Tuesday, 30 June 2015

So what will a future historian make of those houses on Moss Lane East?

Now I wonder what a future local historian will make of this row of houses on Moss Lane East.

Moss Lane East 2015
Look closely and two of those on our left are clearly not the same as the rest of the design.

Of course some will mutter so what, but there is a story here and it is one that I guess will soon be lost as memories fade and the residents move on.

Moss lane East 2014
I have to admit I had no idea of the story until Andy sent me these pictures he took between February 2014 and this month.

And even then I doubt I would have turned up the tale had I not gone looking for Moss Lane East on Google maps and by chance turned up a story by Amy Glendining from November 2013.

I am not one to lift another’s research so I shall just say that the row which the Council had wanted redevelop in the 1980s and later still demolish fell through because the owners of those two “different houses” refused to budge.

2014
It led to one of those simple compromises which left the two still standing and incorporated them in a new design.

The original story is well worth reading and I hope will still be around in the future when some one ponders on the history of this row of houses.

Pictures, Moss Lane East , February 2014, and June 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Row of shops demolished for new houses – but two residents are staying put, Manchester Evening News, Amy Glendining, November 21 2013, http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/manchester-moss-side-shops-demolished-6323146

Some of our forgotten Chorlton people ............ another story from Tony Goulding

Now there are always those fascinating bits of Chorlton's history that someone has researched so here is another story from Tony Goulding which he has called  SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE-THE HISTORY OF THREE CHORLTON-CUM-HARDY CLERGYMEN, WITH DUE DEFERENCE TO GEORGE ELIOT'S CLASSIC

St Clement's Church
Re, Peter Hordern, Rector:  1833-1836

Born Shaw near Oldham May 1797 the son of Rev. Joseph Hordern the minister of Shaw Chapel and his wife Ellen (nee Allen) of Salford

Died 1836 aged 38 and buried March 22, in Chorlton churchyard, next to his son who had died February11 1836 aged just 1 day

His daughter Ellen Frances, christened in St.Clement's on April 10 1835, married a John Lubbock on her 21st birthday in 1856 at the ancient parish church of St. Mary's, Rostherne.

This John Lubbock was very a very distinguished man. The son of the banker Sir John William Lubbock, he was to forge a prolific career in the family bank as well as in academia and in politics He wrote extensively on archaeology, biology, and anthropology. He championed the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, a near neighbour who he had known from his youth and became good friends with Thomas Henry Huxley.
   
In politics; he never attained ministerial rank but as a backbench Liberal M P he promoted in the region of 30 Acts of Parliament. These included the 1871 Bank Holiday Act which led to their introduction and the 1882 Ancient Monuments Act which provided some protection for our ancient historic sites.

Roland Joesph Blain,  Ast.Curate 1911-1914

Born: Brampton, Cumberland 1879 where his father, John kept a boys boarding school
Died: at Stockton Road. Chorlton- cum -Hardy  on January 31 1914

Manchester Evening News, February 27 1914
An inquest into his sudden death concluded that he had taken his own life whilst temporarily insane

It was reported that he had had a nervous breakdown and was exhibiting signs of hysteria the cause of death being recorded as a self- administered overdose of Laudanum.
   
A delve into the census and BMD records has revealed this cleric appears to have had a very colourful past before arriving in Manchester. In the 1901 census he is recorded as a single 22 years old commercial clerk residing in the Elswick district of Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Further investigations, however, indicate that he had by this time been married to and divorced from a woman several years his senior. He was not yet 18 when he wed the daughter of a ship brokers agent, Florence Springmann in 1895 and they divorced less than 5 years later in 1900.

Interestingly Florence was to re-marry in 1904 and by 1911 had settled in West Yorkshire her new husband and two young boys.  A fact from which you are free to make your own speculative conclusions.
 
Roland's grave is located in Southern Cemetery consecrated section C 10.

He was buried on 3rd Feb.1914 and on his headstone he is described as "priest----sometime assistant curate of St.Clement's -----"

John Lubbock
Charles Ambrose Old Curate: 1881-1900

This man aroused my curiosity first when I realised that he is not recorded in the list of clergy which John M Lloyd gives as an appendix to his 1972 book.

In 1881 he arrived as Chorlton's first (assistant) curate and was to serve the growing community for the best part of two decades performing many hundreds of christenings, marriages, and burials Investigation into his life story revealed some interesting details.

Unusually, for this period, for clergymen he came from a distinctly working-class background. Being born in Portsea, Hampshire in 1849 the son of a railway porter, also called Charles, and his wife Ruth.

He was ordained at Gloucester in 1875, following studies there and worked for a time as a curate at St.Michael's church in that city
   
With an expanding population and an incumbent Rector Rev.John E. Booth by then in his 60's by 1881 Chorlton was in need of a curate. It is likely that Charles may have been glad of the fresh start this appointment offered as in his time in Gloucester he had tragically lost both an infant son and within a year his young wife.
   
In 1900 as some reward for his hard work he moved to become the Rector of St.Andrew's Beelsby near Grimsby where he is buried in the churchyard having died there in 1910.

© Tony Gould, 2015

Pictures; St Clement's Church, from A Short History of St Clements Church, 2012, John Lubbock from Wickipedia Commons, Tony Goulding

Queen Tika, Gene Autry and a hidden city ............. at the Peckham Gaumont and more memories of Saturday Morning Pictures

The Thunder Guard enter the secret rock
I remain fascinated how one image has stayed with me for over half a century and still has the power to take me back to a Saturday morning in the Gaumont.


So distant is the memory that I can now no longer even remember much of the cinema

But the scene where two horsemen descend into an ancient city 20,000 feet underground whose residents abandoned the surface thousands of years ago has never left me.
Saturday Morn' at the Pictures
The city had a Queen and all the political and social structure of a pre industrial society but many of the trappings of the future.

So while Queen Tika is assisted by Lord Argo, and her soldiers ride on horses, there are robots and a sinister death chamber powered by electricity.

For years I pondered on those scenes and had begun to think it was all in my imagination.

But no they were real enough and part of Phantom Empire, which ran to12 episodes and was filmed in 1935 by Mascot Films.

And I have an article by James Howard in Eagle Times to thank for bringing that memory out into the sunlight.*

Queen Ticka, a robot and Lord Argo
The film was “an amalgamation of science fiction, and the western genre” and starred Gene Autry one of the “singing cowboys.”**

The plot was convoluted, involving an evil Professor, his equally unpleasant gang and a plan to cheat Mr Autry out of his farm which stood on a deposit of radium.

And in to this already twisted tale is introduced the city of Murania which along with its robots and death chamber has a bunch of very advanced scientists and a machine which can restore life.

Queen Tika is unaware of a revolution planned by Lord Argo and a group who have been saved from the death chamber and is more concerned that the outside world will discover the city.

So to foil that discovery she sends her “Thunder Guard” to the surface to pretty much have a go at anyone they come into contact with including of course Mr Autry, who in turn breaks into the city and the rest as they say will be continued.***

Now until I read Mr Howard’s article I had no idea of the plot or that it ran to a full 12 episodes, and am tempted to buy the DVD if only to explore the extent that Hollywood tried to mix the Western with science fiction against a backdrop of revolution, robots and death chambers.

Eagle Times, Spring 2015
In the meantime it is reassuring that another of those child hood memories is rooted in reality, even if that reality was a tad far fetched.

All of which just leaves me to explore Mascot Films, and the actress Dorothy Christy who played Queen Tika.

Mascot Films was one of those small American film companies which specialised in making film series and B westerns and is notable for producing the first film serial to use sound.  This was the King of the Kongo in 1929.

The company was formed in 1927 and merged with several other companies to form Republic Pictures in 1935.

Ms Christy was born in 1906 and her film career lasted from 1929 till 1953 and so like Mascot Films covered one of the most important periods in the history of cinema.

Not that  had any idea about all this as I sat in that cinema just 50 or so years ago.

Such are the twists of history.

Pictures; from Saturday Morn’ at the Pictures, reproduced in Eagle Times, 2015

* Saturday Mornin’ at the Pictures, No 2 The Phantom Empire, James Howard, Eagle Times Vol 28 No 1 Spring 2015, http://eagle-times.blogspot.com/

**James Howard Ibid Saturday Morn’ at the Pictures

***The Phantom Empire is now available on DVD

Monday, 29 June 2015

Already a lost scene ............ looking towards the bridge and the city ... circa 1990

Now I know there will be many fine accounts of Hulme  from just before it was cleared, and also stories of the Crescents and the Decks all accompanied by powerful pictures, but I wonder how many images there are of that time after the second clearance.

These are important because already the new build of low rise residential and offices and shops not to mention the MMU campus will have obliterated scenes like this.

And I think the memories of these vast open spaces will be more quickly lost than those of the communities that lived here from the middle of the 19th century.

I remember the campaign to save the Birley tree and passing through the arae on the bus wondering why it seemed to be taking so long to develop what was clearly prime lad.

But then I never followed the story and so it would be nice for those who do to add more pictures and stories of the time after that second clearance.

Andy Robertson took the picture It was taken sometime in the 1990s after Birley High School had gone and just before the last of the old late 60 and early 70s high rise blocks were taken down.





Picture; looking towards the bridge and the city, circa 1990s, from the collection of Andy Robertson

On Manchester Road in 1911 ........... when I thought I was on Wilbraham Road ..... getting it wrong and owning up

Now earlier today I posted a story of the year the tram came down Wilbraham Road to Chorlton.

At the time I was quite pleased with the story, so pleased I reposted it today.*

And it turns out I was wrong for rather than being Wilbraham Road we are in fact on Manchester Road.

It was John Holden who questioned the location which in turn led to one of those historical debates with further contributions from Lesley Smith, and the more I looked at the picture the more it was obvious I was wrong.

Now never being one to stamp my feet and go off on one the best thing to do was revisit the story.

The tram net work was extended from West Point along Manchester Road and up to Southern Cemetery in 1911 so that is when we were on the bridge over the railway wondering where the workmen were.

And with that sorted I shall just add a bit from the earlier story

It’s the detail I especially like which takes us back to a time now well gone.  The upturned hand cart which you see so often in pictures of the period and the night watchman’s hut and brazier is a reminder that until quite recently someone had the job of sitting through the night in front of the red hot coals minding the site.

And then there are the adverts which cover the approach to the bridge and the bridge itself.

They are an untidy collection of posters advertising everything from Seymour Mead’s butter, to Oxo and variety acts.

My own favourite is the one for Comet Ale and stout.

This was brewed by Walker & Homfrays Ltd, at Woodside Brewery in Salford who also controlled the Manchester Brewery Company and along with many public houses in Manchester and Salford.  Walker & Homfrays went on to take control of the Stockport based Daniel Clifton & Company and in 1920 founded the Moss Side Brewery Company and the Palatine Bottling Company.

And round about the time that the tram track was being completed the Horse & Jockey on the green was selling Comet ales and stouts advertising them on the wall of the outhouse.

Nor is this all, for the chairman of Walker & Homfrays was John Henry Davies who in 1902 took over Newton Heath which was a struggling football team with debts of £2, 670.  Under his control the team changed its name to Manchester United and in 1910 moved to a new ground at Old Trafford.

But that as I so often say is another story and I suspect for someone else to tell.

Meanwhile a thank you to Lesley and John and especially to John who was off to test his theory by standing on the bridge at Manchester Road.  Now that's dedication.

And I have to report that John checked it and reported "walk taken! Well it's absolutely not facing away from Chorlton. 

The landscape, or should I say tree scape is so totally changed that that the view just doesn't exist any more. 

The only clue left is the building on the right which approximately does match. I would have to say knowing the source of the photo that this is 99% certainly the correct location."

Picture; Manchester Road circa 1911, from the Lloyd collection

*A new tram service for Chorlton, ........... at the railway station in the summer of 1913 but sadly not so, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/a-new-tram-service-for-chorlton-at.html

Standing on Willowbrook Road and wondering about the story behind the stone inscription on the Taylor Bridge

That stone, 1870
Now I just wonder what Edward Dresser Rogers would have made of the state of his foundation stone on Willowbrook Road.

It was laid in 1870 to mark the building of the replacement bridge over the Grand Surrey Canal.

The canal connected Camberwell to the Surrey Commercial docks and it opened in stages with the first stretch reaching the Old Kent Road in 1807, Camberwell three years later and finally arriving in Peckham in 1826.

Now according to my copy of Priestly* “the intended canal and cuts [were] supplied with water from the Thames, and all other rivers, streams, or brooks found in digging the said canal, except the River Wandle.”

But according to Mr Priestly “the work has not yet remunerated the proprietors for their outlay” and he was quite pessimistic it ever would.

That said the canal would still be doing the business until the end of the Second World War, when like so many canals it went into steep decline and was drained and filled in 1960.

So back in 1870 it was everything you would want of a working canal but needed a new bridge.  The old one known as Taylor’s was no longer fit for purpose and was replaced.

Which brings us to that stone foundation much weather worn and vandalised.

The canal making its way through Camberwell, 1830
With the help of that excellent site, Burgess Park and the story that featured the Bridge to Nowhere reflecting back in time** I know that “in 1870 bridge replaced an earlier one, possibly wooden and opening to allow barges through, which had probably begun to cause traffic congestion. 

The local vestry, St Giles Camberwell, provided the funds, and the foundation stone, which may be seen underneath on the old towpath, was laid by Edward Dresser Rogers, Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the Vestry, in 1869. 

The designer of the new bridge is named in the records as Mr. Dredge, Junior, a civil engineer.”

But if you want more you will have to follow the link and read the full story along with some excellent pictures.

That said I think I want to know more about Edward Dresser Rogers who lived at Hanover-park Rye Lane and left his name on that stone..

So as they say in those old films. and with an apology to Fu Manchu, .......the world has not heard the last of Mr Edward Dresser Rogers.

Pictures; that foundation stone kindly supplied by Constance Marie Gurney, and detail of the Grand Surrey Canal, going through Camberwell, from 1830, Historical Account of the Navigable Rivers, Canals, and Railways Throughout The United Kingdom, John Priestly, 1830, courtesy of Digital Archive Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

*Historical Account of the Navigable Rivers, Canals, and Railways Throughout The United Kingdom, John Priestly, 1830

** The Bridge to Nowhere reflecting back in time, Burgess Park, http://www.bridgetonowhere.friendsofburgesspark.org.uk/the-story-of-burgess-park-heritage-trail/heritage-trail-m-w/willowbrook-bridge/

A new tram service for Chorlton, ........... at the railway station in the summer of 1913 but sadly not so


Now below is a story I wrote last year and reposted today.

At the time I was very happy with the research but sometimes you can get it very wrong so as a corrective here is the original with a link to the correction which points out with the help of John and Lesley that what I say here was Wilbraham Road was in fact Manchester Road.

We are approaching Chorlton along Wilbraham Road with the station just over the bridge on our right.



I can’t be exactly sure of the date but it will be sometime in the summer of 1913.

Now I can be fairly confident of that because during the early part of 1913 the tram had come to Whalley Range.

The Alexander Road service was extended to Wilbraham Road on February 19th 1913 and then to Egerton Road on May 9th of the same year.  This was the terminus for the next five months until the railway bridge had been strengthened and the track laid to join the Barlow Moor Road line.

This last part of the network from Whalley Range into Chorlton was opened on October 13th.*

And for those of a tram disposition, this pretty much completed the tram routes to Chorlton from Manchester, leaving only the building of the tram terminus on Barlow Moor Road in 1915, and the Seymour Grove line in 1921.

And even before that date it had been possible to catch the Belle Vue service, which ran via Brooks Bar along Upper Chorlton Road to Lane End and onto Southern Cemetery.  This was extended to West Didsbury in the June of 1913 and from then on there was a circular route from town thorough Chorlton to Didsbury and back into the city.

These were the 45 and 46 services, and long after the trams had gone it was still possible to catch a bus doing the same journey.

All of which was fine as long as you knew your bus numbers.

Get the wrong one and instead of the short ride from Princess Street to Chorlton you got the long scenic route down Oxford Road through Fallowfield, Withington and west Didsbury, which was fine enough if you wanted to relive your student days with glimpses of the University, the Toast rack and the White Lion but tedious given that the 47 did it quicker.

But I have wandered off the point and so back to the picture.

Judging by the progress along the line I guess we must be in the summer of 1913.

The track has been laid and only the last stretch on the west side heading towards us from Barlow Moor Road needs to be filled in with a road surface.

It’s the detail I especially like which takes us back to a time now well gone.  The upturned hand cart which you see so often in pictures of the period and the night watchman’s hut and brazier is a reminder that until quite recently someone had the job of sitting through the night in front of the red hot coals minding the site.

And then there are the adverts which cover the approach to the bridge and the bridge itself.

They are an untidy collection of posters advertising everything from Seymour Mead’s butter, to Oxo and variety acts.

My own favourite is the one for Comet Ale and stout.

This was brewed by Walker & Homfrays Ltd, at Woodside Brewery in Salford who also controlled the Manchester Brewery Company and along with many public houses in Manchester and Salford.  Walker & Homfrays went on to take control of the Stockport based Daniel Clifton & Company and in 1920 founded the Moss Side Brewery Company and the Palatine Bottling Company.

And round about the time that the tram track was being completed the Horse & Jockey on the green was selling Comet ales and stouts advertising them on the wall of the outhouse. Nor is this all, for the chairman of Walker & Homfrays was John Henry Davies who in 1902 took over Newton Heath which was a struggling football team with debts of £2, 670.  Under his control the team changed its name to Manchester United and in 1910 moved to a new ground at Old Trafford.

But that as I so often say is another story and I suspect for someone else to tell.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection


*Lloyd, John, The Township of Chorlton cum Hardy, 1972

**On Manchester Road in 1911 ........... when I thought I was on Wilbraham Road ..... getting it wrong and owning up, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/on-manchester-road-when-tram-came-but.html

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Down on Princess Road ......... sixteen months on

February 2014
Now it’s been a year and a bit since Andy wandered along Princess Road.

Back then he captured that block of shops just before it went for ever.

And it set me off on a whole set of stories about the businesses that traded from this spot including the pawnbrokers who in their time owned a chain of shops and were still trading in Stockport last year.

The series set off a shedful of memories of shopping along this stretch in the 1950s and 60s so just maybe these new ones of Andy’s will do the same.

June 2015
And who knows might bring forth a collection of old snaps which have lain half forgotten in an album or cupboard.

Now there are plans for the site which have been approved, but if you want to know what they are you will have to follow the link back to the earlier stories.

Alternatively you can visit the City's on line planning permission site which I regularly consult, often in response to one of Andy's pictures showing the end of a once proud house or set of shops.

I do have to say it amazes me how long it can take from the approval of a plan to redevelop to the moment Derek the demolition man with his chum Barry Bulldozer get going and sometimes even longer before the ground is broken and work begins on something new.

Which is pretty much where we are with this bit of as yet non development.

Still the flowers are nice.


Pictures; Princess Road February 2014, and June 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Princess Road, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Princess%20Road

The church I just missed on Peckham Road, opened in 1797 .......... closed 1952

Cambden Church, 1904
Now I missed the Camden Church on Peckham Road by less than a decade, although it is just possible that I might have visited what was left of this 18th century building because services continued in what was really just a ruin until 1951.

It had stood on a plot of land just west of what is now Oliver Goldsmith Primary School and has one of those fascinating histories which just make you wish you had been there when a group of evangelical Christians frustrated at the new vicar of St Giles decided to break away and build their own church.

Camden Church, 1872
This they did and work began in1775 and was finished two years later and according to the County Victoria Histories was  "built of stock brick with stone dressings in the Renaissance classic style of the period; it has a chancel and nave with short transepts.

The west front towards the road contains the three principal entrances and has a horizontal parapet. Camden chapel, built in 1795, and subsequently enlarged, is a handsome edifice of brick, with a campanile turret."*

But in the way these things work within just 50 years St Giles just up the road would have the satisfaction of seeing the secessionist usurper become an Anglican chapel of ease and in another fifteen years a parish church.

The message sent on December 5, 1904
It went on to serve the community for almost another full century until the church hall was destroyed in 1940 followed by further bomb damage the following year.

Despite this the vestry and crypt were repaired and services continued until 1952 with baptisms and marriages continuing until 1951.

So it is possible that I could have gone there, but only just.  The church finally closed in the spring of 1952 and was demolished that year.

All of that was a long way into the future when E sent Miss B Strong of Lewes in Sussex this picture postcard with the message that “as far as I know the funeral is to on Saturday,” and an offer to get a wreath for Beatrice.  Adding that “I saw him yesterday, he is quite natural.”

Detail of the church, 1904
I doubt we will ever be able to know exactly who “He” was or the identity of “E” but she sent the postcard in the December of 1904 so just possibly a search of the census returns will lead us to Miss Strong and a a connection with some whose initial began with E.

It’s a long shot but I think I shall go looking and in time I am also minded to find out a bit more about Mr Flint who took the picture and marketed it from his offices at Church Street which was just round the corner.

Just a decade later he was no longer at nu 68 Church Street and his were being sold by Tuck & Son.

All of which begs lots of questions and opens up avenues of research.

Picture; Camden Church Peckham Road, circa 1904, Albert Flint Photographer and Publisher, 68 Church Street, Camberwell in the series Camberwell, marked by Tuck and Sons, and reproduced courtesy of Tuck DB, https://tuckdb.org/ and Peckham Road, 1872, from the OS for London 1872, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ 

* Victoria County History, History of the County of  Surrey: Volume 4  H.E. Malden (editor), 1912

**Camden Church, Parish Churches - Church of England, http://www.peckhamhistory.org.uk/churchesCofE.htm

Saturday, 27 June 2015

A little bit of Didsbury's cinema history

Now there will be many with fond memories of the Capitol Cinema, which in 1956 became ABC’s television studios, before finally being demolished in 1999 to be replaced by a block of flats.

And there will be those who remember its time as the Horniman Theatre when from 1971 it was Manchester Polytechnic’s School of Theatre where it staged performances by students of the college, including early performances by Julie Walters, Bernard Hill, and David Threlfall.

Now I am not going to dwell on its glory days as a picture house but just reflect on the moment it came down courtesy of another of Andy Robertson’s pictures.

Andy has a habit of recording bits of the city just before they disappear so I have always been adamant that he should never tale a photo of our house.

That said I am glad he is around doing the business which will prove a vital archive for the future.

Pictures; the Capitol in its heyday from the collection of Peter Topping, and during its demolition in 1991, courtesy of Andy Robertson

Down at Rybeank Fields off Longford Road, with a belt of mature woodland some patches of native bluebells and a bit of our history

Ryebank Fields is one of those places I have rather just taken for granted.

It’s that bit of open land at the bottom of Longford Road which for a big chunk of the 20th century was the site of our old brick works, and before that an area of pasture and meadowland.

And since the brickworks went it has slowly been developing into a fascinating site for biodiversity covering 4.6 hectares.

Its story has been covered in Stuart Marsden’s recent article  The history and natural history of MMU’s Ryebank Fields* which mixes the history of the site with a recent survey of the plant and animal life.

Written by Stuart it includes contributions from me and Lynsey Crellin an environmental consultant from The Environment Partnership (TEP), and together they “talk about the site, its history, and its current biodiversity value.”

Now this is one to read.

Picture; Ryebank Fields, 2015Stuart Marsden

*The history and natural history of MMU’s Ryebank Fields, Stuart Marsden's Conservation Research Group, http://stuartmarsden.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-history-and-natural-history-of-mmus.html

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 16 ........ Saturday Morning Pictures at the ABC Regal and Gaumont

The story of one house in Peckham over a century and a half, and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

Saturday Morning Badge 
You never quite forget that mix of noise and anticipation which was Saturday Morning Pictures.

It started when the manager asked if everyone was happy, continued into the competitions and lasted through most of the morning.

It is easy to over romanticise what was just another way the cinema chain could create more revenue while introducing a young audience to the magic of the big screen.

And once you were hooked you were hooked for life.  The cycle might begin with Saturday Morning

Pictures but quickly moved on to the “date” on the back row and in the fullness of time to visits with your children to Disney and of course to Saturday mornings all over again this time dropping off and collecting a new generation of Saturday children.

But you can also be over cynical even given that what you saw was pretty dire.

I can’t say I ever enjoyed those stories of daring do by young children or the equally improbable tales of faithful dogs and intelligent dolphins saving the day.

The Thunder Guard, from the Phantom Empire, 1935
I do remember a series which mixed the theme of Ancient Rome, alien invaders and a particularly nasty dictator.

On reflection it was probably shot on a back lot using B actors and involved lots of oddly dressed men riding on horseback across dusty plains.

You knew it was cheap because the plot didn’t follow a logical path and events often passed from bright daylight to late afternoon and back again in the course of one horse race.

All that said they were fun.

There were the cartoons and films, along with live events ranging from talent competitions and fancy dress to the appearance of a well known celebrity and it was always someone’s birthday which was met with a loud shout.

I am not sure whether it would still work today but from the 1940s into the 60s they were a way of life for many children with that added advantage that it freed up time for the adults.

In the 1950’s the average weekly attendance at  children’s cinema matinees was over 1,016,000 with 1735 cinemas holding cinema matinees for children.

The ABC chain began a special club in the 1940s for their ABC Minors complete with badge and song and birthday cards.

We on the other hand went to the Gaumont which I am sure also had a song a badge and much more, the trouble is I just don’t remember.

ABC Minors happy Birthday
Later when I was that tad bit older for reasons I can’t explain I ended up at the ABC Regal on the Old Kent Road sandwiched between Leo Street and Gervase Street.**

It had opened in 1937 as The Regal and was the largest of ABC’s London surburban cinemas, but was smaller than the Astoria nearby.

And it was there that I saw those epic sword and sandal films which seemed to always feature Steve Reeves with a clutch load of feeble plots but full of action and dignified young woman in classical dress.

Of course the cinema has gone as has the Astoria, and the Gaumont.  The first was the Astoria which closed in 1968 followed by the ABC and the Gaumont.

By then my Saturday Morning Cinema days were over.  But within a few years I was back this time as a dad fulfilling that cycle of the cinema goer but in the meantime the grand palaces of make believe had given over to the functional but ugly multi complex and somewhere along the way a little of the old magic was lost.

And for those who want to judge for themselves, just follow the link to what you could have enjoyed.***

Pictures, ABC Minors Badge, ABC Minors children’s cinema postcard Happy Birthday, 1948, BD084660, University of Essex, http://collections.ex.ac.uk/repository/handle/10472/3222?show=full and Cinema Treasures, http://cinematreasures.org/video/abc-minors-matinee

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20one%20house%20in%20Lausanne%20Road

**ABC Old Kent Road, Cinema Treasures, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/31124#

*** Cinema Treasures, http://cinematreasures.org/video/abc-minors-matinee

Friday, 26 June 2015

Down on Manchester Road with a an espresso at that deli

Now this is another one of those sets of pictures from Andy Robertson which makes you realize just how quickly bits of Chorlton change.

And often it is so complete that you are hard pressed to remember what was there before and why you never really clocked the transformation.

I can’t remember when the work was done and I forgot to ask Andy but I know he will have the dates and I bet also someone will have a few stories, well let’s hope so.

And that is just about it, no comments on the speed of change, the importance of always adding dates to pictures or recording the odd memory, just a an espresso, a glass of water and a plan of what to do with that bag of pasta.

Pictures; of Manchester Road, from the collection of Andy Robertson

A little bit of the history of our cottage hospital

Now it’s one of those odd little bits of personal history but I can’t ever remember going to the Eltham Cottage Hospital and nor did any of my sisters.

But during the time the building was being demolished and the new community health centre was going up plenty of people shared stories of the minor opps and a bit more that they received at the place.

And I was reminded of this when Sue Simpson sent me a picture of the new building in response to yesterday’s story about Passey Place.

All of which got me thinking about its history, which was longer and more chequered than I had thought.

I knew that back in 1914 it was the Eltham and Mottingham Cottage Hospital but had little idea of the rest until I stumbled on Lost Hospitals of London.*

The original hospital dated from 1880 when it was opened at no 9 on the High Street “founded mainly by wealthy local residents and was staffed by a nurse, a cook and an unpaid Superintendent” and relocated to Passey Place in 1898."

It is a fascinating story and the site offers up a shedful of information on the hospital over the rest of its 82 years.

It closed in 1980 and went through a number of different uses including a nursing home from 1989 till 2010.

But as someone else has done the research and presented it better than I could I will just point you to the link leaving me only to reflect that it was only in 1948 with the establishment of the National Health Service that we moved away from a health care system which relied on wealthy benefactors and fund raising activities.

Picture; the health Centre on Passey Place, June 2015, from the collection of Sue Simpson

*Eltham nad Mottingham Cottage Hospital, http://ezitis.myzen.co.uk/elthamandm.html

Down on Hartington Street thinking of the the past, present and future

Now if you are of a certain age you will remember those black and white photographs of urban roof tops covered in TV aerials.

Often they were accompanied by those condescending comments about the television age, or goggle box land.

And at the heart of such observations was that TV was an inferior form of entertainment which is about as elitist as you can get.

Anyone who watched the Granada documentaries of the 1960s or Play for Today on the BBC along with much other fine drama and current affairs programmes can testify that the two terrestrial channels did more than just offer up a new a “opiate for the working class.”

Today of course television has come of age and while there is much I don’t watch it is an accessible and at times thought provoking medium.

That said I couldn’t resist Andy’s picture of Hartington Street off Claremont Road, which in its way is as much a comment on the way television has gone as those forests of aerials from the 1950s.

From one channel to hundreds and along the way from black and white to colour and satellite providers who enable you not only to select what you personally want to watch but get “catch up” as well as roaming the planet’s entire television output.

But I suspect Andy’s picture of “Satellite Street” is already on the cusp of being the past for increasingly many of us are now watching via a computer, and in the process moving ever further along the channel of individual and personal viewing.

So I shall leave you the question of how soon will his picture rank alongside those black and white photographs of urban roof tops covered in TV aerials as a quaint anachronism?

Picture; Hartington Street, 2014, from the collection of Andy Robertson

After the Raid .............. preparing for the Blitz

I suppose for most people the sound of an air raid siren is one of those historic curiosities which feature as a backdrop to fictional accounts of the last war or accompany a TV documentary on the Blitz.

Now I was born four years after the war and will never have heard the warning alert or the all clear played in earnest.

But I remember watching my mother react to hearing them and in an instant she was back on some night waiting for the bombs to fall.

And just briefly a little of that fear caught me one summer’s day when at the height of the second Cold War in the 1980s the local police station tested their siren.
Of course all of that is now long gone, but occasionally you come across vivid reminders of that period.

There are still a few painted signs for EWS on walls which indicated the site of Emergency Water Supplies, and the odd gas mask appears at a jumble sale.*

But I doubt that many of the millions of leaflets issued by the Ministry of Home Security in the December of 1940 will have survived.

After all once the war was over few people I think would wanted to hang on to such a document and yet it is a fascinating piece of history.

AFTER THE RAID began “WHEN YOU HAVE been in the front line and taken it extra hard the country wants to look after you.

For you have suffered in the national interests as well as in your own interest in the fight against Hitler.  If your home is damaged there is a great deal of help ready for you.”

Just how useful the leaflet would have been to those bombed out here I have no idea but it remains a tiny insight into what our parents and grandparents coped with.

Which just leaves me to thank David Harrop who lent me the leaflet from his collection which until recently was on display at his permanent exhibition of war time memorabilia at the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery.*





Pictures; After the Raid, December 1940, Ministry of Home Security, from the collection of David Harrop,  the corner of Mauldeth Road and Nell Lane today courtesy of Brian Lee Whitworth and bomb damage at Nell Lane, 1940, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, m09736, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*Beware such gas masks, many used asbestos in the filter and these may now prove a health hazard.

**David Harrop, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/David%20Harrop

Thursday, 25 June 2015

What you find when you go looking down Wilbraham Road

Merlewood on Wilbraham Road, 1949
Now against my better judgement I got drawn in by a lock up garage, a very big house on the corner of Maidstone and Wilbraham and a line of workaday cottages which I doubt lasted half a century.

It started with that lock up garage captured on film my A E Landers in 1959 which the caption records was “originally stables and coach-house to Merlewood, and now used as garages.”

And that of course led me to go looking for Merlewood which is still there.

Stables and garage Maidstone Avenue, 1959
It was a huge 11 roomed property in its own grounds and commanded a yearly rent of £120 which in 1900 Mr Samuel Ashton was paying to Burgess and Galt who were a company of “joiners, builders and contractors” on Upton Street off Stockport Road.

In time I will track down when it was built.

I know that it was there by 1894 and all probability was part of that surburban creep up from the station at Stretford which followed the cutting of Wilbraham Road in the 1860s.

It will just be a matter of pouring over the rate books and matching names with census entries.

But these big houses did not fare so well in the mid 20th century.  Most were too big and uneconomic and were converted into multi occupancy or were demolished.

Cottages Maidstone Avenue
So Egerton Bank which stood opposite on the other corner of Wilbraham and Maidstone and was later renamed Rylestone and later still Sutton was pulled down in 1958 while Merlewood had been converted into flats at about the same time.

And a full half century and a bit since then that big pile is still there although the garage has gone as has the row of four cottages which stood beside it.

Now I can’t be sure when the cottages were put up.

They post date 1911 but are there by 1933 which will mean looking at the directories to find out when Maidstone Avenue was cut.

In 1911 it was still just a short stretch of lane but by 1933 had been extended and joined the new development on Hewlett.

But when the garage and the cottages came down I have yet to discover.

Mr Landers thought the cottages may have been homes for the servants who lived at Merlewood.

That I think is unlikely, back in 1911 Mr Holden employed three servants all of whom lived in and I rather think as Merlewood's fortunes sank the owners used some of the grounds for a bunch of more modest properties.

So less a finished story and more a work in progress.

Pictures, stables and coach-house to Merlewood, and now used as garages, 1959, A E Landers, m18287, Merlewood, m18286, and row of cottages nu 2,2a, 4, 4a,Maidstone Avenue,  m18288, 1959, A E Landers, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

One of those days in town

Now I am usually preoccupied with the past but occasionally I say just occasionally I set off to record the present.

This I have to say had a lot to do with a Tuesday in town on a shopping expedition which I was able to slip away from.

And as you do I started off from St Ann’s Square and bit by made my way down towards Piccadilly.

The sun shone and during the course of the morning the city became more busy, a combination of late morning shoppers and early dinner time crowds.

So by midday the place was heaving and as busy places go you can’t much beat the tram stop at Market Street.

At almost any time of the day it seems to be packed with people which given that it is right beside the big stores and just a tad’s walk from the Arndale is as it should be.

And of course it is one those stops which allow you  to change trams which makes it doubly busy.

Along with St Peter's Square the trams roll in with a frequency and often you get them waiting behind each other which I suppose is one of the signs that the service is a success.

Now I know there will be those who point to the overcrowding on some routes and the odd weekend when routes go down but I do like the tram.

And not for the first time will admit to traveling on the route from town  out to Chorlton and on to East Didsbury just because this recreates the old train service which closed for passengers in the late sixties.

In fact when the route was extended from St Werburghs to Didsbury I was there on that first day and shared the journey with a lot of other middle aged men with cameras and a few even with tape recorders or what ever to day passes for a tape recorder.

So here we are, starting off beside St Ann’s Church and moving effortlessly to Market Street, taking in that small square and two tram pictures.

And before anyone asks I just like St Ann’s Church and trams ............... not so keen on Market Street.

Although it  is less unpleasant than when the crowds surging down from Piccadilly to St Mary's Gate had to be  mindful of the trams, buses, horse drawn carts and lorries..








Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Down on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter

Thomas Street, still waiting to happen
Now Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter is changing.

In the space of thirty minutes or so I saw a number of smart suited men with earnest faces and various degrees of interest looking at these buildings.

And you can see why, over the last decade and a bit the area has become an interesting and exciting place to visit.

I remember it as run down, and drab with a faint air of decay.  It was a place waiting to happen and now of course it’s time has come.

Thomas Street pretty much reflects what is happening to the area.

On the corner of Thomas Street and Kelvin Street

New quirky shops offering clothes which you don’t see in the main stores nestle beside a range of bars and eating establishments like the Teacup Kitchen to Al Faisal Tandoori.

But there is still plenty of that old Manchester here, with buildings which have done their time as a variety of retail outlets and been home to generations of families stretching back to the early 19th century.

Step off down Kelvin Street and follow it as it twists and turns crossing other small and narrow streets you can get a sense of how busy, cluttered and purposeful it all was

And there are still some fascinating bits of the past including this sign which is difficult to make out and I guess will be even more difficult to date.

It may have announced the name and business which operated from this corner building but the shop window has long ago been bricked up and the wall now bulges ominously.

A photo shoot on Thomas Street
So I guess the place is ripe for development from some of our people in smart suits.

All of which is a sort of appeal to get down there soon before this little bit of the city goes for ever and take a camera.

The digital archive has fewer pictures of Thomas Street than I expected and if we are not careful the place will have changed before someone has documented it.

That said I just bet now that there are a shed load of images all tastefully done in black and white just waiting to catch my attention.

Well I hope so and perhaps the two engaged on a photo shoot while I was there will have used more of the street as a backdrop.

Pictures; Thomas Street, June 2014

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 15 ........ Miss Jeannie Jeffrey, the sea captain and that grand property on Erlanger Road

The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half, and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

Miss Jeffery of Lausanne Road marries Mr Wills, 1881
I don’t suppose any of us really know that much about the history of the house we live in.

Unlike those grand piles which were the homes of the people of plenty with an unbroken story going back three or four centuries, Lausanne Road was a comparatively new home on the block.

It was built sometime between 1872 and 1881, and apart from the bomb that fell opposite can’t claim to have witnessed any great event.

But that is to ignore that it was home to a shedful of people including my family who lived interesting and productive lives and were as important in their way as any great politician, general or scientist.

Mr and Mrs Jeffery
And that brings me to Miss Jeannie Jeffery whose story tells us a lot about this bit of south east London in the last decades of the 19th and the first few of the next century.

Now I don’t know if she was the first resident of our house but she was there by 1881 and described herself  as “Owner of House Property” which is just about all we do know about her, save that she was born in 1848, her father was a journalist and she died in 1912.

But there is one other detail and that is that in the April of 1888 she married Joseph Henry Wills.  She was 39 and he 34 and Mr Wills was well known to Miss Jeffery because his father and brother had been living in
her house as “boarders” and I guess as these things do Henry and Jeannie fell in love.

He was a sea captain as was his father and brother which put them in the same social grouping of many of the others on Luasanne Road.

Next door Mr Roberts was “living on his own means” while further down the road was a Professor of Music, a teacher and Stockbroker’s Agent.  Not perhaps the highest social grouping but comfortably well off people who knew they were cut above others in the area.

Market gardens 1872
And the Wills were on to better places, for within less than two decades they had moved up the hill to a fine double fronted Victorian villa on the corner of Erlanger and Arbuthnot Roads with fine views down to where they had come from and across at the recently opened park.

Even now this is a pleasant spot especially on a warm summer’s afternoon but back at the beginning of the 20th century I suspect Mr and Mrs Wills must have been quite content with themselves.

The park opposite had opened in 1895 and the surrounding properties like their own were still only about 20 years old.

As late as 1860 most of this land was still market gardens and even in 1872 the roads and houses stopped at the foot of what is now Arbuthnot Road.

But in 1861 Haberdasher’s Company began to develop the area for residential use and between 1870 and 99 the roads around the park and down towards New Cross were cut and the houses built.**

Most were constructed in the 1880s, which I guess meant that Miss Jeffery’s would have seen them going up from her house in Lausanne Road and by one of those odd little twists may well have taken the same route up towards the park as I did just sixty or so years later.

Of course back in the 1950s as I stopped to cross the road at the corner of Artbuthnot and Erlanger I had no idea that that house had been occupied by the family who had lived in our house.

Such indeed are the twists of history.

Pictures, Marriage entry, 1888, courtesy of ancestry.co uk, Lausanne Road, 1872 OS London, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ 

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20one%20house%20in%20Lausanne%20Road

** A brief history of Telegraph Hill, © Malcolm Bacchus, Telegraph Hill Society 2004.  http://thehill.org.uk/society/history.htm