Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Over the bridge on Wilbraham Road reflecting on almost a century of change

Now it was something Andy Robertson said when he sent me these pictures of Wilbraham Road about KINGBEE RECORDS that got me thinking about the two parades of shops just over the bridge.

I remember fondly the hardware store almost opposite the record shop with those wooden floors and distinctive smell of paraffin and waxed string along with the wood shop which is now home to Maple Kitchens.

In true DIY style Tommy and I carried a huge sheet of thick plywood back from there to Beech Road by hand before I did a bodge job on some home improvement plan.

Never underestimate either the confidence or the foolishness of a man who thinks he can do anything.

All of which is a bit of diversion from Andy’s pictures which remind me again of how much Chorlton has changed from the walk with the wood back in 1979 and for that matter how it changes almost at the blink of an eye.

And because at this point I can here are some images of the same spot in the early 20th century.

The picture is undated but will be sometime after the Great War judging by the car in the distance and those shops on either side.

They were not there in 1911 but I shall have to go looking in detail at the street directories to pin point the exact moment they were built.

That said I know what is now Maples was John Williams and Sons the Grocers, there would still have been bulls grazing in the land between that shop and the railway line, and it is possible that the Pavilion Theatre on the corner of Wilbraham and Buckingham Roads was opening its doors to show films and live entertainment.

Not that John Williams and Sons were  local traders they owned a chain of grocer shops across the city and beyond which in 1931 accounted for 41 shops of which there were three in Chorlton, six in Didsbury and another four in Rusholme.

Now I rather think there is a story here.  Back in 1895 they are listed as John & Sons with five shops in Didsbury and Fallowfield which by 1911 had become 11 with John Williams described as managing director and the head office at 400 Dickinson Road.

Later still although I can’t date it is a wonderful advert for the company which advertises their ‘“Dainty, Delightful Delicious Tea, [from] John Williams & Sons limited, “The Suburban Grocers”, [at] 28 Victoria Street Manchester Stockport & Branches’.

And having stocked up on some sweet things to eat you might have slid across to the Pavilion which had opened as the Chorlton Theatre and Winter Gardens and bu 1909 was showing films as well.

It lingered on in to the 1930s by which time we had two purpose built cinemas and a third planned.

All of which I suppose made our little theatre a tad old fashioned and so like the ice rink on Oswald Road it vanished and has been almost completely forgotten.

But again I have strayed from Andy’s pictures, so I shall close with a promise that there are more to come and if you scroll down the side of the blog page and look for Wilbraham Road you will come across more alternatively  just go to the link.

Or you can call up the exact story at Thirty years in the history of a bit of Chorlton but that will mean you will miss some other pictures from that period and a whole host of stories about Wilbraham Road.**

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; Wilbraham Road 2014 courtesy of Andy Robertson and Wilbraham Road some time in the 1920s from the Lloyd Collection

*Wilbraham Road,

* Thirty years in the history of a bit of Chorlton,

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