Tuesday, 27 November 2012

In Shambles Square

Now the Old Wellington Inn was not somewhere I regularly went to.  

I guess that was because it was hidden away behind all those concrete buildings which went up in the 1970s as part of the Arndale development.

No matter how many umbrellas and tables were put out even on a sunny day sitting outside the pub was like sitting in a yard.  But ironically it was those very buildings that protected it from IRA bomb in 1996 and prompted the redevelopment of the area.

This led to the pub and the adjacent Sinclair’s Oyster Bar being dismantled, and moved 300 metres and rebuilt closer to the Cathedral and creating a  more pleasant open space than the one it had inhabited before.

I have to confess it is still not a pub I often go to, partly because it gets so busy and is still a bit off our beaten track.  But I think it works and Peter's painting does show it off to its best.

It is also somewhere I have written about already, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/market-place-1894.html

Pictures; the Welllington and Sinclairs circa 1976,  from the collection of Rita Bishop by kind permission of David Bishop and the painting of the Welllington Inn and Sinclairs today,  2011, © Peter Topping, web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk  facebook: www.facebook.com/paitningsfrompictures

Monday, 26 November 2012

The work of the Bethesda Home

Another interesting and revealing post from the archivist of the Together Trust . 

This week it's on the work undertaken with disabled children who lived in the most deprived areas of our city and a  timely focus on UK Disability History Month from November 22-December 22nd 2012.

This is “an annual event which strives to ‘raise awareness of the unequal position of disabled people in society and to advocate disability equality’, as well as ‘developing an understanding of the historical roots of this inequality’”. http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/uk-disability-history-month.html#more.

Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust, http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Listening to our past ...... sounds of London

It is odd how after a life time here in Manchester I am drawn back to the city of my birth and especially to those parts of south eastern London where I lived till I was 19, when I  took the train North.
But you never quite take the “child out of where they grew up” and I am drawn back by this  outstanding web site, London Sound Survey http://www.soundsurvey.org.uk/

Like so much of the way we lived it is important not only to save it but make it accessible,  And this is what Ian Rawes is doing with the sounds of London.

Not Manchester, but I bet many of the sounds could have been heard from Deansgate to New Cross and up to Redbank and down through Hulme, Moss Side and south to Chorlton.

After all it was not that long ago that John Agar regularly heard corncrakes on the meadows.**

On Ian’s site you can wander across

The beginnings of a new long-term project to explore likely changes in the local sound environment throughout the Holocene epoch, stretching from the end of the last glacial period 12,000 years ago to the present day.

The sounds of 1930s and 1940s London from old BBC radio broadcasts, digitised for the first time from their original 78 rpm transcription discs. Featuring street entertainers, auctioneers, fortune tellers and much more. Reproduced by kind permission of BBC Worldwide.

Recordings collected along London's canals, lesser rivers and streams and made into a pastiche of the London Underground map. Man-made noise, the calls of wildlife and the restless voice of water passing through culverts, weirs and channels.

High-quality urban wildlife recordings made by Stoke Newington- based recordist Richard Beard. This addition to the original London wildlife section features birdsong and the calls of some other animals from Abney Park, Walthamstow Marshes and elsewhere.

The London Map combines many of the recordings from the Sound Maps and Sound Actions sections into a single interface. Historical map layers, including First Series Ordnance Survey and Booth's Poverty Map, give a background to the modern-day sounds of London.

Stereo recordings of ambient sounds all across London, including a grid series of recordings made at regular points on the map. From woodland and suburban streets to steam museums and night-time West End crowds.

Recordings made along the Kent and Essex shores of the Thames estuary, as well as further inland, capturing the sounds of industry, wildlife, marshland, and towns from Dartford to Sheerness.

Stereo recordings of sounds designed and made to have an impact on other people, and also of events where there's a main focus of attention. Includes traders' cries in London markets, voices of officialdom, hustlers, buskers, pub singalongs, carnivals and parades.

London history explored through its past sounds in works by Pepys, Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Orwell and others. Accounts include how loud the London Bridge cataracts were and the sales-patter of quack doctors. Also, search for time-obliterated places with historical London maps in high resolution.

