The Inns And Outs Of Griffin Farm
 

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By Helen Morgan

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First Published 26/5/2021
Last Updated 11/1/2022

 

At least 270 years of history, so a contender for one of our oldest buildings.
 

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Fig. 1 The Hankinsons outside Griffin Farm 1910
© F. Mitchell / St. James Church

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The Griffin farmhouse on Long Lane was built before 1750. It became a licensed premises in 1786, The Black Griffin Inn, renamed to just the Griffin Inn, before it moved north to its site on the corner of Finney Lane and Wilmslow Road   . At this time it was not unusual for farms to be inns as well. Indeed, the Waggon and Horses just up the road was also an inn, farm and smithy   .

Prior to new farms being built on Long Lane, the main manorial buildings and farms were Bradshaw Hall and Windy Arbour (where Bruntwood Park is now). Most land around Long Lane was classed as waste land   . Griffin Farm was well established by 1750 because some land had been enclosed with hedges and fences to enable mixed farming of both crops and animals   . The hedge that borders the fields along Wilmslow Road will be from this time. The farm stretched all the way to where Bradshaw Hall Lane is now.

A new system of leaseholds began, with wealthy landowners renting out their land to cash-paying tenant farmers   .   In the Long Lane area, important landowning families included the Prescotts and important tenant farming families included the Hankinsons   . Both these families were connected to Griffin Farm.

In 1786, Smith Kelsall of Bradshaw Hall owned the land, passing it on to Oldfield Kelsall. He died with no children and so it went to a niece. She married the Reverend Charles Prescott and her wealth reverted to him.

The Napoleonic wars raged from 1803-1815. Afterwards, there was a slump in agriculture due to a heavy taxation burden on both owner occupiers and tenants. From the 1820s, new innovations changed farming with better drainage systems and the use of fertilizers   . 

 

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Fig. 2 The Location of the Griffin Inn / Farm, Tithe Map 1841
© F. & T. Mitchell / St. James Church
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Produce from farms in the area depended on the quality of the land to sustain crops or animals. Our area is notorious for heavy, clay soil and so Griffin farm used its land mainly for pasture and dairy products. It was well known for its cheese making and so must have had cows  . The names of the fields give some idea of the type of land usage. They were mainly meadows for pasture. However, further away from the building, field plots 449 and 450 were classed as arable land with number 451 classed as a wheat croft  . There may well have been use for the land other than farming, as the name Kiln field suggests. Along with the associated ponds where clay may have been dug out for bricks. There were also things called shutts on the farm. These went back to medieval times and were pockets of fertile land cultivated long ago  .

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The rural landscape of Long Lane remained much the same from 1820-1920   . Isaac Hankinson held the licence for the Black Griffin from 1829. During this time the land was owned by the Reverend William Henry Prescott. Isaac’s son, Charles, was born at the farm in 1837 and died in 1922. He was the last licensee of the inn. Charles had 3 daughters; Emma Jane born c1870, Charlotte born c1876 and Louisa born 1885. Emma married into the Hodkinson farming family that returned to Griffin farm in 1924. His son Richard, was born at the farm in April 1868 and died there on 14th December 1936. He was the last Hankinson farmer   .

After WW1, there was another agricultural slump as cheaper imports of meat, grain, dairy products, fruit, poultry and eggs arrived. The minimum wage for farm workers was scrapped and so labourers sought work elsewhere    .

 

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Fig. 3 Mr. Charles Hankinson, final licencee of the old Griffin 1910 
© F. Mitchell / St. James Church
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Fig. 4 Griffin Farm, 1925

© F. Mitchell / St. James Church
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Apparently the railings were removed to help the war [WWII Ed.] effort."
- Adrian Bowers, 2021
 

 
By the 1940s, the farm was still going strong supplying food to the local area   . During the 1950s Long Lane was still a rural community, with the now old farm building, still part of that way of life. In the 1970s and 80s local people can still recall going to the farm for produce.

 

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In the late sixties, early seventies, we always knew the farm as Sloans. We sometimes helped out in the school holidays. Can’t remember the father but the son who inherited the farm was called Mike Sloan. Think it closed down due to ill health and became derelict mid eighties."
- Colin Wolstenholme, 2021

 

I used to play in the hay barn at the farm with the wild farm cats, the farmer used to shout at us and scare us off. My parents bought hay for my rabbits, and sacks of potatoes from him. The farmer was a tall Welshman. I’d say 1975/76."
- Gail Tansey, 2021

I remember going to the farm in the picture with my gran to get eggs and veg when I was little. That would be 82-83 I would say."
- Andrea Silverwood, 2021

 


By the mid 80s the farm building was derelict and boarded up looking a very sorry sight indeed. Luckily for our community the farmhouse had been classed as a Grade II listed building in 1985 and was therefore saved from demolition   .
 

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Fig. 5 Derelict Griffin Farm in 1998, 
picture from Long Lane Cheadle Remembered

© United Reformed Church 1998
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Around 2004 the developers arrived to do a fantastic job of turning the whole area into houses, flats and apartments. The farmhouse had all its cement rendering removed to reveal the most stunning Flemish-bond brickwork.

Very soon I shall be going for a look around these iconic buildings and I for one cannot wait! 
 

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It is the fields of the former Griffin Farm that Bloor Homes have recently bought from the Seashell Trust, in order to build 325 new homes. Building may begin this year - at the time of publication, there has been a further delay.

 

Names like Nearer and Further fields and Lower and Higher Sapper will be lost forever. Our local councillor, Anna Charles-Jones, recently created a poll of local residents on Facebook, and based on it has submitted suggestions for names for roads on the new estate. It is hoped that the builders will reflect our heritage on the new development. We await to hear.

Ed: In 2022, documentation refers to the new estate as "Foxcote", so suggestions for naming the estate seem to have been ignored; whether or not road names will reflect local opinions is yet to be determined.

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Fig. 6 Bloor Homes Land Use Plan 2021
© Bloor Homes

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“It does feel as though we're about to see the last real countryside round here disappear.  The only part of that land that Bloor Homes doesn't own now is the fields north of the hedge along the side of Syddall and the one on the far side of the stream running up to the roundabout at Eden Point.  I think we'll eventually see housing right up to the bypass like it already is on the other side of it."
- Matthew Thompson, 2021

 

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Fig. 7 Former Griffin Inn / Farm 2021
© Colin Barnsley
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Fig. 8 Looking north, the former Griffin Farm fields bordering Wilmslow Road.  Walk the fields here
© Laura Stokey
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