Thursday, 31 December 2015

Down at Basford House on Seymour Grove ......... revealing more about a Red Cross Hospital

This was Stretford Memorial Hospital on Seymour Grove which closed earlier this year.

It had opened its doors as a Red Cross Hospital in October 1914 and before that had been the home of the Nuttal family when it was known as Basford House.

recently wrote about its time both as a hospital and a private residence* but have been drawn back by an entry in the official history of the Red Cross in East Lancashire during the Great War.**

The book was published in 1916 and contains descriptions of all the Red Cross hospitals in the area during the first two years of the war along with the names of the nursing and ancillary staff and offers a fascinating insight into the working of each establishment.

According to the book,

“Basford House was lent to the local British Red Cross Branch for conversion into an Auxiliary Hospital by James Nuttall, Esq., of Hale.

Seven wards have been arranged, together with mess room and day room, staff room, kitchens, etc., and the light airy aspect of the patients’ quarters has proved very cheerful.

Practically all the furniture and appurtenances were given or loaned by the local residents, and in consequence the cost of equipping was low, being under £100.

The Hospital was opened on October 28, 1914, providing accommodation for twenty patients but ten more beds were added during April, [1915] when more provision was essential to meet the requirements of the increased number of wounded soldiers coming to Manchester.

The upkeep of the Hospital has cost about 2s 8d  per bed, and this has been defrayed by the War Office Capitation Grant, augmented by public subscription.

Numerous entertainments have been provided in the wards, and the ample grounds surrounding the hospital have afforded facilities for tennis, croquet, football, etc.”**

Of the 154 men who were cared for between October 1914 and August 1915, 138 were British, 11 were from Australia and five were Belgians.  Most had “contracted their primary wounds” on the Western Front with having been wounded at Gallipoli and three from with Great Britain.

Of these 87 were bullet and shrapnel wounds, 5 were suffering from having been gassed, 18 from frost bite and the remainder were listed as “Miscellaneous.”

The average stay was 32 days and most went on to a period of sick furlough.

In this respect the information differs little from what was recorded from other Red Cross Hospitals and so offers up an insight into the impact of the fighting during the first year and a bit.***

Added to that what comes through is the huge voluntary contribution made by the local community.

We know that in the case of the Chorlton hospital on Edge Lane local fund raising provided a substantial amount towards the cost of running the establishment and caring for the patients.

And like Chorlton it should be possible to track the named staff using the Red Cross data base,**** census material, street directories and newspapers which will take us deep into the local community.

Now the book lists the names of 27 nurses, 25 orderlies and 12 cooks and at random I picked Mrs Cochrane who the database tells me was a Mrs Elizabeth Bertha Cochrane who was engaged on the day Batsford House opened and may well have been related to Miss Madge Cochrane who also started in October 1914 and Miss Muriel Cochrane who began service two years later.

With a bit of research it should be possible to track them down and maybe reveal a little of their work at the hospital.

We shall see.

Picture; Basford House, circa 1914, from East Lancashire Branch - An illustrated account of the work of the Branch during the first year of the war, 1916 and the hospital circa 1914 from the collection of David Harrop

Painting; Stretford Memorial Hospital © 2015 Peter Topping from an original photograph by Andy Robertson

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

Additional material courtesy of the archivist of the Red Cross Society http://www.redcross.org.uk/

*Stretford Memorial Hospital, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Stretford%20Memorial%20Hospital

**East Lancashire Branch - An illustrated account of the work of the Branch during the first year of the war, 1916

***First World War volunteers, The Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War

***Red Cross Hospitalshttp://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Red%20Cross%20Hospitals


****First World War volunteers, The Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War


Revealing the history of Batsford House on Seymour Grove ............... another Red Cross Hospital

This was Stretford Memorial Hospital on Seymour Grove which closed earlier this year.

It had opened its doors as a Red Cross Hospital in October 1914 and before that had been the home of the Nuttal family when it was known as Batsford House.

I recently wrote about its time both as a hospital and a private residence* but have been drawn back by an entry in the official history of the Red Cross in East Lancashire during the Great War.**

The book was published in 1916 and contains descriptions of all the Red Cross hospitals in the area during the first two years of the war along with the names of the nursing and ancillary staff and offers a fascinating insight into the working of each establishment.

According to the book,

“Batsford House was lent to the local British Red Cross Branch for conversion into an Auxiliary Hospital by James Nuttall, Esq., of Hale.

Seven wards have been arranged, together with mess room and day room, staff room, kitchens, etc., and the light airy aspect of the patients’ quarters has proved very cheerful.

Practically all the furniture and appurtenances were given or loaned by the local residents, and in consequence the cost of equipping was low, being under £100.

The Hospital was opened on October 28, 1914, providing accommodation for twenty patients but ten more beds were added during April, [1915] when more provision was essential to meet the requirements of the increased number of wounded soldiers coming to Manchester.

