Friday, 31 July 2015

On arriving at Castlefield


Nothing quite prepares you for the entrance into the Castlefield Canal Basin.

We had been walking the Duke’s Canal from Stretford into town one summer’s day.  The route is a mix of the residential and industrial and I have to say parts of it are quite boring.

But we were on a waterway which in its time was one of the most important and busiest waterways

The Duke’s Canal or the Bridgewater was built in the 1760s so that the Duke could transfer coal from his mines in Worsley directly into the heart of the city.

It was a great success and showed the way for many other canal entrepreneurs and led to the “Age of the Canal” a much overused title for the period but perhaps an accurate one, for in the 40 or so years after Bridgewater coal was landed in Manchester the country was crisscrossed with a canal network.

And its impact on us here in Chorlton was just as great.

It would have begun with its building for while most of the work was done by the professional “navigators” those hard working hard living men who cut and constructed the canal, there was still some work for our own casual farm labourers.

And I guess one or two would have moved on with the navvies.

These were early days in the construction of the canals and later the railways and I doubt that the reputation the navvies were to make for themselves was much in evidence in the 1760s as they did the Duke’s bidding.

All of which was a darned sight different when just under 90 years later the navvies were back driving the railway line across the same route which would connect Stretford to the city.  By now communities across the country had grown to be more than a little apprehensive of the presence of the railway navigator with their temporary camps and the stories of their riotous lives.

But this is a little away from our walk along the canal.  Today it can be a relatively solitary journey but back in the late 18th and the first half of the 19th century the place would have been alive.

There were the regular journeys of boats taking fruit and vegetables from the farms of Chorlton and Stretford three times a week to catch the Manchester Markets on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings which proved so successful that the Company had to send the food boats at night and offer farmer’s seats on the packet boats.  And on the return trip they brought back the night soil which our farmers spread on the land.

Then there were the twice daily package boats from Stretford along the canal which transported passengers in comfort and speed.  A ticket for the front room cost 6d [2½p] and the back room 4d [1½p].  This was travelling in style.  

These packet boats were fitted with large deck cabins surrounded by windows which allowed the passengers to sit “under cover and see the country” glide by at the rate of six miles an hour, made possible by  two or sometimes three horses which pulled the packet.  And if that was not style enough the lead horse was guided by a horseman in full company livery.

And as I reflected in an earlier post there was plenty to see.  But despite all this the canal was a narrow stretch of water until of course it reached the Castlefield Basin, for here was a vast expanse of water, with landing stages warehouses and boats that had travelled down the Ashton and Rochdale Canals from far distant parts of the country.

You can get a sense of how busy it could have been during high summer when the tourists and canal enthusiasts moor up, but this is not a working water way anymore.  On a warm Saturday night there might be the sound of good conversation, the clink of wine glasses and the odd snatch of the radio, but not the sound of everything from coal to fine bone china being unloaded, or the babble of different regional accents swapping stories of their trips to Manchester.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and map from Bradshaw’s Inland Navigation of England and Wales, 1830, courtesy of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/


The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 34 ............ that lost model shop on Blenheim Grove and model planes, ships and soldiers I have made

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

Airfix, 1959
Now it will seem daft but for the last few years I have wasted time looking for the model shop near the station on Rye Lane.

It was one of those powerful childhood memories which wouldn’t go away and that I suspect is because I am part of the Airfix generation.

From when I was about seven for almost a decade I would buy and make up the plastic kits of planes, ships and figures, and as our train set got ever bigger there were all the Airfix railway accessories, from houses, to signal boxes, and of course the station.

And depending on the amount of money I had it might be anything from the simplest of kits to the impressive ones which came in a box and might take days to make.

Looking back I suppose I was part of that last age group who spent hours making things and who on another day might also be collecting train numbers, “fag cards” or hunting out stamp collections.

It was what you did in the 1950s.

Soviet Tank
Nor was it just the simple act of construction, for afterwards came the painting and finally the application of the transfers to the wings and side of the plane or the heraldic design to the sails of the old ships.

It was a painstaking exercise and one that could then be extended by hanging the aircraft from the ceiling or making an elaborate display which combined planes tanks and military figures.

And if I am honest I have never lost that fascination for model making which began all over again when my sons were at an age when I could go into a model shop and not feel a bit of a nerd.

Of course 1940 Spitfires and Hurricanes were later  replaced by War Hammer but the essentials were the same.

They were made of plastic, needed assembling and then had to be painted which meant that  during the 1980s and into the 1990s I found myself thinking again about the model shop by the station.

But its exact location was lost until by chance I shared my search with someone who lived on Blenheim Grove and the rest as say  they became an exchange of memories and of models bought and made.

All of which was a bit reassuring because there is nothing worse than a childhood memory which cannot be verified.  It gnaws away making you begin to doubt a whole set of memories.

