Gorton Hall & Heritage Trail
The construction date of the first Gorton Hall is unknown, but the earliest reference to the Hall is in a document from 1681. In 1715 the Hall and four farms were purchased by John Gorton, a wealthy clothier who came from Preston, though other members of the Gorton family had been living in Gorton since at least 1332. He had a new house built on the site, and his descendants lived there until the end of the century, when Thomas Gorton’s financial problems caused it to be leased for eight years to a George Shawcross. Samuel Barker then bought the house, and on his death in 1834 it was leased by his son-in-law, Robert Bennett. In 1841 he staged a steeplechase, and its enormous popularity encouraged him to create a racecourse on land behind the house. The Bennett family left in 1846, and the Hall was leased to Joseph Braham, a merchant from Danzig, at an annual rent of £100 per year. In December of the following year, however, a mentally unwell family member set it on fire. The Braham family continued to live there until 1859 when it was purchased by Richard Peacock, joint owner of Beyer, Peacock and Company, and from then on it was known locally as Peacock Hall. He rebuilt the lodge and carried out extensive alterations to the house, as well as building the nearby Brookfield Church and Sunday School. After his death in 1889, a caretaker lived there until the house was demolished in 1906, leaving only the lodge, which is now at the bottom of Old Hall Drive. The houses on Brookhurst Road are on the actual site of the Hall. The nearby Sunny Brow Park was created in 1905.