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Repository Cheshire Record Office
Level Collection (Fonds)
Reference D 8082
Title Baker family photographs, glass negatives, drawings and paintings of Epworth House and Beaconfield House and gardens Runcorn
Date 1897-1927
Description Photographs and negatives of the Baker family and exterior and interior views of Epworth House and Beaconfield House, Runcorn and gardens, taken by Harry Baker. The photographs include members of the family at work reclaiming the derelict gardens of Beaconfield House during WWI; views of Castner-Kellner works, Runcorn (later ICI); water colour drawings showing local scenes and the interior of Epworth House; prospectus for Beaconfield High Class Boarding and Day School for girls
Extent 0.02m3
Administrative History Harry Baker (1859-1935) was a prolific amateur photographers from the 1880s to the 1920s. He was by profession a chemist and a lecturer and assistant to Professor Sir Henry Roscoe at Manchester University (Owens College) until he was appointed chemist to the Aluminium Company at Oldbury in 1888. He became Castner's assistant, working on the production of soda as an intermediate in the manufacture of aluminium. When the Castner-Kellner Alkali Company was formed in 1895 and its works at Runcorn were built, Harry Baker, his wife Mary (Polly) and their children left Oldbury for Runcorn, moving to Epworth House, Runcorn in 1896. Then in 1917 they moved to Beaconfield House, mainly to gain access to more land to grow food. The overgrown and neglected garden at Beaconfield was reclaimed by the Bakers and Harry Baker photographed his family at work as they cleared the grounds, demolished the derelict conservatory and recycled the glass into greenhouses. The family lived at Beaconfield until Harry Baker retired in 1928 when the family moved to Leominster.

Epworth House still exists (2011) on Moughland Lane, Runcorn, and is now known as Lawson House. Beaconfield House, built c1850 by soap manufacturer Thomas Hazlehurst was known originally as Prospect Villa. Thomas Hazlehurst died in 1876 and his wife Ann died in 1891. Their wills are in the Cheshire wills collection. By 1901 the house was being used as a private school by David and Margaret Sprunt and this was still the case in 1911. Harry and Polly Baker bought the house in 1917 and lived there with their family until 1927. The gardens at Beaconfield House were laid out c1850 and have been attributed to Edward Kemp. A connection with Joseph Paxton has been suggested but is unproven. The house certainly had a grand conservatory which was demolished by the Bakers and recycled to construct greenhouses. Beaconfield House was demolished c1962 and the site is now part of the Mersey Forest.
Related Material Draft articles on the history of Beaconfield House and gardens by Rosa Baker in accession file
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Baker family photographs, glass negatives, drawings and paintings of Epworth House and Beaconfield House and gardens Runcorn

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