Thursday, 30 June 2016

Less a mystery more a piece of research ........... pondering on the age of those properties on the corner of Corkland and Wilbraham

Now occasionally I have wondered about the three properties on the corner of Corkland and Wilbraham Road and before someone mutters “the lad ought to get out more” there might well be a story here.

They must date from sometime between the mid 1930s and 1959 because they do not appear on the OS map for 1934 and were there twenty five years later when Mr A E Landers wandered down recording the whole length of Wilbraham Road.

I can’t say I would award a prize to the architects who while they did a decent job with the land available produced a pretty ugly building.

I have never liked those tiles they went in for in the 1950s and that frontage running above the shops is heavy and clumsy, and while I am at it the windows and door are less than elegant.

Still Gloria Fashion, Rushtons and the Co-op dry cleaning business seemed happy enough to trade from there and at some point so did  Gerry Marlowe with his Nylon Bar and J H Edwards.

And maybe I am being a little picky about the building which has prompted me to plan a visit to the Ref to look through the street directories for Cavendish Terrace which will supply me with a date for its construction and a complete list of who traded from the properties.

Armed with that list we should be able
to chart the changing shopping patterns of Chorlton which I think will make for a fascinating insight into how where we have lived has been transformed in just five decades.

All of which leaves me with that last observation that I can’t remember which businesses operated here a decade ago.

But with supreme confidence I know someone who will.

Pictures; Cavendish Terrace in 2014, from the collection of Andy Robertson and various views of the same properties in 1959 by A E Landers, m18453, 18451, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Remembering them ...... 100 years after the Battle of the Somme part 6 today across the city

Tomorrow across the city we will remember the men who fought at the Somme a full century ago.

Captain Dickinson, 2016
And of course it will not just be the men, but their wives, mothers and sweethearts along with their families who will also be remembered.

The events will be a mix of the solemn, the historic and a dollop of fun.*

The solemn will be met with the ceremonies of Remembrance in the Cathedral and Southern Cemetery the historic by various re enactment activities in Heaton Park and a special exhibition at the Remembrance Lodge in Southern.

As for the fun, it’s important to remember that those who participated in the Great War will have enjoyed a joke and will have endeavoured to see the funny side of things and so that will also be included in the events at Heaton Park on the Saturday.

But for now I want to finish with that service in Southern Cemetery, which will be attended by Major David Charron of the Royal Canadian Army because July 1 marks not just the start of the Battle back in 1916 but is also Canada Day.

The medal of Captain Dickinson, 2016
And the cemetery is the last resting place of a number of men from the Canadian Expeditionary Force. **

Over the last few weeks I have been exploring their lives before they enlisted and already we now know much about some of them.

Added to these there are those from the British army who came back to recover from wounds in one of the hospitals in Manchester and later died.  A few died at home recovering from those wounds and at least one died after catching flu while on leave.

But some survived and died long after the war.

One of these is Captain M B Dickinson of the Royal Ordinance  who was wounded on the Somme on July 20 1916 and again in May 1918 and died in November 1941.

Location; Manchester, & Southern Cemetery

Pictures; grave and medals of Captain M B Dickinson, 2016 from the collection of David Harrop

*Remembering the Battle of the Somme,
**Remembering the men of the CEF in Southern Cemetery,

Remembering them ...... 100 years after the Battle of the Somme part 5 ...... in Eltham and Woolwich*

This Friday will mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and across the country there will be events remembering the men who fought and by extension the women and children who were also touched by that battle.

Now over the last few years I have reflected on the impact of the Great War on Eltham and Woolwich.*

On a very personal level our house on Well Hall Road was one of those built for the munitions workers and the end one of the four was destroyed by a stray Zeppelin Raid.

And that personal link extends to the story of George and Nellie Davison of Hulme in Manchester who were briefly living just yards from our house.

I uncovered the link with Well Hall while writing Manchester and the Great War, and Tricia Lesley went on to pinpoint the house and discover more about the people who shared their home with the Davisons.**

And there will be plenty of people who have direct family connections with the Arsenal, like Jean whose grandfather settled in Eltham after being offered work at the Arsenal.

Finally there will be some who will be able to point to a name on our war memorial and tell a story of a grandfather or great uncle who left Eltham to serve in the armed forces.

Their stories are also in the process of being collected and so I was pleased when Ryan sent me these pictures of the memorial outside the parish church.

I would like to be in Eltham on Friday but will be participating in a service of Remembrance here in Manchester.

That said I would welcome any pictures and stories of the men from Eltham to add to the project Remembering the Battle of the Somme.***

Location; Eltham

Pictures; the war memorial 2016 from the collection of Ryan Ginn

*Eltham and the Great War,

**A new book on Manchester and the Great War,

***Remembering the Battle of the Somme,

Stories from Salford nu 2 .............. that pub

Now there are too many old and once fine pubs in Salford that long ago shut up shop and await an uncertain future.

The Dock and Pulpit was for sale in 2008 and six years later when Andy Robertson walked past it was still empty and boarded up.

That was two years ago and I haven’t been past since, but I bet there will be someone who has and can not only tell me its fate today but snap a picture.

But that doesn’t detract from Andy’s set of pictures which capture the place on a November day back in 2014.

Location; Salford

Picture; Changing Salford 2015from the collection of Andy Robertson

Ernest Patrick Lynn ........... another story from Tony Goulding

The history of Ernest Patrick Lynn, “ticked so many boxes” of my interests that it virtually demanded that I write it up.   

