Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The story that began with a painting and ended with Richardson's the bakers, little Doris Nicholson and Mr William Hale Baylis the photographer

At the Corner, 2015
Now here is one of those stories that just went off in a direction I couldn’t have predicted.

The spot is familiar enough to generations of people who have bought cakes and bread from Richardson’s the bakery, and so when Peter showed me his painting I knew there would be a cake story.

For over a century this spot has been a bakery.

Mr and Mrs Richardson began trading here in 1947, twenty years earlier it had been “Chester and Hodcroft bakers and confectioners,” before that William Nicholson and at the turn of the last century John Hill.

So it’s pretty much an unbroken line of bread and cakes which is only rivalled by the two shops opposite which have always been a newsagents and chip shop since they opened sometime just before the old Queen died.

Of course there have been changes to the building Peter painted which have included the addition of a separate entrance for the flats above and the division of the bakery into two shops.

W H Nicholson, circa 1916
But looking at the painting the similarities with this earlier photograph are all too clear.

And it is this earlier picture which took the story off in a different direction from the one I planned.

I thought I could date it to around 1911 but I rather think that is too early because standing beside Mrs Agnes Nicholson is their daughter Doris who had been born in the early part of 1910 which would put our picture a little later.

In fact it may date from around 1916 because on the reverse of the picture postcard is a reference to Baylis
Photographers, 49 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, and 28 Edge Lane Stretford.

Little Doris Nicholson, circa 1916
Now Mr Baylis was certainly living and working as a photographer at 49 Wilbraham Road in 1911 but was still very active a few years later.

This I know because some of his pictures dated from 1916 are in the Greater Manchester Archive’s collection.

The key might well be Taylor Fletcher who was trading next to the Nicholson’s.

He will be in the trade directories, so find him and we should have a date.

It will be sometime between 1911 when the property was occupied by Mrs Mary Smithman who was there in the January and James Jackson who was selling sweets at the same address in 1929.

All of which takes me back to Mr Baylis who I suspect will in turn offer some another twist in the tale and take us off elsewhere.

Taylor Fletcher's shop and clue left by Mr Baylis, circa 1916
Sadly his house has gone cleared away and replaced by what was the Woolworth’s store which just leaves no 28 Edge Lane which I shall leave for another day.

But he will also appear in the trade directories, and as I know his age in 1911 and place of birth I have every confidence more will appear.

In time I will turn up some more of his picture postcards which were available from Mrs H Burt who traded from 559 Wilbraham Road which was almost directly opposite the other family business of Burt's the Gents outfitters.*

So it really is a story that has taken me across Chorlton involved more than a few local worthies and may yet still astonish me.

Picture; Beech Road circa 1916, from the collection of Rita Bishop.

Paintings; On the Corner, Beech Road, © 2015, Peter Topping,
Facebook; Paintings from Pictures, Web:

*Barlow Moor Road, Mrs Helen Burt and the postcard makers of Chorlton,

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