Tuesday, 13 November 2018

That mystery house on Beech Road ........

Now number 121 Beech Road vanished a long time ago.

Hunts Croft, circa, 1960s
It was one of our more elegant early 19th century properties which was set back from Beech Road, and went sometime in the 1970s.

For a long time after its demolition the land was left an open space, with the occasional suggestion that it could be a car park, a project which came to nought when the Corporation and the local traders couldn’t agree on a funding package.

There will be a few people who remember it, but sadly I am not one of them, which means it had gone before I arrived in 1976 or like so many things I was just not that observant back then.

Either way, there is little to mark its presence, save an entry in the tithe schedule for 1845, the Rate books and official maps.

If I have this right, it was Hunt Croft House and in 1845 was the residence of Thomas White who rented it from the Lloyd Estate.

With a lot of digging it will be possible to track its history through the 19th century till its demolition. I know that in 1969 it was occupied by a Frances. J Casse, and in 1911 by Mr and Mrs Chester, their five children, and a boarder.

Looking into the garden, circa 1970s
The house had nine rooms with a biggish garden at the front, ending in a tallish stone wall which ran along Beech Road.

Back in the mid 19th century it looked at on fields.  From the rear Mr White could look out on a field and orchard, while from his front windows he could gaze across to Row Acre, which stretched up to High Lane.

But by the 20th century the fields had all gone, and on either side of this fine old house were shops.

Beech Road, circa 1970s
And here I must admit my mistake, because for years I had mistaken Croft House for Joel View which stood a little further down the road and had been built in 1859.

Many will remember Joel View as the property owned by J Johnny, which I assumed had been built much later.

I even compounded the mistake by arguing that the stone tablet which carried the  name of Joel View had been salvaged from Mr White’s former home and been added to J. Johnny’s.

Dating the picture
Now, even then I knew that this was pushing it, because our own historian Thomas Ellwood had written that Joel View was one of the new developments in the township at the end of the 1850s.

All of which goes to show that sometimes when it is easy to ignore the obvious and create an elaborate theory which is built on sand and that is really just a lead in to two pictures of Hunt’s Croft sent to me by Roger Shelley who took them sometime in the 1970s and which had lain in his negative box until yesterday.

The two images compliment an earlier one taken by N. Fife for which I don’t have a date for, but maybe from the 1960s.

That said it might be possible to date Roger’s pictures, from the shop which is up for sale.  This had been Mr Westwell’s fruit and greengrocer shop in 1969, but sometime in the next decade became The Village Wholefood Shop.

Hunt's Croft demolished, circa 1979-early 1980s
It was still trading when I took a picture around 1979, showing the shop and the site which had once been Hunts Croft.

So that is it for now, although I am hoping Roger has more pictures.

Location; Chorlton



Pictures; Hunts Croft circa 1960s, courtesy of N Fife, the Lloyd Collection and again circa 1970s from the collection of Roger Shelley, and after it had been demolished circa 1979, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Painting Well Hall and Eltham ....... nu 5 Eltham Church

An occasional series featuring buildings and places I like and painted by Peter Topping.

Now our parish church is one of those landmarks in Eltham with history.*

Long before Burton’s became McDonald’s it was one of the places I would arrange to meet friends.

Unlike the Eltham Grill and Wimpy’s it was free to wait there usually in the entrance which offered fine views up the High Street and down Well Hall and Court Roads.

And in a pre mobile age you had to be clear of the time and place with a back up destination if for any reason you had to move on.

The old tram sheds a little further down Well Hall Road were a good alternative as was the entrance to the Library otherwise it was in front of the post office.

But Eltham Church was always that first choice which is why I like Peter’s painting.

Location; Eltham, London

Painting; Eltham Church, © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph circa early 19th century.

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

*Eltham Church, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Eltham%20Church

Remembering St George’s in Hulme

Now I have a fondness for St George’s Church in Hulme.


My old friend Jack Harker was christened there although I never asked him when.

That was the sort of question you never asked, partly because you were never sure what date he would give you and just because it never occurred to me.

So instead I shall focus on what G H Druffield said about the church in 1850.*

It was he said “a fine church [which] stands in the centre of a large piece of ground used for burials, situated in Chester-road, Hulme, exactly one mile from the Exchange.......... It has a lofty tower, surmounted with pinnacles; but like most churches in the town , it has no chancel.  

The tower contains a fine bell, weighing about 23 cwt, and an excellent clock, by Whitehurst of Derby.

The foundation stone was laid September 7th, 1826, and the church consecrated December 9th, 1828.


The interior of the church is handsomely fitted up, there are three galleries; that at the west and contains a very fine organ by Renm, with nearly 1,100 pipes.

There is a splendid tablet to the memory of the late Colonel Molineaux, of the 8th Royal Irish Hussars; together with many others of less note.  The cavalry regiments stationed at Hulme barracks which are nearly opposite.”

I wonder whether Colonel Molineaux’s tablet and the others of “less note" survived the church’s closure in 1984, its time as an empty shell and the conversion into flats in 2000 – 02.

Which just leaves me to thank Andy Robertson who took the pictures yesterday.

