Friday, 22 September 2017

It started with a picture and became a story.......... Charles Ireland

The Palais de Luxe, circa 1928
It started with a picture and became a story.

The picture was of the Palais de Luxe Cinema on Barlow Moor Road and is not one I had seen before.

In that usual way of things it was in the possession of the archives and public records centre of East Dunbartonshire Council and got there because the fine iron and glass canopy which fronted the cinema had been made by the Lion Foundry in Kirkintilloch.

The story unfolded as the archivist and I sought to resolve the copyright issue of the photograph.

Ms Janice Miller was keen for me to see the picture but quite rightly was concerned that this might contravene the 70 year rule on copyright usage.

The photograph was by C Ireland and may have been taken around 1928 and that was all there was to go on. He might have been a local photographer or one especially commissioned by the Lion Foundry who came down from Scotland or just possibly one of those travelling photographers who captured local scenes to be converted into post cards.

Now both of us were fully prepared for a disappointment. After all we had just a name which is not much to go on.

But a Charles Ireland ran a photographic shop at 25 Lower Mosley Street in town during the first decade of the last century and continued in business there to at least 1927. The same set of telephone directories also revealed that by 1921 he was living at 76 High Lane here in Chorlton.

It is one of those amazing things about detective work that once the first secrets of a person’s life come to light others bubble up in front of you.

He had died in 1930 aged 63, left £5,330 to his widow and was buried in Southern Cemetery. He had been born in Newton in Manchester in 1867 and by 1891 the family were living here on St Clements Road.

This seems to have been a step up. The family home on Oldham Road in Newton was at the heart of an industrial area. Just to the north was the large carriage and wagon works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and to the south and east there were brick works cotton mills, bleach works as well a glass works.

25 Lower Mosley Street, 1964

Charles’s father Edward was in partnership as a pawnbroker although he also described himself as a photographer, and by 1891 this appears to have been his sole occupation.

There were as yet few photographers listed in the directories for Manchester in the 1880s and they are still described as artists.

By 1895 he had opened the shop on Lower Mosley Street which Charles still ran until the late 1920s.

The family continued to prosper and by 1911 they have moved to that large detached house on the corner of Edge Lane and Kingshill Road.

76 High Lane, date unknown

As ever the romantic in me fastened on the fact that in 1913 Charles married his photographic assistant. Edith May Hindley was 32 years old and like him had been born in Newton.

Sometime perhaps around 1918 they moved into 76 High Lane which had been the home of the artist Tom Mostyn the artist.

 It is still there having benefited from the addition of the large upstairs window and studio which I guess was the work of Tom Mostyn and which Charles in turn may have used.

I have yet to visit the grave in Southern Cemetery but it is on my list of things to do. Here he was buried along with his father and mother in law, his sister and finally in 1948 his wife

So far no other pictures accredited to Charles have turned up but they will. His working life stretched back over 40 years and the picture of 76 High Lane may even be his although sadly there is no date and the quality is pretty poor.

But I travel in hope that out there in a collection I will come across more of his pictures. Ms Janice Miller and the East Dunbartonshire archive can only be the first.

Location; Chorlton and Manchester

Pictures; the Palais de Luxe cinema, circa 1928 GD10-07-04-6-13-01 Courtesy of East Dunbartonshire Archives, 25 Lower Mosley Street by H W Beaumont 1964 m02915, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, & 76 High Lane, date unknown, from the Lloyd collection

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

Rising from Greengate ........ no. 1 Cluttered Salford

An occasional series especially for those who left Salford and also those who remember a different Greengate.

They were all taken earlier this year and reflect the continuing changing Salford landscape and some may stray a little further from Greengate.

Location; Salford

Picture; Cluttered Salford, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

When Miss Peroni came to town ..............

Now the end of that building which finishes at Albert Bridge has had more than a few ibig adverts over the years.

Some like the Morrisons ad in 2014 or the “Do Less Earn More” one from eight years earlier never caught my interest while others like that for I Pad in 2012 were at best ordinary.

But I did like the three camels from 2011 with its caption “Manchester to Dubai and beyond.” 

