Saturday, 31 October 2015

Gone and soon to be forgotten ......... on Warwick Road South

Now I know that not all old factories and warehouses are worthy of being saved especially when they will be replaced by low cost affordable homes.

And I have to say the old industrial complex down on Warwick Road South had little to commend it as an example of industrial heritage.

Andy who took the pictures linked the building  to “Thomas Goldsworthy founder of Emery Mill who had been  born 1798 Redruth, Cornwall.

The business was taken over by his son Robert who was born 1833.

When Robert died in 1904 having retired to Southport, he left £109,000 (£11million today)”
I doubt that the building will be missed and their epitaph might well be that they had “seen better days and done better things.”*

Having said that someone may well come forward with an interesting story or an equally interesting person who was linked to the place.

But for now all that can be said is that they have gone, and the gaping space is just awaiting the ground to be broken by the builders who in a matter of months will have developed the area leaving nothing but Andy’s pictures and a few records to show what was once here.

Pictures; Warwick Road South, 2014, 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*"I see better days and do better things”, .....I Shall Be Free, Bob Dylan, 1963

Watching the changes on Burton Road in just a year

I won’t be alone in remembering an older Burton Road, but even by 1969 the place was changing and soon those traditional shops selling everything from bananas, elastic garters, and paraffin would be gone.

Peter’s painting perfectly captures that new busy Burton Road and since he painted it the big green off license has gone, which makes the picture as much a piece of history as the earlier one which dates from around 1900.

Then as a year ago there was a grocers shop on the corner with Nell Lane and the row of shops beyond were varied and interesting.

Of course what they sell has now changed reflecting the way we shop.

So in 1911 Miss Ettie, the tobacconist  along with Harry Cayton the butcher occupied the parade with a  cycle shop, hair dressers along with a ladies outfitter, a dyers and cleaners and Madame De Korti artists’ material dealer.

Today there is more of uniformity about the stretch which has more than its share of fast food outlets and restaurants.

And on the opposite side the school has become a set of offices, and the West Didsbury Public Hall a supermarket. All of which hides more than a little history, for it was in that public hall in 1902 that the Amalgamation League was formed.

There were those who judged that Didsbury along with Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Withington and Burnage would be best served by joining the city of Manchester instead of going alone.

Despite the League small membership the attractions of such a merger we not lost on the ratepayers of four townships who voted to join in the January of 1904.

And now it has changed all over again as I discovered yesterday.

Having just spent a bit of time in the walk in centre on Nell Lane and opting to catch the tram home I passed
what was Mr Walker Clavert’s  grocery shop in 1903, an off license in 2014 now a restaurant.

Paintings; corner of Burton Road and Nell Lane  © 2014 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,
Facebook:  Paintings from Pictures

Pictures; Burton Road, October 2015, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and  the same spot circa 1900 courtesy of Paul O’Sullivan

Another story from Tony Goulding .......... THE METHODIST CHURCH WAR MEMORIAL

Below are recorded , in no particular order, "pen pictures" of ten of these names-being the first instalment of a project to feature all the 32 men and 1 woman remembered here

William Eric Lunt
(D.o.W.14/10/1916 France)

Born in 1895 the son of John Henry Lunt, a greengrocer, and his wife Mary Ann of 60, Sandy Lane

Enlisted at Ardwick on 5th. September, 1914 into the 8th (Home Service) Battalion, Manchester Regiment transferred in 1916 to the 18th Battalion for service in France.

William's civilian occupation was as an apprentice in a millenary warehouse. William's papers indicate that he was a tall lean youth of just 19; 5'11'' and 129 lbs. with a 351/2'' chest and had brown eyes, dark hair and a sallow complexion. We even can discover his cap and boot sizes -7 and 10 respectively.

He had three cousins (and fellow Chorltonians) who were all also killed on the Western Front (2)

Thomas Roy Ellwood  
Son of the noted chronicler of old Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and chief clerk of Manchester City Council's Public Health Office, Thomas Loft house Ellwood

Thomas Roy was born in 1896, lived at 68, Brundretts Road and in civilian life worked as an apprentice in a Macintosh works warehouse until his family moved away to Bedale in Yorkshire.

He enlisted at Harrogate into the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own) reaching the rank of lance sergeant before his death in France.

His body was one of the tens of thousands which were never recovered from the battlefield and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
Christopher Thomas Bottrill
(K.i.A. 1/7/1916 France)

Resident of 52, Keppel Road. A sergeant In"C"company 16th battalion, Manchester Regiment and one of the casualties in the carnage that was the first day of the Battle of the Somme, he is also commemorated at Thiepval.

Christopher was born at Shelley Nr.Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1891. Sometime in the 1890's his father Christopher George, a master bread baker, moved his wife, Jane, young Christopher and his four sisters to Chorlton-cum-Hardy and opened a bakery at! 2, Barlow Moor Road.(3)

Christopher also (like William Lunt) worked as apprentice in a millenary warehouse (at 29, Dale Street for Pugh , Davies &Co.) while his two oldest sisters both worked as elementary school teachers.

Robert Taylor Hardman
( K.i.A. 1/7/1916 France)

Temp. 2cnd Lt. Royal Engineers, Special Brigade. (4)

Another casualty of the first day of the Somme. He was born in Higher Crumpsall, on 22nd July 1889, from where he attended Bury Grammar School.

Later attending schools in Manchester before completing a M.Sc. degree in Chemistry (1907-1911) at Manchester University. He gained a 2cnd class honours degree which was good enough for him to get a research fellowship (1912-1913).

At the outbreak of War, Robert had not long retuned from New York, where he had been working as a research chemist (Aug. '13-Apr '14) , and was living with his father, also a Robert Taylor  and mother, Alice Ann at the family home of 30, Church (now Chequers) Road -- later 32,Stockton Road.

At university he had spent more than four years in the Officer Training Corps and he was "gazzeted" in November 1914 into the The Kings Own Royal Lancs. Regiment before the formation of the "Special Brigade" saw his transfer to the Royal Engineers to better utilize his expertise. Again he lies in no known grave and is included in the list of the missing at Thiepval.


Arthur Kettle
(K.i.A. 18/11/1916 France)

Private in the 19th battalion, Manchester Regiment.  Yet another recorded on the Thiepval Memorial.

Married Mabel Lillian (nee Jones) at the Primitive Methodist Church on High Lane, April 2nd 1904.

Home addresses 2, Swayfield Ave. Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1879. Parents Joseph and Emily lived at 5, Oswald Lane.

Enlisted at Manchester on 7th September, 1914 despite being nearly 35 years old and a married man with six young children the oldest just turned 10 and the youngest, Pearl a 6 months old baby.

According to army records he stood 5'7'' tall, weighed 123 lbs and had a 35" chest, fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair.

Leonard Kitchen.
(K.I.A. 25/10/1918 France)
Private in Machine-gun Corps (originally "B" company 23rd battalion Manchester’s) born in 1888 at Worcester.

His mother, Annie moving   her young family back to her home town of Manchester following the death of his father John in 1895.

He married Agnes Kettle in 1913 making him the brother-in-law of the above man. They resided at 6, Provis Road. Tragically he perished less than three weeks before the Armistice of 11th. November, 1918, ended the fighting.

Raymond Percy
(D.o.W. 12/8/1918 France)

Temp.Lt. (acting Captain) 12th.battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment. Awarded a Military Cross.
Raymond was born in 1896 in Echuca, Victoria, Australia but was brought up in Chorlton-cum-Hardy at 20, Salisbury Road with his father, John Arthur, a pawnbroker and jeweller, mother Katie (nee. Kemp)  and older brother, George Leslie.

In the years prior to 1914 Raymond had attended a boarding school with his brother in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.

His parents had been married at St.Matthew's, Stretford on 29th. November, 1893 prior to their move to Australia.

Arnold Clifford Wagstaff M.M (1)  (D.o.W.29/8/1916 France)

A Lance Corporal in the Manchester Regiment -20th battalion and a recipient of the Military Medal, he was born in Sercombe ,Cheshire in 1894.

Before the hostilities he was an apprentice dental mechanic living with his parent’s , George Arthur an advertising agent and Rosa Ellen at 103 , Beech Road . Arnold would certainly have been well acquainted with the three Lunt brothers (referred to above) who lived above their father's greengrocer shop at 119, Beech Road.

Frederick Pontefract
(died 16/6/1918.France)

Frederick enlisted in Manchester on 11th May , 1915 , when aged 19 years and 2 months

He was assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps and posted to join the 2/3 field ambulance unit of the East Lancashire Regiment, spending some time with The Expeditionary force in Egypt before being transferred to France.

At his medical on the 11th. May 1915 the record shows he was 5' 6" and had a chest measurement of 35" with good vision and no distinguishing marks or "defects.”

The attestation papers reveal that he was a cashier by trade and resided with parents Frederick William, a cotton fabrics buyer, and Agnes Anne at 11,Grange Avenue.  He was born at 15, Beechwood Avenue and later lived at 5, Beech Road.

An examination of the service record of this individual brought to light a very sad story indeed
Frederick died of a skin infection "cellulitis lace" at Perronne Reserve Hospital , France whilst "a prisoner of war in German hands"

Very unfortunately it seems that due to the vagaries of communications between the combative powers (perhaps exacerbated by the imminent internal collapse of Germany) notification that Frederick was a P.O.W. only reached his parents on 9th August 1918 .
In the following weeks as the feeling that the end of hostilities was approaching grew, they likely had great hope that their son had survived only for it to be dashed with the notification of his death on 15th. October, 1918

Cecil William Somerville
(K.i.A.24/8/1918 France)

2nd.Lt. 82cnd. sqd. R.A.F. (originally joined the Manchester Regiment) Cecil had Irish parentage. William, a commercial traveller/linen merchant and his wife Mary of 11, Torbay Road and later 32, Egerton Road hailed from Co. Armagh.

Cecil was their eldest (surviving) child born in the Toxteth Park area of Liverpool on 19th.September 1897.

By the time of the 1911 census, Cecil had four siblings a brother, Vivian, and three sisters Doris, Edith, and Maudie. The family's initial home in Chorlton-cum-Hardy was at 29, Needham Avenue.
K.i.A. = killed in action.
D.o.W. = died of wounds.
Died = died of illness or injury while on active service

1) There is a double entry on the Memorial. The list of names on the front includes A.C. Wagsraffe whilst on the side the name A. Clifford Wagstaffe appears.

The explanation for this comes courtesy of my good friend David, a member and official of the Methodist Church.

According to him when the Primitive Methodist Church, on High Lane closed in 1967 and amalgamated with church on Manchester Road they added the names from their memorial to the side of this one .Presumably Mr. Wagstaffe had been a member of both congregations.

2) William Eric Lunt is also a relative of my friend David whose family resided in Dartmouth Road, which is just opposite the location of "Lunts" greengrocer shop on Sandy Lane. Gladys May, William's younger sister and only sibling married a Thomas H. Patching in 1916. My friend David's mother, Constance was the half-brother of the groom.

3) The Bottrill’s lived at 2, Oak Bank Avenue which is now Silverwood Avenue. The bakery on Barlow Moor Road was in the building on its comer now occupied by the Halifax.

4) The Royal Engineers "Special Brigade" was formed in 1915 as a response to the use of poison gas by the Germans. Its remit was to both expand Britain's own chemical warfare initiatives and develop defensive measures to counter any future German attacks.

© Tony Goulding

Pictures; from the collection of Tony Goulding

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 49 ............. leaving

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 49 ............. leaving

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 can’t remember when we were told that mum and dad were selling Lausanne Road and that we were moving to Eltham.

But having sold and bought a few houses I know that after the decision to sell, finding a place and doing the deals can take months.

So as we moved in the March of 1964 they will have begun the process at the start of the New Year but more probably in the winter of 1963.

