Monday, 29 February 2016

A moment on Barlow Moor Road in 1903 and an apology

I wonder just what the sketch was that N finished in the December of 1903.

I know that it was late and he/she apologized for not completing it on time.

That apology and the news that it was on the way was written on the back of this picture postcard and sent to an an address in east Scotland.

And such are the vagaries of history I have no idea who N was, or where he or she lived.

Which just leaves me to fall back on the picture of Barlow Moor Road on the front of the postcard.

It is one that is still fairly familiar. The shop on the extreme right is now Duffy’s but back in 1903 was the chemist shop of Mr Walter Leslie Smith.

Now everyone will have their own bit of detail from the scene that they fasten on.

Some will be intrigued by the absence of road traffic and of course the predominance of the horse and cart, while others will sit and match each property against the same building today.

For me partly because I wrote about Mr Smith’s chemist shop yesterday I am drawn to the group of men who stare back at the camera.

The two dressed in bowler hats are in full stride and may be on their way to work in an office while the lad in the flat cap seems content just to stand and pose for the photographer.

As for the boy in the apron he could have been employed by any one of the shops on the parade, although looking at the list of businesses my money is on either Mr Smith the chemist or Herbert Driver the butcher at nu 49, Mr Lithgow next door who was a provision merchant or  Vernon Vincent & Co, the grocers.**

Location: Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture; Barlow Moor Road,, circa 1903 from the Lloyd Collection

*Down at Duffy's thinking about Audrey's and the man who sold a nit comb,

**Mr Smith's chemist shop is now 398, Herbert Driver the butcher is 408,  Mr Lithgow, 410 and Vernon Vincent & Co, the grocers. 416 Barlow Moor Road

All glass and interesting shops .............. Barton Arcade

Now I know that people have taken better pictures of Barton Arcade but this is one of mine.

Like most people who weren’t born in the city the first time you stumble across it is a revelation.

All the more so if you come at it from St Ann’s Square and catch its impressive presence down that side street.

Other cities have their own and we once had more such arcades. The one in Leeds I like, the one in Milan is spectacular but ours is just right both in its size and mix of shops.

I can even say I have been upstairs.

Location; St Ann’s Square, Manchester

Pictures; Barton Arcade, 2008, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Down at the Throstles Nest something is stirring

Now Andy Robertson has been out again on Seymour Grove with a new picture of the Throstles Nest.

He was last there in July at which time I speculated on the future.*

The one planning application just referred to “Erection of a pitched roof to existing two storey flat roof, including an increase in the height of the eaves”**

And eight months on its the only one that I could find on the data base.

So that must be the work that is about to be undertaken.

Location; Old Trafford, Greater Manchester

Pictures; the Throstles Nest, 2015 &2016 from the collection of Andy Robertson

*What's happening with that not so historic Throstles Nest on Seymour Grove?

**Trafford Council Planning,  82950/FULL/2014,

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Shop doors I have known ................... Stamford Street Ashton-Under-Lyne

Now shop fronts and their entrances do get rather overlooked, which is a shame, because the old traditional ones which will date back a century or more are vanishing.

I fully accept that back then they were fairly uniform in their design but the move to big glass fronted entrances in the 1950s and 60s did for many of them.

Since then a lot more have vanished as town and city centers get re designed.

All of which makes a visit to Ashton quite rewarding.

Lots of them still exist and unlike their counterparts in south Manchester have not become smart cafes, or wine bars

Instead they are still offering up the sort of things that elsewhere you can only get online of a big supermarket.

Which just leaves me to thank the owners of Corletts Interiors on Stamford Street for letting me take a picture of their shop.

And I rather think I have a new short series in the offing.

Location; Stamford Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Tameside

Picture;  Corletts Interiors, Ashton-Under-Lyne, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Pictures I remember taking .............. down a side street looking for the museum

It was the summer we went to Alghero and I had wandered off looking for the museum I had found the night before.

And as you do I found so much more.

Location, Alghero, Sardinia

Picture; Alghero, 2013, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

One to do today ................. “CROSSROADS - AN ART EVENT BY KEN FOSTERS CYCLES” ...... a celebration of Chorlton and its people

Now here is one to do today.

“CROSSROADS - AN ART EVENT BY KEN FOSTERS CYCLES” involves six local artists have come together to celebrate Chorlton and its people.

It opens today at 11.30.

The primary exhibit is a 6.6m by 2.6m blow up of a panoramic painting of Chorlton Cross by Peter Topping and displaying their work in support of this project are Christine Evans, Gwyn Jones, Graham Nicholson Susan Parry and Steve Raw along with of course Peter Topping.”*

Now I should have been there yesterday when Peter set the exhibition up but he sent me a set of pictures of the finished display of art work.

And accompanying them is an instant record of the installation of the painting Crossroads which went up last week.

You can see that installation  by just following the link although I have to say it is no substitute for the real thing.**

And because there are always  lots of people who want to ask about the history of Chorlton I shall be there as well, ready to talk about the origins of Kemp's Corner and Lane End and the story of how we came to lose the name Martledge.

But the two days are really about the artists and how they have recorded Chorlton.

On this you have been told.

The exhibition will be on today from 11.30am - 5.00 pm and tomorrow at 11.00am - 4.00pm.

Location, Fosters Cycle Shop, Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton

Pictures;The exhibition, from the camera of Peter Topping

Painting; Crossroads © Peter Topping, 2016


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*Press release

**Crossroads Mural Installation at Ken Fosters Cycles,

Friday, 26 February 2016

Pictures I remember taking .............. along the Rochdale Canal

Now this one has featured before and will do so again.

We are on that stretch of the Rochdale Canal by the Deansgate Tunnel.

There will be plenty of people who like me will remember when the canal was a neglected and almost forgotten waterway with half sunken boats testifying to that neglect.

I have walked up and down it, seen its restoration along with the coming of those bars under the railway arches and can remember the steam that escaped from the lagged pipes a little further back at Oxford Road.

Location; the Rochdale Canal, Manchester

Picture; the Rochdale Canal, 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

So when did our Police Station close and does that help date my picture of a Corporation bus?

The Police Station 1959
Now there are no prizes for knowing where this is although in the way of these things it may not be with us for much longer.

It’s the police station on Barlow Moor Road and since it closed it has been up for auction,* had a for sale sign and given the demand for prime sites  will be
snapped up.

And of course that got me thinking about how we had a police station at the top of Beech Road and another further down.

It’s one of those little bits of detective work that you visit and revisit but never quite find the answer, but I have been spurred on my ex neighbour John who was curious to know when the old one at 99 Beech Road closed.

The former Police Station, 1958
I remember it as council offices back in the 1970's and early 80’s long before it became the Lead Station.

It was opened in 1885 by the Lancashire Constabulary, and was part of D Division of the City of Manchester Police in 1938 and during the last war it was also used by the ARP.

But by November 1958 when Mr Stanley took its picture the building seems to have become entirely residential which would fit with the story of the now closed station up by the bus terminus .

It may even be that it had opened before that date and so I am off looking for the date of the closure of one and the opening of the other.

And for those interested in these things that will involve trawling the street directories asking people and visiting the archives.

At the bust terminus, circa 1961?
In the meantime it may have also set me the task of correcting an earlier story which proved popular.**

A couple of days ago I posted a fine picture of the bus terminus in the summer of 1961.

Now I can’t remember why I thought it was 1961 but comparing it with our police station I am beginning to wonder if I got it right.

Those buses obscure the corner of Beech Road which makes it difficult to be sure and at the time I wondered if the police station was there.

And a few people confirmed it was.

"Lock & chain," 1959
All of which just leaves me to look more closely at the poster beside the police station advertising the Manchester City Police as a worthwhile career, along with a boxing event and that warning to cyclists to “Lock and chain.”

So somethings don’t change then.

Pictures, Chorlton Police Station, 1959, m17522, 99 Beech Road, 1958, m17665, R E Stanley, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,
 and the bus station circa 1961 from the collection of Sally Dervan

*Lot 039 Former Chorlton Police Station, rightmove,

**Catching the 81X from Barlow Moor Road in the summer of 1961,

Walking away with a bargain the market in Ashton on a Tuesday in February

I had forgotten how much I like Ashton and in particular the market.

We had taken the tram up from Chorlton on a bright sunny day which was perfect for a wander around the town.

The plan had been to visit the museum down at the Portland Basin and as you do we took a slow walk back along Stamford Street and by degree ended up in the main square.

Now the open air market is still in the process of being redone but there were still plenty of the old stalls along with the temporary pitches for our Jill and Geoff up from London to look for bargains.

And Geoff did just that coming away with two very nice shirts a couple of CDs and something for the kitchen.

Jill had debated on whether to buy a couple of pies from the indoor market but didn’t reckon they would survive the journey back.

So instead we wandered off again and explored some of the streets close by and unlike great chunks of south Manchester there are still lots of small interesting shops which offer everything from balls of wool and knitting patterns to fire grates, and fish food.

Location; Ashton-Under-Lyne, Tameside

Picture; the open air market, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Tales from the Manchester tram and a look back to the 19th century

Now the Metro link is a pretty sophisticated transport system but yesterday in the heart of the city on the bit of the network that runs from Deansgate Castlefield to Mosley Street the tram was operating that age old practice of handing the driver a wooden token at one fixed point which had to be handed back in later down the track.

It is and always was a safety measure when railway trains and now trams have to pass on a piece of single track.

And as most people who use this stretch of the network know this is because of the Second City Crossing which is in construction and will see new sets of track sitting beside each other allowing trams to pass through St Peter’s Square before heading off down Princess Street to Exchange Square and others to run up Mosley Street.

All of which has reduced the service to just one line of track from just below Deansgate Castlefield to a point opposite the Art Gallery.

It makes perfect sense and is reminder of a  simpler bit of technology.

Location; Market Street Manchester

Picture; Market Street Manchester, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Telling the story of that house in Sale ............ part 3

How do you tell the story of a house?

Vernon Lodge, circa 1880s
You could start with the simple facts of when it was built, the additions over the years and its change of use from perhaps family home to multi occupancy to care home and somewhere along the way its conversion into a block of offices.

Or do you focus on the people who lived there trying to weave a set of stories out of the historic record and pitching their lives against the big events of the last few centuries.

Which ever approach you adopt it is as true for the council house, or semi as it is for the palaces of the people of plenty.

And that brings me to the final story of Vernon Lodge which has stood on Marsland Road since 1851.

It was built for Peter and Mariana Royle who made it their home with a brief interruption for the next forty years.

Peter and Mariana remembered in glass, circa 1851
So completely had they made it their own that they had their initials placed high up on the outside wall and again in a beautiful stained glass window above the entrance door.

He was a surgeon with a practice in the centre of Manchester on Lever Street where they had first set home after their marriage in 1843.

But it would be Vernon Lodge which would be where their children grew up and no doubt would continue to think of as home long after they had all moved on.

And moved on they eventually did.

I can’t be sure when they finally gave up Vernon Lodge but while they were there in 1891 they had gone a decade later when the place was home to Mr and Mrs Cunnigham their three young children and two servants.

By 1911 they too had moved on and the Lodge was the residence of Mr Heath who described himself as an employer and whole sale druggist his wife of 21 years and their children.

Vernon Lodge, 2016
After which at present I know only that a C.G. Spence lived there because in the December of 1944 he was elected as a member of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire.

It is not much so far but there are other forms of records which will help tell the story of those that lived there, and in time I will chart the changes to the area and the Lodges’ transformation into a the guest house it has now become. Today it is Brooklands Lodge.

Pictures; Vernon Lodge, circa 1880 and stained glass window courtesy of Mr and Mrs Vernon owners of the Lodge

Painting; Vernon Lodge  © 2016 Peter Topping 


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*Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1944, Vol 96.

**Brooklands Lodge, 208 Marsland Rd, Sale, Manchester M33 3NE
0161 973 3283

Our little village .......... stories from the West country by Lois Elsden

Uphill is a very small village just south of Weston-super-Mare on the coast of the Bristol Channel where the Axe flows into the sea.

This area has been inhabited since Neolithic times; there were caves containing 40,000 year-old flint tools and worked and butchered bones of animals including the woolly mammoth and cave lion, there is a Bronze Age field system on nearby Walborough, the Romans are likely to have used the Axe to ship out minerals mined on the nearby Mendip Hills, and the area has been home to fishing and farming families over the millennia.

So… there is a lot of history in Uphill, but I want to explore the little village’s industrial past. If you visit Uphill you'll think it a delightful and peaceful little village with nothing to hear but birdsong and the tide coming in. There are a few businesses here, two pubs, a restaurant, a sign-writers shop, an osteopath, the village shop... there's the boatyard and marina and camp-site and a little tea-room. The only through traffic is going down to the beach... so really we are a quiet little place.

It wasn't always so; there’s a wharf in Uphill which was busy for boats bringing coal and sheep from Wales, for example, and boats departing loaded with limestone and lime. There was also a quarry; Uphill is on the last of the Mendip Hills, a limestone range of undulating uplands, and limestone in past times was a valuable commodity.

Limestone was used extensively for building, and with the arrival of railways it was used for ballast (railways came to Weston in 1841); it was also made into lime by being burned in a kiln. Lime was used to 'sweeten' acidic arable land; it was used as a whitewash, in the steel industry and as mortar for building. It was particularly used from the mid 1700's and limestone was quarried here in Uphill from the beginning of the nineteenth century. Not only was the limestone quarried, but lime was made in a lime-kiln here at the quarry. The kiln was fed with Welsh coal, brought into Uphill from across the Bristol Channel, and no doubt the same ships took the product away.

You can't imagine that a kiln would make much more than a roaring noise, but getting the limestone to put in the kiln was very noisy... the quarrymen weren't just there with pick axes and chisels, they had gunpowder and later dynamite. For safety reasons the explosives were kept in a special store, set into the rock face, built of limestone and with a special metal door, known as “a sacrificial wall’ which acted as a safety valve if there was an accident, the door would blow out, rather than the powder house itself blowing up.

The powder-house probably went out of use by 1930 and now there is little left to see, just some tumbled walls and stone shelves against the cliff face, overgrown with ivy, brambles and nettles... and we can only imagine the noise of the industry, the explosions, the crashing rocks, the wagons rolling backwards and forwards, now all is peaceful in Uphill!

Location Uphill, Somerset

Pictures; Uphill, 2016, from the collection of Lois Elsden

*Lois Elsden

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Britannia Brass Works Ashton Under Lyne ........... a ghost sign that passed me by

Now Hill Street was not a place I ever went to when I lived in Ashton, but we were walking back from the Portland Basin Museum and this was the route we took.

The Brass Works, 2016
I have to say I was impressed with the museum which “is housed within the restored nineteenth century Ashton Canal Warehouse in Ashton-under-Lyne. 

The museum combines a lively modern interior with a peaceful canal side setting. 

It is an exciting family friendly museum, with something for all the family."*

Walking back it would have been pretty easy to miss the Britannia Brass Works which doesn’t much look like the sort of foundry I am used to.

The Brass Works, 1899
So I am hoping that there will be someone out there who can offer up the story of the place and perhaps also something on S Parrod.

I know that the Britannia Brass Works was established in 1872 and that just twenty seven years later “Mary Eastwood of Britannia Brass Works Ashton-under-Lyne trading as Walter Eastwood as a Brass Founder and Brass Finisher" had gone bankrupt.**

On a happier note the places was still turning out bits of brass in 1922 when it was "the JUNCTION IRONWORKS CO., Mechanical Engineers, Bentinck Street, Ashton-under-Lyne. T. A.: " Junction Ironworks, Ashton-under-Lyne." T. N.: Ashton-under-Lyne 435. Established 1902. Directors: Fred J. Reed and Harry Jackson.”***

And the rest from 1922 till now will I hope be revealed soon.

Location; Ashton-Under-Lyne

Picture; The Britannia Brass Works, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Portland Basin Museum,

**London Gazette, November 7 1899

***Whos Who in Engineering, 1922, Graces' Guide to British Industrial History,'s_Who_In_Engineering:_Company_J

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Another picture of Castlefield

I discovered Castlefield nearly forty years ago and always find it a fascinating place.

Location; Castlefield, Manchester

Picture, Castlefield, 2006,  from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A little bit of romance and the continuing story of Vernon Lodge on Marsland Road ........ part 2

Now I wonder why Peter and Mariana Royle would leave Vernon Lodge in semi rural Sale and return to live in Manchester.

Vernon Lodge, 2016
They had built Vernon Lodge in 1851 and as a statement had their initials placed high up in the side wall and again in a beautiful piece of stained glass above the front door.*

Mr Royle was a surgeon who had a practice on Lever Street which was where the couple settled in 1845 soon after they had got married in London.

Their new home was close to the railway which offered a quick service into the city which allowed him to commute from home to Lever Street with ease.

The stained glass, circa 1851
So I can’t quite workout why the family would relocate to 58 Greenheys Lane which was a six roomed property close to the city centre.

I know they were there from 1878 but had moved by 1883 and later were back in Vernon Lodge.

And while I was pondering on these moves I shared the story with Peter Topping who decided he would paint the lodge as it looks today and I rather think he has made a magnificent job.

All the more so when you compare it to how it looked in the 1880s when the Royle’s moved back from Manchester  and again took up residence in the lodge.

Vernon Lodge, circa 1880
The mystery is still a puzzle given that Mr Royle had maintained his presence in Lever Street.

He pops up there in a directory of 1863 and while he is missing in 1876 is back there in 1878.

Of course for reasons I don't understand he may somehow have been missed off the lists at one point, although he does move from nu 21 where he had been for 20 years to nu 25 in the late 1870s.

And later in the week Peter and I will take up the invitation of the present owners who run the lodge as a guest house.**

Not that I will leave it there because there are still plenty of directories along with other sources to trawl through which may add to my knowledge of Mr and Mrs Royle and perhaps offer up the explanation for their brief stay in Greenheys Lane.

Painting; Vernon Lodge  © 2016 Peter Topping 


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Pictures; Vernon Lodge, circa 1880 and stained glass window courtesy of Mr and Mrs Vernon owners of the Lodge and Greenheys Lane, 1893 from the OS map of Lancashire, 1893, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*On discovering Vernon Lodge on Marsland Road and a bit of romance from 1851 .... part 1,

**Brooklands Lodge, 208 Marsland Rd, Sale, Manchester M33 3NE
0161 973 3283

Monday, 22 February 2016

Lost Images of our Commercial Past ...... nu 3 Somerset & Co Ltd Whitworth Street

Somerset & Co Ltd advertised themselves as a packing firm and traded from number 42 Whitworth Street, along with eight businesses all of all listed  as “merchants”

I passed the building countless times and think it once held the offices of the Manchester Conservative Party.

I certainly remember it always struck me as a forlorn and forbidding place which wouldn’t have lifted my heart had I worked inside.

But then Whitworth Street always reminds me of one of those canyons in a western film, all narrow valley and tall steep sides.

I know well the books which describe how impressive these buildings are but they just overpower me and even on a sunny day it’s a dismal place.

And so having been empty for what seemed decades this one came down, served as a car park and at present is a stalled building project.

But it is an exception, even in this period of retrenchment and stagnation chunks of 19th and 20th century Manchester are being torn down and in the process these examples of our commercial past are gone forever.

Location; Whitworth Street, Manchester

Picture; Whitworth Street, 2013, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

On discovering Vernon Lodge on Marsland Road and a bit of romance from 1851 .... part 1

I have no idea whether Peter and Mariana had a happy marriage but I like the idea that when their new home was finished in 1851, they added their initials on the wall, where it still proudly looks down on Marsland Road today

Vernon Lodge, 2016
They had been married in London in 1843 and by 1845 were renting number 21 Lever Street in the city centre.

Mr Royle was a surgeon and back then Lever Street was a mix or people.  On the same side and within a few yards of their home the Royle’s could count four boarding houses,  rub shoulders with a fellow surgeon two doors down and count as their neighbours, a tailor, a plumber, a  linen draper, carpenter and a gilder.

Lever Street, 1849
To the north and east were the working class districts of Ancoats whose humble dwellings stood in the shadow of large textile mills, busy timber yards and much else in what passed for industry in a city which one historian called “the shock city of the industrial revolution.”

I do wonder what Mariana made of all this.  She had been born in the village of Withycombe Raleigh in Devon which was 2 miles from Exmouth with a population of just 1054 people.*

But with all such assumptions you do have to be careful.  Mariana had married Robert in London so I guess she would have been familiar with the noise and buzz of a major city.

R & M, 1851
That said their new home would have been in a more pleasant location with the added attraction that since 1849 the railway line ran close by which could have taken Mr Roberts into the heart of the city in next to no time.

The journey to Sale Railway station was a relatively short one but with the opening of Brooklands in 1859 he would have even closer being able to mix the semi rural tranquillity of this bit of Cheshire with the big city.

And the Royle’s remained at the house through the 1860s into the 1890s.

In time I think I will go looking for more on these two and on their family delve deeper into both his professional activity Mariana's early life and something of the lives of their children.

But for now I will just thank Andy Robertson who out on his travels took the pictures of they home just a few days ago and include a link to the work which was being done a few years ago to renovate the lodge.

Vernon Lodge, 1875
And today as the Brooklands Lodge it is a "winning 4 star" guest house.***

Pictures; Vernon Lodge, 2016 from the collection of Any Robertson, Lever Street in 1851, from Slater's Street Directory, 1851 and in 1849 from the OS map of Manchester & Salford, 1844-49, and Venon Lodge in 1910 from the OS map of Cheshire, 1870-75 ,courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*A Topographical Dictionary of England in four volumes, Samuel Lewis, Vol 4 1840, page 529

**Historic Sale lodge is being renovated, Messenger, August 29 2013

***Brooklands Lodge, 208 Marsland Rd, Sale, Manchester M33 3NE
0161 973 3283

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Gateposts I wish I had known .......... back in Whalley Range with one I like

Now I like this gatepost.

There are quite a few of them still left in Whalley Range, and back in 1911 I rather think Mr John Hurbert Cook would have been quite pleased with this one which he would have passed each day going in and coming out of his house.

I have to say I rather like it too.

And that is all I have to say, well until Andy Robertson wanders back in to Whalley Range to record more of these impressive street objects.

Location; Whalley Range, Manchester

Pictures; Whalley Road, 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Saturday, 20 February 2016

What did you find in the cellar of Hough End Hall in the summer of 1965?

If you are of a certain age you will probably remember playing in Hough End Hall.

Of course we are talking about the 1960s when the place had long been abandoned as a family home and was yet to become a restaurant.

