Wednesday, 30 November 2011

History repeats itself

Liverpool 1980 the first major demonstration against a Government intent on cutting public spending, and Manchester 2011 a walk by private and public services workers protesting about who the Government decided should pay the price of an economic crisis.
Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Roger James Hall, a British Home Child Part 1

My great uncle was just one of the 100,000 who was sent to Canada. For most of them the journey began when one of the charitable organisations or the Guardians of the Workhouse deemed that they were suitable candidates to shipped across the Atlanitc. Most were orphans, some living on the streets or in such dire poverty that their life chances if they stayed were grim.

My great uncle Roger had spent most of life along with his siblings in care. And by the age of 13 was judged to be in need of correction on one of the training ships which were little more than naval boot camps.

Unlike my grandfather he declined and so the Guardians of the Derby Workhouse, passed him in to the care of the Middlemore organisation who was one of the agencies who placed British Home Children.
Great Uncle Roger left Liverpool aboard the SS Carthaginian in May of 1914. It was home to 175 people who shared the crossing with nearly 3,000 tons of assorted freight.

Journey times varied but the usual was about twelve days which must have seemed endless for some of the children who suffered from sea sickness or were already missing home and family. But by all accounts conditions on board ship were good. Most children slept in bunks, eight to a cabin with a straw mattress and grey blanket, although often the older boys were given hammocks which were an advantage in stormy weather.

There was a deliberate policy of mixing the ages, and sharing with Roger in his cabin were boys ranging from 13 down to eight and in other cabins as young as six.

The food on Allen ships was good and regular and according to some accounts seemed a cut above what had been on offer in the intuitions they had come from. There were regular games organised on deck along with the novelty of taking a bath made of canvas and filled with ocean water which was pumped at them through a hose.

Many remembered the journeys as an adventure which is more than can be said for what some experienced on their arrival. Most ended up on farms often exploited and over worked The weather in Nova Scotia may be more temperate than in other parts of Canada, but the winters could still prove to be much harsher than anything the children had known in England. And few would have had anything but a short acquaintance with the demands of a farming life.
Picture; passenger list from the SS Carthaginian

In the last five years ..........




Beech Road continues to change. Just over thirty years ago, it had a hardware shop, green grocer’s two bakeries, two grocery shops and a haberdashery. Many of these can be seen on the Manchester Local Image collection at http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/448/archives_and_local_studies/326/photographs
Just go back another decade and we had more butchers, more grocery shops and a fish monger. In an age when few homes had fridges or freezers, shopping for fresh food meant a daily visit to the shops. Many people can still remember buying loose biscuits and having food weighed in front of them.
And now some familiar faces including the last greengrocer's have gone.
Photographs of The Nose, Murial's, Buonissimo, and Egerton Garden Centre from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Alternative histories

Our history does not always come from the written word. Oral testimony along with pictures and everyday objects all have a place in helping unlock the past. Here are a collection of political badges. Some I wore, some were left by friends and some I cannot remember how they came to me. Each has a story behind it, a campaign which in some cases ended in success and others in failure.
Badges from the 1960s to the late '80s

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lost scenes

Sometimes it is the places that change and in other cases the way we make a living
Pictures from Paris and Woolwich 1978-81

Listening to memories ... the work of Chorlton Good Neighbours


All too often in the past the testimony of ordinary people has been ignored. In that top down approach to telling history, the rich, the powerful and the brave have entered the history books to the almost complete exclusion of the poor, the working class and women. And if they did feature it was as a walk on part. I remember one history text book designed for students aged between 13-14 which in its 25 chapters had only one which featured a woman in a leading role and this was Maria Antoinette who was killed off by the fourth page. In the remaining chapters there was just one picture of a woman sitting at spinning wheel.
How refreshing then that Chorlton Good Neighbours have been carrying out a project to record the memories of people who lived here through most of the last century. You can follow them at http://chorltongoodneighbours.blogspot.com/ or in the recently produced collection of their memories entitled Chorlton Memories Project
Picture from the cover page of the book Memories of Chorlton