Private Ernest Patrick Lynn
I came across his story by pure chance whilst carrying out some other research; as is so often the case.

Not only was he a casualty of July, 1916 he was also in the 20th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, a Roman Catholic of Irish Descent and his father was a policeman stationed in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Fortunately I have been able to discover quite a lot of information to “flesh out” these bald facts.
Ernest’s parents were Michael who was born in Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone Ireland in 1850 and Maria K. (née. Collins) born in 1853.

The couple were married in Maria’s hometown of Castlerea, Co. Roscommon in 1871 shortly thereafter they settled in Gorton, Manchester where Michael joined the Police Force and the first of their five children, a daughter, Margaret Keturah, was born in 1875.

The family were still in Gorton when Ernest Patrick, the fourth born, arrived in the September quarter of 1883. By the time of the 1891 census, however,

Michael had been promoted to Inspector (1) and had moved with his family to Chorlton-cum-Hardy and were living in the police station on Beech Road. Two years later the youngest of Ernest siblings, his sister, Catherine was born. (2)

The old Police Station, Beech Road, 2016
In 1901 they were still there but by 1911 Michael had been promoted to Inspector and the family, including Ernest Patrick, were at 34, Mersey Road, Heaton Mersey, Stockport. On this census return Ernest is described as a “manufacturer’s agent” in 1901 he’d been apprentice in a shipping warehouse.

Also part of the family at this time was Frederick Whiteside,(3) Michael’s young 5 year old grandson – the issue of his eldest daughter Margaret Keturah and her husband George Frederick, a Ladies Tailor from Co, Armagh, Ireland.

The Bethune Town Cemetery 
Ernest enlisted early in the war and joined the 20th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers; one of the designated university/public schools battalions.

He arrived in France as part of the reinforcement of the army in preparation for the major British offensive of July, 1916-The Battle of the Somme.

It seems, however, that he was fatally wounded   in the trenches by general German fire on 5th July and never actually took an active part in the Battle.

Private Ernest Patrick Lynn’s grave (No.V.F.56) is in The Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

There is a report (complete with photo) of Private Lynn’s death in the Manchester Evening News, dated 11th July, 1916 which records that he was an ex-pupil of Chorlton-cum-Hardy High School (4) and had represented a number of prominent Manchester firms.

The article also includes an extract from a Roman Catholic Chaplain to Ernest’s grieving parents informing them that he had ministered to their dying son and how he had died peacefully.

Obituary of Private Lynn, 1916
As always seems to happen one story has led me on to another. I discovered that Ernest Patrick’s father, Michael, whilst he was a sergeant at the Beech Road station, was a key witness in an infamous child-murder case of 1890. Elizabeth Mapp’s baby son Edward was found in the River Mersey at Urmston on Thursday 19th November 1889; she was charged with his murder, tried convicted and sentenced to death (5) in the March of the following year. This however, as I have said, is another story for another day.

©  Tony Goulding, 2016

Pictures; Private Lynn, Manchester Evening News, dated 11th July, 1916, & The Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Lead Station, former Beech Road Police Station, courtesy of Tony Goulding

1) A report in “Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser” of 30th July, 1886 records Michael as already a sergeant whilst still stationed at Gorton.

2) It is of some interest to note in passing that as well as being a functioning police station the building on Beech Road served as the Lynn family residence. In 1891 there were 9 occupants Sergeant Lynn and his wife, 7 year old Ernest Patrick, his 3 older (teenage) siblings and three boarders. --- A relative from Ireland and two Scottish Police Constables. In 1901 there were only 8 residents but, apart from the young Catherine, all adults/ adolescents.

3) Tragically Frederick Michael Whiteside appears to have died aged only 9, in December quarter 1914, after  the family’s move to the Fylde coast

4) According to John M. Lloyd’s 1972 book “The Township of Chorlton-cum-Hardy” this school was that opened by Robert Davies in 1872. After almost a quarter of a century of educating the young men of the area he retired in 1896/7 when the school premises at 47, High Lane were sold to The Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford to become in turn  St.  Augustine's Church, then, from 1927, part of the original Our Lady and St. John’s Roman Catholic Primary School, and latterly the Parish Centre. Chorlton-cum-Hardy was not, however, left bereft of a High School as in the same year Mr. Davies left a Mr Charles Carey Dadley founded his Chorlton-cum-Hardy Grammar School just a little further along High Lane at 57 (with the later addition of 59) - “Denbigh Villas”

5)  As the trial jury had recommended clemency Elizabeth Mapp’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Following further representations, including a 16,000 signature petition, the home secretary granted an additional respite and Elizabeth was released from Woking Prison on Thursday, January 4th, 1894.

Stories from Salford nu 1½ ........... just an after thought

Well various people told me the last bit of this building had come down and I wanted to take a picture of the hole in the ground .......... or in this case another car park.

Andy Robertson got there first and yet again demonstrated his knack of recording our passing industrial heritage.

So now you see it and now it’s gone.

Location; Salford

Picture; Passing Salford 2016 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A new history of Chorlton in just 20 objects no 8 ......... a photograph and the story of a family

Now I am looking at a picture of Miss Connie Lomax.  

Miss Lomax, circa 1920s
I think it will have been taken sometime in the 1920s and given to Miss Annie Elizabeth Roberts who worked at Hough End Hall from 1911 through to the 1930s.

Miss Lomax was born in 1899 and her family lived at Hough End Hall when it was still a farmhouse.

In its day the farm had consisted of over 240 acres stretching east into Withington and before the mid 18th century had belonged to the Mosley family.

