Friday, 18 November 2016

Past the Four Banks and up to Redgate Farm in the summer of 1900

Looking across the Isles, 1882

This is another one of those walks I would like to have taken if only to set the contrast from what I would have seen just fifty years earlier in the summer of 1853.

Now I have been writing about a series of walks that you could have made along what was then called Barlow Moor Lane north from the junction with Chorlton Row up past Lane End, and on into Martledge.*

We would have seen a few fine houses, a couple of farms, and a mix of more humble dwellings along with a pub and beer shop all surrounded by fields and the meandering Rough Leech Gutter.
But by 1893 the fields had all but gone, as had two of the farm houses, and the old wattle and daub cottages.

There was still a little of that old Chorlton to see.  Up where the Library now stands was Redgate Farm and just before it Renshaws Buildings which dated from the early 1830s and lasted well into the 1920s.

And tucked away in splendid isolation in their own grounds and hidden behind high walls were Beech House and Oak Bank.  These two dated back to the early decades of the 19th century and both in that summer of 1893 would soon also be demolished.

Renshaws Buildings to our right and the Temprence hall to the left circa 1900
In their place would be the houses that still line Barlow Moor Road and Manchester Road.

These were the product of the housing boom from the 1880s and were the homes of the professional, business and clerical families, many of who used the newly opened Chorlton station to get into the heart of the city in just ten minutes.

Now although I fight it I am an old romantic and I don’t think I would have made much of this stretch of Chorlton in that last decade of the 19th century.

So what would we have seen from what is officially known as Chorlton Cross but is more now popularly called Four Bank Corner, or just the Four Banks?

The simple answer is not that different from today.  What is now the HSBC would soon become Kemps the Chemist and Harry Kemp’s name would be what this corner would be called well into the 1960s.

Sunwick House, circa 1900
Opposite was Sunwick House which is still there but is now the Royal Bank of Scotland and beyond down towards Redgate Farm there was a row of large detached houses set back from the road, while on the north side there were Renshaws Buildings and the old Royal Oak.

This dated back to the beginning of the 19th century and was pretty much just a beer house serving the local population, the thirsty farm labourers and the Manchester trade who had come out from the city for the walk and a drink in the countryside.

The present pub would not be built until the mid 1920s and would replace Renshaws Buildings.  It is still possible to see the kerb and bit of pavement beside the pub which once fronted the old property.

But all of that is a little in the future and so back in 1893 our walk would have taken us north of Sunwick past Warwick and Selbourne Roads up to the farm.

Sedge Lynn, 1885
We probably would not have really noticed the home of Aaron Booth which went by the name of Sedge Lynn.

It stood where Nicholas Road joins Manchester Road. Back.

In the 1890s Nicholas Road had yet to be cut and our little section was still part of Manchester Road which ran off down through what is now the car park of the precinct and over Wilbraham Road. And for those of a tidy mind I might just add that Wilbraham Road was still quite recent having been cut in the 1860s.

Now I have written about Sedge Lynn, Mr Booth and his fascination for amateur photography and it is his pictures which more than anything shows the dramatic transformation of this bit of Chorlton in the decade before our walk.

In 1882 he took a series of pictures just after he had moved in looking west across the Isles into the area which is now Oswald Road and across Manchester Road towards the station.

Looking across Manchester Road towards the station , 1882
Stand on the site of Sedge Lynn today and look towards the station and the view is obscured by the houses of Warwick, Albany and Keppel Roads, which is pretty much what you would have seen in 1893, but a decade earlier this was still open farm land.

Pictures; of Martledge in 1882 courtesy of Miss Booth, Sunwick from the Lloyd Collection and the corner of Barlow Moor Road and Wilbraham Road from the collection of Marjorie Holms

*Chorlton Row is now Beech Road, Lane End is the junction between Sandy Lane, High Lane and Barlow Moor Road, and Martledge was the area north of the Four Banks.

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