Friday, 26 March 2021

Bullying landowner

My research on the Formby Brewery keeps leading me off on tangents. Like a dispute between a local landlord, well, pretty much everyone else in Formby.

I was going to kick off with a little background on the villain of the piece, Mr. Charles Joseph Weld-Blundell. I imagine him as a top-hatted villain from a silent film, complete with moustache twirling. Then I made the mistake of searching his name in the newspaper archive. It threw up so much interesting stuff and I've barely scratched the surface.

  Inch Blundell Hall in 1892 

What I will say, is that he was a rich landowner, who had a big country house called Inch Bludell Hall and accompanying estate a little south of Formby. He also owned big chunks of Formby and its surroundings. His family came into the property after the Blundells died out.

Inch Blundell Park in 1892

"The last of the Blundells owned this land, and could have dedicated this to the public the year 1837 or 1838, and if (counsel) proved user before that time the jury would have no difficulty in proving it to be a public highway. The Welds were brought in to take the property on their taking the name of Blundell; and it might or might not be that the property had been in settlement since that time. The real question would therefore be; Did they believe the evidence that from the time of human memory this path had been used?

Mr. Taylor said that Mr. Charles Robert Blundell died on the 30th October, 1837, having a will dated the 28th November, 1834, which was disputed at the Assises in Liverpool in 1840, and established by decision of the House of Lords in 1847."
Preston Herald - Wednesday 07 May 1902, page 4.

In 1901 he got pissed off with people crossing his land and closed off a footpath with barbed wire. 

Mr. Carlyle drew attention to a barbhed wire obstruction on the footpath leading from the Old Parsonage to the Old Brewery. The wire had been put up there, he understood, by instruction of Mr. McNaught, acting for Mr Weld-Blundell. The public had a right of way there, and there were people who said they had used it for over 50 years. 

Mr T Rimmer said he had used it for that period. 

It was resolved to refer the matter, with power to act, to the. Footpaths Sub-Committee."
Formby Times - Saturday 07 September 1901 , page 7.

That would be Thomas Rimmer, owner of the Reciprocity Brewery. And also involved in local politics.

It wasn't even just barbed wire obstructing the path:


A requisition was received from Mr. Kent, chairman of the Formby Parish Council, asking the Rural Council to take such steps as might be deemed prudent to preserve and restore to the inhabitants of Formby the Brewery footpath, leading from the Brewery to the Parsonage in Formby. It had recently been obstructed and the right of way stopped, it was stated, by Mr. Weld Blundell or his servants, who had barricaded it with barbed wire, and who had employed two men to stop any person from proceeding along the path. This had been used by the public 60 or 70 years, and had never before been obstructed. 

The Law Clerk added that he had a private letter from Mr. Bent in which be said that the footpath warn a very useful one, and that the feeling of Formby throughout was very strong on the question. He said that the evidence in connection with the dedication of the path and the public use of the same was very strong. It was the duty of the council to take this matter up provided that they were satisfied there was a case. 

Mr. H. Alty moved, and Mr. John Rimmer seconded, that the evidence be obtained, and if considered satisfactory that the necessary precedings be taken to recover the footpath for the use of the public. 

Mr. J. Rimmer said he had walked the path for 50 years. 

The motion was carried."
Formby Times - Saturday 05 October 1901, page 7.

Pretty sure J. Rimmer is John Rimmer, whom I suspect of being related to Thomas Rimmer, possibly his son.

I assume there was one man at either end of the path. Total overkill for a path that's only a few hundred metres long. You can see it here, running from the Old Brewery top centre and the parsonage at the bottom. It's the dotted line with the lying down S across it.

Brewery footpath in 1892

Everyone in the town seemed to be annoyed. But the council was going to act. The Lancashire Rural District Council, Formby Parish Council, which had no jurisdiction over such matters.

On the face of it, Weld-Blundell was just acting like a twat. There does seem to be an explanation of his aggressive behaviour.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a case that has been dragging on for a decade in California where a billionaire bought property and decided to close the road that ran through his land to a public beach.

The state has argued, based on solid documentation, that the road was in continuous public use for over a century until it was closed, with the consent of prior owners, and therefore counts as a public road as understood in common law.

The owner claims he is fighting on "principle" although it sounds by all accounts that the only principle is being a jerk outside of the law.