Friday, 23 March 2018

Shopping at the Maypole store in 1920 on Wilbraham Road

We are on Wilbraham Road in front of what is now the Bookmakers and the year is 1920.  

The shop in the picture belongs to the Maypole Diary Company specialising in eggs, tea, condensed milk, butter and margarine.

The business began in 1887 when George Watson opened his first shop in Wolverhampton while his brother Charles opened a Danish dairy in Wednesbury and in 1889 relocated to Manchester.

Later still George and Charles were joined by Alfred Watson and George Jackson and began opening a chain of shops across the country.

By 1915 there were 985 Maypole branches and they opened their 1000th shop in 1926.

“The success was due in large part to the growing popularity of margarine and their insistence on high quality despite all their products being mass trade. The Watsons' supplied one third of the UK margarine market by 1914.”*

Here in Manchester in 1909 there were twenty one shops, many of them double fronted premises across both the city and Salford.

Our own branch opened sometime around 1909, when the Manchester and Salford Co-operative Society moved across the road to 15 Barlow Moor Road.

It is a wonderful picture and perfectly conveys the style of retailing at the beginning of the 20th century.  Here is that simple approach of “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap.

There is no mistaking the produce from the display in the window or the eye grabbing offers of a “£100 GIVEN AWAY” and “GIVEN AWAY MAYPOLE MARGARINE OVERWEIGHT”

Or the drop light in front of the entrance, the large mirror to the left of the door and the bold gold lettering of the company’s name on the black background.

The same corporate image extended to all their shops across the country and included a tiled entrance step with the name Maypole.

The interiors followed the same style.  The counters were stacked high with produce and vied with tall signs offering cheap offers like “THE VERY BEST DOUBLE OVERWIEIGHT 1/- GUARANTEED TO PLEASE MAYPOLE MARGARINE which another sign boasted was "SPLENDID FOR SPICE CAKE ONLY 5 pence a lb."

And it was the attention to detail which strikes you.  There were baskets of eggs on the counter carefully spaced out between gleaming brass weights and boxes of tea while on the tiled floor were potted plants, and always at hand to help and always immaculate attired were the shop assistants.

So there you have it a little bit of retail past, and for those with a mind to pursue the Manchester and Salford Co-operative Society, there is Lawrence’s wonderful co-op blog at

Picture; the Maypole Dairy Company shop at 41 Wilbraham Road, from the Lloyd Collection, the same picture is also in the digital collection of Manchester Libraries, dated 1920 and attributed to a Miss Myers m18235, and extract from Slater’s Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1909, page 1185

*Clare, David

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford ...... nu 28 Gore Street

It isn’t so much that Gore Street has been lost or even forgotten it is just that it has become another giant Salford car park.

And what were once Morris, Beck, Ridings and Bolton Streets have suffered the biggest indignity of now being relegated to car park entrances with only one still being marked with its name on the street map.

Also gone are Walker’s Place, Temple Place, Short Street, and Back Saxon Street along with three pubs and the Albert Bridge Brewery.

To be fair I have no idea of the state of the housing off Gore Street but I suspect they were not good.

Likewise at least one of the pubs had vanished by the 1890s leaving only the Griffin and the Red Lion on Chapel Street and the Egerton Arms Hotel on Gore Street.

And now only the Egerton is still serving pints.

As for the brewery, according to one source the brewery which stood in the shadow of the New Bailey Prison, was founded sometime before 1788,

Accounts from the Ring O'Bells, Didsbury, show that the pub served Joule's beer in 1791 when two barrels of strong beer cost three pounds and sixteen shillings. The brewery document reproduced on the following page carries the warning ‘Barrels to be returned when empty being never sold’. By the 1840s the brewery on New Bailey Street had about 13,000 barrels in use.”  

The Joule family who had owned it from the beginning  put it up for auction in 1855 and although it was then owned by various brewers by 1868 the site was used for storage and was later redeveloped.

There is more but that would stray into a new series ............ the lost and forgotten breweries of Salford and that is for another day.

Location; Salford

Picture; Gore Street, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*James Joule – Brewer and Man of Science, Brewery History,

There has always been a developer .....on Port Street in the summer of 1851

Now the current wave of new build in the city shouldn’t blind us to that simple truth that the Victorian and Edwardian developer got there first, and no doubt when George lll was poised to lose us the American colonies, smart young 18th century speculators were happy to sweep away our Tudor past.

