References were often made to the self styled "King of Hyde". His name was Frederick Howard Whittaker and he lived at Silver Hill ,which is just off modern day Stockport Road/Osborne Road in Gee Cross,Hyde. He was the Nephew of Thomas Howard of Greenfield Mill and before that Longmeadow Mill.. Whittaker owned and ran Hunt Croft Stone Quarry which was almost opposite the Werneth Public House and just south of Cloughgate.
He was an Eccentric figure who built a tower known as "Whittakers Whim" on the site of the quarry. The "Whim" was a 5 storey narrow structure with only 2 floors being visible from Stockport Road. No -one quite knows why he built the "Whim" but it is known to have been used as a warehouse for the local hatting trade. In the early twentieth century, after the mill was lowered due to decay, it was used as a leather works. Evidence of the bottom 2 floors of the building still exists. A length of red brick wall marks the place where the building once abutted onto Stockport Road. Whittaker was a very sociable man and from all accounts ,liked to spend money. He used to frequent The Eagle and Oak public house which stood on Mottram Old Road & even built a large stage for people to dance on behind the pub. Stories tell how he was a flamboyant figure who used to wear a wide brimmed hat with ostrich feathers and ride a large horse around the area. He had visions of turning Hunt Croft quarry into a Gee Cross market place but there is no evidence this ever materialised. He died in Heysham ,Morecombe bay in around 1880 with an estate of £40,000 - a huge sum of money in those days!