Tuesday, 7 December 2021

On Chorlton Green with Derrick A Lea in 1957

We are on the green sometime between 1955 and 1958 outside the Horse and Jockey.

Now I know this because the artist who drew the scene completed a series of pictures of Chorlton during this period.

He was Derrick A Lea and he is one of those local artist who has slipped out of our history.

He lived here during the 1950s through to the ‘70s, and that is about it.  So for now it is his pictures that will have to speak for him.

And today it is this one of the pub on the green.

It is a picture which I like partly because the style reminds me of so many that I grew up with in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Often they were the sort which appeared as adverts in magazines or in prints that were displayed in railway carriages on the trains of the Southern Region.

Most were of the countryside and most showed southern England in full summer.

So this one is somewhat different and what draws me in is not just the wintry scene but the way Mr Lea captures the brisk movement of the couple on the right.  It’s partly their stride as they follow the dog but also the way the woman’s coat spills out covering as it would an equally expansive dress underneath.

This was that period when in direct contrast to the fashions of the war everything was bigger and more showy, as if to say “we are done with rationing and making do.”

And the historian in me is fascinated by the picture of the pub itself which is almost the one we know today but not quite.

In the 1950s it had not extended into the building to right of the entrance below the sign.

This was still a private residence and so had not yet been given the wooden beam effect.  Nor had the top floor of what had once been Miss Wilton’s home been taken down.

But not all in the picture is completely accurate for what looks like a pond in front of the trees is  an invention of Mr Lea’s imagination.

There were village ponds but sadly not here.  There was one further to the south by the Bowling Green Hotel and another on Beech Road stretching from Acres Road up to Chequers Road but not outside the Horse and Jockey.

Not that I am over bothered by the deliberate error.

It remains a pretty neat picture of a moment in the mid 1950s which will be one most of us never knew, and I do like his depiction of the pub and the green on a wintery snowy night.

So it just remains to close by repeating  the image he drew.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture; the Horse and Jockey, Chorlton Green, by Derrick A Lea taken from a greetings card in the possession of my old friend Margaret.

When the Yorkshires went into the soup ….. doing all the leftovers .......the Neapolitan way

Now if you are old enough to have listened to Educating Archie, sung along to Two Way Family Favorites and cowered behind the settee during Quatermass and the Pit, the leftovers from the Sunday Roast were the dinners of Monday into Tuesday and maybe even Wednesday.

It does of course make perfect sense, saves money and is a smack in the eye of all those adverts urging you to consume ever more expensive “luxury” processed food.

That said back in the 1960s I worked with someone who abhorred the idea of revisiting any bit of the leftovers.

Over the years I have paid lip service to the idea but more often than not forget the container full of a few roast potatoes, and handful of sprouts and some sad looking carrots.

Not so Rosa who is back with us for December.  She was born in Naples in the 1940s and grew up amongst dire food shortages, which improved only slightly in the immediate post war years.

So almost every item can be used up from a few slices of stale bread, a plate of pasta which got cooked but was never eaten and a shedload of other things.

And today it was the vegetables from yesterday’s dinner, to which she added two potatoes, an onion, some mushrooms and a tin of borlotti beans, with the one surviving Yorkshire pudding which pretty much reminded me of the dumplings mother and grandmother would add to a stew, or a soup.

The mantra was “add enough of them and by the time the family had worked their way through the dumplings, carrots and potatoes, the odd slivers of meat was left untouched”

Which is all I am going to say, other than to state the obvious that for large parts of the world's population over countless centuries, using the left overs was not a fad but a necessity, and many of the world's great dishes are meat free.

And will conclude with the correction that left over soup is not peculiar to Naples, because my German grandmother did the same as did Dad whose family were Scottish and countless others who read this.

Picture, Yorkshire pudding soup, 2021, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Lost on the streets of my city

Now one of the advantages of a misspent youth is that I am fairly familiar with the streets of Manchester.

From 1969 for three years as a student at the College of Knowledge on Aytoun Street I wandered the city between lectures.

Back then the library was for the studious and so after Mr Wilson’s lecture on contemporary Soviet Government and before Mr Ripley on the Chartists or Trevor Thomas on Andrew Marvel I was off exploring my adopted home.

It took me to the Art Gallery and the Ref along with the Town Hall, the warren of streets that is now the Northern Quarter and down to the very unfashionable Castlefeld.

That said the knowledge is a bit frozen in time and I didn’t really get back to looking for the historic the interesting and the bizarre until the start of the last decade.

But despite that knowledge, the maps, and the street directories this image has defeated me.

The picture come to light through a project which Neil Simpson tells me is “the Town Hall Photographer's Collection Digitisation Project, which currently is Volunteer led and Volunteer staffed is in the process of taking the 200,000 negatives in the collection dating from 1956 to 2007 and digitising them.

