Saturday, 19 December 2015

A chance find and the beginnings of a story on Wilbraham Road

Now this is a story that has yet to find an ending and in the telling will eventually reveal much about how and why Wilbraham Road follows the course it does.

The three proposed routes crossing close to Red Gates Farm
I have always taken this long road which stretches from Chorlton up to Fallowfield for granted.

After all it was cut in the late 1860s and so is pretty much one of the features of the area.

Our own historian Thomas Ellwood writing in 1885 confined himself to the observation that “it was formed some sixteen years ago by the late Lord Egerton, father of the present earl. It extends from Wilmlsow-road at Fallowfield to Edge-lane, along which a main sewer runs to within a short distance of the railway bridge at Chorlton station.  

From here it passes through the fields to Barlow Moor-lane, adjoin Lane-end, crossing High-lane, Cross-road and Beech-road, thence through various gardens, finally emptying itself into the Chorlton Brook at a point about 200 yards below the bridge which crosses the stream to Jackson’s Boat.”

So as far as Mr Ellwood was concerned the road was less interesting than the sewer which ran beside it.

I on the other hand have long been intrigued by why it was built and the benefits it might have brought to the township.

But other than clocking the date it was cut that was about it, until recently when going through the Egerton Papers in the Archives at Central Ref I came across a map showing the proposed route.

It is dated 1853 and actually shows three possible routes all to the west of the current line.

The description is less than helpful confining itself to just “plan of projected new road from Rusholme to Stretford” and there are no accompanying notes.  Now these may be elsewhere in the papers and so I will have to go off and look.

And until I find those notes I cannot be sure why three routes are shown.  All three are close together.

The first marked in blue would have crossed Martlege just below Red Gate Farm where the Library now stands and the other two coloured in brown and red just a little further to the west and two would have involved crossing Longford Brook.

Martledge, Renshaw;s Buildings now the the Royal Oak
Now why none of these routes was chosen is as yet unclear, there may have been issues with the land especially around the Isles** or it may it may have been because they ran close to Red Gate Farm and crossed Longford Brook.

All of which is one of those little bits of history yet to be uncovered.

That said the map is a wonderful source of information about the outer reaches of the township showing each of the properties and the fields, and natural features either side of the proposed routes.

So along with searching for more on the planned road I will be returning to our 1853 map.

Picture; detail from the plan of projected new road from Rusholme to Stretford, Egerton Papers, M24 /1/15 1853, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*Egerton Papers, M24 /1/15

**Ellwood, Thomas, L, Roads and Footpaths, Chapter 6, History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, South Manchester Gazette, December 12 1885

***this is the area abound Longford Road which was popularly known as the Isles and was dominated bt small lazy little water courses feed ponds and pits which had been dug to extrach clay and marl

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