Thursday, 9 June 2016

A tram journey, an adventure, and that old Town Hall in West Didsbury

It began as a tram journey and turned into an adventure.

Yesterday I was off to meet up with my old friend David Harrop who has supplied me with pretty much all the images I needed for the new book on Manchester and the Great War.

He was coming back from Oldham so we arranged to meet at Chorlton and travelled the tram to East Didsbury.

And there the journey became the adventure because on an impulse I got off at West Didsbury and wandered over to look at the old Withington Town Hall.

It was built in 1881 for the Withington Local Board of Heath which in 1894 became Withington Urban District Council and covered Chorlton, Burnage, Withington and Didsbury.*

There are still a few bits of evidence of this short lived local authority.

Some of the streets grids still bear the name Withington UDC and out on Chorlton Meadows there are the remains of the sewage works.

But in 1904 the ratepayers of the four townships were offered the chance to become part of the city.  It was an offer they couldn’t refuse and in the January of 1904, they voted to join looking forward to cheaper utility prices the prospect of new municipal libraries and schools.

The Town Hall remained in civic use and there will many who remember visiting the building or attending public meetings upstairs in the large hall.

It is presently the offices of pabla + pabla, solicitors.  Now I always ask the permission of the owners before taking a picture.  It is the polite thing to do and always offers up the chance of a guided tour of the building which is just what I got.  .

And for anyone interested in our municipal past it is all here to see from the council chamber to the doors into the council offices which still retain their original frosted glass each etched with the name of the department, from Water, to Gas and from Rates to Education.

And with their permission I might be back to look at their deeds.

 A everyone knows the deeds of properties  fascinate me partly because they have their own story to tell.

Not bad for one day on the tra.

Location; Withington Town Hall

And coming soon a fuller article in the July edition of Open Up South Manchester

Picture; detail of Withington Town Hall  2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Painting; Withington Town Hall, © 2015 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,

*Withington UDC

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