Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The lost Chorlton football teams

This may well be the last of the stories on Chorlton Albion who were one of our amateur football teams in the 1920s.

I was first drawn to them by my friend Ann whose dad played for them and in searching its history I came across a lost football world.

Now I say lost but there will be those who indignantly write to me with details of all our local teams pointing out that in a club house somewhere in the township are the records of the games they played, the team lists and plenty of photographs.

I hope so if only to advance our knowledge.

But in the mean time here are the teams, courtesy of John R. Howard*

*Lancashire & Cheshire Amateur Football League 1909-2009, John R. Howard, 2008

**All the grounds of East Chorlton, 1933-94, Withington Road 1933-34, Boat House Field Northenden 1934-35, Hough End Fields 1935-61, Mersey Bank Playing Fields 1961-62 & 19665-66, Chorlton Grammar School 1962-65, Brookburn  Road 1966-94

On saying thank you and also asking permission

On the Local History shelf in Central Ref, April 2014
Now as accustomed as I am to showing off, here courtesy of David Gilligan is that not to be missed book on the story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy and just to show I am not mercenary at heart this was one of two I donated to Manchester Public Libraries and can be found on the shelves at Central Ref and another in Chorlton Library.  

Thanks to David whose web site is full of interesting and thought provoking material.

And yes the book was actually in exchange for using some of the Library’s images.

Now of course there is also a serious point which is the obvious one that you should always credit your sources and above all ask permission to use images.

It can be frustrating when permission for the picture you want is not forthcoming.

I am sitting on two stories about Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs, published in 1862.

I have quoted a few short passages but have yet to hear from the publishers who reprinted the book in 2012.

And that is after I purchased it both on Kindle and as a hard copy.

But the work isn’t mind to go throwing around so there you have it.

Picture; courtesy of David Gilligan, April 2014

The Didsbury Village Book Shop,

Building homes for our neglected children, the story of Frank Brookhouse Dunkerley

Now I am back with the Together Trust and their excellent blog which focus on the work of the Manchester & Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges.

The charity was set up in 1870 to provide a bed and a meal to destitute children and quickly expanded to become an important advocate for young people in the twin cities.

And today the blog has focused on the work of the Manchester Architect, F. B. Dunkerley and the work he did for the Manchester and Salford Refuges and Homes.

So that said I shall just direct you as ever to the site which tells the story and makes the links better than I could.

Picture, courtesy of the Together Trust.

* Frank Brookhouse Dunkerley,

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Tracking the football career of young William Stevens of Chorlton

Chorlton Albion 1924-25
It began as a search for Chorlton Albion A.F.C., which was the team the young William Stevens played for in 1925 and as so often happens it became much more.*

"The early years of 20th Century saw the appearance of several football clubs in the suburbs, some short-lived. Chorlton Albion (1925), whose home pitch was on the corner of Hardy Lane and Barlow Moor Road, near where the Co-op is now"**

Now Albion are more likely to have had their ground further along Hardy Lane either sharing with Chorlton Cricket team or close by.

Chorlton Albion membership card 1924-25
Young William played for them and we have some team pictures in which he features along with newspaper reports which record his achievements and a series of postcards notifying him of away matches.

And as I write more of the team's story  is coming to light.

They were formed in 1922 and lasted till 1928 and during their last season played in "light blue shirts and white knickers."

We have a list of the President, Vice Presidents, the three secretaries and some of the players.

And I will soon have access to some fascinating newspaper clippings of the team during its last season, all of which should yield more about the Albion.

So for the time being that is it but judging by the newspaper reports there were plenty of different Chorlton clubs in the first two decades of the last century.

In 1907 Chorlton-cum-Hardy won the Lancashire Amateur Cup having defeated Whalley Range in the semi finals and scoring the only goal in the final against Manchester University who were reckoned to be the favourites.

Chorlton continued to play into the 1920s by which time there were others.

Chorlton Albion
These included Chorlton Road Congregational from 1911-1914, Chorlton Amateurs, who are listed in 1921, Chorltonville in 1924 and Old Chorltonians which first registered in 1920 and lasted till 1927 when they disbanded and formed a Rugby Club.

The following year another team bearing the name Old Chorltonians was established by former students of the local school and the club continues today although it dropped the “old” in 2007.

In that long history it saw off its rival team East Chorlton F.C which became Wilbrahampton, had great successes in the 1930s and folded in 1994.

Now it is possible William played for some of these other teams.  He was born in 1905 and depending on what happened to Albion could have joined East Chorlton and may well have dined out on the stories of Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s magnificent victory in the Lancashire Amateur Cup.

Manchester Guardian April 8 1907
But that I fear may have taken us into the realms of speculation.  So in true football style I shall close with the final comments from the Manchester Guardian for April 8 1907,

“The start saw University attack in great style, and Heap, before five minutes had passed tested Branston to this upmost.

The ball appeared to be going into the top corner of the goal, but at the right moment the Chorlton custodian jumped up and turned it over the bar – a splendid save.  Heap lost a grand opportunity soon afterwards.  

Away match postcard 1925
From a centre by Green he, with a clear course, shot yards over the bar.  
The point that gave Chorlton their victory came close to the interval.  

After the ball had been hovering about the University goal it came out to Wedge.  

He took the ball on the bounce, with a terrific drive shot into the net, well out of the reach of Knott.”***

And despite some close pressure on Chorlton during the second half the University could not score.