The hall was built in 1596 but for a big chunk of its history it was a farmhouse.

The Lomax family were the last tenant farmers to live in the Hall and with the death of Mrs Lomax in 1940 the tenancy briefly passed to the Bailey family who subsequently bought it and sold it on to developers.

The photograph was passed to me by Stuart Bolton who is the great grandson of Miss Annie Roberts and according to Stuart the handwriting on the picture belongs to his grandmother who makes a very personal link between the Hall and a direct descendant of someone who worked there.

The last of the Lomax daughters died a few years ago and while there are some family members in Canada I rather think there are none left over here.

Miss Roberts, circa 1920s
Very recently a set of pictures of the Lomax’s in the first part of the 20th century came to light and now also we have some of Miss Roberts, all of which offers us a new chapter in the story of the hall and also of someone who worked there.

Originally Stuart thought his great grandmother was there from the 1910s but the census return for 1911 shows a Nellie Redmond and two other servants so we can put her time at Hough End to sometime after April of that year.

All of which is a start.

Location; Hough End Hall

Pictures; Miss Connie Lomax and Miss Annie Elizabeth Roberts, both circa 1920s courtesy of Stuart Bolton

Stories from Salford nu 1 .............. that old bit of building

Now this bit of building has featured before, always pulls a few comments and I am told has now gone.

And so while there will be some who see little point in showing it  I Disagree.

I am fascinated by the place because of the questions you are prompted to ask.

For a start was that a window, a door or a loading bay and what purpose did those three brackets serve?

Someone will know, in fact I bet someone will have used that window/door/loading bay and can offer up a  shed load of stories.

Well we shall see.

Location; Salford

Picture; Changing Salford 2016 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Remembering them ...... 100 years after the Battle of the Somme part 4 in Heaton Park*

Now how we remember those men and women will depend pretty much on our own personal interests.

Manchester Corporation tram dressed for recruitment, circa 1914
Over and above everything else there will be the solemn acts of Remembrance which this July will be dominated by the service in the Cathedral and another at Southern Cemetery.

For those who still retain a very personal connection with the Great War the books, exhibitions and centenaries of specific events will be an opportunity to get a better understanding of  family members who served in the armed forces, worked in a munitions factory or just lived through the four years.

Field kitchen, reinactment
But increasingly for lots of people the focus will be on trying to experience something of what it was like be in a field hospital or in a training camp.

It is easy to be sniffy about such events but they have become part of how we get our history.

So down at Heaton Park on Saturday July 2 there will a whole collection of activities, including, “the horses and riders of the Lancashire Hussars, a heritage tram dressed from the Heaton Park Tramway, authentic front line food by the 29th Field Kitchen and a  Nurse's Casualty Clearing Station staffed by Manchester University.

Harp and a Monkey
In addition there will be songs and stories by folk trio 'Harp and a Monkey,' storytelling from  Ian Douglas and Taff Gillingham and the Khaki Pals”**

But the serious side of the day will be addressed with the opportunity to talk historians as well as living history experts and learn about the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Location Heaton Park, July 2

Pictures; courtesy of Manchester City Council

*Remembering them ...... 100 years after the Battle of the Somme,

** Experience Field,

Tower Bridge .............. and thoughts of crossing the Thames

Now if you come from south east London the river is one of the things that defines who you are.

I have always felt comfortable in my bit of London and if truth were told only really feel I have come home when the train pulls across the Thames into Waterloo.

Many of us will also have experienced that rather sniffy and condescending attitude from those who live over the river and which always comes down to tales of taxis refusing to go over London Bridge and a belief that they have the keys to the real city.

So with that in mind after I had bored Peter with the pleasures of my part of London he agreed to take Ryan Ginn’s fine picture of Tower Bridge and paint it, and here is the result.

I am always impressed by both Peter's paintings and Ryan's photographs which are a regular feature of the blog and appear on various facebook sites.

Painting; London Bridge from a photograph by Ryqn Ginn, © 2016 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures, 

*Crossing the Thames early one morning .................. home thoughts from abroad 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Garden sheds I have known and the stories that come with them ........ the figure in the reflection

Now there is a moment in the film Blow Up when a photographer notices something odd and sinister in one of the pictures he had casually taken in a London park in the summer of 1966.

Peter's painting of the shed
In the process of enlarging the shot he notices a body and nearby in the bushes a man holding a gun and from that point the film takes a series of twists and turns.

Anyone of my generation will remember the film and the impact it made on them.

I know I do.  I was 16 and Britain and especially London was experiencing that exciting and wonderful period when the new from fashion to music to ideas and politics looked different and promised a different future.

Figures in a reflection from the photograph
That said I can hardly really admit to being part of it.  In Eltham in south east London it all looked pretty much the same as it had done a decade earlier, and I guess for Peter living in Preston it was much the same.

But the memory of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film never left either of us and my photograph of our old garden shed stirred something in Peter’s imagination.

I long ago had clocked the image in the reflection and then forgot about it but on a slow evening with just repeats on the telly Peter took up the challenge of painting the shed  and Blow Up took over.

And like David Hemmings in the film he began to explore those images and because he does things in acrylic what followed will become a series of paintings each just a little more detailed than the one before.

Standing in front of the main panel was the man with the camera, but behind him was the figure of a woman.

Detail of the reflection from the photograph
Look more closely and she is holding something, ........ enlarge that detail and there is a gun.

Or so it would seem.