The upkeep of the Hospital has cost about 2s 8d  per bed, and this has been defrayed by the War Office Capitation Grant, augmented by public subscription.

Numerous entertainments have been provided in the wards, and the ample grounds surrounding the hospital have afforded facilities for tennis, croquet, football, etc.”**

Of the 154 men who were cared for between October 1914 and August 1915, 138 were British, 11 were from Australia and five were Belgians.  Most had “contracted their primary wounds” on the Western Front with having been wounded at Gallipoli and three from with Great Britain.

Of these 87 were bullet and shrapnel wounds, 5 were suffering from having been gassed, 18 from frost bite and the remainder were listed as “Miscellaneous.”

The average stay was 32 days and most went on to a period of sick furlough.

In this respect the information differs little from what was recorded from other Red Cross Hospitals and so offers up an insight into the impact of the fighting during the first year and a bit.***

Added to that what comes through is the huge voluntary contribution made by the local community.

We know that in the case of the Chorlton hospital on Edge Lane local fund raising provided a substantial amount towards the cost of running the establishment and caring for the patients.

And like Chorlton it should be possible to track the named staff using the Red Cross data base,**** census material, street directories and newspapers which will take us deep into the local community.

Now the book lists the names of 27 nurses, 25 orderlies and 12 cooks and at random I picked Mrs Cochrane who the database tells me was a Mrs Elizabeth Bertha Cochrane who was engaged on the day Batsford House opened and may well have been related to Miss Madge Cochrane who also started in October 1914 and Miss Muriel Cochrane who began service two years later.

With a bit of research it should be possible to track them down and maybe reveal a little of their work at the hospital.

We shall see.

Picture; Batsford House, circa 1914, from East Lancashire Branch - An illustrated account of the work of the Branch during the first year of the war, 1916 and the hospital circa 1914 from the collection of David Harrop

Painting; Stretford Memorial Hospital © 2015 Peter Topping from an original photograph by Andy Robertson

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

Additional material courtesy of the archivist of the Red Cross Society http://www.redcross.org.uk/

*Stretford Memorial Hospital, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Stretford%20Memorial%20Hospital

**East Lancashire Branch - An illustrated account of the work of the Branch during the first year of the war, 1916

***First World War volunteers, The Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War

***Red Cross Hospitals, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Red%20Cross%20Hospitals


****First World War volunteers, The Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War



In the parish graveyard

I wish I had spent more time exploring the parish grave yard.

But when you are growing up wandering past the monuments to the long dead is not very high on the agenda.

And yet for the historian they are a powerful insight into what a community was like in the past and Eltham’s is no different.

Here for centuries were buried the good, the wealthy and those whose rank and occupation was such that they have left few records.

But some at least of those that lived here will be recorded both in the parish records and in the grave stones.

Not that I intend to name them or for that matter to dwell on their lives but more to reflect on what can be learnt from combining the inscriptions with those held in the church books.

Once upon a time the researcher had to visit the individual parishes, or walk through the often overgrown church plots seeking a family member or just getting a sense of things like life expectancy and the pattern of
names.

Now of course most records are held on microfilm in local history libraries and increasingly are being digitalised.

All of which makes possible for the historian  to track individuals from the comfort of a kitchen table.

Now there are those who regret this development, but I am not one of them. What once took months of slow laborious work can be undertaken in a few hours and opens up parts of the country which would otherwise be a train away.

Of course there is still a thrill at holding an old document secure in the knowledge that perhaps only a handful of people have touched its pages in two centuries.

Likewise to stand in front of the gravestone of a long lost family member is to get close to them.

All of which I think has written me into a new series of stories, matching those buried in the grounds of St John’s with the stories of their lives from the census returns, rate books and casual comments of their contemporaries.

And for all those who like a bit of homework, I recommend a visit to the parish graveyard and a walk with history.

Pictures courtesy of Jean Gammons

“If you go into the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise”........... looking for that air raid shelter in Parrs Wood

Now I know there will be someone who will remember the air raid shelter on the Gateway Estate which was built “12 feet below Kingsway.  Accommodating 120 people the shelter cost £800 to build and had a concert room, whist and bridge parlour, and lounge.”*

According to the Manchester Evening News “the shelter club was the idea of Mr William Ponsford who was a builder [and] in the dugout which is fitted with steel doors there is a piano and a radio-gramophone.  

One room has accommodation for dancing.  Gas-proof ventilation is installed [and] the shelter has two dug-out entrances and back exit and many of the tenants are already using the shelter as a social club.”

On one level it strikes you as a jokey little piece which even today has a charm overlaid with hints of Dad’s Army, but of course that is to take away the very real danger of bombing raids.

For me it is there in the description of those steel doors and the gas proof ventilation, this was after all a time when we could not be sure that gas would not be used as a weapon.