The plan is to gradually make the scanned images available online - initially on the Manchester Local Images Collection Website".

I think we are on West Mosley Street which was sandwiched between Cooper Street and Mosley Street and vanished sometime before now.

I am fairly confident that there will be lots of theories and if we are lucky the answer.

In the meantime I will ask my friend Andy to look up his 1969 street directory and try to identify the firm on the board above that white building.

We shall see.

Location Manchester

Picture; of Manchester, 1968, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass 

Silly History …..the series where you get to choose …… no.1 comics, films, and howlers

Now, there is always the danger that you can get too serious about the past and sometimes it is fun to take the silly approach.

Lt Hornblower in action
It started when a friend told me she had posed with one of those “plastic gladiators” who patrol the foot of the Colosseum in Rome looking for tourists and a few euros.

And that made me think of how history was treated in the comics and films of my youth.

Lt. Hornblower, R.N. was a fictional sailor who served in the Royal Navy during the long years of war with Republican and Napoleonic France.

He featured in the novels of C.S. Forrester, and while the Hornblower and many of his contemporaries were fictional, the books were grounded in historical accuracy.

But not so Olac the Gladiator who appeared in the Tiger comic from 1957 till 1969.

Olac had been a Celtic slave from Cumbria, who won his freedom after a life as a gladiator, and as Cumbrian gladiators do, he went on to loyally serve the Emperor through many stirring adventures.

All of which is fine, if a tad far featured, but almost believable, until that is we came across his friend Ulf, who was a Viking, which rather messes up the historical timeline.

But this cavalier approach to accuracy pales into insignificance, when put up against the story of a group of children in 1950s Britain on holiday in the north east who come across  an entire Romano British community still living along a stretch of Hadrian’s Wall.

I think the series ran in the Lion comic around the same time that Olac and Ulf  were having their stirring adventures.

David slaying Goliath
Of course, there were many successful portrayals of historical figures in comics like the Eagle, and in Look and Learn which was a weekly educational magazine for children.

One my favourites was the story from the Eagle of The Life of David, - the Shepherd King, which for a nine-year-old was far more exciting than learning about it  during scripture lessons.

It was well drawn, stuck to the line, and was totally believable, but for every David, there was a Olac, and with that in mind I shall put out the appeal for silly historical pictures, even sillier historical films, or follies which pretend to be what they aren’t.

Pictures; Lt. Hornblower, R.N., Eagle Comic, August 11, 1962, and David slaying Goliath with a slingshot, Eagle Comic, November 29th, 1958

Suggestions for a Christmas present and an outrageous piece of self promotion ........ nu 6 Manchester Remembering 1914-18

Suggestions for a Christmas present and an outrageous piece of self promotion ........ no. 5 Manchester Remembering 1914-18

Now very soon lots of you will be pondering on Christmas presents and so with that in mind here is the fifth suggestion.

Manchester Remembering 1914-18 draws on official reports and newspaper accounts as well as letters and photographs and a multitude of other personal items.

Much of this material has never been seen before and some of it is unique in that it allows us to follow families through the whole conflict challenging many of those easy and preconceived views of the war.

So here is the story of George and Nellie Davison of Harpurhey and Hulme, Miss Rebecca Chapman’s first week as a Salford tram clippie, Mrs Fannie Jane Barlow’s, a Red Cross nurse from Chorlton and others from Newton Heath, Didsbury and Fallowfield.

Available from Chorlton Book shop, 506 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9AW 0161 881 6374 other book shops and the History Press

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no. 31 .... back on the Thames at the Cutty Sark

It is not the best picture I have taken, added to which it has suffered a bit from being converted from old colour slide pictures but I like it.

And it is another of those images I took which reminds me of a Thames that has gone

For four decades it was one of the pictures I took of Eltham and Woolwich in the mid ‘70’s which 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; Greenwich

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

Monday, 6 December 2021

Sketches from a long time ago ………somewhere in Manchester …. 1961

Now I am always fascinated by those more recent photographs of the city, when everything looks almost as it does now, but just a bit different.

And it is a bonus when I get to see a sketch or painting of that older Manchester.

So here is one by my friend Ann Love, who recorded this city centre scene on November 13th 1961.

Ann tells me that it was drawn “somewhere in the middle of Manchester, near the prison?” But admits that it was a “long time ago”.

This is one from a catalogue of pictures she made in the early 1960s which were part of school art projects, and I minded to return to the others she has shared with me.

And I rather hope she finds plenty more.

Location; Manchester

Picture; “somewhere in the middle of Manchester”, 1961 from the collection of Ann Love