,000, in October 1880.

He terminated all his Lancashire business and moved his family out of the industrial squalor of the north of England to a small clean industrial town set in the heart of Worcestershire. It was an ideal place to bring up his large family. Communications were good, both Birmingham and London could be visited in a day. It was far enough from social life to escape the distractions that characterised the family life in Liverpool. There was also little contact with the social circle of the wealthy carpet weaving families of Kidderminster.

The children were all given an education at the Mount in York, Ackworth, or Sidcot Henry Hall's Quakerism led him to believe and practice, that education was to develop all the faculties and potential of the person. When the five girls completed their training, they all ability to earn their own living. One was a qualified nurse, two held diplomas in physical training from Dartford College, and another was a nursery and junior school teacher. The two boys, Henry (Harry) and Edwin, were sent to the Yorkshire College in Leeds under the care of a relative, Henry Richardson Proctor.

Proctor became known as the Father of Leather Chemistry. At the turn of the century his school was the most influential in the world and a good degree from Leeds was a passport to a job in the leather industry almost anywhere. Both boys passed out well, Harry being a silver medallist in his year. Edwin immediately left home for Australia and farmed. He never went into a tannery. Harry was first employed at the Cambrian Leather Works in Wrexham until he went to the United States in 1902 where for a number of years he was profitably employed as a leather trades technician. Neither boy ever worked for their father.

Henry Hall ran his business, his home, and his family, on a firm short rein. For twenty years he conducted his bus¬iness profitably and accumulated considerable wealth. The housekeeping was strictly disciplined in the ways of the time:
  • Roast on Sunday
  • Cold on Monday
  • Mince on Tuesday
The religious life of the family was also carefully regulated with bible study a feature of evenings and meeting for worship on Sunday at Bewdley three miles away. The parents went by carriage accompanied by one or two of the children. The others walked or cycled and considered themselves lucky to have that freedom. The Meeting itself had a formality and oppressiveness that Quakers seventy-five years later would have found intol¬erable. Families sat in fixed places and woe betide the stranger, who in ignorance, sat in the wrong place.

The reputation of this household was of religious solemnity and the family seem to have found the atmosphere oppressive and frustrating. Henry Hall's health began to fail at about the turn of the century. The pains of Angina Pectoris reduced his activity to a minimum. His first reaction was to sell the tannery and an agreement was signed with the Innox Tannery Co, for the tannery and wharf only, at a figure of £5,350. Not a bad return considering it would have been more than he had paid and he would still have retained his beautiful house and garden and sixteen cottages, but it fell through.

The Heath
Henry Hall Beakbane owner of the Stourport Tannery and The Heath

The Heath has long since been demolished and the land redeveloped with houses. Heath Lodge Cottage (the lodge to the house) remains on Lickhill Road and some of the boundary walls also remain on Moorhall Lane.
This page researched by Jackie Jolly
This page last updated 17 January 2007

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