Saturday, 5 November 2016

Ghost signs from a long ago conflict

The caption is less than revealing and merely states that it’s Oxford Road, Site of Students Union.

.Now I am a little puzzled because the student’s union building on Oxford Road was put up in 1958, and opened by Harold Macmillan, all of which is a little confusing but will no doubt be sorted out by someone who knows more than me.

My interest lies elsewhere and it is in the buildings themselves.  First I have to say they were grand looking houses, and back in the 19th century were the homes of the comfortably well off.  But I guess by the 1950s had seen their best, although perhaps with some tender care and attention they would have “come up nice.”

For me, toady it is the hand painted sign n the wall that has attracted my attention.

EWS stood for Emergency Water Supply and is a reminder that during the last war an air raid might not just destroy buildings but punch big holes in the roads underneath which were carried the utilities, including water.

And the loss of a water main during an aerial attack could be the difference between containing fires and just watching them burn.

These signs were still very much in evidence when I was growing up but it’s now sixty-eight years since the end of the war, and most of the buildings that carried that EWS have been pulled down, and even where that’s not the case the signs will have long since faded and joined the many other ghost signs whose stories have all but vanished.

Picture; Students Union Oxford Road, 1960, m03829 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

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