Now Lausanne Road was all I had known for my entire life.  I went to school in Waller Road and later Samuel Pepys, played in Pepys park and as the years went by I wandered further afield taking in most of Peckham, Nunhead, New Cross and bits of Deptford and even Greenwich.

And after we left I continued to return to go to school and for a while at least would spend weekends with friends.

But looking back that move came at a time when lots of things were changing and I guess there will be many others who also moved out of the area in their teenage years that experienced that similar mix of regret at what was lost with all the excitement of what was to come.

For me it was that difficult time when all the clumsy bits of becoming a teenager were taking over.

So as all the old certainties were ebbing away, I no longer played with toys had stopped reading comics and was given to irrational outbursts at mum over absolutely nothing.

And I have to admit that I was far more a difficult and unpleasant teenager than ever my three sons were and for that I continue to harbour a deep shame.

Part of the problem was that having discarded the toys the comics and the adventures the things which were supposed to effortlessly take their place were slow to surface.

We didn’t have a record player for another year, my dress sense remained appalling and there was no girlfriend on the horizon.  All of which was made worse by that conviction that everyone else was having a better time.

I was unsure exactly what my friends were doing that was different and more exciting but given my own mundane existence that just had to be.

So I suppose I was ready for the move.

Not that much changed for another six months but by the September of ‘64 there was a growing confidence which showed up in what I was wearing and how I saw the world.

And while I still made that daily journey from Eltham to New Cross and would continue to do so till the summer of 1966 I didn’t go back at weekends  and Lausanne Road became just a memory.

But you never quite loose all those things that you grew up with and now I realize just how much of Peckham and New Cross is part of who I am.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

Friday, 30 October 2015

On Vassall Road ............with a water trough, the Union and a butter factory

Vassall Road trough, 2015
Now I have Ros to thank for these fine pictures of the water trough at Vassall Road and as ever there is a story which unites the trough, the Union and a butter factory.

Vassall Road was outside my comfort zone when I was growing up in Lausanne because it was just a tad too far to walk looking for adventures.

Back then adventures started with a walk except on those rare occasions when we spent our pocket money on a train trip from Queens Road or bought a Red Rover.

Neither of which ever took me down towards Camberwell New Road.

So Ross’s water trough was new to me and unlike so many it has been preserved and in the absence of passing horses and other livestock has been filled with flowers.

But the inscription exhorting kindness “to your animals” can still be read even if one of the stone emplacements which would have protected the trough from wheel hubs of passing wagons has been lost.

And intrigued by its survival I went looking for it on the old maps and there it was just where Ros left it yesterday.

And in 1953
Sometimes these troughs were moved from the centre of a crossroads as part of road widening schemes or just because they were getting in the way of the growing amount of traffic, but ours seems to have been sited on Vassall Road by the early 1950s and while it doesn’t show up on earlier maps I am guessing this is where it has always been.

Close enough to the old Union public house for the odd carter to leave his wagon in charge of his assistant and while his horse drank from the tough nipped in to the pub for a quick pint.

And having chatted to Mr Cook the landlord of the Union our carter might have gone off to deliver to one of the many small factories in the area.

The trough, the Union and the Butter factory, 1953
Now Mr Cook was pulling pints at the pub in 1914 and not long before there had been a smithy just across the way on Farmer Road and later still a Butter Factory and Kenoval House (Roller Shutter Factory).

Today there are still some industrial units along the road opposite the Academy and bits of them may date back to our butter factory roller shutter factory but the set of streets which included Warrior Road, Westhall Road and Elfin Road have gone.

And even the Union has undergone change with part of it becoming Bar Lenuccia which makes the survival of the water trough something to marvel over.

Pictures; the water trough on Vassall Road, courtesy of Ros Parks, and detail of Vassall Road and Farmer’s Road, 1953, historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at Historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at
 with mapping provided by Landmark Information Group

Britannia Emery Mills down at Hulme Hall Road

Hulme Hall Road Bridge 1897
It’s a while since I visited Hulme Hall Road and that warehouse which suffered a devasting fire back in the summer.

At the time I ran a series of stories prompted by Andy Robertson’s pictures which he took at regular intervals recording the demolition of the building and yesterday he went back but mainly to solve a little mystery.

“My daughter alerted me to this picture showing the construction of Hulme Hall Bridge in 1897.

She wondered if ‘our building’ Excelsior was on it. 

Hulme Hall Road, 1930
We could not get or heads round it so I decided to go and have a look.

The frontage of the Emery Mill still remains.

 Since 1897 the buildings where the two men are standing has been demolished and replaced by a larger building which joins the Britannia on its right and goes all the way down Hulme Hall Road joining that building on extreme right of photo.

The 1930 aerial photo illustrates this.

Hulme Hall Bridge, 2015
Thomas Goldsworthy was here from at least 1870 to 1946 manufacturing glass and emery cloths, glass and sand papers and knife polish.”

Research by Andy Robertson

Pictures; Hulme Hall Road Bridge, 1897, H Entwistle, m60918, and aerial View of Hulme, Chester Road, and Hulme Hall Road, 1930 A W Hobart, m67731, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and the same scene 2015, Andy Robertson

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Sending our children to Canada ..........Miss Maria Rye, Avenue House on Hanover Park and my great uncle

It never ceases to amaze me how the past twists and turns and confronts you with a little bit of your own personal history in a way you least expect.

Avenue House 1872
When I was growing up in Lausanne Road I was totally unaware that just over a century earlier Miss Maria Rye had been migrating young people from her establishment off Hanover Park.

This was Avenue House which she had bought in 1869 and used as a base for the onward migration of young people to Canada.

Nor was she alone in this enterprise, a number of philanthropists and charities had also begun “rescuing” young people many of whom were found destitute on the streets of our cities or in orphanages and workhouses.

The grand plan was to settle them on the other side of the Atlantic offering a fresh start in a new land.
These were the British Home Children and one of them was my great uncle sent over in 1914 with he Middlemore charity.

Their story is one that is close to me and one that I have written about extensively.*

But it is a story not so well known in Britain although there is a growing understanding of the importance of this bit of history in Canada.

After all over 100,000 children were sent between 1870 and 1930 and perhaps 10% of all Canadians are descended from a British Home Child.

Like all stories theirs was a mixed bag.  Some found that new life, while others were exploited, abused and used as cheap labour.

The later migration of children to Australia only stopped in the 1970s and featured in an important book and film.

Now this is a story I shall return to but for now I will just close with an extract from Miss Rye herself on the young people she took into her care written in 1872

“The children vary in age from 3 to 13 years; are all Protestants, and nearly all absolute Orphans; are bound (when not adopted) till they are 18 years old, on the following terms, viz: Up to 15 years old they are to be fed, clothed and sent to Sunday School. From 15 to 17 they are not clothed, but paid $3 a month wages, and $4 a month from 17 to 18.

If through any unforseen circumstances, it is necessary for a child to be returned to the Home, due notice of the same must be given in writing, one month before the child is removed; and if the child has been away from the Home six months, her clothes must be returned new and whole, and in the same number as they left the Home. 

In no case can a child be passed on to another family without first consulting Miss Rye, and in case of the death of persons (husband or wife) taking children, it is particularly requested that an immediate notice of the fact be sent to the Home.
Miss Rye reserves to herself the right of removing any child with whose treatment she is not satisfied.


Hon Secretary 

N.B. Only children under nine years of age can be adopted.”

Picture; Avenue House, High Street, Peckham, from the OS map of London, 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

And a thank you to Gail Collins, who found the extract.

*British Home Children,

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The remarkable Mr Banks from factory worker to photographer by Royal Appointment

Oldham Street looking towards New Cross
There is something magic about this picture of Oldham Street which dates from around 1900.

And I am not alone in thinking this.  My friend Sally commented that “the image draws you in” and certainly you feel right at the heart of the city on a busy working day.

We are actually just past Hilton Street looking up towards Great Ancoats Street and New Cross.

Off to our right at numbers 56-58 was Abel Heywood & Sons, the booksellers who had in their time published some of the most important books on Manchester.

Beside them at number 60 was Marks and Spencer Ltd and beyond were the businesses of White the manufacturing jewellers whose sign dominated the skyline and the equally impressive sign of Crosby Walker Ltd whose draper’s shop stretched across numbers 82-86 Oldham Street.

In between were a branch of Maypoles’ the grocery chain, a Yates’ Wine lodge, and assorted photographer’s tailors, coffee merchants and confectioners.

My own favourite, at number 62, is the premise of Miss Isabella, servants registry office which is a reminder that this is still the age when even relatively humble homes aspired to at least one servant.

What is all the more  remarkable is the number of photographers who were offering their services in this small stretch running from Hilton Street up to Warwick Street but then photography had come of age and one of its best exponent was none other than Robert Banks who took this picture.

He had been commissioned by the Corporation as early as 1878 to photograph a series of pictures of the newly opened Town Hall and went on to compile sets of albums including the opening of the Ship Canal, the unveiling of Queen Victoria’s statue, and King Edward’s visit in 1909.

Many of these appear in an old and battered book which Sally picked up recently.

The cover and binding had long ago been lost but the pictures were intact and they are a wonderful record of our city just a century and a bit ago.

Here are celebrated some of the great achievements of the Victorian period, from the towering textile warehouses, to the impressive public buildings and in between street scenes of everyday life.

But few now know much about Mr Banks.  Back in 2011 a collection of his images was published by the History Press along with a short biography but the book sadly is now out of print.*

All of which is a shame because his was an interesting life and reflects that classic view of the self made Victorian.

He was born in 1847, his father was a journeyman carpenter, and at fifteen he was employed as a woollen piercer in Upper Mill.  At the age of twenty he was an illustrated artist working for the Oldham Chronicle and in 1867 had set up as a photographer in the High Street at Uppermill.

Reception Room, Town Hall
Now that move of course glosses over a lot because the step from illustrator to photographic studio I doubt could have been easy but at present I have no idea at the capital needed to begin such a venture or how he might have financed it.

Suffice to say that by 1873 he had moved to Manchester, set up home at 73 Alexandra Road in Moss Side and was renting a studio at 73 Market Street.

Over the next thirty years the business moved from Market Street to New Cross, and on to Franklin Street and Victoria Street and in 1903 was at 126 Market Street.

Likewise the family home was variously on Alexandra Street, and later Mytton Street, but the buildings have long since been cleared.

That said it may be possible to locale the studio in Uppermill and there remains the census records from 1861 onwards and the Rate Books along with possible references in the Manchester Guardian.

I rather think I will also contact his biographer just because Mr Banks is an interesting chap who began in a factory and  along the way was given  the title By Royal Appointment.

Pictures; courtesy of Sally Dervan

Contributory research from James Stanhope-Brown

*Manchester From the Robert Banks Collection, James Stanhope-Brown, 2011, the History Press

The day I went to Brockley looking for a water trough and found a cinema

Now I like the way you start off on a story and end up discovering all sorts of things you never knew.

The Brockley Barge, 2008
So in my quest for water troughs across south east London I have had lots of people share their memories of ones they remember.

And yesterday Margaret Nash wrote that “I haven't thought about horse troughs for years but after your post it bought back memories of a very foggy evening in the early 50's. 

It was a real pea souper and I had a boyfriend who had a car, we were on our way to see friends at Honor Oak. 

As we slowly drove along Brockley Road we came up behind a vehicle so stopped for what seemed ages until my boyfriend got out to see what the long hold up was, only to come back to tell me we were parked behind a horse trough. 

It was at a point in Brockley Road where the road divides off to the right into what is now Foxbury Road. 

I wondered if my mind was playing tricks but googled street view and the horse trough isn't there anymore but a pub called the Brockley Barge stands where the road divides.”

And that was a challenge I couldn’t turn down and went looking for the pub and the site of the trough.

The Brockley Barge turned out to be the old Breakspear Arms which had opened in 1868 and was renamed in 2000 when it became a Wetherspoons, and according to that wonderful site London Pubology has appeared in the Good Pub Guide for six years.*

Having found the pub I found the water trough.  It stood just in front of The Breakspear and is there on the OS map for 1896 and was still there in 1952.

The pub, the cinema and the water trough, 1952
For those who want an exact date for when it was placed there I can’t offer one up although I do know it will have been sometime after 1872.

Nor do I know when it was declared obsolete and taken away, but at least we found it just where Margret left it, and although she never mentioned it the trough faced a cinema which I had no idea ever existed.

This was the Brockley Picture Theatre which opened its doors on September 27 1913 and underwent several name changes over the next 43 years.

According to Mr Ken Roe “It was re-named Palladium Cinema from 24th May 1915.

The Ritz, date unknown 
In 1929 it was under new independent ownership and had a change of name to Giralda Cinema. 

This only lasted until 1936 when it was closed on 2nd November 1936 for renovation. 

It re-opened as the New Palladium Cinema. By the 25th May 1942, it had been re-named Ritz Cinema.

The Ritz Cinema was closed on 14th March 1956 with Charles Drake in 'Tobor the Great' and John Derek in 'The Fortune Hunter'(The Outcast). It was demolished in April 1960 and the site was re-developed. In 2009 an MOT car testing centre and garage is located on the site.”**

And now the MOT centre has gone and the site is underdevelopment again.

Looking at the maps and comparing with an old photograph it was a big place with a 40 feet wide proscenium and a 16 feet deep stage and a massive entrance.

I had wondered why the place didn’t ring any bells but I would not have ventured into Brockley until the early 1960s by which time the cinema had gone and with it perhaps that water trough.

Pictures; Brockley Barge, July 2008 courtesy of London Pubology, and that water trough and detail of St Mary’s Road 1953 historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at Historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at
 with mapping provided by Landmark Information Group and picture of the Ritz by courtesy of Martin Tapsell from the Ritz Cinema, Ken Roe, cinematreasures,

* London Pubology,
**Ritz Cinema, Ken Roe, cinematreasures,

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Looking for my great grandmother in September 1939 ............ a unique set of records go online

Now next Monday will be a lot more interesting because Findmypast  has put the 1939 Register online*

Nana and grandad circa 1930s
The Register contains the names, addresses and occupations of everyone in England and Wales in 1939 and was used as the basis for rationing, identity cards and the National Health Service just under a decade later.

That in itself makes it a very important document but more so because it will be another six years before the 1921 census is published.

Added to which there is a gaping hole in what will be available given that the 1931 census was destroyed and the 1941 census was never taken.

Great grandmother Eliza and a policeman, 1894
And that will be important for me because after nearly a decade I have gone back to looking for my immediate family and in particular my great grandmother.

Eliza Boot was born in 1872 and had five children but never married their father.

They were a colourful pair, having once been fined for fighting with a policeman in 1894 and eventually separating in 1902 with Eliza retuning north to Derby to have her last child in the workhouse.

The surviving four children spent time in institutions and was migrated to Canada as a British Home Child.

And apart from a few fragmentary references and her death certificate I have very little else to go on.

Nana in Derby, 1930
Her medical records have long since been destroyed and her National Insurance records cannot be accessed, so just maybe the 1939 Register will reveal something to fill the gap between an address in a street directory in 1925a comment in a letter in 1941 and the official record of her death.

We shall see.

And if she continues to fall though the net there will be mother, uncle Roger and Nana and granddad in Derby and dad who by 1939 had migrated south from Gateshead to London.

So I travel in hope because there are 41 million lives recorded in the register.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

* Monday November 2 2015, the 1939 Register will be made available online for the very first time, only on findmypast,

Walking in Nunhead Cemetry

I have decided to find out what I can about the Chicken family.

They were buried in the cemetery between 1872 and 1917 and between them their lives spanned the 19th century.

The first was Mary Ann Chicken who was born in 1799 and that last was William who died in 1917.

And the historian in me wonders what events of that century and a bit impacted most on the family.

After all Mary Ann would have been sixteen when the news of Waterloo came through and just 38 when the old Queen ascended the throne.

I would like to know where they lived, how they made a living and their connection with Nunhead.

And perhaps I might also find a little about the people who the thoughtful or perhaps mournful angel stands over.

Pictures, Nunhead Cemetery, from the collection of Sue Simpson

Monday, 26 October 2015

A little bit of history on Well Hall Road .......... friends renunted

Now as a piece of history goes  it is perhaps not even a footnote, but it has made my day because this afternoon I was contacted by Steve on the Well Hall  facebook site I set up.

Steve had posted an interesting picture of an iron boundary marker for Woolwich.

He had found it in his garden and I passed a comment to which he asked if I had lived on Well Hall Road with four sisters, which was prompted by his wife and sister in law who had lived just two doors down from us and had played with our Elizabeth and Stella.

And yes we all lived one house apart and they both played together and later went out to socials.

So it’s a small world but one made just a bit nicer by the Well Hall site, all of which allows me to bring out Peter's painting again showing our houses.

Painting; 294 Well Hall Road, © 2015 Peter Topping 


Facebook: Paintings from Pictures

Now you can go looking for a water trough and five turn up on the same day

My water trough was at the top of St Mary’s Road where it joined Evelina Road.

I remember it from the 1950s and so did Linda and Joan and in the case of Joan she told me that  “you have just given me a memory jolt... I can recall my mum telling me off for trying to get into that trough..... it was all green and slimy inside !!”

I vaguely remember others and said I would set myself the task of looking for them and it is a search which has already been helped by Ros, Linda, Sue, Sharon and Helen who all came up with fresh sites.

So now I know of the one on the Old Kent Road where it joined New Cross Road, the two at the top of Deptford Road, the one at Vassel Road and a fifth outside the Kentish Drovers on Commercial Road where Sue’s mum fell in “and swallowed her false tooth celebrating on VJ night. What a night that must have been” and finally one on Southhampton Way.

There will be others, after all there were lots of horses and other livestock on our streets and all needed watering.

So the project has just started.

I am hoping for more stories and pictures.  Pat has promised one of the tough at Vassel Road.

So as they say watch this space.

Thanks to Linda Barnes,Helen Middleton, Sue England, Joan Griffiths Sharon Wood, and Pat Ross.

Picture. down on Bexley Road 2014, courtesy of Jean Gammons

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Ghost signs on Evelina Road .............. along with an old telephone kiosk and much more

Now yesterday I was looking for water troughs and found my old one at the top of St Mary’s Road.

It’s gone now and I have no idea when it was hauled away and replaced by the big flower bed.

But the tall old iron ventilation shaft is still there like its partner on Lausanne Road which were built to vent gases from the sewers below.*

It features in front of the trough in Adrian Parfitt’s photograph of this corner of St Mary’s Road.

The picture is one he sent me a while ago and it’s not until now that I have really looked at it.

There was no date on the picture, but I know it will be after 1911 because at the time there were no buildings listed between Gibbon Road and Hollydale Road and if pushed it will have to be after 1920 when the Post Office began introducing the K1 telephone box to our streets.

The K1 was made of concrete and was replaced with the more familiar red K2 from 1926.

I suppose this one could have lingered on into the 1930s or even later which led me to the adverts on the side of what was the post office.

The detail is hard to make out and the product lost but the hair style of the woman places it in that period.

What fascinates me more is the painted sign above it and what is remarkable is that it is still there today.

Or at least a painted sign is still there although I can’t quite match the two up.

And for that I need a modern photograph of the shop and sign.

Looking at street google the present if now redundant sign seems to be advertising a chemist which had been established for 55 years.

I can’t think it will be the same as the earlier one but there’s the challenge.

So if anyone regularly walks past the spot or fancies a trip out I would welcome a new photograph which will help solve the mystery and present me with two ghost signs for the price of one shop.

Which just leaves me to add a comment from Adrian, "hi Andrew, I have just seen your item on the post office, I can remember it as a chemist named Kebbles and the post office was also in there.

Then the post office moved up into Gibbon Road, past the butchers shop, I can remember this back in the early 50's."

Picture; Evelina Road, circa 1920-26, supplied by Adrian Parfitt

*When a smelly sewer was just one too many,

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Drinking Troughs I have known

The drinking trough was one of those bits of street furniture I took for granted.

A water trough I knew .... St Mary's Road, date unknown
Thinking back they were all over the place and given the number of horses in use until the middle of the 20th century that is no surprise.

But they owed their origins as much to cattle as horses.

In the middle of the 19th century  cattle along with other livestock were still being walked into our city centres and while the days of bring them in from the country were over they were still being walked from main railway stations to dairies and abattoirs.

As late as the 1950s my old friend Oliver Bailey had the job of transporting pigs from our local station to his farm through the streets of Chorlton-cum-Hardy and the family still kept a herd of cattle on a patch of land in the heart of the township.

So the water trough during the years I grew up in Lausanne Road was still in use although by then its use was pretty much limited to offering water to the horses pulling the milk floats and the rag and bone man’s cart.

An on Bexley Road a water trough with flowers
And if I think hard enough the one on the corner of St Mary’s Road and Evelina Road was more often dry and a place for us lads to sit in and be silly getting our clothes dusty and a tad grimy from the accumulated muck which was a mix of dried leaves, the odd discarded crisp paper and street grit.

Some troughs can still be found like the one in Eltham, others were taken over as flower beds before finding their way into Corporation Yards and finally broken up as rubble.

Now I have decided to begin looking for them and plotting their presence around the area where I grew up.
And to help me I have fallen back on an excellent set of historical maps of Southwark.*

The trough on St Mary's Road, 1953
They cover the period from 1896-1953 and offer up a fascinating resource more so as the later ones cover my own time in Lausanne Road.

Added to which there is the facility to compare them with modern street maps and switch to contemporary street scenes.

From which I know that my water trough at the top of St Mary’s Road has long gone.
And as you would expect the story behind the maps is a tale in itself.
They were found in a cupboard by Mr Carter in the council offices who decided to have them digitized and made available on line.

That Peckham water trough again
They represent an invaluable resource for any one engaged in family research or like me have been drawn back to write about the place I grew up.

All too often my memory is hazy to the point where I wonder whether they actually happened.
So trying to track where my old friend Jimmy lived proved almost impossible.

I knew it was a street off Queen’s Road between Mona and the fire station.  Sadly google street maps offered no help but there on the 1953 map was the place and by using the electoral roll I found him and his house all over again.

And the same 1953 map offered up the corner of St Mary’s Road with Evelina Road that water  trough which was good because despite Adrian’s picture I had come to doubt that I had ever sat there.

All I have to do is find the rest.

Tomorrow, Ghost signs on Evelina Road .............. along with an old telephone kiosk and much more

Picture; St Mary’s Road with water trough, date unknown supplied by Adrian Parfitt, water trough, Bexley Road, 2015 from the collection of Jean Gammons and detail of St Mary’s Road 1953 historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at Historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at
 with mapping provided by Landmark Information Group

More from the pen of Tony Goulding ............. SUICIDES IN CHORLTON-cum-HARDY

It is perhaps quite surprising for such a small community the number of suicides which took place in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Victorian and more especially Edwardian times. 

In a previous blog piece I have already told the story of the sad demise of the Rev. Roland Joseph Blain, who took an overdose of laudanum on 31st. January, 1914. Recorded below are the details of four more stories of men taking their own lives.

Perhaps, however we should not be so surprised by the sadly familiar ring to the list of reasons given to account for these desperate acts.

A lover's tiff, the death of a partner or close friend, stress of work, financial ruin marriage break-up, approach of a possibly lonely old age.

These stories could as easily have come from last week’s Evening News as those of over 100 years ago.

1) Frederick Adam Cope

On 8th July, 1853 at "Oak Bank" the 28 year old son of Frederick Cope Snr.; who in partnership with his brother Richard operated a very successful wine merchants business through various outlets in Manchester city centre.

Two days earlier the family's eldest daughter, Barbara Anne has been married at Manchester Cathedral. (1)

The wedding-guests included young Frederick's fiancé and, according to evidence given at the inquest , following a quarrel between the bet roved couple Frederick shot himself in the heart whilst in a distraught state brought on by his (perhaps erroneous) perception that the young lady had broken off their engagement.
 Frederick was laid to rest in the old churchyard by Chorlton Green on 5th. July 1853.

When his father Frederick Snr.died in February 1874 in Leamington, Warwickshire his body was brought to Chorlton in order that he could be interred alongside his son.
In the opening years of the 20th century within just over a year three other incidents took place; two of which involved a double tragedy

2) Nicholas Marsden / Frank S. Johnson

The first such instance occurred on 6th. March, 1901 at 36, Keppel Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.
Nicholas Marsden a 50 year old, Blackburn-born accountant arrived on the doorstep of his brother-in-law's house in an exceedingly agitated state; having lost all of his and his wife's money through, unwise speculative investments.

What his intentions were is not clear but the tragic outcome was a murder/suicide as he shot  Mr. Frank Stoll Johnson , a well-respected legal clerk in Manchester (and his brother-in-law) on his doorstep, before shortly thereafter turning the gun on himself in the front garden. Both men were buried in Southern Cemetery on the same day 8th.March, 1901.

The murdered victim in a family plot E.1546:- his assassin in an unmarked communal grave M.756.

 As a consequence of this case four school-age children had lost their father: Nicholas's son Nicholas (b.1891) and daughter Phyllis (b.1890) together with Frank's two daughters Dorothy J. (b.1889) and Jessie N. (b.1892).

The murder of her husband was the second trauma to affect her family in a 6 month period following the tragic death of her 15 year old daughter Phyllis Bertha just the previous September. Perhaps unsurprisingly in these circumstances Mrs. Janet Johnson left the area with the remains of her family, only returning (on her passing away in November 1906) to be buried in the same grave as her husband and young daughter.

3) Thomas Wood/ Newton Cookson

Another double tragedy happened just 13 months later, on 17th. April, 1902
Thomas, a dairyman and market gardener, of Redgate Farm was found with his throat cut, an open razor clasped in his dead hand, in a ditch in an area known locally, with grim prescience, as "Reaper's Field" close to the neighbouring Firs Farm.                        

It was reported that Mr. Wood was very depressed by the terrible occurrence of just the day previous when his close friend and business associate, an occupier of Brook Farm, Newton Cookson had been found drowned in the Bridgewater Canal at Stretford.

Newton's widow moved away to live with her daughter Marian, an elementary school head teacher, of 58,Derbyshire Lane, Stretford.

In contrast Mr. Wood's widow Mary as well as his two grown-up sons, James, a commercial clerk, and John Freserick William, a music teacher, all remained in the area.

Indeed the 1911 census shows John F.W. still residing with his mother at 52, Wilbraham Road -the address for Redgate Farm.
James and his young family being close by at 78, Manchester Road.
Sandwiched between these two sad events is the final example of self-destruction

4) John Edwin Lockwood
The above was 54 years old, a widower, and a tailor’s trimmings merchant operating from premises at 64, Cannon Street.

He resided at 16, Catwright Road (off what is now Kingshill Road) having recently moved to there from 44, Hawthorn Road, only a week before...This move is perhaps evidence of the financial difficulties which John Edwin was facing and which prompted him to shoot himself near "Sally's Lake," Hawthorn Lane, on 1st. September, 1901 .

His corpse was taken to the Bowling Green Hotel to await the inquest on his death. He left behind two daughters, Gertrude and Mabel Maria both of marriageable age.

Indeed the impending marriage of Gertrude (2) may well have exacerbated his anxiety over his money troubles and been a contributory factor in Mr. Lockwood's fatal decision.  John Edwin was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire in 1847 but his family soon re-located to the Newton Heath area of Manchester, where his father, James, was an inspector in the Railway Police.

After marrying Elizabeth Bates (3) in 1865 the couple lived with John Edwin's mother-in-law, Maria from whom he also rented his initial trading premises, on Church Road, Newton Heath.

As his business progressed he moved into his own accommodation with his expanding family first in Newton and eventually in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. He also re-located his place of business to a more central area.

1) The bridegroom was Mr. Josiah Hunt of London and the wedding ceremony was conducted by the newly ordained Rev. Francis Haden Cope cousin of the bride being the son of Richard, Frederick Snr's brother and business partner.

2) Gertrude's marriage went ahead as planned when she wed Albert Edward Barlow, a cashier of 27, Zealand Terrace, at St.Clements (old church) on November 9th. 1901. Indeed within a year both John Edwin's other two children his son Harold Bates and his younger daughter Mabel Maria had also celebrated their weddings.

3) The loss of his wife Elizabeth in July 1898 was reported have induced in Mr. Lockwood a long-lasting depression Significantly after his death his body was taken to be buried with his wife at All Saints church Newton Heath.

Lastly, as a postscript, I have just come across a report from The Manchester Evening News dated 3rd. March, 1914 which shows that the taking of one’s own life is not a solely masculine phenomenon. It records in detail the death of a young woman, a Miss Maud Wagstaff, who took a lethal dose of "spirits of salts" whilst in a depressed state apparently brought on through the stress of her (over)work as a tracer
Researching this lady has proved to be something of a challenge involving a multitude of residences, some in Scotland, and a variety of different transcriptions of the various names. Maud was born in Southport in 1883, to John Buckley Wagstaff, a master engraver, and his second wife Amelia Alice .

Her father was already in his 60’s recently widowed and re-located from Scotland with his teenage son Horace. After moving around several addresses around Lancashire and Greater Manchester at the time of the tragic event Maud and her mother were living at the home of a half-sister of Maud’s ,Agnes Soppet , 74,Keppel Road. Incidentally all these three share a grave -N 1035 in Southern Cemetery. Unfortunately there is no memorial stone in situ either there never was one or it has been lost in the interim period.

© Tony Goulding, 2015

Pictures; from the collection of Tony Goulding

Friday, 23 October 2015

Whitworth Baths on the Old Road ........... courtesy of Ron Stubley

Now for the last couple of days I have been thinking and writing about the Whitworth Baths on Ashton Old Road.

The stories have brought a shedful of memories from those who remember gaining swimming certificates there to others who described in detail the inside.

So I thought I would close with two of Ron Stubley’s pictures taken recently.

Ron has been contributing photographs to the blog for a couple of years and can always be relied on to come up with some fascinating pictures of ghost signs along with buildings long since abandonded and forgotten.

So here are two of the Baths which show both the perilous the building now is in along with the sheer size of the place which I had never really clocked.

They date from 1890, served the community of Openshaw for almost eighty years and now stand forlorn, empty and waiting for another use.

Today public buildings tend to be bland, all pretty much look the same and have those plain plastered walls painted in neutral colours.

Go back a century, and town halls, public baths, and even minor Corporation offices were decorated in tiles, and interesting stone figures and shapes.

Now the realist will point to the fact that the tiles made the walls easy to clean while both the tiles and the stone detail were mass produced and just bought off the shelf.

That said they gave a dignity to even the modest of buildings and said something about civic pride and that simple belief that even the most humble and work a day places could look attractive.

It may well be that the Whitworth Baths are doomed but at least we have a fine collection of pictures along with plenty of memories to stand for what was once an important part of the community.

So I shall close with this detail from one of the pictures, which show the fine finish the building was given along with its present state of dereliction.

Ron has recorded both and has captured the sheer size of the place streatching back and that  tall chimney.

Pictures; the baths on Ashton Old Road, 2015 courtesy of Ron Stubley

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 48 ............. the Evelina Mission Hall, a chair and a promise

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

The chair, 2015
Now I like the way that what seem to be totally random bits of the past come together to tell a story which in this case brings together a Mission Hall, an old chair and a promise.

What connects them is this chair which I am guessing must be at least a century old and in its time has travelled from Peckham to Eltham and on to Manchester and now resides in our dining room.

As far as I know it began life in the Evelina Mission Hall on Evelina Road close to where dad had worked for forty years.

I don’t remember the hall which was just past the railway arch on your left heading back towards Lausanne Road or when it was built but it will be sometime between 1896 and 1914 which I grant is a  dollop of history but it’s a start.

I know this because while it doesn’t show up on the OS map for 1896 it was there by 1914, listed in the Post Office Directory for that year.

There were plenty of similar halls in the area but by the mid 1960s if not earlier it was struggling for a congregation and closed.

And Dad always scenting a bargain came home with it one winter’s day in 1964.

By then we had moved from Lausanne Road to Eltham but it remains a little bit of the place where I grew up.

Now it may well be that there are people who remember the hall and if I am very lucky will have stories of attending the services there and perhaps even the odd picture.

But I doubt it such bits of our collective history vanish all too quickly although I did find a reference to the hall being bombed on September 7 1940.

According to the official records it took a direct hit from an explosive bomb just before 11 pm which “severely damaged the mission hall.”*

Given the time I doubt that there were any casualties and the hall must have been rebuilt which opens up a fascinating bit of research, all of which is for later.

That said there are so many unanswered questions of which how it survived the explosion, when it was made and by whom will I suspect never been answered.

And I have to say until recently I didn’t even know where the hall was, but guessing it was close to Dad’s garage on Brabourn Grove  it was fairly easy to track down.

The Mission Hall on Evelina Road, 1952
In turn I have to wonder if this was the location for his other great acquisition which were loads of those old wooden blocks which had formed the original road surface back in the 19th century.

Back then there had been a spirited debate about how roads should be surfaced with some favouring wooden blocks which it was argued would be quieter.

What I do know was that when they were finally lifted and arrived in our house in Lausanne Road they offered a superb fuel for the kitchen stove.

All of which may seem a long way from the chair so I shall close with that promise, which was that a long time ago one of my sons made a claim for the chair for the future.  He got in before his brother’s which means that at some point in the future our chair will be on the move again.

But I hope not for some time yet.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson 2015, and detail of the Mission Hall on Evelina Road, 1952,  courtesy of Southwark Council at

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

**London Blitz 1940: the first day’s bomb attacks listed in full, Simon Rogers, The Guardian Datalog, September 6 2010,

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Inside the Whitworth Baths on Ashton Old Road .......... what we might lose

I am back with the Whitworth Baths on Ashton Old Road.*

They date from 1890, served the community of Openshaw for almost eighty years and now stand forlorn, empty and waiting for another use.

Today public buildings tend to be bland, all pretty much look the same and have those plain plastered walls painted in neutral colours.

Go back a century, and town halls, public baths, and even minor Corporation offices were decorated in tiles, and interesting stone figures and shapes.

Now the realist will point to the fact that the tiles made the walls  easy to clean while both the tiles and the stone detail were mass produced and just bought off the shelf.

That said they gave a dignity to even the modest of buildings and said something about civic pride and that simple belief that even the most humble and work a day places could look attractive.

So I am indebted to Nick Bowles who photographed the inside of the Baths and featured them on his site.**

The future of the building is uncertain and already the facade is beginning to deteriorate which in time if unchecked may make saving the place uneconomic.

I still hope that someone will take the place over a develop it for this I suspect will be the only way it will survive.

If that happens the tiles and other features may be seen and enjoyed all over again.

Pictures; Whitworth Baths, Ashton Old Road, 1960, H W Beaumont, m12602, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,  interior courtesy of Nick Bowles

And tomorrow looking at the baths today courtesy of Ron Stubley

*Manchester and Salford’s Public Baths,