Sunday, 23 October 2016

A little of what we have lost, Wilbraham Road in 1955


Sometimes I think it is the more recent photographs of Chorlton which are the more fascinating, and in their way the more revealing of how we lived.

And so I am drawn to this one of Wilbraham Road looking north towards the railway station.

Now I don’t have an exact date but I think it must have been taken in the 1950s which of course is a hostage to fortune, and I await the first expert on cars of the period or public transport to give me a definitive date based on the make of car or the type of bus.

Some of the other more basic clues like the registration plates and advertising hoardings don’t yield anything, so it will be a matter of visiting Central Library and slowly going through the directories to match the names on the shop fronts with a year.

But the tram lines appear to be missing which would suggest a date after the last trams had run their last journeys and the tracks had been taken up which would take us into the 50s.

What strikes you is still how old fashioned the shop fronts appear with many of them still retaining their old signage and shop fronts.

And then there is what they sold, ranging from paint to shoes, mystery coach excursions to lace doilies.

Now I accept that we still had a DIY store in the precinct into the 1980s and the last shoe shop only closed a few years ago followed by Burt’s, the gentleman’s outfitters in 2011.

But back in 1955 it was the sheer number of these shops.  There were lots of clothes shops and shoe shops, as well as countless grocers, green grocers, and butchers which for good measure were by and large all independent traders.

And some will mutter there were also two wool shops, private lending libraries and of course plenty of old fashioned, smelly, sell everything hardware stores.

Quantity did not always equate with either quality or choice.  In our grocers shop there was white cheese and there was red cheese along with lots of tinned things.

Which given the period may be a little unfair and opens me up to people feeling a little miffed that their bit of nostalgia has just taken a kicking not to mention those who ran good quality shops here in Chorlton, so back to the picture.

Looking at it again you get to see just how the shops in the distance were really just later  add ones to what had been traditional houses.

And then jutting out from the end of that first parade of shops is a cast iron veranda while the absence of traffic allows you to see how the road rises as it goes over the bridge.

And we still had a railway station with trains that took you into the city in under ten minutes.

So there you have it a little of what we were like, not that long ago.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

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