Duke of Bridgewater
The families and companies involved in its past have had a great influence on the wealth, economy and social improvement particularly in North West England. In the late 18th century, Francis Egerton, the Third Duke of Bridgewater, driven by a desire to transport coal from his mines in Worsley to Manchester, opens his canal which links Manchester with Runcorn and the River Mersey beyond. Later, the First Earl of Ellesmere reinvigorated the mines and grew the commercial traffic on the Bridgewater Canal.
Sir Robert Peel
At about the same time, two famous sons of the North West began their careers in their family textile businesses at Peel Mills and John Bright’s in Lancashire. Sir Robert Peel later became Prime Minister and founded the Metropolitan Police Force.
John Bright later became the national champion of free trade. By 1850, the Whittaker family itself was involved in textiles, farming and quarrying. Daniel Adamson provided the vision and momentum to the movement to establish the Manchester Ship Canal.
Vision and firm foundations
After the acquisition of Peel Mills in 1971, the following ten years saw further acquisitions including John Brights and culminating in a Stock Exchange listing in 1981 under the name Peel Holdings p.l.c.
In 1983, Peel acquired Bridgewater Estates with a land portfolio of approximately 12,000 acres in and around Manchester and Salford. It was at this time that John Whittaker’s vision for the intu Trafford Centre (formerly The Trafford Centre) was born. Planning permission for the Centre was sought in 1986 and approval was finally achieved in 1995. It took 27 months to build and opened on 10th September 1998.
In 1987, the Manchester Ship Canal was added to the portfolio. This fusion of Peel’s property interests, and especially the Bridgewater Estate and the 36-mile long inland port of the Manchester Ship Canal, combined once again the forces that were fundamental in the establishment of one of the great industrial regions of the world.
To find out more about Peel's strategic vision, heritage and business ethos, please visit our group website