Thursday 23 May 2024

The Queen & Pasley

Sometimes it is amazing how quickly our recent past can vanish.

The Pasley Laundry was opened in 1893 on what is now Crossland Road and did not reach its 100th birthday.

Laundries are a measure not only of the size of a community but of their prosperity.

 Given the arduous nature of wash day it is not surprising that those who could afford to pay for the weekly washing to be cleaned did so. The population had doubled in the ten years before 1901 and the next decade saw an equal increase. The occupations of the residents of new Chorlton ranged from manufacturers, bank managers and solicitors to clerical and skilled workers.

The very mix which is reflected in the large detached and semi detached houses stretching along Edge Lane and High Lane and the tall terraced properties radiating out from the station.

Here were the customers of our five laundries which in themselves were a mix. Yapp’s Laundry was big enough to have branches on Ashton Old Road, Chorlton on Medlock and in Whitefield and Stretford. 

Others like Wing Sam operated from one shop while Martha Keal’s premises on Beech Road was also the home of a her builder husband John. The biggest was the Pasley, later renamed the Queen and Pasley on Crescent Road. It opened in 1893, and at one point employed 50 staff.

All the washing machines were belt driven by a huge steam engine and were the first to install the “float-iron system” which consisted of the multiple roller pressing machines. This was 15 feet wide and 15 feet long and
“was a mass production ironing machine, with delicately poised rollers. You could put a shirt with pearl buttons on it and it wouldn’t leave a mark.”

Vans from the laundry would collect the washing and deliver it to the sorting office where each item would be marked, and classified into bins, before the loads were emptied into the ten washing machines. After being washed the clothes went through stages of being dried before being set out still slightly damp for the ironing and pressing and finally being re-sorted in the packing room and returned in the vans to the customers.

But the Queen & Pasley like all the rest were slowly being squeezed as the growing prosperity of the 1950’s led to people buying their own washing machines and by the self service launderette which are themselves now in decline.

And just after this was posted, Bob and Jean commented that "both my Gran and Granddad worked there in 1911 he was a van driver and I used to pass it a lot as a kid," and  "my mum worked their in about 1946 and then moved to the Grange .I used to go in the summer holidays with other children and one of the staff would take us to the park and look after us."

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; the inside of the Queen & Pasley circa 1960 from the collection of Tony Walker

Manchester's first railway station ........... no.2 a history lesson

The carriage shed, 2004
Now I have always had a fascination for Castlefield and in particular the Liverpool Railway Station.

And a few days ago when Ron posted some of his pictures of the site in the early 1980's it stirred my pot.

So here are a mix of Ron's pictures and mine from almost four decades later, with a bit of a story.

Castlefield became the centre of the first railway complex in 1830.

The original site consisted of the station and warehouse, which was extended a year later to include a set of offices, passenger shed and two more warehouses.

By 1837 a second station platform had been built opposite, reflecting the growing number of passengers.

What is interesting about the buildings is the way they mirror the existing technology but also look forward to the future.

The 1830 warehouse, 1980
So the 1830 warehouse copied the canal warehouses, which were built around the Castlefield Basin but used new materials like cast iron.

Canal warehouse design had been perfected during the last half of the 18th century.

The main features of the design were a series of loading points called loop holes on each floor and access points for barges to move directly into the building.

Similar loopholes were situated on the roadside of the warehouse. This enabled goods to be moved from one side to another. One of the best of these is sited opposite Dukes 92 and has recently been renovated.

The 1830 warehouse, 2004
The original 1830 warehouse used a combination of loopholes and arches designed to allow wagons to be pushed into the building.

After the great fire in 1866, which destroyed the two newer warehouses, this practice was stopped. It is still possible to see where the lines ran into the building. Turntables existed to turn and push wagons into the warehouse.

Maps of the period show these turntables all over the site. The last one was only torn up in the late 90s.

All along the rail side it is possible to see changes that have been made to the original design.

One of the arches has been enlarged and one of the loopholes adapted. It is possible to see some of the early winding gear above one of the loopholes, and the different brickwork above other loopholes can see the evidence for where others once were.

Canal Warehouse, 2004
Likewise the station design is really just a development of stagecoach technology.

Passengers stepped up into the railway carriage, which were just stagecoaches on rails.

Like the road version, luggage and the guard sat on top of the carriage.

The carriage shed, which protected passengers, has a wooden beamed roof not unlike medieval buildings but is supported by the new technology of cast iron pillars.

Looking up to the Byrom Warehouse, 1980
If you look beyond the station to G Mex you can see the future.

In just 50 years railway stations were to be transformed into graceful arches of iron and glass, with the platforms below. Central, Piccadilly and Victoria stations are only later manifestations of Crystal Palace.

The site continued to evolve, and for a long time was a pretty drab warehouse complex and after its closure could have lingered on as a neglected spot gently decaying before falling to Derek the Developer.

1980                                                                      2004
But happily it became the home for the museum which is another story.

Location; Liverpool Road

Pictures; the site in the 1980s courtesy of Ron Stubley, and in the early 21st century from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Greenwich Park, the moment a full 53 years ago .......... nu 1 the walk

It will be a full 53 years ago but the memory of that walk through Greenwich Park on a Saturday in September 1971 has never left me.

I was in my second year at Manchester Poly and the pull of Well Hall and the family were still strong and so I found myself back home with three friends.

Lois was from Weston and Mike and John from Leeds and we travelled down from Manchester in John’s van on the Friday night.

Even now I have to say I haven’t forgotten the kindness of David Hatch who agreed to put Lois, Mike and John up on his floor.

It was a brief stay and most of it is a blur except for the walk from the gates on the Blackheath side through the park to Wolf’s statue, the observatory and that view down to the river.

At any time of the year that short stroll is pretty good but in late autumn it is magic.  The leaves are on the turn and the bright sunlight can still surprise you with its degree of warmth and the way it brings out the colours all around you.

The rest of the day and the weekend is lost to me but that hour and a bit were and remain special, more so because I was showing off my home.

All of which just leaves me to reflect on the postcard which was marketed in the USA and carried the imprint of the American YMCA of which there must be a story, but not for now.

Location; Greenwich

Picture; Greenwich Park, 1905 from the series Greenwich, marketed in 1911-12 by Tuck & Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB,

Connections ...... Edith Nesbit of Well Hall and William Barefoot Labour politican and councillor for Eltham

Edith Nesbit, circa 1890
Now I like the way that history continues to surprise you, often taking you in directions which you could not have imagined.

Until recently I was not aware that Edith Nesbit had lived at Well Hall and knew only that she had written the Railway Children.

But she was far more than just someone who wrote children’s books.

Her marriage appears to be what we might today describe as an open one and she adopted two children from her husband’s relationship with another woman who was employed as their house keeper.

She was one of the founder members of the Fabian Society, a member of the Social Democratic Federation and wrote and spoke regularly on socialism.

Amongst her friends were H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw and the Webb’s, all of whom visited the house in Well Hall.

She was also a member of the local Labour Party and it was here she met Tommy Tucker an engineer on the Woolwich Ferry, who she married three years after the death of her husband Hubert.

All of which fits nicely as like Edith, Hubert and Tommy I was also a member of the same local Labour Party.

Woolwich Labour Party was formed in 1903.  At that time the Woolwich constiuency took in Woolwich and Eltham, and even when it was split between Woolwich East and Woolwich West for the 1918 General Election the Labour Party took the decision to stay as one party.

So when I joined in 1966 aged just 16 I was walking with Edith, Hubert and Tommy.

William Barefoot, date unknown
And also William Barefoot who will have known Edith and may well have been a guest at her home in Well Hall.

He was one of the leading forces in the Woolwich Labour Party having been its secretary from 1903 till 1941.*

He had become secretary of the Woolwich Trades Council in 1899 a post he held until 1921, was editor of The Woolwich Labour Journal and the Pioneer a weekly paper.**

Now if I were prone to idle speculation I might well go ‘off on one’ pondering on how well Ms Nebit and

Mr Barefoot knew each other and whether she contributed to either The Woolwich Labour Journal and the Pioneer.

Now the Greenwich Heritage Centre holds both the Journal and the Pioneer but the collection only cover the years 1919-1926, and I am not sure when she left Well Hall.

I know she married Mr Tucker in 1917 and later moved to Friston in East Sussex, and later to East Kent, and died in 1924.

That said I shall go digging elsewhere for both journals and the first port of call will be the archives of the People’s Museum.

Now it would really be nice to discover some of her political writing which in turn will have crossed William Barefoot’s desk and so I shall go looking.

Pictures; Edith Nesbit courtesy of The Edith Nesbit Society, and William Brefoot, courtesy of Archives & Study Centre, at the People’s History Museum, Manchester,

*William Barefoot and a day in the archives of the Peoples’ History Museum in Manchester,

** ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE LABOUR PARTY AT LOCAL LEVEL, The Woolwich Labour Party, 1903-53, Dr Roger Eatwell, 1982,

So good it had to be done twice ……..

And why not?

The network may only run for 15 miles along two lines with 22 trams but then the city according to one source is “of a manageable size and much is within walking distance……[so with] public transport  available for longer distances” the tram is the thing.*


And with an eye to the positive the network promises “Our strength: short distances” which is nicely delivered by tramcar no. 13.

It was spotted by my travelling chum who yesterday offered up a picture of one of the modern fleet and not content with that was out before breakfast to snap its older companion.

At which point Eric custodian of all things trams will provide a detailed description of tramcar no. 13 but for now I will leave you with the revelation that “Every Saturday until the end of 2022, buses and trams in the city area of Ulm/Neu-Ulm can be used free of charge”.*

Now there will be those who spot that the offer ran out in 2022, and so I am wondering if the scheme has made it in 2024, or has some one not updated the promise?

I could phone the company and ask but I am the first to acknowledge that my German isn’t up to the task.

Leaving me to wonder if my travelling chum will pursue the offer and if so will he choose car 13 or 65?

The possibilities are too exciting to cintemplate.

Location; Ulm

Picture; the Ulm tram, 2024

* Public Transport in Ulm/Neu-Ulm,

Wednesday 22 May 2024

The oldest building in Chorlton ..............

Well it seems there is a debate and in that outrageous way I promote myself I have joined in.

The Horse and Jockey, 1933
The usual culprits will be Barlow Hall and Hough End Hall.

Technically Barlow Hall was in Chorlton and dates back to the 16th century while Hough End Hall is regarded as Chorlton but was in Withington.

The old parish church on the green will be the oldest dating as it does from around 1512, but it was rebuilt in 1800 and demolished in 1949, leaving, the Horse and Jockey which was already into its second decade when Henry V111 walked up the aisle with Ann Boelyn.

That said it didn’t become a pub until 1793 , having been beaten to the the post by the old Bowling Green Hotel and that pub over the water.

Nor did it get its distinctive timber exterior till the early 20th century when it was occupied only part of its present footprint.

Of course I might be wrong.

We shall see.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; the Horse & Jockey in 1933, F Blyth from A Short History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, by J.D.Blyth, 1933

Manchester's first railway station ........... no.1 waiting for something to happen

Now when Ron shared four pictures of the old railway station and warehouse on Liverpool Road, I was transported back nearly four decades.

The station and carriage shed
I visited it just after it had finally closed and British Rail had sold it to the museum.

It was hard at the time to see just how significant were these old run down buildings.

But these were the first passenger railway station and warehouse, having opened in 1830 when a group of Manchester businesses wanted a quick and cheaper way to get their manufactured goods to Liverpool.
Added to which they quickly saw the commercial advantage of using their railway trains to carry paying passengers.

So here in the pictures is the passenger buildings, beyond which is the carriage shed erected the following year.

And as with so much of the 19th century there was a strict division between those of property and wealth who travelled first class and the rest as seen in the provision of a first and second class booking hall and waiting room.

the 1830 warehouse, railway side
And it is worth remembering just how much the new railway company was at the cutting edge of technological change.  Their steam locomotives may have been the future but tickets were still handwritten and first class carriages were essentially stage coaches placed on a set of railway chassis.

In that respect they were looking back as well as forward.  And that was reflected in their choice of warehouse design, which was direct coy of the existing canal warehouses, complete with arches which allowed waggons to be taken into the building.

Inside the 1830 warehouse
But unlike canal boats which can turn effortless, the railway waggons had to be uncoupled placed on a turntable and then turned 90 degrees before being pushed into the warehouse.

Originally these turn tables were all over the site but the last which was beside the Byrom Warehouse was taken away some time in the 1990's.

And tomorrow there will be more on those early warehouses, of which there were three.

The first built in 1830 opposite the railway station and the second two built the following year which stood at right angles.

These were destroyed in a devastating fire.

The surviving buildings have done well to be still with us, although they were pretty much knocked about.

But have now become part  of the museum complex.

Location; Liverpool Road

Pictures; the railway station and first warehouse, built in 1830-31 as they were in the early 1980s from the collection of Ron Stubley