Chorlton History Group

You have to admit if its arts and activities in Chorlton you are after there is no lack of opportunities. Whether it’s Chorlton Arts Festival, the Book Week, the Beer Week or Food Fortnight and until recently Beech Road Festival there are just lots to do. To this you can add the farming markets on the green by the Jockey and outside the library, the regular folk sessions at the Beech, a film week and The Edge theatre venue and it is all there.
Much the same was true just 100 years ago. In Kemp’s Chorlton Almanac for 1910 there are listed seventeen associations ranging from the political to drama, musical, and gardening and horticultural societies. And there were clubs catering for cricket, football, bowling, golf, as well as hockey, lacrosse and lawn tennis. And this for a population of about 16,000.
We were a diverse community and while there was a strong middle class element the way the area had developed meant that there were plenty of artisan and working class families. The first municipal elections had returned Progressive and Liberal candidates and only later were the Conservatives to dominate, a dominance they were to maintain till 1986.
Today that diverse community is still here and one of the societies growing in numbers is the history group which now attracts anything up to 30 people. It is a forum for swapping ideas and current research projects. There have been talks as diverse as the blues concert at a Chorlton railway station, the history of Chorlton in the early 19th century, the development of the modern meadows and the story of Chorltonville. Our next meeting will be on January 19th in Chorlton Library at 1pm when I shall be talking about British Home Children followed later in the year by Eddie Little on the Great Storm.
The Chorlton-cum-Hardy District Almanack & Handbook For 1910, Harry Kemp, 35 Wilbraham Road

Issues of principle in Chorlton during the Great War

With the distance of time comes a degree of perspective, which I suppose is why the old exam boards setting history papers operated the 30 year rule. That is any conflict that was less than 30 years ago could not be studied at ‘O’ level.

So while I could study the Corn Laws, Gladstone and Disraeli and the cause of the First World War, the events of the Blitz, D Day and Hiroshima were off limits. Having said that, anything more recent would have proved a resource issue in my secondary modern school in south east London. Back in 1966 one of the set text books which was still in use, offered the pious hope that Signor Mussolini would heed international opinion and stop the bombing campaign on Abyssinia, Herr Hitler would be satisfied with his military reoccupation of the Rhineland and the suffering of the Chinese at the hands of the Imperial Japanese army would soon cease.

All of which means 1ssues of patriotism and perceived cowardly behaviour in the Great War can now be judged with a level of dispassionate interest. Here in Chorlton in the January of 1915 the issue of the Red Cross hospitals and the role of young men as medical orderlies provoked the accusation that some men of fighting age were shirking their responsibilities.

For one correspondent to the Manchester Guardian it was not enough that these young men were missing from the Front it was also that the Red Cross issue uniform so resembled that of the regular army that it was allowing these medical orderlies to be mistaken for soldiers.

Given that so many of our young men were entering the forces such an accusation was bound to stir up strong feelings, especially as the war hadn’t ended by the Christmas of 1914, and there was an ever mounting set of casualties.

What is remarkable is that the community did not fall for such jingoism. The popular response seems to have been a calm reasoned response. In letters to the Manchester Guardian both medical orderlies and those running the Red Cross hospitals sought to refute the accusations and argue that there was a natural progression from volunteer orderly to enlistment in the medical corps of the army, which was borne out by the military records of some of the Red Cross staff.

After all the duties of the Red Cross orderly were long and were fitted in alongside work commitments. As Frank Dawson wrote “We give our time and deny ourselves many a night’s rest after which many of us have to start a day’s work, and many are only waiting for the call from the Government to help to do their share in mitigating the pain and suffering of those who are fighting.”*

Of course more research has to be done into popular attitudes to the war here in Chorlton, but in the early months of 1915 it seems that the community were prepared to accept that in a time of war there were different forms of commitment.

*The Manchester Guardian, February 22 1915.

Picture, silver cup, presented to the Wesleyan Church by the Wounded Soldiers of the Wesleyan Schools Hospital, Christmas 1917 by kind permission of Philip Lloyd

Putting on a show


I suppose it’s the frustrated actor that makes me want to perform to an audience telling stories about the past and the fact that for 35 years this was what I did in the classroom.
Of course it can all go wrong, as it did one afternoon in the Horse & Jockey when I completely lost the plot and the audience. Still on balance it usually goes well. Most people have a keen interest in the past and want to know what happened, how their area has changed and where their family fit into the bigger picture.
So it was when over 40 of us walked down Beech Road and I tried to answer the simple questions, what would it have been like to live here in 1847, what might your ancestor have done for a living and above all who would you have to be polite to?
I guess it is the buzz of performing but also the opportunity to meet people and learn about their experiences. Recently I discovered that one of our history group had discovered a diary of the blitz here in Chorlton in her cellar, written on board and detailing the dates and times when the bombs fell over Chorlton, Stretford and Didsbury.
Then there were the two women who came up to me after a talk and told me how they had been one of the first families from India to settle in Chorlton in the 1960s. Their account was fascinating and opened up new episodes in Chorlton’s history. Sadly I missed the opportunity to get their names but then there will be other talks and who knows I may be able to renew the contact.
This interest in our collective past is what is drawing more and more people to the history group which has now been running for over a year. From a handful we now have regular attendances of over twenty, each with stories to tell.
Picture of the Beech Road walk September 2009 by Bernard Leech

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A British Home Child an introduction


To the best of my knowledge there is no one famous in our family and that suits me just fine.