Back then it was an adventure playground for many of the children roundabout and bit by bit their memories are surfacing of what the Hall was like and what they did there.

Now everyone has their own stories and Ian who would have been about 11 remembered the cellar and what seemed “to be a gigantic set of leather and wooden bellows along with two stone fire places one of which was propped up against the wall and the other resting on the floor.

We tried to get the bellows to work and when that failed wrapped a rope around the tall fireplace and swung from side to side.

There were also big bags of what looked like salt.

And when we tired of the cellar we went on to play in the valleys of the roof.”

Ian is the first to admit that given that it was a long time ago, “my take on what I remember may be different to others, and perhaps the bellows could have been smaller or even larger.”

Either way it is a fascinating glimpse into a period in the Hall’s history which has sat in the shadows for too long.

But more of those memories are now coming to the surface and in time I hope for more.

Location, Hough End Hall, Chorlton, Manchester

Pictures; the Hall in the mid 1960s from the collection of Roger Shelley,

Summer in the City

Now for no particular reason other than I took them and they are of Manchester, here is a short series celebrating places I like.

All have appeared before and some a long time ago.

Pictures; around Manchester 2002-2015

Looking for Mrs Fraser on Seymour Grove in November 1914 .............. stories behind the book nu 6

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War.*

The Elms, Seymour Grove, 1893
Now there are times when you can feel totally frustrated when a line of research stubbornly refuses to go anywhere.

And that pretty much is where I am with Mrs W A Fraser of the Elms, Seymour Grove, Old Trafford.

In the November of 1914 she appeared in the Manchester Guardian as the contact for sending “gifts of woollen mittens” for men of the 3rd City Battalion of the Manchester Regiment who were based at White City and later also settled in Heaton Park.

They were one of the eight battalions of Pals who were raised between August and November 1914 in response to Lord Derby’s appeal for recruits.

The appeal had made in Liverpool and pretty much immediately across the country there was an overwhelming response.

Here in Manchester the first three City Battalions were each recruited in days.  The first two battalions and the 4th were based in Heaton Park while the 3rd went to White City after what I think may have been a temporary stay in Alexandra Park.

And on November 20 1914 the commanding officer of the 3rd City Battalions made it known that he would be glad to receive those gifts.

The war was characterised by a huge surge in voluntary and charity work with flag days, “comfort drives” for the troops and much more.

So I would like to know more about Mrs Fraser but so far nothing has come to light.

The Elms was there on Seymour Grove by 1891 but I think has now been demolished.

It would have stood somewhere close to Lime Avenue.

Now it may be that it is still there and I have missed it and there may be someone who can offer up information ofnMrs Fraser.

So there is the appeal.

Picture; Seymour Grove showing the Elms, 1893, from the OS map for South Lancashire, 1893 courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Manchester and the Great War, Andrew Simpson, due out at the end of 2016,

Just what has been going on down at Warwick Road South? ......... now that’s another zippy title

I am ever ready for more pictures from Warwick Road South and Andy Robertson in the interests of archaeological history obliged with this one he sent yesterday.

It is another from his ongoing project to record what is quickly vanishing.

Like many I guess the passing of this building will not rank a footnote in the industrial heritage books of Trafford.

But it was a place where people went everyday, earned a living and for that it shouldn’t go without a comment.

The history of the building was researched by Andy when he first stumbled over the place back in 2014.

He was back a year later after the site had been cleared and a big sign announced “Quality Homes for rent” which the developers added would be “60 Apartments for affordable rent.”

And as Andy’s new picture shows, progress is well under way.

The land was long ago broken, the foundations are in and the walls are going up.

So watch this space because in the next few months Any will return to document the transformation of another bit of where we live.

Pictures; Warwick Road South, 2014, 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Gone and soon to be forgotten ......... on Warwick Road South,

Friday, 19 February 2016

Remembering Sparks the garage on Chorlton Green

Now here is one of those lessons in how history can pretty much fall off the edge of the counter without any one much noticing.

We are on Chorlton green sometime in the 1970s looking across at Sparks the garage.  Like most people I just took it for granted and was not even aware that once this had been one of our farm houses.

And somehow despite passing through the green all the time I failed to clock that Sparks had shut up shop, and what had once been the garage offices had been returned to residential use or that where once mechanics had toiled over leaky engines, broken exhausts and crunched side panels there were now flats and houses.

So for anyone who never knew or worse still had forgotten here is a picture of the garage.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture; Chorlton Green circa 1975 from the collection of Tony Walker

Those British Home Children who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force .............. stories behind the book nu 5

I am beginning to think the story of those young men migrated to Canada who enlisted to fight in the Great War deserves greater attention on this side of the Atlantic.

James Wright; date unknown
Now I am well aware of the prominence given to them within the study of British Home Children in Canada but suspect their contribution has yet to be fully explored in Britain.

To be fair the Together Trust who as the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges has done some excellent work in detailing the contribution of the young men who passed through their care to the war effort. **

And I suspect some of the other charities have done the same.

But I have yet to come across a book which looks at the big picture, exploring why a group of young men who had not always been treated well by their mother country should opt to fight for King and Country.

After all some at least had been migrated because they had been failed by the very society and prevailing ideology they sought to defend.

The Britain of the late 19th century may well have been an improvement on what it had been like in the early and middle decades when the Industrial Revolution was at full tilt, but there was still a huge disparity in wealth and for many a sudden bout of ill health or unemployment could pitch a family into destitution and the workhouse.

My own great uncle had crossed to Canada after years in care and there will many whose own BHC had similar experiences which all goes to ask the simple question why did they then enlist.

For some like my great uncle it was the promise of adventure mixed with a desire to escape the farms he had been placed on.

Thomas Wright, date unknown
For others it will have been a sense of loyalty and duty to their newly adopted country which sat beside that powerful belief that the Allied cause was just and the Central Powers were the aggressors.

I have been reminded of all this while I research the new book on Manchester and the Great War. **
In the course of which I have started to read not only the military records of my own family but also those young men who having crossed the Atlantic to start a new life after Britain had failed them went onto enlist in the C.E.F., and by degree found themselves back in the home country.

In the case of my own great uncle this was in a training camp close to the home of his father who had apparently shown no interest in him and his siblings.

Now I have no way of knowing whether Private William Phillips of Manchester ever made his way back to his home city.  He had been migrated in 1906 aged just nine, enlisted in 1916 and fought on the Western Front.

And as yet I know very little about James and Thomas Wright who arrived at Fairknowe Home, Brockville, in Ontario in 1910 and joined up six years later.  Their story belongs to Margaret Roper who kindly shared her photographs of James and Thomas.

Location Ontario, Canada

Pictures; James and Thomas Wright, date unknown courtesy of Margaret Roper

*Getting down and dusty,

***Manchester and the Great War, Andrew Simpson, due out at the end of 2016

You can never get enough of canals ............ walking the Duke’s Canal one Sunday in February nu 3

This is the last of the set of three stories featuring the pictures of Andy Robertson’s stroll down the Duke’s Canal one Sunday in February.

Now I have pretty much said all I wanted to say about Andy’s trips so I shall just leave you with the pictures.

The history of the Duke’s Canal can be found elsewhere on the blog, and no doubt will be added to in good time.

What I really like about walking the canal from Stretford is the way that you can still get a sense of the history of the area and the promise of what is to some.

A little of of the old industrial activity still exists but much has gone, leaving for a while acres of empty land.

But nature and the developer abhor a vacuum and in the last decade or so tall residential properties have begun to fill the spaces.

So I guess next time Andy walks the walk these bits of land with the  city sky line beyond will be full of new busy activity.

Location; The Duke’s Canal

Pictures; along the Duke’s Canal, 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*The Duke’s Canal,