THE IMPENDING sale of Mossley Police Station has proved a poignant return to the past for one Saddleworth Independent reader.
And thanks to Greg Lilley the ‘who dunnit’ mystery over the building of the Argyle Street premises has been solved.
The station will be auctioned on April 21, almost 160 years after the historic property was acquired by the Justices of the Peace for Lancashire ‘for the temporary confinement of persons taken into their custody’.
Little was known about the origins of the ‘cop shop’ until Mossley resident Greg contacted the Indy with some fascinating local history information.
It transpires its builder was also responsible for grander projects both in the UK and on the other side of the world, where he later died.
Greg said: “I read with interest your piece on the pending sale of the police station, as only lately I found the builder, Walter Sigley, was an ancestor and that the Sigleys were absolutely prolific builders.
“Walter’s father, Edward Sigley, was apparently an illiterate man who had built a business from his skills as a stonemason, only to lose it.
“His sons, Charles, Walter and Edward (from whom I am descended), worked with him. They built Dukinfield bridge, Shepley bridge, Ashton Town Hall, parts of the Market Avenue, the Oddfellows Hall, Crowden and Etherow weirs at Woodhead, parts of Oxford Mills and an extension.
“There may have been a split at some point, as Walter owned his own yard on Lower Wharf Street and did projects of his own: several police stations including Mossley; Albemarle Terrace in Ashton (including his own house); a terrace of 14 houses at Hurst Cross, and any number of chapels across the local area.
“Following his wife’s death he put everything up for sale, finished up commitments in Scotland, then went with his children to New Zealand.
“There he embarked on civic projects including bridges and public buildings around Christchurch and Dunedin; he appears frequently in the Hawkes Bay Journal of the 1860s.
“Walter remarried in New Zealand and with his son Charles built an aqueduct in Brisbane; Charles died in Sydney, in poor health from alcoholism. Walter died in New Zealand in 1886.
“I only began to learn this in the past year – my girlfriend Carol has done an incredible amount on it. I’ve been amazed by it all, especially as there was never a hint of it in my family.”
Mossley is the last of four Greater Manchester stations being sold as part of cost cutting measures by Greater Manchester Police.