Friday, 30 September 2016

On Wilbraham Road in the spring of 1913


Now I tried standing in the road at this exact spot yesterday and failed dismally.  

It is that stretch of Wilbraham Road just past the old railway bridge at the corner of Buckingham Road, heading out of Chorlton and yes it is impossible to stand there.

Well I suppose if I had chosen to attempt the task at 4 on a Sunday morning I could have done it but I can think of better things to do at that time.

But if I had been around on a spring day sometime in 1913 I could have happily stood alongside the school boys and been quite safe.

It is another of those remarkable pictures which reminds us just how much has changed.

Apart from the tram on its way into town the only other traffic are the horse and carts.

The terrace of shops and flats that make up Egerton Arcade had only been up for a few years, while the row which now faces it had yet to be built.

And like so many of these early pictures it is the curiosity of the spectators which strikes me most.

 Here are the usual collection of familiar poses, the defiant figure with his arms folded staring resolutely into the camera almost challenging it do its worst, while a little further away a few more look on and in the far distance the workman also pause to stare.

Of course none of the shops have survived, although part of the glass and iron canopy is still in place and I am intrigued by the large lawn roller.

Now from memory there was in the parade up till the late 1980s a hard ware store with its distinctive mix of smells of paraffin and wood and the accumulated pile of odd things including nails, screws and bars of soap.

With a little research I could trace the shop back to 1913 and it is quite possible that the place had neither changed use nor owners.

After all the Lloyd family ran their shop on
Upper Chorlton Road from the beginning of the 20th century well into its final decades.

What was certainly there on that spring day just a little back from the camera and just before Buckingham Road was the old Pavilion theatre, recently renamed the Chorlton Theatre and Winter Gardens.


It was our first cinema and its billboards may well have been a ready source of entertainment for our youngsters before the novelty of the photographer.

Location, Manchester






Picture; from the Lloyd collection

See better days and do better things ........ the Crown Theatre ......... the day Andy Robertson wandered into Eccles nu 3

Looking at the Crown in Eccles that line “See better days and do better things” comes to mind.

It is again a building I knew nothing about until Andy Robertson took a series of pictures.

According to that excellent site Theatre Trust “it opened in 1899 as the Lyceum Theatre. The intention was to provide a luxury theatre for Shakespeare productions and drama as well as revue.”*

In 1932 it became a cinema and lasted as such until 1963 when like so many of our picture houses it was converted into a venue for Bingo.  It is empty and in the judgement of Theatre Trust is “currently at risk.”

“Planning permission was given in 2005 – and again in 2008 – for partial demolition (retaining the facade) and development of apartments behind. 

These works have not been started, and the building remains empty and increasingly derelict. New plans for redevelopment(as residential and retail space) have been submitted in 2015.”*

But there is a campaign to save it so lets hope there are indeed better days ahead.**

Location; Eccles

Pictures; the Crown Theatre from the Eccles collection courtesy of Andy Robertson

*Theatre Trust http://www.theatrestrust.org.uk/resources/theatres/show/1830-crown-theatre

**Save the Crown Theatre, http://www.savecrowntheatreeccles.co.uk/

Memories of Woolwich Arsenal

Now of all the pictures in the collection of the Woolwich Arsenal this one I suppose best sums up what was done behind the high walls just beyond Beresford Square.

This is the Bullet Factory, and while others in the collection show the Brass Foundry, Machine Shops, Wood workshop and the Boring Mill here is the end bit of one of the processes.

Hence the Arsenal’s name and its importance particularly when Britain was at war.
And also to the livelihood of many in Woolwich and the surrounding area.

After all the Progress Estate in Well Hall was built to house munitions workers and so many of us who grew up in Eltham are linked to what went on in Woolwich.

I grew up on the Progress Estate as did my friend  Jean and some of her family were employed in that giant plant which at its heyday gave work to 80,000 people and covered 1285 acres.

She remembered that,


“my grandfather and grandmother met working in the Arsenal, may be around the year 1905.

My grandfather had moved down from Norfolk and was an engineer.


They lived with her family in Plumstead, and my dad, the youngest of 5 boys was born at the granny’s house.

Dad was born in 1914 and the family were one of first to move into Love Lace Green.

It’s sad but dad’s mum passed away when he was 3 yrs old in 1917.

My grandfather then met and married another Arsenal girl. 

They all lived at Love Lace Green till 1957, when grandparents died and mum and dad moved to Well Hall Road.


Before my mother went into nursing at the beginning of the Second World War she worked on MUNITIONS, as she called it at the Arsenal.
She never told me much but that when she used to open the drums of CORDITE, THE RATS USED TO RUN UP HER ARMS."

Now any one who has walked around an old textile mill dating from the 19th century will be aware of those leather belts running from the machinery to rods in the roof which in turn were connected to drives.

And here they are each machine with its own belt running off towards the roof.

Picture; the Bullet Factory, Arsenal, Woolwich from the collection of Mark Flynn, http://www.markfynn.com/london-postcards.htm

Crossing Continents ............ one picture, two people, three countries

Now I like the way the blog occasionally wanders off across time and space.

In the summer I met Sandra in the Italian seaside resort of Alba Adriatica and later we swapped facebook friendships.

Yesterday she posted a series of pictures of what she said "was my lake.”

I assumed they were of Italy but it turns out that they are of Lake Constance which is in the south-west corner of Germany, bordering Switzerland.

And that made me wonder if my dad had visited the place when he was taking coach tours across Europe from the late 1930's through to the 1970's.

The coach tours were all inclusive lasted for seven to fifteen days and took in everything from lakes to cathedrals, and mountain  to cities.

It is easy to be a tad sniffy and suggest if the passengers looked away from the window they might miss a country.

But that is to be unfair on what for many was their first opportunity to see continental Europe before cheap holiday packages became the norm.

Which of course just reinforces that idea that the world is really pretty small, and without thinking it we touch so many places

Location; Germany







Pictures; Lake Constance 2016, from the collection of Sandra  Muscella

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Memories of Chorlton from the 1960s

Wilbraham Road in 1985
Now somewhere between these two pictures of those shops on Wilbraham Road comes this delightful set of memories from Marion Jackson. 

What makes them all the more important is that it is the most recent past which often is not recorded.

“The picture of the shops opposite the Lloyd brought so many memories back. 

To me 1962 doesn't seem that long ago. I was just married, living in a flat in Whitelow Road. 

Ted Green the butcher with sawdust on the floor. 

Coupes with furniture we couldn't dream of buying.

Wilbraham Road in 1903
The ladies in Elizabeth's who rose early to do a little embroidery to start the day. 
Bentons the tobacconist with its wonderful interior. 

Gannons where later I would buy Matchbox cars with our children on the way home from school. 

And Ted and the green grocer who delivered my shopping almost as fast as I got home. 

The flat was followed by Hackness Road and then South Drive.. and I did get my carpets from Coupes.”

It is easy to let these descriptions slide and get lost and with that loss goes a little bit of Chorlton’s past.

I also remember the saw dust on the floor of butcher’s shops, collecting Matchbox cars and tradesmen who would still deliver to the door in the 1960s."

All pretty much now vanished so I hope Marion along with others will keep offering up their priceless memories.

Pictures; Wilbraham Road in 1985 courtesy of Tom McGrath and in 1903 from the Lloyd Collection

Blackfriars Street and the story behind the Palatine Photographic Company and a young women

Now it was Mark Twain who said "never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, unless you can't think of anything better" and I have to admit I was tempted.

Sometime in the early 20th century this young women wandered into the studios of the Palatine Photographic Company and had her picture taken.

I don’t know who she was, exactly when she posed for the picture or if this was a special occasion.

The photograph was one of a large number of images that Ron Stubley passed over to me recently.

They consist of picture postcards, birthday cards and a group of family photos.

And it is these family pictures which have come to interest me.

There are no names or addresses and only a few have a date but they are local because some carry the name of photographers who were active across the twin cities.

Most are old fashioned portraits and are of single individuals, but one has a young soldier in uniform and his wife and looks to be from the Great War.

Another is of a teenager and carries the caption “Passed away Feb 4 1918,” which may be a reference to the great flu epidemic but could so easily be any one of a number of illnesses.

All of which just leaves those phot0pgrapher, some of whom were big national or regional companies and others who operated from just one studio.

And this is where the Palatine Photographic Company seemed to offer a clue.  Their address was 50 Blackfriars Street and for a brief few minutes I wandered up and down Blackfriars Street looking for them, for that would at least suggest that she came from Salford.

But, and it is a big but Blackfriars stretches from Chapel Street over the bridge to terminate at Deansgate in Manchester, and yes, 50 Blackfriars Street was in that block which inhabited the corner with Deansgate.

The company post date 1895 and were still in business at their Manchester address in 1911 and that is it.

 They do appear on a database but it seems to be the only record of their existence.

So we are left with little that can identify our young woman who may be from Salford but in the interests of disowning Mark Twain I have to say I don't know.

Location; somewhere in Manchester or Salford

Picture; unknown young women, date unknown from the collection of Ron Stubley

Down on Kidbrook Lane in the April of 1871 ............ a story of dark deeds

Now here is a story that passed me by. 

It’s a story of a police investigation into the brutal murder of a young woman in 1871 in Kidbrook Lane and by degree takes you through the twists and turns of the Victorian legal system and offers up an alternative view of the working conditions of domestic servants in the 19th century.

The young woman was Jane Maria Coulson who worked in the home of the Pook family of Greenwich.

She was just sixteen and pregnant.  Her alleged killer was Edmund Pook the son of the family and the rest as they say is one to read.

But without spoiling it I will reveal that the crime is still unsolved and that the author has gone over the evidence with fresh eyes and draws a conclusion.

Location; London

Picture; cover from the book

*Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrook Lane, Paul Thomas Murphy, 2016 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester ............. nu 52 underneath the Arndale

For anyone born after 1970 streets like Blue Boar Court, Bulls Head Yard, Watling Street and Spring Alley will be as remote as any of those little alleys that led away from the Coliseum in the Rome of the Emperors.

Watling Street from Shudehill, 1971
Of course there will be plenty who do remember Bulls Head Yard and in particular Watling Street which was once home to the old Hen and Poultry Market where the birds were displayed in cages and until recently the Mosley Arms which was serving pints by the middle of the 19th century.

Along with Watling Street, Spring Alley, Friday Street and Peel Street it vanished with the building of the Arndale.

But for the curious with a bit of imagination and an old map it is possible to recreate something of that warren of streets.

Watling Street ran off Shudehill almost opposite Thornely Brow and is today under the tall and twisty exit from the multi storey car park, which for even the most vivid of imaginations is a bit of a challenge.

So because Watling Street joined Friday Street which in turn joined High Street we will do the journey in reverse and begin with that entrance into the Arndale from High Street.

The Hen and Poultry Market, 1889
And by taking the main walk way east towards Exchange Court we will be walking roughly parallel with Friday Street which joined Watling Street passing a series of small entries including the one that gave access to Spring Alley.

All of which I suspect is very confusing so having included one picture of Watling Street from 1971 I will finish with an earlier one of the Hen and Poultry Market in 1889.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Watling Street from Shudehill, 1971, A P Morris, m05604 and the Hen and Poultry Market, 1889, S L Coulthurst, m80957, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

Crossing the river at Woolwich

We were on our way back north from a holiday in Kent and missed the M25.

Now I could have owned up straight away and blamed my map reading but instead as you do I turned it into an adventure.

Our new route I discovered would take us past the old family house in Eltham and always one to seize an opportunity suggested to Tina that we make the river crossing at Woolwich on the ferry.

So we took the scenic route stopping in the High Street for some pasties and a look at the parish church, which in turn allowed me to talk about Saturday nights in the dance hall above Burtons, and on to Well Hall.

I rather fancied another stop at the Pleasaunce  to show off the Tudor Barn but could see consumer resistance setting in, it was after all a long drive to Manchester and I was in the passenger seat, so we just slowed down on Well Hall Road as we went past 294 and then up to Shooters Hill and the drop back down in to Woolwich. All of which impressed Tina as did the ferry.

Now those of us who have used it all our lives can be a tad dismissive of the journey.

You often have to wait a long time to get on, the trip across is short and often accompanied by gust of cold river wind, but it can still be pretty good.

Add to that a hot sunny day and we were set up for the long drive north.

And I had forgotten just how much the Thames still means to me.