There is more but that I think is enough.
Instead I shall return to trawling the papers for more on our teams and in particular Chorlton Albion.

Pictures; from the collection of Ann Love.

* Who now remembers Chorlton Albion?

**South Manchester Remembered, Graham Phytian 2012

*** Lancashire Amateur Cup, Manchester Guardian, April 8 1907

Coming tomorrow, The lost Chorlton Football Teams

Monday, 28 April 2014

Remembering those on our war memorial

© Rod Allday
Yesterday I was thinking about the contribution Eltham made to the Great War.*

And a little later in the day I received the latest newsletter from the Eltham Society** which highlighted the efforts to track the 227 names which appear on the war memorial.

This is not an easy task not least because a large number of the service records of those who fought were destroyed during the Second World War.

And until relatively recently many of the other sources which might give clues to their lives were not available on line and might be deposited in a number of different locations.

But despite these obstacles it has been possible to uncover something about all but four of the men who “marched away”

The bulk of this research was undertaken by Tony Robins from 1991 till his death in 2004, and since then by Mr Nigel Bennett.

The four remaining “Unknowns” are J.Mather, R.S.Thomas, R. Ward and H or I Young.

© Stephen Craven
But that isn’t quite the end of the quest, “Mr Bennett has discovered others whom he feels should be on the list, having been Servicemen of Eltham in WW1 but who died in England, perhaps after the Armistice on 11 November 1918, as a result of their injuries or illness.
At this late stage the names cannot be added to the stone.  

That was done only at the specific request of the families of those commemorated, in the mid 1920s.  But we could add them to the digital and paper listings, at the IWM and locally for posterity.  

Some have standard-type Commonwealth War Commission gravestones in the churchyard.  Others were buried with family members.”***

So there is the challenge.

As we run up to the centenary of the outbreak of the war it would be fitting if something of the lives of the remaining Unknown Four could be found.

Anyone wishing to help can contact the Eltham Society.****

Pictures; the war memorial © Rod Allday, & © Stephen Craven, and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

*Remembering the Great War and Eltham, 
**1914-1918 Eltham’s Commemoration 2014-2018 Part One: FOUR TO FIND and FOUR TO EXPAND ON, Margaret E. Taylor,  The Eltham Society Newsletter No 196 May 2014

***ibid 1914-1918 Eltham’s Commemoration

****The Eltham Society,

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Discovering a lost Seymour Grove

Broom House, 2014
I have to say it is almost impossible to recognise Seymour Grove in Thomas Ellwood’s description of the road as it would have been in the early 19th century,

“Trafford Lane, now Seymour Grove; was formerly nothing more than an old lane or rough cart road, with deep ditches at each side, overshadowed by trees, and used chiefly by the farmers and foot-passengers of the village.”*

Back then it was one of the routes you might have taken out of the village and up along Manchester Road towards Chester Road.

Of course you could have taken the new route which had been cut by Samuel Brooks which at first carried his name before becoming Upper Chorlton Road but you would have had to pay for the privilege and so for many the rough cart road with its deep ditches and overhanging trees was the chosen way into town.

And the journey would have been a fairly lonely one with not a house insight till you got to the upper end.

That cluster of houses with fine sounding names in 1854
Here there were a cluster of house with grand sounding names like Limegrove House, Broom House and Green Bank along with Brainerd Terrace, Seymour Cottages and Garrow Hill.

And the occupants of these fine sounding properties had equally impressive occupations ranging from “land agent” to “Cotton merchant” and “Cotton dealer.”

But all these houses have long since vanished with the exception of one which was perhaps not the most striking of the collection.

This was Broom House and it stands a little back from Seymour Grove sandwiched between a row of late 19th century houses on one side and a modern office block on the other.

Now I can’t be sure when it was built but it was there by 1851 when it was occupied by Mr and Mrs Burbidge.

Sixty years later in 1911 it was home to Mrs Emma Lawton who lived on “private means” and shared the seven roomed house with Martha Ann Swarbrik and Mr John Edwards who described himself as “a master butcher and employer.”

But by then our few select houses had been joined by other and even grander properties.

And yet there were still plenty of open spaces which would not have been filled until well into the century.

The entrance to the Ash, 2014
That said once this new development began it was not that long before those grand properties began to vanish and in their place smaller houses and later still blocks of flats.

Walk down the road today and all that remains of them are the gate posts like the Ash on the corner with Rye Bank Road.

Back in 1911 this was the home of Miss Alice Welsh who lived in this 13 roomed property with her sister and three servants.

Now even the entrance on either side of the posts has been blocked up and the more modest and modern properties are hidden behind trees and bushes.

Pictures; from the collection of Andy Robertson and detail of Old Trafford Lane, later Chorlton Lane and now Seymour Grove from the OS map of Lancashire 1854, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Roads and Footpaths, History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Chapter 6, Thomas Elwood, South Manchester Gazette, December 12 1885

How do you commemorate the centenary of the Great War?

The centenary of the outbreak of the Great War is fast approaching and already the books, films and documentaries have been appearing in ever greater number and will continue beyond August and right up the 100 anniversary of the armistice in 2018.*

For most of us the conflict has long since passed out of living memory, the last of my uncles to have fought in that war died in 2000, his older brother in 1990 and my grandfather in 1970.

So in a very real sense as a piece of family history it is now a remote event, more so because none of them spoke of it.

And we have very few personal items from any of them.

There is one letter from my uncle Ferguson dated December 1918 which describes Cologne and of his unit’s preparations to cross the Rhine along with a Christmas card showing a group of his regiment decked out in kilts chasing the Germans.

We also have some photographs, my grandfather’s medals, and a metal note book case emblazoned with a German cross which is a reminder that some of my family fought on the “other side.”

Only the service records of my great uncle Roger have survived and these only because he served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and so were not destroyed during the blitz.

And that pretty much is the lot, unless you include the discharge papers of my grandfather who left the army in 1922 having served since 1916 and two letters from the War Ministry advising my great grandfather’s wife of his pension payments.

I suspect that the same is true for most families which leaves us all looking at the official war photographs, reading the war poets and visiting the memorials as the closest way we will touch that past conflict.

Which brings me back to that central question of how to commemorate those four years?  And indeed those that followed as people adjusted to peacetime with the loss of loved ones, wounds that scarred young lives and just getting by in a changed world.

All those history books and documentaries will give a context and help explain the causes of the war along with its course, the post war consequences and a sense of what was happening to those on all sides.

But as useful as these are they don’t I think get under the conflict and allow us to touch the experiences of the many that were swept up by it.

One collection that does comes from David Harrop who has been collecting the ephemera from both world wars and much else besides.

The collection includes post cards, letters photographs and the sort of souvenirs we all buy from time to time.

But what makes them remarkable is that they are the everyday objects that will have passed through households during the war and as such allow you an insight into the daily routines as well as the high dramas of life at the time.

Some of his collection is on permanent display in the Memorial Hall at the entrance to Southern Cemetery and there will also be travelling exhibitions in Southport on July 28th and Oldham on August 4th.**

Pictures; from the collection of David Harrop

*The Great War,

**The Atkinson, Lord Street, Southport from July 28 and Oldham Archives, Union Street, Oldham, from August 4

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Salutation gives up some of its secrets

The Salutation, 2014
Now I came very late to the Salutation.

In fact despite knowing about it for a full four decades I went there for the first time just three years ago.

I was in the company of my old friend Joe and having done an exhibition at the Art College we fell into the pub and spent an enjoyable afternoon.

Unlike me it has been one of Joe’s haunts from when he was a student at the College and its mix of good beer, interesting characters and historic setting regularly drew him back.

But I have to confess I knew nothing of its history and so after looking at Peter’s painting I resolved to do the business.

The lazy side of me started with an MEN article that “170-year-old Hulme pub gets £235k makeover,”*which takes you back to 1844.

But not content with that I dug deeper and came up with Elizabeth Beverley who was running the place in 1840s and seems to have been there from 1833, and a full eight years earlier it was run by Thomas Beverley.

Elizabeth stayed in the Chorlton on Medlock area until her death in 1866, but seems to have given up the Salutation sometime between 1844 and 1849.

The Salutation, 1849, surrounded by houses timber yards and mills
Thomas remains a shadowy figure who appears in the rate records living in different parts of the city and may have had various jobs before becoming a publican.
Elizabeth was his second wife and they married in 1820 just five years after his first marriage.

All of which is a long way from the Salutation but in the course of wandering through the story of the Beverley’s we have at least pushed the date of the pub back a full twenty years.

It is there listed in the directories for 1828 but not for 1825.

There may be references to it in the licensing records but that will have to wait.

But I remain intrigued by Elizabeth Beverley and I am off to see what the rest of her life reveals.

Painting; The Salutation,© 2014 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,
Facebook:  Paintings from Pictures

Picture; detail from the Manchester & Salford OS 1844-49, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Joy as 170-year-old Hulme pub gets £235k makeover, March 2014

Remembering the Great War and Eltham

George Bradford Simpson, 1918
The centenary of the outbreak of the Great War is fast approaching and already the books, films and documentaries have been appearing in ever greater number and will continue beyond August and right up the 100 anniversary of the armistice in 2018.

For most of us the conflict has long since passed out of living memory, the last of my uncles to have fought in that war died in 2000, his older brother in 1990 and my grandfather in 1970.

So in a very real sense as a piece of family history it is now a remote event, more so because none of them spoke of it.

And we have very few personal items from any of them.

I suspect that the same is true for most families which leaves us all looking at the official war photographs, reading the war poets and visiting the memorials as the closest way we will touch that past conflict.

So in an effort to address that and share what we all have I have decided to explore Eltham’s contribution to the Great War.

Unknown soldier, a friend of GBS, 1918
So here is the appeal, if you have anything and would like to share it with the rest of us I would like to see it along with the stories behind the material.

In my case over the next few months some of our family treasures will creep on to the blog.

There is one letter from my uncle Ferguson dated December 1918 which describes Cologne and of his unit’s preparations to cross the Rhine along with a Christmas card showing a group of his regiment decked out in kilts chasing the Germans.

We also have some photographs, my grandfather’s medals, and a metal note book case emblazoned with a German cross which is a reminder that some of my family fought on the “other side.”

Only the service records of my great uncle Roger have survived and these only because he served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and so were not destroyed during the blitz.

And that pretty much is the lot, unless you include the discharge papers of my grandfather who left the army in 1922 having served since 1916 and two letters from the War Ministry advising my great grandfather’s wife of his pension payments.

So there you have it, not so much a list of half forgotten letters and pictures but a rare record into the lives of those that lived the Great War.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The Great War,

Friday, 25 April 2014

Goodbye to that College in Didsbury part 6 .......another wall plaque to the Rev Archibald Walter Harrison

As the last few months of the College at Didsbury tick away and all things are made ready for the shift to Hulme I am back with one of those bits of its history that has spent the last 70 or so years on a wall.

It reminds us that college began as theological training centre  from 1842 till 1942 and included in this story is the Rev Archibald Walter Harrison.

He was at his death the President of the Methodist Conference and had a long record in the service of the Wesleyan faith.

Born in 1882, he trained for the ministry at Didsbury where he studied for three years “completing his B.Sc degree and passing the Intermediate examination in Divinity before becoming Assistant Tutor.”*

From there he moved across the country as a minister, wrote extensively on church history, was awarded the Military Cross in the Great War, and was variously Vice Principal and then Principal of the Westminster Training College from 1921-1940.

“Methodism was in his bones and in his blood; he understood its peculiar genius, loved its hymnology, served it with splendid loyalty and gave his life to serve it to the uttermost.”**

So I am just left wondering when the wooden plaque was placed in the library and if the Manchester Education Committee made a contribution.

In the meantime it is a nice reminder of the long history of college and thanks again to Pierre for sending it to me.

* W F Howard, Wesleyan Historical Studies, 1946

**ibid, W F Howard

Picture; of the plaque, courtesy of Pierre Grace 
Didsbury, Didsbury College of Education, Goodbye to that College in Didsbury, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester Polytechnic, My Manchester, Rev Archibald Walter Harrison

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Who now remembers Chorlton Albion?

Chorlton Albion, 1925
Now this is less a story and more an appeal for more stories.

It started yesterday with my new friend Ann asking about Chorlton Albion which had been active in the mid 1920s.

Her dad played for them and just to prove they existed she sent me some team pictures, lists of fixtures and a set of postcards inviting the players to away matches.

This was pretty much at the extent of my knowledge so I asked Lawrence who as ever came back straight away with
"The early years of 20th Century saw the appearance of several football clubs in the suburbs, some short-lived. Chorlton Albion (1925), whose home pitch was on the corner of Hardy Lane and Barlow Moor Road, near where the Co-op is now"*

And added “details about defunct football clubs at this level are patchy at best. It throws up questions of where there were any changing facilities, what fixtures did they play and in what colours?”

Away match postcard
Now I can help with the fixtures because Chorlton Albion appear to have played Stalybridge Celtic AFC on a regular basis, and using the away match postcards it was possible to track them down to Mottram Road where the club still play today.

Sadly Chorlton Albion didn’t stay the course.

Their ground was on Hardy Lane and they may have shared the pavilion and ground with the local cricket club.  Or on a stretch of open ground just a little to the east along Hardy Lane, where by 1934 there were tennis courts and another pavilion.

Which ever site it was in the way history repeats itself just a few years ago I was there watching one of my lads in a football competition.

I wish I had known about Albion then because there might have been something in the club house.

As it is there is one clue in that away match postcard for Stalybridge Celtic.  They were in the Cheshire League which had been formed in 1919 and which Celtic joined in 1923 replacing their reserve team who had been members from the start.

Given that Albion regularly played them I suppose there might me a possibility that our team was also in the Cheshire League, but so far I can find no record of their membership.

Site of their ground, from the OS map 1907
All of which leaves me with the hope that out there someone like Ann will have memories of the team or more pictures, and memorabilia.

That said Ann’s collection is a wonderful start and opens up a fascinating glimpse into such football teams.

The away postcards are couched in a style of writing we have long lost with the Secretary “inviting” her father to play and “being “obliged if you will take part.”

And like our brass band I am intrigued to know how the team got to Stalybridge.

Now my guess would be a train from Chorlton to Stockport and then out to Stalybridge, but I imagine some train buff will put me right on that journey and I am sure someone else will pour down information on the Albion.

Let’s hope so.

Pictures; from the collection of Ann Love.

* from Looking Back series in the South Manchester Reporter 19th August 2010 - Amateurs Had It All by Graham Phythian, a notable football historian.

Always look beyond the old stone wall, out on Seymour Grove in the 1890s

Seymour Grove in 2014
Now here is a lesson in always looking at what you pass by.

Over the years I have passed this spot on Seymour Grove countless times and never clocked the stone wall and the gateposts.

And yet here is a little history and perhaps some stories.

It was Andy Robertson on one of his regular wanders around the city armed with just his camera and a  notebook that recorded what was once here and is now long gone.

Fairlawns in 2014
I say long gone but I don’t really have a clue when the block of flats went up on what had been Fairlawns and the Sycamores.

Nor for that matter when the original two houses were built.  Andy has dated Fairlawns and its northern neighbour which was Beech House to 1871 and within another 20 years the Sycamores had joined the other two.

There was still plenty of open land around the houses in the 1890s and all three properties were big houses.

The Beech and Sycamores had ten rooms a piece and Fairlawns weighed in with 8, and all three were set back from the road with largish gardens.

Seymour Grove in 1894
In 1911 all were occupied by those who could regard themselves as comfortably well off.

At the Sycamores was Mr Rueben Bennet who described himself as a former director of the Old Trafford company of Bennett’s which made church stained glass, while at Fairlawns was Richard Haig Brown who had been a railway manager, and at the Beech lived George Forbes who was listed variously as a nurseryman and Cut Flower Merchant.

Now in the fullness of time I think I shall go digging into the lives of all three but in the meantime will content myself with reflecting on just how easy it is to overlook even our most recent past.

Travel down Seymour Grove today and I doubt that many will give a second thought to what was here  or rather not here just over a century and a bit ago.

Back in the 1840s our spot was still farm land dissected by a culverted water course with views north east to woodland and Hullard Hall and west out across more farmland to Great Stone Farm and Chester Road.

The Sycamores in 2014
The Botanic Gardens had yet to get it’s Royal title and the railway was waiting for the funds to drive the plans into a working line.

That said just a little to the north on the opposite side were Lime Grove House, Broom House and Brainerd Terrace which with a additions and name changes were still there 50 years later.

Today only Broom House has survived.  I doubt that any of the original features are left inside but I bet Andy will be down there soon to photograph it, and  I shall go looking for Mrs Emily Lawton who was there in 1911 along with the other residents back as far as the 1840s when Fairlawns, the Sycamores and Beech House were still just a field.

Pictures; from the collection of Andy Robertson and the OS for South Lancashire, 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Stories of Chorlton in the 1950s, coming soon

523 Barlow Moor Road, 1959
Now I always maintain history is messy and sometimes out of nowhere comes a series of unrelated stories which with no prompting from me fall together.

So coming soon will be that series of unrelated stories which bring together the Griffith’s family who ran the builder’s business at 84 Chorlton Road, the cinema just behind it, various local schools and the family that lived at 523 Barlow Moor Road.

And the connection is Ann Love who is related to the Griffith’s, attended St Clements, as well as the Oaks College and Whalley Range School and lived at 523 when it was an undertaker’s.

Ann’s parents bought their bread from the bakery on Needham Avenue and her dad saw Tom Mix at our first cinema which was on Wilbraham Road between the railway line and Buckingham Road.

All of which covers a fair bit of the stories that have recently appeared on the blog.

Picture; 523 Barlow Moor Road, 1959 A H Downes, m17504 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

The Grosvenor Picture Palace on Oxford Road

I like Peter’s painting of the Grosvenor Picture Palace on Oxford Road which captures the elegance of the place.

It was opened in 1915 to a design by Percy Hothersall and with almost a thousand seats was I think the biggest cinema outside the city centre at the time.

Even now long after its days as a place to see films have ceased it is still a pretty impressive building.

Its green and cream terracotta tiles marked it out on that stretch of Oxford Road which apart from the Town Hall opposite and the old offices of the Poor Law Union on the corner of Cavendish Street was a drab spot.

And I just missed going there.

It closed as a cinema in 1968 and I had to be content with using it as a pub which it had become after unsuccessful stints as a bingo hall and snooker venue.

Still some of the original features still exist including the balcony, vaulted ceiling and much plasterwork.
I guess the cinema entrepreneur, H.D. Moorhouse would be pleased.*

The Grosvenor was part of his picture house chain which included two in Chorlton and given that for a while he lived on Wilbraham Road just down from the Lloyd’s Hotel I guess he must have visited the Grosvenor.

*H.D. Moorhouse,

Painting; the Grosvenor Picture Palace  © 2014 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,
Facebook:  Paintings from Pictures

Monday, 21 April 2014

Mr Simpson's Dairy in Moss Side, giving us milk from 1855

Mr Simpson's milk bottle
Now I don’t have a date for the milk bottle and then there will be those that wonder why I should be interested in them anyway.

But they are a rare thing today.

Once upon a time when I was growing up milk came in a glass bottle delivered to your door along with the morning newspaper and was as regular as the postman.

And all of that has pretty much gone.*

Our post arrives sometime around dinner time, newspapers are increasingly arriving as an electronic download and milk comes in plastic containers which you buy from a supermarket.

Not that this is a lament for a lost age.  After all there was a time when you had to go and collect your mail, when newspapers were very expensive and milk came in big open containers and was given out to you in whatever jug, mug or bottle you had at home.

Nor was that all for the milk like as not came from the next street where there would be a small dairy, and step back to the early 19th century and you could have stumbled across the cows which were a feature of all of our towns and cities.

For in an age before the train took the strain transporting large quantities of milk was just not practical.

So with that in mind back to my milk bottle which comes from the collection of Ann Love.

I am sure she sent me the picture because of the name, and not to be out done I went looking for Simpson’s Dairy which was established in 1855.

23 Denton Street, shown in red
And I found it where I expected to, at 23 Denton Street which ran from Upper Moss Lane to Chorlton Road.

James Simpson was doing his milk business from here in 1911 and with a bit of research I should  be able to track the family firm back to 1853 and onwards into the 20th century.

Of course Denton Street has long gone, swept away in the clearances of the 1960s and 70s, but Mackworth street is still there although it has been re-orientated so that it faces east west and not north south.

And as I was writing this piece, Ann told me that she discovered “that Mr and Mrs Simpson bought the house next door at some point, so owned 21 and 23 Denton St. 

They stabled their horses at Brougham Grove, a cul de sac just before Moss Lane, opposite Bentley St, on the left. 

They got their milk (After originally having a few cows) from Batemans Farm at Styal, and changed horses at the Jolly Carter Pub on Royle Green Road”

But like so much of the stories Ann hands to me there are connections.  Her family were related to the Griffiths who still run the builder’s business on Chorlton Road and Mr Simpson’s dairy was but a few minutes away from the cinema that another of her family  ran.

All of which continues to reassure me that history is a messy thing and one that takes you ever off in all sorts of directions.

Pictures;  milk bottle from the collection of Ann Love and detail of Denton Street in 1894 from the OS of South Lancashire, 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Memories of when the milk arrived by horse, of dye cast toys and much more,

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Drum on Chester Road, soon to be a distant memory along with the Angel Hotel which stood on the same spot from 1780

The Drum, 2014
I went looking for the Drum on Chester Road this week.

It’s not hard to find, its shape gives it away and it has been a bit of a landmark for a long time.

That said I had never been inside and I have yet to meet any one who did.

But there will be many who do have memories of drinking in the place and I hope they come forward.

This is especially important given that I doubt the Drum will be with us for much  longer.

It has been closed for sometime, was subject to a planning application in 2013 to demolish the building and replace it with a fast food drive in restaurant and currently the plans have resurfaced in the local media so I guess I  will soon be a done deal.

The Angel Hotel, 1894
And with its passing will go a tiny bit of drinking history because there has been a pub here on this spot since 1780.

Back then it was known as the Angel Hotel and “was much used by stage coaches and by buses passing through the district for the picking up and setting down of passengers, [and like many inns] ale was brewed on the premises.”*

The first licensee was William Moss who in the fullness of time I will try and bring out of the shadows.

The original was an L shape and shows up on Greenwood’s map of 1818 and the 1853 OS for Lancashire.

This was demolished by 1890 for a large brick building with an arch leading to the Bowling Green directly behind the pub.

By 1951 the arch had gone and just twenty year later so had the pub replaced by the Bass Drum which became the Drum.

Forlorn and empty, the Drum, 2014
Now there are six fine images of the Angel spanning the 19th century through 1971 when all that is left is to the hole.

But all six images are the property of Trafford Council and are held in their Local Studies Centre in Sale, and alas they are very particular about who is allowed to reproduce them.

Suffice to say without paying a fee I cannot so I won’t.

Instead you will have to be content with my picture of the Drum which will soon pass into history.

Now I hear someone mutter will my picture be available to the Local Studies Centre and of course the answer is yes, but I suspect they already have more than a few of the Drum.

So there it is, catch it now before it goes for good.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson, detail of the Angel Hotel, from the OS for South Lancashire, 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association

* Trafford Lifetimes,

Out by Pomona Gardens with Andy Roberston

© Andy Robertson 
Now I am at one of those neglected and almost forgotten places with two more of Andy Robertson’s pictures.

In the course of the last year Andy has almost adopted the blog for some of his photographs of how Manchester and the surrounding area are changing.

It is an important project as so often we just take for granted when the for sale signs go up on an old building we know well and within months they have vanished and replaced by a bright something which could be an office, an apartment block or even a school.

Worse still the building lingers on slowly deteriorating a sad testament to neglect and vandalism.

So here we are on one of those main routes into the city, where once people flocked to Pomona Gardens which was one of the big amusement parks on the edge of the city and which was the last point where anything green dominated. 

© Andy Robertson 
Pomona Gardens was one of those boisterous gardens of fun. It boasted a similar mix of attractions to Belle Vue, including ‘the magic bridge, Gymnasium, flying swings, bowling green, rifle shooting, romantic walks and a promenade for both adults and juveniles as well as boat trips on the Irwell’. 

In the summer of 1850 it pulled out the stops with its ‘Splendid representation of the ERUPTION OF MOUNT VESUVIUS, as it occurred in 1849, the most terrific on record’. 

Here was the ‘magnificent Bay of Naples, painted and erected by the celebrated artist Mr A.F. Tait, and extends the whole length of the lake covering upwards of 20,000 yards of canvas and is one of the Largest ever Erected in England’"*

Now with the passage of time much of that industry has gone and the open brown sites and blocks of modern city dwellings have replaced the pleasure gardens, warehouses and factories.

So keep snapping Andy recording what we have lost and what has replaced the old familiar places.
So there behind the arch is that iconic building, once a pub, and now home to Insitu where you can by genuine period pieces taken from clearance areas and lovingly placed in homes where the were ripped out in the 1960s and 70s.

Pictures; from the courtesy of Andy Robertson, 2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014

“Many happy returns from William” dated 1915

Birthday cards are one of those things we take for granted and most do not survive the day they are received.

They are displayed in a prominent place and then carefully put away or end up as tomorrow’s rubbish.

All of which is a shame given the care, thought and feeling that often goes into selecting the card.

So with that in mind I am going to share some that have been given to me by Suzanne.

All date from the early decades of the last century and are a delightful comment on what people sent as birthday wishes just a little under a 100 years ago.

This one dates from 1915 and was sent by William.

I don’t have the name of the birthday person but in the same collection there cards to a Dorothy and also an Edith and with a bit of time and some detective work I might get closer to a name.

Picture; courtesy of Suzanne Moorehead

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Piccadilly Gardens as many remember it

We are in Piccadilly Gardens sometime in the 1950s and the image pretty much speaks for itself.

It will have been the summer and I guess sometime around dinner time judging by the number of people in the picture.

And I bet it will bring many memories flooding back to many people.

Both Suzanne and I have pondered on what they were all looking at, and maybe there will be someone who can tell us.