So that is one that has been solved and that has let the memories flood back.

On a Saturday afternoon the shop which would be crowded and you had to negotiate the glass cases in the middle of the shop while staring up at the selves and cabinets which ran up to the ceiling all full of made up models.

Model Zone Manchester, 2015
And of course there was nothing like seeing the finished thing to entice you to part with your money.

Over the years I must have made half a dozen Luftwaffe Stuka, Me 109s, along with Spitfires, Hurricanes and a whole host of planes from both world wars and from each of the competing countries.

But as I sit back more than a little pleased at finding that old model shop it is tinged with the discovery that the one here in Manchester that I spent many hours visiting with each of the lads has closed.

So as one set memories resurfaces another batch is lost.

Pictures; Small Airfix models, 1957 by Pantoine (talk | contribs) 2006, Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, and Airfix model of an unpainted Soviet T-34/85 tank in 1/72 scale, 2008, Wolcott (talk) from Airfix, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airfix, and Modelzone Deansgate Manchester, 2015 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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

Summer in the City ............ meeting for a coffee

A short series using pictures taken over the last few years celebrating summer in the city.











Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 33 ............ the works "Jolly" in Brighton, October 1963

Dad and a Glenton's coach circa 1949
The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half, and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

I remember the first time I went to Brighton.

It will have been sometime in the autumn of 1963 and was what has become known as a “jolly” but was officially “the works outing” and amongst my Dad’s colleagues was simply a “Beano.”

Of course these dos weren’t exclusive to work places, many pubs, clubs and institutes would have their day out in the sun with just that right mix of beer, sand, sea and fish and chips.

For Glenton’s it was always the south coast while for Tudor Crisps in Peterlee where I worked briefly it was Whitby or Scarborough and for the countless pubs and factories here in Manchester it was Blackpool.

In many ways the destination didn’t matter, it was the journey which usually involved several pub stops along the way, a “slap up meal” before and after a walk along the front and more pubs and hotels.

Off on a "chara" early 20th century
Most of those on that Glenton’s do were from the garage although there were a few from the office at New Cross and I think a couple more from Saxton’s the estate agents who owned the coach company.

Unlike most our trip was not in the summer but mid October when the season was over and the coaches parked in the garage and the drivers taking a long well earned rest

Such trips have a long history stretching back to the charabanc which was a horse drawn vehicle used for sightseeing and works outings usually to the countryside or seaside. They were usually open topped and were common in Britain in the early 20th century.

In time the horse gave way to a motorised version which often had a detachable body so that when the summer season was over the vehicle could be used as a flat bed lorry.

Horse drawn "chara", late 19th century
They were not very comfortable and by the 1920s were being replaced by the coach. These might still have a canvas top but were far more comfortable.

And here there is another connection with Glenton’s because for years back in the 1930s a model of Dad's coach proudly sat in the office window at New Cross, and by degree by the 1950s made its way to the back of the office and finally came home to our house where I played with it for years.

It was a beautifully crafted model which in the untender care of a six year old slowly lost much of its finer detail until all that was left was the chassis and four wheels.

All of which is perhaps a lesson on what a five year old should be given as a toy.

As for that day in Brighton it passed well enough.  Dad I think had gone out of duty and perhaps to fill the numbers I was invited along with my friends Jimmy O’Donnell and John Cox.

For me it was a one off and while I have been on work nights out I have never repeated the “Jolly” and have yet to return to Brighton which has along ago reinvented itself, unlike Blackpool which continues to offer that mix of cheap fun by the sea enlivened by the procession of hen night groups.

All a long way from Brighton and that day out with Glenton’s but thinking about it perhaps not.

Pictures; charabancs from the early 20th century, from the Lloyd Collection.

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

Another story from Tony Goulding .............. the tragic death of Peter Mee

The Mee family are an old Chorlton family so I was drawn to Tony's latest story.

The Mersey by Jackson's Boat
In November 1923 a promising young footballer, Peter Mee, died tragically near this celebrated Chorlton-cum-Hardy landmark.

He was last seen on a very foggy "Guy Fawkes" day and his body was recovered from the River Mersey adjacent to Sale Golf Club some 6 weeks later.

Peter was born on March 30 1899 and christened at St.Clements the following month on April 30.

His parents were Thomas, a carter/"night soil man", for the various local authorities who ran the township at the turn of 19th-20th centuries, and his wife Jane (nee Pennington).

From the Hartlepool Mail, December 17 1923
At the time of the 1901 census the family were residing in Brownhill's Buildings off Sandy Lane but by 1911 they had moved to 31 Zetland Terrace, on the Green

On leaving school Peter became an apprentice in an iron works before seeing service in the fledgling Royal Air Force - - his 6 months engagement neatly spanning the armistice of November 1918 ending World War 1.

After demobilisation Peter's football career blossomed; he was for a time on the books of Manchester City although he never made an appearance for their first team.

Third Division North Final 1923-4
In July 1923 he was transferred to Southport F.C. (then in the Football League 3rd Division North)  for which club he made an impressive start scoring half a dozen times in just the 13 games he played for them, prior to his untimely demise.
 
Peter was buried in Southern Cemetery on December 19 1923 in S 512 the grave of his father, who had proceeded him in April 1918.

Peter's details are not visible on the headstone however, and there is no way of knowing the reason for this.






©Tony Goulding 2015

Pictures; Tony Goulding

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Down by Hulme Hall Road and the passing of another bit of our history

Now I have to give it to Andy Robertson just hours after the news that on old mill had partially collapsed on Hume Hall Road he was there to record the building.

I had spotted the news story but let it go.*

Not so Andy who sent me the pictures with the comment, “you may have heard about the partial collapse of the mill on Manchester Evening News Website which has some excellent pictures, and went to investigate but couldn't see damage from our angle.”

Andy will I am sure go digging into the digital archive for old pictures of the place.

Back in 1911 it was a printing works and seventeen years earlier was shown as “Locke & Son, shoeing smiths and Williams Cartage Limited (wheelwright works).”

So I think there is a rich bit of history to track down.

The site was still empty in 1849 so it will be a short crawl through the directories to see what we can find.

Added to which there will be another search to see what happened to it in the years after 1911.

And judging from Andy's pictures the building has been empty for a while.

Now according to the MEN it will have to come down.

Pictures; down by Hulme Hall Road, 2015, courtesy of Andy Robertson

*Castlefield mill collapse: Aerial pictures show extent of damage to building on Hulme Hall Road, BY AMY GLENDINNING, July 28 2015, Manchester Evening News, http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/castlefield-mill-collapse-aerial-pictures-9740166

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 32 ............ looking for that newsagents on Mona 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.*

Walter Green House built before the newsagents went, 2007
I went looking for the little newsagents on Mona Road.

In its time it delivered our papers, my comics and once briefly provided me with a job.

But the less said about the paper round the better. It was a disaster for me, the shop and the customers.

Despite this hiccup I still have a fond spot for the place and remember that overpowering smell of newsprint and chocolate along with the heavy dark wooden counters and shelves that disappeared into the ceiling and no doubt had you rummaged at the back there would have been the odd item which was sold as new when the old king died.

Now Mona Road isn’t a very long road and consisted of just six houses on the north side and seven opposite.

And as well as being the location for our newsagent was also part of the route I took from Lausanne Road to Edmund Waller.

So I felt fairly confident that it would be one of those little personal landmarks which would still be there and while I was prepared for some changes I would still be able to buy a Kit Kat, look through the comics and touch a bit of my past.

I reckoned the old hand painted sign running the length of the shop would have gone along with the small shop window replaced by one of those 1970s walls of glass.  This I reasoned was progress but the reality was worse, for along with the other five houses it had gone completely, cleared away and replaced by a large block of flats which spill out on to Lausanne Road.

And while they were at it those responsible also did away with a stretch of Dennett’s Road.

At which point it would easy and lazy to condemn what happened to that bit of my history, but I haven’t lived there since 1964, don’t pay the council tax and have no idea of the state of the properties which were demolished.

So I shall return to my newsagents.

Searching back through the memories I think it must once have been a private residence which at some time was converted.  Back in 1914 the directory lists a Mr Tom Noble newsagent at number 13 which seems to be a smaller property at the end of the row at the Dennett’s end.

But I remember it in the middle of the row and I doubt there will be any one who can help.

The Eagle Comic, 1959
Which of course is the problem, for with the passage of over half a century I have lost contact with everyone I knew in the area.

That said I have made new friends, some of whom we have discovered lived very close by and but for an accident of different schools may well have become friends.

And I am confident that something will eventually pop up about that newsagent and if not it will have to be the hard trawl through the old directories for the 1950s.  But they are not on line and can only be accessed by a visit to the local studies centre, which will involve a trip back to Peckham.

Which is pretty much where I came in and just leaves me to reflect on the Eagle comic which fell through our door from Mona Road everyday from the mid 1950s through to the early 60’s.

It saw me through my early years and pretty much sums up much about the period which I rather think will work its way into a story.

Pictures; Walter Green House, 2007 from the collection of Colin Fitzpatrick , Safari in Space,  the Eagle Comic, 1959

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

A little bit of Kent in Oldham in the October of 1911

Now I know there is a story here but it has yet to reveal itself.

The caption on the postcard just says In a Kentish Lane and given that it is part of the collection of material I am looking at from the Great War I assumed it would have been sent from Kent.

I doubt I will ever know where in Kent the picture was and as I read the address and the message on the back it became apparent that Kent had nothing to do with the story that was beginning to unfold.

The card was was sent to Mrs S H Wood by her mother and Mrs Wood was in the Strinesdale Sanatorium at Moorside in Oldham.

Her mother was unable “to visit tomorrow” as Nellie was ill but planned to come next Saturday.

It was sent on a Tuesday afternoon and before 4pm and with the more frequent delivery service I suspect Mrs Wood had the card that evening or very certainly the next morning.

That should be about it.

I went looking for Mrs Wood in the Oldham area for 1911 but came up almost nothing.

All I do know is that the Strinesdale Sanatorium was for people with TB which in the age before antibiotics
was still a very dangerous disease and one in which recovery to full health could take a long time and essentially involved bed rest.

Strinesdale opened in 1895 and closed in 1960.

I guess the records have long since been destroyed  but given that some for Manchester Hospitals have survived I think it may be worth trying to find them.

All of which just leaves why her mother chose a picture of Kent and that I guess we will never know.

Picture; from the collection of David Harrop

Summer in the City ............ waiting for the train

A short series using pictures taken over the last few years celebrating summer in the city.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Walking in Nunhead Cemetery ...............

Now Nunhead Cemetery is one of those places where you can have a history lesson while watching some fascinating wildlife, stumble across an interesting building or just enjoy the solitude.

Of course foremost it is a cemetery which was part of that Victorian drive to apply rationality and uniformity to all things including the burial of the dead.

The centuries old practise of interring the dead close to the living in city centres was regarded as unhealthy and I suspect all too messy for many Victorians, added to which many of these small ancient burial grounds were all but full.

So in 1852 the London Necropolis Company set about planning and establishing big out of town resting places.

The first was at Brookwood in Surrey and with that typical Victorian ingenuity the company also added a dedicated railway line which opened in 1854 and provided a train service for the mourners, and their deceased loved ones direct from Waterloo to Brookwood.
Nunhead was the seventh.

It was opened in 1840 and originally was called All Saints Cemetery and continued the business of interring the dead till by the middle of the last century it was almost full.

And after its closure it pretty much was left to its own devices which I guess will have been when I wandered in looking for conkers, but that is a tale I have already told along with its  restoration by the the Friends and the Council.

I can’t remember when I was there but it was only the once and seen through the eyes of a ten year old so I am pleased that Adrian has sent these pictures of the place, and I rather think I will post more of his Nunhead photographs through the summer.

Pictures; Nunhead Cemetery, 20014 provided by Adrain Parfitt

*The story of one house in Peckham number 6 ............ of conkers, trespass and Nunhead Cemetery, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-story-of-one-house-in-peckham_13.html

Monday, 27 July 2015

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 31 ............ a heap of electoral rolls and the lost houses of Lausanne Road

The back of our house circa 1954
The story of one house in Peckham over a century and a half, and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

Miss Elsie Mabel Carly lived in our house on Lausanne Road for just under half a century.

The family were there sometime around 1904 and moved out in 1951 when my dad and mum bought the house.

I doubt that I would have found out that much about the Carly's had I not begun trawling the electoral registers to see where my parents lived before I was born.

And as I uncovered the different properties ending with Kender Street and Lausanne Road it occurred to  me that I should be able to use the same registers to find out who had lived in our house before us.

Now I knew the Carly’s were there in 1911, a piece of research that led me on to tell the story of young George Carly, who was born in 1894 and died on the Western Front during the Battle of the Somme on September 18 1916.**

At his death he was serving in B Company of the First Battalion Queen’s Westminster Rifles and if I have got this right the Queens’ Westminster Rifles had been formed in the August of 1914 at 58 Buckingham Gate and had been a Territorial Force and leaving for France in the November.

From the Thieupal Memorial
Sadly like so many of the men who served in the Great War George’s military records were destroyed which at present leaves us very little other than a reference on the Thieupal Memorial.

The family continued to live at Lausanne Road and it is those electoral rolls which allowed me to follow Miss Elsie from 1929 when she gained the first through the 1920s up to 1951 with that added bonus of a telephone directory which listed her as the subscriber in 1947.

Nor is that quite all because I she lived to see her 97th birthday dying in Hastings in 2000 which was where her father had been born.

The Swiss tavern, 2007
In time I think I shall go looking for her two sisters who she shared the house with until 1951.

Not that these were the only surprises that came out of those electoral registers.

Having found Miss Elsie I went looking for our news agents on Mona Road and found instead the house numbers of two of my friends.

I knew John Cox had lived on Dennett’s Road and Jimmy O’Donnell on Somerville Road, and there on the register I found their parents.

Not perhaps the greatest bit of detective work but one that took me back to my childhood.

And there were two final discoveries.  One was of a pub on Luggard Road which clearly has long gone and the other was the block of police flats which stood between number 28 and the wood yard which abutted the Swiss Tavern.

When I was growing up I just took the flats for granted.  Looking at them now they stand out as 1950s build and sure enough the prewar maps show eight houses identical to ours and from the electoral registers we can track who lived in numbers 30 through to 42.