All this and updates on new a second batch of vintage BBC radio sounds, including.  V-E Day celebrations, 1945. Street musicians recorded outside the Rose Restaurant in Soho, performing a cheeky song about Hitler with banjo accompaniment, Bertram Mills Circus, 1946. As well as Guy Fawkes celebrations in Camden in  1947 with children singing and asking for a penny for the guy and the South Hammersmith by-election of 1949, with the sounds of canvassing and speeches by candidates, the mayor and returning officer.

*Corncrakes on the meadows and other memories http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2qfC4sRtzE

Pictures; of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, family and friends in Lausanne Road circa 1950s from the collection of Andrew Simpsonand Lausanne Road south east London in 1872, detail from the OS for London 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Visions of a future and the not so gentle and tender touch of Royal power

Now I know that south east London is a long way from Chorlton-cum-Hardy but the blog Transpontine featured a nice piece on The Fifth Monarchists, 17th century London religious radicals. 

The period has always been a fascinating one for me,* not least because of the Putney Debates, when the army of Parliament sat down to discuss the future of England after the war with the King.

Reading the discussions there is something very modern about the position of Colonel Rainsborough who argued that “... the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under...”

And this in turn reminded me of the Forces Parliaments which took place in the British Army in India and Egypt during the Second World War.  The Cairo Forces Parliament met in February 1944 and voted for the nationalization of the banks, land, mines and transport.

In their way it replicated those debates three hundred years earlier where the men who were fighting debated the future they wanted.

But unlike the Forces Parliament which saw much of what they voted for come to reality after the election of the Labour Government in 1945 the expectations of many of the 17th century progressives, and visionaries came to nought in the face of Royal repression  which Transpontine chronicles.


Picture; Thomas Venner from Transpontine

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A year in the life of the blog

It has been a year since I started the blog.

Not that this is some sentimental or nostalgic look back but just a reflection on what I have learned about our history and many of the people I have met along the way.

It started as just a few stories about Chorlton broadened to include bits of south Manchester and the city and branched out to encompass British Home Children and our jaunts abroad.

All a bit indulgent but fun.

And along the way it led to the partnership with local artist Peter Topping and a series of joint ventures and exhibitions including our History Wall on Albany Road.*


Pictures; outside the parish church and ploughing Row Acre, from the Lloyd collection

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Who are they? A picture from a skip

Found in a skip in Lloyd Street, about 18 months ago, just when the Town Hall Extension and Central Ref began their refurbishment.

The photographer is our old friend Charles Ireland of Chorlton*.

Now the obvious assumption would be that they are something to do with the Town Hall.

 Perhaps a group of councillors.  But I don't recognise the room from the Town Hall.  They could predate the opening of the building in the 1870s but then Charles would have been too young to take the picture.  So perhaps it was his father.

Of course the link with the Town Hall maybe an false trail.  They could equally be another group of people.  One suggestion is that in the group is Ben Brierley, the Lancashire poet and hand loom weaver, and another is Edwin Waugh who was also a poet, writer and described the fast disappearing traditional way of life in Lancashire.

So all a bit of a mystery and one that should be fun to solve.  I will therefore leave it up open.  It has started an interesting debate at MINERAncestry in miscellaneous and PHOTO ID where the picture was first posted.


Picture; from Wales

Public Hall or Conservative Club?

The Conservative Club is an iconic local land mark.  

Whatever you think of the politics of the place and there are many I know who refused to step into the building that has dominated the corner of Wilbraham and Manchester Roads for 120 years.

It was opened in 1892, on land granted by the Egerton estate and the building was paid for through an issue of shares.  What is interesting is that the shareholders consisted of the very wealthy  local professionals, tradesmen and farmers as well as domestic servants and warehouseman.

Which I suppose was partly a tribute to the political manoeuvrings of Disraeli with his brand of one nation politics and the astute way his government positioned itself ahead of the Liberals when it extended the franchise to sections of working men in 1867.  It may also have something to do with that old Tory paternalism which in the early decades of the 19th century saw leading Tories attacking factory conditions and the laissez faire politics of successive Whig governments.

But here I conceded I shall have to do more reading.  In the meantime I shall fall back on some research by my old friend Lawrence who has dug deep into the history of the building and points up the role of the Public Hall which was on the upstairs of the Con Club and was accessed by a separate entrance.

The “Public Hall” offered a venue for everything from amateur dramatics to political speakers and campaigns which in some cases ran contrary to the political views of the Con Club. Victor Grayson Socialist MP for Colne Valley spoke in the hall in 1908 and was heckled by members of the public, some I suspect who had made their way up from the Club below.  A number of drama groups also performed here along with a young John Thaw.*

“The architects were Darbyshire and Smith, who very well known especially for building theatres including the Palace in Manchester) and pubs like the Marble Arch on Rochdale Road.   The front entrance went into the Conservative Club and a side entrance on Manchester Road went upstairs to the Public Hall which had a stage.   

The capacity was given variously as 700 to 800. There was a separate entrance to backstage area, a caretakers building at the rear and kitchens in the basement with a lift system to bring food upstairs.

The foundation stone was laid on Saturday April 25th l 1891 by Cunliffe Brooks and Lady Brooks and there was a dinner and speeches in the Lloyds opposite.

A year later the Club was opened on Saturday April 23rd 1892 by Lord and Lady Egerton along with Lord Cross an old Tory grandee, who had been Home Secretary in the Disraeli Government.

And three years later the clock which had been paid for by  subscription was unveiled.  It  was made by William Potts & Sons of Leeds  had three faces was lit by gas.”**

It was the first public clock in Chorlton and takes us back to the fact that the building was more than just a Con Club.  For the best part of a century it had also been a public place and from this seems to have risen the confusion as to the name and purpose of the building.

Many old postcards from the early decades of the 20th century refer to the building as the Public Hall not the Conservative Club leading one local historian to wonder which it was.  I guess for many in Chorlton it depended on who you were and how you visited the place.

Now I could have featured one of the many old photographs but instead have chosen Peter’s painting of the Club shortly after it closed for the last time.  Peter as you know paints the pictures and I tell the stories so it seemed fitting that this should be the image to use, especially given that the future of the building is still in the realms of speculation.

Picture; The Conservative Club, September 2012, © Peter Topping, web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk  facebook: www.facebook.com/paitningsfrompictures

* John Thaw, 1942 –2002) was an English actor, who appeared in a range of television, stage and cinema roles, his most popular being television series such as Redcap, The Sweeney, Home to Roost, Inspector Morse and Kavanagh QC.
** read Lawrence’s blog at http://hardylane.blogspot.co.uk/

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sunday November 18th on Beech Road, stepping back to 1848

Well yesterday the sun shone and made the Sunday on Beech Road very pleasant.

Which was all to the good given that 40 of us had assembled to try and get a flavour of what this end of Chorlton might have been like in 1848.

We assembled at the top of the Row where it meets Barlow Moor Lane* and made our way by degree down past Row Acre** and Sutton’s wattle and daub cottage and on beside Blomely’s fish pond.

Having taken in the grand house of the Holt's the not so grand but picturesque 18th farm houses we looked  in at the smithy, the Wesleyan Chapel and of course the beer shop known as the Travellers' Rest.

And on to the green, which in 1848 would have been Samuel Wilton’s private garden and would not have given us much of a view of the parish church, the old school house or Higginbotham’s farm house.

 So perhaps it was just the right time to take in a meal at the Horse and Jockey.

Thank you to Sue Moores and Charlotte Hogwood who sponsored the event on behalf of Chorlon Book festival to the staff of the Horse and Jockey and not forgetting the 40 people who turned up.

Pictures; from the collection of Tony Walker

*Beech Road and Barlow Moor Lane

**The Recreation Ground

From Manchester to Saskatchewan

Now I have been forwarding on posts from the Together Trust for some months.

