Back then it was just a modest set of stories about Chorlton’s history which walked alongside the book I was writing about the township in the 1840s.
And then bit by bit it started to include the rest of Manchester, the places I grew up and finally to embrace pretty much any bit of history that caught my fancy from Italy to Canada and on to Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and the sub Continent.
It has been fun but more than that it has enabled me to make new friends, pursue new research projects and share the stories of countless other people who over the years have added comments, supplied a picture or began writing for the blog.
And out of the work on British Home Children have come articles by Susan and Lori from Canada and the promise of a shed load of stories from my cousins Chris and Marisa in Ontario.
All of which sit beside the occassional posts shared from my friend Lois's blog.*
Nor is it just stories because in the course of the last five years there have been a growing group of people who have shared their research like Tricia and Kath from Eltham, Sandra and Ida from Chorlton and David from Furness.
Along with that research have been the photographs contributed by Ryan and Jean Low in Eltham Adam from Peckham and a wonderful collection of family photographs of Chorlton in the early decades of the 20th century from Peter.
Andy Robertson continues to record many of the buildings across Greater Manchester which are in danger of being demolished or altered beyond recognition.
Many of them are familiar and much loved but that hasn’t stopped their destruction and so he has not only recorded their end but in many cases returned at regular intervals to mark the passage from decayed warehouse to hole in the ground.
|Southern Cemetery, 2009|
And lastly there has been the collaboration with Peter Topping whose paintings regularly feature on the blog.
Peter and I have known each other for thirty years but since 2011 have co-operated on a series of books, exhibitions and of course that 80 metre installation telling the story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy from the 17th century into the 21st.
At which point I know there will be lots of other contributors who have been missed off and for that I apologise.
Many like David from Rochdale, Ann from France and Marion in Sale have added their own memories of growing up in Chorlton, which sit with Lydia’s memories of Peckham and Jean’s of Well Hall all sparked off from an original story.
|Rochdale Canal, 2013|
I hope also that it has opened up new subjects to a wider audience.
Of these the history of British Home Children continues to motivate me.
These were the 100,000 young people sent from Britain to Canada from 1870 along with others sent to Australia, New Zealand and other bits of our old Empire.
It is a story which is still unknown to many but which as become a serious area of study in just the last few years.
And above all Manchester Libraries from whose extensive archive I have happily explored to support stories about the city and its history.**
With one last thank you to Tuck DB*** who have allowed me to plunder their huge collection of picture postcards produced by Tuck and Sons and to Digital Archives Association who have been kind enough to let me use small extracts from their digital maps.****
Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson
*Lois Elsden Writer, http://loiselden.com/
**Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass
****Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/