Before the rapid development of housing in and around the railway station and along the Wilbraham and Barlow Moor Roads there had been plenty of open spaces with fields to walk around and woods to explore in and ponds and water courses to play beside.
This changed as more and more of Chorlton was given over to rows of houses which prompted one resident to write to the Manchester Guardian, “being so near town, there is a demand for houses and they rise like mushrooms.
Rows, avenues, and semi detached in abundance, each with a small garden, where flowers can be grown if the smoke from the chimneys will allow; but very few have a grass plot large enough for the children to play on.”*
Apparently there had been hopes that a good site on Wilbraham Road might have been turned into a park but it was sold for building, “then the residue of an estate in Barlow Moor Road was for sale which is nicely wooded; that has now been sold to the Roman Catholics.” All of which led the writer to fear that “Chorlton will soon be as crowded as Alexandra Park but without the park.”
It says much for the period that the writer expected the land and the maintenance of the park would be achieved by public subscription.
In the event it never happened and the plot was built on. It would be a few more years before the Recreational Ground on Beech Road was laid out and well into the 1920s before Chorlton Park was established.
But next time I take the short cut down Zetland Road [Holland] to Corkland Road [Cavendish] and onto Morrisons I’ll reflect on what might have been.
Pictures;, detail from the OS map of Lancashire, Manchester and South East, 1888-93, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/, and Holland Road from the Lloyd collection
* Manchester Guardian May 24 1892