Saturday, 26 November 2016

Crossing the Mersey in 1955 to Jackson's Boat

Like many of Derrick A. Lea’s pictures of Chorlton this one was made in the winter.

We are at Jackson’s Boat, that pub across the river and the year is 1955.

Now I have written about Mr Lea already and I keep getting drawn back to his images of Chorlton which were made in the 1950s.

They work for me on a number of different levels.

At its simplest they remind me of the style of pictures I grew up with.

But it is also that you don’t see many drawings, paintings or wood cuts of the township, so these are particularly appealing.

“The pub was built in the 18th century and so might count as the oldest in the township.  It was known variously as the Old Greyhound and the Boat House, before reverting back to the old Greyhound.  Briefly it was called Jackson’s Boat and then the Greyhound from 1834. 

The names may in part be explained by the origins of the site.    At some point a farmer called Jackson farmed the land and kept a boat for ferrying passengers across the river. 

Later still Samuel Wilton built a bridge in 1816 over the river at this point at a cost of £200.  

But the ferry and the right to transport passengers across the Mersey were still in place in 1832 when the pub and the surrounding land were put up for sale. 

The advert throws some light on how the relationship between owner and tenant. The land and pub were owned by John Marsland and tenanted by a George Brownhill who seems to have benefited from the ferry charges.  

The sale in 1832 went to Edmund Howarth who may well have placed Samuel in as tenant.”*

All of which may seem a long way from the picture, but not so.  In 1955 the bridge was free to walk across, but until the late 1940s there had been a toll, which had been there since Sam Wilton’s old bridge in 1816 and was just a continuation of the fee charged to cross the river by the ferry.

The gate was on the south side of the bridge and there are those who can just remember paying the penny to cross over, and one wonderful story of a young girl who chose to chance her luck and crossed by a more dangerous and unconventional way.

She lived in the Block which was a collection of cottages on Hardy Lane, and this seemed a quicker and cheaper alternative to a long walk or the penny payment.

Picture; Derrick A. Lea

The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Andrew Simpson 2012

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