We cannot claim a great general or writer, and no one ended their life with a title.

The largest house I can find was a four bed roomed house with one of those gardens which can be transversed in minutes.

So that makes me like millions of others. Having said that the Simpsons, Halls, Boots and Honeymoons and the others fought in all the wars of the last century and before, worked in the factories and mills and some at least spent time in the workhouse.

Their horizons often as not were dingy streets which all looked the same, with a pub at each corner, the sound of shunting yards to send the children to sleep and the bleak promise of a retirement funded only by poor relief.

Even when we seem to be marked out as a little different it can be for less than pleasant reasons. So it was with my great uncle Roger. Until recently he was just a birth certificate, an entry on a ships list and a sentence from one of my great aunt’s letters. But it turns out he was British Home Child, one of the 100,000 sent from Britain to Canada.

From the Derby Workhouse he set out on a journey which would take him to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France during the Great War and finally back to Canada and British Columbia where he disappears sometime after 1925.

It is one the great historical journeys.

Picture; the John River, Canada far from Derby Workhouse

Letters reveal the gratitude of wounded soldiers here in Chorlton during the Great War

Tucked away in the parish magazine for October 1917 is a letter from an A.P. Coleman recovering in the Red Cross hospital in the former Sunday school of the Methodist church on Manchester Road. It was one of a number he wrote thanking the people of Chorlton which in this case was for “the fruit, vegetables and flowers to us here, .....who are strangers in this district.”

And in its way it reinforces both the degree to which this war was supported by the voluntary efforts of people in the community and its impact on the civilian population.

It is hard today to appreciate just how far the war insinuated itself into the community. The daily war news and the lists of casualties, rationing and the increasing role of women in occupations previously held by men kept the war in focus. I guess there would have been fewer men of service age around the village and in the roads of new Chorlton. But there were those young men and women who had trained in the Voluntary Aid Detachment and worked in the hospital that went on to join the Royal Army Medical Corps and the eleven male orderlies who likewise enrolled with the R.A.M.C.

There would also be the presence of the wounded around the area. 137 men recovered in the Baptist hospital on Edge Lane during November 1914 and August 1915. Of these 117 wee British, one was Canadian and another Australian and there were also 18 Belgians. They had arrived from main line hospitals and had been wounded in France Belgium and Gallipoli, although 13 had been injured or contracted an illness at home. Most were suffering from bullet or shrapnel wounds, but had been gassed, or suffered from frostbite, tetanus, or rheumatism.

These men must have been a familiar sight in the roads and lanes of Chorlton. Most were here for about two months and in that time they may have taken to walking the fields, and relaxing in what was still partly a rural community. I had thought to include drinking in the local pubs and beer shops, but this may not have been the case. It was the practice in military hospitals at least to issue recovering soldiers with ”Hospital Blues,” which were standard issue and consisted of blue jacket and trousers, white shirt, and red tie and “was partly designed to identify the men if they left the hospital and stop them getting served in pubs.” But ours was a Red Cross Hospital and the regime was less rigid.

Never the less for most of community it must have been odd to hear our own regional accents mixed with those from Australia, Canada and Belgium. And for some who worked as volunteers it was a reminder of the greater sacrifice their family had made.

 Emma Worlidge was on the hospital committee, and acted as the housekeeper. Later after the war she would be recognised for her work but in the February 1917 she had to cope with the loss of her son Oswald who died on the Western Front. In the same month the Ellwood family lost their son.

Picture, Rgina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, Northern France where Oswald Worlidge is buried.