And more recently I was attracted to the Peroni one which in the June of this year brightened up my day.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Peroni ad, 2017, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A little bit of Chorlton in Northenden ...... with the Lomax family of Hough End Hall

Now I say Chorlton but strictly speaking it should be Withington, because Hough End Hall was actually just across the border in the neighbouring township.

But most people now associate this Elizabethan hall with Chorlton and some will remember nights out when the place was a restaurant.

Over the years I have been fascinated by the hall and the families who lived there from the Mosley’s who built it to the Lomax’s who were the last residents.

Their family histories have featured in the blog* and in 2015 in a book.**

And it is of the Lomax family that I wish to write, because it is their grave that I now know is in St Wilfred’s Church in Northenden.

They were farmers and lived at the hall from the 1850s till the death of Mrs Lomax in 1940 where upon the building and what was left of the land was rented out by Mr Bailey who later bought both the land and the building.

The discovery came to light when Stuart Mckie posted two pictures of the Lomax grave close to that of Joseph Johnson who featured in an earlier story.

Stuart added that this “grave close to Joseph Johnson's may be of interest to you.  

It is the grave of Samuel Lomax of Hough End Hall, Withington and his wife Mary, also his daughter Martha who died on 16 April, 1865 aged 15. 

The inscription is very worn and is difficult to read. 

The house in the background was once owned by Lord Egerton.”

And of course I was very interested having followed Samuel Lomax’s arrival at the farm in the early 1850s.

Back then it had been converted into a farmhouse and the Lomax family rented 240 acres from the Egerton’s.

So a nice addition to what we know, leaving me only to thank Stuart.

Location; Northenden

Pictures; the Lomax gravestone, 2017 courtesy of Stuart Mckie

*Hough End Hall,

** Hough End Hall the Story, Andrew Simpson & Peter Topping, 2015, see also,  A new book on Hough End Hall,

On being Billy no mates in Varese ....... meeting up

Now on a busy Thursday morning in Varese while the family are off shopping there is little to do but sit and watch as the city passes you by.

Location; Varese

Picture; meeting up, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Visions of that better world........ reflecting on what I owe to my parents and grandparents

Uncle George and friends, 1918
I am part of that generation which was born directly after the Second World War and is now coming to retirement which gives you a degree of perspective.

For my children both those world wars are just history as remote in a way as the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Battle of Waterloo or the death of Nelson at Trafalgar.

Now there is nothing odd about that.  The eldest was born in 1984 and the youngest in ‘92 by which time the young men and women who had endured the Blitz, fought their way across Europe and the Far East were themselves preparing to receive their State pensions.

But for me those conflicts were still real events.

Nor could it be otherwise.

The tenth anniversary of the end of the last world war coincided with my sixth birthday and the reminders of that conflict were still very visible from bomb sites to surplus military equipment which could be bought for next to nothing.

Mother and friend, 1941, Lincolnshire
And that earlier world war was still all round us.

The war memorials and the Cenotaph were little more than 30 years old when I celebrated that sixth birthday and those that had fought in the Great War were still relatively young men and women.

Many were yet to be grandparents, and most were still active and not yet thinking of retirement.

Indeed it is a salutary thought that back then in 1955 many were younger than I am now.

All of which draws me back to my child hood and how my parents and grandparents dealt with those war time experiences.

By and large they didn’t talk about them in fact were reluctant to do so and when pushed made some flippant remark which hid deeper and perhaps darker experiences.

Father with a hospital unit, 1941, North Shields
And for that I am grateful.  I grew up in a household of rising material expectations set against a period of prosperity not known to my parents or grandparents.

Their lives in the first half of the twentieth century had been pitted against that long period of economic stagnation culminating with the Great Depression which had been sandwiched between those two world war.

Uncle Roger and mother, 1939
But like most parents of the late 40s and 50s they made every effort to make our lives secure, comfortable and above all ones which were lived out with a sense of the progress made and yet to be made.

True there was the shadow of the bomb and some nasty little wars but they were kept at bay.  And I know that all parents through all time have tried to do their best for their children, but for me those generations who went through the two world wars did their bit not only to fight but to win the peace.

And that for me is well worth remembering.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson