Monday, 30 September 2013

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 35 what was lost is now back, the fire place

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

As you would expect the place has been much knocked about, not least by John who lived here for just a few short years in the 1970s.

In that time he ripped out the two downstairs fire places, many of the features including the picture rails and covered every room wood chip.

Not that back in 1974 I would have done any differently in fact I own up to talking out a perfectly good wooden airing cupboard from the bathroom.

Such are the acts of vandalism on a proud old house.

One of the fire places was replaced in 1984 which is a lesson in history.

It had come from east Manchester where fire places, original baths and toilet fittings were being taken out of houses which then found their way to south Manchester to replace ones that had been pulled out a decade before from houses in Chorlton, Withington and Didsbury.

In our case this included one of those very old and very heavy cast iron baths, and the lead water cistern encased in a wooden frame with its slightly rusting iron fittings, which perched high up on the wall.

I had entertained ideas that we would use a length of copper pipe from the cistern to the lavatory but the builders insisted we used lead, so we got their pipe from their old lavatory and in exchange they got our 1970s low level plastic cistern

It took longer to reinstate the other fire place, but a few years ago this is what we did and what follows is just the story of that change.

Now there will be those who mutter self indulgent nonsense, but I think there is a point here which put simply is that houses should be respected as should the original intentions of the person who built it and first lived in it.

Compromises have to be made in the light of changing living styles but not at the expense of the house.

Otherwise you may like us spend a lot of time undoing what has been thoughtlessly done.

Neither of the fireplaces resemble the originals but these were not very attractive and dominated the rooms, so I suppose sometimes a little innovation is acceptable.

Of course the devil was in the detail and it took many visits to Insitu to resolve our differences over which to go for, but in the end we struck a deal where by I got the fire place surround and Tina the tiles which worked.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The Story of a house,  http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20a%20house

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A brick wall, a set of plans and a photograph reveal the work of a children’s charity

Now I am going to leave the story of what this unpromising piece of brickwork is all about to my friend  the archivist at the Together Trust.

She  has matched a hidden brick wall with some old plans, a photograph and come up with another story on the work of  the Victorian charity, The Manchester and Salford Boys' and Girls' Refuges.

It began in 1870 here in Manchester and  strived to improve the lives of children left destitute, maltreated and exploited.
It is still engaged in this task today

Just follow the link, Digging for Victory, http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/digging-for-victory.html#more

Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust, http://www.togethertrust.org.uk/

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Hough End Hall, that place not quite in Chorlton

This is the last of the three photographs from A Short History of Chorlton, written in 1933 by J.D.Blyth.

The picture was taken by F Blyth in the same year who also printed the book while on his second year course at the Technical College.

“Hough End Hall which was just outside the township in Withington had been home to the Mosley’s while Barlow Hall on the southern edge of Chorlton had been owned by the Barlow family.  Both in their different ways fit into the conventional image of old landed families.  

The Mosley’s had moved into commerce in the late sixteenth century, sided with the Royalist cause in the Civil War and suffered  from spendthrift  gambling members in the eighteenth, finally selling the Hall on to the Egerton’s around 1751. 

Hough End Hall been built at the end of the sixteenth century.   By 1847 it was a farmhouse and was the home of Henry Jackson who farmed 220 acres beyond the eastern boundary of the township. 

This made it one of the largest farms in the area, and Jackson employed 13 labourers, nine of whom lived in the hall.  It was still an impressive sight, leading one observer to write that its
‘ivy-covered walls, its clustered chimneys and its gabled roof, present a picturesque and pleasing appearance.*

Nor did the ivy or its more functional purpose as a farm obscure its classic Elizabethan design.  It was built of brick with three stories. The centre piece was flanked by a bay or arm at each end and a little advance bay in the centre which gave it the characteristic E shape.      

The large communal areas were sometimes later partitioned off into smaller rooms and the census of 1911 describes Hough End Hall with eleven rooms.”

From; The Story of Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/the-story-of-chorlton-cum-hardy.html

* Brooker, Rev John, A History of the Chapels of Didsbury and Chorlton, Chetham Society, Manchester, 1857,

Picture; of Hough End Hall 1933, by F. Blyth, from A Short history of Chorlton-cum-Hardy by J.D. Blyth, 1933



Friday, 27 September 2013

The Flying man over Didsbury in 1911


Bertha's postcard
I am looking at a postcard of Didsbury sent in the summer of 1911.


But the scene is not as important as the message on the back, for Bertha Geary aged just 13 of School Lane has heard history.

“We saw the flying man on Tuesday night fly over head.  Beaumont is his name.  I wish you could have seen him.  It made such a noise.”

He was André Beaumont and he was one of 30 competitors in the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Air Race in 1911. Flying in a Blériot XI he was the first to complete the course which was no mean achievement as many of the aircraft either failed to take off or crashed along the way.

So to him went the £10,000 prize awarded to a man whose real name was Lieutenant Jean Louis Conneau of the French Navy.

All of which today we take for granted but was pure magic and wonderment to young Bertha, after all the persistent buzzing of the aircraft’s engine above her head was something new and I guess louder than anything she had yet encountered.

Bertha's message
The streets were still dominated by the horse drawn vehicle, few had telephones, and radio as a form of mass entertainment was still in its infancy.

So hers was a generation which would embrace profound changes, and this drew me towards Bertha Geary.

She was born in Prestwich in 1898, and her father described himself variously as a school keeper and general labourer.  One of her elder sisters worked as “children’s milliner” and the other made “children’s costumes.”

There the trail goes quiet for Bertha, because if she married I can find no record, nor of when she died but she did leave one clue and that was her address on the postcard.

It is a simple but vital clue which allowed me to track her family on the street directory for 1911, establish a surname and search the census for that year.

It is one of those little rewarding pieces of research which has made writing the new book so much fun.

Didsbury Through Time aims to chronicle the changes in Didsbury over the last century and a bit mixing old images of the place with new photographs and paintings by local artist Peter Topping and concentrates also on the people who lived there.

Mikael Carlson owns and flies two of these Blériot XI
So along with Bertha there are stories of the great and good and the humble and industrious ranging from Fletcher Moss the historian and politician to William Wrightham cab driver and Mary Garside the cook at the Priory.

Many of the original pictures have been donated by local people and we would hope that there may be others who would like to become part of what we are doing by lending their photographs or even sharing their memories of what Didsbury was like.

For more information about how you can become part of this project contact Peter at peter@paintingsfrompictures.co.uk      

Picture; Bertha's postcard from the collection of Paul O'Sullivan and photograph of a Blériot XI, J.Klank, September 2007


Monday, 23 September 2013

On Manchester Road with Uncle John at Redgates Farm at harvest time

We have been making our way down Manchester Road from the junction of Barlow Moor and Wilbraham Roads around the year 1910 and I thought that was pretty much the end of the journey for a while.

But you can’t be on Manchester Road just by the Library where the road swings to the north without mentioning Redgates Farm.

It dates back certainly to the late 18th century and maybe older and 1910 it was just about to disappear.

So I grateful to Carolyn Willits who supplied me with this picture when it was still a working farm, which is why I like this one of Red Gates Farm.

It is all more exciting because one of the men staring back at us is her Uncle John who worked on the farm for the Wood family.

I guess we are looking at the farm on a Sunday in late summer.

It is a quiet enough moment on a working farm. John and the other chap are out of their everyday working clothes into something smarter as befitting a day off.

To the right of the picture are the farm’s chickens pecking away and even further to the right some farm equipment has been left propped up against the tree.

The picture is actually a postcard and reminds us that travelling photographers would record scenes like this to sell back to the residents as well to commercial postcard companies. In this case Uncle John used the card to send a message to the Wood Family.

And we can date the picture to sometime before 1906 when the postcard was sent to James and Florence Wood at 78 Manchester Road.

James was the son of Thomas Wood who had been farming Red Gates since 1881.

Now it might seem bizarre that Uncle John would send a postcard from Red Gates which was just a few minutes’ walk from number 78 but that was how they did it then. With frequent collections and deliveries in a day people did really send a card in the morning to arrange to meet in the afternoon.

Ours was sent at 8.30 in the evening to arrive at breakfast time and the message was simple enough “Another view for your collection taken while harvesting.” And it was to be one of the last.

Thomas Wood the farmer had died in 1902 and sometime in 1913 or ’14 the farm house was demolished to make way for the new library. It says much for the way that Chorlton had changed since Thomas Wood had taken over Red Gates.

It had been one of the larger operations at this end of the township and had still employed three farm workers in 1901. But Thomas Wood was the last to farm Red Gates.

Already two of his sons had chosen not to follow him. James had become a commercial clerk and John a music teacher.

Their farm house with its seven rooms went the way of many of our farm houses, so it is good that Carolyn’s picture has survived.

Picture; Red Gates Farm circa first decade of the 20th century from the collection of Carolyn Willits.

A postcard with a difference, the Cathedral from 1902

I like this postcard of the Cathedral.

It combines a picture of the building along with the coat of arms of the city and an equally attractive image of a ship on the Ship Canal.

And there is a history to it for this will have been one of the last picture post cards to have the message on the front.

Until 1899 picture postcards could only have a small picture and short message on one side with just the address and stamp on the other.  But the regulations were relaxed in 1899 so that companies could produce a larger card with an image on one side and space for the message and address on the reverse.

This was in some part due to the postcard company of Raphael Tuck and Son who spent four years  negotiating with the Post Master General for the change.

The business began with the sale of pictures and frames in 1866 and went to become as a distributor of graphic art printing.

Their first regular series of postcards was issued in 1899, and this may date from soon afterwards.

Now I say that because within a few months of the change in the regulations Tuck had begun to issue the new style of cards.

But ours has the post mark of 1902 which I guess suggests that there were still plenty of the old stock around.

Nor is that all, for the message itself says much about how these early postcards were used.

Betty who sent the card is not interested in any great events, or in communicating holiday news but simply a request to borrow a cwt of coal if “Mr Mr P has not put in the coals.”

And is a reminder that in age before the telephone the post card was the quickest way of getiing in touch.

Picture, Manchester Cathedral, from the series Manchester, a set of three, produced by Tuck & Sons Ltd, courtesy of Tuck DB, http://tuckdb.org/


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Walking through the history of Manchester’s Jewish Community with Bill Williams, the pictures

Now I knew the walk and talk through Manchester’s old Jewish Community, would be good, and according to Bernard it was.

Sadly I missed it but Bernard posted the pictures on face book and left a commentary of the day.
 And here it is.

"Bill starts the walk outside Chethams and on the spot at 144 Long Millgate where stood the Nathan Brother's house, one of the first places where the itinerant Jewish pedlars first settled in Manchester

Bill talks to the group at the bottom of CheethaM Hill Road, opposite what was the Red Bank district whose poverty was described by Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England, and in which many of the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe settled 

Bill is appalled that no recognition is given to this historically important community and the district has now been renamed the "Green Quarter" to help sell the new blocks of flats — with 



Bill talks to the group opposite what was the Redbank district where many of the first Jewish immigrants from Easter Europe settled

The new synagogue, built almost next door to the Great Synagogue now demolished




Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the walk and talk -many thanks, Bill"

Pictures and words courtesy of Bernard Leech

Friday, 20 September 2013

A little bit of the Romans in Bristol

Now I am not sure how many people read the blog in Bristol or for that matter the south west, but that won’t stop me announcing a new exhibition on ROMAN EMPIRE ‘POWER & PEOPLE from September 21st till January at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery*

I am hoping that we will get down to see it, after all it's just about three hours from Chorlton and there are also our close friends Lois and Barri just down the road in Weston, so we shall see.

"Roman Empire: Power and People brings together over 160 stunning pieces from the British Museum to explore the story of one of the most powerful empires the world has ever seen.  

Highlights include sculpture from the villas of the Emperors Tiberius and Hadrian, coins from the famous Hoxne treasure, beautiful jewellery and even near-perfectly preserved children’s clothing from Roman Egypt. 

The exhibition explores the wealth, power and organisation of the Empire, but also how the Romans viewed their provinces and other peoples. Religious, military and personal objects give an insight into the lives of people across the Empire, from northern Britain to Egypt and the Middle East. These fascinating objects show how the influences of the many people and places that the Romans came into contact with were absorbed and adapted into the Empire.

The exhibition debuts at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and is the only stop in the south-west before touring the UK.

With thanks to Exhibition Sponsors Brewin Dolphin and Bond Dickinson and Education Sponsor Bristol Water. 

Roman Empire: Power & People is supported through the generosity of the Dorset Foundation. The exhibition has been developed in partnership with Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives and The British Museum."

So not one to miss then.

*Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Queens Road Bristol, BS8 1R http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/leisure-and-culture/roman-empire-power-and-people

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Leaf Street Swimming Baths, the first of a set of stories

I pretty much took the old Victorian and Edwardian Swimming Baths for granted. 

After all when you are ten the ornate splendour of the wrought iron, the bright glazed tiles and the stained glass is just background to  the business of playing in the water.

I wish I had taken more interest in my surroundings and so now fifty years on I am having to rediscover that magnificence of the Municipal Public Bath.

Sadly all too many have gone, victims of changing recreational habits, cost cutting exercises and the fact that some at least had come to the end of their useful life.

All of which is the lead into a new series on Manchester and Salford’s Swimming Baths and Washhouses.

Now I have always had a fascination for them and the part they have played in the provision of public services by local governemnets.

And this was further advanced by the talk recently at Chorlton History Group on the Swimming Baths of Greater Manchester.*

So this is the start of the series with a second look at Leaf Street Baths in Hulme.

In 1860 the Manchester & Salford Baths and Laundries Company opened their third public baths in Hulme.

The company had been formed in 1855, and built baths in Salford, Mayfield at Ardwick and Victoria Park.  Its assets were bought by Manchester Corporation in 1877.  The company had added a Turkish bath in 1860 which was the first in a public baths in Manchester.  The Leaf Street Baths were demolished in the clearances of the 1970s and today the site is open ground.

When I first posted the story I pondered on who remembered them and the response has been impressive.

There are those who wrote to me describing their first swimming lessons and those who still have their certificate proudly proclaiming their achievement at swimming a length, and memories from Tom who supervised children from nearby Royce School when they attended in the early 1970s.

Nor were the baths just a place for recreation, most also had a washhouse and facilities for families and individuals to take a bath, and in the case of Leaf Street it's own Turkish Baths.

Next, Whitworth Baths on Ashton Old Road and later the role of the Municipal Public Baths in keeping the people of the twin cities clean

*http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-swimming-baths-have-to-be-one-of.html

Pictures; Leaf Street Public Baths, 1920, m57327 and entrance m57328, Bath cubicle for private washing washing, 1920, m57333 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council

Shooters Hill Local History Group – Prisoners of War and the Local Community tonight at 8... see below

Shooters Hill Golf Course – site of a WWII PoW Camp
Now I just love local history groups and as I have said before I happily hoover them up, read their blogs and try to get to some of their meetings.

So imagine my disappointment about not getting a plug in for Shooters Hill Local History Group's talk this evening, at Shrewsbury House starting at 8.00pm.

"There is a small charge to cover the cost of the room. It features a talk by local archaeologist Andy Brockman entitled ‘Enemies no Longer: POW Working Company 1020 and the community of Shooters Hill and Welling’.

Andy Brockman is a Conflict Archaeologist, whose previous Shooters Hill work includes the Digging Dad’s Army project and the Time Team Blitzkreig on Shooters Hill episode. He was also Lead Archaeologist on the recent Burma Spitfires Project and is project manager at the archaeology and environmental campaigning group Mortimer.

The Prisoner of War camp, according to David Lloyd Bathe’s “Steeped In History”, housed 400 German and Italian prisoners. It included barracks for the prisoners, a recreation room, kitchen, officers’ mess, infirmary and cobblers and tailors shop. 

The cookhouse was situated near the golf course’s 17th green. The prisoners’ activities included working in the warehouses at the North Woolwich docks and helping with the potato harvest at Woodlands Farm. Surprisingly they were allowed to move freely within a 5-mile radius of the camp during daylight hours.”

I was alerted by that excellent site e – Shooters Hill* which I have featured already.

Of course Chorlton-cum-Hardy is a long way from Shooters Hill so I shall content myself with waiting for the feed back

*http://eshootershill.co.uk/shlhg/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+e-shootershill+%28e-shootershill%29&utm_content=Yahoo%21+Mail

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Be careful what you wish for, ................. the darker side of family history

Now I know that one person’s family history can be another’s yawn but I like reading about family stories because they often give a context to the bigger picture.

But they can also reveal deep tragedies which you sometimes wish you hadn’t uncovered and make you question whether it is proper to crawl over other people’s lives.

And I don’t think the distance of time and place alters that simple uneasy feeling that maybe, just maybe there is more than a littler voyeurism in unravelling their past.

Born in the Derby Workhouse, Laura Hall 1902
So in the course of my own family journey I have discovered the brother of my great grandmother who committed suicide with a cut throat razor, the shocking medical history of my great grandfather during his time with the Colours in the 1880s, and the birth of my great aunt in the Derby Workhouse.  Along the way there are also stories of grinding poverty, premature deaths, illiteracy and my own British Home Child.*

Always the discoveries bring you close up to the darker side of family history.
And so it is with one of my uncles, a man I never met and until just a decade and half ago I didn’t know existed.

He appeared on a family tree drawn up my uncle Fergus in the late 1990s but neither my father nor his brothers would give much away.  The best I got was that after an unhappy marriage in Gateshead he moved south and died not long after I was born.

For whatever reason he cut all ties with the family and on the death of his mother, my grandmother Uncle George tried tracking him down only to discover he had already died.

Possibly an early photograph of my uncle
“His hostess told me that he had a heart condition and had been told a week in hospital would put it right and that no other treatment was necessary.”**

A search of the records got me nowhere and as you do I moved on.  More recently I found him, with first a reference to his death in 1953 and then his marriage.
But even here it proved more difficult to bring him out of the shadows.  His death certificate was easy enough to obtain but that marriage record fell because I had incorrectly supplied the wrong information to the General Registry Office, and not for the first time I pondered on some sort of conspiracy.

Now that of course is pure tosh, so I will check the details and resubmit the application.

In the meantime I have the death certificate which simply states the cause of death as Chronic Bronchitis and Myocardial degeneration, the two are connected and the first appears to be caused by heavy smoking.

He lived in a series of rented rooms around Burmingham and looking at the streets today they seem comfortable pleasant places. I am curious to know who his last landlady was but the electoral roll for Birmingham 15 in 1952-53 is unavailable well at least for me here in Manchester so I shall have to wait.

Either way it was a sad and lonely death.  The other occupants in the house could not have been very close for no one could give an exact age and his “occupation [was] unknown.”

His brother and my uncle, George Bradford Simpson
The same letter from my uncle talked of him being an engineer which was a job he didn’t like because of the noise.

Not much I know but enough for me to feel saddened at his death and a little pleased that he has come out of the family shadows.

And I think I will try again for the marriage certificate.

*British Home Children were those migrated by charities and the Poor Law Guardians to Canada and later Australia from 1870 right up to the 1970s in the case of Australia.

**George Simpson, 1992

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 34 calling in the sweep again before another winter

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

Now the downside of open fires is that they have to be swept every year which when you have five can be a costly business, but it is just one of the things you have to do.

John** our sweep always suggests it should be done in the summer which after all spreads his work load, means that you are not living through the summer with sooty chimneys and prevents having to join a long queue.

And every year I resolve to do just this and every year I don’t.

This time it is a little different, for while we were away in the sun on a Greek island a bird got trapped in one of the flues and we are now plagued with flies.  That said once we had worked out the problem and sealed the fire place the flies no longer trouble us.

It is just one of those things that come with chimneys that are open to the heavens and it will be just something that Joe and Mary Ann took in their stride, as did everyone else during the last few centuries when wood and coal burning in an open grate was how to kept warm and cooked your food.

So the sweep was an important part of the landscape.

In 1911 there were sixty-three of them in the city and we had three.  Henry Thomas at number 3 Vicars Rd, Charles Morris, 12 Sandy Lane and Henry Thomas from 4 Brownhill Buildings, Sandy Lane.

Originally the job was done with brushes and I can still remember the sweep at home pushing the broom up and around the chimney, sweeping the soot clear until finally the brush appeared at top poking out of the chimney.

Now what I wasn’t quite prepared for was that John still uses a brush but of course today the actual business is done with a giant vacuum cleaner.  Quick, clean and pain free.

Like most people Joe and Mary Ann would have had their chimneys swept regularly, if for nothing else than to prevent the danger of a chimney fire which when I was growing up was still a feature of the winter.

Not that I think they used the open fires in the bedrooms, for the ceramic tiles do not look like they are fire proof, but then what do I know?

And that in a sense is the problem with the house.  I grew up with coal fires but by the time I was grown up they had pretty much gone out of fashion.  The coming of the smokeless zones in urban areas and cheap oil and gas central heating meant that the open fire just went out of fashion.

So when we reinstated the first in the 1980s it was a bit of a steep learning curve, and while it is all very straight forward those bed room fire places remain a mystery.


But I think the answer may be that by the time Joe and Mary Ann were here the electric fire had made an appearance.

The first was marketed in the USA in 1908 a full twelve years before the house was built.

Now I will need to do some research on this but I rather think if they were available they would have had them.

As early as the mid 1920s Joe was advertising that the houses he built came with electricity throughout including to the garage.

So given that no one spends that long in the bedroom without getting into bed maybe electricity was the answer.

All of which means they may never have been used.

That said I think we shall have all the upstairs ones swept as well as the two downstairs which will be a bit of history, because in the 37 years I have lived here they have never been done.

I await John’s comments.

Pictures; from the collection of Lois Elsden and Andrew Simpson

* The story of a house, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20a%20house

**Acorn Chimney Sweeping Serviceshttp://acornchimneysweepingservices.co.uk/contact

Monday, 16 September 2013

On Manchester Road in the summer of 1900 waiting to catch the horse drawn bus

Over the last few days we have been making our way through Martledge in the summer of 1910 and this is the final picture of the journey.

We are almost at the point where the road swings round to head north.

The parade of shops which was known as Hastings Buildings can be seen to the left behind the bus, and just out of sight on the left was Red Gate Farm now the site of the Library.

But we are a full ten years earlier than the other pictures and the clue is the horse drawn bus which was only withdrawn when the tram service was extended into Chorlton in 1907.

It is a wonderful period piece.

The houses all have fine hedges and high trees but those on the corner have long gone.

And on that sunny day possibly in 1900 the woman with the pram perfectly captures that mix of surprise and curiosity as the photographer sets about capturing the moment.

Only matched by the glances of the passengers on the bus who I suppose were no more expecting to be caught on camera.

There will be no one now who remembers these horse drawn buses which until 1901 were run by the Manchester Carriage Company.

In that year their operations were taken over by Manchester Corporation who moved fairly quickly to replace the horse with the tram.

On April 13 1903 a tram service from Bell Vue via Brook's Bar and Upper Chorlton Road was extended to West Point and four years later to Lane End.*

But the horse was to remain an important part of how people and goods were moved around the city for another few decades.

And just like there will be any one left who can realte their own experiences on the top deck of one of those horse drawn buses arriving by Red Gate Farm, I doubt that there will be many who also remember the houses on the corner.

All of which makes this a unique image of lost Chorlton.

*West Point is where Upper Chorlton Road, joins Seymour Grove and Manchester Road, Lane End was the junction between Sandy lane, Barlow Moor Road and High Lane.

Picture; from the Lloyd Collection

Saturday, 14 September 2013

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 34, no more milkmen

Mr Riley and milk cart at Ivy Farm on Beech Road, circa 1920s
The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

Milkmen have pretty much vanished from our streets.

Having said that I did see one yesterday morning.

It was about 4.30 and his quiet float was making its way up Beech Road in the dead of night.

It is something you rarely see today and yet well into the late 1990s it was how many of us still got our milk, along with the eggs, the butter and those glass bottles of orange squash.

It also led to that practice of “following the milkman home” after a particularly late night and to “catching the milk train” which were those fist trains of the day carrying the milk from outlying areas into the cities and towns.

In yard of Ivy Farm, circa 1920s
Now when Joe and Mary Ann set up home on Beech Road in 1920 I guess they got their milk from one of the local farms of which there were still quite a few, including old Higginbotham’s on the green, Ivy Farm on Beech Road and the Bailey farm at the bottom of Sandy Lane.

The memory of being sent to collect milk or butter from these farms is only now fading from living memory.

Mary Ann will have had hers delivered, first from a horse and cart, later by milk float still drawn by a horse but with those giant rubber wheels and only later by the familiar electric powered float.

Mr Riley with number 59 Beech Road behind him circa 1920s
And over the years the production of milk will have passed from the local farmer and Creamery to the big dairies with their yards around the city.

Our own one on Brookburn Road only closed a decade or so ago and that of Herald’s in Didsbury a little later.

Living in rural Chorlton was to get your milk fresh and relatively clean.

For those living in the city during the 19th century this was less certain.

There were plenty of small dairies and creameries in the heart of all our big towns and cities supplied by cows which lived beside the business.

In 1911 there were 462 dairymen listed in the city.  Some were very small concerns while others like Burgess of Gartside Street between New Quay Street and Bridge Street spread over four properties with another branch in Hampson Street Salford

Milk float at Acre Top Farm, 1930
The development of railways made it possible to bring milk in from the surrounding countryside and so while the dairies remained the city cows vanished from the scene.

But there were many at the beginning of the 20th century who felt unease at the milk we drank.

In 1907 one correspondent to the Manchester Guardian had asked that simple question “Can the present system of milk supply be improved?”** 

It was an issue of public safety for what was wanted “is milk which is clean and free from pathogenic germs and which is rich in fat.”

Delivering the milk with a Burgon Company cart, 1926
But given the often poor level of scrutiny on the farm and during transportation there was no guarantee of its purity for “milk is a mysterious fluid which tells no tales of its manipulation.”  

Moreover it was also at the mercy of “crowds of filthy shops in which milk is exposed side by side with firewood and candles.”

At every stage there was the danger of contamination.

“The difficulty on the farm is to secure cleanliness in the milker, the atmosphere, the cooling plant and the churn.  The difficulty in the town dairy is largely in the dust laden atmosphere, which alone shows the need of bottling.  The difficulties in the home are dirty jugs and other vessels in which the milk is exposed until it is required.”

Milk churns, 1920
And so not for the first time there had been a call for the involvement of the municipal authorities in the production, supply and provision of milk.

This was after all a period when in the interests of public health local government was getting more and more involved in everything from transport and education to housing, sanitation along with clean drinking water, gas and electric supplies.

But by the time I was born supplies were safe and that familiar delivery every morning was  a mark of a civilized way of  life along with the newspaper on the door mat and the return of the postman with the second delivery later in the day.

Milk float 1985
And all three are almost no more.

First the home fridge and then the supermarket reduced the need for a daily pint to be delivered to the door.

Here on Beech Road the deliveries lingered on till the turn of the century, but you got that sense that like the rag and bone man and the knife grinder their day was numbered.

Pictures; Three pictures of Ivy Farm on Beech Road run by Mr Riley, circa 1920s courtesy of Bernard Leech, Milk float at Acre Top Farm, off Heaton Park Road Blackley, 1930, donated to the collection by Mr Roy Jackson, m80514, Milk cart from Burgess Creamery, Gartside Street Manchester, 1926, m60091Milk cart from Burgess Creamery, Gartside Street Manchester, 1920, m60098, milk float, 1985, m 48820, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council

*The story of a house, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20a%20house

**James Long, Municipal Milk, Manchester Guardian, November 20th, 1907



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Out at Park Eye, in 1928 with Mrs Dywer watching as the Parkway was constructed, well maybe

There can be few people who now recognise this scene.

