Monday, 31 October 2016

A day out in Deansgate ......... nu 1 stepping out of the railway station

Now I am always pleased when Andy Robertson goes out on an adventure.

And this is the start of a new series which looks at how bits at the bottom of Deansgate are fast changing.

I have to say that this one was still in Andy’s camera an hour ago as he travelled home, sadly not on the tram but on the bus, there having been problems at Trafford Bar.

Location; Deansgate

Picture; Knott Mill Station from the collection of Andy Robertson

"Affectionately yours" .............. messages from the Western Front January 1916

Now I wonder if either of these two men is "Botty."

In January 1916 he sent the picture postcard back to Dibdale Road in Dudley with the message, “Hello Mabs Laugh and the world laughs with you Snore! And you sleep alone.  Love to all at home.”

I went looking for the house but Dibdale Road is a long one and even though I know that the house was Dibdale Villas I doubt that I will find it.

But I might strike lucky by using the street directories and the census returns but even then there is no guarantee that either of the two men is “Botty."

So for now it is that ambulance and the casual smiles of the two soldiers which drew me in.

There will be those who can tell me much more about the type of ambulance, when it came into service and its general specifications.

For now I note that it could hold eight patients along with the driver and one attendant.

We will probably never know much more and as such it is just one of those many pictures from the Great War with images of young men who are now lost in time.

But it does allow me to mention David Harrop who lent me the picture postcard and may well be exhibiting it in his collection of memorabilia which tells the story of the Great War and are on permanent display in the Remembrance
Lodge at Southern Cemetery.

Location; the Western Front circa 1916

Picture; ambulance and two soldiers, circa 1916 courtesy of David Harrop

The Rochdale Canal 1974


I have always been drawn to canals and also to railways, but canals have that added attraction of water which most of us fine compelling.

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But what really attracts me are not  the water way holidays with those old converted narrow boats or the modern zippy but ugly little cabin cruisers, it is the way a canal takes you right back to that working industrial Britain of the late 18th and 19th century Britain.

Back then they were not genteel extensions of the rolling countryside but busy places where hard people competed, working long hours in all sorts of weathers carrying everything from coal to fine bone china.

Now I not against the modern transformation of our waterways for without the holiday and pleasure cruises I doubt that the canals would still be with us.  All that hard work, dedication and financial sacrifice by the canal enthusiasts who dug out the mud, restored the lock gates and reopened these lost waterways is balanced now by the tourist and boat owner.

So I was so pleased to receive a set of photographs of the Rochdale Canal in 1974 from Eileen Blake. She used them for an A level course and they are the very stuff of what makes a canal fascinating to me.

They are of that section which connects the Duke’s Canal at Castlefield with the Dale Street Basin.

This was the Manchester terminus for the Rochdale and from there it is possible to head out east of the city on the Ashton Canal.

Here then are a selection of Eileen’s pictures with more to follow and later something of my stories of walking this part of the canal.

Pictures; from the collection of Eileen Blake ©

Walking through Eltham with Darrell Sprurgeon, ... part one Well Hall

The first of a series featuring Discover Eltham.*

I am a great fan of Discover Eltham, so much so that I have two copies, and both are now battered and in need of tender care.

But that is what happens with guide books, if you use them it will show.

Sadly both the 1992 and 2000 editions are out of print and so here are short extracts from the book and the walks you can do.

Well Hall forms section F and is a gentle stroll from the Tudor Barn, up past the Coronet Cinema and the Church of St Barnabus through the Progress Estate and on to The Martyrs Church taking in the memorial to Stephen Lawrence.

Well Hall, 69, an attractive and fascinating building now called the Tudor Barn as well as the moat walls, a bridge and some gardens have survived from the grounds of the Tudor mansion of well Hall: all are now set in a pleasant park.

The state goes back to at least the 13th century.  In the early 16th century a mansion called well Hall was built by the Roper family on the moated site of an earlier house and some medieval structures may have been retained.  In 1733 the estate was purchased by Sir Gregory Page to add to his already extensive Wricklemarsh estate at Blackheath.  He demolished the Tudor house and built a large new mansion on the other side of the moat to the east.


The house was occupied by a succession of people some more famous than others and finally from 1899 to 1933 by the children’s writer Edith Nesbit.  

The house was badly damaged by a fire in 1926, and the whole site was acquired by the then Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich in 1929, to become the Well Hall Pleasaunce.

Nothing remains of the 16th century mansion bit the moat with its largely Tudor brick banks and the Tudor stone arched bridge to the east have survived.(69a)  There is a modern wooden bridge over the moat to the west.

Substantial sections of the original Tudor garden walls to the south have been preserved; in the westernmost walls five triangular headed niches (some blocked) which may have been bee-boles, can be seen.

The Tudor Barn (69b & 69c) now a pub, was part of the original Tudor complex of buildings.  Its original purpose is unknown but it was probably not a barn.  It is a well preserved redbrick building, facing the site of the main mansion across the north arm of the moat, an extension to the moat run along the west side of the building.  A coat of arms on the north side front bears the date 1568, but it is generally considered to date from earlier in the 16th century.


Original features include the patterned black brick, the chimneys stacks at the west end and the rectangular mullioned windows (some blocked) at the east end; the windows at the west end are 17th century.  On the east wall the monogram WR (William Roper) and Edith Nesbit’s bell can be seen.

The white column by the lawn facing the entrance is a sundial of 1941.

The interior is worth viewing especially for the Tudor fireplaces on both floors.  On the ground floor note at the west end an original Tudor brick fireplace, and a section of distinctive stone and pebble tiled floor (which was imported later).  The upper floor is dominated by the exposed rood timbers.  


Note the west end  an original Tudor red brick fireplace, and on the south side a wall a later Tudor stone fire place with fine carving.  

In the west wall is a stained glass window showing Thomas More and his daughter Margaret Roper, designed after Holbein’s portrait by Margaret Cowel 1949.

Next;  Coronet Cinema and the Church of St Barnabus through the Progress Estate and on to The Martyrs Church taking in the memorial to Stephen Lawrence.

* Discover Eltham and its Environ, Darrell Spurgeon, Greenwich Guide Books, 2nd edition 2000

Pictures; map from Eltham and its Environ,, remaining images courtesy of Scott MacDonald

The story of one building in Chorlton over three centuries ............. part 3 the recent past

The continuing story   of one building in Chorlton over three centuries*

Number 70 Beech Road, 2015
Now it is a lesson to us all, well to me any way that it is so easy to take a building for granted.

So for decades I passed number 70 Beech Road with no thought that it might have had a history or that that history stretched back to 1832.

This of course was the year of the Great Reform Act, a year which saw a deadly outbreak of Cholera in Manchester, the publication of Dr Kay’s book on The moral and physical condition of the working-class employed in the cotton manufacture of Manchester and the opening of a beer shop at the bottom of a country lane that led on to the village green.

It proved successful enough to continue to offer pints to the thirsty of the village until the beginning of the 20th century and thereafter was the home of a varied set of business from upholstery to selling fish and baking bread.

Number 70 in 1958
I only got to know it when as the Oven Door I would occasionally call in for a loaf of bread and a bag of cakes.

It closed sometime in the 1980s and once again I pretty much took its passing for granted.

But number 70 was on a prime location and as Beech Road went through its transformation from small traditional shopping centre to the cosmopolitan place it is today offering everything from Spanish tapas, interesting coffees and plenty of bar opportunities our building was bound to be snapped up.

It began with a developer who raised the level of the roof much to the consternation of some local residents and later took on a new facade.

And with that sorted it opened as picture framing business and we still have one fine poster which was framed there.

I can’t remember how long the business lasted but like all things it finally closed to become the home of Franny & Filer which “is a unique contemporary jewellery and craft gallery, set up by jewellery designers Frances Stunt and Abby Filer.

Franny and Filer, 2013 
Fran and Abby set up the gallery with the aim to provide emerging designers specialising in handmade jewellery with a modern space to showcase their talent. Alongside a handpicked selection of established designers.”*

Now what the building sells may have changed but it is still a commercial property and I rather think it is the oldest commercial building in Chorlton still offering things for sale since it opened in 1832.

That of course is not to miss out Number 68 next door which has been everything from a stationer’s and post office, to drapers, grocers and for a while a bakery.

The two properties have been linked not only by a common owner but also by the Nixon family who ran the beer shop ad later took over the stationers but that is for another day.

Pictures, number 70, 2013 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, back in 1958, R.E. Stanley, 1958, m17658, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass


Next; more on some of the people who lived at number 70

*The story of one building in Chorlton over three centuries, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20one%20building%20in%20Chorlton%20over%20three%20centuries

**Franny & Filer, http://www.frannyandfiler.com/about-us

A little bit of Ordsall Lane in the April of 1911 and a correction to the original story

Ordsall Lane, 1894
I was on Ordsall Lane recently on that short stretch between Woden Street and Everard Street.  It is a mix of flats, houses and some open land.

And like so many city landscapes what you notice is the solitary pub which in this case is the Bricklayers Arms facing Woden Street.

What is a little odd is that the entrance is not on the main road but up the side of some open land that leads to an alley and on to Freya Grove.

Now that is odd as you would expect the entrance to be on the main road, and it looks very much as if the building has been turned sideways.

But not so because originally that open land was the continuation of Woden Street and our pub was built with its entrance facing that street.

All of which is a clue to the whole sale redevelopment of the area along this bit of Ordsall Lane.  I say development but it is more the demolition of what was there and in particular a row of houses that faced our pub and ran down from Woden Street to Everard Street.

That said I have to admit to getting this bit a tad wrong, for only a few hours after I posted the story I received this comment  from Bernard . 

"Andrew I lived in The Bricklayers Arms from 1948 to 1954. 

At that time the front entrance was on Ordsall Lane and the address was 148 Ordsall Lane. This would fit in with the 1911 street directory as shown in your article. The front door was blocked up when the pub was extended and now there is just a window there."


Outside the Bricklayers Arms, circa 1950
This is a photo of me and some friends at the Woden Street entrance to the Bricklayers taken c1950. 

Before the pub was extended in 60s the front door was on Ordsall Lane and the address was 148 Ordsall Lane."

Now that is what I like about the blog, not only are people reading it but they are kind enough to make a contribution.

And as you do I became interested in them after having come across the Edwards family who lived at number 168 in 1911.  There were nine of them living in just five rooms and that was all I needed to draw me in.

Looking at the remaining 13 houses was to be taken back to that classic period of inner city living where rows of small terraced houses were home to large households.  Most of the row boasted five rooms but a third had just four and crammed into the block were a total of ninety-three people, some of whom did come from large or extended families but in other cases were a mix of family and lodgers.

So at number 160 Mr Tierney along with his own family of eight added five lodgers to what was just a five roomed property, and while this was the most extreme case of overcrowding plenty of the houses had lots of people squeezed in.

The Street Directory, 1911
Here were the usual mix of occupations including labourers, carters, cotton workers, shop assistants and one insurance agent.

Some of the householder varied their occupations depending on whether they were talking to the people who compiled the street directory in the November and December of 1910 or the census enumerator in the April of the following year.

So Mr Cooke had become a hardware dealer in April but earlier had been happy to be listed as “iron monger and grinder,” while Mr Dean chose to specify that he was a herbalist rather than plain shop keeper.

What is surprising is that there was very little in the way of turn over between the six months or so from November to April with only three changes of occupation.

Now I don’t pretend that this is anything more than a snap shot of a few households in some small bit of Salford, and I would like to acquire a picture of the properties, but in the meantime next time I stand with my back to that pub and gaze across Ordsall Lane I will have something more to stir my imagination.

Picture; detail from the OS map of South Lancashire, 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ picture of Bernard and friends, courtesy of Bernard and detail from Slaters' Directory of Manchester & Salford 1911

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The story of one building in Chorlton over three centuries ............. part 2 Mr Riddle, a pile of fish and bag of cakes

The Travellers Rest, 1901
The continuing story  of one building in Chorlton over three centuries*

For just seventy years number 70 Beech Road was a beer shop, trading variously as the Robin Hood, the Travellers Call and for most of those seventy years as the Travellers Rest and very briefly as the Trevor.

But sometime between 1901 and 1909 it shut up shop, sold its last pint and became the home of Mr William Riddle who was an upholsterer.

Now it must have served the community well but by the turn of the century it had competition.

Another beer shop had opened next door and another almost directly opposite.

The first of these was the Beech which was a going concern by 1891 but operated from only part of what we now know as the present Beech.

By 1901 it had extended to take over the other property in the block and it may be that sometime around then this building was either remodelled as the present pub or may even have been rebuilt.

Looking down to the Oven Door. 1958
Much the same happened opposite when another small beer shop was opened in 1879 which two decades later was bought by Groves and Whitnall which had taken over the Regent Road Brewery in 1868 and began a rapid expansion which by the time they were registered in 1899 included nearly 600 pubs.

And in keeping with that expansion plan the pub was rebuilt in 1908.

Now at present I am not sure when Mr William Riddle moved on but sometime between 1911 and 1929 Mrs Laura Lothian opened a fish monger’s shop in number 70 which was still trading in 1936.

She was a widow and we can track her across Chorlton until her death in 1953 when she was living on Whitelow Road.

The Oven Door, 1979
By then the building had been taken over by Mr Jones who ran it as a pet shop.

Later it became  a bakery.

There will be many who remember the Oven Door.

We occasionally bought our bread from there but more often than not stopped off at Richardson’s which
was closer and so I did not even notice that it closed sometime in the early 1980s.

Of course its closure was only one of many of the traditional shops which we lost from the late 70s and by the following decade Beech Road was beginning to look a little empty, but renewal was on the way, but that like the rest of the story of number 70 is for another time.

And not long after this was posted, John Pemberton added that, "Around 1963/64 after the Pet shop moved on, it became Frank Beryl's Bookmakers, later in the 60s/early 70s, the bookies built their own premises on a croft on the other side of Beech Road,where the new houses are now, then the Oven Door, which was already established at No68, expanded into number 70 and became a double fronted shop."

Pictures; number 70 as the Oven Door looking down Beech Road in 1958, R E Stanley, m17671, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass and in 1979 from the collection of Tony Walker

**The story of one building in Chorlton over three centuries,  http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20one%20building%20in%20Chorlton%20over%20three%20centuries

Relics of a former glory ..............

There was very little left of the building when took this image back in 2014.

And I have a vague memory of someone telling even thishas gone.

Which will prompt me to go and look

Location; Salford





Picture; a Salford building 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Walking Well Hall in the April of 1844

Well Hall in 1746
Walk along Well Hall Road which runs from the High Street north to Shooters Hill  on a sunny day and  it is a pleasant enough trip which starts with the church takes in the Tudor Barn and the Progress Estate before finishing with the common and the woods.

Had you done the same journey in the spring of 1844 it would of course have been very different. Back then it consisted of some farms, a posh house and a collection of cottages with the odd pond and lots of open land.

These were a mix of arable, meadow and pasture land with the woods stretching off north and east bordering Shooters Hill.

Here were agricultural labourers, a blacksmith, some “middling families” and an assortment of others who made their living from teaching to tailoring.

And it is these people’s lives in this small hamlet north of Eltham High Street that I want to explore.

Well Hall House, 1909
1844 is a good point to start because in that year the tithe map and schedule had been published which detailed who owned the land, who rented it and the use it was put to along with its value.

So just north east of the Pleasaunce was Andrews Meadow which was a six acre plot of meadowland farmed by Samuel Jeffryes and owned by Sir Gregory Page Turner and a little further north and on the land that would become the Well Hall Estate was Bridge Field and Eleven Acres which confusingly was actually 26 acres of arable land.

Now there is no reason for me choosing these two fields over others except that I am drawn to any piece of land with my name and to the field where our old house now stands. All of which is a bit self indulgent and so back to the inhabitants of Well Hall.

Baptismal record of Charlotte, daughter of Samuel and Frances Jeffryes, 1837
As ever it is the people of property that we know most about and two of these were Samuel and Frances Jeffryes.

We know their children, where the family lived, something of how they made a living and even how Samuel voted in the key Parliamentary elections of 1837 and 1847.

Now the picture is not complete and there is much research still to be done but there is enough for a story.

Samuel was born in 1803 and came from Shropshire.  Frances was five years younger and had been born in Wales. Their early married life was spent in Shropshire in the village of Sutton where they had five children but by 1837 they were in Eltham and it was here that Frances gave birth to another eight who were all baptized in the parish church.

Burial record of Samuel Jeffyres, 1867
At one point in the late 1830s they lived in Well Hall House which was that large eighteenth century house beside the Tudor Barn but were on what is now Eltham High Street quite close to the church by 1844.

He variously described himself as a “farmer” and a “gentleman” and in the 1840s farmed over 250 acres north of the High Street much of which boarded Well Hall Lane.  And despite moving to Westminster both were buried back in the parish church.

It would have been a short walk from their home on Eltham Street to the church but a slightly longer one from there down to Well Hall for their route would have taken them west past the church to what is now Sherrard Road down past the big pond in Homefield and then on by twists and turns to Well Hall House the home of the Reverend Charles Gulliver Freyer and a short walk on to the six houses a little beyond Kidbrook Lane occupied by John Evans and six other families.

And beyond this just open fields up to the common and Shooters Hill, which is all to the good given that this is fast becoming just a travelogue.

Location; Well Hall, Eltham, London

Pictures; map of Well Hall in 1746, Engraved by Richard Parr, surveyed and published by John Rocque, 1746 IDEAL HOMES: A History of South East London, the Universiyuy of Greenwich, http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/resources  Well Hall House 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, remaining images from the parish records of St John the Baptist

The Manchester Amateur Photographic Society, Mr Morris and the mystery of that postcard from Chorlton-cum-Hardy

The request from Mr Morris, 1907
The Manchester Amateur Photographic Society is one of those societies, that continues to interest me and today I have been drawn back by Mr George Morris of Chandos Road.

He was the Honourable Secretary of the Photographic Society and in 1907 requested 30 copies of the prospectus for Art of the Camera which “appears to be one well worth the consideration of all serious photographers” adding that “my society is one of the largest in the Kingdom (nearly 400 members)” and intended distributing them “at our next monthly meeting on September 10.”

He was also keen to request that they should not be sent until “August 10; as I shall be away until that date.”

Now I like that little bit of detail more so because it fits with the fact that he was a head teacher and so I guess was on holiday.

I would like to know where he taught and perhaps his staff records will be in the Archives and Local History Library at Central Ref.  In 1911 he was working for the Manchester Education Committee and details of other Corporation employees are available.

There will be those who mutter that this is bordering on being too intrusive, but not so because it will throw a little more light on the Photographic Society which did some fine work recording the twin cities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Blackfriars Street, 1894
One of the foremost of its members engaged in this work was Samuel L Coulthurst many of whose pictures are in the digital collection of Manchester Libraries.*

So I am intrigued as to who else turned up at those monthly meetings to share their pictures and learn more about the art of photography.

And I come with no preconceptions that this will be the preserve of the wealthy or the middling people.

It may be that the Society itself can help and I shall be seeking their co-operation in getting an idea of the membership and in particular Mr Morris.

He was born in 1867 in Jersey, married Constance Blanche Goodwin in 1898 in Hackney and in 1901 they were living in Northern Grove in West Didsbury before settling down at Chandos Road by 1907.

His father was a tailor and at one point George Morris was teaching in Byker in Northumberland which was a long way from where he  grew up in Berkshire.

So I suspect here is an interesting life and I would like to know more about his contribution to the Society.
What also intrigues me is the way his postcard sent to London to the offices of George Bell & Sons,  York House Portugal Street, London has survived.

George Bell & Sons, 1907
"The firm began  as an educational bookseller, with the intention of selling the output of London university presses; but became best known as an independent publisher of classics and children's books.

One of Bell's first investments in publishing was a series of Railway Companions; that is, booklets of timetables and tourist guides. 

Within a year Bell's publishing business had outstripped his retail business, and he elected to move from his original offices into Fleet Street.

There G. Bell & Sons branched into the publication of books on art, architecture, and archaeology, in addition to the classics for which the company was already known. Bell's reputation was only improved by his association with Henry Cole.**

It closed in the 1980s and just how our postcard was saved from being destroyed would make a fascinating story.

Suffice to say it did and was bought by David Harrop.***

As for the Art of the Camera, by Anthony Guess, well it is still available and copies range in cost from £38 upwards.

A far cry I guess from when it was published in 1907.

Pictures; the postcard from Mr Morris, from the collection of David Harrop, and Blackfriars Street, 1894, Samuel L Coulthurst, m 80496, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*Samuel L Coulson, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Samuel%20L%20Coulthurst

**George Bell & Sons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bell_%26_Sons

***David Harrop, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/David%20Harrop

Passing the Peace Garden .............

The Peace Garden had a short life.

It was created in 1985 and closed just 28 years later.

I have to say it was somewhere I usually just passed through, but on a warm summer’s afternoon as the trees matured it was a pleasant place to sit and watch the city pass by.

Some will point to the noise from the traffic and the litter which was deposited  by passers by but it was just coming into its own as the plans were formulated to bring the Second City Crossing through the garden and re-site the Cenotaph in front of the Town Hall.

And now it has gone.


Location; Peace Garden, Mosley Street, Princess Street, Manchester

Picture; looking at the Peace Gardens from a passing bus, 2009, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Manchester of 1894


I have spent part of the afternoon looking through a wonderful collection of pictures of Manchester from the late 19th century.

They come from a three volume collection published in 1894 under the title Manchester Old and New.  It was written by William Arthur Shaw and the 300 illustrations ranging from small pictures set into the text to full page paintings were by Henry Tidmarsh.

These for me are the real attraction of the books.  True, some might be dismissed as chocolate box illustrations with a romantic hue, but many were of the less prestigious streets and highways while others like the Rochdale coke and gas works vividly bring to life an industrial scene long gone.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; from Manchester Old and New published in three volumes in 1894 by Cassell, text by William Arthur Shaw, illustrations by Henry Tidmarsh

The story of one building in Chorlton over three centuries ............. part 1 a beginning

Number 70 in 2014
Now over three centuries a building can pretty much be many things to many people and so it is with number 70 Beech Road. 

It began as a beer shop was briefly home to an upholsterer, and has also been a fish shop, a bakery and art gallery before becoming home to a jewellery and craft business.

All of which means it may well be our oldest commercial property with an unbroken record of selling various things dating back to 1832.

As such it is only beaten by the Horse & Jockey which opened its doors sometime around 1800 in a building dating back to the 16th century.

And yes the Bowling Green does date from the 1780s but is now in a building which was built in the early 20th century, while the pub over the water at Wilton's bridge is now no longer in Chorlton.

Now I can’t be sure of the exact date but 1832 is a good starting point.

Nu 70, the Travellers Rest, circa 1901
It does not show up on Hennet’s map of 1830 but was open for business just two years later when it was run as the Robin Hood.

But perhaps to distinguish it from a pub with the same name in Stretford it became the Travellers Call and by the 1840s was known as the Travellers Rest.

It fronted directly on to the road and so those who chose to visit it would walk straight in off the Row.**

Inside there was just the one room with all the natural light coming from a window beside the door.  

Judging by the size of the room which was just 3.5 metres [11.5 feet] wide by 1.75 metres [6 feet] long, and its customers were packed in sitting on simple wooden chairs and benches with just enough room for one table

It lacked the size of the Bowling Green Hotel or the position of the Horse and Jockey on the green, but it was a natural stopping off point for anyone coming down the Row.**

Grouped around about were a fair few village homes, and there was the added attraction of William Davis’s smithy just across the road.

Looking up Beech Road around 1901
For those dropping off tools to be mended or horses to be shod the “Rest” was a natural port of call, particularly for those thirsty from the heat of standing near the forge.

Like other beer shops the Travellers Rest may not even have had a bar.  It was a simple drinking room where men gathered, drank their beer and enjoyed each others’ company.

Its first “beer keeper” was Thomas White who was succeeded by Samuel and Elizabeth Nixon and they ran the place until the mid 1880s, after which it continued as a beer shop until the early years of the 20th century.

The corner of number 70 in 1979
But that is not quite all for this first chapter in the story.

