Manchester Worthies

Bosdin Thomas Leech (1836-1912)



The ensuing municipal year, and that following it, are likely to be memorable in the annals of Manchester. In the ordinary course of events, according to human calculation, the Ship Canal within that period will be completed and formally opened. The tapping of the Welsh hills for water for the daily consumption of Manchester-a vast and expensive scheme, which has been many years in operation-s-is also likely to reach completion. It is not improbable, too, that the Royal Agricultural Society of England may accept the invitation now being strenuously urged upon it, of holding its annual exhibition for 1 l593 within the ample domain of Trafford Park. These events only, apart from the inevitable accumulation of important incidents in connection with the daily life of the great northern capital, are sufficient to attach a deep prospective interest to the period referred to. The visits of many distinguished persons are certain. Not improbably Royalty will once more honour the City with its presence, and the great commercial importance of the mighty undertaking to which the citizens of Manchester have committed the support of their funds, as well as the grand engineering triumph which the successful opening of thirty-five miles of Ship Canal will indicate, leads to the hope that even the Queen herself may grace the occasion with the highest mark of royal favour -her own presence.

It is natural, therefore, that there should be anxious consideration with reference to the selection of the gentleman who, in the capacity of Chief Magistrate, should represent the City on these eventful occasions. The choice up to the present time has fallen upon Mr. T. Bosdin Leech, to whom a requisition has been presented asking his acceptance of the honour, and we have authority for believing that he will accept the honour, and that on the 1st November next he will be unanimously elected to a position of which any distinguished citizen may be proud.

It is fitting, therefore, that the portrait of the Mayor-elect of Manchester should figure in the present number of Manchester Faces and Places.

Mr. Bosdin T. Leech is a leading merchant of the city, and comes of an old Manchester family, members of which have taken a leading part in the past government of the city, as the Old Court Leet records and the Constables' accounts amply testify. He married a daughter of the late Alderman W. Booth, a former mayor of the city, and compiled, by the way, an excellent catalogue of the fine collection of books belonging to Alderman William Booth, and brought together originally by the alderman's brother. Mr. Leech has all along been one of the most consistent and sanguine promoters of the Manchester Ship Canal scheme, and one of the hardest workers in the up-hill fight which has been waged, particularly in its earlier stages, to bring the scheme to its present position of almost perfected success. He was one of the Manchester men who were present at the now historic meeting held at the late Mr. Daniel Adamson's house, when the great scheme was no more than an undefined plan. For two years he was on the provisional directorate, and with his fellow directors he has had the satisfaction of seeing an undertaking, singularly daring as it appeared at the time, practically an accomplished fact. His support and influence have all along been of great value, as he has never ceased to give the scheme his strenuous support, both before the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce.

The Mayor-elect first entered upon public work as a member of the Stretford Local Board. On this body he sat for about seven years until 1881, during the last two years as chairman. He commenced his municipal career in Manchester in 188o-the year before he resigned his useful work at Stretford, and was returned without opposition as the representative of Oxford Ward. He has since been elected three times without opposition, and was the senior Councillor when he received the flattering requisition to which we have before referred. His labours in the Council have been expended for the most part on three committees the Water Committee, of which he is at present deputy-chairman; the Finance Committee, and the Free Libraries Committee. He has recently been greatly interested in the task of consolidating the various Acts of Parliament and Provisional Orders by which the city is governed.

The reversion of the office which has been so well and ably filled for nearly two years by the present Mayor (Mr. Alderman Mark), has been looked upon in Council circles as one of special honour and distinction on account of the expected events mentioned. Two distinguished Aldermen on different sides of the Chamber-both, by a singular coincidence, named Thompson were publicly mentioned for the honour. Alderman Joseph Thompson was invited by his friends to allow his name to be placed before the Council, but felt himself unable, from personal reasons, to accede to the request. The following resolution was thereupon moved by Alderman Sir John Harwood, seconded by Councillor A. E. Lloyd, and unanimously passed :- "That the members of the City Council have learned with sincere regret that Alderman Joseph Thompson cannot at the present time see his way to allow his name to be put in nomination for the office of Chief Magistrate for this city, as his election to the mayoralty would have met with the unanimous support of the Council, and have given great satisfaction to the citizens generally. The members of the Council, however, beg to assure Alderman Thompson of the high regard in which he is held by one and all of his colleagues, and desire to express their appreciation of the intelligent, dignified, and zealous manner in which he has discharged the various onerous duties which the Council have from time to time placed in his hands. They sincerely hope that his valuable life may be long spared to the public and to his family." It was also resolved that an address embodying the resolution be prepared and formally presented to the worthy Alderman. The name of Alderman S. Chesters - Thompson was mentioned in conjunction with that of Mr. Leech, and a vote was resorted to. The former gentleman gracefully extricated himself from the unexpected position by himself proposing that his colleague be invited to accept the honour, and this was unanimously adopted.

Under such circumstances, therefore, the offer of the Mayoralty to Mr. Leech may well be regarded as an unsought tribute to high personal character, sterling worth, and indefatigable labours in municipal affairs. Mr. Leech is a Churchman in creed and a Liberal in politics.

It may be added that since the above was written, Mr. Leech has been unanimously elected an Alderman of the city, the vacancy having arisen through the death of Mr. Alderman Lamb, in his 81st year. (A portrait and sketch of the life of the late Alderman Lamb appeared in the last volume of Manchester Faces and Places.)


Reprinted from Manchester Faces & Places Vol. 12 No. 3 10 September 1890