J B Leach (1841-1917)
Sir Joseph Bithel
of Markland Lodge, Huyton
and Min-y-don, Beaumaris
| Sir J B
Leach lived in Markland Lodge, Huyton from 1879 until his death in 1917.
Prior to his move to Huyton, he had lived at Runcorn and then Cowley Hill
in St Helens. Some time around 1910 he also began renting (?) a 'holiday
home' at 4 Townsend, Beaumaris on Anglesey (Min-y-don).
He was an estate agent from St Helens (Borough Chambers, 54 Hardshaw Street), and it seems, perhaps after his move to Huyton, that he also had offices at 5 Queens Street Earlestown and at 53 North John Street, Liverpool. There is also a later mention of offices in Church buildings, 2 Whitechapel, Liverpool.
It would also seem that he used Markland Lodge as an office (see 'J B Leach auctioneer' opposite)
Joseph Leach was born in Runcorn in 1841. At the age of 16 or 17, he worked in the mornings for a dentist on a 6 hour shift, and then all afternoon collecting ground rents on various residential properties, farms and cottages. This continued until he was around 21.
Perhaps from collecting rents, he made the decision to leave dentistry and become an estate agent, and it was then that he started a small business in the town of Runcorn - later moving to 55 Bridge Street and trading under the name "J B Leach". When Joseph's brother Benjamin, an accountant, joined the firm, it became known as "J B & B Leach".
Joseph saw that there were business opportunities for him in what he described as the "Klondike" area of St Helens, and he opened offices in Manor Chambers, Hardshaw Street in 1860. Joseph moved to St Helens around the age of 22, and the firm's bank account in St Helens was started in 1861.
At some point he (had) married Jane Haswell, from Chester, and after their time living in Cowley Hill, St Helens, they moved to Huyton in 1879, and continued to run the firm in Earlestown, St Helens and Liverpool.
The St Helens offices were later moved to 7 Hardshaw Street when Victoria Square was redesigned, and later (around 1881), possibly from Joseph's connections with the Liberal Party, to the old "Liberal Club" in Hardshaw Street, where the firm has been ever since. By 1917, the Liverpool and Runcorn offices were closed, and the business was consolidated in the St Helens area.
Joseph was a devout Christian, and worshipped at the Congregational Church in Huyton, and details of this can be seen in the church link to the left of this page.
He was an interesting local figure, a staunch liberal supporter and a liberal councillor (see link opposite).
He had 2 daughters and 2 sons: Florence, Emily, Lawrence and Wilfred (see the family tree link opposite). At one stage one or more of the women ran the Sunday School for the church opposite. At some time or other, the Sunday School took place in Markland Lodge.
A more recent partner of the firm J B & B Leach (Philip Johnson - from about 1938-1980) recalls a conversation with one of Joseph's daughters (Florence) where she said that her father was a rabid teetotaller. He was once quoted as saying "Drink is the biggest damnation of the nation and the working man." Philip Johnson also remembers that in the front desk of the St Helens office there were several medallions with the words from Scripture "Wine is a mocker" inscribed on one side, and on the other it called upon all children never to touch drink. Evidence of this trait of Joseph can be seen in the newspaper cutting about newsboys (Leach the local philanthropist - opposite).
Joseph had a holiday home in Beaumaris, Anglesy which seems to have been rented until some time after his death, when it was purchased by the family in 1920. It was purchased (given?) to his son Wilfred in 1935. It would seem that Wilfred used this as a holiday home and then, in his short retirement, as a residence. The house was then passed on to Wilfred's daughter Mildred in 1939, who lived there until her death in 1960
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