Tuesday, 9 August 2016

What's in a field boundary?

It was one of those chance conversations which usually end up with you learning something new, or in this case setting me off on a quest.

It revolved around that often asked question, why does our road have a dead end?  It is one that I have to be truthful I have never given much thought to, but it could help explain the way Chorlton developed in the late 19th century and of course takes us back to the old field boundaries.

So the theory goes, spot a dead end and more than likely this is where two fields met. Given that some of our land was sold off piecemeal for development it might not only identify old field lines but suggest when a field went under the hammer of development.

I decided to start with an easy one which is Silverwood Avenue off Barlow Moor Road.  Now it terminates exactly where it should at the division between Shippon Croft and the field which contained the farm house and garden of Margaret Cope, or to those of you who don’t live in 1845 the rear of Brundrett’s Road.  What’s more Groby Road which is just a little south of Silverwood follows another field line which ran from Barlow Moor Road terminating like the road a little east of High Lane.

And a similar claim might be made for Chestnut, Oak and Maple Avenues which differ in their length and fit a triangular piece of woodland off Barlow Moor Road.

Now it doesn’t seem to work everywhere, and in some cases both sides of a field boundary were developed at the same time, but some of the people in some of the houses will have their deeds which will provide the building history and in the case of Silverwood this was Egerton land and as the estate papers exist it should give dates for the sale of fields.

At this point I fear that the great sweep of history with its highs and low of rich narrative have been swamped in the mire of detail and as much as I might want to go out and walk the dead ends, it’s raining so perhaps the quest will have to wait.  Perhaps indefinitely.

Picture; detail of the field boundaries from the 1845 Tithe map, around Silverwood Avenue.

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