Samuel’s father ran the pub over the Mersey, his son took over the post office next door at number 68 and his grandson opened the first newsagents on the corner of Beech Road and Chequers Road and had married in to the Brownlow family who had been making wheels at Lane End from early in the 19th century. ***

So less a story of one beer shop more of one family and what they did in Chorlton.

Next; from beer shop to upholster and the story of Mrs Lothian who sold fish from number 70 well into the 1930s.

Pictures; number 70 Beech Road, 2014 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the Travellers Rest circa 1901 and the Oven Door, 1979 from the collection of Tony Walker.

*The story of one building in Chorlton over three centuries,  

**The Row or Chorlton Row was the name  of Beech Road

***Lane End was where High Lane and what is now Sandy Lane joined Barlow Moor Road

78 Manchester Pubs to see Christmas in

It is day five of that outrageous bout of self promotion for Christmas and what better stocking filler than the book that tells the stories of our most iconic Manchester Pubs.

Less a guide and more a detailed set of tales featuring the people who lived, worked and drank in those 78 historic boozers from the Northern Quarter down to the Universities.

They are grouped together in easy to do walks and so along with those stories there are descriptions of the areas where the pubs are situated, allowing the causal tourist to put the pubs into a context and making it easier to understand why one was named after a potato and another was renamed.

Added to all this there are the paintings by Peter with each pub getting its own painting.

And so with a planned publication date of just before Christmas at least one present will have been sorted.

We are just waiting for the book to be delivered from the printers and are taking pre-orders now at www.pubbooks.co.uk 

Manchester Pubs The Stories behind the doors, Peter Topping and Andrew Simpson

Friday, 28 October 2016

A lost sweet shop from Beech Road revisiting a popular story


I won’t be the only one who has memories of buying sweets at the shop which was on  the corner of Beech Road and Claude Road, and there may be others like me who bought things when it sold a mix of almost antique stuff back in the late 1980s.

Not that it was always a shop; back in 1911 soon after it had been built it was the home of Robert and Janet Connell.  They were from Scotland, had been married for 38 years and had two children one of whom was still registered as living at home despite being a ships steward.

It was then an impressive seven roomed house.  If I wanted I could no doubt discover when the property was converted into a shop.  It was certainly selling sweets in the November of 1958 when R.E. Stanley photographed it.

Nor had it changed much when Tom McGrath took his picture almost thirty years later.  And I think the old bill boards were still there in the 1980s advertising the current films showing at the cinema around the corner.

Today it has reverted to a home as have other commercial conversions along Beech Road.

Pictures; Number 1 Beech Road by R.E. Stanley, November 1958, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, m17659, and from the collection of Tom McGrath

A car, a row of shops and a liitle bit more is revealed about the history of Well Hall Road

Now I like the way that a photograph can draw you in and sends you off on all sorts of new enquiriess.

Mr Abbot's car on Well Hall Road, circa 1950s
So it was with this one that Kath May shared with me.

She wrote that “My Nan lived on Well Hall Road and this was my uncle Bob’s car outside her house.”

He owned it in the 1950s and has promised to jot down anything he can remember about the car.

The number plate suggests it would have been registered sometime between 1903 and the early 1930s and of course there will be someone out there who recognises the make and may offer up the date it was made.

All of which leaves me to concentrate on the buildings behind which when I lived on Well Hall Road I just took for granted.

We sometimes got our papers from the corner shop, I had my hair cut at the barbers and mum bought our first Roberts radio from the electrical shop and yes we used Wells the Chemist and the small supermarket which I think was still trading as Delroy’s and I even have sat for a drink in the cafe.

But I never at any time ever gave a thought to when they were built and only recently when I discovered that part of the site had been occupied by Well Hall Cottages did I wonder about the date of the construction.

Well Hall Road, 1937
And as ever it was Tricia Lesley who went looking for answers.

The cottages which may date from the mid 18th century were demolished in 1923 and the present properties built in 1937.*

What is remarkable is the continuity of businesses, many of which were still there when we arrived in 1964.

Now armed with a directory it should be possible to do that bit of research comparing the shops in 1937 with 1964 and 2015 which is all good history allowing us to draw conclusions about changing shopping patterns.

And even given the passage of 78 years some shops have continued to offer the same service, although like everywhere the onward march of the takeaway is all too present along with the Tesco Express in the new build which was once that bit of open ground with the small community hut.

I had quite forgotten that this new build is very new and that on one of my last flying visits in 2008 the site was still the small hall and bit of green.

All of which is grist to the local historian and leaves me to reflect that I bought a Mars bar most school days from nu 5 Odeon Parade and once visited the hair dresser's next door, and only the once for having carefully explained what I wanted, came back with a "short back and sides."

And it just so happens that Mr Birch was related to Tricia who helped with the story. "My uncle Harold Birch  was married to my dads older sister the one who wrote me all those lovely letters of her days living in the huts."

Now that is how I like my history!  But he still gave me the wrong haircut.

