Thursday, 27 October 2016

A garden in Martledge on an August day in 1882

It looks like a fairly ordinary Chorlton garden and if pushed you might suggest a location bordering the meadows which pretty much means Meadow Bank or Ivygreen Road.  

But the title is the giveaway for we are in the garden of Sedge Lynn* and the open land beyond is not the meadows.  We are facing Oswald Road, and the long roads of Newport, Nicholas and Longford and the year is 1882.

In fact to be exact it is August 11th 1882 which was a Tuesday and judging by the light sometime around midday, but I could be wrong about the time.

It is the third of my pictures by Aaron Booth of Martledge where he with his family lived during the last two decades of the 19th century.

I would like to think we are looking at a garden in transition and given that they may only have been in the house for a few months that seems plausible.  So here is a Victorian garden in the making with its Victorian wooden wheelbarrow, spade and packing case and perhaps at a moment when the labourers had gone off for lunch.  Of the three in the collection this casual and untidy scene for me is the most endearing and sets you down on an ordinary day when ordinary things are being done 130 years ago.

And then there is the view.  Back then it was open land popularly called the Isles because of the large number of ponds and small streams that crisscrossed the area.  The land here is clay and for centuries it had been dug up to make bricks or as marl to spread on the fields.  The pits then filled with water and gave the place its distinctive feature.  I counted 17 such ponds around Oswald Field in 1841, and they were a mix of the small and very large.

The Booth family would have had an interrupted view across the Isles towards Longford Hall only obscured by a row of trees.  It was a view which would have lasted into the late 1890s, but within another decade it would have been lost as the first rows of houses went up on the newly cut roads of Nicholas, Newport and Longford and behind them the sprawling brickworks.

All of which makes our picture a poignant image and one made a little more special because the photograph was donated to the collection by one of five daughters.

* Sedge Lynn stood on Manchester Road on the site of the old cinema which is now the Funeral Directors

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

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