Thursday, 21 June 2018

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 106 ......... the year I lost Joe and Mary Ann

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

Joe and Mary Ann's house, 2017
It has been a surprise to find out that Joe and Mary Ann were not here in 1939 and of course begs the question of where they were.

They were the first occupants when the house was built in 1915 and were still here 58 years later, but not in 1939.

And this I know because they are missing from the 1939 Register and the house is listed as vacant.

They could of course have been on holiday, but given that they would have known that the Register had to be completed, you would have thought they would have made provision to fill it in.

The year before the Government had decided that in the event of war, a National Register would be taken that listed the personal details of every civilian in Great Britain and Northern Ireland which in turn would be used to compile identity and rationing cards.

National Registration Day was September 29th and a team of enumerators visited every household, collecting the names, addresses, and martial statuses of every civilian in the country, issuing identity cards on the spot.

An identity card, 1949, but not theirs.
But not it seems Joe and Mary Ann who are not listed anywhere on the Register.

I suppose they could have been abroad, but given the international scene in the September of 1939 that seems unlikely.

That just leaves a trawl of the directories for 1939 into the early 1940s, along with the electoral registers which will at least tell us if they were back on Beech Road in 1940.

I had hoped that the 1939 Register would have offered up more, it is after all a vital source of information for the period, especially as the 1931 census for England & Wales was totally destroyed by a fire in 1942, and the 1941 census was not taken due to the war.  Added to which the census for 1921 will not be published for another three years.

All of which means that the 1939 Register is an important source of information, but sadly not in the case of Joe and Mary Ann.

But they will turn up somewhere, of that I have every confidence.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; the house in 2017,and am identity card, 1949, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of a house,

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 10 .......... under the arches of Bury Street and beyond

The short trip through the gloom of the railway arches brings you out on a stretch of Bury Road flanked by modern retail and residential properties and ends in a narrow alley.

Along the way you can wander off up one dead end or take the two streets off to the right which will bring you to Blackfriars Road.

Now I thought about digging deep into its history, but instead wonder what other people remember of the buildings, and the people which occupied Bury Street in the time before now.

Location; Salford

Picture; Bury Street from Chapel Street, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

The search for the Book of Remembrance in Edmund Waller School

I am no nearer discovering the fate of the Book of Remembrance of the students who fought in the Great War.

The Sentry, 1921
It was housed in a glass cabinet, high up on the wall beside the entrance to the classroom of 3b, and every day of the school year during 1959-60 I passed it as I went and left the room.

Now when you are nine going on ten the book had little meaning.

I remember it stood open at a page and the names were recorded in black and red ink.

I have no idea if the pages were turned regularly and as far as I can remember it was never referred to, and I never asked.

Back then the Great War had ended just 41 years earlier, and despite the horrific nature of that war, it had already been eclipsed by the more recent conflict.

But many of those who had taken part would only have been coming up to retirement and may yet not even have had grandchildren.

Most would still be fit and have years more ahead of them and the memories of what they endured would be fresh, even if they preferred not to talk about it.

And for those who lived around the school and had attended, the names in red of their fellow students who never returned would be something else that they hadn’t forgotten.

Now I never forgot the book, although the last 59 years have been so crammed with just living that I didn’t give it much of thought, until that is I was asked to write a book about Manchester and the Great War, and then as you do in researching the men, women and children who took part, I came again to the that Remembrance Book.*

I assumed it would no longer still be on the wall and more than likely have been donated to the Imperial War Museum or the Local Studies Centre.

On two separate occasions I contacted the school left my details and waited for a reply.

Sadly I am still waiting, despite follow up emails.

Of course schools are very busy places and the children always take priority so in the absence of a reply from the school I am pondering my options.

I guess an approach to the Local Studies Centre will be the first step and then either the Imperial War Museum or the National Archives at Kew.

Edmund Waller, School, 2007
And in the meantime I wonder if anyone else remembers it or can shed  light on what happened to it.

Location; Edmund Waller School, Waller Road, London SE 14, commemorating employees

Picture; The Sentry, 1921, commemorating employees of S&J Watts & Co, Manchester, from a picture postcard issued by Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck db, and Edmund Waller School, 2007 from the collection of Liz and Colin Fitzpatrick
*Manchester Remembering 1914-18, Andrew Simpson, The History Press, 2017

The magic of an empty railway station ............. somewhere in the west country

Now, if you are of that generation who grew up with Muffin the Mule, and thought that the light had gone out of the world on hearing of the death of Ottis Reading, then this picture of this railway station will be as familiar as spangles, and Blue Peter.

This is the stop at Bishops Lydeard, on the railway line to Minehead, and if you were to take the trip courtesy of the West Somerset Railway, you would pass the equally picturesque stations of Crowcombe, Heathfield, Stogumber and Doriford Halt.

Between them, they conjure up that lost world before and just after the nationalization of the railway companies, when even the smallest hamlet had it own branch line.

They are the stuff of romance and nostalgia, and it takes little in the way of imagination to think yourself on to that platform on a hot summer’s day, waiting for the 12.20 to somewhere.

The chances are you would be alone, with the railway staff away busying themselves on routine tasks, leaving you with the feint noise of insects, the smell of warm oil from the wooden sleepers, and the tick of the station clock.

At a little before midday the peace would be broken by the express train thundering past on its way to some place full of people doing purposeful things, and just possibly one of the passengers on that speeding train might give a glance across to the solitary figure before the scene vanished, replaced by hedgerows and open fields.

And the noise it had made only contrasted all the more with the tick of the clock and the buzz of the insects.

All of which will doubtless be dismissed as pure nostalgic tosh, although it chimes in with many of my cherished memories.

That said, when Lois took the pictures of Bishops Lydeard, the station was full of expectant passengers intent on getting aboard the train to Minehead, pulled by loco no.6960 which goes by the name of Raveningham Hall which I guess is named after the same house and estate situated south of Norwich.

It might be a tad unfair to describe the rush to catch the train as a stampede and I wasn’t there, so I will just let the picture say it all, leaving me to include the other images Lois chose from the photographs she took on the day along with a favourite poem by Edward Thomas, who wrote "Adlestrop", after a train journey on 24 June 1914, during which his train briefly stopped at the now-defunct station in the Gloucestershire village of Adlestrop.

Yes. I remember Adlestrop

The name, because one afternoon

Of heat, the express-train drew up there

Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.

No one left and no one came

On the bare platform. What I saw

Was Adlestrop—only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,

And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,

No whit less still and lonely fair

Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang

Close by, and round him, mistier,

Farther and farther, all the birds

Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire

Location; on the West Somerset Railway

Pictures; catching the train at Bishops Lydeard, 2018 from the collection of Lois Elsden

*The West Somerset Railway;

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no.11 looking for the bargain

A short series on the pictures of Eltham and Woolwich in 1976.

For four decades the pictures I took of Eltham and Woolwich in the mid ‘70’s sat undisturbed in our cellar.

But all good things eventually come to light.

They were colour slides which have been transferred electronically.

The quality of the original lighting and the sharpness is sometimes iffy, but they are a record of a lost Eltham and Woolwich.

Location; Woolwich

Picture; Woolwich circa 1976, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Warm days in Ashton Market .... no.2

Now I don’t make any claims to the quality of the pictures.

They were taken in the days of smelly photography and sat as negatives in the cellar for 40 years.

This year I began to convert them into electronic images.

They were taken sometime around 1978 into 1980 and capture an Ashton which has changed.

Location; Ashton-Under-Lyne

Picture; Ashton Market, circa 1978-80, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A little bit of gentle fun at the seaside in the 1930s ........ no 1 the Swank

A short series reflecting on a bit of gentle fun from the seaside.

That said each of the four has something to say about the period in which they were sent.

But I will leave you to draw conclusions.

Location; at the seaside in Wales

Picture; courtesy of Ron Stubley