Monday, 12 March 2012

The changing face of Beech Road

More by luck than good judgement I landed up on Beech Road in the winter of 1976. Of course back then it was a pretty ordinary collection of houses at the eastern end and the sort of shops and pubs that could be found anywhere across south Manchester running down to the green.

In the mid 1980s it went through a bit of a crisis as shops closed and stayed empty but along came the Lead Station and Primavera and the rest as they say is history.

Back then I was not fully attuned to the history of my road. Most of the buildings date from the 19th century and look pretty ordinary but there are still glimpse of its past which may date back to 16th century. The last wattle and daub cottage only went just over a hundred years ago and two of the oldest commercial buildings in the township are still there at numbers 68 and 70.

Almost opposite is the Wesleyan chapel built in 1825, replacing an earlier one and standing next to it the home of Daniel Sharpe who lived there from the 1840s through to the 1860s.
Sadly his home has not fared well and at present is empty with half its roof missing. But at least it is still there. Not so the once beautiful house on the corner with Acres Road which was demolished one day with little ceremony.

Of course things change, and so it is with Beech Road or Chorlton Row as it was known till the 1870s. And Peter’s painting captures some of that change. To the left the modern shop, office and residential block was the site of that beautiful house while to the right was the Co-op, whose yard in the 1980s had been taken over by the firm of Strippo who for about a tenner a door would strip decades of old paint away to reveal the original wood.

But amongst all the shiny new premises, there tucked away is Leo who has run his plastering business Gazelle since the 1980s from the tiny lock up between the old Co-op building and the new block.

There are plenty more of Peter’s paintings on display in venues across the township and at

Picture; © Peter Topping 2011

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