It was so potent a concern that it had led to the issue of millions of gas masks and warnings about going out without one.

And given that fire bombs and one high explosive device did fall on Parrs Wood Mr Ponsford was right to make the effort more so given the devastation that fell from the skies the following December.

All of which leaves me to ponder on what happened to that shelter.  Sally who found the piece tells me that the Gateway Estate was behind the pub, so I await the memories and stories of the Parrs Wood shelter to bubble to the surface.

Pictures; from the Manchester Evening News, January 1940, courtesy of Sally Dervan


*THEY CAN DANCE IN A RAID, Manchester Evening News, January 1940

Back with Mrs Sykes looking for a story

Now the trail has gone cold on Mrs Sykes and the Diggle Hotel

Her connection with the Hotel goes back to 1861 when aged just 9 months she was living there with her mother who was the sister of Frederick Radcliffe the licensee.

A decade later she was living with her parents close by in the home of James Broadbent whose sisters were working in the Hotel in 1861.

And sometime during the middle of the 1880s she had married and was herself settled as landlady in the Diggle Hotel.

Hers will be a fascinating story to explore, more so because it will bring in the Radcliffe, Platt, Broadbent and Sykes’ families who she was related to and all of whom were embedded in the story of Diggle.

I had meant to go looking for the story earlier in December but got waylaid by other projects, but Peter’s painting of the Diggle Hotel has set me off again, and who knows maybe someone in Diggle will be able to help.

Painting; the Diggle Hotel © 2015 Peter Topping 

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The not so different bits of where we live, part 4 ............. Blackheath

Now I am always intrigued at those more recent photographs of where we live.

So while pictures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are fascinating often everything is so different that it is almost looking at a different landscape.

But those from say the 1960s onwards are often almost the same but not quite, and with this in mind here over the next few days are some from the camera of Jean Gammons all taken in the late 1970s.

And that is all I shall say,

Picture; Blackheath, 1977 from the collection of Jean Gammons

A ticket to Leave ............. coming home from HMS Pembroke February 11 1944

This is another one of the small bits of history which I have never seen before.

Back during the last world war they would have been issued in their millions and most will have been lost, discarded or destroyed long ago.

At the time they would be prized as the passport home even if it was for just a short period.

Now the granting of leave was an essential part of maintaining morale but most history books gloss over this aspect of military service and until now I had never seen a document relating to it.

My own uncle never managed to get home after his temporary posting to Wilmslow in the December of 1940 from where he was sent via South Africa to Greece and after the fall of that island on to Egypt, and Basra before finally arriving in the Far East where he was captured in 1942.

In time I hope to be able to track down Mr Williams who was granted leave from HMS Pembroke on February 11 1944.

I do know that HMS Pembroke was a shore establishment located in Chatham and that along with a barracks there was an HMS Pembroke 1 which was an accounting base from 1940 till 1960 so just possibly our Mr Williams was involved in clerical duties.

We shall see.

Picture; Leave Ticket, February 11 1944 from the collection of Jayne Bailey

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Pictures from a time after Christmas 2015 .......... part 1 on an empty tram to town

Now usually the tram from Didsbury to town would be crowded with all the seats full and only standing room from Lapwing Lane onwards.

But today of course is different because we are in that funny time between Christmas and New Year when more and more people have the full week off.

It is something I have already reflected on today elsewhere but an an empty tram is worth commenting on especially as it passed through Chorlton.*

Once and not to long ago the day after Boxing Day would be a pretty normal event and only teachers and children and those who had earned the time off would be staying in bed or watching the procession of office and shop workers heading for the bus.

And in the same way before its closure Chorlton Railway Station would have seen its fair share of commuters bound for Central Station and a shedload of offices and shops across the city.

So I like the idea that as Sally's almost empty tram passed through Chorlton she thoughtfully recorded the empty platform.

I of course was at home with a coffee and the first emails of the day.

Not that I make any value judgement just the observation that today my friend Sally has had the tram to herself.

Pictures; on the 7.40 tram from Didsbury, courtesy of Sally Dervan

*Of a time between Christmas and New Year .............. Lausanne Road 1958, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/of-time-between-christmas-and-new-year.html

When pop music was Saturday Club at home in Well Hall

Saturday Club on the Light Programme still has the power to invoke fond memories.

Now if you are my generation, born in the decade after the last World War who entered their teenage years to the sound of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Cliff Richard and who can still remember listening to “She Loves You” for the first time, Saturday Club was essential listening.

It had begun in 1955 but I suppose I was not really aware of its existence for another five years.

Back then if you wanted to listen to pop music on the radio it was slim pickings.

There was of course Radio Luxembourg which I listened to on my small transistor radio but the adverts for Horace Batchelor* plus the way the signal would fade and wane irritated me.

And on Saturday nights after the football results there was Juke Box Jury and later Thank Your Lucky Stars which showcased the latest singles and passed judgement on them.  But all too often these were shows watched by the whole family and as much as I loved my parents and young sisters there were times when you wanted to listen alone.

Now Saturday Club just fell into that requirement.

It went out after my sisters were at Saturday Morning Pictures and mum and dad were doing things.

It’s only real rival for me was Pick of the Pops the following afternoon, that rapid whizz through a week’s chart ups and downs.

This after all was the time when I was still too young to go to the dance hall above Burton's on Well Hall Road and those other live music venue like the Welcome Inn and the Yorkshire Grey were out of the question.

But then came Radio Caroline in 1964 followed by its rival radio London and things just were not the same again.

All of which is teetering on nostalgic tosh and so to the point.  Saturday Club was one of those programmes which didn’t just play records but offered up live performances with interviews which always appealed to me.

But the attention span of a teenager is fickle and with the arrival of Ready Steady Go with its visual and slightly edgy feel I was pulled in a totally new direction.

Top of the Pops might be required viewing to be shared with the whole house and discussed the following day at school but RSG had me hooked.

So bit by Saturday Club faded but has never quite left me, and as I enter my 64th year I still have Brian Matthews offering me something of the same on Radio 2 with “Sounds of the Sixties.”

Now that is perhaps the point to close but not before one last observation, which is that I know I am growing old when the music of my youth is now played on Radio 2.

Pictures; of Brian Matthews & Saturday Club, featured on Saturday Club** and Burtons in the mid 1960s


* Horace Cyril Batchelor was as an advertiser on Radio Luxembourg. He advertised a way to win money by predicting the results of football matches, sponsoring programmes on Radio Luxembourg.

**Saturday Club
This site is non profit making and solely for fans of Saturday Club to trade/swap off - air copies of the programme in whatever format eg reel to reel, cassette, cd etc, http://www.saturdayclub.info/


Of a time between Christmas and New Year .............. Lausanne Road 1958

We have reached that in between time, by which I mean that time after the presents have been opened and before the New Year bash begins.

That said back in Lausanne Road there was no long break from Boxing Bay to New Years Day.

Dad was back at work on the morning after Boxing Day, the milk and papers arrived on time and from memory the trains were running and the buses passed along Queens Road.

To all intent and purposes December 27 was a normal day and only if it fell on a Sunday was it a quiet time.

Of course school didn’t begin up again until early January so for us it was still a holiday but that sense that life was on hold for everyone else was not the case.

Now I know that there are plenty who have gone back to work as the procession of people past our door from just after half six onwards testify.

And given the disastrous floods across the North this year there will be plenty more on standby, helping the unlucky or just cleaning up after their own personal tragedies.

But for many the week between Christmas and New Year is a week to take off or at the very least to extend the holiday on till December 29 or later, making a seamless stretch from Christmas Eve to January 2.

All of which takes me back to Lausanne Road in the 1950s and 60s and the run up to the New Year.

Not that we celebrated the coming of the New Year over much.  We didn’t indulge in parties, no one with a lump of coal was invited in and New Year resolutions were seen as silly, after all why resolve to be different on January 1 when either the decision was forgotten a week later or was important enough to have been taken in June.

So for us the week passed quietly and was marked more by Uncle George’s trip up “West” to the January Sales than a rowdy night of fun and booze.

There was a special but more modest meal to mark the event and the obligatory late night session with Jimmy Stewart and the White Heather Club but that was it which given that our family were Scottish was all the more remarkable

And that I suspect is why I have never really given New Year much house room.  For me and as it has turned out my lads, you are either a Christmas or New Year person and I have always settled for Christmas, with all that comes with it from a big tree, to the joy of the cards and of course the magic of the day.

By contrast apart from a few very drunken events in my 20s and 30s the night passes off with little fuss.
A few decades ago it would have been marked by the ships sirens from the docks which carried across the still night air and were not drowned by the noise of endless fireworks.

But as hard as I try I can’t now remember if back in Lausanne Road that was the case but I suppose we were just too far away and like so many memories this will be one that sits in my imagination unless someone can verify it.

What is all the more surprising is that we are now midway between the two events.

Tina has gone back to work, one of our lads has headed back to Sheffield, another flies out for a week in Morocco and a third will see it in somewhere in New York with his Polish partner.

And a full 59 years after the White Heather Club in Lausanne Road we will pass the evening with Jools Holland and may be just maybe will be woken up by the fireworks to wish each other a Happy New Year.

We shall see.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 28 December 2015

On Needham Avenue watching out for the first cakes from Parker's bakery

Now I am back with that building on Needham Avenue.

Like many people I had often pondered on its origins, and only recently discovered it had been built by a baker who gave his name to part of what is now Needham Avenue.

This was a Mr Walworth who had started up in business at the beginning of the 20th century relocating from Great Ancoats Street.

