Sunday, 18 August 2019

Taking the Parkway …….. out of the city

Now, you will have to be of a certain age to remember that taking the bus out of the city to Wythenshawe meant travelling on the Parkway.

Writing about the new housing estate in 1937, J P Priestly commented that “a novel feature of the scheme is the provision of parkways from 250 to 300ft. in width, only 40ft. of which will be used for vehicular traffic and the remainder being laid out with trees, shrubbery and grass borders, through which footpaths will run”.*

Sadly, only one was actually built, and that now has been transformed in to a soulless and busy motorway, but for those who remember with fondness the Princess Parkway and everyone else who wonders what the attraction was, here is a reminder.

It comes in the form of a painting and while it may seem idealized, I have no doubt that back in 1937, it was as accurate as the other eleven which appeared in the book some of which have already appeared on the blog.

Location; Manchester

Picture; the Parkway from Manchester ...... heart of the Industrial North

*Manchester ...... heart of the Industrial North, Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 1937

Lunch time on the green by the lych gate in 1910

We are sometime in the summer of 1910 and judging by the collection of young people I think it must be dinner time.

A few are young enough to be at school but four at least of the central group will have been working.

And I think they will have been on their lunch break from the laundry.  This was the Pasley later renamed the Queen and Pasley on Crescent Road.*

It opened in 1893, and at one point employed 50 staff. It was along with the brick works the closest we came to being industrial.

Inside the place which survived into the 1980s, all the washing machines were belt driven by a huge steam engine and the laundry was the first to install the “float-iron system” which consisted of the multiple roller pressing machines. This was 15 feet wide and 15 feet long and “was a mass production ironing machine, with delicately poised rollers. You could put a shirt with pearl buttons on it and it wouldn’t leave a mark.”**

So with the noise, steam, and general hubbub I guess posing for the camera outside the lych gate was a welcome diversion.

Now it is impossible to know who any of them were, but I rather think the young man standing with his arms folded might just be Arthur Higginbotham who would have been 15 and was the son of one of our local farmers.

The Higginbotham’s had been here since the 1840s and lived in the farmhouse almost opposite the church yard.

Someone very similar crops up in other pictures from the time riding a horse and while it is speculation it makes sense that this was Arthur rather than another employee of the Queen and Pasley, for I doubt they would have had a lad with a horse or likewise allowed their own horse to be ridden without a saddle through the village.

So on that hot summer’s day Arthur may have taken time out from the farm and strolled across to join the crowd.   I rather expect he knew all of the others there and like them enjoyed the novelty of having a photograph taken. Just how much of a novelty can be gauged in the mix of poses.

There at the centre are the confident ones staring back at the camera with arms folded and hands on hips.

And then there are those who peer back a little unsure of the pose to strike.  The boy with his hands in his pockets the girls with the basket one of whom is craning her neck to see what is going on.

But for me it is the two on the extreme left. One looks directly into the camera, but the other seems more interested in the work of the men down by the gates to the Bowling Green Hotel.

None of the workman gives the photographer any house room.  Whatever they are doing it is far more absorbing than the effort of posing for the camera.

And I suppose that is the point.  I said having your picture taken was still a novelty but that is a little inaccurate, because there would by 1910 have been regular commercial photographers wandering the township.

In some cases they specialized in taking pictures of the new rows of houses which were going up across Chorlton and would make a living from offering the images to the local householders who more often than not bought the card to send to friends and family.  You come across these with a cross drawn above a house or a comment on the back telling the reader, “This is our house.”

Other commercial photographers were more interested in the iconic scenes like the Horse and Jockey, country lanes or the Lych Gate.

And I suppose this is how our picture came together. On that hot summers day with some good light to play with the photographer had set up on the green, and as happens in minutes he has drawn a crowd. I say he because I am fairly confident that this was still a time when most travelling photographers were men.

And given that it was midday most of his audience were children or young people on their lunch break.

You can get some sense of just how impromptu the whole thing is from what looks like a cricket bat on the ground beside Arthur.

I guess the two boys were in the middle of a game, while the two young girls caught with their basket were either on an errand or carrying their lunch.

It is a wonderful picture and one that is worth far more study.  There are the buildings of the old Bowling Green and the barn of the farm to the left of the church and just poking up over the wall of the graveyard the monument with its apparently broken pillar.  All of which is for another time.

*renamed Crossland Road
**memories from the owner of the laundry March 1985

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

Just how do you serve up a drink on Kefalonia? ……………. no. 3

A short occasional series featuring a picture and a memory.

It began as a competition to record as many different glasses at one restaurant as we could over the pace of three days.

The house wine ............ a litre bit more.

Location; Lorraine’s Magic Hill, Lourdas Beech, Kefalonia

Picture; glass jar, 2019, from the collection of Balzano

Lorraine’s Magic Hill

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no.10 the ferry or the tunnel?

A short series on the pictures of Eltham and Woolwich in 1976.

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

Painting Salford ................. nu 3

Here is a painting which needs little in the way of words.

