Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Another story from Tony Goulding .... THE OXFAM SHOP at 494, Wilbraham Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy ..... its history and that of adjoining properties

This post is prompted by a request from an acquaintance and a fellow local history enthusiast who, knowing that I was a volunteer at the Oxfam Shop, asked if I could confirm her memories of its predecessors.   (Also I had been told that it was once an ice-cream parlour.)

This stretch of Wilbraham Road was built sometime during the final decade of the 19th century and was initially, for the most part, solely residential properties(1) occupied by members of the professional, middle classes.

From the demographics it seems most of these new houses became the homes of older, successful individuals who had moved into them (from the less attractive parts of Manchester?) with their grown-up children, who were also taking up middle class occupations.

Interspersed with these large family homes were a number of lodging-houses which again catered for the (single) middle class.

I imagine this area would have been a very fashionable one in the Edwardian Era.

A slightly confusing situation encountered whilst investigating the early history of this part of Chorlton-cum-Hardy is the different numbering of the properties along Wilbraham Road.

In the two censuses in which they appear viz. 1901 and 1911, the house on the corner of Manchester Road which is now 496, (and The Everest Pharmacy), was numbered 72, hence 494, (Oxfam), was 70 and so on.
 The first reference point for this enquiry then was the 1901 census records.

The building which is now the newly renovated Oxfam Charity Shop was the residence of Mr George Alfred Downs, a secretary to a chemical manufacturing company, his wife Eleanor Anne (née. Brown), two sons and four daughters. There was also one living-in domestic servant.

George who married Eleanor at St. Matthew's Church, Stretford on 2nd. September 1880 was born in Stockport where he was christened at St.Mary's on 3rd. August 1845.

His first four children were born in Stretford while the family was living at Longford View, Cromwell Street; the youngest two daughters were born after the move to Chorlton at 46, Keppel Road. The Downs were still resident in no. 70 in 1911 albeit, then, without a domestic servant.

The adjacent houses, nos.72 and 68 were occupied, in 1901, by the Haigh and the Peak families, respectively.

The head of the household at 72 was Mrs. Anne Eliza Haigh, a 65 years old widow of William, a paper manufacturer). William and Anne Eliza were blessed with 9 children who, very unusually for the period even for middle and upper class families, all survived to adulthood and embarked on a variety of successful middle class careers.(2)

Together with her two daughters, Annie Florence ,32, and Marion Alice, 30, Mrs. High kept the "Oaks College of Music" This institution was to remain a feature of the Chorlton-cum-Hardy  life for more than 30 years, not closing until the mid 1930's with the death of the elder sister towards the end of 1934. Marion
Alice incidentally lived on reaching the great age of 102 before passing away in 1972.

Also at some point between the censuses the large corner house No.72 was divided up, creating an additional dwelling which became 72A. This was occupied in 1911 by Frederick Austin Ellison, a glass, china, and hardware dealer, his wife Emily (nee, Berwick), two young daughters Leila, 10, and Freda, 6, along with Miss Nellie Berwick, Frederick’s sister-in-law.

Meanwhile ,in 1901, residing at 68, Wilbraham Road were Mr. William H. Peak, a clothiers cashier with his wife Elizabeth 3 sons and 2 daughters (although on census night one daughter, Amy Gertrude was absent visiting a (school)friend in Dore Derbyshire)

This family soon re-located, to Stockport, however and were replaced as is shown in a 1905 Directory and the census of 1911 by two sisters Miss Rose Robinson and Mrs. Edith Dorrington the recently widowed of John William, a buyer in a shipping office.

The Great War was to cast its seemingly ubiquitous shadow over this address as Mrs Dorrington's two sons Walter and Percy were both casualties of the conflict, just a few months apart, during 1917.

Firstly Walter died of disease, on 13th. May, while serving as a private, in Mesopotamia, with 4th. Battalion of The South Wales Borderers (after a transfer from The (Kings) Liverpool Regiment). He is interred in The Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Basra, Iraq.

On 12th. October Percy, a very promising post-graduate classics student at Manchester University with a first class honours degree, was killed in the fighting in Belgium.

He was a Lieutenant with the 10th. Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts. and Derby Regiment) and has no known grave being one of the 34,950 + names inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient.

Mrs. Dorrington commissioned the positioning of a brass plaque in St.Werburgh's Church in memory of her two boys.

© Tony Goulding 2015-11-29

Pictures; from the collection of Tony Goulding

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