Friday, 5 June 2015

A house in Whalley Range ....... the start of a search for its history

Doenberg today
This is Doenberg on the corner of Wood Road and College Road and as you would expect there is a story.

It was built in 1898 by Robert Rohleder and “was the first house in the district to be equipped with electric light, and the first to be connected with the Chorlton telephone exchange  [and] had been built largely according to his own design.”*

It contained “some notable stained glass windows” and a garden which Mr Rohleder had "spent thousands of pounds upon”* converting  from an empty field into something quite impressive.

Sadly the stained glass is no more and the property has been converted into flats.  I would like to have seen the glass but am pleased that the house has been saved.

built according to Mr Rohleder's own design
All too often in the last forty years a developer would just have pulled it down or gone for the bed sit option.

Now I have nothing against bed sits I spent my fair share of time in them during the early 1970s as a student.

The best were cheap and cheerful but many suffered from negligent landlords who only appeared once a week to collect the rent, might employ a cleaner and whose concept of decoration involved once painting over the floral wall paper with watered down emulsion paint.

I know, I did enough of these over the years.  The only heating was what you provided, the rooms were often musty if not damp and the cold forlorn hall was a dumping ground for letters from tenants who were long gone.

Doenberg in 1934
This I suspect could have been the fate of Doenberg which may have lain empty for a while and may also have been a children’s home.

This I have yet to find out about.

What I do know is that in 1934 it was purchased by Church to become the new home of the Dean of Manchester who had decided to leave the deanery in Bury New Road which was too expensive to run.

Mr Rohleder moved to 1 Rowsley Avenue in West Didsbury where he stayed till his death in 1945.

I suspect that Doenberg was just too big.

His son by then was in Sale and the slightly smaller Didsbury house made sense.

I think I would like to have known Robert Rohleder.  He had been born in Germany in 1871, became a British subject in 1896 having married his wife three years earlier.

Now I can’t be sure when he came to this country but he was here by 1891, living in Salford and described himself as a clerk in a cotton goods.

A decade later he was running a business making umbrellas and was living in Wood Road.

The entrance hall
In 1924 he was unsuccessful in bringing a claim against J.Kendall and Co Ltd London forwarding agents,  for the loss by fire of 82 cases of umbrella frames  for £1,804, and in the July of 1929 travelled to South America returning a month later.

There will be more which in time will throw light on what happened to the property from 1934 till its conversion into flats and perhaps something more about his family.

His son had joined the army in December 1915 went south to Woolwich and was assigned to the Royal Horse Artillery but was discharged in April of the following year.

There are references to his family in the late 1950s and early 60s but they are not linked to our house and so will sit in the shadows.

In the meantime there are a few avenues still to go down and as they say I shall be back.

All of which leaves me reflecting that the search started yesterday when Sylvia asked me if I knew anything about the house, supplied with some pictures and the rest just happened from there.

And just after this was posted, Wayne Cleworth dug up a link to a whole set of images relating to Dohenberg and Mr Rohleder’s family.

The collection of 71 photographs includes pictures, “ommissioned by Robert Rohleder from the photographer Percy Guttenberg, 10 St. Ann's Square, Manchester in 1899 when ‘Doenberg’ was completed. 

At some stage the prints were bound into a red leather album with the words ‘Doenberg, Whalley Range, Manchester’ tooled in gold lettering on the front. Inside front cover along spine: A Megson & Son, Manchester."

They are in the collection of the Greater Manchester County Records Office, Dohenburg, reference 2495, cover the period 1893-1899 and were donated in 1988
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/A2A/records.aspx?cat=124-2495&cid=-1#-1

Nor is that all because Gordon Howe has responded "I can confirm that the house was indeed a children's home called Cambrian House when I lived next door from 1978-82."

And the rest of that story will follow tomorrow.  You just can't stop history

Picture’s; courtesy of Sylvia Waltering, and OS from 1934

*New Home for Dean of Manchester, Manchester Guardian, December 14, 1934

25 comments:

  1. great stuff' i was in there in the sixties when Cambrian House was a Childrens home ..........

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    1. I lived there as a little girl in the very early 60's. I'm researching my past. Cambrian House is where it all started for me and my sister.

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    2. I was there in 1965

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  2. Hi! Great post- I now live in Cambrian House and would love to know any stories :) Ruby

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    1. I lived in that house for a couple of years, mid 70's, when it was a Childrens Home. I loved living in that house. As much as it was a Childrens Home, it was always lovely, warm, nice atmosphere. I have lots of very happy memories there .. x

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    2. My sister and I lived there in the late 60s

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    3. I lived here in the 70s when it was a children’s home too.

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  3. I am the eldest great grandchild of Robert Rohleder. I still live in Trafford and have a lot more information about both the house and the Rohleder family.

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  4. Replies
    1. I should be happy to speak with you about the Rohleder family and the house Doenberg. How can I contact you?

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  5. It was also used for a fortnight as kids camp one summer in the 1980's. I remember events included a visit from a police horse and various games in the large rear garden.

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  6. Wow, love this article, I lived there from 1975 to 1978, when it was indeed a Childrens Home and if I remember correctly .. Burford Girls Home was not to far away and was a bit more secure unit ..
    .

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  7. I lived there in the children’s home when I was 8 , I still drive past now and look at my bedroom window , horrible time , I am now 63 and remember it well

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    1. I am now 64 and I drive past the house myself and look up at the bedroom I stayed in , the big bedroom at the front

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  8. I lived in Cambrian House around 1960. I think the matron was called Miss Sutcliffe and there was a carer called Miss Shepherd. The room on the lhs of the staircase was used as a tv and play room. Continuing past the stairs down the corridor on the lhs was the dining room. It had colourfully painted lead
    windows. On the opposite side of the corridor was the kitchen. Down stairs at cellar level was the main play room, which also contained a piano. Most days all the children were given warm milk and then had a short sleep on temporary canvas and metal beds which were set up in rows in the room. As far as I am aware
    children were looked after reasonably well by conscientious carers.

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  9. I was in there early eighties loved sue and Dave staff there some happy and bad memories but best teenage years we had some right laughs girls bedroom was the big oval window

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  10. I was in there early eighties loved sue and Dave staff there some happy and bad memories but best teenage years we had some right laughs girls bedroom was the big oval window

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  11. I was in there early eighties loved sue and Dave staff there some happy and bad memories but best teenage years we had some right laughs girls bedroom was the big oval window

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  12. I had the big bedroom above the office ... sue and David doreen Gary Collins staff member ... I remember the lasted day they close it as our home we pulled up the carpets to reveal the amazing floors.... it was one of the saddest days of my life. I love that house it was my home along with a few of us.. I would live to go back.

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  13. Myself and my brother stayed here in the mid 70s, when it was a children’s home, Cambrian House.
    It was run by nuns who were quite strict.
    When we arrived there, all of our clothing etc was taken from us, and we were given uniforms and toothbrushes with a horrid powdered toothpaste.
    Boys wore grey shorts and jumpers, girls grey skirts and cardigans.
    At mealtimes we all sat at tables in the dining area. Each table had a jug of water. It was the only time we were allowed a drink. I remember asking for a drink outside of mealtimes and was abruptly told there’s no drinks outside of meal time.
    Going to the toilet was the opposite, only allowed when it was mealtimes. I was so distressed one time that I had an accident and was sent to bed.
    My brother ran away one day, I didn’t know anything about it. I was frogmarched to the office and interrogated until I was in tears.
    I do have some happier memories. Playing in the big garden on the slide and swing.
    On Saturdays we were given spending money, and would be taken in a minibus to the shop to spend it.
    I often think about that place and wonder what happened to the other children.

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  14. Myself and my brother stayed here in the mid 70s, when it was a children’s home, Cambrian House.
    It was run by nuns who were quite strict.
    When we arrived there, all of our clothing etc was taken from us, and we were given uniforms and toothbrushes with a horrid powdered toothpaste.
    Boys wore grey shorts and jumpers, girls grey skirts and cardigans.
    At mealtimes we all sat at tables in the dining area. Each table had a jug of water. It was the only time we were allowed a drink. I remember asking for a drink outside of mealtimes and was abruptly told there’s no drinks outside of meal time.
    Going to the toilet was the opposite, only allowed when it was mealtimes. I was so distressed one time that I had an accident and was sent to bed.
    My brother ran away one day, I didn’t know anything about it. I was frogmarched to the office and interrogated until I was in tears.
    I do have some happier memories. Playing in the big garden on the slide and swing.
    On Saturdays we were given spending money, and would be taken in a minibus to the shop to spend it.
    I often think about that place and wonder what happened to the other children.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this . I was there from '73-'75 (aged 3-5). I dont remember much , so any info is really nice to read . Thanks .

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