And now with the help of Sanda Hapgood I can add another chapter in the story because by 1934 it was run by P Parker who had branches across south Manchester.

But as this advert in the parish magazine shows Needham Avenue was the office and factory where it was all produced.

Picture, P Parker, Needham Avenue, from the St Clements’s Parish Magazine, courtesy of Sandra Hapgood

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Ours was a young community.... stories of Public Health


I think it must be the oldest picture of Chorlton children in the collection and I guess it was taken at the old school on the green. 

Even so when it was taken child mortality had improved and these youngsters could expect to survive into adulthood. 

But fifty or so years earlier it would have been a different story.  Despite the fact that ours was a young community with children out numbering all other age groups they were vulnerable to many different illnesses.  Amongst the very young in the warm weather they were prey to diarrhoeal infections and in late winter and early spring from respiratory ailments while school children could die from diphtheria and scarlet fever.  Added this all of them might be prone to mumps, skin diseases, sore throats chicken pox, coughs, colds, bronchitis and influenza.  So during the first half of the 19th century of the 27 children under the age of two who died during this period 18 succumbed in the warm or hot months.

You first get a sense of this my trawling the census returns and looking for the missing children who didn’t make from the 1841 to the next ten years later and then there are the parish burial records which detail young lives caught short.

But it is the parish gravestones which more than any document brings you face to face with the awful sadness of child mortality.  William Chessyre was a month old when he was buried in 1831, Mary Bell Whitelegg and John Gresty just 3 months and William Cardrew Birley son of the Reverend William Birley and his wife Maria only five months.  Some families were unluckier than others.  The Holland’s lost three of their children between 1840 and 1841 and James Gresty buried his two young sons and his wife in just a year. *



Such events were common enough in both rural and urban settings and were partly at least due to the quality of drinking water which in our case was getting worse as the 19th century wore on, so that by the 1880s most of our wells had according to one observer either dried up or were contaminated. 

Opposite; % of child burials in the parish church by age from 1800-1850

But in 1864 the first pipe bringing in mains water from Manchester was laid and a decade later the sewage works had been opened south of the village on the Mersey.  Not that this was all progress.

There were complaints about the state of both Chorlton and Longford Brooks which according to one newspaper were akin to open sewers and well into the 1880s there were hot spots of measles in the township.

All of which I suppose goes a little way to burst that rural rosy picture that some historians fall back on as the way things were in the country.

See also King Cholera, .......... stories of Public Health http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/king-cholera-stories-of-public-health.html

Pictures;, school children from the Lloyd collection, gravestone from the collection of Andrew Simpson



"A Pearl of Girl" ........... a picture postcard from 1912

Now as far as I know there is no connection between Eltham and the young woman staring back at us.

Of course it is possible that the picture postcard was sold locally or may even have been sent to someone in Well Hall.

But that is all speculation and so instead I shall just tell the little I know.

It was one of a series issued by Tuck and Sons in the early 1920s but may be earlier and along with poses of the young woman reclining on a couch there are another six with her standing in slightly different poses holding a pitcher.

Those of her reclining come from a series entitled "A Pearl of a Girl" and the other six “A Pearl of the Ocean.”

What further intrigues me is that the one of her reclining was sent from Nice to a Mademoiselle Pauline Barbaroux in 1923 which is not surprising given that Tuck and sons were an international company.

But it had been printed in the UK and so just maybe it was sent by someone who had passed through Britain or perhaps was on holiday in France.

Sadly I guess I will never get to know.

But I do have the reference numbers for the picture postcards, and will go looking for the catalogue of Tuck's postcards which should offer up more information on the picture.

And I suppose I might even go looking for Mademoiselle Pauline Barbaroux but perhaps that should just be left well alone.

Picture; A Pearl of a Girl circa 1921, from the series A Pearl of a Girl, marketed by Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB, https://tuckdb.org/



Thursday, 24 December 2015

Thank you

Now this is a thank you.

A thank you to all those who have read the blog, passed on comments, offered up fresh memories and pictures and especially all those who have told their own story.

Along the way there have been a shed load of cracking accounts of lives lived out across the last three centuries as well as heaps of research undertaken on topics as varied as the humble telephone kiosk to life in rural Canada in the 19th century.

Now all of this is pretty good stuff added to which I have made many new friends and that perhaps has been the best thing about this year’s blog.

Picture; Varese, Easter 2009, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Telephones Boxes I have known ............. part 7 down at Central Ref having a break from the Social Sciences Library


Now it’s been a few weeks since I featured a telephone kiosk, so here area a pair from just outside Central Ref.

Back in the late 60's and early 70's I used them a lot.

Mainly it was to track down a new place to live.

The property page in the Evening News came out on I think a Thursday at noon, and if you weren’t quick by 10 past the bed sit/ flat for four had gone, so these two kiosks were pretty important and of course offered a break from reading some dense article in the Social Sciences Library.

Picture; two telephone kiosks, 2015 from the collection of Brian Robertson

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Looking for the history of that house on Northenden Road ............. as it goes

So the site of the immediate demise of this big house on Northenden Road created a lot of interest

Well that was Monday, and yesterday this was what was happening.








Picture; Northenden Road Sale, 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Another story from Tony Goulding ..... the bombing of Chorlton-cum-Hardy Christmas Blitz 1940 together with raids from March and May 1941

What follows may serve as a salutary and timely reminder of the human cost of what are now known rather euphemistically as "strategic air strikes." 

A factor it behooves us to reflect on, whether we be for or against, when we consider such actions over Syria, Iraq, or any other "targets"

On the nights of 22/23rd and 23/24th December 1940 Manchester was visited by the German Luftwaffe and Chorlton-cum-Hardy did not escape the resultant death and destruction.

This "Christmas Blitz" was the heaviest attack suffered by Manchester during the conflict but there were several other raids both before and after this one. One such one, and particularly devastating in its consequences for Chorlton-cum-Hardy, occurred on the night of May 1st. 1941
         
These rows of new houses on Chatfield Road (top) and Corkland Road (bottom) were built on void sites, left as a result of these German bombing raids during World War 2.

The present homes were built in the 1970's (1974 - according to one resident) and replaced the "prefab" temporary housing erected in the immediate post-war years.

Those on Corkland Road providing evidence of the impact of the onslaught on that Christmas Eve, Eve 75 years ago.

The destruction caused by the later raid of May 1941 is indicated by the Chatfield Road development.

They mark the sites not only of severe property damage but also of a tragic loss of life.
 
The greatest death toll (1) at a single location was at 1-3, Chatfield Road, known at the time as Chatsworth Road. At no.3, there were four fatalities all middle-aged to elderly ladies, and a Swiss couple Charles Albert and Ida Caspar, both in their 60's, perished at no.1.

Still another death was recorded at the adjacent house on Cavendish/Corkland Road. No. 19 witnessed the sad loss of David Maitland Hebert, a baby of just 7 months. (2)

This sad toll had almost been matched during the Christmas raids when a massive bomb cut a swath of destruction from the top end of Corkland (then known as Cavendish) Road through to Wilbraham Road, where the Post Office now stands. (3)

On Corkland/Cavendish nos 2-4 were destroyed no 2 being the home and surgery of a prominent local dentist Mr. Stephen Laurence Wilson.

The devastation on Wilbraham Road was worse the old post office building and the adjacent  Martins Bank (nos.553 & 551) were severely damaged whilst more tragically in the flat above 549, four members of the Carr family were killed , the father Ernest, mother Jeanne together with their 9 year old son William died at the scene. 11 year old Hazel died of her injuries the following day in Withington hospital.

Additionally at no.545 a 65 year old widow Mrs. Mary Coffey was also a casualty that night.

It has been speculated that the bombs which fell on Chorlton on the night of 1st. /2nd. May, 1941 came from a "rogue" aircraft.

The pilot, being off course through navigational or error instrument damage, jettisoning the planes bomb load before following the railway line south heading for home.

There are some grounds to support this hypothesis in that on this night there were only 8 deaths recorded in Manchester and all of these occurred in Chorlton-cum-Hardy however, without any hard, documentary, evidence this must remain a matter for conjecture.
       
On the contrary, there could be no doubt that the Christmas Blitz was a concerted brutal attack designed to smash both the infra-structure and morale of the city after which German propaganda boasted the city was a burnt out shell.
           
Mid-way between the blitz of December and the isolated bombing in May there took place another heavier assault on the Manchester area which resulted in a larger number of casualties throughout the city as a whole but with just three fatalities in Chorlton.

This raid was particularly memorable as the stands and pitch at Old Trafford football ground suffered huge bomb damage of such severity that Manchester United were required to play for the first three post-war seasons at Maine Road, the home ground of cross city rivals Manchester City.

A curiosity arising out of this arrangement is that, apart from record aggregate attendances(4) at Maine Road during the seasons concerned, is that the largest number of spectators to attend a UNITED "home" league fixture (and still the national record ) remains the 83,260 who, somehow, squeezed into CITY'S ground on the 17th January, 1948 to watch Them Vs. Arsenal.

On this air-raid, also, a cluster of bombs fell on the Sandy Lane area leaving a trail of death and devastation.

The  impact of some of these bombs is clearly discernible by observing the "new-build" semi-detached houses on Torbay, and Dartmouth Roads.

In these locations were the Chorlton deaths. At 19, Torbay Road young Peter Goodyear was a 2 year old victim whilst in neighbouring Dartmouth Road at no.32, Ida Teer and her 20 year old daughter Barbara Mary died.

My friend David was born, less than 3 years after the bombing, close by the bombsite (and still lives) on Dartmouth Road and although his testimony may be uncorroborated hearsay I still think it worth the telling.

He gives two anecdotes about the event, firstly he relates how his mother was at church (it would have been High Lane Primitive Methodist) as the bombs fell.

When news reached her that a bomb had hit a house at the Sandy Lane end of Dartmouth Road she had rushed home fearing the worst. His second story tells that the two individuals who lost their lives  at 32, Dartmouth Road were sheltering, as per Home Office guidelines, in the cellar whilst the father,

William who was upstairs in the kitchen when the bomb struck was thrown out into the rear garden and survived.

Notes:
1) There was a total of  more than 20 fatalities in the Chorlton district during the two nights of bombing 66-8 Newport Road and 18-20 Cheltenham Road suffered multiple deaths. Casualties were also recorded on Claude Road (where a member of the Home Guard was killed), Silverdale Road, Clarendon Road, and  Saint Werburghs's Road.
2) Another resident of Cavendish/Corkland Road was to also to die in an air raid precisely a month to the day later. Mr Albert Henry Bowers, a 54 year old designer, who lived at no.40 was killed at 80, Cumberland Street, Deansgate whilst carrying out his duties as a firewatcher. He was one of 8 such volunteers to die that night in what proved to be one worst raids on the city with around 45 fatalities in Manchester with a similar number in Salford.
One of these deaths was another Chorltonian , Mrs. Frances Mary Curphey the 33 year old wife of Jack of 84,Whitelow Road. She died at George St./Portland St.
3) My mother, as a young teenager, would have witnessed this devastation at  very close hand as she was living at the time only 50 yards away at 5, Keppel Road. It is very likely she was, at least, acquainted with young Hazel Carr.
4) The population having been starved of any meaningful competitive  sport for more than 6 years,  In the immediate post war year football crowds soared dramatically (to unprecedented and un-repeated heights) and attendances for both clubs regularly passed 60.000 whilst it was not unknown for them to approach and on occasion surpass 70,000

©Tony Goulding, 2015-12-12

Pictures; Corkland Road, Wilbraham Road from the collection of Tony Goulding, and Wilbraham Road from the collection of Tony Goulding, and Torbay Road,08620 & m08621 , 
courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

Monday, 21 December 2015

Outside the Royal Oak earlier today ........... remembering Renshaw's Buildings and that other pub

Now I just couldn’t resist running Andy Robertson’s picture of the Royal Oak taken today in the December sunshine.

The pub has a long history dating back to the 1830s when it was a modest establishment which was the first pub the Sunday trade out from Manchester would happen on.*

Back then it was situated a little further along the road.

The present pub was built in the 1920s and stands on a block of cottages called Renshaw’s Buildings which date from before 1832.**

And as I have written about both the old Royal Oak and Renshaw’s Buildings I shall leave it at that.

So I shall just point to the old brewery sign picked out in the sun.

Picture; The Royal Oak, December, 2015, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The Royal Oak, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20Royal%20Oak 

** Renshaw's Buildings in Martledge, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/renshaws-buildings-in-martledge.html

Looking for the history of that house on Northenden Road before it goes

Now here is a house for which I no stories other than that it will soon according to Andy Robertson have gone the way of so many big old piles.

It is on Northenden Road in Sale and in the fullness of time I shall go looking for its past.

Of course there will be someone who can tell me so I shall just await developments.

Picture; Northenden Road Sale, 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

R.J. Unstead


Of all my favourite children’s history books those written by Robert John Unstead are the ones I most frequently return to.

He was a prolific author and his career as a teacher shines through in what he published.

These were books to be read, enjoyed and understood by children, often reading on their own.

They were also full of both colourful paintings and more to the point simple accurate line drawings which could be copied.

I wonder how many young children like me spent hours carefully reproducing the picture of a Norman castle and comparing it to later castles, noting the changes in design.

I do not think you can underestimate the degree to which this brought history alive.

His other great strength for me was that much of what he wrote was designed to describe the lives of ordinary people, including their homes, forms of entertainment and work.

This was history from the bottom up and was a powerful counter blast to stories of Kings and Queens. Not that Unstead ignored royal stories there would always be a market for such history. But these are balanced by those given over to descriptions of the lives of all in society.

Picture; Cover of Looking At History A & C Black 1955

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Shops I have known

I can’t even remember when I took this photograph but it wasn’t that long ago.

Like all these types of shops there was a wonderful collection of anything and everything ranging from under a £ to a tenner.

In the pursuit of a washing line I came across a pink plastic embossed flower vase, mounds of household goods and of course that picture of New York Bridge in the early morning.

It provided cheaper versions of things and more often and not things which were unavailable in the supermarkets.  Its passing was quickly filled by other such shops and now in the last month a new You and Me has opened up beside the bus station.

Not that it has always been a shop.  Back at the beginning of the 20th century it was the home of Mrs Margaret Barber and her six children.  In those days it was a fine 11 roomed house facing out on to Maple Avenue.

But some time during the mid century the extension was added and it became a shop.

Now I will set myself the job of digging out just what Harvey’s were selling in the May of 1959 when A.H.Downes took his photograph and I guess it continued for sometime before becoming You and Me.

And for those who regularly pass the spot they too will have seen it transform into different furniture shops.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and from a series taken by A.H. Downes in May 1959,  m17594, Courtesy of Manchester , Information and Archives, Manchester City Council 

Watching the milkman's horse make a getaway down Lausanne Road .......

I can’t now remember if I have imagined the day the milkman’s horse made a dash for it on Lausanne Road.

If it happened it will have been sometime in the mid 1950s and the horse, the orange and white UD float and a lot of pints were across Queens Road and on down Pomeroy Street before our milkman had got out of number 28.

But that is the trouble with memories.

Most have an element of truth but with the passage of time have been overlaid with other events equally fragmentary and a lot which are just wishful thinking or surrounded with shame like the challenge to walk along the parapet of a bridge over a disused railway line.

I suppose with some old maps and a bit of time I should be able to find the railway line which must have been somewhere between Lausanne Road and Nunhead.

But given that we could have been no more than ten I doubt I will ever be able to peel back much else of the memory.

I suspect I was with Jimmy and John Cox and there will have been a few others whose names and faces are now lost to me but I was too wimpy to walk the walk and instead I chose to watch.

But that railway line does feature in other adventures which started out with the promise of so much excitement and proceeded with a long walk along a railway cutting with no opportunity to get back to street level and ended with a tedious tramp back to where we started.

And that highlights that other thing about childhood memories that we tend as always to remember the fun events.

So I doubt that Jimmy or John will ever think back to the day we got trapped in Thames mud down at the unfashionable end of Greenwich pier or standing in long lines in the hall at Samuel Pepys during countless assemblies wishing I had done my Maths homework and pondering on the excuse to offer Mr Gubby at the start of period 1.

Of course as we head towards that “Day” memories of the run up to Christmas are slowly making their way to the surface after a lifetime of being buried underneath the busy round of work, bringing up the children and worrying about the leaking tap.

And so now with all but of the lads launched, a retirement which will soon clock a decade and a dislike of the Christmas markets I am spending more time thinking back to that milk float.

That said so many half remembered things have been corroborated by new friends, like the cocoa factory on Kender Street, that old wooden archway on the corner of Pepys Road and Banfield’s the coach company which whisked us off once a week to Ewell to play sports.

Which just leaves me to go looking for a news report on the runaway milk float.

Pictures, toy milk float from the internet, source unknown and from the collection of Andrew Simpson



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, http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/448/archives_and_local_history

*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

A painting, a hospital and a story of a local building company ............. at Stretford Memorial Hospital

This is Stretford Memorial Hospital on Seymour Grove, or at least it was because it closed in October of this year.

And that closure ended a century of medical care which had begun with the Great War.

Now I am deep into researching its history as a Red Cross hospital which in time will yield how many beds it had, the number of patients it received during its first year of service and the names of its medical staff.

And judging by its size and location close to the railway it would have been welcomed by the Red Cross when it was handed over by its last owner who I am pretty sure was Mr James Nuttall who lived there with his wife Beatrice, five children and four servants.

The property was known as Basford House and contained fourteen rooms set in its own grounds.
James Nuttall was a public contractor, and in the space of a decade had risen from being an assistant in the family firm to running the business with his brother.

In 1911 Edmund Nuttall & Co was  based on Trafford Park Road.

"The company was founded by James Nuttall Snr in Manchester in 1865 to undertake engineering works associated with infrastructure developments, such as the Manchester Ship Canal, which opened in 1894 and the narrow gauge Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, which opened in 1898.


In the 1900s and 1910s James Nuttall Snr's two sons—Sir Edmund Nuttall, 1st Baronet (1870–1923), who was made a baronet in 1922, and James Nuttall (1877–1957)—built the company into a nationwide business.”*

In the 1920s and 1930s the company was run by Sir Edmund's son, Sir Keith Nuttall, 2nd Baronet (1901–1941), who served in the Royal Engineers in the Second World War."

And in the course of its long history was responsible for a shed load of civil and industrial projects including the Liver Building, tunnels under the Mersey, the Thames and the Tyne and during the Second World War were one of the contractors engaged in building the Mulberry harbour units.

All of which means that James Nuttall was no jobbing builder, but does not help me with the big question of where the family went in 1914 when they handed their home over to the Red Cross.

That and much more about the building will unfold, and when it does I rather think I will feature Peter’s painting of the hospital all over again.

Painting; Stretford Memorial Hospital © 2015 Peter Topping from an original photograph by Andy Robertson

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

*BAM Nutall, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAM_Nuttall