This crumbling sign for the Sir Ralph Pendlebury Orphanage can be seen on the busy Lancashire Hill in Stockport. The deserted steps and gothic gateway are easy to miss in the tumble of traffic on the way to the town centre.
Sir Ralph Pendlebury (1790–1861) was mayor of Stockport, and he created a charity with an endowment of £100,000. The orphanage named after him was opened in 1881. The charity gave relief, such as clothing, education or finding employment, to orphans of parents who had lived in the Stockport district for not less than two years. The building, on Dodge Hill, was designed by Scottish architect J. W. Beaumont, and it had room for about 250 boys and girls. It was later used by the Red Cross Society and became a hospital for wounded soldiers from 1914-1919. It still exists today: it is grade II listed and, fittingly, is now a care home.
This old entrance is no longer used, so it sits there doing duty as a memorial to the past. Crumbling, covered in overgrowing greenery, dark and dank, it’s pretty creepy. So it’s no surprise that rumours of ghosts abound: Pendlebury Hall claims a one-armed soldier, a white lady and singing children among its hauntings.