The old police flats, 2007
And sometime between October 7 1940 and June 6 1941 they received a hit from a high explosive bomb and the rest as they say was a bomb site followed by post war reconstruction.***

All of which is confirmed by the surveyors report on the house from 1951 which commented on how
The main roof is covered with concrete plain tiles (presumably done in recent years under war damage repairs) and appears to be in very good condition.”

Now I rather think there is a story here which if I had access to the local newspaper of the period I would be able to tease out but just maybe some stories are left unresearched and unwritten.

Pictures; our house, circa 1954, from the collection of Andrew Simpson and  the police flats, and the Swiss Tavern, 2007, from the collection of Colin Fitzpatrick

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

** The story of one house in Peckham number 8 ........ George Carly of Lausanne Road, born in 1894 and died at the Somme in 1916, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-story-of-one-house-in-peckham_15.html

*** Bombsight, http://bombsight.org/#16/51.4708/-0.0539

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Lost Chorlton Churches nu 2 .......... the Macpherson Memorial Primitive Church High Lane

I just missed the Primitive Methodist Church on High Lane.

It closed  two years before I came to Manchester in 1969, and had been demolished by the time I settled in Chorlton.

Now I have been interested in the place since I discovered James McPherson who was closely involved with the church since it was founded in 1896.

“The Primitive Methodist church was early 19th century secession from the Wesleyan Methodist church and was particularly successful in evangelising agricultural and industrial communities at open meetings. 

In 1932 the Primitive Methodists joined with the Wesleyan Methodists and the United Methodists to form the Methodist Church of Great Britain.”*

Mr Macpherson was an undertaker and lived next door at number 23 High Lane from 1901 and possibly earlier.

In 1894 this stretch of land was still open but it may well be that when the first church building went up in 1898 the McPherson family moved to the large ten roomed house beside the church.

Mr McPherson died in 1901 but his two daughters, Sophie and Jessie were still in the family home a decade later and show up on the census return sharing the house with three boarders.

Isabella Russell Kay was aged 80, and a widow, Mary Florence Jeffery, 35, was married and her daughter Mary Taylor Jeffrey was.  Mrs Jeffrey had married ten years but there is no indication of where her husband was on the night of the census.

Sophie died in 1912 and this may have been when her sister moved because she died five years later in Lancaster.

And that pretty much is all I know at present.

Their house is still there but only one of the church buildings survives.  This was the school built in 1896, which was enlarged in 1908 and is now the  "Manchester Centre for Buddhist Meditation."

The church stood to the left of the school and was opened in 1902, but declining numbers and the reorganisation of the Methodist Church in 1932 meant that it closed in 1967.

All that is left to do is some digginging into the rate books and directories and we may be able to pinpoint exactly when the family moved to Chorlton and when Jessie left for Lancaster.

Pictures; the Macpherson Memorial Primitive Church High Lane, circa 1920s from the Lloyd Collection and the school today from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*High Lane Primitive Methodist, Chorlton cum Hardy, http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/LAN/ChorltoncumHardy/HighLanePrimitiveMethodist.shtml

A day on Asylum Road trying to remember that event 56 years ago

At the entrance
Now sitting in my memory pretty much tucked right at the back is the day I visited the Asylum on Asylum Road.

It will have been 1959 and somehow I had discovered that on that day on what was a pretty indifferent day there was a fun day at the place.

Of course it wouldn’t have been called a Fun Day, but there was that familiar mix of stalls, silly things to do along with popcorn, and gas filled balloons which lifted up into the air and were gone in an instant.

looking across the lawn
I remember spending all my pocket money and then walking the long walk home under the railway bridge on Clifton Road, via Pomeroy Street to Lausanne Road.

So far back into the past was that day that I had come to question if it all happened and no matter how many times I went looking I couldn’t find the place.

And then Adrian Parfitt sent me a set of pictures he had taken so long ago that they were “in an old hard drive that I had forgotten, I don't know if you will recall this place?  It’s Catherine’s Gardens or maybe you might have heard it call the Asylum in Asylum Road at the Old Kent Road end. 
The chapel

I thought that it might be of some interest to you.”

I of course had no idea that this was the Asylum when I wandered in and paid my entrance fee and don’t remember the grand building that was the chapel.

To be honest all I remember is a bit of grass, a brick wall and those gas canisters used to fill the balloons, and the popcorn stall which was the first time I had eaten the stuff.

Detail of the asylum in 1872
"Caroline Gardens Chapel, in Peckham, forms the heart of London’s largest complex of almshouses originally known as the Licensed Victuallers’ Benevolent Institution Asylum.

However, despite being called an “asylum”, the grade-II-listed site was not a home for lunatics. Instead, the word was used in its older sense of “sanctuary” and it was in fact an old folks’ home for retired pub landlords (or “decayed members of the trade” as they were known at the time)."*

During the last war the residents had been moved out and while they returned when the war was over the decision was made to relocate to Buckinghamshire in 1959 and the asylum was sold to Southwark Council in 1960, "which to this day uses it as social housing. 

Southwark renamed it “Caroline Gardens” after Caroline Secker, a former resident and widow of James Secker, who was the marine in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), said to have caught Nelson when he fell."*

The Asylum
And now there are lots more interesting things happening down at the Chapel, which is home to an artist lead organisation based in Caroline Gardens Chapel in Peckham, London. 

It was founded in 2010 and is directed by artists Jo Dennis and Dido Hallett. Asylum uses the chapel as a project and exhibition space, hires it out for events and as a location for film and photography.”**

So that rather means that my Fun day may well have been more of a goodbye day.

Either way it is a little mystery that can now be laid to rest a full 56 years after I ate my first bag of popcorn and for that I have Adrian to thank.

Pictures; the Asylum and Caroline Gardens, and detail of the Asylum in 1872 from the OS for London 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives Associationhttp://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

*Asylum history, http://asylumlondon.org/history/

** Asylum, http://asylumlondon.org/

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 30 ............ Saturday Club on the Light Programme

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

Now if you are my generation, born in the decade after the last World War who entered their teenage years to the sound of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Cliff Richard and who can still remember listening to “She Loves You” for the first time, Saturday Club was essential listening.

It had begun in 1955 but I suppose I was not really aware of its existence for another five years.
Back then if you wanted to listen to pop music on the radio it was slim pickings.

There was of course Radio Luxembourg which I listened to on my small transistor radio but the adverts for Horace Batchelor** plus the way the signal would fade and wane irritated me.

And on Saturday nights after the football results there was Juke Box Jury and later Thank Your Lucky Stars which showcased the latest singles and passed judgement on them.  But all too often these were shows watched by the whole family and as much as I loved my parents and young sisters there were times when you wanted to listen alone.

Now Saturday Club just fell into that requirement.

It went out after my sisters were upstairs playing and mum and dad were doing things.

It’s only real rival for me was Pick of the Pops the following afternoon, that rapid whizz through a week’s chart ups and downs.

This after all was the time when I was still too young to go to the dance halls and those other live music venue like pubs were out of the question.

But then just after we left for Eltham along came Radio Caroline in 1964 followed by its rival radio London and things just were not the same again.


All of which is teetering on nostalgic tosh and so to the point.  Saturday Club was one of those programmes which didn’t just play records but offered up live performances with interviews which always appealed to me.

But the attention span of a teenager is fickle and with the arrival of Ready Steady Go with its visual and slightly edgy feel I was pulled in a totally new direction.

Top of the Pops might be required viewing to be shared with the whole house and discussed the following day at school but RSG had me hooked.

So bit by Saturday Club faded but has never quite left me, and as I enter my 66th year I still have Brian Matthews offering me something of the same on Radio 2 with “Sounds of the Sixties.”

Now that is perhaps the point to close but not before one last observation, which is that I know I am growing old when the music of my youth is now played on Radio 2.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson


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

** Horace Cyril Batchelor was as an advertiser on Radio Luxembourg. He advertised a way to win money by predicting the results of football matches, sponsoring programmes on Radio Luxembourg.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Chorlton's Corner shops nu 8

Once the corner shop was a familiar and important feature of most of our towns and cities acting as much as lifeline to the late shopper as a place to pick up the gossip of the street.

Many have gone converted into residential use or left empty waiting for better days.

But those that survive against the competition of the big stores and convenience outlets are well worth recording, so here over the next few weeks courtesy of Andy’s pictures are some of ours here in Chorlton.


Picture; from the collection of Andy Robertson, 2014

Memories of distant wars ........ Quetta Afghanistan 1886 and a poppy cross

I am wondering who placed a simple poppy cross in the old parish church yard beside the gravestone recording the death of  James Dean who died in Afghanistan in 1886.

And that made me return to a story I wrote back in 2012.

It is easy for forget the reach of the British Empire in the 19th century.

But I was reminded recently when I revisited the parish church yard.
Amongst the few remaining tomb stones is that of the Dean family, which is all the more remarkable given that the Dean’s were not rich or famous but by an accident theirs was one of the headstones saved when the church yard was landscaped at the beginning of the 1980s.

In their way they tell the story of the township. Old Henry Dean had farmed an acre of land in the 1840s on what is now St Clements Road just north of the Horse & Jockey for which he paid the Lloyd estate £10 a year.He and his wife had been born here in the 1820s.

For whatever reason later in the following decade they had moved down to Brownhill's Buildings on what is now Sandy Lane and he described himself as an agricultural labourer, later they were living in what were then the new terraced houses on Stanley Grove, close again to the green.