Even now I only really feel at home as the train from Charing Cross passed over the river and we arrive at Waterloo which I grant you may sound so much romantic and nostalgic tosh but there you are that is how it is.

I suppose it’s partly because we never lived that far away from it and so for me it marks many of my childhood memories.  Like the time Jimmy O’Donnell, John Cox and I went exploring along the beach below Greenwich Pier.

We could have chosen the stretch in front of the Naval College which was clean and from memory even had a little sand.

Instead we took the steps down to the river beside the brick dome which contains the stairs to the start of the foot tunnel and turned upriver and past a couple of beached Thames barges and promptly sank in the oily mud up to our ankles and had to be rescued by a bargee.

Now I suppose we should have been thankful, but we still had to face a two mile walk back to New Cross and the inevitable inquest into how shoes and socks were covered in Thames mud.

To this day I have to admit that under the stern questioning of my mother and to my continued shame I blamed the other two for my misfortune.

Then of course it was still a working river all noise, dirt, powerful smells and full of cranes, barges and ships.

All of which was difficult for Tina to take in.  I told her about the old power station, the food factory I worked at and summers evening on the water front at the Cutty Sark pub listening the dull bang of the barges knocked together by the swell from a passing boat, none which quite fitted with the empty expanse looking east and west.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

British Home Children ............... the continuing story

Imagine being 7 again, and imagine that grownups have decided that your future lies on the other side of the world far from Ancoats, Greengate or Woolwich.

You may or not being going with your siblings but you will certainly be leaving your parents to start a new life in a farming community or in the home of some well off couple.

And that in a nut shell is the story of British Home Children, migrated in their thousands from 1870 to Canada, Australia and other bits of the old Empire.

It is still a story which for many is an unknown piece of history and so anything that brings it out of the shadows is to be welcomed.

I first came across British Home Children a decade ago when in the course of some family research I found our own who left Britain in 1914 for Canada.

He was my great uncle and he had been in care along with his brothers and sister for most of his young life.

That was a revelation more so because none of us knew anything about him but during the last ten years I discovered more and in the process met other people who were set on the same path of discovery as me.

Many of us subscribe to BHC sites dedicated to helping others find out more and in this age of social networking there are a shedload of facebook groups and pages.

And that brings me to  the newsletters and in particular this one.

It isn’t the only one and I shall be featuring others during the month, but the October edition of British Home Children is out today.*

And yes I write for it but given that the other newsletters and groups will feature later I have no problem in featuring this one.

BHC is a subject very close to our family, which links us back to Derby where great grandmother came from,crosses  the Atlantic to where great uncle Roger was settled and more of our family.

But it also brings me back to where I grew up in London and to Manchester where the Manchester & Salford Boys' and Girls' Refuges migrated young people from the twin cities to Canada between 1870 and 1914.

Pretty much got the lot then.

Location; Britain and Canada

Picture; cover of British Home Children October 2016

* British Home Children October 2016, http://media.wix.com/ugd/186d15_6a66a3f45da4484d8d139e60be2bb587.pdf

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A map, dance lessons in the Con Club and a mystery

Now here is one of those fascinating little bits of history which like so many is the result of nothing more dramatic than turning out a cupboard drawer.

It is a map of Chorlton drawn on linen and takes us back to dance lessons in the late 50s and a friendship.

And because my friend Ann found the map I will let her tell the story

“I was putting something away in a drawer, and came across this map.

When I was 13, I used to go for dance lessons at 'Rogers and Lamont', who used to be in the room above the Conservative Club, on Wilbraham Road. 

I met a boy there, who used to walk me home. He was 16, and worked at a printers in Manchester, and to show me where he worked, he drew me this map on linen.

That was 60 years ago. I wonder if he is still alive?  I'd love to be able to tell him I've still got his map.”

I hope he is too and during the evening I shall go looking for him.

It may lead nowhere but I will enjoy the search.

And of course for anyone with a keen interest in the bus routes of 1956 David was helpful enough to add these to the map.

The 94 and 82 were still running when I washed up here in 1976 and I often took the 82 in the 80s all the way up to Oldham to visit my friend Lois, while the 94 whisked you down Manchester Road along Seymour Grove and off into town via I think Deansgate.

I do have a 1961 bus timetable and map so I shall go and look at that, but I am pretty sure that before the night draws in someone will have been in touch with the routes and times.

And I rather hope this will stir the post and we get some memories of Rogers and Lamont, dance lessons and maybe even David.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; hand drawn map of Chorlton, circa 1956 by David Jones from the collection of Ann Love

A Chorlton wedding in the April of 1913 and a tiny mystery

I doubt I would ever have got to know about Mr Hugget Billing and Miss Vivien Horsfall Attwood if it weren’t for Sally’s wedding photograph.

The couple were married at St Clements Church in Chorlton-cum-Hardy on April 16th 1913, and on that Wednesday the Manchester Courier was on hand to record the event which according to the paper was “crowded.”

And I think that may have been down to Vivien’s father who was a journalist and newspaper editor.

As such he will have been well known, added to which the family had lived in Chorlton on Cavendish Road from at least 1901 and so I guess there would have been plenty of local well wishers.

Mr Herbert Huggins Billing was a salesman who had been born in Rusholme, lived in Ancoats and in 1911 was residing in Longsight.

The couple settled in Chorlton and lived at 42 Claude Road.  Vivien died in 1930 and Herbert Huggins fourteen years later.

In time I will delve deeper into their stories.  I know they had two daughters and just before his death Vivien’s father was living opposite them at number 55 Claude Road.

Of course all such research runs the danger of becoming intrusive especially if there are direct living relatives and so I am minded to concentrate on what their lives might tell us about Chorlton and Manchester during the first half of the 20th century.

The records of how much all three left when they died reveal something of their financial background and a future hunt will tell us which paper Vivien’s father edited, and in time I might solve the little mystery of why her parents and her husband are all buried in Southern Cemetery but she is missing from the family plot.

That maybe because she died at Oakmore in Cheshire but I can’t be sure.

That said even I have to own up to a little curiosity and wonder why Miss Attwood gave her age as 28 in 1913 when she was in fact 31.



Picture; A Chorlton Wedding, the Manchester Courier, April 17 1913, from the collection of Sally Dervan

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

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester ....... nu 51 Lizard Street the one they won’t let you down

Now most of us won’t even give Lizard Street a second glance and more so because Gary the Guardian has the keys and regularly locks the gate.

And that leads me to Antony’s picture which he sent over yesterday accompanied by the comment

“Has this city-centre street featured in your blogs?

You can work out most street name origins with a bit of educated guesswork but why would you name a street after a lizard?”

So I shall go and look at my book that offers up explanations for our street names but in the meantime I bet some will know.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Lizard Street, 2016 from the collection of Antony Mills

Of bandstands, demolished churches and a closed pub, Plumstead Common in 1915

Now every good park should have a bandstand.

They were after all the centre of many parks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which reflected both civic pride and that long history of listening to music in the open air.

I remember the one in Telegraph Hill Park which by the time I knew it had become a sad and forlorn thing.

It had long ago lost its cast iron pillars and roof and was pretty much just an abandoned lump which you past on the way through the park to school.

Now I have discovered an old post card of the bandstand and I think at some stage I will write about it.

But in the meantime I have fastened on another which stood on Plumstead Common.

It must be a full thirty years since I was last there and of course back then I wasn’t looking out for bandstands.

As I remember we called in at the pub on the edge of the Common.

All of which is a lead in to the picture which dates from around 1915, and shows the band stand, and St Margaret’s which was completed in 1859 and lasted just over a century and a bit. It closed in 1968 and was demolished in 1974.

I rather think the bandstand might also have gone and according to one of my sister the pub has also shut up shop.

Well that as they say is how things changes.

Picture; courtesy of Kristina Bedford.

Ms Bedford’s book on Woolwich Through Time was published by Amberley earlier this year.

Maps pictures drawings .....all you ever wanted to see

Now here is a new way of learning about our past which is free and offers up thousands of historic images of London.*

The resource has just been launched online and has a wealth of photographs, prints, drawings and posters from London's past.

Each image is available to view via an interactive map showing their locations.

This new exciting project has been created by London Metropolitan Archives in partnership with the Guildhall Art Library and contains 250,000 images.

So if you subscribe to Samuel Johnson’s famous observation that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford" I am guessing there will be much here to fascinate you and of course it is free.

Pretty much seems a good deal to me.

Picture; Billingsgate Fish Market, 1927, courtesy of MARK FLYNN POSTCARDS, http://www.markfynn.com/index.html

*Collage The London Picture Archive, bit.ly/PictureMap

Monday, 26 September 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester ......... nu 50 on Wood Street looking for the Pack Horse Yard

Now I like the way that alleys, streets and even entries are preserved while all around them major redevelopments tear down old buildings and replace them with new.

And the covered entry that leads from Wood Street to the yard of the Pack Horse pub is just such an example.

Now if you go looking for the entry the chances are that you will miss it because for certain parts of the day and night the entry is closed off by a door which you might just assume is one of the doors that leads into the Wood Street Mission.

And if you went looking for the Pack House Yard you won’t find that either.

The Pack Horse or the Free Mason’s Tavern as it was sometimes called was on Bridge Street.

The building is still there but now goes under the name of the Bridge which given its location on Bridge Street makes perfect sense.

It’s a long thin place and at the back there is a door into the yard, go through the yard and you will enter a tiled passage way which leads out onto Wood Street.

And there you have it, retrace your steps and you walk into the yard of the old Pack Horse and by degree into the pub and out on to Bridge Street.

For those who like just a bit of atmosphere the yard also has an old fashioned lamps post.

All of that said I know the passageway is not a street but if you collect the slightly unusual this one is it.

The passageway was there in the 1790s and it seems that successive building development included it in the layout of new properties, and the Wood Street Mission which still occupies the site was no different.

And that as they say is that.

Location; Manchester














Pictures; the passageway 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

When a smelly sewer was just one too many

Now I am pretty much sure I am going to be corrected today or at the very least attract someone who knows more about 19th century sewer ventilation pipes than I do.

But I grew up with one at the top of our road in south east London. It is still there today as is the one my brother in law took a picture of in Plumstead. Of course when you are growing up you take bits of street furniture for granted. Well I did anyway.

Ours was tall made out of iron and was always painted a pale green although the one in Plumstead is more a pale blue. But I digress.

They were for venting the sewers of the more obnoxious and even dangerous gasses which could accumulate down below. I suppose they are still necessary today.

Our Colin reckoned he heard running water when he took one picture of the base.

Now I have not come across one in Manchester but I bet there will be someone who has, and posts the fact with perhaps a picture.

I expect they help date the area.  One source I read suggested that they were erected in the years after the Great London Stink in 1858 and this would fit roughly with when my bit of Peckham was being laid out. They were particularly necessary in hilly areas where gas could get trapped in pockets, and both my bit of Peckham and Colin’s Plumstead are built on hills.

And at least one chap got in on the act and in 1895.  Joseph Edmund Webb, of Birmingham, patented the “Webb’s Patent Sewer Gas Destructor" in  March 1895. At its top, behind a glass, burned a small flame from the town’s gas supply. This acted as a chimney, drawing the sewer gas up to the flame, where it was ignited, thus illuminating the street. The cleverness of Mr Webb’s patent was the way it regulated the supply of sewer gas.

North Tyneside council has restored ten in Whitley Bay and Monkseaton. Blyth council has restored five. Sheffield, though, is the capital of the destructor.

It was built on seven hills, so there were lots of folds and u-bends in its sewer system in which to trap gas.

From 1914 to 1935, it installed 84 destructors, of which 22 remain with three still at work, casting an orange glow on the Sheffield streets.*

And much to my surprise there is even a facebook page.

Which I think might indeed be a fitting point to close on although I have yet to find  Henry Eddie & Co Ltd or the Bow Foundry.

Pictures; from the collection of Colin Fitzpatrick   

*The Northern Echo July 2008 http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/history/memories/3211527.Is_this_just_the_tip_of_the_stink_pole_/

“Having a nice time, sea rough”.............. picture postcards from the 1930

“Having a nice time, sea rough seen some people I know” and with that Betty plunged into a description of the places she had seen and some of the things she had done.

I wonder what Ethel and Bert thought of the card or for that matter the others which they received over the years.

They lived on Church Lane in Harpurhey and the house is still there and although I doubt that they or any of the family are still in the area.

This card along with a large batch of others had been thrown away and were found by someone who passed them on to Ron who in turn has lent them to me.

They are a rich collection spanning the early decades of the 20th century and include family snaps, posed studio portraits and lots of seaside cards.

Ron hoped that we might be able reveal something of the family and also a bit about Betty, which I hope we will.

Which just leaves me to reflect on the gentle humour of the card.

Location; on holiday

Picture; picture postcard circa 1930s from the collection of Ron Stubley

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester ....... nu 49 Mayfield Cottages moved so Mr Topping could catch a train

You won’t find Mayfield Cottages, they were swept away in 1910 when Mayfield Railway Station was opened so Mr Topping could catch a train.
The Star & Garter, 2015

But then you won’t be able to catch a train from Mayfield Railway Station.

It closed to passenger traffic just 50 years after it was opened and the last trains left in 1986.

It had acted as a relief for London Road Railway Station, having five platforms and recently it was proposed to reinstate it to help ease the congestion of traffic at Piccadilly.

But the latest plans which are part of the bold and innovative Northern Hub would see it demolished and an extension to Piccadilly with two new platforms running over Fairfield Street.

The Star & Garter, 1849, on Boardman Street
And that brings me to the Star and Garter which if it is doesn’t vanish under the new scheme will be so close that with a bit of ingenuity the publican could pass pints up to railway passengers.

The Star and Garter is a magic place, part old fashioned pub but also a venue for live music and a place which many people will remember with affection.

It has stood on the corner of Travis and Fairfield Street since at least 1879 and moved from its previous site between 1876 and ’79.

That previous site was on Boardman Street which is now Baring Street and where the pub once stood is at present just a bit of open land on the corner of Fairfield Street.

Now depending on which source you read the original Star and Garter opened in 1801 or 1803 when an enterprising individual saw the potential in an area which was fast being developed with residential, industrial and commercial properties.

The Star & Garter and Mayfield Railway Station, 2014
That said the name of the pub doesn’t appear in any of the early street directories although it is clearly labelled on both the 1849 OS map and that of Adshead’s map of 1851.

Of course its absence from the street directories proves nothing given that Boardman Street doesn’t appear in any listings.

And so what is needed is a trawl of the rate books and licensing records which should offer up the answer.

Mayfield Cottages in 1849
In the meantime I shall just ponder on the name of Mayfield which is currently associated with the disused railway station and was once the site of two schools and nine properties of which five were back to back.

And go back into the 18th century and the area is shown as Mayfield.

All of which leaves me to ponder on how the name will survive into the future.

Location; Manchester

Painting; Paintings from Painting; The Star & Garter Manchester. Painting © 2015 Peter Topping, Pictures
Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk



Pictures; of the Star and Garter, 2014 from the collection of Andy Robertson and maps of the area from the 1842-44 OS for Manchester & Salford, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

The Eltham we have lost, part 2........ The old lane by the National Schools, 1908

Another of those pictures of Eltham’s past which need no comment

This is the old lane by the National Schools as it was in 1908.  The lane is now Archery Road and 'One acre Allotments' was on the right.









Picture; the old lane,  from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm

Who remembers N & J Walley, Provisions and Tobacco, 358 Barlow Moor Road?


One of the nice things about the blog is the way that people kindly share their photographs.

This is one that Linda sent me.  It is one of the shops on Barlow Moor Road facing the bus station.

In the last few years these two parades of shops running from St Ann’s Road up towards Sandy Lane have undergone that sort of change which reflects what has happened to Chorlton.

They were built sometime after 1911 and were the traditional type of shops you can find anywhere.  Well into the 1990s there was a bakery, newsagents, the launderette, and Kingspot known affectionately as “Kingy” where you could get everything from a washing line, a variety of plastic toys to that picture of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

And despite the renovation of the cast iron veranda there was a tiredness about the place which was not helped as more and more of them became vacant.

Now of course the transformation is almost complete and stretching across the two blocks are smart new bars and eating places.  Each time I go past I make a mental note of the ratio between those offering food and drink and the rest.

So to Linda’s picture.  The renovation was finished and this bit of history has been lost again. So  here out in the light for the first time in decades is the old sign for N & J Walley who ran a “Provisions” and “Tobacco” shop on the site.

I don’t remember them but I know there will be someone who does and who may have bought their butter, tea and biscuits from them.  By the early 70s they may have gone, because Linda thinks “it was the Spar shop when I first came to Chorlton 41 years ago.  I remember Seals the green grocers, Doyle's the key cutters, a chemist, a TV rental shop, the bakers the newsagents, and my children's favourite - King spot, as well as my favourite Smiths bread shop and there was also just one Chinese chip shop, and the launderette.”

Now that is pretty much as I remember it too and in the way of things I also used most of those shops from time to time.  But in the space of the time between Linda taking the picture and sending it, “they have covered up a section of the old sign and put decking down” which means that there will be an almost complete strip of bars restaurants and takeaway outlets.  So I shall close with these pictures from 1958 of the same spot.

And no sooner has this been posted than Ann wrote to me that "in the fifties, the shop at the side of the alley was a sweet shop, and as sweets had just come off rationing, was a shop I frequently visited. I remember my first Bounty Bar, which was my favourite for years.

On the other side of the alley, in the 70's was the Mandarin Chinese Take away, run by Lily and her family. At the time Howard was going to a class in Mandarin, and Lily used to give him chinese newspapers.

There was also a shoe repairers at the beginning of the arcade, run by two brothers. I think that was the second shop. The first was I think a grocers.."

And by  now the sign for N & J Walley has vanished again.
Pictures; from the collection of Linda Rigby, and numbers 360-350 Barlow Moor Road, m17609, and 366-360, m 17607, taken by A H Downs in May 1958, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 48 ........... Byrom Street just half a century ago

It is easy to over romanticise life in the narrow streets of places like Castlefield, Hulme and Ancoats in the middle decades of the last century.

Byrom Street, 1944
There was certainly a sense of community and a willingness to stand by each other, but that can’t really compensate for homes which long ago had passed the test of decent places to live, areas dominated by noisy factories and the smell of all sorts of industrial workshops and where there was very little in the way of open spaces, grass and flowers.

Many of us are aware of the awful conditions of parts of Manchester in the 19th century but pass over those middle decades of the following century.

Byrom Street, 1965
Not only were many of the worst properties still standing but the war had put on hold the slum clearance plans as well as actually creating a housing shortage.

So today I want to concentrate on the memories of Lisa’s mum who was born in 1946 and grew up in Byrom Street just behind Deansgate.

Today it is a mix of new inner city living, and swish office blocks.

Some of the first new residential properties were built at the southern end of Byrom Street in the 1970s soon after the courts and alleys filled with houses from the late 18th and early 19th centuries had been cleared away.

The more elegant town houses of John Street and part of Byrom Street have now all become offices and exist beside new commercial properties which have gone up at the beginning of this century.

But back in the 1940s and into the 60s this was still a residential area and even after the families moved out little really changed till the developments of a decade ago.

Location; Manchester


Byrom Street, 1944







Pictures; Byrom Street in 1944, City Engineers Department, m78877, Byrom Street, left hand side, 1965 J Ryder, m00691, and Byrom Street, early Victorian shops, 1947 T Baddeley, m00659, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass 

A late day in summer on Barlow Moor Road sometime after 1911


It is one of those pictures which are easily recognisable.

We are on Barlow Moor Road and just by the tram is the junction with High Land and Sandy Lane.

Now I can’t be sure of the date but it will be after 1911 when the parade of shops on the left had been built.

Just at the edge of our picture is Christopher Wilson who in 1911 was dealing in furniture.

That’s him I think standing in his shirts sleeves underneath the awning displaying his name.

Next to him was Mrs Winifred Blake the tobacconist with William Armstead confectioner at number 90 and on the corner with High Lane was John Gordon, the fruitier.

Judging by the shadows and trees we must be in the late afternoon of a summers’ day and given the number of people about perhaps close to the end of the working day.

In the middle of the road staring back at the camera are the crew of car number 150 who along with a few other bystanders seem to have little else to do.

Not that everyone is over bothered by the presence f the photographer, so much so that the two men by the lamp post seem oblivious to what is going on while in the distance on the benches in front of the church sit a group of people taking in the sunshine.

And what I like is the little details which fix it in another age.

To our left is the ladder and handcart while beside the tram is another cart and just coming out of Holland Road is a waggon.

There will be lots more I could say about the picture but I rather think I will just leave it at that.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection