Saturday, 9 January 2016

Lost in the attic .............. a new collection of photographs of Chorlton........ nu 1 Whitelow Road

This is Whitelow Road sometime in the early 20th century and with the picture comes one of those intriguing little stories.

It is one of a collection of images which were donated to St Clements Church and were found in the attic of a house.

And that is about all I know of the history of the twenty or so photographs of Chorlton.

All except one date from sometime after 1900 and measure 25.5 cms by 42 cms and have been reproduced from picture postcards.

I would love to know who went to all the trouble of first collecting and then enlarging the images and later storing them away.

Now there will be a story there but I doubt it will ever come to light.

So instead I shall concentrate on this one which shows a gang of labourers at work.

I don’t have a date but the company whose name plate appears on the steam engines was Davies Brothers, Asphalt Road Makers who were listed in the 1911 directory with an office on Princess Street and a depot on Green Lane.

Green Lane ran from Brook Street to the Garratt Bridge by the River Medlock in Chorlton on Medlock and long ago was swept away by new developments which included the old BBC Broadcasting building.

What makes the picture interesting is that it is one I have never seen before and comes with a companion photograph which also shows Whitelow Road with the same team of workmen.

Both contain a wealth of detail from the steam engines, barrels of tar to the wooden sets and the large number of labourers.

This was after all at a time when much of the work still relied on muscle power and so despite the steam engines it was still down to shovels, wheelbarrows and a lot of effort.

But the pictures also include that small band of spectators who have been drawn to the scene.

Like the workman they stare back at the camera with that mix of poses, some stopped in their tracks, a few looking curious and the rest those who just can’t miss the opportunity to be in the picture.

And of these the one I am drawn to is the chap in uniform pausing with his parcels to be caught on camera.

Now I am sure there will be someone who can help explains the use of the long wooden beam across the road and others who will want to speculate exactly where along Whitelow Road the pictures were taken from so I shall close by reflecting on how many more pictures of old Chorlton are sitting in attics across the township.

Pictures; Whitelow Road date unknown

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