In the 1830s just after the Birmingham - Liverpool canal was opened, local builder Charles Madeley appears to have recognised the advantage of moving bulk goods on the canal and built Coton Mill, a steam powered flour mill even though he didn’t have a customer for it. He was what we might now call a ‘developer’.This highlighted extract from the 1838 Tithe Map indicates the area owned and occupied by Madeley some years after the sale of the mill. Adjacent to the canal and alongside Mill Lane.It would appear that he recognised there were substantial clay deposits on the site and thought the area would be a good location for a brickmaking business so developed the site for that purpose. The details of the sales advertisement emphasised the availability of clay capable of manufacturing 2 million bricks and he’d even built two brick kilns.The site was advertised for sale in 1848 by builder Charles Madeley Click here for details of the sales advertisement.The extract from the 1880 OS map shown here indicates there were lime kilns between the Birmingham - Liverpool Canal and Mill Lane. This was the location of Gnosall Cement Works. It’s not known if Charles Madeley sold the site in 1848 or if he sold all of it but the Cement works only used about half of the land that Charles Madeley originally owned.It’s known that a Henry Newton purchased the highlighted area.
Henry Newton was born in Derbyshire as were his sisters Catherine and Ann and brothers George and William.Their father, (also Henry) on 1841 census is described as ‘Plaster Merchant’. Maybe his occupation inspired his sons because by 1851 census William was ‘Cement Manufacturer’ in Burton-on-Trent, George was ‘Cement Dealer’ in Liverpool and Henry was ‘Roman Cement Dealer’ - also in Liverpool where in 1847 he married Mary Ann Clarke Newton. Maybe George and Henry were running an export agency. Their sister Catherine married John Clarke Staton in 1841 who became a prominent manufacturer of cement, plaster and gypsum products in nearby Fauld.Henry’s brother William became partner with John Staton trading as J.C. Staton & Co.From newspaper reports it is known that Henry and his brother William were in partnership with Zachariah West Cox at Colton Mill, Rugeley, trading as ‘Newton & Cox’, cement and plaster manufacturers and that Henry owned a brickworks in Rugeley.By 1861 census, Henry was well established in Gnosall with his wife Mary who he married in 1847 and their 10 children, 6 of which were christened in Gnosall.The family connections with mineral manufacturing was strengthened when Thomas Wynne, mining inspector moved into the Manor House with his family. Henry’s sons, Henry and Arthur married Agnes and Mary Wynne and became involved with J.C. Staton. Henry (jnr) took over the partnership at J.C. Staton when his uncle William retired.Click here for more information on J.C. Staton & Co
The alabaster decoration around the font in St Lawrence’s Church was a gift from Henry Newton (jnr) in 1886.Also in St Lawrence Church, the names of the 52 men connected with the village who fell in the First World War are inscribed on an alabaster tablet, another gift from the Newton family.
This later advertisement from 1884 shows that Henry Newton had established his business in 1855 and the variety of products produced.It appears that by this date Henry had gained a wealth of experience and knowledge or these minerals, their production and use.Click here for detailed product explanation
Henry died in 1902. Cement manufacture had stopped by 1910 and the works was used by one of Henry’s sons, George Newton as a builders merchants.
This picture was taken from the canal towpath opposite the Boat Inn and shows the Lime Kilns.
