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


Dear Joan, I am researching the family name of Sparrow. In the 1913 Manchester ALPHA directory there was an entry for - SPARROW, W.J.K. merchant (Sparrow ,Hardwick & Co.), Torwalden, Knutsford.  I was curious about the Torwalden, could this be the name of a house? I cannot find it as a street name in Knutsford. Would you have any information regarding the above Sparrow?

My great, great uncle, Christopher Sparrow was a joint partner in the firm Sparrow, Hardwick & Co. which were textile merchants. Maybe the above Sparrow was a grandson of Christopher. Christopher's brother, Stephen came to Australia with his wife and six children c. 1865. I am descended from Stephen.

Best regards, Julie Cottee. (In not so sunny Melbourne, Australia.)

Joan answers:

Tor Walden or Torwalden was the original name for one of Richard Harding Watt's italianate houses on Legh Road - it is still there but now called Lake House.

Watt built houses on Legh Road from 1896-1905.

Kelly's directory for 1914 gives 'Mrs Sparrow, Forwalden (sic) Legh Road'
I cannot find any Sparrows in 1906 or 1910.


In the 1923 directory there is a Joseph Sparrow at Ayton, Glebelands Road. I knew of Patrick Sparrow in Knutsford and he may still be around. Is he a member of your family?