Saturday, 30 April 2016

Lamenting the loss of the fountain on Chorlton green


Odd how most of us think of Chorlton green as an open space of grass ringed by trees because this was not how it has always been.

Before the turn of the 19th century it may have been much bigger and indeed for most of that century was not even open to the people of the village, having been enclosed by Samuel Wilton and not returning to public use until the 1890s.

And then for a great stretch of time remained without grass but did have a pretty neat water fountain.

The picture dates from 1906 when the Horse and Jockey was still just a set of beer rooms on either side of the main door, Miss Wilton’s outhouse still jutted out from the building and the space between the main entrance and the sweet shop was still a private residence.

I have always liked the lamp which stands on the green, with its hint of Narnia.

And back in the May of 1986 I can remember walking past it in the early evening and coming across a string quartet playing around its base.  Today people would just take it in their stride mutter something about it being typically Chorlton, but back then it struck me as the promise of things to come.

Which later that night with the defeat of the Conservative candidate and the election of the first Labour Councilor it  indeed seem to herald something new.

But being a historian I have to own up to the fact that the following year the Conservatives were back but they were on borrowed time, and 1987 marked the final year that a Conservative would be elected from Chorlton to the Town Hall.

The year before may have been the first string quartet on the green but it has not been the last.

I have to say I prefer the grass but lament the loss of the fountain.  First it lost its cups and then vanished sometime in the 1920s or 30s.  To my mind that was a loss.  Public fountains are wonderful places to meet people, spend time chatting and just having a drink on a hot day.

Once it would have the village pump which offered all three and which on hot summer days had the added bonus of a place the kids could play.

Now there is a lot more history to explore in the photograph but I rather think I will leave that for another time.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

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