Despite the importance of the cement works, there is not much report of Henry senior taking part in village life, although he attended a presentation at the Working Men’s Institute with other local dignitaries in 1879, and he (or his son) entered a horse in the Stafford Agricultural Show in 1881, and an exhibit at Gnosall’s first Horticultural Show. Henry ventured into property when he bought the old Toll Gate on Station Road from the “Stafford District Turnpike Roads” trust for £110 - 10s in 1881 and sold it in 1889 to Mary Butler for £145. She later built “Oak Cottage” on the same site at the junction with Wharf Road.William Newton, Henry’s brother died in 1892 and Henry junior took over his uncle’s part of the J.C. Staton partnership and moved to Stapenhill to run the cement business. Two of Henry senior’s daughters – Catherine Ann and Ann Staton – stayed on in Gnosall for the rest of their lives, at White Rock on Mill Lane, and after a spell at Castle Church, Henry’s son George moved back with his wife and daughters in the early 1900s following the death of his father, and lived next door to them. It seems that Henry Newton’s other major impact on village life was to join with butcher William Gosnell in 1862 to set up a Grand Rural Fete to rival the one established in 1860 by local farmers (including Thomas Belcher) and Gosnell. Also involved in the breakaway Fete were surgeon George Baddeley and farmer James Belcher. It apparently did very well, but must have caused bad feeling. As the rival fetes continued, the breakaway version concentrated more on horse racing; Gosnell and Newton split the roles of clerk, judge and starter. The Gnosall races were revived in 1889 with the Newton family taking an active part – Henry Newton junior was Starter and his brother Frederick John was Clerk of the Course as well as entering his own horse ‘Wiseman’. An A. Newton and a J. Newton were on the committee. There’s a transcription of a newspaper report of these races on the GHG site. Owing to the soft ground, one of the older jockeys died. Click here to view detailsHenry Newton was ill for the last part of his life, and attended by Dr. Steele. He died in December 1902 after a scalding accident. Perhaps because he had been out of the public eye, his funeral was apparently not reported in the Staffordshire papers, though the Wellington Journal reported that relatives and friends attended, and “many handsome wreaths were sent”. He is buried with his wife and second son William in St Lawrence churchyard.Henry’s daughters Catherine died 1929 and Ann in 1940. George continued to work as a cement and lime merchant, living on Mill Lane with his two daughters. His funeral in 1945 was reported in the Staffordshire Advertiser. George’s two daughters, Frances Kathleen and Phyllis, lived with their father and took part in village activities, notably in a patriotic masque in 1911 to celebrate the coronation of George V and Queen Mary. The girls represented nations of the British Empire. Kathleen seems to have been the church organist and also played the piano at a concert to raise funds for the Memorial Hall in 1921. In 1931 she married John Henry Findlay, son of the Gnosall police sergeant, apparently living at Mill Lane with her father and sister. After her husband’s death in 1968, the sisters went on living together and are remembered locally. Phyllis died in 1977 and Kathleen in 1980.In their latter years, Mrs Findlay and Miss Newton were regular guests at the birthday teas of Mrs Frances Williams, a retired farmer's wife who lived at Blythe House, along the Newport Road in Gnosall. Miss Newton had usually written the birthday card and gift tag in her very distinctive, shaky style. The two ladies often delighted in talking about their most recent holiday. One year, Miss Newton, who was slight in build and a little nervous in manner, told of how flattered she was that they had been mistaken for mother and daughter, however, the larger, more confident Mrs Findlay was not so enthused at being wrongly assumed to be her younger sibling's mother.
The Newton family and the community
This advertisement printed frequently in 1855 in a number of local newspapers indicates a partnership between Newton and Brett and at this time the business was in its infancy seemingly trading as dealers. In 1858 a newspaper article mentions “Henry Newton and Charles Brett, Gnosall, fined one shilling and costs” for a weights and measures infringement.The name Charles Brett only appears once on the Gnosall census records as an Innkeeper at the Lion Inn (Red Lion Inn) in 1881.He died in April of the same year and is buried at Gnosall.He was previously mentioned in a ‘Transfer of Licences’ notice in 1878 when he moved from The Fountain Inn to the Hornes Inn. Click here for more informationIn 1871 he is a lodger at Hixon and his occupation is “Plaster Manufacturer”. In earlier census records from 1861 and 1851 he is living with an aunt, Ann Newton at Chellaston and his occupation is “cordwainer” and “bootmaker”.It is uncertain what his business relationship was with Henry Newton but appears to have been short lived.
Many thanks to Felicity Potter, Mike Barton, Valerie Gough and Malcolm Price for their valuable contributions. Also to Miriam and Jeremy Manners for details from their family tree and J.C. Staton information
It also includes some cousins of Phyllis on the Wynne side namely :•Kathleen Cotton - daughter of John Cotton & Gwendoline Wynne•Gladys Cotton - daughter of John Cotton & Gwendoline Wynne•Edith May Price - daughter of Joshua Price & Kate Edith Wynne(Kate Edith Wynne and Gwendoline Wynne were sisters of Agnes and Mary Wynne on the above family tree.)
This photograph was taken at the private school run by Rose Yates at ‘Sunnyside’ and shows Phyllis Newton - daughter of George Newton and grand daughter of Henry & Mary Newton.