A Village Lost and Found

Now my great interest in the history of Chorlton will always be the rural township which was on the edge of disappearing in the years after the 1860s. It is also a great sadness to me that there are almost no pictures of this rural community which makes the book A Village Lost and Found such a wonderful find. The book is an annotated collection of stereoscopic photographs taken by Thomas Richard Williams and published by Brian May and Elena Vidal in 2009.
The original pictures were taken in 1856 and bring back to life a country village. Here are wattle and daub cottages, along with their gardens, scenes of farming and shots of the inhabitants going about their day. The authors have tracked the village to Hinton Waldrist in Oxfordshire. It remains for me a vivid depiction of rural life and I constantly revisit the book to draw comparisons with what our village would have been like.
The picture is the cover to the book and I have included it as a way of drawing attention to a superb collection of pictures of a farming community. A Village Lost and Found: Scenes in Our Village By T.R.Williams, Brian May & Elena Vidal ISBN 9780711230392, Publisher & © Frances Lincoln

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Wilbraham Road circa 1909 with the help of a postcard


Now as I have said before old postcards are a wonderful way of taking you back into the past. On one level there are the fashions of the people, the absence of road traffic and above all the clues to the changes in the buildings all of which put you into a different time.
This photograph of Wilbraham Road where it met Barlow Moor Road was posted on October 8th 1909, and may be just a little older.
Using the street directories it is possible to identify each shop. Street directories were not unlike telephone listings. They gave the householder, but often also their occupation and of course the number of the house or shop. But what they do not allow the historian to do is find out who else lived there, for this we have to fall back on the census returns. The trouble is that however detailed a census record is they only came out every ten years, while the street directories were printed annually.
This also allows the researcher to fairly accurately date the buildings in a postcard, add to this old maps and modern street maps and the true story behind the picture emerges. Google maps also allow you to get a modern picture of the location to compare with the image from the postcard.
And if you are lucky there is always the chance of an advert in the local paper.
Picture of Wilbraham Road from the collection of Rita Bishop, with permission from David Bishop

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Divided Chorlton


It is still possible to talk to people who describe themselves as living in old or new Chorlton. Of course once upon a time there was no old or new Chorlton, just the township of Chorlton-cum-Hardy which in turn was made up of three hamlets of which Chorlton centred on the green and Chorlton Row was the largest. But there was also Martledge to the north which covers the area from the Four Banks along Manchester Road and east towards Stretford and finally Hardy which ran from Chorlton Brook on to the Mersey. Of the three Hardy was not only the most remote but also the least populated. Given that it was often flooded it is not surprising. So apart from three farms, there were few cottages and the last of these was abandoned in the middle of the 19th century after a particularly bad flood.

Now the name Martledge has all but been forgotten and Hardy is rarely used and only then in connection with the townships old title of Chorlton-cum-Hardy. I guess soon the distinction between and old and new Chorlton will also disappear. But for most of the 20th century it was a vivid reminder of how the area had developed. Old Chorlton was the heart of the rural Chorlton and as such was dominated by the green and Chorlton Row which was renamed Beech Road.

New Chorlton was the area which was developed at the end of the 19th century around the Four Banks and the station. Here were the people who by and large did not make a living from the land. They were clerk’s warehouseman and various types of professional and some commuted into the city by train. They may have been attracted by the open fields to the south and east but saw the advantages of what was already fast becoming a suburb of Manchester.
It is perhaps no accident that new Chorlton had the banks while old Chorlton had only a post office and the weekly Penny Savings Bank which met every Saturday between 6 and 7 in the old school on the green. According to the Bank “any sum may be deposited between One Penny and £50. When the account reached £1 it is transferred to the Manchester and Salford Savings Bank “

A lot of research now needs to be done using the census returns to build a profile of the occupations of the residents of the two halves of Chorlton, but in placing the Penny Savings Bank on the green “the Trustees and managers” were clear in their own minds that perhaps this area was more likely “to see a large increase in the number of depositors, and cottager’s domestic servants, and parents on behalf of their children.” After all here were built “the six shilling a week houses” consisting of four rooms with perhaps a small kitchen extension, yard and tiny front garden.
Today that distinction between old and new has faded but ironically with the rise of Beech Road and the green as a place for quirky shops, bars and restaurants and the revamped Horse & Jockey, perhaps there is still something different about one part of Chorlton.

The picture of Chorlton Row circa 1880 showing the smithy about the time Chorlton Station was built, from the collection of Tony Walker

The new Chorlton

When George Whitelegg built Stockton Range on the corner of Edge Lane and Manchester Road in 1860 he included an inside well. Now this made absolute sense when all our drinking water came from wells, ponds and streams.
We were still a small rural community and this is how it had always been. But by the 1880s the wells were getting polluted and the streams and ponds drying up. Moreover in the next two decades the population increased dramatically.
Most historians attribute this to the coming of the railway which arrived in Chorlton in 1880. And it is true that it would now be possible to travel quickly and cheaply into the heart of the city in a little over ten minutes which would allow some to travel home in the dinner hour and be back in work for the start of the afternoon.
But this ignores a more fundamental need for any community to expand, and this put simply is water and land. The ancients had well known that without an adequate supply of clean drinking water and a means of getting rid of waste large concentrations of people was at best going to throw up health problems and at worst was just not going to happen.
So it was that the first mains water supply came through in 1864, delivered by Manchester Corporation along Edge Lane to just eleven subscribers. In the course of the next decade the system was extended till a new supply was brought in along Manchester Road. Likewise the development of a sewage system and the construction of the sewage works on the meadows provided the basics for a healthy and civilized life.
Of course without houses the population expansion was not possible and there had been very little building before the 1870s. The few small parcels of land that had become available were not usually developed despite the attempts by speculators and the newspapers to advertise Chorlton as a desirable place to build.
So it was not till the 1880s that the large landowners began to allow piecemeal development by allowing the builders to acquire the land through an annual chief rent which freed up capital to spend on building the houses.
Much of the development was done by speculative businessmen of whom only a few were builders. These included a farmer, a market gardener and those involved in commerce and the law. Some were local but others were from Manchester or the surrounding townships.
Much of this new development was aimed at the clerical and artisan end of the market. As the Manchester Evening News said in the September of 1901, “The clerk no less than the merchant must be catered for.”
These were the “six shilling a week home’s” which along with the £25-£35 small semi-detached properties made up the bulk of what was being built. Most are still there in the terraced rows behind Beech Road, Sandy Lane and Ivgreen Road and the slightly more impressive houses on Longford, Nicolas and Newport as well Barlow Moor Road, Wilbraham Road and those on Albany.
More than anything it would be this which created a divide between what became known as new and old Chorlton.
Picture of Sandy Lane early 20th century from the collection of Philip Lloyd

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Remembering those from Chorlton who served in the Great War

Now that the First World War has passed from living memory it seems all the more important to record many of the local men who served and in some cases died.

Most can be found on the war memorials around Chorlton and using the National Archives which hold the military service papers from the Great War their lives can be revealed.

The records include the Attestation Papers, details of the regiments they joined, where they served and where some of them died. Some like the Attestation Papers which were filled in at enlistment provide simple biographical details, while others carry the stories of wounds suffered and bitter sad correspondence about war pensions to the men’s widows.

They were a mixed bunch, drawn from all walks of life and while most served on the Western Front a few saw service at Gallipoli and some in the Middle East.

With a little more digging and using the regimental war diaries it is possible to follow their daily lives, from the trenches to rest and recuperation periods, training sessions and again back into the great battles.

I have to own to a personal interest. My family like most were deeply involved in the conflict. I can count two uncles, a grandfather, great grandfather, and two great uncles as well as some who fought in the Imperial Armed Forces of Germany. For us this war and the 1939-45 war were really civil wars where members of my family faced each.

Pictures; Attestation Papers of James Rogers, born James Roger Hall in Birmingham 1898, a British Home Child sent by the Guardians of the Derby Work House to Canada. He ran away from his third farm and enlisted in the August of 1915 aged just 17. Similar war records are available for the men who went from Chorlton. Discharge papers of his brother William Hall. Simpson Family collection.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Two elephants, a farmer's son and a travelling circus. Coming soon another story


Now, not a lot of people know about the elephant in Chorlton. Infact there were two, they spent time at a local farm, slept in a field by St Werburg’s Road and are still remembered with affection. Picture form the Bailey family collection