His sons played in the brass band and are recorded on the 1893 photograph when the band played at Barlow Hall.

But what caught my attention was the entry on the family headstone recording Henry’s second son,
James Dean late 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers who died and was interred at Quetta Afghanistan August 23d 1886 aged 27 years.

Now Quetta had been captured by the British during the second Afghan war and leased to the British from 1883.

Today it is in Pakistan. Now a lot more research needs to be done to reveal the full story of James Dean but I think a start has been made. The family headstone is just south of the lych gate against the wall and is just a short distance from its original resting ground opposite the entrance to the old church

Picture; detail of the Dean headstone, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Discovering what happened to our library on New Cross Road ............. a pretty neat story

The library in 1911
Now this is how I remember the library at New Cross.

It was an old fashioned style of library with neat solid reading tables, matched by sturdy bookshelves full of everything you might ever want to read and laid out in meticulous order.

And because it was an old fashioned library the rule of silence sat on the place so that even the most accidental noise was greeted with a fierce glare by the librarian.

Of course it was impossible to completely screen out all sound.   Across in the Reading Room there would be the rustling of paper as the pages of the Times and Manchester Guardian were turned and along with that came the thump of the date stamp and the occasional loud bang as someone dropped their pile of books.

I had almost forgotten about the place until I came across an old library copy of a James Joyce book which mother had borrowed and never returned .

Sometime in the 1920s
And as you do I went looking for the library with little hope that it would still be there but the building has survived, although it no longer deals in books but has become home to the Music Room London which offers “a unique building with 5 different rooms ideally suited for a wide array of creative applications. Full bands, practicing drummers and instrumentalists, dance groups, theatrical productions, Photographic and video shoot applications will all find our facility an amazing resource for rehearsals and other sessions."*

In time I will take up their invitation and visit them but in the meantime I am very pleased that they turned over a collection of old images of the place with the promise of more to come.

Back in the 1950s we didn’t take pictures of the buildings we visited, after all if you went there regularly why would you?

But now a full half century on I wish I had access to more photographs of where I grew up especially given  trying to locate them is made just that bit more difficult when you live 180 miles north of New Cross.

Part of the problem is that some of the official images are copyright while the thousands that might have been taken as snaps have been lost or thrown out which in turn means that it can be difficult to get the picture you want.

So with that in mind here courtesy of the Music Room London are a fine collection pictures of the place.

The first was taken when it was opened on July 24 1911 and the second sometime in the 1920's

It was built as a Carnegie Library with money from the steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, and was one of 660 which he funded in Britain, 1,689 in the United States, 125 in Canada and more elsewhere between 1883 and 1929.

And a day when the snow fell
From humble beginnings Mr Carnegie had built up a huge steel business before selling out for an estimated $500 million in 1901 and devoting himself to philanthropist projects.

Even before he retired he had been spending money on all sorts of projects of which the establishment of public libraries was just one.

And because everyone loves a then and now image here is our building again, but just a century or so later on a day when the snow fell from the sky.

All of which just leaves me to return to the story later in the month with more reflections on, New Cross Library, the London Music Room and the Police Gazette

Pictures; New Cross Library, July 1911, circa 1920's and after it had become the Music Room London 2014, courtesy of the Music Room London.



*Music Room London, http://www.musicroomlondon.com/

Back with the Orangery ............... that gem behind the High Street

The Orangery, July 2015
Now the Orangery is one of those places that it is easy to miss.*

For most of the last century it lay off the High Street forlorn and forgotten, subject of various plans to save and restore it all of which came to nothing.

I vaguely knew about it but promptly let it slip out of my mind until I came across a document from the council circulated in the 1970s seeking suggestions about how the High Street should be developed.**

As for the Orangery these ranged from restoring the building and the area landscaping the area in front or conversely dwarfing the building with a multi-story car park.

It would be another forty years before anything was actually done and now we are almost a year from when it was restored.

So it’s about time I included another picture and this was kindly taken by Larissa

Picture;  The Orangery, July 2015, © Larissa Hemment

*The Orangery, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20Orangery

**A Future for Eltham Town Centre, 1974, Greenwich Borough Council

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Chorlton’s corner shops, number 4

Once the corner shop was a familiar and important feature of most of our towns and cities acting as much as lifeline to the late shopper as a place to pick up the gossip of the street.

Many have gone converted into residential use or left empty waiting for better days.

But those that survive against the competition of the big stores and convenience outlets are well worth recording, so here over the next few days courtesy of Andy’s pictures are some of ours here in Chorlton.


Picture; from the collection of Andrew Robertson, 2014


On passing Grove Market yesterday

Now if like me you no longer live in Eltham it is always nice to receive pictures and stories of the place.

And as I have been following the memories of those who sat in the Wimpy Bar in  the Grove Market and have fond memories of when I opened my first Midland Bank account I am pleased that Larissa has sent me these.

