The Nowell Family
Joseph Nowell and Sons were the builders of part of the Macclesfield Canal including the locks at Bosley and the Dane aqueduct. Joseph Nowell was a member of a remarkable family of civil engineers prominent at the very moment when civil engineering was becoming an established and very important profession for the successful industrialisation of Britain in the early 19th century. The following article records some of the achievements of the family and is reprinted from the “Dewsbury Reporter” dated July 30th 1932. The section relating to the Macclesfield Canal is entitled AN ENGINEERING MASTERPIECE.
A REMARKABLE DEWSBURY FAMILY
CONTRACTORS, RAILWAY BUILDERS AND TUNNEL MAKERS
INTERESTING REFERENCES TO MORLEY TUNNEL
A RECORD OF EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENTS
We are indebted to Mr J T Nowell Butler of Fairfield Terrace, West Park Street, Dewsbury, elder brother of Mr J J Butler JP of Batley, for the following valuable and interesting information concerning a notable old Dewsbury family, members of which attained to high and influential positions in industry and railway works and tunnel construction in various parts of the country. Some of the members, as detailed in a note in these columns a few weeks ago, were concerned in the making of Morley Tunnel, under circumstances which are set forth in detail below. One of the outstanding members of this remarkable family was Mr Jonathan Willans Nowell, whose sister was Mr Nowell Butler’s grandmother. The interesting and instructive document which we give in extenso is prefaced as follows:
ABOUT THE NOWELLS
The Nowells of Dewsbury in Yorkshire have been engaged for many generations in the construction of public works and railways; and I write concerning their works and families.
In doing this I have had the co-operation of my eldest sister, Mrs Margaret Sidebottom; and my cousin, the Reverend H N Nowell has furnished me with the early dates recorded in the registers of the Dewsbury Parish Church.
193 Askew Road
The spelling of the family name has many variants in the registers of the Dewsbury Parish Church; it is entered variously Newill; Newall; Noel; Nowell.
There is an entry of one Johannes Newill who was married to Elizabeth Burnley in 1717 and who died in 1767.
The next entry is of Richard Nowill born April 23rd 1718 and married to Jane Johnson on the 7th October 1751. They were the parents of Phoebe; Rhoda; David; Jonathan; Rachel and Abraham.
This narrative will commence with the time of their son Jonathan Nowell, born at Dewsbury in Yorkshire on February 6th 1757.
He was by trade a stonemason, builder, and quarry owner, but with the exception of the Dewsbury Market House, which was pulled down some years back, and one of the bridges over the River Calder, nothing more is known of his works. He was married to Hannah Chadwick on October 10th 1781. Hannah was a staunch churchwoman and made it a rule to attend early morning celebration fasting. Mr Buckworth, the Vicar of the Dewsbury Parish Church, permitted her to breakfast in the vestry so that she might be present at the next service.
Jonathan Nowell and his wife Hannah were the parents of five sons and five daughters viz: Hannah - Mrs Cooper - born 1782; Joshua in 1784; Benjamin in 1785; Samuel in 1788; Jonathan in 1789; Rachel - Mrs Butler - in 1791; James in 1793; Sarah - Mrs Richardson - in 1795; Mary in 1798; Frances - Mrs John Craven - in 1800.
Three of these five sons are known to have been stonemasons and builders by trade.
The eldest son born February 24th 1784 and named Joshua in the Dewsbury Parish Church register was always called and signed his name Joseph, and for this reason will be named Joseph for this narrative.
Joseph Nowell was married to Alice Willans in 1804 and they were the parents of John Willans born in 1806; Jonathan Willans born in 1809; and Mary Willans in 1811.
BUILDER OF BRIDGES AND CHURCHES
Joseph Nowell built many masonry bridges and churches and towards the end of his life constructed canal and railway works.
He built the bridge at Stockport over the River Mersey which is seen when travelling by railway between Stockport and Heaton Norris. He built another bridge across the River Nidd at Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire and while engaged in this work he became acquainted with Hiram Craven of Dockroyd near Keighley. They joined in the building of a bridge over the River Ouse at York which cost £50,000 and was opened for traffic in 1820. They also joined in the building of a bridge over the river at Linlithgow in Scotland.
Hiram Craven’s son John married Frances, the youngest sister of Joseph Nowell, and they were the parents of Benjamin; Hiram; Jonathan; Alice - Mrs Laycock; Jane - Mrs Smith; Fanny - Mrs Hoyle; and Janet - Mrs Lund.
Hiram Craven’s son, Edward, married Mary Willans, the only daughter of Joseph Nowell. Edward Craven was killed shortly after his marriage on works at Whitby and his widow married Thomas Greenwood of Light House, Dewsbury Moor, and they were the parents of Thomas; Alice - Mrs Hemingway; Mary - Mrs Whitworth; and Nowell.
Joseph Nowell built the Manchester Infirmary and his own residence in the suburbs of Dewsbury called “Quarry Hill House” which is now used as a Roman Catholic Convent. He erected churches at Liversedge and Ancoats and restored the Dewsbury Parish Church.
The last church he built was the Holy Trinity Church of Ripon in Yorkshire and in this work he was assisted by his eldest son John Willans. The foundations were laid in July 1826 and the church was completed and consecrated for divine service in October 1827.
At Ripon, Joseph Longbottom was engaged as the foreman of carpenters and he remained with the firm during the whole of career, and was one of the most trusted and reliable assistants.
At Ripon, John Willans, the eldest son of Joseph Nowell, married Eliza, the daughter of James Allanson Simpson, in 1828, and they were the parents of Margaret born in 1829 and Joseph in 1830.
Margaret married James Sidebottom at Stalybridge in 1849 who was the Mayor and afterwards the first Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Dukinfield.
They were the parents of Mary; Emily; Hannah - Mrs Burder; John Nowell; James; and Thomas.
Joseph, the son of John Willans Nowell emigrated to Australia in 1852 and died at Brisbane in Queensland in 1885. He married Betsy Orme of Macclesfield in 1852 and they were the parents of one daughter Mary - Mrs Bowman.
After the completion of Holy Trinity Church, Ripon, Joseph Nowell and his son John Willans and Jonathan Willans traded under the style of “Joseph Nowell and Sons”.
AN ENGINEERING MASTERPIECE
Joseph Nowell and Sons constructed the aqueduct over the River Dane, and the chain of fourteen locks on the Macclesfield and Marple Canal, which lifts the canal 114 feet from the Plains of Cheshire to the Spurrings of the Derbyshire Hills and renders unnecessary any other lock.
This is considered to be one of Thomas Telford’s engineering masterpieces. The resident engineer was William Crosley and the inspector of works James Briggs.
John, James and Isaac Briggs, the sons of the inspector of works, were engaged on these works in various capacities. Isaac, who was at this time about thirteen years of age, was in the service of the firm for many years and became their agent for railway works.
William, Joseph and Isaac Shaw were employed as masons on these works.
The locks were built of a grit stone obtained from the escarpment at the summit of a hill near by called “The Cloud”.
To convey the blocks of stone from the top of “The Cloud” to the locks rail tracks were laid, so that when the laden waggons were set in motion at the quarry, they would pull up the empty waggons from the locks by means of a chain passed round a drum or gin fixed at the top of the hill.
A travelling crane called a Goliath was first used to lift and place the blocks of stone in position. Near the uppermost lock a building was used to store the cement, and mills were used to grind the mortar worked by horsepower. The building was afterwards converted into a comfortable dwelling, but the old inhabitants still call it the Mortar Mills House.
About a mile from the locks a reservoir was constructed to collect and store water for the supply of the canal, and a waterway called “the feeder” was made from the reservoir to the canal to convey the water.
The masonry required for these works was executed by Joseph Nowell and Sons, and the earthworks by John Treadwell, who was the first contractor for public works of that family of contractors.
The feeder passed under the roads, along the meadows, and in front of a house at Kiln Hill, Bosley, the home of Nathan and Ann Percival, the parents of ten daughters and one son, viz. - Martha - Mrs Jonathan Willans Nowell - born in 1807; Sarah - Mrs John Willans Nowell - in 1808; Thomas in 1810; Rachel - Mrs William Plaister - 1811; Ann - Mrs Samuel Bullock - in 1813; Mary in 1814; Ellen in 1816; Elizabeth - Mrs Brindley - 1818; Frances - Mrs R Hattersley - in 1820; Harriet - Mrs H Cooper - in 1822; Anna Maria - Mrs Joseph Hordern - in 1825. Jonathan Willans Nowell married Martha, the eldest daughter of Nathan Percival in 1830, and they were the parents of Ann - Mrs John Withers - born in 1832 and died in 1901; Edward Henry born in 1835 and died in 1867; Thomas born in 1839 and died in 1848; Mary - Mrs Gosling born in 1841; Jonathan born in 1843; and Martha - Mrs Hill born in 1844.
The Macclesfield and Marple Canal was completed in 1830 and during its construction John Willans Nowell and his wife Eliza lived at Lawton Green near Congleton, and their daughter Margaret and their son Joseph were born there.
Joseph Nowell and Sons next made the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway in Lancashire, and the first section of the Leeds and Selby Railway, including the Marsh Lane Tunnel, in Yorkshire. John Willans removed to Farnworth near Runcorn, and Jonathan Willans to Ellerby Lane, Leeds, where his eldest daughter Ann was born.
Joseph and George Thornton were the engineers of the St Helens and Runcorn Gap Railway. After the completion of this work they relinquished engineering as a profession and became railway contractors.
After this John Willans Nowell removed to a place called Griffydam, about seven miles from Ashby de la Zouch, in Leicestershire, and there constructed works of which I cannot ascertain the particulars.
THE KILSBY TUNNEL
Joseph Nowell and Sons next entered into contracts with the London and Birmingham Railway Company to construct the Kilsby Tunnel near Rugby, and to make a section of railway between Watford and Sudbury in Middlesex.
Jonathan Willans Nowell went to live at Kilsby; John Willans Nowell to Bushey; and their father, Joseph Nowell, to Hatch End in Middlesex.
The story of the disasters at the Kilsby Tunnel have been told by Dr Smiles in his “Lives of the Stephensons”. He informs his readers that the unforeseen difficulties and anxieties met with in contending with this undertaking broke the contractor’s heart and he died. This was a mistaken inference in consequence of his death occurring at the time. The facts are that the works had been progressing satisfactorily for several months and the headings of the tunnel were pushed well ahead of the general work, when suddenly there were loud reports followed by a great inflow of water. This quantity was so much that no appliances that were available were effectual in reducing the water.
The directors of the railway contemplated abandoning the tunnel and seeking Parliamentary power to divert the railway and with this intention they summoned Joseph Nowell to a meeting in Birmingham, and at that meeting it was agreed that the contract for the construction of Kilsby Tunnel should be cancelled. On posting from this meeting in Birmingham to his son’s house at Kilsby, Joseph Nowell caught a severe chill, and when he arrived there said to his daughter-in-law Martha, “I feel so ill, pray get me some brandy and hot water”. He sat to the table, but soon rose from his seat and said “I must go to bed” and “Send for a doctor”.
The doctor bled him from the arm, repeated the bleeding on the two following days, and he died in his fifty second year, on the 12th of January 1836. His remains were conveyed by road to Dewsbury and buried at the Parish Church.
The Nowells have every reason to hold the memory of Joseph Nowell in veneration, for he was the founder of their reputation as contractors for public works and railways.
The railway company met with considerable opposition to their scheme of diversion and in the end they gave their engineers instructions to complete the tunnel at all costs.
The completion was taken in hand by Robert Stephenson who had in his early days experience in mining operations in this country and South America. He ordered from Cornwall the most powerful pumping machinery, and on the line of the tunnel sank gigantic shafts in which to fix it. Eventually the water was reduced so that the tunnel could be completed.
The contractors’ original estimate for the works was £50,000, the actual cost amounted to £200,000.
“It is an ill wind that blows no good” and so it was fortunate for some of the contractors’ (Joseph Nowell and Sons) leading men who were engaged by Robert Stephenson to assist in the completion of the tunnel. This was the start of William Shaw’s successful career of railway contractor.
WATFORD AND SUDBURY RAILWAY
During all this excitement over the Kilsby Tunnel, Joseph Nowell and Sons had been pushing towards completion the Watford and Sudbury section of the railway, and when the Kilsby works were handed over to the company, Jonathan Willans Nowell removed to Wembley and then to Pinner in Middlesex. It should be mentioned that his son Edward Henry was born at Kilsby and his son Thomas at Pinner.
Jonathan Willans Nowell was a passenger on the stagecoach which upset going down the Harrow Hill, and his leg was fractured, so that he walked with a limp for the remainder of his life.
Spanning the road from Bushey to Watford is a one-arched bridge which is the first skew bridge built after the correct line, elaborated by Beck, the civil engineer in charge of these works. Great interest was taken in the building of this arch and (Sir) Charles Fox, one of the assistant engineers took the levels to ascertain the sag of the arch when the centre was slackened.
William Baker, the late engineer in chief of the London and North Western Railway Company, was another of the young assistants on these works.
The contractors’ “Tip Waggon” was introduced on this work but the “Spring Bar” attached to the harness of the horse had not been invented, so the draw - chain was unhooked from the waggon by a lad who ran alongside.
On the death of his father, John Willans Nowell left Bushey and lived at Hatchend, near Pinner, and it was there his wife Eliza died in 1837. Her remains were conveyed by road and laid to rest at the Dewsbury Parish Church.
On the completion of the Watford and Sudbury contract the firm of Joseph Nowell and Sons ceased, and John Willans and Jonathan Willans Nowell contracted for railway works in their separate names probably so that they could become bond for each other.
It will therefore be convenient to refer first to the railway works undertaken by the elder brother, John Willans Nowell, and then to Jonathan Willans Nowell.
CONNECTION WITH DICKENS
Jonathan Willans Nowell removed from Middlesex to Derby and constructed the Derby to Burton railway. A brother of the celebrated novelist, Charles Dickens, was the resident engineer. The bridge crossing the River Derwent just outside the Derby Station was one of the structures of interest on this work and gave considerable trouble to those in charge of its construction during times of flood.
When living at Derby, John Willans Nowell was married to Sarah Percival of Kiln Hill, Bosley, Cheshire, in 1837, and they were the parents of Frederick born at Derby in 1839; Percival at Chorley, Lancashire, in 1841; Sarah Ann at St Laurence, Ramsgate, in 1845; and Alice Willans at Heyrod, Stalybridge, in 1850.
Frederick Nowell was married to Lucy, the daughter of James and Selina Lever Lavington in 1861; and they are the parents of John Frederick Lavington; Sarah Percival; Alice; Lucy; and George.
Sarah Ann Nowell married James Buckley, of Mossley, near Manchester, in 1874, and they were the parents of Percival Gilbert and Austin Douglas. She died on May 10th 1908, and was interred at the Mossley Cemetery.
Alice Willans Winship married the Rev Charles Winship, Rector of Wytham, near Oxford, in 1893.
John Willans Nowell removed from Derby in 1840 to Towers Green, Chorley, Lancashire, so as to construct the Chorley and Bolton Railway, for which he had contracted. Adie was the chief engineer and (Sir) James Brunless the resident engineer.
Adie originated a method of building skew arches on carved bed lines, so as to spread more evenly the thrust of the arch on the abutments and piers. Several skew bridges on this railway are built after this method, but it was not continued, owing chiefly to its greater difficulty and cost.
John Willans Nowell took the greatest interest in masonry construction, and was always willing to carry out new ideas so he was entrusted with the first skew arch construction by Beck and Adie.
The chief cashier on this contract was a young man named Gregory, who is now known as the “Venerable Dean Gregory” of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
John Willan’s son Percival, who died at Camberwell, London, in 1864, and was buried at Bosley Church, Cheshire, was born at Chorley.
The acquaintance of Richard Hattersley, railway contractor (who married Frances, another of Nathan Percival’s daughters) was made at Chorley.
John Willans Nowell next remove was to St Laurence Hall, near Ramsgate, Kent, having entered into a contract with the South Eastern Railway Company to make the Canterbury and Ramsgate line.
His daughter, Sarah Ann, was born at St Laurence and it was there probably some of the happiest days of his life were spent. He had up to the completion of this contract which yielded a profit of £45,544 had the greatest success, and was at the zenith of his prosperity.
He avowed his intention of retiring from business, but was ultimately persuaded to join his brother and brother-in-law in several heavy railway contracts, which will be dealt with separately hereafter. This completes the statement of John Willans Nowell’s separate undertakings, and the separate undertakings of his brother, Jonathan Willans Nowell, will now be enumerated.
“THE GREAT BORER”
Jonathan Willans Nowell removed from Pinner in Middlesex to Wingfield and to Lodge Hill, Alfreton in Derbyshire, and constructed the Wingfield Tunnel and another section of railway on the North Midland.
It was here that his son, Thomas, was born.
It may be noticed that from the time he was managing the construction of the Marsh Lane Tunnel in 1832, his contracts always included tunnels. He used to say in fun: “I am the great Borer”.
Mr Thorpe, solicitor, of Thorn in Yorkshire (whose practice brought him much amongst engineers and contractors) told me that with the exception of Bidder, the engineer (called in his youth the “Calculating Boy”) Jonathan Willans Nowell was the most rapid arithmetician and calculator of his compeers.
From Derbyshire, he removed to Cirencester in Gloucestershire, and constructed the Sapperton Tunnel and part of the Stroud Valley Railway for Great Western Railway Company, under Brunel. After this he resided at Hill House, Wickwar, Gloucestershire, and constructed the Wooten-under-edge and Gate section of the Birmingham and Bristol railway, which included the Wickwar Tunnel.
About this time he established, in partnership with a Mr Long, a coal pit and lime works at Gate, near Bristol.
It was at Wickwar his daughters, Mary and Martha, and his son, Jonathan, were born.
Jonathan Willans Nowell was now in the prime of his life and a most indefatigable and experienced man of business.
A FATAL CHILL
Probably to tender for a railway contract, he visited Scotland, and from there he travelled to Stalybridge in Lancashire and then on to Birmingham. At Birmingham he mislaid his topcoat, and proceeded to London, and then on to Gloucestershire without it. By this time he arrived at Hill House, Wickwar, he was suffering with a severe chill, from which he never recovered. He died in his 37th year in 1846, and was buried at the Dewsbury Parish Church; where now also lie the remains of his wife, Martha, who survived him thirty three years, and died at the age of 72 in 1879.
A few months before Jonathan Willans Nowell died, it was arranged that he, his brother, John Willans Nowell, and his brother-in-law, Richard Hattersley, should jointly contract to make the Stalybridge and Huddersfield Railway, the Alnwick branch of the North Eastern Railway, and a railway and tunnel at Idle in Yorkshire.
Besides these works, they and William Shaw contracted to make a loop of the Blackburn and Preston Railway, the Blackburn and Clithero and Chatburn Railway, and the Morley Tunnel on the London and North Western Railway.
These railways were all of the heaviest description of character, including many tunnels and rock cuttings.
None of the partners were so experienced in tunnel works as Jonathan Willans Nowell and his death was a great loss to the amalgamated firms.
John Willans Nowell left Kent and resided at Heyrod Hall near Stalybridge, and it was here that his youngest daughter Alice was born, and from here his eldest daughter, Margaret, was married.
Richard Hattersley removed to Alnwick.
Isaac Briggs was appointed agent to the Lancashire contracts.
MORLEY AND STANDEDGE TUNNEL CONTRACTS
Joseph Longbottom was appointed agent on the Morley Tunnel contract.
The Stalybridge and Huddersfield contract was based on a vague and loose specification, which was construed unfairly by the company’s engineer. Disputes arose, and in the end the settlement of accounts was referred to arbitration.
The arbitration was held at the “Fendale Hotel”, Westminster, which then stood on what is now a part of “New Palace Yard”. It lasted many months, and in the end there was an award of £70,000 in favour of the contractors, but such had been the expenditure on the works and the arbitration that on this contract there was a loss of £58,320.
The Alnwick contract was under the control of Richard Hattersley, and on this contract there was a loss of £39,435.
On the Idle contract, there was a profit of £3,977.
On the Blackburn and Preston loop there was a profit of £7,204.
The Blackburn, Clithero and Chatburn contract yielded a profit of £69,040 and the Morley Tunnel contract a profit of £85,397.
Too much praise could not be awarded to Isaac Briggs and Joseph Longbottom for the successful management and large profit made on the contracts entrusted to their care.
The worry occasioned by the dispute on the Stalybridge and Huddersfield contract affected the health of John Willans Nowell, and he retired from business.
He purchased “The Elms” at Sutton, near Macclesfield, and there died on the 21st of December 1851, in his 46th year. He was laid to rest at the Dewsbury Parish Church in the grave of his first wife, Eliza. His widow, Sarah, survived him for twenty four years, and died at Macclesfield in her 67th year, on May 22nd, 1875, and was buried at the Bosley Parish Church in the grave of her son, Percival.
ANOTHER NOWELL BRANCH
I now revert to my grandfather; Joseph Nowell’s second marriage in 1821 with the widow of Joseph Cowling at Keighley in Yorkshire, whose maiden name was Jane Barnes. They were the parents of Joseph in 1823; Barnes in 1824; Benjamin in 1826; Thomas in 1828, and James in 1829.
Joseph Nowell was married to Sarah Ann Oldham and they were the parents of Herbert; Hannah Jane (Mrs E King); Ellen; David; Thomas; Harry; Joseph; Joseph Nowell and his cousin, Hiram Cooper (who married Harriet, a daughter of Nathan Percival of Bosley) were the contractors of Haslingden Tunnel in Lancashire and the Macclesfield Tunnel in Cheshire.
After this, Joseph Nowell formed a partnership with Frank Robson, and they opened quarries at Idle Moor, near Bradford, to obtain paving stone, and they founded a business at Warwick Road, Kensington, for its sale.
Joseph Nowell and his wife Sarah Ann both died at Idle, and are laid to rest there.
Barnes Nowell was injured by being thrown from his pony in a field at Hatchend and died at the age of 15 at Leeds in 1839.
Benjamin Nowell married Ellen Haigh of Newley, near Leeds, and they were the parents of Walter; Barnes; Harry; Ellen; and Fred. Benjamin Nowell died in 1900 aged 74, and was buried at the Fulham Cemetery in the grave of his daughter, Ellen, who predeceased him. In the same grave his sons Walter and Barnes, who did not long survive their father, are buried.
His widow Ellen died in 1908 aged 72, and is buried in a grave a little distance away from that of her husband and children.
Benjamin Nowell and Joseph Robson managed the business at Warwick Road, Kensington, for their respective brothers; eventually the business was transferred to them, and they obtained also the agency for the sale of granite from the Enderby quarries in Leicestershire.
In the course of time, they purchased the Enderby quarries and became possessed of the Idle quarries and greatly increased the output and sale of the stone.
They were also the contractors for the repair of London Parish roads and the construction of roads and sewers.
Thomas Nowell married a Miss Hailey and left no issue. He was a contractor’s agent and engineer, in the employment of Mark Faviel in India, from where he was invalided home. He was then a short time agent for Richard Hattersley on the Andover and Redbridge Railway, and died at Andover in 1860 aged 32. He was interred at the Andover Parish Church.
James Nowell was a medical practitioner at Keighley, and afterwards at Woodlesford and Rothwell, near Leeds, and died and was buried at Rothwell in 1893, aged 64.
He married Mary Thompson, and they were the parents of Helen Ramsden; Thomas Jane Ferrands; Edith Ormanby; and Henry Scott. By his second marriage with Elizabeth Lannon he had Ethel; Barnes; and Hugh Noel.
It was stated at the commencement of this narrative that my great grandfather, Jonathan Nowell, had three sons who are known to have been stonemasons and builders.
There was his youngest son, James Nowell, born in 1793, who lived at Stonefield, Dewsbury, until his death in 1859 and who married Tabitha Hemingway. They were the parents of Tabitha (Mrs T Marsden Brooks); Benjamin; William; Mary Ann (Mrs J Tweedale); James; Jessie; and Fannie (Mrs Holmes).
He built the mansion, near Sligo in Ireland, for Sir Robert Gore Booth; and his own residence in Stonefield, at Dewsbury. He was the contractor for the Leighton Buzzard Tunnel and other works on the London and Birmingham Railway, of which I have not the particulars.
His son, Benjamin Nowell, was of the firm of “Nowell, Hemingway and Pearson” who built the abutments and towers of the Britannia Tubular Bridge over the Menai Straits. He was married and the father of one daughter.
William Nowell was a medical practitioner in Halifax.
James Nowell lived a retired life and was married to a widow who predeceased him and left no issue to him.
Jesse Nowell lived a retired life, was married, two daughters and a son survived. His widow became the wife of Doctor Thomas Sidebottom.
There was another of great grandfather Jonathan Nowell’s sons named either Benjamin, Samuel or Jonathan, who was also by trade a stone mason and builder. This son was the father of a numerous family of sons who were all stonemasons and builders. One son lost his life in the building of Ashton viaduct. Another son was killed on the Whalley viaduct. There were also sons named John; Jonathan; Joseph; Thomas; and Jacob.
They built many of the bridges and viaducts on railways for other contractors, and in time Joseph, Thomas, and Jacob were contractors for waterworks and railways.
The descendants of Joseph and Thomas have for many years constructed railways in this country, India and Ceylon.
Some of the Nowells are still busy with railway works. It follows, therefore, that four or five generations of the family have been occupied in the construction of the public works of this country.
I trust the incompleteness and deficiencies of this narrative will be overlooked, and that it will be of interest to some members of the family.
To bring the narrative of this interesting family up-to-date we have received the following note from Mr Gilbert Buckley, of Manchester, a descendant of John Willans Nowell:
The author, Frederick Nowell, died on March 18th 1918.
Alice Willans Winship, the last surviving child and youngest daughter of John Willans Nowell, died recently at Reading on May 17th 1932.
The descendants of John Willans Nowell now living include: Dr Thomas Sidebottom and the Misses Mary and Emily Sidebottom, both of Torquay, children of his eldest daughter, Margaret Sidebottom; Mrs M E W Bowman, daughter of his eldest son, Joseph Willans Nowell; Mr George Nowell and Mrs Lucy Nowell, children of the above Frederick Nowell, both living in Sussex; and Messrs Percival Buckley, Gilbert Buckley and Austin D Buckley, children of his daughter, Sarah Ann Buckley, all of whom live in or near Manchester.
(Reprinted from the “Dewsbury Reporter” July 30th 1932)