Sunday, 31 January 2016

More of Well Hall from the camera of Ryan Ginn

Yesterday I was in the Pleasaunce with two of Ryan’s pictures and as you do I have decided to feature two more.

For all of us who long ago left Eltham but remember it with fondness this collection is magic.

As a kid I was fascinated by the moat and the bridge and later delighted in both the art gallery in the Tudor Barn and the occasional folk concerts in the auditorium on warm summer evenings.

Our Jill was captured in a newspaper photograph back in the August of 1964 siting with a other children watching a show put on by the Council and once a long time ago my own three lads also sat in the gardens on one of my short visits home.

So for all those reasons and because I like Ryan's pictures these two will kick off a series of his work over the next few weeks.

Location; Well Hall, Eltham

Pictures; Well Hall, 2015, from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Passing the time ............... the glass of wine

An occasional series of pictures of people and places.

Location; Beech Road, Manchester

Pictures; People & Places Manchester, 2009 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A pub, a name and Mr Wahlhauser

Now I really would like to have met Mr Louis Wahlhauser if only to get his side of the story about the Waldorf on Gore Street.

According to one history the pub dates from the 1880s when he named it after a Victorian general who was visiting Manchester to open a lodge of the Masons.

Part of my problem is that the source in question spells the pub’s name slightly differently to that of the general.

And by one of those annoying hiccups in the historical record the street and trade directories list only the name of the landlord not the name of the pub.

Added to which by the 1920s the place has become the Waldorf all of which is most unsatisfactory.

Nor do the maps help.  In the 1840s in to the 1890s there is no reference to a pub on Gore Street and while the Fire Insurance map of  1900 records a public house it sits there with no name.

Of course I could ply through all the directories from the 1850s onwards to find the first mention of a beer shop/ pub but I won’t.

Instead I will go off and explore the life of Mr Wahlhauser who was born in Germany in 1847 was married in 1870 to the daughter of a sea captain and by 1881 was running a boarding house  opposite what is now the Waldorf.

Later much later it appears to have gone up market trading as the Temperance Hotel but later still had reverted to a plain “boarding house” and by 1911 had become a printers.

By then Mr Wahlhauser had himself moved on, first to Moss Side and finally to Blackely and during that time his fortunes seem to have ebbed.

In 1881 he had run the boarding house, a decade later and  he described himself as a “hotel porter” and in 1911 a “hotel servant.”

Not that he had owned the boarding house.  The rates show that he was merely the tenant running the business and so far his name fails to appear on any other rate record.

Added to which by 1886 the pub is listed under the name of another landlord.

All of which makes Mr Wahlhauser a continuing enigma and gets us no further with the name of that pub.

Location; Manchester

Painting; the Waldorf, © 2015 Peter Topping 


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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Walking in Well Hall ............. the moat and barn

Now you can never get enough pictures of the Pleasuance and the old Tudor Barn.

So with that in mind here are two from a collection Ryan took yesterday when as he says, "I was just walking around the moat . It's still a rather mesmerising place to come and reflect."

And I have to agree.

Location; Well Hall, Eltham, London

Pictures; Well Hall, 2016, from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Just so you don't get lost........ another story from Barny

 from Ogilby's strip map,  1675 
Now, you probably own some sort of Sat-Nav (satellite navigation), to help you find your way around. 

Not so long ago these systems were installed in the dash of many new vehicles, but today, all smart phones are equipped with Sat-nav, Maps, and GPS.

The first satellite navigation system was 'Transit', a system deployed by the US military in the 1960s.

It wasn't always like this!

AA Route Cards - Handwritten - 1910
Originally the AA Route services were introduced in the form of AA patrols. AA patrols could be consulted for verbal directions and advice.

Soon after the introduction of the AA Routes service in 1910, AA paper routes were launched to provide members with reliable directions due to the lack of signposts.

Bagshot to Andover, circa 1930s
AA Route Planner in 1920s
With the introduction of handwritten cards detailing the information between 2 different points the AA Routes became widely used. The increased demand lead to the need for printed cards. As a result 7,000 printed route cards were launched. Also more than half a million routes were added to the AA Routes service every year.

AA Route Planner in 1930s and 1940s
Strip maps introduced in the 1930s resulted in more reliable route information. After a few years after the introduction of Strip maps, progressive mileages were added to them which resulted to the demand of these maps to over 6,000,000 per year. But during the Second World War the demand for these maps decreased rapidly.

AA Route Planner in 1950s
The end of the world war resulted in the rise of demand for AA Routes. The demand also increased at an alarming rate at the time of patrol rationing in the 1950s. An introduction of places of interests was also added to the maps during this time.

AA Route Planner in 1960s
In 1960s, with the expansion of motorways, the 1960s was a remarkable period for AA Routes as the demand rose from 4,000 in 1949 to 221, 387 in 1965.

The 1960s also saw the introduction of AA “through route” maps which were based on the maps of 55 different towns.

These maps showed the routes from the towns to over 500 destinations. This period also saw the evolution of Route Books which was the collection of the most essential routes and also the best driving routes.

So, don't you get lost again!!

Pictures; the Surrey Heath section of Ogilby's 1675 strip map of the route from London to Lands End & Bagshot to Andover circa 1930s courtesy of Barny

Friday, 29 January 2016

What was lost is found ............... remembering Allan Brown

I wish I had known Allan Brown longer than I did.

Alan Brown at Brookburn School, 2011
We got to know each other just a handful of years ago but quickly discovered a common fascination for Chorlton’s history.

The difference was that while I read, researched and wrote about it Allan had lived it.

Many of our conversations started with a name or an event and in the course of the afternoon we would wander over everything from Chorlton’s Brass band, to his early years in the school on the green and his memories of his grandmother who laid out the dead.

But he was never one to think he knew it all and was forever asking me about my latest bit of research and more often than not that in turn led back to an Alan story.

So it was with the barrage balloon on the Rec which my old dog walking friend John Telford first told me about it over thirty years ago even pointing out where the concrete based was to be found.

Then one day this tiny bit of wartime history was taken away during a refurbishment of the recreation ground and bit by bit I came to doubt my own memory.

But Allan had the picture of the balloon along with many more some of which found their way into my book.*

And two of the pictures that have stayed with me were of our own brass band which had begun in the 1820s and only folded in 1945.

Chorlton Brass Band circa 1930
Of these my own favourite was of the band possibly in the 1920s, including his grandfather and the young girl looking over the wall.

The other was of the band in full regalia at Barlow Hall in 1893, and for the historian what makes this photograph so important is that it contains the names of each band members which allowed me to track all but two of them across Chorlton.

It was one of those bits of research that caught Allan’s imagination and sparked off a train of band stories.

My regret is that we didn’t pursue the research into his own family which got so far but was interrupted by other projects and then when I was ready to start he had died.

I hadn’t seen him for a while mainly because I had been ill and then when I tried ringing he was out doing things.

So the weeks stretched to months and then on a pretty miserable day I went down to find the house was for sale.

I left a note but heard no more and then by chance today in response to one of Allan’s pictures I posted the current owners got in touch to say that his collection was safe with them and more recently I have spoken to his cousin Philip.

In the fullness of time they have promised that I can look through the material which includes those pictures, and a shed full of documents all of which will help add to the story of Chorlton and remind me of my old friend.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; Alan at Brookburn School, 2011 with his picture of that barrage balloon, courtesy of  Chorlton Good Neighbours,** and Chorlton Brass Band, circa 1930s from the collection of Allan Brown

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy,

**Chorlton Good Neighbours,

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Finding your way home ............... finger posts old and new and a challenge

Now here is another  of those stories focusing on what we may be losing.

Over the last few months I have wandered over a collection of old street furniture from water troughs, those red telephone kiosks to the humble pillar box.

And  now it’s the turn of the road sign or to be more accurate the finger post.

Once they cropped up everywhere and there must still be plenty around but I wonder for how much

Originally they would have been made of wood and later of metal but  many of the old traditional ones may be  almost redundant.

In an age of cars and fast travel those big day glow signs fit better with the way people travel offering up giant indications of destinations,

Added to which those posts dating back a century or more are in danger from a combination of rust and neglect.

That said they remain elegant reminders of how we used to find our way around and of course there are still plenty of new ones in new locations often painted black or green with the lettering picked out in gold or yellow.

Thesetraditional ones come from the collection of Graham Gill who posted some on his excellent facebook site, Hidden Cheadle/Gatley & Cheshire.

I remember there were some in Chorlton and I will go looking if they are still there.

And leaves me to ponder on how many more I must have known and whether any still exist in the places I grew up.

So here is the challenge for those who share my interest in street furniture to furnish their own pictures and for good measure the location and a description.

I will not be sniffy, any finger post can be inducted into the hall of fame although in the interests of history those that are clearly old and may even be in danger of disappearing are a must.

Which just leaves lamp posts , but that’s for later.

Location; Cheadle & Gatley, Cheshire, Eltham, London

Pictures; finger posts in Cheadle & Gatley, 2016, from the collection of Graham Gill & In Eltham, 2012, courtesy of Steve McDonald

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Down in Castlefield

Now for no particular reason other than I took them and they are of Manchester, here is a short series celebrating places I like.

All have appeared before and some a long time ago.


Pictures; around Manchester 2002-2015

Back with Mrs Elsie May Crump, a bit of broadcasting history and Chorlton

Now I am pleased that a lot more people are going to read about Mrs Elise May Crump and her part in a little bit of broadcasting history.*

In October 1946 she had appeared on the first broadcast of Woman’s Hour and three months later was invited back to reflect on how it had all gone.

She described herself as a working woman who found it difficult to listen regularly because she assisted her husband in their butcher’s shop on Oswald Road.

And as you do I went looking for a story and along the way I asked for anyone who knew her and quick as a flash my old friend Bob Jones came up with this picture which he is fairly confident is Mrs Crump.

There will be others I am sure who also remember Mrs Crump and so it seemed a perfect story for the Chorlton edition of Community Index.**

 And having submitted the story Linsey the editor turned up a snippet from a newspaper on the other side of the country reporting on Mrs Crump’s appearance on the wireless.***

I dare say that there will be other snippets of her broadcasting debut just waiting to be discovered and while as yet they remain hidden I am confident that as the Community Index drops through the letter boxes there may be fresh discoveries.

And that is all I want to say for now.

Pictures; Mrs Elsie May Crump, from the collection of Bob Jones, and the advert for Mrs Crump’s shop, 1928 from the St Clement’s Souvenir Handbook of the Church Bazaar, 1928 

* Mrs Crump of Chorlton-cum-Hardy and a piece of broadcasting history,

**Community Index,

***A Chorlton Woman's Hour,

Revisiting The Vintage Beauty Parlour on Kingshill Road and a lot more history

Now I always planned to revisit that corner shop on Kingshill Road partly because it has history and also because it is back doing what all corner shops should do which is to be interesting and offer something to the community.

It began as a newsagents run by Annie Frazier and continued to sell cigarettes sweets and newspapers after she died in 1911.

I say that but I have still to double check using the directories, but her daughter Ada was there at nu 1 Kingshill until she died in the April of 1923.

At which point I have fallen back on the some of the documents held by the current owners who told me  that “a chap called Bushell died and his estate was sold to a Mrs Farrington, possibly as part of a wider business. 

Whitaker then got the place in 1927.

In the late 60s the shop and house was then owned by the Flanagans, closing in '83.”

Now the Whitaker’s are remembered fondly by many in Chorlton.  Bob Jones emailed me to say that

“I lived at no 12 opposite the shop born and bred so nice to see the shop open again  after many years boarded up

I was an order boy at the Beech Road shop of Charles Whitaker and Jeff his son, happy days.”

And for those who don’t know the Beech Road shop which was the Whitaker’s first business out let was on the corner by the green.

An advert from 1928 proudly announces that T C Whitaker’s had been established in 1896 but a family with the same name were trading along Beech Road as grocers as early as 1851.

Now I haven’t yet found a picture of the Kingshill shop from when it was owned by the Whitaker’s but there is a 2008 google street image of the shop with the faded lettering with their name still visible.

The current owner like me thinks it is a shame that copyright might prevent me from using the picture and recalled that

“I used to live in the house back then and it was freezing, just an empty flooded space, with no floor, you fell straight into the cellar. Then some kids smashed the shop windows, which is why it got boarded up.”

But all is now well and there is no doubting that transformation from a grim and empty retail property to its current use as The Vintage Beauty Parlour

Pictures; Kingshill Road, in 2016 and 2012,  courtesy of The Vintage Beauty Parlour 

*The Vintage Beauty Parlour,

Pictures from an Eltham bus ........two month on

January 2016
The top deck of a London bus has to be a pretty neat way of seeing the world below.

And when it is the same bus at about the same time every day then you have got yourself a project.

All you need is a camera and the patience each week to record the same spot.

It helps if there is a major new development underway like the one at Grove Market and the rest as they say is Larissa Hamment’s “Pictures from an Eltham bus.”

November, 2015
It promises to be an interesting collection of images which when the development is finished will prove to be a unique record of a bit of changing Eltham.

Location, Eltham High Street, Eltham, London

Picture; the work at Grove Market, 2015/2016, from the collection of Larissa Hamment

Ghost signs in Stockport .......the one on Hopes Carr

Now I am back with a ghost sign and a story that I suspect will run and run.

This is the side of a 19th century smithy on Hopes Carr in Stockport and like many ghost signs this one may soon have faded to a point that there is little left to see.

And that is a shame because ghost signs are often all that is left of a business or product which were once household names.

My problem is that I don’t know Stockport as well as I should and do not have access to the trade and street directories for the area which would allow me to identify the company who had the sign painted.

But I bet there is someone who does or can pick out the now very faded name and with that will come a story.

Looking at the 1912 map of Stockport I am struck at the contrast between Hopes Carr then and now and leads me to think that once the sign is identified there could be a shed load more to say about both the smithy and Hopes Carr,

In time I will compare this map with the earlier one from 1870 and explore the history of that smithy.

But for now I shall just make that appeal for any one with easy access to the street directories or better still memories of the place.

Location, Hopes Carr, Stockport, Greater Manchester

Pictures; ghost sign and building on Hopes Carr, 2015 from the collection of Graham Gill and detail of Hoes Carr from the Cheshire OS, 1904-1910, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Painting Nunhead ........ Nu 1 a pub and a shedful of memories of walking to school in 1961

Now when you are just 11 and on the way to school pubs don’t feature very heavily and the Old Nuns’s Head was no exception.

It is on Nunhead Green and I will have passed it pretty much every day on my way to the Annexe on Old James Street which housed the over spill for Samuel Pepys.

There were other routes I could have taken from Lausanne Road but this was I think the most direct.

And when I was passing it the pub was coming up for its twenty-seventh birthday, although according to that excellent pub blog, London Pubology* there was a pub here in the 18th century when “the pub was known for games (it had a skittle alley), dancing and particularly for its tea gardens. 

These were a fashion of the era — tea had only been introduced to the country during the 17th century and had built up an immense popularity during the early parts of the 18th century to become effectively the national drink. 

The tea gardens were suburban relatives of the pleasure gardens (such as the famous one at Vauxhall), where high tea was served in the afternoon. 

To a certain extent, too, they were tainted with the same negative connotations, being the playgrounds of the frivolous leisured classes, encouraging licentious behaviour and gambling, and frequented by prostitutes. There is no indication in the sources that the tea gardens in Nunhead were anything less than respectable.”

In the mid 19th century it was run by Sarah Dyer and I rather think there might be a rich history here to trawl.

But of course all of that was unknown to me back in 1961.

Today one guide describes it as a “large, airy and child-friendly pub with a mish-mash of old furniture, serving modern British meals” and perhaps when I next get down to Nunhead I might call in.

I think Peter’s painting pretty much captures the place although straying from side to side is to be shocked at the new development which aren’t in keeping with the green or the old alms houses.

That said I bet there were a few back in 1934 when the pub was built who muttered darkly at “pretend Tudor buildings” and lamented the earlier one which just leaves me to go and search for an image of that older pub and reflect on all those trips along Evelina Road and Nunhead Lane half a life time ago.

Location; Nunhead, London

Painting; The Old Nun’s Head Nunhead Lane © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph 


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*London Pubology,

Monday, 25 January 2016

One year and a bit down at the Wilburn Basin

Now back in the summer of 2014 Andy Robertson took a series of pictures of the Wilburn Basin.

It is sited between the Middlewood Locks and Woden Street Bridge and features in the plans for the River Irwell Park which sets forth the vision for  an urban river park to be delivered over the next decade which “will transform the day to day workings of an 8km stretch of the Irwell”*

Our city “has been rated the 14th greatest European city in an independent survey.  
The other 13 cities ahead of Manchester have fabulous water fronts – and Manchester needs the same.  

The Irwell has always been the lifeblood of Greater Manchester and by keeping a singular vision we can make it a unique place to visit.”**

So there you have it, a plan and to go with that some of Andy’s pictures.

Even in its present state the area looks exciting with a hint of its industrial past and stunning views across to the twin cities.

There will be people who will remember it as a working place and I hope will come forward with stories and perhaps old pictures to compliment Andy's collection.

And I noticed some of the land went up for sale last year, comprising 1.34 Hectares (3.3 Acres), Highly Visible with River Frontage, Castlefield & Spinningfields Nearby.***

A year and bit on and Andy was back with a series of pictures which show the development since 2014 and yes the basin is still there but just not as visible.

Pictures; the Wilburn Basin June 2014 & January 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

* River Irwell Park,

**Chris Farrow, Chair, Irwell River Park Executive Management Group


What's in a van? ............ stories yet to be discovered

Now this is one of those stories which will be fun to dig into.

At present I know nothing about it other than the date may be the 1930s, and that  the picture comes from the collection of Andy Robertson who says “the older young man is my great grandfather's brother's son.”

And I am making this harder for myself by deliberately not asking Andy for any more information.

Instead in the quiet moments I shall regularly revisit the picture and see what the records reveal.

The van offers up the name of the company, the date it was established and a place in London.

So that will open up a trawl of the census returns and street directories and of course the telephone directories and maps of the period.

The local archive centre might just have some records on the company with pictures and even details of the people who worked for them.

And then there is that simple wild card where you type in the name on Google and wait to see what pops up.

These hit and miss searches always amaze me more because often they do turn something up.

In the case of Thomas E Carwardine & Co. Ltd the search provided a typed street directory for 1921 which listed the firm at 138 Kingsland Road amongst a mix of small business stretching along the east side of the road from 120 Shoreditch High Street to Kinglsand High Street and comprising 65 businesses three pubs and Cotton Gardens.

Now for someone who does not know east London here is an anchor from which to move out and look for the other stores or branches of Thomas E Carwardine & Co. Ltd.

It may be that they only had the one premises but they were operating at least 39 vehicles, some of which would be motor vans and others perhaps horse drawn or hand pulled carts and that is an impressive fleet.

And I am fascinated by the hand painted sign.  All things Egyptian had been given a real boost by the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.

Likewise it may just be possible to draw some conclusions from the buildings behind the van so while the house looks solid and residential enough there is that building next door which might have been a stables but equally could be commercial.

There will be plenty of more clues and of course once you finds the first set of records they usually send you off on a whole set of different paths.

At which point I recognise that this will be read by many who mutter that in looking into the story of an east London firm I am well out of my usual haunts.

But not so and especially because the methodology in picking through the clues can be used any where, and that seems a sensible point to stop for the time being.

Location; London

Picture; from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Pub History in the UK,

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Picking up the packet boat from Stretford and then post haste to Castlefield on the Duke’s Canal

Packet boat charges on the Duke's Canal 1841
Now I often write about living in the township in the mid 19th century and I reckon if I had wanted to travel into Manchester it would have been by water.

So if I could have afforded it I would have chosen one of the twice daily package boats from Stretford along the canal which transported passengers in comfort and speed.

A ticket for the front room cost 6d [2½p] and the back room 4d [1½p].*

This was travelling in style.   These packet boats were fitted with large deck cabins surrounded by windows which allowed the passengers to sit “under cover and see the country” glide by at the rate of six miles an hour, made possible by  two or sometimes three horses which pulled the packet.  And if that was not style enough the lead horse was guided by a horseman in full company livery.**

It was a pleasant enough journey for most of the route was still across open farm land and it was not till Cornbrook that the landscape became more industrial.

From here on there was no mistaking that the final destination was that busy, smoky and energetic city.  The chemical and dye works of Cornbrook gave way to saw mills, a textile factory, paper mill and all manner of wharves and ware houses before the packet arrived in the heart of Castlefield.

But we all know that I wouldn’t have been in the money and so there would have been no fast packet boat for me and no walk out of the village along the old road to Stretford, instead it would have been a longer and slower tramp, north through Martledge.  But that is another story for another time.

Location; Stretford, Trafford

Pictures; Packet boat charges from Pigot and Slater’s Directory of Manchester and Salford 1841, and detail of the Cornbrook stretch of the Duke’s canal from the OS map of Lancashire, 1841-53, courtesy of Digital Archives,

*This was beyond what most of our residents could afford.  A domestic servant might earn 2s 9d [13½] while that of a labourer was 13s.6d [57½p].

**Slugg, T.J., Reminiscences of Manchester, J.E.Cornish, Manchester 1881, Page 223

Waiting for a train

Oxford Road Station May 2009

I had just seen one of the lad's off on an adventure and with a bit of time to spare I tarried on the platform watching the ebb and flow of passengers in the rush hour.

Here were all you might expect at a busy station in the early evening.

Two were waiting for an airport train, another with that resigned and world weary expression of a seasoned traveller accpeted she had just missed her train and opened a book.

The rest stared expectantly ahead as the Buxton train was announced but steadfastly failed to make an appearance.

Location; Manchester

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

The Rochdale Canal, 2002

An occasional series featuring places I continue to think are special.

Location; Manchester

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Saturday, 23 January 2016

So when did this building become the one we know on Needham Avenue?

The bakery, 1908
Now I am fully prepared for the debate that might unfold about this picture and the degree to which it could be the building at the bottom of Needham Avenue.

Until quite recently you had to pass it on the way to collect parcels and undelivered letters from the Post Office counter and like many I have often wondered about 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 Wallworth who had started up in business on  Great Ancoats Street relocating to Chorlton at the beginning of the 20th century.*

I had always assumed that the present building was pretty much what Mr Wallworth had commissioned but not so.

The advert, 1908
Looking closely at the picture dated 1908 and comparing it with the present building it is possible to see
some similarities but that said it did undergo a radical redesign.

This had happened by the late 1950s and might well have been the work of Mr Parker who took over the bakery in the 1930s, if not earlier.

Now there will be people who might just remember that redesign.  My friend Ann visited the bakery in the 1950s with her father and there will be others whose memories may stretch back even earlier.

Well we shall see.

Picture; advert for F.W.Wallworth, Famaily and Wholessale Bakery, 1908 from the Souvenir of the Grand Wesleyan Church Bazaar, 1908, courtesy of Philip Lloyd

*Needham Avenue,

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 50 ............. remembering breakfast

The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

Now I know it had to happen but even so I was not prepared for the day when one of the staples of our breakfast tasted nothing like I remembered them from my childhood.

On a whim I had bought a packet of Sugar Puffs and while there was nothing wrong with the product my taste buds refused to recognise them.

Of course there is nothing surprising in that, we will all have had to accept that with the passage of time the food we ate as kids is different.

At which point I won’t fall back on the obvious comment about the size of Wagon Wheels, the failure to find Jublies in the shops or the first time I drank Tizer.

Instead I am reflecting on what I ate for breakfast back in the 1950s and more importantly how it had been influenced by my parents.

Again there is nothing very surprising about that.  As a kid you pretty much ate what you were given, influenced to a degree about by the advertising hypes that came with the television age.

So the attraction of Sugar Puffs was the little products that came with the cereal.  They ranged from tiny plastic racing cars to divers who were supposed to bubble in the fish tank and on one occasion a Sherlock Holmes set of mini detective gadgets.

But even given all that for me breakfast was and is a very personal thing and a meal much influenced by dad.

Long ago he had rejected the habit of eating porridge which as he added salt instead of sugar seemed a pretty sensible thing to leave behind.

Instead it was toast which was left to go cold and hard and eaten with butter or butter and ginger marmalade.

And now sixty or so years after I first ate it like that it’s just how I have my toast which of course raises that bigger point of what we inherit from our parents.

The physical ones are just the luck of the draw but what fascinates me are the habits, mannerisms and cultural outlooks which we absorb.

So from mum I got my politics which had been formed for her in the grim years of the 1930s and grew out of that desperate time of the Means Test, mass unemployment and making do on a pittance.

Along with the politics came a restlessness which expressed its self outlandish projects like the time she decided to breed rabbits and the fish pond she built on her own in the back garden of Lausanne Road.

All of these I have written about in the past and continue to shape who I am.

She too loved writing and had published a series of one and three act plays aimed particularly at women’s groups.

What made mum’s plays just that bit different was that the nature of the groups meant that there had to be few parts for men which added a greater challenge to the plot lines and the writing.

And now like many of my age I have come to reflect on what I have absorbed from mum and dad and conclude that it was far more than I had ever thought.

So breakfast will be toast and ginger marmalade and a day of writing about the past.

As for the Sugar Puffs, they now go under the name of Honey Monster Puffs and the little railway engine pulling its carriages has gone from the packet replaced by a Honey Monster.

There is still the promise of a gift but sadly they no longer taste the same but that will be me.

Location; Peckham, London

Pictures; products from the 1950s, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

The Old House at Home in Ladybarn ............... another lost Manchester pub

Now I think the Old House at Home in Ladybarn had a short life.

It doesn’t show up on the 1911 directory for Braemar Road and long ago seems to have stopped selling pints.

But Andy Robertson remembers that “in the late 70s I entered a competition run by the Withington Reporter. 

It listed about 50 pubs in their catchment area and you had to name their breweries. 

This was the only one I had not heard of. Needless to say I found out and won the competition, the prize 8 pints of beer. Happy days.”

And not content with the memory of that successful win Andy went back and took this photograph of the place now that it has reverted to residential use.

All of which now just leaves me to wonder on how many stories the picture will bring to the surface.

Location; Ladybarn, Manchester

Picture; former Old House at Home, 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Friday, 22 January 2016

Mrs Annie Frazier and her shop on Kingshill Road

Now 80 years is a pretty long time in any one’s life and more so I think when it spanned most of the 19th and a bit of the 20th centuries.

The Vintage Beauty Parlour, 2016
And so I am intrigued by Mrs Annie Frazier who was born 1830 and was running the newsagents and tobacconist shop on Kingshill Road in the January of 1911.

Today after many years of lying empty the shop is The Vintage Beauty Parlour, but back in 1911 the building was still relatively new and Mrs Frazier may well have been the first resident.

I know a decade earlier she had been in Withington and a little before that in Rusholme.

But for now it is her earlier life that interests me.

Looking back over 80 years most of us would be able to record a shed load of changes.

For me in my mid 60s, I can remember a time before the internet, before domestic computers when milk was still delivered by a horse drawn milk cart and space travel was still science fiction.

These are profound enough changes but are nothing compared to the transition that took place in her life time.

She was born just 15 years after the Battle of Waterloo, may very well have talked to veterans of those long wars with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France, would almost certainly have been given a souvenir on the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 and marvelled at the invention of the telegraph, the telephone and the wireless and I guess will have thrilled at seeing the first moving pictures in the cinema.

Of course I will never know how much she used these technological advances and am only just beginning to explore her life which began in Birmingham and ended with her death at the close of 1911.

But it is a start and in time I will draw out the story of her daughter Ada who was born in Leamington in 1868 and try to unravel the history of Mr Edmund Bowman who was their lodger and had been living with the family for at least a decade.

I did wonder if Mr Bowman had become Ada’s husband when she got married in 1914 but this was not so.

After Mr Whitaker had taken over
Instead she became Mrs Compton continued to live in the same house and died just nine years later in the April of 1923.

And that l wonder if there was a connection between Ada and Mr John Hodginson who was buried in the same grave in Southern Cemetery just two years later.

Of course there may be no link, burial plots were not exclusively restricted to one family, but he was also living in Chorlton and in 1911 aged 12 gave his occupation as errand boy so perhaps there is a connection which as yet is unclear between this young man and Mrs Ada Compton.

So for now that just takes me back to the shop because the current owners have records dating back to 1919 and can draw on local memories when belonged to the Whittaker family whose main shop traded on Beech Road from the 1850s.

Now that I grant you is a tad longer than Mrs Frazier’s 80 years and covers a great chunk of Chorlton’s retail history than nu 1s time as a newsagent and I think will be another story spanning its time from grocery to beauty parlour.

Location; Chorlton, Manchester

Picture; sthe shop in 2016 courtesy of The Vintage Beauty Parlour and an advert for T.C.Whitaker, 1928 St Clement's Bazaar Handbook

*The Vintage Beauty Parlour,

A little bit of Egypt in Sale ..... along with a fitness machine and memories of Clark Gable

Now I don’t get out into Sale very often, which is why it was a long time before I discovered the Pyramid Cinema, and even longer before I stirred myself to find out anything about it.

I thought it looked vaguely Egyptian which must have given it a touch of class and enlivened a night out with Fred Astaire, Lauren Bacall and John Wayne.

And that vaguely historical theme was mirrored by the decor inside as it was by the design of the organ.

Not of course that I ever went in but I could have done for it only closed in 1984, having done just over a half century as a cinema and from 1981 a venue for live shows.*

Its subsequent years have been a tad odd.  It was bought by Trafford Council in 1987, became a night club for eleven years and is now a fitness centre.

But at least it is still there which is more than can be said for many of our period cinemas, some of which have fallen to the grand designs of developers or linger on as warehouses and supermarkets.

So next time you pass the place, give a thought to those first film goers who sat in one of its 1,900 seats in 1933 and were impressed with its Egyptian theme which even extended to the deign of the organ.

And if you want a more in depth and fascinating insight into the cinema and its connection with ancient Egypt I recommend Peter Robinson's paper which can be viewed by going to the comments at the bottom of the post and following the link.

Location, Sale, Greater Manchester

Pictures; the Pyramid, Sale 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Cinema Treasures,

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Elizabeth The Wool Shop at 510 Wilbraham Road ........... one of Chorlton's vanished shops by Jeremy Cameron

Jeremy Cameron is an author whose grandmother and aunts ran Elizabeth's the Wool Shop on Wilbraham Road and recently he agreed to provide an account of their shop. 

510 Wilbraham Road, 1959
My grandmother, Frances Hannah Marsh, was born in 1872.

At this distance her early history is a bit vague but as far as I know she was born in Belfast, emigrated with her family as a child to Canada where she crossed the country in a covered wagon and then returned.

She married Jack Cameron, whose first wife had died and who already had one child, Fred.  

My grandmother had a number of children of whom six survived into adulthood: Jim (originally called Duncan), Frances, Albert, Hilda, Ethel and Leslie (my father) who was born when she was 43.

The family grew up in Barrow in Furness, where Jack Cameron worked in the shipyards.  He died around 1923 and subsequently my grandmother moved to Buxton, Derbyshire, where she kept the fish and chip shop on the market place.

At some time during or more probably just after the Second World War she moved with her daughters Hilda and Ethel to 510 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, where she kept Elizabeth, the wool shop.  She died on 6th Feb 1958, the same day as the Munich air crash.

My grandmother was a much loved but stern lady.  She was alleged to maintain the posture of her children at the meal table by putting a walking stick down their backs.  Curious about the workings of the shop, I asked her one day how much money she had taken that day.   "One pound thirty-five and fourpence," was her reply.   It was her standard reply and it took me a while to work out that it meant nothing.  You didn't mess with her.   The family clubbed together to buy her a television in old age and we all watched the Coronation in 1953.

Incidentally the shop is more or less equidistant between Old Trafford and Maine Rd (the Etihad is of course much further).  My father took me to my first match at Maine Rd in 1954 (City 2 Arsenal 2) and later I would walk to Old Trafford.

My aunts kept the shop for another few decades until their very late retirement when they went into a care home across the street.  Their shop was, I believe, legendary.   People have told me that they would travel up to fifty miles to buy wool from my aunts or to ask their advice about knitting, needlework or embroidery.

The shop would sell a button or an inch of cotton or anything else that was needed.  Every evening they would knit in front of the television.   What were they knitting?   Garments for their customers.   What did they charge?   Nothing!  They charged for the wool but  their services came free.

Life became hard as supermarkets and department stores began selling their products and specialist shops grew scarce.   Fortunately they had the opportunity to buy their property early on for a very low price, otherwise they would have struggled much more.   Until they got their old age pensions money was at a premium; after that, they could manage.

510 Wilbraham Road, 2016
Of all the people I have met who knew my aunts I doubt whether anyone called them by their first names.   "Good morning, Miss Cameron," said the customers in the shop  or their neighbours such as the excellent Chorlton bookshop or Mr Clayton next door.   "Elizabeth, Miss Cameron speaking," they said on answering the 'phone.

They disapproved of quite a few things, most notably bad manners, and did not hang back from correcting children who disrespected their parents in the shop; on the other hand they were quite likely to give the same child a small present on leaving.

Their politics were eccentric and best not examined too closely.   Despite the fact that they got on well with people of all races  and creeds their major fear was that on retirement their shop would go to "a Chinese take-over".  Which, I believe, happened.

Since they died that part of the family has lost all contact with each other.  They and their shop were the fulcrum.

I understand that on their retirement the shop fittings   -  glass cases for wool, intricate drawers for cottons   - were bought by television for period programmes.  I can imagine people today watching a Dickensian series and suddenly crying out:  "Oh!  I knew a shop just like that!   Elizabeth!   Miss Cameron and Miss Cameron!"

Location; Chorlton, Manchester

Text © Jeremy Cameron, 2016,

Picture, Wilbraham Road north side, Shops 510-512, A E Landers, May 24 1959, m18272, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and 510,January 2016  courtesy of Tiny's Tipple,