We are out by the construction of Princess Parkway and the caption gives the year as 1928.

In the distance is Christ Church and we are looking out on Park Eye which was a 58 acre parcel of meadow and woodland bounded on three sides by the Mersey and part of Barlow Hall Farm.

The development of Wythenshawe assumed a number of main roads out of the estate and the northern one was to be Princess Parkway.

The section from town had already been constructed by the mid 1920s, but it terminated at West Didsbury where it joined Barlow Moor Road.

And so on what looks to be a summer’s day Mrs Dwyer or one of her family had taken a stroll out and snapped the scene.

As such it is yet another reminder of the importance of the snap.

I doubt that the scene would have interested the professional photographer who was more interested in the commercial possibilities of a picture which would be marketed as a post card and sell in the thousands.

So it was left to Mrs Dywer to record the moment another bit of rural Chorlton started to disappear.

And hers is unique.

I have checked the digital archive of the local history collection and there are only a few of the construction of the road and just one which dates from 1928.

This is of the bridge across the Mersey.  All the remaining pictures date from the 1930s onwards.*

Nor are there any photographs from the Chorlton end.  It may not be a great claim to fame but it is the only record we have of the parkway under construction.

And since I wrote the post David has commented, "regarding your Tweet about Princess Parkway.

I'm not sure the date on the photograph of Mrs Dywer is correct. The other point is the road up to Barlow Moor was always called Princess Road. The new road from Barlow Moor Road to Altrincham/Stockport Road was called only called Princess Parkway after it was opened on 1st February 1932.

The first work on the construction of this extension was in January 1929 when four bore-holes were drilled (for the bridge over the Mersey). It was Sheena Simon who suggested the name Princess Parkway in April 1932."**

Now that is how I like my history.

Picture; originaly courtesy of Mrs Dwyer and now in the Lloyd Collection

*There is another copy of this image in the collection with the date 1920 but this must have been wrongly dated given the history of Wythenshawe.

***The Didsbury Village Bookshop, http://homepage.ntlworld.com/kathleen.gilligan/bob/Revews.htm

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

West Point on the Chorlton, Trafford border and that marker sign

It’s less a new story and more an update on an old one.

West Point is the area around the junction of Upper Chorlton Road, Manchester Road and Seymour Grove.

Before its development as an area of fine houses for wealthy families it was known simply as the Flash.

But West Point was its name for most of the last decades of the 19th century and well into the following.

Since then the name has rather faded from living memory.

Recently there was a move to reinstate both the name and erect a sign post.

So David who lives in Firswood set the ball rolling by approaching a councillor in the Longford ward of Trafford who was sympathetic and collecting signatures on a petition.

The hope was that Trafford Council would fund the cost, but sadly it felt the area was too small to warrant a sign and would also “create confusion for people trying to find the building West Point at the junction of Chester Road and Stretford Road.”*

And while it had no objection to the erection of a marker pillar it “currently has no funding to pay for such a feature.”

This does not rule out a marker pillar but this would have to be paid for by voluntary contributions, which given the present economic climate is understandable.

So we shall see.

Pictures; of West Point from the Lloyd collection

*RE: PETITION Requesting ‘West Point’ Marker or Sign, August 21 2013

Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs


And here is an announcement from the London Transort Museum

Until 5 January 2014

"By popular demand the Museum’s blockbuster exhibition Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs has been extended until 5 January 2014.

Entry to the exhibition is included in price of admission.

Since its first graphic poster commission in 1908, London Underground has developed a worldwide reputation for commissioning outstanding poster designs, becoming a pioneering patron of poster art - a legacy that continues today.

Our new blockbuster exhibition Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs, will showcase 150 of the greatest Underground posters ever produced. 

Supported by Siemens, and forming part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the London Underground, the exhibition will feature posters by many famous artists including Edward McKnight Kauffer and Paul Nash, and designs from each decade over the last 100 years. 

The posters were selected from the Museum’s archive of over 3,300 Underground posters by a panel of experts; the 150 that will appear in the exhibition show the range and depth of the Museum’s collection. 

Poster Art 150 is a fitting exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the world’s first underground railway, as the last major Underground poster retrospective was held in 1963 to celebrate the centenary of the Underground. 

Well-known posters, including the surrealist photographer Man Ray’s ‘Keeps London Going’ pair, will feature alongside lesser-known gems. The exhibition will also offer a rare opportunity to view letter-press posters from the late nineteenth century.

The exhibition focuses on six themes:

Finding your way includes Underground maps and etiquette posters. It also includes posters carrying messages to reassure passengers by showing them what the Underground is like.

London Transport Museum
Covent Garden Piazza
London, WC2E 7BB
http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/exhibitions

Monday, 9 September 2013

Back with the White Lion and the Scala in 1960 with a message destined for the other side of the Iron Curtain

Now, you can wait for a postcard on Withington to appear and then two turn up at the same time.

So after yesterday’s picture of the Scala on Wilmslow Road here is almost the same scene shot from the other side.

And I rather think it will have been the same photographer who just walked the few yards and set up business all over again.

So there in the corner is the picture house with the White Lion beside it.

I knew both of them well but it will be a full decade before the dive bar was opened in the cellar, with the posters which aped politicians from the old Soviet Union and ere really only adverts for Watney’s Red Barrel.

The date on the collection is 1960 but our card was sent seven years later in April 1967.

And it  is a pointer to the longevity of the postcard which had begun in the late 19th century but was very much on a downward spiral by the time this one started on its journey to Czechoslovakia.

Once in the absence of the telephone and frequent deliveries and collections the picture postcard was the most effective way of sending a message.

So much so that one sent in the morning would arrive later in the day.

But of course by 1967 all that was changing for while there might still not be a phone in every home there would be a phone box pretty much everywhere.

I can still remember the long cold evenings spent phoning home from the kiosk on the corner of Wilmslow and Egerton Crescent, but that is beginning to offer up a little too much detail so I shall close with the observation that our card was gong behind the Iron Curtain and 1967 was a full year before the Prague Spring and many decades before the fall of the Wall.

And if that is not enough of a puzzle there is one more and that revolves around the film at the Scala which on that summer's day in 1960 was East of Java.

Now the only film I can track down was Krakatoa, East of Java, which came out in 1969 and is unlikely to have hit Withington until the early 70s.

Of course there will be an explanation and I guess some one with the knowledge to solve the mystery.

We shall see.

Picture; Wilmlsow Road and the White Lion 1960, from the set Withington Lillywhite, Tuck & Sons, courtesy of TuckDB http://tuckdb.org/history

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Lloyd's Hotel, pub, fire exchange, public hall and now an exhibition


It’s the end of a little bit of the Chorlton I have come to like.  

The team that have run the Lloyd’s Hotel for the last few years are moving on and tonight will be their last.

After which the place will close until it reopens in about six week’s time.

So in recognition of the good nights I have had there and as a thank you to the team here is one of the Lloyd stories reprinted from 2012.


It was also one of the venues for that collection of Peter’s paintings and my stories which are the Chorlton History Trail.

It’s not our oldest pub in Chorlton but it has been up since 1870 and played its part in the history of the township.*

It arose out of a partnership between George Lloyd who owned the land and James Platt who built it and the partnership is recorded on a stone inset into the wall.

But once Platt died the place was renamed the Lloyd.

During the 1880s it was bought by a William Roberts and it was the landlady a Mrs Crabtree who by all accounts “improved the place considerably in various particulars” and it may have been her who encouraged the bowling green members to build their own club house which was open on Wednesdays during the season.

She was an enterprising woman with an eye for business and also laid out a lawn tennis court on the open land along side Whitelow Road which later became a car park and is now the site for the modern housing development.

For many years there was a small wooden hut just outside the hotel which was the cabman’s shelter when we still had horse drawn cabs.  Alongside it according to one story was the fire cart with a hand pump and ladder to be used in the event of a local fire.  I can’t say I would have felt reassured by this and so would have welcomed the fire phone.

This was installed in the Lloyd's In 1887 and in the event of a fire residents in the area of New Chorlton could use it and would be connected via the Withington Board Office to the Manchester Exchange who would pass it on to the fire brigade at Jackson's Row.

On the other hand, given that the emergency had to be relayed from Chorlton to Withington and on to Manchester, perhaps the hand cart wasn’t such a bad idea. Moreover the telephone link was fraught with difficulties as the manager of the Lancashire and Cheshire Telephonic Exchange pointed out in the February of that year, because it only needed “the switch at the Local Board’s offices to be left out of its proper position” and the signal from the Lloyd’s Hotel would not get through to the operator in Manchester. His solution was for the Withington Board to pay the annual fee of £30-40 to secure a line.

In its time the Lloyd’s was also at the centre of so much of the life at this end of Chorlton. For a short while the Conservative Association met there along with the Primrose League and the Clarion Supporters.  It was also where the enquiry into the great burial scandal took place and even had a body laid out after a suspected suicide on the railway in 1901.

So it is fitting that all this history should be rewarded by a new exhibition in the pub.  Peter has brought along some of his paintings and I have supplied the stories and it is another of those events from the GLAD TO BE IN CHORLTON series.

Pictures; the Lloyd’s Hotel circa 1900, from the Lloyd collection,  a new painting of the pub by Peter Topping and a preview of the exhibition © Peter Topping 2012 www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk