LIFE AS A HOTEL
From 1906 - 1943 Lawton Hall was being leased and run as a ‘Spa’ Hotel called the Lawton Hall Hotel (except during the 1914 – 1918 war, when Lawton Hall was requisitioned for use as a hospital for senior officers). Between the wars it was run by Colonel Wenger. The following reminiscence is that of Ken Rigby as recorded by the Lawton Heritage Society’ Chronicle Vol 1 1995. Ken joined as a butler aged 14 in 1934 and recalls:-
“Having been issued with my uniform full of buttons, my job initially was serving meals in the dining room. My wages were 7/6d which eventually rose to 10s. I worked 7 days a week from early in the morning until after lunch with afternoons off and then back on duty to serve the evening meals. I had half a day off each week. Colonel Wenger went to Australia around 1937-38 where he remained until he died. The hotel was then run by Major Bell from Liverpool supported by a manageress. There were between 10 – 12 staff employed including a gardener Mr. Westrop, A joiner by trade, who did repair jobs at the hall. He lived at Hall Green Lodge. Tom Arrowsmith did the interior decorating. He was single and lived at Ivy Cottages. In 1937-38 Stephen Heath from Newcastle re-roofed the Hall.
Ken Rigby (Aged 14)
As you entered the hall through the front door there is a big entrance foyer with a massive fireplace with the Lawton Crest above it.
To the right was an enormous staircase and on the left was the dining room
You could walk through the foyer to a lounge on the lakeside.
On the same side as the dining room was the ‘Oak room’, so called because of the oak panelling. There was a music room, another sitting room and a billiard room. Upstairs consisted of 30 bedrooms on two separate levels.
The stables was converted into garages and the hotel generated its own electricity which was stored in big batteries. The generator was run all day and if a lot of lights were being used the generator had to be started up at night as well. Colonel Wenger had a squash court built for his own enjoyment, although this facility was also let out. Other hotel facilities included hard tennis courts close to the church and grass courts right in front of the hotel
There was a 9 hole golf course on the far side of the lake in what was known as Lawton Park.
The guests also used the lake for fishing and swimming in winter it was possible to skate on the frozen lake and we used car headlamps to light up the scene at night. At the lakeside to the right of the hotel was a stone built ice house which was used for storing meat.
There were several ‘long stay’ guests, in particular the Huntbach’s who ran a shop in Hanley. They sold their house in Congleton and came to live at Lawton Hall permanently.
The hotel was used by the Rotary Clubs from Manchester for their social functions. At Christmas the hotel held grand dinner dances and the local church sang carols.
Boyce Adams, who had shops in Hanley and Alsager supplied the hotel with confectionary goods. Edwards of Alsager supplied meat, Askeys the fish and Rycrofts of Alsager supplied cakes.
Lawton Hall was a nice place to work until I finally left after 6 years to join the forces in 1940.”