*Additional research by Tricia Leslie including material from The Eltham Hutments by John Kennett, 1988

Picture; Mr Abbot’s car circa 1950s, from the collection of Kath May

Antonio Peduzzi making what we wanted at 33 Piccadilly in 1824


Antonio Peduzzi was from Lombardy and settled in Manchester around 1810, ran a series of successful businesses, was married twice and ended his days in the Chorlton Workhouse on Stretford New Road where he died in 1846.

It is not much of an obituary for a man who had the courage to leave his native Italy, settle here in Manchester mixing his skill as a craftsman with more than a bit of entrepreneurial verve, loved two women and died insane in the workhouse.

But it is the starting point for a fascinating story which was first revealed by Alex Roe who works in Milan, has a wonderful site offering up all sorts of news about Italy http://italychronicles.com/ and is related to Antonio Peduzzi.

I began thinking about the Italian contribution to the city a few days ago in the story Of Naples in 1961 and Little Italy in Ancoats in 1901 and as you do I was drawn in to the history of those Italians who came over at the beginning of the 19th century, which is the cue for Alex who wrote that

“my very distant relative Antonio Peduzzi died in 1846 after having been certified insane. Antonio’s madness may have been caused in part by the loss of both of his wives. He did not have any children either, poor man.

Prior to his insanity and death, Antonio Peduzzi ran what was by all accounts a successful business which framed and glazed needlework, drawings and pictures; re-gilded and silvered old frames and mirror plates; and made and repaired barometers, thermometers and hydrometers. He had premises in Oldham Street and in Deansgate in the early part of the 19th century.

Antonio Peduzzi’s brother, and my more direct ancestor, was called James. Not a very Italian name, I know. I don’t know whether it was his real name, or one he had chosen to make his life in England a little easier.
James Peduzzi married Elizabeth Ward. The couple had three children, one of whom was Francis who would have been my great, great, great, great, great grandfather. I may have got the number of ‘greats’ wrong! Sorry, but it’s greatly confusing.

James Peduzzi set up in business as a picture frame maker in Spear Street in Manchester and later expanded into the making of thermometers and barometers. After applying for British citizenship, James was able to buy property, which he duly did.

In 1848, James bought a workshop and engine in Foundry Street, off Oldham Road. The property included other small workshops, houses and some shops. James’ business, it seems, flourished which fits in with the family rumour that the Peduzzi’s were quite well-off.

One of James’ sons, born in 1815 was Francis, who along with his younger brother – another James, joined his father in the Foundry Street premises.

Francis left this world in 1866 and his wife took over the business, but, and for reasons unknown, the Peduzzi business ceased trading after Elizabeth’s death in 1870."

33 Piccadilly marked in yellow in 1842
So with Alex’s permission and the help of the Museum of Science & Industry whose collection includes a barometer made by the Peduzzi company I plan to explore more of the life of Antonio and something of the Manchester he knew.

Location; Manchester












Pictures; the buildings opposite the infirmary including the premise of Peduzzi & Co, 1824, m5291, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass  33 Piccadilly and the Infirmary from the 1844 OS of Manchester & Salford, by permission of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/   and detail of Carvers, Gilders, &c. From Pigot & Dean’s New Directory of Manchester & Salford 1821-22

Miss Rebecca Chapman gets a job on a Salford Tram in 1918 .......... stories behind the book nu 23

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

As the war turned into 1915 the growing demand for women to replace men in the workplace took on a pace during 1915.  In the May of that year Salford Corporation took on 15 women to work as guards on their trams and a few months later Manchester followed suit while the Manchester postal authorities decided to utilise the services of women in the “delivery of letters.”

This had followed an appeal by the Board of Trade in the March for women to register for work at the their local Labour Exchange and in the course of the next three years women were to be found working in heavy industry, as well as on the land, and in offices and on the transport network.

Of course in many respects none of this was new.  For over a century they had worked in textile mills and coal mines, laboured alongside men and children in the fields and done a variety of dirty and unpleasant occupations often for little remuneration.

But the scope of their involvement and the fact that many of these occupations were new to women marked a sea change as did the fact that some of these occupations were far better paid than their previous jobs.

I don’t know what young Rebecca Chapman had dome before she was appointed as “Driver conductor” for the Salford Corporation Tramways but she was sufficiently proud of her job that she retained both the handbook issued to ”Female Conductors” along with her licence and certificate of employment.

She was eighteen years old when she was appointed in the August of 1918 and her handbook records that her “conductor’s uniform number was 98” and she lived at Worthington Lodge, Park Lane in Higher Broughton.

It is a fascinating set of instructions running to 49 pages covering everything from pay “to the collection of fares” safety and the maintenance of the tram car.”

She was expected to be “firm, civil and obliging in the execution of her duty at all times, answer civilly” and was forbidden from accepting any form of gratuity. **

Her pay on appointment was 6.22d rising 7. 33d after four year’s service.