They are always a fascinating glimpse into its work with the destitute and often exploited young people of our city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was known as the Manchester & Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges.*

And those of us interested in British Home Children it is doubly exciting when the Blog touches on its involvement in the migration of children to Canada.

So today it features amongst other things the document of agreement which all young people had to sign. The Certificate of Consent was signed “before local Justices of the Peace prior to emigration, to state they were happy to be taken to Canada.”

As such it is another of those pieces of original source material which helps provide a link to those young people.


Picture; group of boys from Manchester in Grenfell Saskatchewan, courtesy of the Together Trust

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Shopping on Chorlton Green

There is something quite familiar about the building in the picture not least because for most of the 1980s it was where I had my hair cut.

We are on Chorlton Green and the year is about 1909.  I know it can be no later than the April of 1911 because by then the shop had been taken over by a Mark Glazenbrook who was also a butcher.

This is the first in a short series exploring the story of retailing in the township and the first obvious thing to notice is the absence of modern ideas of hygiene.

No food outlet today would be permitted to hang fresh meat outside the shop on open display.

James Unsworth is a shadowy figure and so far I have been able to turn up nothing more than an entry in Slater’s 1909 directory and that he posed outside his shop for this photograph which may have been taken by a friend.

It isn’t a commercial postcard and there is no name on the back or for that matter a date, but that is how the research often goes.

As for Mark Glazenbrook by 1924 he had moved on to a shop just off the Ashton Old Road.  And that rather highlights one aspect of retailing which was that some shops have a very short life and in some cases a premise changed its business use a number of times in the course of a few decades.

All of which has set me off on a new mission who is to peel back the history of this and the neighbouring two houses in the block.

I think they may date from 1903, and all were in commercial use soon afterwards with the end property selling groceries and the middle shop making cycles.  They may date back earlier but looking at the census returns I don’t think much before 1890.  Either way all three are now residential.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

In Albert Square in 1906

A few days ago I featured a picture of Albert Square sometime in the 1950s, and today I am back in the same place in 1906.

There is much that is the same including the grime coated buildings on the right and centre of the photograph and of course the much smaller island that formed the central spine of the square.

But a lot else is different and it is not just the absence of cars and the presence of those large tubs of plants dotted up and down the square.

On the north side a horse drawn cart makes its way along Princess Street and a tram waits at its stop outside the Town Hall.  Few people even bother to stare at the photographer most just get on with the business of the day.

Now I say 1906 because that was when the post card was sent, but of course it could be a few years before.

Pictures; from the collection of Rita Bishop, courtesy of David Bishop

Friday, 16 November 2012

A walk through Chorlton’s Past on Sunday November 18

A walk through Chorlton’s Past on Sunday November 18 2pm, corner of Beech Road and Barlow Moor Road

One for the diary, back by popular demand and part of the excellent Chorlton Book Festival organised by Manchester Public Libraries Services*

November 16-23 2012

"Returning for its eighth year, The Chorlton Book Festival offers a selecetion of events, authors, visits and workshops to please everyone. From an under-5s Storytime and a travel session for teenageser to an over-50s film screening an a local history tour complete with lunch, whatever your age and interest, Chorlton is the place to be for eight days this November."

So there, no more to be said.


Picture;detail from the Chorlton Book Festival Programme

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

On platform 13 in Victoria Station in 1906

Now I can’t tell you when the photograph was taken but the postcard was sent in March 1906 so I guess it will be around there and certainly no more than a decade earlier.

Popular postcards were reissued and this one might have been old stock.  Or  it is equally possible that Daisy who sent it might have been holding onto it for some time as she admitted to Walter that “I have 499 post cards,” although it is unclear whether these were in a collection or just waiting to be sent.

Any way this is platform 13 on Victoria Station which served the northwest Lancashire towns.  Our photographer has frozen a moment in time some time before the train departs. A porter unloads the luggage of the man standing next to him and across the platform the men and they are all men stand staring at the camera.

Now I found this a bit odd given that this style of photography had been around for a while and people were getting used to the man with the camera.  But on the other hand on a slow day on Victoria Station perhaps there was wasn’t much else to do.

I suppose that given the platform and the time which was 11.40 in the morning it might be possible to work out the destination of the train using a railway time table for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, but that is in this case a bit of curiosity too far.

Picture; from the collection of Rita Bishop, courtesy of David Bishop

Happy Birthday St Clement's

November 23rd sees the culmination of the events marking the 500 anniversary of the parish Church and will finish with a torch light procession from the site of the old church on the green to the new one on Edge Lane.

To mark the event Peter and I have produced another of our exhibitions which tells the story of the new church opened in 1866 and the surrounding area of Pits Brow.

The story  will be posted for November 22nd and 23rd but the exhibition is already up  for everyone to go and see right now in St Clement's Church on Edge Lane

So as we do here is both a flavour of the exhibition and Peter’s painting which can be seen in the main entrance.

Pictures; © Peter Topping 2012 www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Monday, 12 November 2012

Uncovering the little detail which builds the picture

Now I have to admit that I am still new to the study of British Home Children.  

It was only three years ago that I discovered that my great uncle went off to Canada from the Derby Workhouse, and even less that I began seriously to research the subject.

In the course of that time I have made some very good friends and seen the study of BHC grow uncovering the hidden lives of those who were sent, exploring all aspects of the reasons behind the policy and challenging the assumptions made by the apologists then and now.

And like all serious historical studies the picture that is emerging is not clear cut with all the villains on one side and the just on the other.

All of which makes it very exciting and again points up that simple observation that history is messy.  And much of this work is being undertaken by people who do not regard themselves as professional historians but who are uncovering important information, making significant links and pushing our understanding way beyond what was known just a few years ago.

Amongst all of this it is often the little details which help give someone a close experience of a relative.

So with no expectations that the following is earth shattering but fully aware that it will reveal something for someone, here are two blog posts about the home that Maria Rye ran in Peckham for nearly forty years.

So here is Avenue House which she ran and the place just off Hanover Park.  Today the road is still there but the site of the house is now the car park of a supermarket

And by one of those odd twists was just a mile from where I grew up.



Pictures; courtesy of Avenue House from, the Victorianist and detail of Hanover Park from the OS map of London 1862-1872, courtesy of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Chorlton stories from the Great War and other conflicts

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 and also those who passed through the township and were looked after as they recovered from their wounds.

So on this day I have posted a link to the stories of the men and women who made a contribution in that struggle.*  And during the next few months to those who were involved in the other conflicts.

They include the stories of young men like William Lunt, the work of the Chorlton Red Cross Volunteers, and the words of some of the service men who passed through and were grateful for the care they were offered.

These have survived on our war memorials in the army records and in letters and photographs, and in this silver cup.

The inscription reads, Presented to the Wesleyan Church by the Wounded Soldiers of the Wesleyan School Hospital Xmas 1917.  I doubt whether many people know that during the Great War we had two voluntary hospitals here in Chorlton.

One was in the Methodist Sunday school building on Manchester Road and the other in the Sunday School of the MacLaren Memorial Baptist Church on the corner of Wilbraham and Sibson Road.  Sadly little has survived in the form of records.

We have a few newspaper references, letters from some of the medical staff and patients, and a contemporary account in a Red Cross book of the work undertaken to care for the recovering soldiers. So this silver engraved cup is an important object recording not only the gratitude of the soldiers but the voluntary efforts of the people of Chorlton.*


Pictures; from the collections of Andrew Simpson Philip Lloyd and the Lloyd collection.  

George Bradford Simpson and friends date unknown, the silver cup presented to the Methodist Church, and a young William Lunt from Sandy Lane who served in the Great War

Friday, 9 November 2012

Two elephants, a farmer’s son and a travelling circus

A second chance to read about two elephants, a farmer's son and a travelling circus.

Now the reason why Robert Bailey rode an elephant here in Chorlton in the summer of 1942 had a lot to do with the family farm.

The Bailey farm was at the bottom of Sandy Lane and ran along St Werburgh’s Road and had a large enough supply of water to satisfy the thirst of the two elephants.

They  also owned the land where the circus camped. This strip of land ran along the side of the railway track all the way from St Werburgh’s Road to Wilbraham Road.

And when the circus moved on the Bailey's left their cattle to graze there. Photographs of the animals there on the land are in the local collection of Manchester Libraries and just to undermine the point another photograph contains the sign “Beware of the Bull.”

Nor were these pictures from some distant past but were taken in 1959. Oliver Bailey remembers also driving pigs from the railway station along the roads to the farm.

Picture; Wilbraham Road m18513, Landers 1959, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council.

Back on Chorlton Green with a magical evening

I hope people will forgive me if I wallow a little on the events surrounding the book launch on Wednesday at the Horse and Jockey.

Leaving aside me and the book this was one of those nights which was quite magical.

A lot of people turned up on a cold and wet night to one of our historic pubs to share an interest in the place they live.

The music from the Beech Band  was excellent and plenty of people have told me how much they enjoyed the night.  And so I will close with the night as seen through the camera and the pen of my friends Barri and Lois and her blog,
I can’t promise I won’t return to the night and the book but for a while enough is enough.

Picture; courtesy of Barri Sparshot

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A book, an author, some fine folk singing, and lots of people at the launch*

I would just like to thank all the people who turned up on a night  when there was a rival attraction in Portugal.

The evening went well; I met up with lots of friends and enjoyed talking about the book.  Pictures from Rachael McGowan will follow.

So for now a thank you to Chorlton Book Shop who organised the launch, the staff of the Horse & Jockey who hosted the event, the Beech Road singers for some wonderful period entertainment and again to all who came along.

* http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20for%20Chorlton

Picture; from the collection of Alan Brown

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

More stories of children helped from the streets and an important campaign to save our archives

Another interesting blog from the Together Trust which lefts the carpet on the life of our destitute children and the work of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge 


But today’s contribution also raises  serious concerns for some of the archives held by charities who “are not able to preserve their archival collections” which mean they are in danger of being destroyed, lost or will become inaccessible.

“This is why the Together Trust is supporting the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives which is raising awareness of the importance of voluntary sector archives. 

Please go to their website to find out more; http://www.voluntarysectorarchives.org.uk/

 Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust, http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/

Another 15 minutes of fame with a book at the Horse & Jockey

It is another one of those 15 minutes of fame slots which has a lot to do with the book launch,* .... in the Horse and Jockey, the pub on the green, tonight at 8.  

Me, some friends, Les Jones and the rest of the Beech Band, Chorlton Book shop and copies of the book. 

And a thank you to everyone who has bought it and might buy it and too Emily and the staff at the Horse & Jockey for hosting the event and the book shop for organising it.

Which about covers it apart from a mention of the gerbil from two doors down.

All welcome

Picture; from the History Press.

The lost pubs of Chorlton, No 3 three beer shops

Beer shops were simple affairs, and in most cases were nothing more than someone’s front room where they sold beer.

They took off after the 1830 Beer Act which allowed anyone who was a rate payer and could afford the yearly license of two guineas [£2.10p], to brew and sell beer from their own homes.

Many of these businesses were combined with other occupations and in some cases were a short term strategy to overcome a temporary loss of earnings.

Here in the township we had our own fair share; some like the Travellers Rest last for over 70 years, others for just a few years and some may have come and gone within a year.

Now the Royal Oak may have started life as a beer shop but survived into the 20th century and was demolished in the 1920s to make way for the present pub.

It was a popular enough place and attracted passing agricultural labourers as well as  the “Sunday trade” out from Manchester for a walk along the country lanes and a day’s drinking. It was a detached, two storied building and it had a commanding position.  Not only was it on the route to and from the city but it was the only pub here about.  To the north was Red Gates Farm and surrounding the pub were a cluster of cottages while just next door there was the large block known locally as Renshaws or New Buildings.

Away from the village was the Black Horse at Lane End.  By all accounts this was a rowdy place and had a reputation for after hours drinking on a Sunday under its landlord Thomas Chorlton.  It attracted a “rough and low company”  who delighted in watching the nasty contest of badger fighting and eventually was closed down.

Much the same happened to the beer shop of William Brownhill who was a wheelwright and rented out houses on what is now Sandy Lane.  His license was refused after there had been seven convictions in eleven years.

There were plenty of others in the township, many of whom opened one year and closed the next.  Mrs Leach’s beer house was slightly different.  It was described at the time as “a most superior” premise, and had the two front rooms given over to the trade.

It was somewhere close to the junction between Manchester Road and Wilbraham Road, possibly on the site of Cromar.

Now in many cases the capital needed to set up was not very large.  You used your own home, brewed the beer and may even relied on the locals bringing their own containers to take the stuff away.  So apart from the license that was pretty much it.

But we know that in the case of Mrs Leach there had been more investment which had been put up by one of her farming relatives, who to ensure that the business was protected also took out the license  in her name.

This may also have been designed to protect Mrs Leach from her own husband who was not the most reliable of chaps and who eventually murdered young Francis Deakin in the beer shop in 1847 in a drunken rage.

Just how long Mrs Leach’s beer shop existed for is unclear.  It was operating in the spring of 1847 but had vanished soon after.

And in the way of these things no pictures have survived of these beer shops, except a partial picture of the Travellers Rest and one of the Royal Oak.  We do however have a line drawing of Mrs Leach’s place taken from one of the newspaper reports of the murder.

Now there is plenty more but for that you will have to go to the book, THE STORY OF CHORLTON-CUM-HARDY which was published earlier this month.*

* http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20for%20Chorlton

Pictures; The Royal Oak from the collection of Tony Walker, plan of Mrs Leach’s beer shop, the Manchester Guardian, May 8 1847

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Watching tram no 404 on Wilbraham Road in 1913

It’s another tram picture which given the general interest in trams is fair enough but there is more.

We are on Wilbraham Road looking towards Chorlton from Withington Road around about 1913 or 1914.

It is spring and judging by the shadows sometime in the late morning.
Wilbraham Road had been cut roughly fifty years earlier but the trees are a more recent addition and judging by the size of the ones currently along the road did not survive beyond the middle years of the that century.

Just two years earlier there were no houses at all along this stretch of Wilbraham Road and the casual pedestrian would have had to wait till he arrived at St Werburgh’s Road before encountering the church on the right and the homes of the Smith, Barlow and Widdowson households directly opposite.

Now what I find interesting is the way that each family had stamped their own individuality on their homes with names.   So running up along the south side of Wilbraham Road from St Werburgh’s Road there is Stalheim, Southdown, Carlton, Stormarm, and Penmoyle, while continuing up towards Chorlton after Chandos Road South there was Brierfield, Bronx, Wesnley and Glenmayne.

But as our tram clanked its way up towards Chorlton its passengers would have been able to look out on open land with just a few big houses to interrupt the view.

For me it is also the detail which pulls you in.  There to the left are one of those hand carts which perhaps had been used to deliver building materials, while to our right is a lone cyclist on what is otherwise an empty road save for tram 404 in all its tall stately grandeur heading towards Chorlton.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

The Old Grey Whistle Test, Benny Hill and close by 12.25

Sometimes it is well to remember there was a time when there were only three TV channels, and those of us just about to buy a colour TV thought we were on the cutting edge of home entertainment.

Picture; from the collection of Graham Gill

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Central Station observing the little things

I don’t have an exact date but this photograph of the old Central Station crops us in so many collections which always put it sometime either side of 1900 that I am comfortable with that.

What I want to do is explore some of the detail of the picture.  And the obvious  place to start is that the fine canopy which stretched from the station’s entrance out to the road providing shelter for what appear to be some of the grander passengers arriving by horse drawn carriage.

And there are plenty of horses, some pulling elegant coaches, others neat little cabs and still more hauling the humble cart.  But away near the entrance to the station, under the canopy is a motor car.

But it is what is going on outside that intrigues me.  Just outside the station two men carry on a conversation by the lamp post while a little away to the right a carter attends to his horse.

A little closer to the station entrance a man rubs his chin as his attention is caught by the photographer, while others just ignore him.

I would like to think that perhaps one of the figures in the picture is from Chorlton, given that the station served the township but that is pure romantic tosh and best left alone.

Picture; from the collection of Rita Bishop, courtesy of David Bishop

If things had been different

If things had been different.
Now always out to share other people’s history, here is one of the fascinating stories from a friend,*  which in turns explores just how mobile were people in the early and mid 19th century.

Here is no story of moving from one village to another but of serious and multiple travelling to the other side of the world.

Picture; from the collection of Lois Elsden


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Water in Albert Square

Now for a chunk of the time I have lived in Manchester the water fountain in Albert Square was elsewhere which is a pity because I like it.

It was built in 1897 and had been commissioned to mark the old Queen’s jubilee, and in one of those nice touches I like when it was restored to Albert Square a new inscription was added to commemorate the supply of Manchester’s drinking water from Thirlmere in the Lake District which even today is a remarkable engineering achievement.

Apparently the fountain was subject to some criticism and was moved in 1920 to Heaton Park, returning in 1986.

It was the work of John Cassidy and includes two inscriptions. The older two is around the basis and records that it was


While on the ground to the south side of the fountain are the words,


Pictures; from the collection of Rita Bishop, courtesy of David Bishop and from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Chorlton in the Middle Ages, with Ian Meadowcroft today

I tried finding a picture to go with Ian’s talk on Chorlton in The Middle Ages, but it was difficult.

So this one of the Horse & Jockey is close.  The building dates from circa 1512.

Ian Meadowcroft will be giving a talk on “Chorlton in the Middle Ages” today at the Chorlton History Group

The History Group normally meets monthly on the first Thursday of the month 1.30-3pm at Chorlton Good Neighbours, Wilbraham St Ninian's Church, Egerton Road South. There will be a charge of £1 to cover room hire and tea & biscuits. All welcome

Picture; from the Lloyd Collection

A phone from the 1950s, a poster of Dr No and the film of the event

Now I only wish Michael and Nigel of Hardy Productions had told me in advance that they were filming in Victoria Baths last Sunday or that the subject was a showcase of furniture and ephemera from the 1950s through to the 1970s.

Nostalgia is not something I go for, but you can’t be interested in history and not want to touch stuff even if it is from our recent past.

All of which brings  me to  their new blog, http://hardyprodsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/bringing-back-memories.html?spref=tw and suggest you look at their film of the event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHrtLy7rFiI

Picture; courtesy of Hardy Productions

Faces from Manchester bound for Canada

I wish I knew their names, and more importantly what awaited them in Canada.  The caption on the photograph says “Girls from Heathfield to Canada.”*

Heathfield was the first home set up by the Manchester & Salford, Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge for poor and neglected girls, some of whom were found destitute on the streets of Manchester and Salford.

They ranged in age from ten to fifteen and were given a home at Heathfield where they worked in the laundry and did housework which in most cases was training for when they were placed in service.

Heathfield was on Broughton Lane close to the junction with Duke Street and was a large house set back from the road in its own grounds.

Now I went looking for it recently but it has gone, replaced by a large block of modern flats.  It was opened in 1878 and closed by 1894.  Within the year it was back in private residence and little over a ten years later had become the home of a surgeon.

In those closing decades of the 19th century this end of Broughton Lane was still well heeled while the other end was teeming with people who polite society might have described as tradesmen and nothing much has changed with this end given over to low rise warehouses and industrial units.

All of which is a long way from Heathfield and the six girls who stare out at us from the picture.  The Manchester & Salford,  Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge participated in the BHS scheme almost from its beginning but pulled out by 1914.

It was an important organisation, and were active in fighting in the courts for the rights of neglected, destitute and abused young people as well as providing homes, care and holidays for these vulnerable children.

*From the excellent blog site of the Together Trust http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/mystery-photographs.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+TogetherTrustArchive-GettingDownAndDusty+(Together+Trust+Archive+-+getting+down+and+dusty!)

Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust, http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/