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

That fountain in Albert Square

Now I have to say that I can’t remember the fountain returning to Albert Square.

It was designed by Thomas Worthington and erected in the square for the old Queens Golden Jubilee in 1897.

There will be someone who can tell me when it vanished from Albert Square.

I don’t remember it there when I first discovered the square back in 1969 as a young student up from London and bored with the college library I took off across the city exploring my new home.

Nor as I said can I remember it giuing back which was in 1997.

Location; Albert Square, Manchester

Picture; the fountain Albert Square, 2006, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Standing outside Burton’s on Well Hall Road remembering a suit

Thinking of my first suit......... outside Burton's, 2015
Now I am back with another one of those buildings that most of us take for granted.

Added to which a large chunk of people will not even know that this fast food outlet was once Burton's.

The building was on the site of Eltham’s Congregational Church but when it was demolished in 1936 Burton's built their store.

The company was founded by Montague Burton in Chesterfield in 1904 under the name of The Cross-Tailoring Company and was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1929 by which time it had 400 stores, factories and mills.

 After World War II Montague Burton was one of the suppliers of demob suits to the British government for demobilising servicemen, comprising jacket, trousers, waistcoat, shirt and underwear*

Burton's in the 1960s
And so sometime around 1967 this was where I went for my first ever made to measure suit which was a great successor, followed by heaps of shirts, and ties and a not very successful grey overcoat which I took an instant dislike to and did our dad for years.

The shop dominated the corner of Well Hall Road and the High Street and will be remembered with fondness by many, as will the dance hall above.

I never went there but would often pass it at closing time on a Saturday night having walked back from Grove Park and a girl friend called Ann.

It was such a feature of Eltham life that I just thought it would always be there but on one flying visit in the 1980s it had gone and with it a bit of my growing up.

Pictures; the old Burton building, 2015 courtesy of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick and Burton's in the 1960s from the collection of Andrew Simpson

* Burton (retailer), Wikipedia,

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

Manchester Landmarks ......... the Rylands Warehouse

An occasional series describing a Manchester landmark in one sentence.

It was built in 1932 for Rylands and Sons as a wholesale textile warehouse and acquired by Pauldens in 1957 and converted into a departmental store, changing its name to Debenhams in 1973.

Location; Market Street, Manchester

Picture; the Rylands Building, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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

Peck's meat and fish pastes ............ a meal on its own

Peck's meat and fish pastes were something I grew up with.

They came in small glass jars and offered up a variety of tastes, from fish, salmon, beef and chicken and were spread on bread.

I had all but forgotten them until my friend Lois opened up the flood gates of memory with a story on her blog.*

I did go looking for the story of Peck's a few years ago but the research led nowhere and I gave up.

Now I knew there was an Australian connection because the jars arrived via a friend of mums who was given them at work and she said they were from Australia.

It never occurred to me to ask but I think B worked for a wholesale firm and these came as one of the perks of the job.

You were never quite sure what would arrive and I suspect that was also how it was with B.

I remember they dominated our lives and were a quick meal, although now I have no idea which I preferred.

Looking back now over fifty years I see they sit along with dripping, blancmange and tinned fruit salad as part of our basic diet and would only be replaced by the fish finger, beef burger and instant whip sometime in the 1960s.

Not that any of this helped with Peck's products.

The best I could do comes from the site of General Mills which is a food company based in Minneapolis and which has  factories still producing the pastes in Australia.**

It would appear that Peck's were making their spreads in Britain by 1891 and opened up in Australia in 1904 reaching their highest sales in the 1950s and 60s.

All of which fits and confirmed that I hadn't mistaken our Australian paste jars and of course offers up that simple observation that more often than not childhood memories are more likely to be true than imagined.

And in turn reminds me of that post war period when rationing had ended but the full impact of the consumer revolution had yet to arrive and in the absence of a cornucopia of instant foods, Pecks pastes on sandwiches did the job.

Pictures; adverts for Pecks product date unknown, taken from Spreading the love for a vintage Australian brand

*Paste sandwiches anyone?

** Spreading the love for a vintage Australian brand, Taste of General Mills, March 2015,

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

Don't look back ... thoughts after finding Looking at Eltham, 1970

Front cover showing the High Street
Now Eltham is a long way from Chorlton but it was where I grew up and occasionally I am drawn back.

It is in south east London and was once in Kent.

It has an old Tudor barn long since converted into a restaurant, a medieval palace and a lot of my own personal history.

And I am back here again because of a tiny booklet dating from 1970 which I had entirely forgotten I had.*

I guess I must have picked it up on one of those trips to see the family and brought it back with me.

It was produced by the Eltham Society and was designed as a mix of history and current descriptions of the place.

But it is now 44 years old and so the contemporary accounts have themselves become old and dated which in its way makes it as much of a then and now publication as any which set out to mark the passage of time.

The High Street in 1910
And that is why I have come back to it, because here is a perfect time capsule, continuing old pictures of the High Street with what were once contemporary but are now also a record of an old Eltham long gone.

All of which is interesting enough to the historian but what is really fascinating is the section on  THE FUTURE for here the writers have taken the present and with a backward glance at past developments have speculated on how Eltham will change.

The High Street in 1970
What struck me was the preoccupation with the impact of the motor car both in the form of parking and congestion and of the coming motor ways.

"The motorways are not yet with us but the process of land acquisition is well advanced and corrugated hoardings and partly wrecked houses are already blighting our streets.  

It remains to be seen whether a town can survive the devastating experience of enormous engineering works which, when completed will draw a tight noose around its heart.”**

Of course the area did survive and remains a popular place to live and for many people they will not know any different.  And those like my sisters and friends who stayed have embraced the changes and still enjoy living there.

But when you are just a visitor it is different because although I missed most of the blight and certainly all of the building work when I do return I find the transition a bit odd and more than a little disconcerting.

It is a bit like someone has taken your best toy or better still your best memory and altered them.  Not enough to totally eliminate them but just enough to make them seem out of kilter with what was.

Advert for H.C.Payne
All of which is perhaps the best reason for not going back.

As they say nostalgia is a cruel thing which messes up the present and spoils the future.

H.C.Payne at 116 Eltham High Street was where I bought my first sports jacket, skinny knitted ties.  It was a place I loved and it is now a restauraunt.

So I will stick with the Eltham of 1970, after all I know what it was like I still have the book.

Location; Eltham, London

Pictures; from Looking at Eltham, Eltham Society 1970.  I haven’t asked them for permission to use the images and quote from the book but I hope they won’t mind.

* Looking at Eltham, Eltham Society 1970.  

** ibib page 55

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

The Dark End of the Street 1967 .............. songs you never forget

I can’t remember listening to The Dark End of the Street when it was released in 1967 and it was only years later that I came across it.*

All of which is a shame because it is the sort of song that my 17 year old self would have instantly fallen for.

And it has the lot from unrequited love mixed with a big dose of a relationship based on a lie and of course some fine music.

It begins

“At the dark end of the street
That is where we always meet
Hiding in shadows where we don't belong
Living in darkness, to hide alone
You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me”

And after that you are pretty much hooked.

It was written by Dan Penn and Chips Morgan and according to one source was inspired by a card game where the two were cheating and led them on to write a song on the theme of cheating.**

It took them just 30 minutes and was first recorded by James Carr and later by Percy Sledge.***

 Percy Sledge has always been one of my favourite singers but on this occasion I have to say that James Carr wins it for me.

But I am well aware that the jury will be out on that, so I shall just return to the story of  a love that they stole and the pain of having to let go.

Now you can’t get better than that either back them in 1967 or now a full 48 years later.

Picture; a young Andrew Simpson in the spring of 1966

*The Dark End of the Street, James Carr,

**The Dark End of the Street, Wikipedia,

*** The Dark End of the Street, Percy Sledge,

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

The Ration Party at Nell Lane in the September of 1917, a set of slides and an internationally known photographer .............. stories behind the book nu 7

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

The Ration Party, 1917
Now this is one of those images that you wish you could know more about.

We are at the Nell Lane Hospital in the September of 1917.

The site began as the Withington Workhouse in the 1850s built by the Chorlton Union to replace the smaller one in Hulme and there will be many who remember the hospital wings of the building.

Unknown stories, 1917
If I think hard enough I might be able to remember passing that entrance on plenty of occasions.

Our eldest two were born there and for a while we never seemed to be out of the casualty department with everything from sporting injuries to the repercussions of falling out of a tree.

I doubt that any of the ration party will have been there for long and in time their memories of the place will have faded.

But for each of those ten men in the group along with the soldier and nurse in the doorway there will be a story but they will be stories we can only guess at.

I am drawn to the young man holding something to his eye and to the chap at the back who has lost a leg.

But without names there is no way of revealing their lives.

Edward Ward, 249 Oxford Road, 1911
And so instead I wondered by the photographer who is listed as Ward at 249 Oxford Road.

This was Edward Vincent Ward who operated a photographic studio from Oxford Road.

He died in 1921 and there are some fine examples of his pictures on a site exploring the work of his father. **

In time I shall go looking for Edward Vincent and with luck somewhere I may turn up a catalogue of his postcards.

In the meantime it is his father who has caught my interest.

He was Edward Ward senior who was born in 1844 and died in 1901.

In 1871 he was a travelling salesman and on the night of the census of that year was staying in a
“boarding in Hull, Yorkshire. His wife and 9 month-old daughter were back home in Coventry at 38 Bradford St. 

249 Oxford Road, 1893
Exactly what Ward did while travelling is not known. His obituary indicates that it was connected with his interests in microscopy and photography, so he may have been selling equipment........ At some point between January, 1873, and October, 1874, the Ward family moved to Higher Broughton, Manchester.

By 1879, Ward had opened a shop that specialized in microscope slides, unmounted specimens, and associated apparatus. He was also a distributor for Carl Zeiss’ microscopes and lenses. 

An 1882 advertisement in the Journal of the Postal Microscopical Club indicated that Ward retailed slides of selected and arranged for a minifera produced by Charles Elcock. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Manchester Microscopical Society.”**

Men of the ration party, 1917
And if you want more on this remarkable man I suggest you follow the link to the site.

For now I will just say that he also was engaged in photographing the construction of the Ship Canal which means I am off on another search.

I did go looking for 249 Oxford Road and as you expect it has gone but I will have missed it by no more than a decade if that for the studios were just down from Wilton Street opposite Manchester Museum and is now a grass verge in front of the University buildings.

So less a story of the Great War and more an intriguing new area of research.

Pictures; the Ration Party, September 1917 from the collection of David Harrop, and 249 Oxford Road, 1893 from the OS of Lancashire, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

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

**Edward Ward, 1844 – 1901, Brian Stevenson,