by Gordon Gandy
In a regular feature Radio Warrington’s Gordon Gandy, who has been running his “mywarrington” website covering local history for many years, looks back at some of the town’s famous families and historic buildings.
This month he looks at Robert Garnett & Sons, Furnishing Contractors, Cabinet Makers and Upholsterers.
Robert Garnett Snr was born in 1806. He was a cabinetmaker and founded Garnett & Sons. He died in 1877. It was his son, also called Robert, who was the powerhouse of the company.
Robert Garnett Jnr was born on the 6 June 1830 in Penketh. He married Mary James on 15 Sep 1859 in Stanwix, Carlisle and they had one daughter. Garnett’s was a well-respected firm of cabinetmakers and he was a generous local benefactor to many churches. He laid the foundation stone at Penketh Methodist Church. The workshop was a familiar landmark on the Warrington skyline with its Italianate crenellated water tower.
His showroom on Sankey Street was designed by Chester architect John Douglas. Garnett’s described the building as “an imposing four-storey stone edifice to the Gothic style of Architecture”. The factory was on Barbauld Street to the rear of the showroom and they had other shops in Chester and Southport. William Roberts, his younger brother, oversaw the premises in Chester.
Robert Garnett Jnr died on 9 Apr 1903 at Hall Nook, Penketh and was buried in Sankey. Robert left over ten million pounds in today’s money in his will. The Garnetts were great philanthropists and gave a lot to the poor, they built churches and schools so the poor of society could be educated.
The Site later became the CWS printing works, but the building had been empty and deralict for about 60 years before demolition was begun in December 2017. The famous water tower, built in 1906, is also being demolished.
Meanwhile, the former showroom on Sankey Street still exists. From 1913 it was the home of Woolworths until the company closed down in 2009, and is now a pound shop.