In 1821, an act was obtained in Manchester for widening Market-street, King-street, Nicholas-croft, Toad-lane and Pool-lane. The street widening affected many businesses along those streets, including the Swan Inn and its Inn Keeper Edward Baines (the father of Margaret Healey who was the witness at my great-great-grandparent’s wedding). In 1828, Edward Baines attempted to secure remuneration for the loss of business caused by the lowering of Market-street by several feet. One of the largest sources of business for the Swan Inn, were the coaches that came and left from the establishment:
Coaches from the Swan Inn, Market-street.
The Chester and Holyhead Mail, through Warrington, Chester, Holywell, St. Asaph, Abergele, Conway, and Bangor, every day at one, and arrives the next day in time for the packets.
To London, the Royal Regulator, through Buxton, Derby, Loughborough, Leicester, and Northampton, carrying four insides, every morning at five.
To Birmingham, the Eclipse, through Congleton, Newcastle, Stone, Stafford, and Wolverhampton, every morning at seven.
To Durham and Newcastle, every day at one.
To Hull, through Huddersfield, Leeds, York, &c. every day at one.
To Lancaster, Preston, Kendal, Penrith, Carlisle, Dundee, and Edinburgh, every morning at six.
To Lancaster, through Bolton, Blackburn, and Preston, every afternoon at three.
To Liverpool, every morning at half-past five, ten, and twelve, and every afternoon at two and four.
To Nantwich and Shrewsbury, through Northwich, Sandbach, &c. every morning at a quarter before seven.
To Worcester, Gloucester, Bristol, Bath, Exeter, and Plymouth, carrying four insides, every morning at seven.
To Bury, Haslingden, Whaley , Clithero, Gisborn, Skipton, and Settle, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons at four.
Performed by WEATHERALL, COOKSON and Co.
An account of the inquiry appeared in the Manchester Times on 24 October 1828 and a partial transcript appears below.
Market Street Improvements
An enquiry was held this day (Friday) at the Blackfriars Inn, before Robert Brandt, Esq., as assessor for the sheriff, under the act to improve Market street, to ascertain what recompense or satisfaction should be given to Edward Baines, from Swan Inn……
On behalf of Mr. Edward Baines, Mr. Sargeant Cross presents his case:
Mr. Sargeant Cross then addressed the jury.-They would, he said, be aware that an act was passed in 1821 to enlarge and widen the principal streets of this great commercial town. This act conferred very extraordinary powers on the commissioners, but the legislature at the same time endeavoured to provide that no individual should suffer any loss by what the public required of him, without full and ample remuneration. In Mr. Baines’ case it was proposed to take fifteen feet from the present frontage to lay it into the street. The commissioners gave him notice so long ago as the 15th April last year, that they should require the whole of his premises at the expiration of one year. But previous to that time, and now two years ago, operations were commenced, and the street was dug to a depth five or six feet below its former level. The effect of this on Mr. Baines’ house was very injurious. It stood suspended on a high mount, and the jury could easily suppose that the injury this would do must have been very great, for a public house, when cut off from easy access, would not be much frequented. The business of the house, almost as a matter of course, vanished rapidly. Mr. Baines had notice to quit in April, but it was not until September that he was apprised that they would not want the whole of the premises. They were empowered to tell a man to quit his home and seek another, to quit his occupation and seek another, but it was their duty to give him full and ample recompense for the injury he would sustain. What then was the injury which would be sustained by Mr. Baines, in being driven, at an advanced age, from his home and his occupation? He had enjoyed the friendship of Mr. Grimshaw, the father of the present owner, who had given him the inn at a rent of 320£ with and understanding that, during his life-time it should not be advanced. he had remained in it 25 years, and no doubt, would have been permitted to remain in it undisturbed, although it was worth double the rent he paid for it, before the alterations commenced, which had injured his business. Previous to cutting away the street from his house, his profits were from 1,000£ to 1,200£ a year. Tat alteration reduced them to one-third of their former amount. Persons in other businesses might change their situations, but it was not easy to remove business of a public-house, and it was particularly hard, that Mr. Baines should not only be deprived of that business, which had yielded him 1,200£ but be compelled to seek another occupation, at advanced years, and with impaired health. the jury were not called on to award compensation for moral or physical evil, but they should bear in mind that, Mr. Baines’s occupation, and his tenantry, were his property, of which he ought not to be deprived, without remuneration. In addition to the loss of his business, he would also be a considerable loser by his furniture, which valued, as between an ingoing and outgoing tenant, was wroth 1,300£ but which if sold, would not produce one-half of that sum. With such a loss on the property in his house, and with the loss of his occupation, he would be a ruined man, unless the jury awarded him damages to the extent of the injury he should sustain. One circumstance would prove the prodigious injury to the house by the lowering of the street. A projecting corner was let, at a considerable rent, to a coach proprietor, who in consequence of the notice given by the commissioners, and the uncertainty as to the time he might be permitted to remain, took offices elsewhere, and removed no fewer than sixteen stage coaches, which used to bring regular daily cargoes of customers to the house. In awarding compensation, the act required them to take the average of the profits for the two years preceding the inflection of the damage. The injury was done by the lowering of the street two years ago, and the compensation ought to be calculated by the profits of the two years which had preceded that alternation. It never could have been intended by the legislature to give the commissioners power to destroy a man’s trade, – to cut a trench round his house, – to leave him, for two years, in a state of blockade, so that his customers could not reach him, and then say, “Oh your business has produced you nothing for the last two years, and therefore we will give you nothing.” It was monstrous to suppose that such power could be given, and therefore it became the jury to estimate his loss, by reference to the profits of the two years, previous to cutting away the street. The question was not between his client and the public, and it was for the jury to say whether he should put up with all the spoliation and injury, or that it should divided amongst the one thousand inhabitants of this great town, who were to be benefited by the improvement.
Jacob Goodier – I am an auctioneer. I was employed to make a valuation of property for Mr. Baines with reference to its value, between an incoming and outgoing tenant. I valued it at £1,328 3s. 11d. which did not include alterations for which an outgoing tenant would receive compensation. If these things were removed and sold they would produce about £800, from which would come to be deducted about 10 per cent for expences of sale. This would make £720 nett. Many things that were put up, such as cooking and gas apparatus, would sell for almost nothing. The situation is advantageous, as a coaching house. The house has received damage by what has been done already, particularly in the coach office. It could not be re-fronted without danger to the rest of the premises. The whole kitchen would require to be rebuilt. At least six months would be required to make the alterations, and such suspension of business would be a permanent injury to the trade of the house. The house, in my estimation, before the alternations, was worth 600£ a year. It would be better to sell the furniture than take it away from the house for six months, on account of the loss by breakage.
Cross-examined – I don’t mean to say that the lowering of the street was by the commissioners. I don’t know whether it was by the surveyors or commissioners. I only speak to the fact that it has been lowered. I do not mean to say that it would be necessary to re-front the house. I think the level of the cellar is not so low as the street, but did not examine particularly. There is a distance of six or seven feet from the new line of the street to the kitchen.
Re-examined.- I was four days in valuing the furniture.
Cross-examined – I do not know any inn in town that rents at 600£ I measured Mr. Baines’ premises and found that at 320£ it was only 3s. 6d. per yard of flooring, for the cellars to the attics, including the stables.
Mr. Thomas Brown – I am a surveyor in Manchester, and am in the habit of superintending building. I have surveyed Mr. Baines’ house. I think if the front were taken down, I should advise the owner to re-build rather that re-front, for re-fronting would leave no access but by eleven steps. If the coach-office only were pulled down, the kitchen wall would , I have no doubt, fall down, as the level on two sides would be lower than it. The building has suffered, already by the lower of Pool-street.
Cross-examined – I do not know if the surveyors lowered Pool-street. I can’t tell if the commissioners had any hand in it. Some of them are surveyors. If re-fronted only, without bringing it to the new level, a month might suffice for the alteration. Had there been no lowering, re-fronting would have been sufficient.
Re-examined – In addition to the cutting that has already been done, the commissioners would have to take away earth to the breadth of 15 feet, besides what has already been taken. Lower the house to the new level would take six months, as mere re-fronting would require all the floors, doors and windows to be lowered.
Mr. H C Lacy – I am an extensive coach proprietor. I should think the alteration of the street must have injured the coach-office at the Swan, and the removal of the coaches must have injured the business of the house. it is possible that by a cessation of business for six months, many of the customers might be lost.
Mr. Jonas Croft. – I married Mr. Baines’s daughter, and have resided with him for four years. He has been in the house for 25 years, and paid 320£ rent. He let the coach-office for 145£ 14s. a cellar at 25£ a warehouse at 30£ and a tap-room at a guinea per week. I assisted in the management of the house. When I went there, the chambermaid paid 25£ a year for her situation. The waiter paid 8s. a week. Two years ago there were six or seven barrels of beer a week consumed. From fourteen to sixteen beds a night, on the average, were occupied. The butcher’s bill was about 7£. There has been a great change in the business of the house since the street was lowered, Wetherall and Cookson having removed to another office sixteen out of the eighteen coaches that came to the house. The business, I think, has been diminished to about one-third of what it was. Before the alteration I think my father-in-law’s profits could not be less that 1000£ or 1200£ and now they are not more than 300£ or 400£. The information I gave to Mr. Stanway, as to profits, is correct upon my oath.
Cross-examined – I know the rent only by information from Mr. Baines. I do not know that he has refused to furnish particulars of loss.
Re-examined – The commissioners, in September, gave us five days notice to produce accounts. We could not have done it before the jury was called. Mr. Stanway and his brother helped me to make the accounts up, and we only finished this morning though I worked all night. Mr. Law, on behalf of Mr. Baines, endeavoured to come to an explanation with the commissioners.
Mr Stanway handed in the accounts which had been made up by him under the direction of the preceding witness.
Mr. Weatherall – I am undertenant to Mr. Baines. When I took other offices the passengers got out and went to the inns nearest the office where they were set down, and coaches generally came to the Swan empty.
Cross-examined – I did not take other offices in consequence of any opposition. It was the Flying Horse office that I took in consequence of Mr. Aubrey’s notice. There are six coaches that come there.
Re-examined – I occupied the office at the Swan Inn for 17 years. I could not get the other office without agreeing that the coaches should stop at the Flying Horse. I should think the business at the Swan must have fallen off to a fourth of what it was.
Mr. Sergeant Cross – That is my case.[hr]
The article then goes on to present the case of the prosecution which seemed to me flimsy at best. However, at the end of it all, while the jury was convinced of the injury to the Swan Inn’s business, they did were not convinced as to who was at fault. They retired to discuss the matter, and after some consultation, they returned a verdict awarding Edward Baines only £900 in damages.