Tuesday, 11 October 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 64 ............ the Rec and that corner

The continuing story  of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

The Rec and that corner, 2016
I very much doubt that Joe and Mary Ann ever gave that much thought to this corner of the Rec.

If I am honest until recently I can’t say I have either but in its way it has a lot going for it.

For a start it always gets the attention of the travelling circus who use the railings to hang a bill board announcing their imminent arrival and in between it can be guaranteed to host a regular series of smaller posters appealing for help to find lost cats and  news of forthcoming craft and vegan fairs.

And for those unwilling to go to the expense of a laminated piece of card tied to the railings there is always the chalked message in various colours with arrows pointing off in different directions.

It is also a natural meeting point.  So for the last three years it has been where a group of youngster congregate before going off to school and for others it is the corner to meet up in advance of an afternoon  relaxing on the grass or playing on the swings.

But the railings haven’t always been there.  During the last world war they disappeared and were only reinstated much later.

See saw, prams and litter, the Rec in 1910
And in the last century and a bit the recreational ground has lost its park hut, briefly gained a barrage balloon, seen its ornamental flower beds come and go and more recently acquired a set of swings and climbing features.

Not that these were the first.

Back soon after it was laid out just before the end of the 19th century there were a set of those see saws which offered up a bit of harmless entertainment but in the wrong hands could deliver a very uncomfortable ride depending on how hard your partner bounced on the thing.

I have no idea whether Joe and Mary Ann took a turn round the Rec. When they first moved into the house the park was less than twenty years old but even then was at the mercy of those that left litter on the paths and grassed areas and trespassed on the flower beds.

More recently it was where our lads played constant games of football from pretty much the crack of the day till it got dark.  And even now there are those on Wilton who tell me they could set their clocks by my nightly warnings that it was almost time to come in.

So popular was the Rec with our older three and their friends that we had a special box set aside for the football boots and old trainers belonging to them all.

Today of course the football is confined to a Christmas Day kick about and the rest of the year is left to the teams of children who use the place.

Mr Higginbotham ploughing Row Acre, circa 1895
All of which just leaves me to reflect that when Joe and Mary Ann moved into the house in the autumn of 1915 the memories old Mr Higginbotham the farmer ploughing  his share of what was then called Row Acre would still be commonplace.

The land  had been farmed as long thin strips of land running across from Beech Road towards High Lane.

His strip ran parallel to Cross Road and this may well be him ploughing the land for the last time in about 1895.

Just fifty or so years earlier he and a fellow farmer had passed the day with the journalist Alexander Somerville who had walked the 4 miles from the city to investigate stories of potato blight.

He didn’t find any but instead was treated to tales of fruit flies and the intransigence of one local landowner.

But that is for another time.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; the Rec, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, The Rand ploughing Row Acre courtesy of Mr Higginbotham, circa 1895 and the Rec in 1910 from the Lloyd Collection

*The story of a house,    http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20a%20house

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