She took them on the way to work and as they say the new development is a work in progress.

I have followed the tortuous tale of the planning applications and both the Council’s concerns along with people who live nearby.

And while I doubt any one is bothered about my comments I have to say I am not convinced that it is an asset to Eltham.

But I left Well Hall in 1969, don’t pay the council tax and live 180 miles north of Grove Market all of which might well mean my opinion “don’t count for hill of beans”.

That said it is not a development that sits well with its surroundings.

Of course there are going to be a few who argue that change has to be embraced but I only think  if it fits and blends in with the surrounding landscape.

Well we shall see.

In the meantime I will go back and look again at the stories of Court Yard and Grove Market which have appeared over the years.

At present I just want to thank Larissa for the images of the development and those she also took of the Orangery.

Pictures, Grove Market development, July 2015, © Larissa Hemment

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 29 ............ taking the telephone for granted and waiting for the party line to clear to make a trunk call

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

Dial a friend on a wsll mounted 1968 model
Now a full half century after we left Lausanne Road I can still remember our telephone number.

Long after I have forgotten the divi number, our immediate neighbours and most of my school friends NEW 6251 is locked firmly in my mind.

Not that I got to use it very often.

Back in the 1950s few of the people I knew had a phone and making a call was still regarded as less of a social thing and more one reserved for emergencies.

All of which of course begs the question of why we had one any way.

My grandparents in Derby didn’t have one and most of our friends lived just a few doors away.

Added to which both my parents were of that generation who wrote and received regular letters and were quite content to wait a few days before carrying on with a story or picking up on the local gossip and news.

And phones in the 1950s were not the most user friendly of things.

Ours was heavy clunky and of course the number had to be dialled.  Not only that but we were on a party line which meant we shared with somebody else, which was fine if you wanted to listen in to a stranger’s conversation but maddening if you couldn’t make a call because the line was in use.

Nor were the public phones much better.  Back then there were fewer of them and there was that quaint system of the two buttons which had to be pushed.  Button A to connect, button B to get your money back and if it was a long distance number the faff of talking to the operator and asking to be connected.

The Trimphone, elegant and likely to slide off the table, 1969
So in the  age of mobile phones which can pretty much do everything you want this picture of a 1968 GPO standard issue household set brings back memories.

We have one here in our home and like the one in Graham’s picture it comes in one colour.

There were other colours, I remember ours in Well Hall Road was grey and the swanky people behind us had a white one.

There is something very reassuring about using a dial instead of buttons, and I only wish ours still worked.

But it was damaged long ago and now will only slowly complete its return half circle from the last number dialled.

Its successor the trimphone now looks less elegant and even more dated.  Ours was put in sometime around 1969, and I can’t say it was a success.

As I remember it was too light and had a tendency slide across the table when you were dialling and worse still could fall off the table as you moved around using it.

But at the time it came to represent all that was new and shinny and by the time ours arrived the GPO had become Post Office Telecommunications.

Nokia 3310, 2000
A decade or so later and I had my first push button set which was exactly like the one above but with of course a set of buttons, and finished in handsome grey.

Over the years new phones have come and gone including the revolutionary one which displayed the caller’s number.

More recently there has been a bewildering selection of cordless phones which we have bought and temporarily lost down the back of armchairs or on one memorable occasion in a pair of jeans.

So I am rather fond of the old sturdy dial a friend phones.

Graham assures me that the one installed in his uncle’s house in 1968 still works perfectly, “but no use if you call an answering machine” which I suspect is no bad thing.

But I wonder if the days of the landline are numbered.  The eldest three who long ago left home do not have a landline and all of us communicate with each other using a mobile leaving just a hand full of friends and the family in Italy who still call us on the big phone.

But the reason in our house for the demise of the landline is simply because most of the calls are just people wanting to sell us something.

The product has changed from double glazing and help with accident insurance to solar panels and dodgy computers but it remains a nuisance call and goes unanswered.

Nokia  635, 2015
So we longer lift up the phone or bother to dial back and those terms themselves have all but passed into history.

For why would you dial or lift the receiver when most phones have key pads and even cordless phones only sit on a cradle for as long as it takes to charge them?

In less than a few decades and certainly in the lifetime of our children what we use to phone out on and just what the device can offer has changed out of all recognition.

I doubt that our old black Bakelite sturdy phone with its little draw underneath to a keep the address book would be much use today, and that is one of those yawning gulfs that separate me from Lausanne Road in 1958.

But then I have just upgraded from a clockwork Nokia to one that pretty much does everything, but that is another story

Pictures; 1968 which I rather think is a GPO Telephone 711, courtesy of Graham Gill and the 1969 GPO 1/722F MOD Grey & Green Rotary Dial Trimphone Telephone by Diamondmagna and two generations of Nokia phones, 2000-2015 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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