Now in my short life in that house my parents shared it with a succession of tenants, from Millie the Mole and her love partner Boy Boy Jones, to a  man with two wives and a couple who met across the upstairs landing.*

He was Polish and she was German, they fell for each other, got married and moved out.

But his parting gift to us was the shed built in the mid 1950s and still standing today long after we left for Well Hall.

As for the story of the shed, well I will leave that to your imagination.

Painting; the shed in the garden of Lausanne Road  © 2016 Peter Topping Paintings from Pictures Web:

*The history of the shed,

Monday, 27 June 2016

Manchester Day June 2016 ............... with a trip into Salford and a night in Chorlton

The procession arrives
Now if you want to show the city off to a friend over from Canada, then you can’t do better than choose Manchester Day.

Susan was keen to see all that Manchester both old and new had to offer.

Not that it stopped there.  

On the Friday night we had brought her back from the city centre to Chorlton and showed her the Horse & Jockey which has been a pub since 1800 and was still brand new when Henry V111 fell in love with Ann Boleyn.

The following day we headed out to Media City, saw the Imperial War Museum from a distance and took in the Lowry.

After all despite Salford being a separate city it shares much of what is a common history with Manchester and has lots to see.

While some still march
From there it was Victoria Station, the Rylands, and Town Hall and of course the procession celebrating Manchester Day.

The bonus was I caught my friend Sally and the Crossacres Shakers doing their bit.

Sadly we missed Castlefield, and Spinnyfields and the Northern Quarter, but ate in Mr Thomas’s on Cross Street.

I rather think Susan might have thought I had set up the whole day's activities in her honour.

I did toy with a fib but in the end decided to be honest and if I am really being totally honest I had forgotten it was on.

In my defence I had been very busy in the week before it happened and on the day was more interested in to trying to pack as much of the "see Manchester & Salford Experience" as I could organise.

Another new Salford Bridge
Time will tell which bit Susan liked most had how the sights matched those of London, the south west and Scotland.

Only today she posted some pictures from across the Scottish border with more of Stonehenge, bits of London and other places still to come.

And on reflection I think the Twin cities did us proud.Not bad for one full day

Location; Manchester.

Pictures; from the day we went into Manchester and Salford, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Islington Mill ................. a view rarely photographed

Now here is a view of the mill which rarely gets a look in. 

And that is all I want to say.

Location; Salford

Picture; a Salford skyline 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Garden sheds I have known and the stories that come with them ........ Millie the Mole, and the Polish builder

Now the garden shed is as much a part of the landscape and our history as the stone water trough, red telephone kiosk and the equally loved old fashioned rear entrance double decker bus.*

The garden shed, 2010
Some of these old favourites may now be no longer fit for purpose and some like the double decker were useless if you were in a wheelchair, but the humble garden shed just goes on and each will have a story.

This is ours; built in our garden in Lausanne Road sometime in the mid 1950s by one of the people who rented rooms form my parents.

He was Polish and later became very friendly with another tenant who was German and in the fullness of time they married and moved out to a flat just round the corner.

I think he had replaced Millie the Mole and her boy friend Boy Boy Jones.**

This was the period just after the last world war and housing was still in short supply, with many people living in rented accommodation.

It was the age of the private landlord and “living in rooms” was commonplace.

We were I think unique in owning our own house and most of my friends lived in grand old Victorian houses which long ago had been sub divided in to flats.

Lausanne Road, 2010
I don't remember, Millie the Mole and Boy Boy Jones. He was involved in smash and grab raids which were at the cutting edge of big time crime.

The gang would choose a suitable jewellers and using a brick and pick axe handle smash the window, grab the loot and escape in the waiting car. Boy Boy Jones was the driver.

A career which came to an abrupt end when he drove off during a raid, leaving the gang to struggle along a crowded Peckham High Street, with assorted diamond rings, a necklace and several watches.

Needless to say their progress was somewhat hampered by the loot and the Saturday shoppers and they were caught.

Boy Boy Jones remained free which was not necessarily a good thing for Millie, whose relationship with him was tempestuous at the best of times and led on one occasion to Boy Boy arousing the street as he dangled her out of one of the upstairs windows by her wrists.

And when they moved on it was the Polish chap and his wife who moved in.  To me they were something different. Occasionally I would be invited to share a cup of real coffee and some Polish biscuits which arrived from the “homeland”.

Like so many of the stories I have posted their experiences reflect the awful events of the century they lived in. Theirs were “little lives lived out in a big century.” Both had been victims of the displacement of millions of ordinary people who had been in the wrong place when the war broke out and found themselves part of that tide of homeless refugees in 1945.

Me, a tent and that garden shed, 1957
I don’t know their stories and like many of their generation they didn’t talk about the past. But he was Polish and may have spent time as a Soviet prisoner, which begs the question had he been on the wrong side in the conflict, or just a causality of the Cold War?

Either way there is a lasting testimony to their stay in the house, because the garden shed he built in the late 1950s is still there. I had almost completely forgotten about it.

And then on an impulse while on a visit to London for a family wedding we visited the old house.

It is almost 50 years since we left but there is much about the place that I remember. I am grateful to Rachel and David the new owners who did not mind that we had invaded their Sunday and were happy to show us around.

The garden seemed smaller and more alive with plants than I remember it. The trees had gone but the shed remained.

I rather liked the fact that something from all those people who had passed through had survived.

Location; Lausanne Road, London

Pictures; the shed in 2010 and in 1957 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, Lausanne Road, 2010 courtesy of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

*The history of the Shed.