Kemp's Corner


Places live in peoples’ memories and once the memories fade something of the place is lost. So it is with Kemp’s Corner. I had never heard of it until about a year ago and then as if on cue everyone I talked to was able to recall the spot, remembering it with vivid nostalgia as a commonly accepted rendezvous. The name has lasted for over half a century but it does not appear on any map or street sign and may soon pass out of history.
It was on the corner of Wilbraham and Barlow Moor Road. Today the junction is known as Chorlton Cross and is dominated by the four High Street Banks. But from 1901 and perhaps even earlier until the 1960s it was Kemps Corner so named after the Chemist shop which stood where the HSBC bank now stands. The shop was a local landmark not only because of its position but because of the big clock above the entrance.
Ida Bradshaw remembered how “Mr Kemp checked the clock twice a year” and Tony Walker how “if you wanted to meet someone you told them to meet at Kemps Corner.” Its longevity as a local place is further testified by Philip Lloyd who would have nothing of the name Chorlton Cross, “I’ve known it as Kemps Corner for all my life.”
Harry Kemp owned the shop and lived above it. He had been born in 1855 in Brandon in Suffolk and grew up there. His father had started work as an agricultural labourer before becoming a book seller and hair dresser, and by the time he had brought the family to Manchester he was “the keeper of an eating house” on Chester Road. Later still he listed himself as a Directory Complier before ending up in London as a news vendor.
People remember Kemp’s Chemist with affection. It was where Tony Walker and Ida Bradshaw arranged to meet friends but for Oliver Bailey it was where
“My brother and I used to buy saltpetre from him and sulphur to make black powder (gunpowder) happy days”
And like many chemists “it had huge jars blues and reds come to mind in glass fronted cabinets and lots of names that I did not understand at 12 or 13 Lots of mahogany”
Now Kemp’s Corner is no more. It would be nice to think that the name will be used again. After all it has more historic resonance than Chorlton Cross but I doubt it. Not that Chorlton Cross has caught on in the popular imagination. Instead more often than not people will refer to it as the Four Banks which echoes its earlier unofficial name of Bank Corner which was in use at the end of the 19th century.
Picture of Kemp's Corner from a popular postcard in the collection of Bronwen Bhabuta

British Home Children a new story and a new research project

Picture the scene today somewhere in the Midlands. A charitable organisation moved by the plight of neglected and in some cases abandoned children who face dire poverty and are in danger of falling into crime and perhaps sexual exploitation acts to save these young people by giving them a new start in life. This isn’t some Government initiative, or a council driven plan. It will cost the tax payer nothing, be free of bureaucratic politically correct red tape, and fits into the new social landscape of self help and the big society.
Who you might ask could object? Well Gordon Brown and the Australian Prime Minister both felt moved to offer public apologies for just such a programme. And thousands of the children who took part continue to feel a mix of anger bewilderment and loss that they were taken from this country and placed half way round the world. These are the British Home Children.
Between 1870-1939 100,000 boys and girls between the ages of 5-16, from all over the country were sent to Canada. Later still right into the middle of the 20th century many more went to Australia. They were pauper children or orphans, picked off the streets often after deals done with parents, and some were from the Work Houses. They went to work on farms and as domestic servants.
Many lost all contact with their families, and others grew up totally ignorant that they even had a family.
Many descendants of these home children have only found out years later that one of their lost relatives was settled in Canada or Australia. All of us who have discovered a British Home Child in our family

have faced a mixture of emotions, from anger, to deep sadness to a sense of pride in the achievements of these young people. For most of us it has been a long journey piecing together fragments of clues, unpicking half remembered stories and coping with some awful stories.

Tony Walker


This week I was thinking of my old friend Tony Walker who died last year.

He had long been recording the history of Chorlton and had a wonderful collection of photographs books and vivid memories of the place he had grown up in.

Tony could turn his hand to almost anything. A keen photographer, and model aeroplane maker, he had taken to computers and merged his love of Chorlton’s history and photography creating a wonderful web site at http://www.oldchorlton.me.uk/ containing a fine collection of stories and information about the area. I still return to his collection of photographs, including a series of aerial pictures which combined his love of model making, photography and history.

Monday, 21 November 2011

History came to the Chorlton Book Week


Just like to thank David Green and the staff at Chorlton Library for inviting me to speak on the history of Chorlton. The event was part of Chorlton Book Week which gave local authors the opportunity to talk about their work. The talk on the history of the township attracted 50 or more people. Opinions ranged from good to excellent. David took the picture

The 1893 Brass Band ............ lives revealed.


There has been a brass band in Chorlton since the 1820s which must make it one of the earliest.

 During the first half of the 19th century Chorlton was still a rural community and many of those who played in the band earned their living from the land and had been born in the township.

But as Chorlton grew and attracted new people who made their living from other trades so the composition of the band changed.

 And it wass the chance discovery of a photograph of the band dated 1893 which has revealed the story of this band. It has been possible to track almost all of the men from that picture. Most had not been born here and some still lived elswhere.

They were clerks and warehousman, with just a few still working on the farms and market gardens.

Like many bands ours was a close knit group with a few families supplying many of those who played, and again like other brass bands these men lived close together, concentrated off Crossland Road and Beech Road.

Picture; from  the collection of Alan Brown