Saturday, 20 February 2016

Hugh McIntosh and Goole

 A couple of weeks ago I wrote of how in my WEA local history class we were studying the canal contractors who had connections with Goole.

One of my students, Pauline Stainton was particularly interested in what part  Hugh Mcintosh played in the building of Goole docks and whether the Mcintosh Arms in Aire Street was named after him.

She has written the following interesting article.

HUGH McINTOSH  (1768 – 1840).

     Towards the end of the 18C a new profession arose in the construction industry. Leading architects and planners, with large public contracts on the drawing board, no longer had to advertise for the various skilled craftsmen, navvies and general labourers that were needed. They only needed one man – the contractor. Hugh McIntosh was one of those men.

      Hugh was born on the 4th December 1768 in Kildrummie, Nairn, Scotland. His background was in the local farming community. After a short period of education in Inverness, he began his working life as a navvy on the Forth and Clyde canal.  From there he moved down into Lancashire where he worked on the Leeds and Liverpool canal. His first contracts in that county were with the well-known engineer John Rennie (1761-1821) and it is recorded that they remained friends until Rennie’s death. Such was Rennie’s reputation that the Aire & Calder Navigation Company frequently called on him when their chief engineer and planner, George Leather, felt in need of a second opinion.

    At the beginning of a new century, Hugh McIntosh was in London. It became the base of his expanding business and his permanent home. In the first decade, he made his fortune excavating and expanding the East India Docks. He supervised this work personally – his workforce being estimated at 400 men and 100 horses. He continued to work on numerous contracts in London’s dockland for another twenty years.

    McIntosh’s contracts for canals, docks, roads, railways, gas & waterworks are far too numerous to mention. So too are the people & engineers who employed him, but one or two examples are included here to show the respect those contemporaries had for him.  The great Thomas Telford (1757-1834), who was invited to become the President of the newly formed Institute of Civil Engineers, frequently worked with him and probably their most famous collaboration was the Gloucester & Sharpness canal. This ship canal was, when it was opened, the deepest & widest in the world. When Telford was approached to take control of this project, it had been in the planning stages for far too long and he offered the contract directly to Hugh McIntosh.

   He also worked for many famous engineers and appears to have had good business relationships with all of them – except one – Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859).  Hugh McIntosh worked on the Great Western Railway for Brunel but when he sent in a bill for some extra work, Brunel refused to pay. McIntosh employed a lawyer on his staff (his son David was a lawyer too) and the dispute went to court. In true Dickensian style, the case rumbled on for many years, long after both men had died, but eventually David McIntosh was awarded the money.

     In London, he worked continually on government buildings, Royal houses & some famous bridges. At the beginning of the 19C, the English monarchy had numerous homes but no palace fit for a king.  George the Third lived in Buckingham House which was just a rather large town house suitable for his growing family. When he became ill & his son became Prince Regent, “Prinny” decided that something more palatial was required. He called in the London architect John Nash (1752-1835) to draw up plans for the refurbishment of the existing building, the proposed new wings and an impressive archway as an entrance from the road. The work wasn’t put out to tender but offered directly to Hugh McIntosh. In Nash’s opinion, he was the only man with the men and equipment to get the job done.

     Throughout his life McIntosh continued to work on the canals and he was already in his sixties when he began his association with the Aire and Calder Navigation Company at the end of 1834. The new Port of Goole, barely eight years old, was already in need of a new dock and lock big enough to accommodate the new paddle-steamers. The steamboat lock was to enter directly into the River Ouse. Also on the plans was a graving dock. The steamboat dock was opened on the 25th April 1838 accompanied by the “roar of cannon” and day-long festivities. The graving dock was opened in March 1841 and immediately put to good use.

       Hugh McIntosh didn’t live to see this contract completed. He died on 31 August 1840 at the Strafford Arms Hotel in Wakefield while checking on his contracts with the A. & C. and the Manchester and Leeds and North Midland railways.

    McIntosh was one of the key individuals in developing the British engineering industry. He relied on his family, chiefly his brother James and his own son David, to manage his works and many famous contractors worked under him. They enabled McIntosh to establish himself as the first contractor with a national organisation.
                      M.M. Chrimes. Former Head Librarian to the Institute of Civil Engineers.

The McIntosh/MacIntosh Arms

As to whether the 'Mac'  was named after him - it seems most likely. It was not listed as an inn in 1834 but in 1837 there was listed in Aire Street an inn called 'McIntosh's Arms' kept by John Watkinson.

I found a piece in my notes written by Mr H T  Gardiner, a nineteenth century editor of the Goole Times and keen local historian [his notebooks are in Goole Library]. He wrote in August 1891

‘the old Mail Coach Inn in Old Goole, where Mr Plowes now keeps the Post office.... is part of the property bought by John Green. The licence to this house was removed by Sir J [sic] Macintosh to the present Macintosh Arms. Afterwards a beer licence was taken out to the old Royal Mail and the house was called the Blacksmith’s Arms and kept by Mr Burton. Part of the sign remains above the door [ a horse shoe painted above the door] and in the yard is an old stone, part of a skittle ground.’

In 1834 the Mail Coach inn in Old Goole was kept by Elizabeth Watkinson. It also appears that the Aire Street pub was owned by the Watkinson family as when in January1880 the McIntosh was sold the newspaper reported that

January 1880 sale at the Lowther by Mr Woad of ‘the public house under the name of the McIntosh Arms, with the shop adjoining, now in the occupation of ?Messrs Boult and Son, together with 4 cottages in Chapel St. The property was sold to Mr Pemberton for £2,200. Solicitors for the heirs of the late Mr Watkinson were present.

If anyone can add any more to this information about the pub we would be grateful.

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