I would like to know more about Ms Chapman and how she had ended up at Worthington Lodge which was a large house with 21 rooms and 12 cellars given that back in 1911 she and had her widowed mother and six siblings were living in a 2 roomed house on Hodson Street in Salford.

The family had not had an easy time.  By 1911 her mother who was 37 had been widowed twice and was bringing up her family on the wages of a charwoman.

A decade earlier they had been living in a slightly larger property in the delightfully names Paradise Row in Greengate which was hard by the the Vapour-Gas Light Company, gas machine manufactures.

All of which may mean that her job on the Salford Trams like those of other women conductors was a significant new occupation.

Not that her appointment was without opposition.  Tram workers in Salford had argued that “the work of a guard is not a woman’s work and that it would be too much to expect that women should take charge of the early workmen’s cars or the late cars which would keep them up until midnight.”***

But I suspect by August 1918 when Miss Chapman began collecting the fares her job was seen as vital, and not without a few dangers. Just a week after she had started she recorded in the back of the handbook that she “had fallen off” the tram at 11.40 on Thursday September 17.

If it happened again she didn’t bother to report it.

And that is where for now I will leave Miss Chapman.  I went looking for after the war and did find that in 1926 a Miss Chapman married a Philip Shuman but there was also another who died in 1924 so we shall have to wait for further research.

In the fullness of time that will happen after all these few items that have survived a century offer a glimpse into life on the Home Front during the Great War, at which point I will thank David Harrop who provided these three from his collection.

David like me is interested in the focusing on the everyday lives that were lived out through that conflict and in recognition of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme he is mounting an exhibition entitled For the Fallen.” *  It opens in the Remembrance Lodge at Southern Cemetery from July.

Pictures, certificate of employment August 26, 1918 licence September 9 1918 and Instructions to Female Conductors, Salford Corporation Tramways, 1918, from the collection of David Harrop

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Manchester%20and%20the%20Great%20War

** Instructions to Female Conductors, Salford Corporation Tramways, 1918


*** Woman Tramguards, Manchester Guardian May 29, 1915

****Coming Soon ......... an exhibition in Southern Cemetery ........... remembering the Battle of the Somme, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/coming-soon-exhibition-in-southern.html

Four hundred years down at Hough End Hall .............the stories in the book for Christmas

It is day four of that outrageous bout of self promotion for Christmas and again it is time to include Peter Topping.

This time it is our joint venture to tell the story of Hough End Hall.

The book was produced to raise money and awareness for the campaign to save the hall which back in 2015 had an uncertain future.

In its time it had been the home of a wealthy Elizabethan family, was a farm house for 250 years and more recently was a restaurant.

And as a restaurant it will be remembered by a plenty of Chorlton and Withington residents who sat under its oak beams to celebrate birthdays, special events and even funerals.

But of course for many it will be the “works do” and particularly Christmas parties that the Hall did best.

Sadly those oak beams were false and the original were hidden behind a mix of wooden two by on and painted canvas.

That said there are plenty of real stories which roll through the book along with plenty of period photographs and original paintings by Peter.

The Story of Hough End Hall, 2015, Andrew Simpson, Peter Topping

Thursday, 27 October 2016

A garden in Martledge on an August day in 1882


It looks like a fairly ordinary Chorlton garden and if pushed you might suggest a location bordering the meadows which pretty much means Meadow Bank or Ivygreen Road.  

But the title is the giveaway for we are in the garden of Sedge Lynn* and the open land beyond is not the meadows.  We are facing Oswald Road, and the long roads of Newport, Nicholas and Longford and the year is 1882.

In fact to be exact it is August 11th 1882 which was a Tuesday and judging by the light sometime around midday, but I could be wrong about the time.

It is the third of my pictures by Aaron Booth of Martledge where he with his family lived during the last two decades of the 19th century.

I would like to think we are looking at a garden in transition and given that they may only have been in the house for a few months that seems plausible.  So here is a Victorian garden in the making with its Victorian wooden wheelbarrow, spade and packing case and perhaps at a moment when the labourers had gone off for lunch.  Of the three in the collection this casual and untidy scene for me is the most endearing and sets you down on an ordinary day when ordinary things are being done 130 years ago.

And then there is the view.  Back then it was open land popularly called the Isles because of the large number of ponds and small streams that crisscrossed the area.  The land here is clay and for centuries it had been dug up to make bricks or as marl to spread on the fields.  The pits then filled with water and gave the place its distinctive feature.  I counted 17 such ponds around Oswald Field in 1841, and they were a mix of the small and very large.

The Booth family would have had an interrupted view across the Isles towards Longford Hall only obscured by a row of trees.  It was a view which would have lasted into the late 1890s, but within another decade it would have been lost as the first rows of houses went up on the newly cut roads of Nicholas, Newport and Longford and behind them the sprawling brickworks.

All of which makes our picture a poignant image and one made a little more special because the photograph was donated to the collection by one of five daughters.

* Sedge Lynn stood on Manchester Road on the site of the old cinema which is now the Funeral Directors

Picture; from the Lloyd collection