The Storey Family

The legacy of the Storey family is deeply rooted in the history of Lancaster. The Storeys arrived in Lancaster from Bardsea in Furness (now in South Cumbria) in 1835.

Isaac Storey

Isaac and Phoebe Storey married in 1821 and were drawn to Lancaster in the hope that the town would provide better opportunities for their children. Their eldest child John (b. 1822) became a land surveyor and later employed his brother Thomas (b.1825) in the same trade. Thomas would later join his brothers William (b.1823) and Edward (b.1829) to form the Storey Company which opened its doors on the 14th September 1848. This produced table baize and oilcloth and grew to become one of Lancaster’s largest employers by the end of the century. The success of the company ensured that the Storeys would become eminent members of Lancaster’s local elite, symbolised by the purchase of this country estate

Thomas Storey

Thomas Storey was a staunch churchman and reputed to be a humane employer. He was at the heart of the business and helped to expand its operations at home and overseas.

Thomas had a wide range of interests outside of the factory including education and the social life of Lancaster. In 1867, 1873 and 1874, he was elected Mayor of Lancaster. In 1887, he was again elected Mayor and received a knighthood for his work. He was also highly active in politics and in 1880 stood for parliament as a Liberal although he split from Gladstone in 1886 and later stood as a Unionist.

Thomas was greatly interested in improving the educational opportunities within the town. He became closely associated with the Royal Albert Asylum and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and donated generous amounts of money and time to the two institutions. Thomas was one of the main forces behind the extension of the Mechanics Institute which later became the Storey Institute and Museum in 1891. Between 1887 and 1891, in commemoration of the Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the Storey family financed its re-building donated it to the city as a technical and science school, newsroom, library, art school and gallery. The re-development cost around £12,000. Above any other consideration, Thomas wanted to give the younger generations a better chance than that of their fathers so it is appropriate that his country estate later became the site of the university.

William Storey

Thomas’s brother William was described as a “kind, cheerful and generous man” by the Lancaster Guardian in his 1879 obituary. He pursued many interests outside of baize manufacture and, in particular, had a passion for technical education.

Shipbuilding was also an interest. In 1862, William became a director of the Lune Ship Building Company, which had been formed by H.J Wilson of the White Star group. White Star later famously produced the cruise liner, The Titanic which fatefully sank during its maiden voyage.

Herbert Lushington Storey

Herbert was the oldest son of Thomas Storey and was born in 1853. He became the chairman of the Storey Company in 1913 and spent six years in the position. He sponsored University extension lectures in Lancaster and donated a further £10,000 to extend the Storey Institute. One of the major projects that benefited from Herbert’s generosity was the Westfield Memorial Village.

Westfield Memorial Village

Westfield Memorial Village was erected as a memorial to the fallen of the First World War. T.H Mawson designed the village and Herbert Storey gifted the estate of Westfield as a site for the new development. The estate included a mansion house, two cottages, stables, outbuildings and gardens. The area totalled sixteen acres in all and by 1955, 78 houses and six flats had been built on the land, including 3 detached properties.

The main benefactors of the village were those who had been maimed and disabled by the war. Widows were also welcomed into the community. A bowling green and children’s playground were developed, as was a hostel for single men impaired during the war and a permanent workshop where disabled men could receive training and employment.

There could be few more admiral methods of seeking to discharge the debt that we owe to those who have suffered grievous disability in the services of their country than by the building of this village.

A quote from Earl Hague Victor Victor, “At the Going Down of the Sun”, Lancashire Life, October 1958.

Bailrigg House

Between 1899 and 1902, Herbert Storey built Bailrigg House where he lived until his death. Bailrigg house was designed by the architects Woolfall and Eccles of Liverpool. Herbert also re-orientated the land, adding additional elements to the landscape and later hiring the famous local landscape architect, Thomas Mawson to do additional work.

Bailrigg is an excellent building. Its well-defined gables and antique-looking half-timber work, its carefully elaborated facade and pretty frontal terrace, its contiguous grounds and woodland surroundings, give it a picturesquely effective, serenely select appearance.

Bailrigg Mansion is now home to the Health Centre but originally it was owned by successive generations of the Storey family and Mr and Mrs Barton Townley. Lancaster University library has both the sale catalogue from 1921 and pictures of the mansion’s interiors. The Barton Townley family owned a local car dealership in the area which lasted well into the late 20th century.

Lake Carter

Lake Carter has a history of its own. It was constructed in the early 1900s for Sir Herbert Lushington Storey and was preserved during the construction of the University. In the 1960’s, the lake was named after the first Vice-Chancellor of the University, Charles Carter, thus immortalising his name for generations of future students. Charles Carter was 43 when he was appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the university, having previously lectured in Statistics at Cambridge University and been a Professor of Applied Economics at Queens University in Belfast.