Thursday, 5 November 2015

Looking for the story behind the picture of a building on Stretford Road

HQ 1& 3 Stretford Road, circa 1900s
This is the headquarters of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and it stood at numbers 1 & 3 Stretford Road.

It has gone now and I doubt that any one passing the new build on the corner of Stretford Road and Boundary Lane will now know that this old military building ever existed.

And I have to count myself as one of them, although it is just possible that it was still there in the late 1960s when I first arrived in Manchester.

So I was pleased that Bill Sumner posted this picture of the place in response to a story I did on 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.*

To be more accurate it had been about the First Manchester Rifle Volunteers and the military march that had been composed by Dan Godfrey for their Grand Bazaar.

The first Manchester’s had been formed in 1859 at the Star Hotel in Deansgate as part of the initiative to create volunteer units across the country.

Entrance of "nd V.B. Manchester Regiment HQ, circa 1900s
Within a year the force consisted of 900 men and in 1882 they took possession of their brand new HQ on Stretford Road.

Just six years later under the “reorganisation scheme the battalion lost its distinctive title of the First Manchester Rifle Volunteers and became the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.”**

And that takes us neatly to Bill’s picture postcard.  We don’t have a date for it but the original photograph will have to date from after 1882 when the HQ was opened and more likely to after the unit changes its name.

Woodall's Building circa 1900
But I think we can get even closer because the card was marketed by Entwistle & Thorpe who in 1911 had offices in Woodall’s buildings at 42 Deansgate which was on the corner with Blackfriars Street.

Today this spot in inhabited by that slab of late 60’s development which includes the Renaissance Hotel the reopened Italian restaurant and nothing else.

Back then there were seventeen businesses in Woodall’s building including Entwistle and Thorpe who were still a relatively new company which had been formed by the amalgamation of two existing photographic businesses which were trading separately at the Deansgate address in 1909.

That said while they had separate listings they also were down as Entwistle Harry, photo engraver (Entwistle Thorpe & Co).

All of which may seem the nerdy end of history but is a nice lesson in how little bits of the past can be coaxed to reveal a bit of their story.

Now there will be someone who remembers the HQ on Stretford Road and when it was demolished.

Music sheet The First Manchester March, date unknown
If we are very lucky they may also have memories of visiting the buildings have their own pictures.

In the meantime I will return to that military march and the music sheet which started me off on the journey.

It is owned by David Harrop and is currently in an exhibition at St John’s parish church in Heaton Mersey.

Pictures; headquarters of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, Stretford Road circa early 1900s, courtesy of Bill Sumner, Woodall's buidlings, 1900 from Goads Fire Insurance maps courtesy of Digital Archives Association,\and front page of the First Manchester March, date unknown from the collection of David Harrop

*One historic piece of sheet music and a special event tomorrow in Heaton Mersey,

**The 2nd V.B.M.R. BAZAAR, the Manchester Guardian April 12, 1904

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