Monday, 18 June 2018

Looking out from Cross Lane ....... across the fields of Chorlton-cum-Hardy with Mr Samuel Walton

In the spring of 1877, Mr Samuel Walton would have had a fine view from his house on Cross Road out on to the fields which stretched down Beech Road.

Cross Road, 2018
He had moved in earlier that year and was the first occupant of the house built by a John Rhodes.

During that first year the annual rent for the property was £25 per year, which rose later in the next decade by three pounds.

By then Mr Walton had bought the house and moved out renting it to a succession of tenants.

I had always assumed that the houses on Cross Road dated from the early 1870s, but on being asked to do some research on one of them I discovered that they had been built in two phases.

The lower numbers were there by 1871 but the rest came along a little later.

They were some of the first new “posh” build in what was still a rural area.

Row Acre directly beside Cross Road, 1894
To the east of the long gardens of the houses on Cross Road was the large walled garden of Beech House which belonged to the Holt family along with a set of cottages which jutted out onto what we now called Beech Road.

The name Beech Road is relatively recent, before that and no doubt running back centuries it was called Chorlton Row, and by the 1840s, consisted of a few wattle and daub houses dating into the 18th century, two fine houses built in the early 1800s, a couple of farmhouses, a beer shop, the Wesleyan Chapel and the village smithy.

The Rate Books also show that Cross Road underwent a number of name changes, beginning with Cross lane, then Cross Street and finally Cross Road.

Looking out from Cross Road, 1894, on all that was left of Row Acre
And for all those who never tire of telling the assembled crowd that Chorlton has no streets but only roads, this might seem a revelation, and one that I shall follow up with the fact that Acres Road was once Acres Street and the small stretch of road from the Chorlton Green past the Beech Inn to where there is a twist in the direction of the road was Lloyd Street.

And so back to Mr Walton and that house whose views out on Row Acre were changing.

By the late 19th century Row Acre was getting nibbled away till all that was left was a 2 acre patch bounded by Beech Road, High Lane, Cross Road and Wilton Road.

It was last ploughed in 1895 and was gifted to the people of Chorlton-cum-Hardy by the Egerton’s as a Recreational Ground.

And that is it.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; Cross Road, 2018, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, ploughing Row Acre, courtesy of Mr Higginbotham from the Lloyd Collection, and Row Acre, 1894 from the OS map of South Lancashire, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Sources; Census Return , Chorlton-cum-Hardy, 1871-91, Rate Books, 1877-1900

Ashton-Under-Lyne Market on a sunny day in the 1950s

This is another of those cards for which I don’t have a date, but judging by the clothes and the vans we are sometime in the 1950s.

So this is the market place in Ashton-Under-Lyne a full twenty years or so before I knew it.  

The impressive Town Hall is still covered in a century of soot and grime, the market stalls are positioned differently from where I remember them but the place still looks familiar.

Like all market places there is a bustle and purpose to what you see. The merchandise is piled high and you have a choice ranging from fresh food to clothes, and novelty goods and toys.

So in that respect not a lot has changed.  The last time I was there the stalls of vegetables and fruit competed with plastic toys, dubious electrical goods and all manner of fashions.

And on the periphery are the ice cream vans and fast food businesses, offering tea, coffee and sandwiches with of course the attractive looking but often slightly stale cakes and buns.

All a lot different from the designer markets which regularly appear in the city centre and on the village green.

These remain a bit of a novelty, but all too often there is little to choose between Italian week and that German experience, and I rather think that in many cases the produce is exactly the same.

As for bargains I don’t know.

All of which is a bit different from the old Grey Mare Lane Market opposite where we lived and the Ashton market.

I still remember that wonderful bright marbled sponge cake in layers you buy in slabs and the record stall from which I bought a treasured Marvin Gaye, Tammy Tyrell LP which over thirty years later I still have.

But enough of such memories.

Instead I shall add those of Margaret Gain who posted that she was "born and bred in Ashton and that is exactly as I remember the market. 

My mum shopped there every other day. 

The ice cream vans were Fairclough's and Howard's. Kelly's salad stall, Latus for fruit and veg, the dolls hospital, the roundabouts and the swings. 

It was a real delight to go to the market. 

There's an excellent book called 'to market, to market' in the Local Studies Library all,about Ashton Market."

All of which leaves me to hope there will be plenty more memories from Margaret and others who remember the scene.

Location; Ashton-Under-Lyne, Tameside, Greater Manchester

Picture; Market Place and Town Hall from the series Ashton-U-Lyne, issued by Tuck & Sons, courtesy of TuckDB

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 6 ............ Gravel Lane

Now I know that strictly speaking Gravel Lane is neither lost nor forgotten.

It runs from Blackfriars Road up to Greengate, but that first chunk is hidden underneath the railway viaducts which make it a tad foreboding.

But if you do wander into that dark cavern you will be rewarded by some fine cast iron pillars on the corner of Viaduct Street.

These support the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway’s track which was constructed in 1844 and while it was a substantial structure carrying four railway lines it was not yet the structure we know today.

Back in the late 1840s looking out from the north side of Trinity Church there was still a wide expanse of space beyond which were a  Rope Walk, a series of mills and foundries and a timber yard.

Gravel Lane, 1849
And a walk up Gravel Lane in 1849 would have taken you past the Methodist Chapel, a whole shed load of houses with access to some closed courts and Christ Church which stood between King Street and Queen Street.

All a little different today.

Location; Salford

Pictures; Gravel Lane, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the area in 1849, from the OS for Manchester and Salford, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no.6 working the river

A short series on the pictures of Eltham and Woolwich in 1978.

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.

Now the series is entitled Eltham and Woolwich but I did stray into Greenwich, and someone has pointed out that the image is Greenwich.  I can not remember, so I guess there will be a lively debate as to exactly where I was.  I hope so.

Location; Woolwich or Greenwich

Picture; Woolwich or Greenwich circa 1978, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Back on the streets of Ashton-Under-Lyne in the 19th century

Victorian Ashton, 1974

I have fond memories of Ashton-Under-Lyne.

It was where I lived for three years in a small terraced house off Penny Meadow and it suited me just fine.

It was after all about as far away from south Manchester as you could go and the life of a student which had been my lot for four years.

But above all for someone interested in 19th century history it had the lot.  Here were the mills, a canal and a fine market hall and the old PSA building.*

Now I know that if I had washed up in Oldham, Rochdale or any one of a number of the mills towns in the region I would have found something of the same, but Ashton was where we lived and it was Ashton’s industrial and social past that we explored in the mid 1970s.

It was a place which really came into its own during the 19th century.  So while it had been a market town since 1284 it remained a small place until the Industrial Revolution.

Its population in 1775 was about five thousand and according to one account the town was contained in “four narrow dark streets formed by mean looking dwellings.”**

But during the last quarter of the 18th century and the first four decades of the 19th it rapidly expanded as the textile industries were developed.

So the population increased and in just fifteen years from 1827 “the place has been rapidly augmented; .... the banks of the canal and the Tame are now lined by numerous streets; the area betwixt Old Street and Charlestown is nearly built upon, and a portion of it forms  a spacious Market-place, on the north side of which is erected an elegant Town Hall; the fields formerly bordering on the north of the Old Cross have been transformed into street avenues; the east side of the Rectory has received a large accession of habitations, the west side of Oldham Road is become a portion of the town; and the vicinities of Henry-square and St Peter’s Church abound with edifices.”***

Ashton, 1841-54
It is a story which has been told in part but for me one of the most excellent and enduring accounts is that of Victorian Ashton which as the Preface says, is not so much a history of Ashton in the 19th century but “a collection of essays dealing with aspects of life at the time, and a record of what remains of the period today.”****

I bought it back in 1974 when it was first published and regularly go back to it. It includes articles on 19th century housing, the Churches and Chapels, leisure and Industrial Archaeology along with descriptions of Chartist activity and individuals like Hugh Mason.

Ashton in 1834
In the almost forty years since the publication of Victorian Ashton, the town has changed a lot and some of the places featured in the book will have gone.

Rereading the section on the Industrial Archaeology of Ashton-under-Lyne by Owen Ashmore is to be reminded of just how much of the economic and industrial landscape has altered in the last four decades.

Likewise the account of the town’s 19th century housing by Sylvia A. Harrop is a wonderful record of what was and still is.

Ashton in 1821
So I am rather pleased that I still have my forty year old copy of Victorian Ashton, and equally pleased that it is still available from Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.*****

What is all the more remarkable is that while I paid 75p for it in 1974, it still retails for just a £1, which I reckon has got to be a major incentive to get a copy.

Pictures; Victorian Ashton, courtesy of Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre, population increase taken from Nineteenth Century Housing in Ashton, Sylvia Harrop, Victorian Ashton, and detail of the town centre from the OS map for Lancashire, 1841-54, courtesy of Digital Archives, extracts of Ashton in the 1830s from Butterworth Edwin, A Historical Account of the towns of Ashton-Under-Lyne, Stalybridge and Duckinfield,

*Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Brotherhood,
**Butterworth Edwin, A Historical Account of the towns of Ashton-Under-Lyne, Stalybridge and Duckinfield, 1842, page 52
***ibid Butterworth, page 54
**** Victorian Ashton, Ed by Sylvia A. Harrop and E.A. Rose, Tameside Libraries and Arts Committee 1974
*****Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre, Central Library, Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 7SG,

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no.5 shopping in Woolwich

A short series on the pictures of Eltham and Woolwich in 1979.

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

A vanished pond and a sinister story

Now I am just an old romantic, and so I would love there to be something in the story of Sally’s Hole.

It was a pond on the edge of the meadows just to one side of the old road that ran from the village across Turn Moss to Stretford.

Tradition had it that a young woman was drowned there. I leave it up to you to weave the story of the deceit and betrayal of a young woman in love left abandoned, or just a tragic accident in the early evening when she lost her footing beside the pond.

The spot is secluded and it is easy to feel that something is not quite right about the place.  On a wet autumn afternoon with the light fading and the leaves heavy with rainwater you begin to feel very alone.  But landscapes change and Sally’s pond was not always shrouded in undergrowth.  For most of its existence it was just an open space, a stretch of water more than likely created by farmers hollowing out the clay which then filled with water.

Its end was equally mundane.  Sometime in the late 1960s it had become a dumping ground for old bikes prams and the odd milk crate and was filled in.

The hollow can still be seen through the trees just beyond the stumps.  And the stumps themselves have passed into folk memory.

My friend Tony and Oliver the son of Bailey the farmer both remember freewheeling down to those very stumps on warm summer days and of the time one lad miscalculated and took his bike and body into the stump.

There were plenty of these ponds across the township.  Some I guess were natural while others were the result of extracting marl and clay.  Plenty of these marl and brick pits existed into the last century around the Longford Road area, and in the 1840s there were sixteen of various sizes and depths along part of Oswald Road.

Now they are all gone, but the hollow that was once Sally’s Hole is still there if you know where to look, and who knows perhaps one day the people who manage the meadows might decide to reinstate it.  Now that would make the old romantic in me happy.

Location; Chorlton, Manchester

Picture; Sally’s Field, J Montgomery, 1958, copied from a 1945 photograph, m80104, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,