Thursday, 31 March 2016

Goodbye to Daniel Sharpe’s house on Beech Road after a 183 years

Well after 183 years that sad looking house on Beech Road has gone.

Half gone, 2016
It was the home of Mr Daniel Sharpe who lived there from certainly 1841 and maybe earlier and now leaves only one example of the sort of house built for the people of plenty here in Chorlton in the early 19th century.*

We do have a few farmhouses which will be mid to late 18th century but that is it.

The very big houses one of which stood on the corner of Beech Road and the other between Barlow Moor Road and Corkland Road went at the beginning of the 20th century and that other fine middling property by Acres Road went one night a decade or so ago.

Still a home with historic promise, circa 1980
Of course Mr Sharpes‘s house had as one commentator put it become an eyesore, having suffered two fires and decades of neglect.

But it was once a fine house and deserved better.

I don’t know when Mr Sharpe moved in but it will have been around the time of his marriage in 1833.

He was a wine merchant and appears in the property on the 1841 census.

Sadly his wife died in 1846 leaving him a widow until his own death in 1861.

Although that is not the full picture because in 1852 he married his servant Ann Bailey who was much younger than him.

Not a lot left, 2016
The marriage seemed not to be successful for nine years later she is no longer with him and in his will made shortly before he died having left her nothing he adds a codicil and awards her a small sum of money.

It is a story I will return to.

The house has had a varied set of occupants since then, gaining the jutty out bit at the end of the 19th century and even featured in a television series.

There was one planning application in to convert it into a mix of residential and retail but nothing seems to have happened to the plan.

And now it has gone.  There will be those who shrug and say with some justification that the community showed no interest in its preservation and given its years of neglect demolition was the kindest solution.

But that ignores the fact that for years it was difficult to ascertain who owned it, and even given what might have been structural issues, some nearby properties have been renovated and so saved.

And that is all I am going to say.  I shall await the verdict of the people of Chorlton and just thank Alexx for being in the right place to record the demise of Mr Sharpe's fine country house on what was Chorlton Row.

Location, Beech Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; a demolition in progress, 2016, courtesy of Alexx O’Shea, in 1980 from the collection of Tony Walker

*Daniel Sharpe and 131 Beech Road,

From Cape Town to Detroit the search for Sixto Diaz Rrodriguez.

.Searching for Sugarman was the DVD I had been meaning to watch for ages.

Our Joshua brought it home at Christmas from Leicester and it was a present from Polly’s mum.

And today with Saul back from Poland for the week it seemed a perfectly good moment to run the film.

It is about the search for Sixto Diaz Rodriguez an American singer and song writer who was born in Detroit in 1942.

Saul likes his music and given that during the week we had set aside a shedful of movies to watch together this one seemed a good one to start with.

I have to say I had never heard of him or his music but right away I was hooked on the songs.

During the early 70s Mr Rodriguez released three albums which while they did not sell well in the States were very popular in South Africa, and it was there that the film begins, charting the search for the musician who many believed was dead, and some thought had committed suicide.

Now there is no way I am going to reveal the plot, suffice to say it amounts to a very good detective story with a happy ending.

Much of his music was anti establishment and appealed to an audience of white South Africans opposed to apartheid and uncomfortable with the deeply conservative and authoritarian regime in South Africa.

And so there was something of a history story as well as detective tale, made all the better for sitting there with our Saul.

Location, South Africa, USA

Picture; Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, signing autographs, April 8 2007, Luke Winterton,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Hidden and forgotten .......... bits of our not so distant past ............. road signs I like nu 2

It is early days but after yesterday’s story on that road sign high up a neighbour’s wall I am pleased that other people have come up with their favourites.*

"See better days ......"
They are the old fashioned ones which Neil tells me “would have been sandcast in iron, with the sand moulds made from standard letter patterns.” 

Not only that but he came up with a link to just how they were made,** and offered up  his own picture which he spotted on the side of the control building of the Ship Canal Road Swing Bridge in Warrington.

Warrington, 2016
What I particularly like is that in its neglected state it gives an explanation to how they were made it’s just what my old Maths teacher used to say about “showing the working out” on the way to an answer.

Not that my working was ever that good because back then sums were a mystery and my working out was more guess work.

But no one wants to know about that so instead I shall reflect that these old signs are becoming attractive additions to the home, and if you can’t track down an original there are always replicas made in wood which will do the trick.

Bill Sumner saw these “wooden copies for sale at the Macclesfield Treacle Market.”

So there you have it, in the space of a day I have written about an old road sign in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, discovered how they were made, found another in Warrington along with some brand new ones in Macclesfield, not bad for the start of a series.

Macclesfield, 2016
Added to which John offered one up in Urmston which with his permission I which feature later.

Location, Warrington & Macclesfield,

Pictures, roads signs,, Warrington, 2016 courtesy of Neil Simpson and replicas from the collection of Bill Sumner, 2016, Macclesfield

*Road Signs,

**How Our Signs Are Made - The Traditional Casting Method, SIGN CAST,

Monday, 28 March 2016

The singer, some ballroom dancers and that song .......... Sunday afternoon Italian TV

Now I don't as a rule pass judgement on the telly in the country we are staying.

After all if you don't live there all the year around then there is a lot you miss and drawing conclusions on a few hours television is a bit unfair.

But on the other hand we spend a fair bit of time with the family in Italy and in turn watch a fair bit of the programmes and so feel at home to comment.

And of all that we watch it has to be the wall to wall variety shows you get on a Sunday which go on all day into the evenings often seem to share the same presenters.

And my favourite to date has to the one mixing amateur singers a bunch of ballroom dancers and a collection of old, contemporary and popular Italian singers.

The host also sings and is accompanied by a group of musicians and singers who could be her children.

So yesterday amongst the raw talent and host belted out one song about her husband who was no longer interested in her, and it made no matter if she walked naked into the room or offered up his favourite food he steadfastly no longer seemed to want to know her.

Meanwhile a group of dances glided across the floor.

All very Sunday in Italy.

Location; Varese, Italy

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson 2016

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Working together to reveal the stories behind our British Home Children

I wonder what my great uncle Roger would make of the search to find him.

William Henry Hall, circa 1930, grandad
He was born in Birmingham in 1898 arrived in Canada as a British Home Child in 1914 and ran away to join the army a year later, and along the way changed his name, lied about his age and falsified his next of kin.

And not content with that when he was demobbed he seems to have vanished.

My cousins and I have had various attempts at finding him and every time we get a bit closer he always continues to be one jump ahead.

Now I know he was not deliberately avoiding his family but the lack of hard evidence and the multiple trails almost suggest he was playing with us.

The family stories have him going out west sometime after he left the army and there is a reference to him on a ranch in Alberta but there is also a tantalizing record of a man with his name crossing into the United States in 1922 and of another on an electoral roll thirteen years later in Silver Creek British Columbia.

The difficulty is that his assumed name was James Rogers which I always thought was just a simple process of rearranging part of his name, but it may be that he had already stumbled across the fact that there were a lot of Rogers in Canada and moreover plenty of them had James as a first name.

Laura Isadore Pember, nee Hall, 1968
All of which would make it very difficult for the Middlemore Homes to track their runway, and when he did write back to Fairview Station he was safely enlisted in the C.E.F and in Britain on route for the Western Front.

He was never one to accept authority and in 1913 aged 15 he had almost been sent to a Training Ship designed to “sort out” wayward lads.

It was where his younger brother who was my grandfather ended up, but for reasons we don’t know great uncle Roger was offered the alternative of migration to Canada.

All of which makes him a British Home Child and it was that discovery that led me to BHC sites and fellow family historians, some of whom are now my friends.

What we have in common is that search for information about our relative and a real desire to make sense of why children as young as four were migrated from Britain to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries.

Like all family historians there is a keen willingness to help each other out which is made all that more important because the stories behind many of those young people migrated across the Atlantic are very fragmentary.

And so in the last few days we have had magnificent help from Susan,Sher, Dona and Lori who have dug deep into the records on the Canadian side and sent me and my cousins Marisa and Chris off on new avenues of research.

John Nelson, Montague, Hall, date unknown
In the fullness of time I hope I can help those in Canada make their way round the British records, because although the online revolution has made it easier for all of us, there remain obstacles.

That said I remain excited that what began for most of us as a search for a missing or unknown relative has turned into a major area of study and one that has come of age.

The official apologies by the British and Australian Prime Ministers have set the bar, while the growing research into the policy of migration reveals a complicated and contradictory set of motives which fits with that simple idea that history is messy and doesn’t just offer up one neat interpretation.

All of which brings me back to great uncle Roger and the search I started with another of my cousins Jac almost a decade ago.

I have to say we are still no nearer finding out what finally happened to him, but along the way I have become fascinated by BHC studies, discovered more cousins I didn’t know I had and made lots of new friends.

Now that is pretty good, and leaves me to wonder if great uncle Roger looked like his siblings.

I don’t know yet but I am hoping one day I will, and that in turn makes me wonder what he would have made of that quest his descendants have been on.

Location; Canada

Pictures; William Henry Hall, born 1899,  Laura Isadora Pember nee Hall born 1902, and John Nelson, Montague Hall, born 1896,  from the Pember and Simpson collections.

When we had our aerodrome

There are always more stories to tell, and I think it’s time for one on our own aerodrome.

I first came across Hough End Aerodrome while reading articles by Nora Templar* who lived at Dog House Farm for 47 years.

She remembered “the landing of the first small aeroplane in the fields, the forerunner of many between 1916 and 1918. Manchester’s first aerodrome was built by the Government at Hough End.  

The first planes were delivered by train.  Pilots came in low over the Dog House chimneys and waved from their Avro’s and Handley Pages.” **

It may well be that the plane that took our first picture of the aerodrome had already flown over Nora's home.  It is a wonderful picture showing not only the hangers and admin buildings but a military aircraft on the ground.

The aerodrome was on what is now Hough End Playing Fields and was opened in May 1918 by the War Department for the assembly and delivery of aircraft to the RAF.

The planes were built by A.V. Roe & Company at Newton Heath and the National Aircraft Factory No 2 at Heaton Chapel and were brought in sections by railway to the Alexander Park station which was just 300 yards away.

After the war it became a civilian airfield and from 1922 flew a service down to Croydon Airport near London, and as Nora remembered was used by aircraft competing in the King's Cup Race air races in 1922 and 1923. “There were also a number of flying displays at the aerodrome and the Lancashire Aero Club, the oldest flying club in Britain, was formed at and operated from Alexandra Park until 1924, when it moved to Woodford Aerodrome.”***

But the aerodrome closed in 1924.  Like our brick works it had been given a set life by the Egerton estate who leased the land on condition that it ceased being used five years after the end of the war. So on August 24th 1924 the place closed and the hangers and workshops were demolished.

Today nothing remains save two plaques recording the presence of the aerodrome.  One in the sports pavilion at Hough End Playing Fields and the other in the grounds of No. 184 (South Manchester) Squadron, Air Cadets in Hough End Crescent.

There are of course a few photographs and there is also one special picture.  It is a pencil sketch of the aerodrome as it was being demolished and what makes it special and I think unique is that it was drawn by Nora Templar’s father which I suppose takes us full circle.

Pictures; courtesy of Nora Templar and now in the Lloyd collection

**Chorlton Journal 1977

Friday, 25 March 2016

On almost discovering another chapter in the story of a British Home Children .........

I had forgotten the frustrations that come with searching for a relative, especially when that relative was in Canada and quite clearly did not want to be found.

Places I know he was ......... Nova Scotia
It has been a long time since I went looking for my great uncle who was migrated in the care of Middlemore acting for the Derby Poor Law Guardians in 1914.

His like many was not a happy first year in Canada.  The reports coming back from the farms he went to describe a troubled young man who was lazy but “was even tempered, good with the children, kind to the animals, - a great reader, does not run around and is quiet.”*

All of which I suspect is consistent with a lad who had been in institutions since he was four and was running pretty wild when he was taken back into care at the age of 15.

The search for him in Canada has had its ups and downs and after a great start the trail went cold.  I have his army records, a few scraps from Middlemore and the memories of his sister who also went to Canada.

It is a pattern of research which will be all too familiar to any family historian and especially to those of us looking for a British Home Child.

The army records are complete and ironically are the only such records for any of the rest of my family who served in the Great War.

Places I know he was ......... New Brunswick 
Their papers were lost when over 60% of the service records of British soldiers were lost in the Blitz.

Great uncle Roger’s service records show that he continued to resent authority and got himself into some quite serious scraps.

But with his demobilzation in 1918 I lose him.

There are a few vague references of what happened to him from his sister who went out to Canada on an assisted scheme in 1925.

Chief of these is that he went west and that is it.

But today I started again fully aware that he will now be dead and that the trail will always be made more difficult by his apparent unwillingness to be found.

Back in 1915 when he ran away from his last placement and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he changed his name, lied about his age and falsified his next of kin back in England.

And that rather suggests that he might well have been prepared to create fresh identities.

After all this was the pre-digital age when a name and date of birth delivered with a “clear voice and a straight eye” would pretty much be believed.

Places I know he was ......... New Brunswick
That said I found a James Rogers on the 1921 census in District 27, Vanocouver, BC.

The age is about right, the place of birth while vague is also correct and it is the best of a list of James Roger’s.

But it’s not him or at least I don’t think so.  The census return shows that he was married with three children living with his 18 year old sister in law who was clearly not my great aunt, added to which he had arrived in Canada in 1905.

So the search goes on but it has revealed how different the Canadian census return was to the ones I am familiar with.

It maybe that I become more familiar with the census record, although I suspect the search will continue to be side tracked by great uncle Roger’s wish to fall through the cracks.

We shall see.

Location; Canada

Pictures; places I know my great uncle lived in NB & NS,  from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Mrs Lottie Moffatt, June, 1915, North Sydney, Cape Breton, NS, report of the Fairview Station, Middlemore Homes

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Wilbraham Road just 27 years ago

Now just occasionally I like to revisit an old photograph I have used before.

This one comes courtesy of Tom McGrath and is from a series he took in the mid 1980s.

27 years later he went back and repeated the shot.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; by kind permission of Tom McGrath

Discovering a little of our common past from the 1950s

Now there are plenty of ways of exploring the history of the 1950s and I do spend a fair amount of time looking back at that decade.

After all I was coming up to my tenth birthday as the decade closed.

All of which makes me one of those “baby boomers” who in the words of Polly Toynbee are a “favoured generation.”

We grew up in a period of mounting prosperity, confident that we would be looked after from “cradle to grave” and were free from the world wars and economic depression which had been the experience of our parents and grandparents who in turn were determined to make our lives safer than theirs had been.

And so years of that decade was on balance an optimistic time laying down much of the consumerism, and cultural excitement we attribute to the “swinging 60s.”

Of course as a child much of that passed me by but I had the Eagle Comic which its companions, Girl, Swift and Robin offered up both entertainment and a lot of information from cut out drawings of steam locomotives and aeroplanes to careers with the Coal Board and Covent Garden.

All of which leaves me nicely to Eagle Times which is a celebration of that comic and of the 1950s.*

It is a journal I keep coming back to because it contains articles pictures and references about what we kids read, did and bought and for that it’s a pretty neat bit of history.

The latest edition is out now and as they say is packed full of stuff and reminds me that

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!”**

Of course the downside is that I creak a lot and there are fewer years ahead than behind but like that optimistic decade I shall look forward and wait for the summer edition.***

Location; the 1950s

Pictures; cover of Eagle Times, Vol 29 nu 1, Spring 2016

*Eagle Times,

**French Revolution As it Appeared to Enthusiast at its Commencement, William Wordsworth, composed 1805, published 1809

***Eagle Times

A busy Saturday on Market Street

It was sometime in 2014 and as ever I was waiting while the family explored one more shoe shop on Market Street.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Market Street, 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Watching people watching trams, on a Saturday in October

It was one of those less than promising days in town when the sun managed to come out for a few hours but you were never quite sure how long the rain would stay off or when the clouds would put a grey blanket across the sky.

Still Manchester was buzzing with the usual Saturday crowds added to by the visitors passing through to Old Trafford for the rugby.

And as you do I had ended up in St Peter’s Square with the intention of recording the traffic at the metro stop and with almost all the work having been completed on the area in front of the Ref there was plenty to see.

Now it won’t be that long before the metro stop is moved and enlarged so with that in mind I decided to record the scene.

I don’t pretend they are great pictures but are part of a bigger project to record the changes to the square from the moment the Ref closed till all the construction is finished

Location; Manchester.

Pictures; St Peter’s Square, October 2014

Summer in Varese

Location Varese, Italy

Picture; Il Broletto from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 21 March 2016

Chorlton Railway Incidents ................... another story from Tony Goulding

As I was formerly employed by British Rail for more than a decade and am now in receipt of a railway pension I thought it time to pay a little homage to those far off tines when “Rail was King” 

Station Approach, 1960
Here then are a collection of stories connected to the railways in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

On the morning of Saturday 2nd. September, 1899 an unidentified man killed himself at Chorlton-cum-Hardy railway station.

As the 7-36 up train to Manchester approached the platform the man ran out from under the stair case and threw himself in front of the engine.

To the horror of the waiting passengers he was struck on the head and died shortly after being lifted from the track.

Another Suicide
On Sunday 10th January, 1909 another case of self-destruction occurred. This time it was a 33 year old shop assistant, Mary Jane Cockerill.   The unmarried Mary Jane lived with her widowed mother two sisters and a young brother at 87, Oswald Road. She reportedly had been ill for some time and apparently stepped in front of an express train near Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s station.

Accident and subsequent legal battle
Whilst attempting to alight from the 10-15 arrival at Chorlton-cum-Hardy station on 18th September, 1907 a lady named Hewitt was thrown onto the platform and injured.

After she had been awarded £40-00 compensation, at Salford County Court, the operating company

The Cheshire Lines Committee appealed to the Kings Bench Division, claiming they had not been negligent.

The case was heard on Wednesday 13th May, 1908 when the justices Darling and Phillimore reversed the judgement of the lower court. Evidence was presented that the passenger in question had been trying to leave the train before it had come to a halt.

Mysterious Fatality

Railway sidings, 1960
On Sunday evening 17th May, 1908 between 8-00 and 8-30 the body of a man, later identified by pawn tickets in his possession as a Mr. Parker, was discovered close to the railway line in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Despite an appalling injury to his head and the severing of both an arm and a leg the man was found alive.

He was rushed to the M.R.I. where he died shortly after admission.

 The two halves of the body of a man were discovered by a signalman of the Cheshire Lines Railway in the early morning of Thursday 14th November, 1918 on the rails under St. Werburgh’s Road Bridge.

At the St Werburgh's Railway Bridge, 2011
An inquest was held the following day when a verdict of suicide was recorded.

Owen James Brown was a watchmaker, aged 49, who resided at 77, Nicholas Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

A number of pawn tickets for watches with a variety of pawnbrokers appeared to indicate that his business was faltering. His daughter Dorothy also gave evidence that her father had been suffering with poor health for 3-4 months.

 Drunk and Disorderly Behaviour

Station Buildings, 1960
On 11th November, 1891 three intoxicated youths arrived at Chorlton-cum-Hardy station by the 19-27 train.

When asked to produce their tickets they initially refused to do so.

Subsequently, it transpired that one youth did not have a ticket and an escalating altercation took place over the sale/purchase or a ticket for him.

During this confrontation the young porter, William Ranson was assaulted and threatened sufficient for him to seek the shelter of the porter’s room.

The outcome was that the three youths, the Latham brothers William and Edward B. and their friend Walter Johnson were brought before the magistrates at the Manchester County Police Court the following month on charges of being drunk and disorderly.

Walter Johnson was also charged with the assault on the porter. At their trial it was stated that there had been an increase such activity and the Cheshire Lines Company asked that an example be made to show that abuse of their staff would not be tolerated. Especially important in the case of Chorlton-cum-Hardy as, only a month before this incident, there had been a renewal of the entire staff at the station.

The Railway Station from the air, 1926 
All three defendants were found guilty and fined 40/s + costs each Walter Johnson was additionally fined 21/s+costs on the assault charge.

To close an aerial view of the site in 1926: just because I think it is a great picture and was taken by the evocatively named “Imperial Aerial Photography Company’’

© Tony Goulding, 2016

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Pictures; Station Approach, 1960 A E Landers, m18313, Wilbraham Road, sidings, 1960, A E Landers, M 18314, Main Station Buildings, 1960, A E Landers, m18315, Chorlton railway station from the air, 1926 Imperial Airways Photo, m72049, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and Railway Bridge, 2011, REF:by@optimistontherun,2011/cc by-sa3.0,https/ Wiki-Commons

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Buying the tram ticket

Location, Chorlton, Manchester

Picture; Chorlton metro stop, 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Friday, 18 March 2016

On Gun Street in Ancoats looking for Little Italy in the spring of 1881

I am back in what was Little Italy in the April of 1881.*  

To be exact I am on the small stretch of Gun Street which runs from Blossom Street down to George Leigh Street.

Opposite; Gun Street is the very narrow street in the centre of this detail from the OS map of Manchester & Salford in 1844

It is pretty much a forgotten place just behind Great Ancoats Street and very much ripe for redevelopment.
There are some new properties going up but they stand beside the relics of the past.

But once it was densely occupied home to a cross section of people who made their living from a range of manual occupations, including street hawking, engineering and textiles.

By the late 19th century and well into the next, it was at the heart of our Italian community and become known as Little Italy**

Here not only could you have heard the accents of the northern sea port of Genova but also the very different dialect of Naples and for good measure in the surrounding houses contained within the space of Blossom Street, Jersey Street, Henry Street and Cotton Street there would have been those who came from Milan, and Turin as well as the rural areas down south.

There were 125 of them on this small stretch of Gun Street living in just 20 houses.

It was a very mixed community.  42% had been born in Manchester, another 11% came from Ireland and the odd few were from as far away as Scotland, London and Birmingham.  The rest and this amounted to nearly a third had come from Italy and mainly from Genova and Naples.

They lived in just four houses.  Some were related others just renting space but in most cases they all came from the same place.

Opposite; Gun Street from Bloom Street, looking towards George Leigh Street, 1901

They were mainly musicians with a few earning a living from making and selling ice cream and most were unmarried and in their early 20s or 30s.  So of the entire working population in our little stretch of Gun Street, 47% were musicians and nearly 8% made and sold ice cream

Walking down Gun Street I am always struck at how narrow the place is but even standing there I am not really prepared for how cramped it must have been or how densely occupied were the properties.  One fifth of the houses contained between 10 and 23 people.

OppositeGun Street from Bloom Street, looking towards George Leigh Street, 2010

Location; Ancoats, Manchester

Pictures; Gun Street from the OS map of Manchester & Salford 1844, courtesy of Digital Archives, Gun Street from Blossom Street in 1901, A Bradburn, m11341 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and Gun Street from Blossom Street 2010 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, data for graph from the 1881 census, Enu 4, Ancoats, Manchester

*The area bounded by Gun Street, Blossom Street, Jersey Street, Henry Street and Cotton Street.
**Littele Italy,

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Back with H T Burt's on Wilbraham Road with a nod to Stevenson's

I wonder how long it will be before Burt's the Gents Outfitters on Wilbraham Road fades from memory?

The shop will have opened for business not long after the stretch of houses between Keppel Road and Albany Road were converted into shops sometime around 1909.

At the same time Mr Stevenson Ladies & Gentleman's Hairdresser moved off Barlow Moor Road and took charge of a shop just a few doors down.*

Now I haven't come across a picture of Burt's but Mr Stevenson's won't be so different.

It is a shop I wrote about recently so to today I want to concentrate on H T Burt's who dealt all things gentleman's outfitters while his wife had a stationary shop almost opposite.

Mr Burt's shop operated from the corner of Keppel and Warwick and was just part of Chorlton.

But according to a TV show specialising in making over businesses it was in need of a shake up which the programme did apparently brining it into the 21st century, but to a lot of peoples' surprise it closed suddenly.

All of which I have remarked on but my friend Ann who lives in France got me thinking about the place all over again with this label commenting that she had been "looking for something else, and found this! 

Must have cut it out of some clothing of my Dads. 

He used to shop there, think they went to school together, but we're certainly friends of long standing."

So there you have it, a little bit of Burt's has come back to Chorlton and for those who have no memory of of Stevenson's it traded almost into the 21st century and the premises has had a number of uses since.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; advert for J.R.Stevenson’s, 1908 from the Souvenir of the Grand Wesleyan Church Bazaar, 
1908, courtesy of Philip Lloyd and trade label, date unknown from the collection of Ann Love

*Almost a century of cutting hair on Wilbraham Road with the Stevenson family

Afternoons in a city ............... nu 2 Alghero

A short series of places I like.

Location; Alghero, Sardinia, Italy

Picture; softdrink sellerAlghero, 2011 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

One to do ..... Trams around Shooters Hill .... the talk ... tomorrow

Now here is one to read and do from that excellent site Shooters Hill, which has news of a talk on Trams around Shooters Hill.

Woolwich Tramshed
Now I missed the old trams but have never lost a fascination for them, more so because of  our own growing set of trams and routes across Manchester and beyond.

If I could I would love to be at the talk tomorrow, especially to learn about the ones that rumbled past our home on Well Hall Road and of nights in the Tramshed in the 1970s.

The talk is from the Shooters Hill Local History Group and will be at Shrewsbury House on Thursday, March 17, for Shooters Hill Local History Group‘s next meeting:  

All are welcome at the event which starts at 8.00pm. There is a small visitors’ fee to cover the cost of the room.

Location; Shooters Hill, London

Pictures; Woolwich Tramshed courtesy of Shooters Hill

*Trams around Shooters Hill talk at Shooters Hill Local History Group,

Revisiting favourite places with a twist of history ............... nu 5 St Mary's Gate

An occasional series which just aims to reflect old places or places with a story.

Location, Manchester

Picture; St Mary's Gate, 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

In St Peter's Square waiting for a tram .... at a time before now

Not much really to say.

I was in St Peter's Square at the Metro stop that has now vanished looking out at the building site opposite.

Location; Manchester

Picture; at the Metro stop, 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Summer in the City

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

What have they done in Woolwich?

Now when you spend so much of your time crawling over the past you are apt to forget that when places change it is not all for the worse.

So when Colin and Liz went out one Sunday into Woolwich armed with a camera, and an old set of photographs I had high hopes that what they would come back with would be interesting and maybe even fun.

The quest was to match the old faded images of Wollwich from a century ago and chart the changes that have happened along with a sense of whether the changes were better or worse.

Now being a grumpy old historian I rather thought that not all had turned out for the best.

But I do have to admit that  that some of what we inherited from the early 20th century was by now grimy, unfit for purpose and quite frankly should have been demolished ages ago.

More over planners do not always get it wrong even if commercial considerations do sometimes create ugly buildings which brutalize the environment.  But not these figures.  They both intrigue me and make me smile and you can't say fairer than that.

Location; Woolwich, London

Picture; from the collection of Colin Fitzpatrick

Sunday, 13 March 2016

In Southern Cemetery

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

Friday, 11 March 2016

“It doesn't get any more exciting than this” .................. street furniture on Warwick Road South

“It doesn't get any more exciting than this,” and with that Andy went on to say “I don't recall seeing one of these before but then I have led a sheltered life. Spotted on Warwick Road South, if you zoom in it says “"STRETFORD URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL STREET LIGHTING"

And its amazing what more you can learn.  My old friend Graham Gill added to more on e of which was in much better condition than the other and called them Lucy Boxes which was totally new to me, but Neil Simpson put me right, they were so called because they were manufactured by Lucy of Oxford.

Warwick Road South, 2016

Stretford  Urban District Street Lighting
No more to say, a smashing bit of street furniture.

Thank you Andy Robertson.

And its amazing what more you can learn.

My old friend Graham Gill added to more on them including another two pictures, one  of which was in much better condition than the other.

He referred to them as  Lucy Boxes which was totally new to me, but Neil Simpson put me right.

They were so called because they were manufactured by Lucy of Oxford.

So it would appear Andy and I are not along in finding street furniture and more especially these ones fascinating.

So in the words of some one more famous than me, "bring on the rest."

Location; Old Trafford & Manchester

Picture, a bit of street furniture, unknown date from the collection of Andy Robertson, 2016 and two more from Graham Gill, 2016

More online records from Manchester

Now the onward march of online records has taken another step with the announcement by findmypast that Manchester cremation records can now be viewed and interrogated.

“These records were provided by Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society and are transcribed obituaries and narratives from newspapers and Manchester Crematorium memorial plaques. 

The year range represented in these transcripts is 1818 to 2001.”*

Southern Cemetery

So there you have it.

Not much else to say other than the picture is Southern Cemetery from 2010 and of course
are the memorials of those who chose not to be cremated.

Except to say that Manchester Archives has an excellent online site which also allows you to research those buried in Manchester cemeteries and those that were cremated.  The search is free and then there is a charge if you want to research more details.**

Location; Southern Cemetery, Manchester

Pictures; Southern Cemetery, Manchester, 2010 from the collection of Andrew Simpson


**Burial records, Manchester City Council,

The places I usually don’t photograph ................... nu 4 the cinema

It was March 2007 on a Saturday when I was Billy no mates and so as you do I wandered across the city.

Now the cinema in the distance has long been closed.

Back in the early 70s it still was a place that made you feel special when you went to see a film.

Later it was less so after it had been subdivided.

And back in 2007 with the demolition of that not so nice office block there was the opportunity to see the building from a new angle.

Location; Manchester

Picture; looking at the cinema, 2007 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Location;  Manchester