**Millie the Mole, Boy Boy Jones and a garden shed, ............ London in the 1950s, 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Painting Mr Millar’s Institute in Cromarty

Now everyone packs something different in their holiday suitcase.

In the case of Peter it’s a guide book to those interesting if quirky buildings and his paint box.

And armed with these two essential holiday requirements he not only came across the Hugh Miller Church Street Institute in Cromarty but did it in acrylics on his visit to Scotland at the beginning of the year..

Of course that is to underestimate just what he does but like the Philosopher’s Stone no matter how many times he explained his technique I might as well have been listening to a medieval alchemist.*

But there is no denying that he has captured the Institute perfectly and I suspect Mr Miller's fans  would have been pleased and might even have snapped up the painting placing it amongst the fossils he had collected and the religious tracts he had written.

And that pretty much was Mr Miller.  He was born in 1802, was a self taught geologist and writer but was also an evangelical Christian and died with still much to contribute in 1852.

According to one source “he left a heritage of new discoveries of several Silurian sea scorpions and many Devonian fishes, including and though he had no academic credentials, he is today considered one of Scotland's premier palaeontologists.”**

It was fitting then that the Institute should carry his name and was partially funded by Andrew Carnegie that the Scottish industrialist who having made a shed load of money on the backs of American steel workers chose to return some of it as gifts to the workers and their families in the form of libraries and institutes.

The Cromarty Building was opened in 1903, listed in 1980 and just thirty-six years later was waiting for Peter to do it in acrylics.

Now it is easy to over romanticise men like Mr Miller but there is no doubt at his achievements and all those other self taught men.

Painting; the Hugh Miller Institute, Cromarty, © 2016 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures, Web:

* Philosopher’s Stone, the legendary substance, allegedly capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold

** Hugh Miller,

Friday, 24 June 2016

One stone statue ........ late of Park Brow Farm and the Assize Courts .......... makes its way into Cheshire and on “down south”

Now some stories never quite fade away.

So I always knew that one day the story of this chap would come to a conclusion.

He once resided in the garden of Park Brow Farm down on St Werburgh’s Road but originally had sat high up on the old Assize Courts in Manchester.

How it got from one to the other involved one of Mr Hitler’s bombs which did for the courts and led eventually from  a stone mason’s yard to the farm.

He wasn’t a small thing and I have every bit of respect for the men who got him from the ground up to the top of the courts and equally to Oliver Bailey who along with his dad and brother wrestled with the object in the garden of the farm.

Oliver remembers that “when we off loaded the beastie using the front loader on an old grey Ferguson tractor, despite having a one ton counterweight on the back we had to sit people on it to keep the back wheels on the ground but fortunately it was only a short distance.”

By the time it had arrived in Chorlton it had lost two small horns “where the lighter patches are on its head but they were broken off, possibly during removal so there were two small square plugs to show where they had been.”

It took pride of place occupying the site of the cage that, in the 1950's, was occupied by Squashy the vulture.

And then with the sale of the farm in the 1980s the statue was on off on another adventure.

That adventure is best explained by Francis Bailey who told me that “the 'Beast' stayed in the family.  

After my older brother Bob sold the Farm, the beast was then moved to his house in Wilmslow near Lindow Common.  

He and his wife Nan then moved to Wrenbury near Nantwich and the Beast was stored with some neighbours while they got their new house sorted.  

Once they were settled, the Beast was taken to Wrenbury and had a prominent place in their garden where it stayed for many years. 

Unfortunately, about 5 or 6 years ago there was a whole series of robberies in that part of Cheshire with the thieves targeting large decorative garden ornaments, statues and stone planters.  They took quite a bit from Cholmondeley Castle.  

It wasn't possible to move the Beast to the back garden and it was an easy target for a truck fitted with a crane so Bob decided that the best way to protect it was to sell it out of the area and it went somewhere down south.”

So another bit of the story and in the fullness of time the last bit involving “somewhere down south.” will be revealed.

Location Park Brow Farm, Cheshire and “somewhere down south”

Picture; stone statue, circa 1980s, from the collection of Tony Walker

*One stone statue ........ late of Park Brow Farm and the Assize Courts ............ looking for a new home,

A shedload of sheds on the Ivygreen Allotments ...... or sheds Peter has painted .... nu 2 Lois & Paul's Shed

History should be kind to the garden shed and by extension to all those that adorn our allotments up and down the country.

After all they have been a feature of our landscape for a very long time and like the story of the private garden and the history of allotments they are a fascinating insight into how we live.

So with that in mind when Peter told me he was interested in turning some of the sheds on the Ivygreen Allotments into paintings, I knew it was time for a new series.*

It started with a fine painting of one of the more humble ones and today showcases that of Lois & Paul's Shed.

At which point I will against my better judgement quote Peter’s comment on sending the image across “sounds like a Plot to me I will post you a copy through the back door....” which only leaves me to mutter "I shall have to go digging for the more fruitful research on allotment history."

Location; Ivygreen Allotments

Painting; Here is the first of the paintings of Ivygreen Allotments.... Lois & Paul's Shed at Ivygreen Allotments, painting © 2016 Peter Topping Paintings from Pictures Web:

*The history of the shed,

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The story of Private John William Ingham of the CEF and a thank you to all those in Canada who helped in the research

Now the story of John William Ingham of the 46th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force has taken yet another unexpected twist.*

The family grave of Mr & Mrs Ingham
He enlisted in 1916 was wounded at Vimy Ridge the following year and was buried in Southern Cemetery in south Manchester.

But he had died of his wounds in Sheffield at the Wharncliffe War Hospital and was brought back to Manchester because his wife lived in Longsight.

The Wharncliffe War Hospital was established in April 1915 from what had formerly been the South Yorkshire Asylum. 37,000 patients were to pass through the hospital during the war, and over 200 are commemorated on its Roll of Honour.

And there is an entry for John William Ingham, which I came across on that excellent site Wharncliffe War Hospital.**

What I was not prepared for was when I followed the link I came across his gravestone which is in Southern Cemetery and sits away from those of his comrades in the CEF.

I have Dean Hill and Stuart Reeves to thank for the image and it does help take the story a little further.**

I now know from the research by Linda Wisking and Melisa Dolan that he settled in Canada in 1910 giving his previous occupation as a “carter” and his intended one as “farmer.”

That said I am puzzled by the 1916 census which has him and all those on the page as living on Front Street, Yorkton, Saskatchewan. But I am sure someone in Canada will be able to shed light on my confusion.

Southern Cemetery, 2014
And this co-operation is what has made possible the story and points to the willingness of people to follow up leads and dig deep into the records.

It would seem that Private Irving had also been regarded by the authorities as a valuable asset given that his papers are stamped “British Bonus Allowed” which was commission paid by the Canadian government's Immigration Branch to steamship booking agents in the United Kingdom for each suitable immigrant who purchased a ticket to sail to Canada.”***

Not that the immigrants saw the bonus.

Detail of the Irving family gravestone
.But at least I have cleared up why he enlisted in the CEF and did not return to volunteer for the British armed forces because by the April of 1916 he was a Canadian national.

There is still the issue of why his family did not join him but perhaps they would have had not the war intervened.

Location; Southern Cemetery, and Saskatchewan

Picture; the grave of Private Ingham © Dean Hill and Stuart Reeves and Southern Cemetery from the collection of Andrew Simpson

* Looking for more British Home Children in Southern Cemetery,

**Wharncliffe War Hospital,

*** Terminology and Abbreviations, Library and Archives Canada,

Now here is a bit of a detective story for anyone in Whalley Range

Angela emailed me just now to ask “I wonder if your blog could appeal for anyone who can remember where the Quakers met in Whalley Range? 

Alexandra Park, 2014
According to Harold Wilde they met in Alexandra Park- not just at the gates, but in a building.  

It might be a house near St Bedes called something like ‘Edinburgh Court’ or ‘Edinburgh.’ 

There must be someone who remembers the place.”

Harold Wilde was a peace campaigner and conscientious objector during the Great War and refers to meetings he attended in his diary.*

The 1911 directory lists the Friends Meeting Houses on Mount Street, Albert Square, Langworthy Road, Pendleton and the Adult Schools at Byrom Street, Deansgate, Ainsworth Street in Gorton and Pendleton and Didsbury.

But Whalley Range fails to get a mention.  Nor could I find a reference to ‘Edinburgh Court’ or ‘Edinburgh’on Alex Road South.

So there for the moment it rests, but I bet as Angela says there will be someone out there who knows.
Failing that it will have to be the old fashioned way of the sleuth and a visit to the Friends’ Meeting House and Central Ref.

Location; somewhere in Whalley Range

Picture; Alexandra Park, 2014 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

* "my life will be spent in fighting the Christian fight against Militarism in England.”......... stories behind the book nu 19,

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Looking for more British Home Children in Southern Cemetery

Now here is a mystery to which at present I don’t have answer.  I had gone looking foe more British Home Children amongst the men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force buried in Southern Cemetery.

It is on going project in advance of Canada Day.

And I thought I might have found a third when I found a reference to Manchester as the place of birth of John Wiliam Ingham of the 46th Battalion.

He was wounded at Vimy Ridge in the May of 1917 and was buried in Southern Cemetery in south Manchester.

Private Ingham had enlisted on April 27 1916 in Yorkton Saskatchewan giving his occupation as a dairyman and he was 43 years of age.

What is slightly odd is that he died in Sheffield on the other side of the Pennines and was buried here in Manchester which is 71 kilometres way.

The explanation is simple enough, his wife, Mrs Ann Ingham was living at 5 Glebe Street off Stockport Road in the Longsight area of Manchester.

But that just begs another question which is why would he be in Canada and she over here?  I could understand how a much younger man might leave to start a new life and then send for his family when he was settled, but Mr Ingham was no spring chicken.

I know that in 1901 he was in Manchester with his wife and daughter and was a “milk dealer and chop keeper” running his own business and that they were married in or around 1899.

This would fit because their eldest daughter Annie was eleven in 1911.

So instead I shall leave it at that.

Someone from Canada will be able to access the shipping records and census returns which might shed light on the story.

In the meantime he is the third of those of the CEF buried in Southern Cemetery I have researched two of whom were British Home Children.

The aim will be to uncover something about each of the 31 in advance of July 1 and the special Remembrance service to which the High Commissioner for Canada will be in attendance.

Location; Southern Cemetery

Picture; pictures of Southern Cemetery from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Stories from Canada of a Manchester boy and the Great War

I always enjoy the stories which appear on the Together Trust’s blog which explores the archives held by the organisation which from 1870 cared and campaigned for some of our most vulnerable young people.

Today’s post is the second to focus on the Great War.

“The charity’s roll of honour extends to over 400 men and includes committee members and officers in charge as well as refuge lads. 33 never made it back.”

Of these 400 men, 58 were from youngsters who had been migrated to Canada and fought in Canadian Expeditionary Force.

“This is in comparison to 55 in the Manchester Regiment.
It is apparent that many of those who were migrated across to Canada in childhood, voluntarily enlisted to fight for the country they were born into.

This perhaps speaks volume of the strong connections many Home Children still felt for England.

So today we tell the story of one of those men who emigrated across to Canada and fought in World War One.

Henry was admitted to the Central Refuge on Francis Street in 1906 aged 10. He was brought across to us by the Reverend Alfred Cook of the Salford Central Mission after his father passed away, leaving him and his 3 siblings as orphans.

The following year Henry set sail for Belleville, Canada where he was placed with a farming family. Here he was taught how to milk the cows, harvest the fields and enjoyed a strong relationship with the family he lived with.

Henry's letter
In 1913 letters from him received by the charity speak of his desire to continue his education at Belleville High School after passing his entrance exams.

After working hard to pay his fees he eventually gained a free scholarship and studied law.”

And for the rest you will just have to follow the link and read the Trust’s blog.

But that is not entirely the end, because Henry’s story mirrored that of my great uncle who also made that journey from a disadvantaged home to Canada and like Henry followed the Colours back to Britain. 

And reading his letter reminds me of one of great uncle Roger’s letters which was also written to the charity which sent him and follows Henry’s almost word for word.

Nor will I be alone in finding echoes in the story which I suspect will make it a welcome addition to the contribution made by British Home Children to the Great War.

Pictures; from the collection of the Together Trust

A thank you ................ to everyone who makes the blog work

Now the blog has been going since November 2011.

I could wax lyrical about the numbers who read it, the countries where it is read and the fact that there is only one continent where it isn’t browsed but I won't.

Instead it is more about all the people who have helped make it a bit of a success.

They range from Andy Robertson who must be unique in his persistence in recording the changes to the buildings and places around Greater Manchester to David Harrop whose vast collection of memorabilia from the Great War medals to Blitz gas masks and Victorian pillar boxes is always at the disposal of the blog.

Added to these are a whole shedload of contributors, some like Tony Goulding who now writes regularly for the blog and Tricia Lesley who is always at hand to do research from that part of London where I grew up and rolls through to the occasional story or picture from lots of people.

Of these I would just like to thank Sally, Bill Jones and Bill Sumner, Neil, David from Rochdale who once lived in Chorlton and offered up scary stories of Chorlton Brick works and so many more.

Not forgetting of course Peter Topping whose paintings continue to provide an alternative to the photograph.

And because I now am firmly based in the North I rely so heavily on Ryan Ginn and our Colin and Chrissy as well as Jean and Larissa to send me pictures of Eltham and other bits of London.

Not that I shall leave out all my Canadian friends from British Home Children and a lot more from New Zealaand who continue to show that co-operation and a love of research helps us all.

To them and to lots more a thank you.

All of which just leaves me with Andy’s picture of the Opera House in Manchester and Ryan's crane taken on a very early trip to work.

Pictures; Quay Street Manchester2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson and London from Ryan Ginn

Another story from Tony Goulding .......... Chorlton-cum-Hardy and the Somme July 1916

The Thiepval Memorial to the Somme Fallen
The 1st. July, 1916 is widely known as the first day of The Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest day in history of the British Army, when approaching 60,000 were recorded as killed or wounded. Less appreciated, perhaps, is that the fight for the same objectives ground on for the rest of the month of July and beyond, indeed not until the foul weather and the onset of winter in November was their respite in the carnage. (1)

The still embryonic community of Chorlton-cum-Hardy like everywhere else suffered greatly from the loss of many of its young men.

While researching these men a ”story within a story” was revealed. Many of these casualties came from the large number who had volunteered into the so-called “Pals” battalions formed in the previous year.

Whilst, most of these battalions were made up of recruits from the same geographical area some were drawn from the same trade or profession.

School Sign 1973
A significant number of the recruits from the suburbs of South Manchester came from middle-class homes, and had attended the local Public/Grammar schools- William Hulme’s, Manchester Grammar, and St. Bede’s College.

The 20th Battalion the Royal Fusiliers, raised in the Manchester area, was one of the “Public School Battalions” and included many of the sons of the middle-class homes in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Just before the dawn of what promised to be a fine, sunny summers day, 20th July 1916 at 3-25 a.m. this unit was ordered to take part in the attack on the strongly defended German position of High Wood Nr. Longueval on the Somme.

Aerial view of William Hulmes G. S. 1920
The resultant losses suffered by this battalion in the ensuing battle were terrific.

Of an initial strength of around 1100 men at least 140 were reported as killed in action that fateful day, with a similar number injured and perhaps a hundred recorded as missing.

The official War Diary kept at the time lists by name 16 officers and puts the number of other ranks at 375 casualties. In addition there had been 30 or so casualties on the battalion’s march to the front line the previous day.

Map of German defensive lines around High Wood, July 1916
These stark figures would be further supplemented by more recorded deaths, either “in action” or “of wounds” during the days immediately following. In consequence by the end of July 1916 the 20th Royal Fusiliers had suffered the loss of over half of the men on its roll-call at the start of the month.
At least five of these soldiers had a Chorlton-cum-Hardy connection no doubt bringing a general cloud of sadness to the area which was mirrored across the other suburban communities of the greater Manchester area and Lancashire as a whole.

A battalion of Royal Fusiliers going up into action, probably later in the war
Pte. Alan Joures Knudsen:
Born in 1894, in Withington to a Danish father, Justin Anton a shipping agent and his South Shields born wife Jennie (née. Joures), Alan was raised in Lytham-St Annes.

His father’s business was conducted in Manchester and sometime after the 1911 census the family home was “Thornlea” on Edge Lane, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Prior to hostilities Alan was developing a career with the textile merchants – Hiltermann Brothers of 56, Whitworth Street, Manchester.

Sgt. Alexander Ross:
Alexander was born, to Henry and Martha in 1893, in Northampton where his father was a “Sergeant Major of volunteers”. In 1911 he was living with two of his aunties at 15, Birch Hall Lane, Longsight, at which time he is recorded as being a student. (2)

A record of Alexander’s death gives his place of residence as being Chorlton-cum-Hardy but I haven’t yet been able to ascertain the precise address.

Caterpillar Cemetery
Pte: Leslie Wilton Ball:
At the time of the 1911 census Leslie Wilton Ball lived at 51, Claude Road with his parents Wilton William and Helena Maud (née. Kent); he being their only child. His father was a salesman for a calico printer and his mother was the daughter of a prominent Manchester jeweller, Thomas Kent.

Leslie’s mother and father were married in St. Clements’s, Chorlton-cum-Hardy on 15th September, 1892 and he was baptised, in the same church, on 17th June, 1895. He’d been born on 22nd May at 12, Cranbourne Road.

Trones Wood   8-14 July 1916
Erne Shorrocks:
Ernest was born, on 12th March, 1875, in Rhodes, Nr. Middleton, Lancashire, but spent his childhood in South Manchester initially in Moss Side but later at 47, Keppel Road.

He was the third of the four children of James Henry, a cashier in a Manchester warehouse, and Lucy Ann (née. Hood) was a pupil at William Hulme’s Grammar School and went on to study at the University of Manchester (3) at which he gained  an M.Sc. (first class honours) in Chemistry in 1900.
Ernest then had a successful career in education filling a series of teaching positions at a number of prestigious schools whilst also doing a further years study at London University.

He began at his old school; William Hulme’s and in 1914 was at Taunton Grammar School from where he enlisted in the September of that year. Whilst in Somerset he appeared in that county’s cricket XI

His family continued to live in the Chorlton-cum-Hardy area at 17, St. Clements’s Road.

Delville Wood 14-19 July 1916
Pte. Frank Hardman:
This soldier was born in Gorton, in 1895, where he lived for a time on Church Lane with his parents Isaac, a clerk to a cotton yarn agent, and his wife Margaret (née Hardy). The family had moved by 1911 to 9, Keppel Road with young Frank being recorded as a commercial clerk.

Another soldier of 20th Royal Fusiliers, who died that day, although only loosely connected to South Manchester, is perhaps worth a mention in passing.

Pte. Nissim Lisbona:
Nissim is one of just four names on a memorial in the Synagogue of The Manchester Congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews on Queenstown Road, West Didsbury.

He was a qualified barrister and an ex-student of both Manchester Grammar School and Manchester University. He obtained a second class honours M.A. in English in 1906.

He was born and lived in the Cheetham /Cheetham Hill area of North Manchester in 1882. His parents were Moses, a cotton goods shipping agent born in Syria, and his wife, Mazal, also from Syria.

Total devastation of the area this was the main street of Longueval
Nissim is another soldier buried in Caterpillar Valley cemetery

Finally, in passing, there is a matter for some thought. There were five so called “University/Public School Battalions”, four forming part of Royal Fusiliers and one belonging to the Middlesex Regiment.

Initially they were officially encouraged, perhaps with the aim of showing to the country as a whole that the upper and middle classes were ready to share in the general sacrifice.

However, by the spring of 1916, due to the huge losses already suffered, there was a general shortage of officers in the wider army. Consequently the existence of these five units of  “officer material” became something of an embarrassment and their rank and file members were encouraged (not to say pressured) into applying to become officers for dispersal around the rest of the army In April 1916, three of the Royal Fusiliers Public School Battalions were disbanded leaving just the 20th operational.

This unit would then largely have comprised of those men who had resisted, against the wishes of the War Office, the call to train as officers; the remnant of the 20th battalion being augmented by men of a similar feeling from the other three battalions.

 It was maybe only a “fortune of war” and unfortunate, though convenient for the authorities that the 20th Battalion suffered such heavy casualties shortly afterwards.

©Tony Goulding 2016-06-21

Pictures; the Thiepval Memorial to the Somme Fallen, C.W.G.,School Sign 1973 D. Scholes, M38580,
Aerial view of William Hulmes G. S. 1920,Imperial Aerial photographic Co.,M67839, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, Map of German defensive lines around High Wood, July 1916 by “The Times”, A battalion of Royal Fusiliers going up into action, probably later in the war, taken by Tom Aitken http:/ (12) n 390, Caterpillar Valley cemetery, CWGC site, fighting in adjacent areas of the Somme Battlefield, Trones Wood, 8-14 July 1916, Delville Wood 14-19 July 1916, Total devastation of the area this was the main street of Longueval (Daily Mail Official War Photograph


1) November 18th is usually cited as being the final day of the battle.
2) There are strong indicators that this was at Manchester Central High School which includes an “Alexander Ross” on its memorial roll. Also one of his aunties, on the 1911 census, was a “superintendant of a municipal school of domestic economy”
3) Ernest was able to do this with the aid of a scholarships awarded him by Lancashire County Council,  a science award he won in 1892 was worth £60-00 p a year for 3 years and one of just eight such awards that year.