When Peter told me he was planning a series of paintings on Salford Quays I was quite excited and here is one he did earlier back in 2011.

I didn’t know the old docks area.

As a student in the late 1960s they were a bit off the beaten track and then as we progressed across east Manchester and on to Ashton-Under-Lyne Salford was  a long way from home.

But there is no denying the way the place has been transformed with the Lowry, the War Museum and Media City.

Painting; Painting Salford, © 2011 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,

Saturday, 17 August 2019

What did you do at Peterloo?

Now anyone who is interested in the events of Peterloo, and can track their family back to Greater Manchester in the early 19th century will have wondered if one of their’s was at Peterloo.

Remembering Peterloo, 2019
The names of many of those who were have long been in the public records, trawled over by historians, students and the curious.

But now findmypast has made it easier, by an online database, which allows you to glance down the 1,180 people contained in a list of witnesses and casualties.

“Each record includes a transcript of the vital information about the individual and their involvement at Peterloo. The amount of information you can find can vary, but most transcripts will include, a name, gender, an occupation, residency, which can include a street address, and whether they were wounded or died”.*

I remain hopeful that amongst the thousands who congregated in St Peters Fields, I will come across one from Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and I have come, close, with one from Fallowfield, another from Withington, and four from Stretford, all of whom appear on the list.

Sadly the database has not provided me with such a name.  But I know that a Mary War of Fallowfield was there and needed “White dress used for bandages…….. [and] Suffered psychologically and was committed to an asylum” and that William Batson/Bateson from Rusholme was wounded, sustaining bruising of the chest from “the pressure of the crowd”.

While from Stretford there was Parker Risinghill who was a butcher, and George Derbyshire who was a shop keeper.

Remembering ......... 2019
Most intriguing was Robert Feilden/Fielden, from Withington, an individual who I suspect most of us will have less time for, given that he was one of the magistrates, and lived in Withington Lodge.

For me the real attraction of the lists are that they hold out the potential for further research, with the possibility that many can be tracked through directories, census returns and other records.

I know for instance that Mary Pritchard who was “beaten by constables, when escaping from the hustings” was a member of the Manchester Female Reform Society and lived at 3 Comet Street, Beswick Square, and that Edward Lancaster who received a  “sabre cut on the back of his head, had his throat trodden on by a horse, had to be carried insensible to the Infirmary”, lived at 9 Potter’s Building, on Oxford Road.

Each will have a story, and in the absence of a Chorlton name I shall cast my net wide, beginning with  Mary Ashcroft who lived at 10 Griffith’s Court off Chapel Street in Salford.

Location; Manchester 1819

Pictures; remembering Peterloo, Manchester, August 16th, 2019, from the collection of David Harrop

*Manchester, Peterloo Witnesses And Casualties, 1819, findmypast

So just who owned Chorlton’s Conservative Club in 1891?

Now this is not an arcane question but gets to the very heart of who lived in Chorlton, and what their political affiliations were in the February of 1891 and by extension what our township was like at the end of the 19th century.

The Con Club, 2013
And of course, at the outset I have to say that the history of political clubs over the years, is that many members join because of the social attractions rather than the political outlook of the club.

It is true of Labour clubs as it is of Conservative ones, and no doubt also of the old Liberal clubs.

That said I am intrigued by those who took a risk and subscribed in the new Conservative Club which opened in Chorlton in 1892.

The share book opened on February 20th, 1891 and between that date and November 7th of the same year, 118 signed on the dotted line handing over a minimum of £1, with some putting down a lot more.

So far, I have only analyzed the first 50 and they are an interesting cross section.

As you would expect there were a few individuals who bought between £100 and £250 in one purchase, while sliding down the scale there were quite a few buying just one share.  Of those that splashed out, one was the MP, John William McLaren of Whalley Range, another was a merchant and another two described themselves as engineers.

The first 50 subscribers, 1891
At the other end over a third bought shares worth between £10 down to £1, and as you would expect their occupations were also more modest, with a collection of clerks, shop keepers and craftsmen.

The most interesting was Miss Mary Jane Weeks who bought two shares in the February and made her living from working as a domestic servant for a family living on Chequers Road.

I suspect some saw it as a solid enough investment, but it was one which Miss Weeks and a few others tired of very quickly, with a handful ceasing to be members within a year.  In the case of Mary Jane, she lasted just seven years.

The Con Club, 1908
Others stayed the course, bought into more shares,  and continued as members long after they had left the area, and were only parted from their membership by death.

So the task will be to finish collecting the data on all 118, with a side look at those who joined in the following decade, and then matching them against the other official records of Chorlton, from census returns, to directories and electoral rolls.

All of which lead to a better understanding of who our residents were and why so many chose to take a punt with a a share in the Conservative Club and Public hall.

Well that's the plan.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; The Conservative Club, 1908, from the Lloyd Collection,  and in 2013 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Register of Members Chorlton-cum-Hardy Conservative Club Limited 1892-96