For what it is worth mine are about sitting in the gardens in the September of 1970 and 71 looking through the first edition of the Evening News for flats.

I think Thursday was the day the new properties were advertised and there was always a rush from buying the paper, to selecting a flat and making that all important phone call from one of the kiosks around the gardens.

But like as not although we were still only 30 minutes or so from the moment that the paper hit the streets many of the most promising properties had already gone.

Those that were left were usually dire with little to commend themselves other than that they were unwanted by anyone else.

All of which was perhaps a full twenty years into the future when the photograph was taken and of course the scene we see has long gone.

Picture; courtesy of Suzanne Moorehead

Memories of a Chorlton childhood, ....... the Manchester blitz and evacuation

This is the third and last of the three stories of one person’s life growing up in Chorlton in the 1930s and early 40s.

Jeanne aged 21
Jeanne grew up off Oswald Road and has in the past vividly described the Manchester Blitz and its impact on Chorlton.

But in these three stories she chose to describe her time at Whalley Range School which she first attended in 1937.

In my second year now called third year, we had to choose a science from Chemistry, Biology or Physics.

We were asked to put our hand up if we thought that cream was heavier than milk. I thought, “Yes, it is thicker” and shot up my hand. I never considered why it floated at the top of the milk bottle.

Clearly I was not a scientist in the making. Biology and History were linked so after first year I didn’t study Geography.

Today’s students take far more subjects but we were limited to eight.

Years later I was glad I had the opportunity to take Geography at Teacher Training College.

I enjoyed French, German and Mathematics the best. Miss Garner gave great encouragement to settle down and learn the Geometry theorems off by heart for they had to be written our fully, data, construction, prove and proof, all 38 of them.

When I think back it was a “No nonsense school” with loads of homework that had to be handed in on time or else!

Jeanne with her brother, 1937
We were quite obedient, conscientious and keen to do well and get good marks.

At the end of third year with a class of high flyers my marks were only average and from then on I was usually around 14th or 15th in the class of 35 pupils.

War rumours increased that summer of 1939.

The Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, said in March that if any action threatened Poland, Britain and France would come to their aid.  Hitler had already invaded Czechoslovakia and so, when Hitler refused to retreat from Poland, war was declared on the third of September.

I would find it hard to record the events correctly so I’ll just tell my story.

In line with many other schools Whalley Range evacuated its pupils. We went to Stacksteads, near Bacup in the Rossendale Valley.

I can remember my (much older) sister, Kathleen coming to the house the morning I left for (at that time) an unknown destination. She had bought me a black patent leather case for my gas mask and a silver identity bracelet. Mother asked why I needed a bracelet and I said, “It is in case I get bombed or burned, you will recognize my body.” Mother burst into tears and I got a strong ticking off from Kathleen.

I don’t remember much about leaving Manchester, I think it was from Chorlton station but I do recall arriving in Bacup with my suitcase, gas mask in its posh case and a leather school satchel on my back.

On the Rec circa 1941
We were taken to a church hall and divided into groups each of us having a label tied to a coat button. We were issued with a brown carrier bag containing a tin of corned beef, a tin of sardines and a tin of fruit with evaporated milk. The word ‘evaporated’ always intrigued me for it wasn’t evaporated. .

A woman in W.R.V.S uniform, armed with a clipboard marched us up a narrow street of terraced houses dropping off pupils on the way.  I was the only one left and could see no more houses but further up the lane we came to a small farmhouse with an elderly couple waiting at the front door.

Their names were Polly and Johnny Lord and I was to spend the next four months with them.

I really missed my family but the couple was so good and kind to me that overall I quite enjoyed the experience.

It was only a small farm with seven cows, a horse for pulling the milk float, hens in a shed behind the house and a couple of fields. The government made a small contribution to Polly and Johnny for my upkeep.
The arrangement for our continued education was that we attended Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School in the mornings and their  pupils went in the afternoon.

We didn’t see much of them and I was never aware of any trouble between the two schools. Any we did meet were friendly and curious and a little bit sorry for us because we had had to leave our homes.

I enjoyed helping Polly around the house, collecting eggs and occasionally going round with Johnny on the cart delivering milk to the nearby houses. I used to balance the churn on my knee and tip the milk into a ladle and then into the customer’s jug. Polly rooted out a pair of clogs for me to wear in the shippen.

Whalley Range School, circa 1938
She told me that they had belonged to her daughter who died of meningitis when she was thirteen. I asked her whether my arrival had brought back sad memories but she said,

“Memories, but not sad, it's lovely having you.”

I felt very privileged. Talking of the cowshed I did try my hand at milking but with little success.

The couple had occasional help from John, a farm labourer who invited friends teachers and me to a moonlight walk on the moors. I remember it well.
The clear sky, the silvery look of the streams running down the hillside and the boggy moss and grass underfoot, all quite exciting for us city folk.

Another time I went with Johnny to fetch the horse from the field and was invited to sit on her back for the journey home.

I’d never sat on a horse before and imagined a gentle trot but Johnny slapped the horse’s rump and shouted, “Home, lass.” The horse shot forward with me clinging to his mane, shaking with fright. It was probably only half a mile away but it felt like forever.

The food on the farm was good, plenty of dairy products, chicken and good casserole stews cooked in the oven on the open kitchen range, better in fact than rations in Manchester.

© Jeanne O'Reilly nee Herring

Pictures; from the collection of Jeanne O'Reilly nee Herring, additional pictures of a barrage balloon on the Rec courtesy of Alan Brown, and Whalley Range School from the collection of Sally Dervan

March in Castlefield

I like this picture which captures the history of Castlefield.

Andy who took the picture tells me that the old building is all that is left of Southern and Darwent, timber importers.

Picture; courtesy of Andy Robertson

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Attempting and failing to solve the mystery of that building behind Barlow Moor Road

Now here is a mystery

I am looking at Kenton’s the garage business just off Barlow Moor Road.

Like most people it was one of those buildings you clocked because of the big sign which was on the gable end.

It advertised Twyford’s, which was the green grocer’s shop on Barlow Moor Road.

The Twyford family had been trading from this shop since the beginning of the last century and continued until quite recently.

I rather think their sign just out lasted them but has now been painted over although it is just possible to make out the lettering.

But more of them another time, for now it are the building which carried the sign that intrigues me.

Like Andy Robertson who took these pictures I too wandered down the back alley from Silverwood Avenue to take a closer look at the property.

I always thought that they had once been stables but now I am not so sure.

All the OS maps from 1894 through to the 1930s show them as four separate units, and looking at the building today it is possible that they were once residential

There is still evidence of one door and two downstairs windows, and the matching set may have once been where the large double doors now stands.

The other two units which stood to the left of the garage doors seem to have been demolished sometime between 1934 and 1959 when our old friend A H Downes wandered past and photographed the building from Barlow Moor Road.

The lean to which stands beside the block are a later addition and its rear bricks do not key into the existing wall.

That said the there is another structure next to it with a flat roof, and its bricks are in keeping with the bigger property.

So all very house detective and what we may have are two of the original units and two storage areas which stand on the site of the second tow properties.

But if they were residential I can find no trace of who might have lived there.

The four are absent from the 1891 census, and do not appear on the street directories.
Of course by then they may have already ceased being residential and been turned into another use.

Look closely at the first of the upstairs windows and there may be a space for lifting gear.

So all a mystery but one which I am determined to seek an answer to even if it is at the expense of crawling over the 1901 and 1911 census.

Pictures; the two remaining units today from the collection of Andy Robertson, the gable end in 1959 taken by A H Downs, m17487, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and the rear of the properties showing the additional buildings, in 2009 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 14 April 2014

Standing in a less crowded Exchange Square

Now I am on a roll and here is another in the new series photographs using big glass windows and reflections.

That said this is also one of those pictures which captures a lost moment.

We are in Exchange Square, before the sweeping street furniture, and water feature and pretty much as it was when it was first finished.

The big wheel has yet to come to the city, and it is I think how I liked the square best.

Soon there will be the metro stop to add to the crowded space and for me something of its early simplicity has been lost.

Picture; Exchange Square from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Memories of a Chorlton childhood in the 1930s, part two a timetable, a first report and much more

An occasional series where people who lived in Chorlton describe the place they knew.

Jeanne aged 21
Jeanne Herring started at  Whalley Range School in 1937.

I featured the first instalment of her story a few days ago and this part two

That first year, 1937 opened up so many subjects and interests. I really got into my studies and took a deal of effort in presenting work carefully and on time. Both mother and father were interested in what I was doing. I was quite surprised one day when mother picked up my French book and started reading aloud with a good accent, she told me that her father had paid extra for her to have private French lessons.

I came in the first few in the summer exams so when I started again in September I was placed in the X form which meant we had skipped a year and I was now in third year.

Work intensified but I enjoyed everything, especially games. I played hockey at centre half for the junior school team but later switched my allegiance to netball playing at centre defence.

For a couple of years I was the form prefect.

I remember one school report said. “Jeanne has been a good prefect but she is rather talkative and sometimes noisy in the form room.”

I think this was because my favourite teacher, Miss Garner had walked into the classroom when I was standing on her teacher’s desk leading the class in a rowdy song at the end of term!

Jeanne and her brother in 1936, the dress cost 3s 11d
On wet days in the lunch hour we used to gather in the hall and someone would play the piano and we would have a singsong. It seems tame by today’s standards but we thought it was a great privilege.

At the end of first year I was allowed to have free uniform as well as free books. The school gave me a pink chit to take to John Barrie’s in St. Ann’s Square and get whatever uniform I needed.

The result was a wonderful new gaberdine coat, (the right brown) and an extra blouse. I also had a blazer and a panama hat for the summer.

I hated the hat for it had a high crown so one day when mother was out I cut the crown from the brim and overlapped it on the base making it shallower and hiding the join with the blue band and badge of the school. If mother knew, and she probably did for not much missed her, she never said anything. I must say the giving out of free tickets was handled very sensitively.

You were just stopped on the corridor by a teacher or a senior prefect and told the Head wanted to see you.  I was very much in awe of the Head Mistress, Doctor Arscott, as we all were.

She always wore her black gown and kept high standards of courtesy and discipline, it never even occurred to us to giggle and smirk at her surname!

Single file as we walked along the corridors, in silence, opening the doors for staff and senior prefects. The prefects were allowed to give punishment if you were noisy or too talkative. This was in the form of a book of additions and subtraction sums called cross tots and long tots.

Many are the time that I have had to do them which probably explains why I can add up columns of figures quickly!

Pictures from the collection of Jeanne O'Reilly nee Herring