Port Street, 2018
And had we been privy to their discussions I bet phrases like “exciting new development”, “properties fit for the new century soon to dawn” and a “regeneration which would deliver new jobs with affordable homes” would have whizzed around the room.

All of which is an introduction to the new series of pictures taken by Andy Robertson of the streets around Stevenson Square, which was just one of those late 18th century developments.

Port Street, 1851
Wandering around Newton Street and onto Hilton and Port Street, Andy captured some of those bold new buildings which promised much.

His first is that stretch of Port Street from Hilton Street to Faraday Street which offers up some early 19th century properties with others from a later period.

Back in the 1850s, just beyond the pink walls of the Crown and Anchor were a row of properties which are now the site number 50 Hilton Street.

It was built in 1907 and has those impressive huge arched windows.

And if you continue past the Crown and Anchor, having taken in the two storey houses you arrive at that tall Victorian building which replaced similar modest properties.

Old and very old, Port Street, 2018
I haven’t yet got a date for its construction.  I know it post dates 1851 and it will just be a matter of trawling the directories and the Rate Books to find when it was built.

So Andy’s picture pretty much has the lot.

And yes if you cross the road there are some fine early 19th century properties.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Port Street, 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson, and the area in 1851 from Adsheads map of Manchester, 1851, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Looking out from the churchyard........... home thoughts from abroad nu 1

There are many things I miss about Eltham.

Uppermost of course are the family who while they may have moved a way for a while have always come back.

And then thinking about it there are some special places which meant a lot to me when I was growing up in Well Hall and still do but for slightly different reasons.

All of which is the start of an occasional new series featuring bits of the Eltham I like.

They are in no special order and were prompted by a set of pictures taken by our Elizabeth and Colin.

I had asked if they could take a few next time they were passing through the High Street and with a fine day yesterday that is what they did.

So here we are in the churchyard looking out towards the High Street.

It is a long time since I was last there but the memories of walking through the place are still very vivid, more so because here lay many of the people I have written about over the last few years.

And that is all I want to say.

Picture; in the churchyard, October 2015 from the collection of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

Of war memorials and a pizza restaurant in Vico Equense

Now war memorials should be visited and given due respect but are also about the community they serve and I think should never become just “that place to visit” once a year.

And to that end they should always be somewhere prominent, be looked after and remain a place which continues to be part of the village or town where they stand.

This one on the Corso Fiangieri in Vico Equense and faces on to busy road but looks out across the Bay of Sorrento and is located in a small park with benches, and a water fountain, making it a perfect place to reflect on those who participated in the wars Italy fought.

Some of those recorded on the memorial may well have sailed from the nearby port while many more will have known the streets and the main piazza just round the corner.

And when we visited a few days ago the municipal workers were hard at work giving the garden a fresh make over.

I have to confess we hadn’t actually planned to visit the memorial, instead found it by pure chance which is always a good way to discover something new.

We had travelled down the railway line from Sant’ Agnello with the express purpose of visiting Pizza a Metro da "Gigino" L'università della pizza which for those who don’t know sells its pizza's by the metre

“This historic restaurant, located in the centre of Vico Equense, in the Naples province, is world renowned for its creation. Created by Gigino Dell’Amura, the Pizza a Metro has delighted its customers with its unique taste, authentic ingredients and its exclusive shape. 

The restaurant, also known as “Università della pizza” offers a big selection of pizzas, which can be enjoyed according to the “size” of your appetite. In addition to pizza, you can enjoy the chef’s specialities: large appetisers, seafood and meat specialities, and cakes for every taste.

The pizza a metro was born in 1930s, thanks to the idea of Luigi Dell’Amura, a.k.a. Gigino. Cleverness,  fantasy, intuition, hard work transformed the way of making pizza. 

The idea of creating pizzas with different sizes according to the number of people at the table was born in order to satisfy the need to serve more guests in the shortest possible time but with high quality standards. 

And finally, the Pizza a metro and the old bakery of the Dell’Amura family became a big restaurant – the pizzeria.”*

Now it all sounds a gimmick but it works.  The food is excellent as is the service and the restaurant.

And after we had finished we walked back to the war memorial and sat for a while gazing out at the bay and surrounding countryside and  on those who are recorded on its base and equally the families who derived some comfort from the memorial.

I suppose there might be the odd person who gibs at the inclusion of the Pizza a Metro in a story on a war memorial but I disagree.  Both are central to the town reflcting the past and the present and that is how I like my history.

Location; Vico Equense

Pictures; war memorial, Vico Equense, 2017 courtesy of ALTO•VISUAL

*Pizza a Metro da "Gigino" L'università della pizza,

On a Sunday in Trafalgar Square ......... sometime in the 1980s

Now I am the first to say that I have taken better pictures, but this one from a demonstration in the early 1980s does capture the moment.

I have no idea of the year or the route we took but back then I attended quite a few and with time they have blurred together.

I vaguely remember that the sight of the young people waving the banner looked similar to that iconic image of the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima.

Of course there the similarity ends.

It will have been a Sunday and the journey down by chartered train would have meandered across the country and will have added an hour at least to the trip.

I am fairly confident that the second picture dates from a different demonstration but I can’t be sure.

And while Trafalgar Square was the final destination for some of those marches I know also that we ended up in Hyde Park for others.

Location; London

Pictures; of a demonstration, circa 1980s, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Crossing the bar .......... the thank you

Now in the early evening of yesterday the blog passed the four million mark.

Sardinia, 2013
This I say, not out of any vain and boastful bout of self congratulation but more out of a sense of gratitude to those four million readers and to the people who have contributed to the blog since it was set up at the end of November 2011.

And here I know I will miss some one out, but I am sure those who are not conducted into the Hall of Fame will not mind.

It is a long list and includes Andy Robertson who has been recording the changing landscape and buildings across Greater Manchester and whose portfolio of images are an invaluable record of how the Twin Cities continue to adapt and change.

Manchester, 1979
And of course there are the paintings of Peter Topping, the first of which appeared on the blog six years ago and regularly form a backdrop for a story and more often than not are the story.

Peter and I now collaborate on a range of projects from exhibitions to festivals and of course books, of which we have written five together, with two more planned for the end of the year.

Alongside those images there are the articles which have been contributed by Martin, Tony, Sally, Susan, and a host of other people.

Each of them has brought their own interests and research to the blog producing some fine pieces.

And the blog wouldn’t be half as a successful if it wasn’t for those like Tricia, Neil, Bill, and Sally and many more who have offered up their research with just the throw away comment “I know you can make something of this”, and along with the research there have been all those people who have passed over a picture or agreed to me using one of their own photographs.

Greenwich by the River Thames, 1979
Of these I do have to single out David Harrop, who will contact me to say he has just acquired a new picture postcard and asking if I can use it, or suggesting stories from his vast collection of memorabilia from two world wars and the history of the Post Office.

And also Dave Kennedy, who has been happy to share his father’s photograph album with me as well as his own extensive collection.

To which must be added Neil Simpson and his colleagues at Central Ref who have uncovered a fascinating new archive of Manchester pictures and Ron for his magnificent collection of old picture postcards and ghost signs and Ryan's of London Bridge.

London, 1983
Nor can I miss out that long list of other blog writers, which includes my old friend Lois in Weston-Super-Mare, my new friend Liz the archivist at the Together Trust, Lorri and Arthur in Canada, and heaps of others who have allowed me to plunder their work and in return have referenced and show cased my stories.

At which point I also have to acknowledge social media and especially Facebook, which remains a powerful platform for all of us to share our photographs and articles, while making it possible to connect with people and places around the planet.

And finally there are my sisters and our four lads who have at times gone out of their way to take a picture I have asked for or shared their holiday pictures.

So thank you to our Jillian who has an impressive portfolio of her own photographs,  Liz, Colin & Theresa, and Ben, Luca, Joshua and Saul and their partners.

Saul and Emilka's pictures of Naples and southern Israel have provided me with some fine stories, as have those of our cousin Chris and Andrea in Canada

Greece, 2014
All of which is turning into a mutual pat on the back, and that would never do, so I shall leave it there, with just the obvious comment .......... never feel shy about bringing on a story, a picture, or some research and of course a thank you to the four million.

Location; pretty much everywhere

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson