History of the town hall and the golden gates
The first owner, Thomas Patten
The name of Patten dominates the industrial and social history of Warrington from the turn of the century to the late 19th century.
The family originated in Chelmsford, Essex about 1119 and one member, William, was the founder of Magdalene College Oxford, Bishop of Winchester, and Chancellor of England in 1456. By way of Derbyshire, another branch of the family arrived in Warrington in 1536, and by the middle of the 17th century had settled in Patten Lane, off Bridge Street, as merchants dealing in a wide range of commodities including tobacco, sugar and tea.
The father of the builder of Bank Hall, also a Thomas Patten, realised the importance of the river in using Warrington as a key distribution point for inland trade, and was responsible for making it navigable from Runcorn to Bank Quay, enabling copper to be brought by boat from Ireland, Cornwall and Anglesey right to the family's smelting works at Bank Quay. This industry was so successful that by the mid 18th century, these local merchants had become important and landed gentry, commissioning James Gibbs to build a fine country house - Bank Hall - in 1750.
The Pattens' fortune were largely built on the infamous slave trade as their works produced copper bangles traded for slaves in Africa and great coppers used to boil sugar and distil rum in the West Indies.
The name Wilson was linked with that of Patten as a result of the marriage between Mary Patten and the Rev. Thomas Wilson D.D. in 1698. This Thomas Wilson became Bishop of Soder and Man, and in recognition of his services to the island's sovereign, the Earl of Derby, he acquired considerable lands in Lancashire and Cheshire which, on the death of his only son, passed to the Patten family on condition that the additional surname was used.
This portrait of Thomas Patten was painted by Hamlet Winstanley, a well known artist who lived in one of the houses which he designed and built in Stanley Street, which incidentally he named after his patrons, the Stanleys of Knowsley.