Sunday, 6 December 2015

Tony Goulding and part 2 of his story of the Oxfam shop

Returning now to the history of the building which is now used by Oxfam, by the 1930,'s in common with most of the others in that part of Chorlton it had acquired a retail function. (3) 

In 1931 it was in use by Chorlton Furniture Manufacturers and two years on, the Kelly’s Directory of 1933 shows it as a confectioner with Samuel Clare recorded as the proprietor.

In 1938 another change saw a Mrs. Florence Morris as the occupant, then, sometime later, it was the home of a Mr. John B.V.Murphy

The immediate post World War 2 years saw the first use as a "refreshment room"
 "Mabs" and Helen Fletcher - Furs and Gowns decorated for the Coronation, 1953

This role continued for at least the next two decades, known from at least 1948 and throughout the  1950's as "Mabs."

The raison d’être of this name remains something of a mystery. As a  Refreshment Bar, it traded as  Curtis & Co. of Manchester.

Mr. John Foster Curtis (4) was the proprietor and it was following his retirement in the mid 1970's that the building came into Oxfam’s possession.

A 1977 telephone directory records it being used as "Oxfam Greater Manchester Regional Centre Tel. 061-861-9731".

Turning now to  No.496 , following the closing of the Oaks Music College it became " John Manners" gents outfitters for more than 30 years, who traded under the slogan "Manners Maketh the Man"(5).

In more recent times it saw life as a Pizza Parlour (Express Pizza?) before its present manifestation as The Everest Pharmacy.

During the late 1930's Leonard Bamford (6) ran a taxi firm from the divided off 496A, now the Chapati Cafe.

The back-story of No.492 is a little more fragmented.

Either side of World War 2 it was a ladies clothes shop run before the war by a Miss Anne Simmons and after became "Helen Fletcher Gowns".  This latter was obviously a successful enterprise as a photo dated 8th March, 1959 shows that the shop had expanded into the adjacent property at 490.

The business continued to thrive with a second shop on Wilmslow Road, Withington and according to a 1980 directory, two outlets on Wilbraham Road, with the addition of No.478, as well as an "Outsize Fashions" Department at 579, Barlow Moor Road (now The Halifax)

Hence, during the 1970's and 80's Helen Fletcher & Co. had the centre of Chorlton-cum-Hardy "well-covered" in more ways than one.

It is presently an excellent "chocolatier" now trading independently as The Cocoa Tree (formerly one of the Simon Dunn's chain). Prior to the change to the chocolate shop some 4 years ago for the previous 18 years it had served as the hairdressers, "Trendsetters" who now operate as "Guys and Dolls" at 440, Wilbraham Road on the corner of Keppel Road in the shop which had been H.T.Burt's gents outfitters for more than a century.

©  Tony Goulding, 2015

Pictures; Wilbraham Road, 2015 from the collection of Tony Goulding & in  1953, m18264,  courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,,

1) According to the 1911 census data these houses consisted of 9 rooms "including kitchen but not lobby, scullery, closet, or bathroom." 72, however was much larger with at least 12 rooms, not counting the 6 which comprised 72A.

2) The Haig’s were a very prominent family in Edwardian Chorlton-cum-Hardy and may well be worthy of a separate article.

3) These properties became increasingly less residential until the housing shortage brought about by bomb damage during World War 2 led to resurgence in their use as homes.
In 1945 the Bamfords, at No.496, had no fewer than 5 "lodgers". No.492 was the home of Mr. & Mrs. Bentley, one other couple and a single tenant.
Judging by the evidence of the electoral rolls this use as residences had by the end of the 1960's declined again to virtually nothing.

4)  John Foster Curtis was born in the Waterloo area of Liverpool on 9th March 1900 to Foster, a ship master and Esther. His father died on January 16th. 1906, at Dartmouth. Devon and John F. was sent to a boarding school in Broadstairs, Kent.

In 1925 John Foster wed Evelyn Ashton in Wem, Shropshire. The couple settled first in Stockport where their daughter. Phillis Elizabeth was born in 1929. Soon after the Second World War the family, by then including the elderly mother/grandmother Esther, opened "MABS" and lived in the rooms above.

5) "Manners Maketh the Man" is the Motto of New College, Oxford and the prestigious public school, Winchester College. Attributed to William of Wykeham (1324-1404) the founder of both these august institutions.

6) Leonard Bamford has an interesting life story and a quite unusual war record all of which is revealed in great detail (including his family tree and family photographs) on the Ancestry website free to access in the Central Library Local Studies Department.
Leonard was born in 1879; in Littleborough Nr. Rochdale were his father James worked as a weaver in a cotton mill. He married Hilda Woods Hughes in the Newton Heath Wesleyan Methodist Church on Oldham Road on 24th August 1907.

On his marriage certificate he is shown as being a manager in a "brick" works perhaps a  little euphemistically as on the 1901 he is described as " bookkeeper-sanitary pipes works "

By August 1914 Leonard was in his mid 30's,  freshly married earning a living selling motor cars and residing on Stretford Road, Old Trafford. Determined, still, to "do his bit" he went to enlist in the fledgling Royal Navy Air Service apparently shaving a year of his age to do so.
Despite his age and the fact he was, according to his military records, only 5' 3 1/4" tall he was accepted on 19th October 1914.

Following some restructuring of the Naval Air Support on 31st July, Leonard was discharged from the Navy on 31st August 1915 only to rejoin the colours with the Royal Army Service Corps for whom he drove Lorries until getting demobbed on 29th August 1919. His duties during the War served Leonard in good stead in the years that followed as he ran his own taxi/motor hire service, first from Wellington Avenue, (on which he was living in 1911) Whalley Range, then at 9, Barlow Moor Road before finally at 496a Wilbraham Road.

No comments:

Post a Comment