Location, Hulme, Manchester

Pictures; St Georges, 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

* G H Druffield, The Strangers Guide to Manchester, 1850

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford ......... nu 27 Regent Road

For no other reason than I like the picture.

Location; Salford










Picture; Regent Road, north side, W Higham,m77223, undated, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass












Monday, 12 November 2018

Looking into the future of Eltham High Street in 1975

The High Street in 1910
Now I don’t normally go in for then and now pictures but I have made an exception with these two images from a 1975 document issued by the Council.*

The book was part of a planning consultation and fell through the letter box after I had long left Well Hall for Manchester.

I am not sure what my dad and sister Stella thought of the process, or the ideas but now both the planning exercise and their suggestions  are as much a piece of history as any of the stories I usually write.

The High Street in 1971
So along with the 1970s pictures there is also an insight into how the planners were thinking back then and just how far the bold new world they suggested has come about.

And for me the images have a special connection. Our Stella worked at the library and from 1964 till I left Well Hall in '69 it was a regular venue, along I remember with Marks & Spencer's where I bought my first ever fruit yogurt.

Now that is not only revealing a secret but says so much on the new horizons which were opening up for a lad from south East London.

Pictures; from A Future for Eltham Town Centre, Greenwich Borough Council, Planning Department, 1975

*Of town plans and visions of a future that never quite happened, Eltham in the 1970s and Manchester in 1945.http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/of-town-plans-and-visions-of-future.html

"See better days and do better things," the sad end of the Chorlton Liberal Club.


The Chorlton Liberal Club had opened in the October of 1897.

It wasn’t the first club the Liberals had had here, that was on Wilbraham Road but the new one on Manchester Road was more “commodious and suitable for the purpose.”*

Its opening was greeted “with the hope that the club would strengthen Liberalism in Chorlton-cum-Hardy” and membership figures seemed to bear this out. In the space of the year they had recruited another 50 members and were confident of more.  I suspect the club was only part of that success, with something also down to the influx of new people into the township.

Not that they saw it that way.  The official opening was done with a gold key and the job fell to Reuben Spencer “an old Liberal” who “hoped it would be a centre of light and leading, round which young men would be prepared to take a part in social, municipal and public life generally.”

We might jib at the emphasis on men especially as women were active in local politics and within two decades Sheena Simon was elected with a majority of over 1400 votes and 58% of the vote as the first woman Liberal councillor for Chorlton.**

Nationally the years around the opening of the club were not good for the Liberals.  They lost both the 1895 and 1900 general elections and would not be returned to office till 1906.

Locally they fared better both on the old Withington District Council and after our incorporation into the city on the Manchester City Council and by the 1920s were so evenly balanced with the Conservatives that the Manchester Guardian reported in 1928 that

“there are few wards in which Conservative and Liberal opinion is so nicely balanced.  Of the eight elections that have been fought in Chorlton since 1920 four have been won by the Conservatives and four by the Liberals.”**

But by the early 1930s the Liberals were on the defensive increasingly being squeezed by the Labour Party.

They won their last seat in 1932, saw their sitting councillor Lady Sheena Simon loose to the Conservatives the following year and after 1935 did not  contest another election  till 1946 by which time they had slipped to third place.***

I suspect this might have also been reflected in the state of the club which I remember as a slightly dowdy place by the 1970s.

All of which was a great shame.  It had been a private residence before becoming a club and I rather think might have been built sometime in the 1880s.  It last occupants had been the Lloyd family who where there in 1891.

It remains an impressive building and has gained a new lease of life after the fire in the 1980s and its transformation into the Lauriston Club.

Pictures; the Liberal Club after the fire from the Lloyd collection

*Liberalism at Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Manchester Guardian, October 11, 1897
**Not that she was the first woman councillor here in Chorlton, that was Jane Redford elected in 1910.  She was not a Liberal but styled herself a Progressive Candidate and must have been close enough to the Liberal outlook to ensure they never put up a candidate against her or other Progressives.
**The Chorlton By-Election, Manchester Guardian December 18, 1928
*** Local election results 1904-1949, compiled by Lawrence Beedle

Everyone Remembered .........commemorating those who fought in the Great War ...... tomorrow

Each of the forthcoming memorial services for the men and women who participated in the Great War will be a special event.


But for me attending the event in Cheadle on November 13 2018 will be particularly poignant.

Over the last two years I have worked closely with the Trust on a new book to mark their 150th anniversary, and in the course of that project I came to know something of the young men associated with the charity who went off to fight.

A plaque has been commissioned, in memory of those who died and will take pride of place in the Cheadle grounds.

Alongside this Together Trust have also been awarded five silhouettes, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust for display.

Young people from our Ashcroft service have been working hard to learn more about the charity during World War One and have been involved in art work, music and poetry. A

ll will be displayed on Tuesday 13th November and we hope the local community will join us to remember those who fought.*

You can read the full story of the preparations for the day by following the link to their blog.*

Location Cheadle

Pictures; courtesy of the Together Trust

*Remembering those who fought in WW1http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.com/2018/10/remembering-those-who-fought-in-ww1.html