Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Under a midday sun in Alghero, and a passing nod to Noel Coward


Like most of us I had always had a passing affection for Noel Coward’s song “Only mad dogs and Englishman go out in the midday sun” and it sorted of fitted with another of our adventures into the old town during that moment when morning passes into afternoon.

Except that Simone is Italian, and I doubt that with one German grandmother and two other Scottish grandparents I count as much of an Englishman.  Indeed the last remaining grandparent was no archetype Englishman either, well not the sort envisaged by Noel Coward.  And despite the humour and mild satire of the lines there is no getting away from the fact that it is to modern ears a tad racist.  But then it was written in 1931 as he drove from Hanoi to Saigon and the British Empire still seemed pretty invincible despite looking a little worn at the edges.

But the point is still true; few people who live in hot places will venture out in the midday sun.  Here in Alghero like most of Italy and the Mediterranean, shops close from 1 till 4 and only those catering for the tourists will be at their cash tills.

Much the same happens on the beach.  As the sun reaches high into the sky most Italian families leave for a meal at home and a quiet rest in the cool before venturing out for an afternoon by the sea.

All of which is a prelude to some photographs of our walk in the old town at lunch time.  Needless to say off the main piazza behind the fort and in the warren of little streets all is closed up.  A few tourist shops and bars are open but nothing much else stirs.

So we wander the old town and are confronted with ranks of empty restaurant tables.  I take a few pictures and make a note to return in the evening with the family which we do, and those tables are full, which all goes to show that only mad dogs and Englishman go out in the sun, or to be more accurate, only two old duffers away from the family on an adventure are daft enough to be out in that midday sun.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 18, a map and what we have lost since 1907

Continuing the story of Chorlton in just a paragraph. They are in no particular order, and have been selected purely at random.

In just 40 short years much of our open land which had once been farmland and market gardens had been built over. Most of this development had happened around what was Martledge in that area stretching from the metro station west to Oswald Road and east along Barlow Moor Road. But to the south beyond Beech Road out past the Brook and onto the Mersey it was still by and large untouched, and the sight of meadowland and cows being brought back to be milked have only just   faded from living memory. Claude and Reynard Roads gave out onto fields and just a little further down Beech Road if I had a mind I could have walked the field boundaries all the way to the river.
Picture; detail from the 1907 OS map from the collection of Andrew Simpson

The cranes of Salford ........ number 3 .... Chapel Street

Now you do have to look for the crane but it is there and with open spaces still to be filled on Chapel Street I think it will not be too long before more of them will make their appearance on this stretch of road.

That said I like Cathy Robertson’s picture which neatly captures that old Salford that many will remember with both the present and the future.

But some eagle eyed observers will no doubt point out that the crane actually looks to be in Manchester.

Ah well.

Location; Salford





Pictures; Chapel, 2017, from the collection of Cathy Robertson

Down in Shudehill in the 1960s when it was all "crumbly and interesting"

Now I always look forward to a new picture from my friend Ann.

She lives in France but grew up in Chorlton during the 1960s.

“My uncle used to have a business in the market, selling fruit and vegetables. 

When I was at college in the early 60's I went into his 'cabin' and drew all the boxes. It was a wholesale market so mostly in boxes.

This was one of our College 'sketching' days, and we often used to go to Shudehill, as it was all crumbly and interesting, from an artistic point of view.

My uncle, ,Ernest Jones had been a friend of my parents since they were young, and they were at each others' weddings. ”

And that is all I want to say.

Picture; market scene, circa 1960s, from Ann Love

Walking up the High Street on a January day in 1914

Now there are many ways of recreating a walk up the High Street on a day log ago.

One of the easiest is to use photographs from the past, another is to look up the census record and today I am going to use a street directory.

That directory is the 1914 Post Office Directory listing the names of people and businesses from Well Hall Road east along the High Street.

At which point I would usually go off and dig deep into the records to uncover something of the lives of Mrs Dobell of Sherard house, Mr Rosselli of Mr Merlwood and Mrs Yeatman of Cliefden house, but all have appeared in the blog over the years as have the their homes.

And so has the blacksmiths and the London & South Western Bank ltd.

All you have to do to find them is use the search box on the right hand side of the story.

So that just leaves me to suggest you download the list of 1914 occupants and wander up to the High Street to check out who is there now.

Location; Eltham









Pictures; list of residents and businesses from the Post Directory, 1914 and the northern side of the High Street in 2015 from collection of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Discovering more about John and Elizabeth Garland and their home in 1843

Queenscroft today
I am back with John and Elizabeth Garland who lived in that fine house called Queenscroft on Eltham Hill in 1841.*

The house is still there sandwiched between other properties and is close to the road so that the only way to fully take in its splendour is to stand on the opposite side of Eltham Hill and gaze at it between passing traffic.

But just a century ago it was still set well back from the highway behind a stone wall and sixty years earlier commanded fine views at the rear across open land.

It is the sort of house that will suit the life of a man who described himself as a wine merchant.  It had eleven rooms and still looks elegant although some of its past glory has faded a bit.

Now I know John and Elizabeth were in Queenscroft by 1841 and may have been thee on the hill by 1837.
In that year John was listed as paying land tax in Eltham and two years later is in the tithe schedule.

And it is of the tithe schedule that I want to write about today.

This was a list of who owned the land, who rented it, along with its value and the use it was put to.
Tithe schedules were drawn up in the late 1830s and early 1840s and allow you to track the people of Eltham because the list is linked to a map and the map precisely pinpoints where they lived.

So John Garland rented just over two acres of land from the Crown upon which was his house and garden, a pleasure garden, pigsties, yard, knife and coalhouse, stable and yard, another garden with a building and an acre of meadowland.

The tithe map showing Queenscroft at number 41
All of which were close together.

His house, garden and pleasure garden are numbered on the schedule as 41 and this corresponds on the map to Queenscroft which is pretty much opposite Sherrard Road, while the stable and yard were listed as number 64 and the meadow land as number 70.

These last two were just a little to the east of the house and are now the gardens of houses on Kings Orchard.

And of course all the other great and wealthy and not so great and less rich inhabitants can be placed around Eltham and comparing these too the census returns and street directories it is possible to follow our people around the place, judging whether their fortunes have waxed or waned by where they lived.

But the tithe schedule and map are just the start, for there are also tax records and electoral registers all which both anchor men like John Garland but shed light on his prosperity and even his political opinions, because according to the 1854 poll book he voted Liberal in the General Election of that year.

Sadly Elizabeth is rarely touched by these records as are few other women.  Most of the names on the tithe schedule are men, as are the entries on the tax records and of course no women qualified for a parliamentary vote.

Queenscroft in 1909
They do appear in their own right on the census records and may appear on the directories if they are single or widowed and will be there in the parish records.

But as ever it will always be easier to track men and especially men of substance, and so I shall return to the Garland’s.

He died in Eltham in the January of 1854 and was buried in the parish church Elizabeth his wife survived him by another twelve years.

Location; Eltham, London

Pictures; Queenscroft,  1909,  from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm
Queenscroft today from the collection of Jean Gammons  and detail from the  1844 Tithe map for Eltham courtesy of Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone

*Queenscroft, that house on Eltham Hill, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Eltham%20in%20the%201840s


A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 17, the lockup workshop


Continuing the story of Chorlton in just a paragraph. They are in no particular order, and have been selected purely at random.

You can find them all over Chorlton usually tucked away behind other buildings or hidden by tall walls. Some I guess were once stables or perhaps even cottages and now they serve as lock up workshops.  They are a reminder that in that crossover period when we were in transition from rural community to dormitory suburb there were still plenty of craftsmen about serving the needs of the township.  In some cases they inhabited what had once been farmyards and in others just patches of land not yet built on.  So opposite the Bowling Green Hotel where the remnants of the United Serviceman’s’ Club stands was one of the building yards of Scott the builder  and just a little closer to the green in what had been Greenwood’s farmyard was a smithy, lock up garages and where Mr Holmes carried out his carpentry business.  And much closer to now the Walker Brother’s ran their builder’s yard from what had once been the farm buildings of the Higginbotham family.  Now mostly the lock up workshops belongs to mechanics, but some are offices while others and morphed into keep fit venues.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson