| Today, Cheadle House is probably unknown or unnoticed by many of the people walking along High Street. Hemmed in as it is by Boots' chemists at the front and a car-park at the back, one could be forgiven for dismissing it with a cursory glance. Dating from the mid 19th century, it is a substantial, but undeniably plain three-storey brick building. Heavy stone lintels above the windows and a somewhat ugly, over-sized porch do nothing to dispel an image of solidity. It was obviously built for practical purposes rather than show.
It is interesting to compare it with a house on Anson Road in Manchester which is of a similar design and proportions. Eaglesfield is now the property of the University but was originally built as one of a select number of houses designed for the exclusive residential area known as 'Victoria Park'. Finished with stone quoins on the corners, decorative cornices under the eaves and a porch which complements the rest of the house, Eaglesfield was awarded a Grade II listing by English Heritage. Finishing touches can make all the difference!
Cheadle House was the home of Dr. Alfred Godson, who set up a medical practice in Cheadle in 1865 when he was 29 years old. There were already two other doctors in the village, but by then Dr. Bew Lupton must have been in his eighties and Dr. Robert Ockleston, who had been apprenticed to him as a fourteen year old, was nearing sixty. Neither of them had qualifications to match those of Dr. Godson, a smart young Londoner who had graduated from Cambridge. Dr. Lupton lived in a house just beyond the Red Lion on Stockport Road, long since demolished, and Dr. Ockleston had his home and surgery in a large house on High Street – where Sayer's bakers and Co-op Travel now stand -- gardens and even fields still bordered the street at this time. There must have been enough sickly people in Cheadle to keep all the doctors busy and Dr. Godson soon established himself as a well respected practitioner and member of the community.
He took a great interest in local affairs and was made a member of the Parish Council – a body which made decisions about extending the graveyard, or whether or not Edgeley people should be allowed burial in Cheadle. He was also appointed Medical Officer of Health for the district and was responsible for such things as the closure of schools during outbreaks of measles or other epidemics.
Children were of special interest to him – he had several of his own – and he was instrumental in helping to provide playing-fields and other facilities for them. In later life he became a Justice of the Peace and gradually handed over his medical practice to his two sons, Edward and John. Dr. John Godson also took over the position of M.O.H. and Poor Law Officer. While his father continued to live at Cheadle House, he set up home at Linden House, which was at No.1 The Crescent. The part of the building now used as a police office was probably his original surgery.
After Alfred Godson's death, sometime before the first World War, Cheadle House was put to a variety of uses.
During the war it was used as a hospital and convalescent home for wounded servicemen, staffed by local nurses.
By 1919 it was occupied by a private school, known locally as the 'red-cap school' after the boys' distinctive headgear. When girls were eventually admitted, their uniforms were grey cloaks lined with red flannel, worn over grey gym-slips. In the 1930s the school moved out to more peaceful and salubrious premises in Cheadle Hulme – still in existence today as Ramillies Hall School.
Around this time Cheadle House became Council property and a modern retail building was erected on what had been the front garden. Woolworths and Boots now joined the High Street shops. The house itself was divided into units and began to house a number of small businesses and provide office accommodation. During World War.II one of the units housed the Welfare Centre, manned by the indomitable Women's Royal Voluntary Service, (W.R.V.S.). From this base they collected metal salvage, packed parcels for the serving forces, and practiced First Aid. They were also responsible for billeting evacuees – 11,000 arrived in the Cheadle area, many from Guernsey.
They continued their good work after the war when goods were still in short supply, distributing powdered milk and concentrated orange juice to local babies and organising a 'meals-on-wheels' service for the old or disabled.
Since then, many different firms have had premises in the building, including Sinclair's printers and the District Advertiser. At the moment the future of the property is uncertain as it appears to be on the open market.
A photograph of Cheadle House in Dr. Godson's time. Mary Street is to the left and Lime Grove can be seen behind.
A group of wounded servicemen and nurses outside Cheadle House in 1918. By then, the house had been handed over by Dr. Godson for use as a hospital
Dr. John Godson with his daughters, nursemaids and chauffeur, photographed on holiday at Filey in 1908. Note the hamper for a picnic, and imagine the journey from Cheadle in this Renault!