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Ask Joan
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Joan Leach is a local historian, a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, a founder of The Gaskell Society, and much more besides.

 Did you ever drink at The White Bear with Mr Edwards?

If so Randolph W. Edwards III would like to hear from you as he believes his grandfather's three brothers Oliver, Thomas and Ellis may still be living in Knutsford, although they would be at least 90 years of age.

Joan answers:

I do know several 90 year olds but no Edwards. This family, Randolph W. Edwards III tells me, owned The White Bear. He is from the US but is currently working in Rotterdam and would visit Knutsford if any family were still here to greet him.

Right: The White Bear, Knutsford

I cannot find an Edwards, in the trade directories later that 1910 when Alfred John was here; he was probably the son of Elllis John who was born in Knutsford in 1824. After he died in 1879, aged 56, his wife carried on at The White Bear until her own death in 1898.
Ellis John Edwards was the son of a servant and tried life as a plumber before he took over the White Bear. I could not find any brothers for him and only one son so I fear Randolph W. Edwards III may be disappointed in trying to trace relations (but any information on the family will be appreciated.)

If you know anything about the Edwards please let us know by emailing Joan Leach at askjoan@virtual-knutsford.co.uk

The thatched and gabled White Bear Inn is an attractive reminder of old time Knutsford to passing motorists and until 1937, when the King Edward road was opened, they would have passed in front of it rather to the side.

In earlier days coach travellers could await at the inn for The Aurora going north to Liverpool or south to Newcastle and Birmingham and London. Once the railway was opened a horse -drawn omnibus would take you to Chelford from this inn and The White Lion. At 8.00am and 6.00pm a coach left for Manchester and at 7.15pm for Northwich: this was in 1850 and no doubt used by commuters!

The White Bear was a popular inn sign, London had a famous one, and perhaps dates from the time of Richard III when Queen Anne, had it in her coat of arms. At one time the Knutsford inn showed a bear in a pulpit on its sign, recalling an incident in the town's history when a travelling bear was taken into the chapel of ease, below the present church; the chapel was closed until it could be reconsecrated at the town's expense. This bear would of course be a brown one!!

The White Bear claimed Higwayman Higgins as a former customer, and it would be the nearest to his house on Gaskell Avenue, but I think his alias as a gentleman would have meant that the more select posting house at The George would have been his choice of hostelry.

Joan Leach
12.6.01