Sunday, 31 December 2017

The lost Manchester Collection ..... no.2 ....... Central Railway Station ...... after the trains departed

Now I never used Central Railway Station.

It closed just months before I arrived in the city and it would be a full ten years before I discovered it.

By then it was relegated to a car park, which seems a real insult given that the car, bus and lorry helped do for the Age of Steam.

Still, when I wandered in there was still much that was left of its time as a railway station.

No one questioned me being there and I pretty much had the place to myself.

Fast forward almost another decade and I was back with John Smith, the leader of the Labour Party and Keith Bradley soon to be elected as the first labour MP for Manchester Withington.

We were there to see the work being done to convert the building into the GMex Centre.

They were a series of photographs I took during the late 1970s into the ‘80s and have sat in our cellar for over thirty years.

On that occasion I didn’t have my camera, but back in 1979 I did, and these were two taken in the old days of film, when I developed and printed the pictures in a dark room using smelly chemicals.

Most never got beyond being negatives, including these two, but the arrival of a scanner for Christmas has brought them back into the daylight.

Location; Central Railway Station

Pictures; Central Railway Station, 1979 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

The Lost Chorlton pictures ......... no 2. ......... on the corner of Stockton Road

This is the second in the short series of the lost and forgotten pictures of Chorlton.*

It sat in our cellar with a heap of other old negatives, waiting for the moment I began using chemicals again to make prints.

Instead I got a scanner for Christmas which does the job without smelling out the house.

This one was taken on the corner of Beech and Stockton Road, long before the shop became a deli after being a gift shop.

There may even be some who remember it as a part of the Co-op which occupied the corner plot.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; Stockton Road, circa 1979, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The Lost Chorlton pictures ......... no1. ..... out across the fields,

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 93 ......... waiting for New Year

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

The house, 1974
Now I know it’s daft to think of a house celebrating the coming of the New Year.

But when you have been in a place for 41 years you do rather come to feel a part of it especially as that ranks you as the longest resident after Joe and Mary Ann who were the first to occupy the place in 1915 and lived out their lives here till 1973.

The remaining two owners together clocked just seven years and one of those barely did a few months before they went off to South Africa leaving the house vacant.

And as I know nothing of how Joe and Mary Ann celebrated the event, it is down to our 41 years.

The Trevor, 1975
At the beginning it was the pub where there was an extension to see in the New Year, followed by a very drunken hour back in the house before we all conceded defeat, went to bed waking up with a hangover fit to rival all hangovers.

Back then the pub was the Trevor and despite the possibility of glittering parties most of the regulars stayed put and saw the New Year in with Stan, Mona, Chris and Lynn who ran the pub.

We always seemed to collect a group of friends who because they were also single ended up with us and that reminds me just how many people have passed through the house in those four decades, from Whispering Dave, to Jen and Shelia, along with the French bunch and of course Jack Harker.

In the Trevor, 1979
Some like Jack were a permanent feature who helped John build the boat in the back garden and often picked up basic groceries for us, while we were at work.

I have no idea how many passed through but all were made welcome, invariably stayed for a meal and often ended up on the setee for the night.

Some of them were part of those early New Year’s Eve Event

Later when the lads came along the flow of friends didn’t abate although we tended to spend the night of December 31st at someone else’s house with the slow walk back pushing the pram through quiet streets.

That said there were more than a few “in between” gatherings when the house was filled with family, friends and work colleagues in those few days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.

Celebrating, 1977
All of which just left the actual night to be celebrated quietly with uncle Michael who brought a selection of Blockbuster videos and a bottle of Moet Chandon.  The films were a mix of ones for the kids followed after they had gone to bed with more grown up ones.

Later still, we slipped in that more gentle set of celebrations as the lads, all now grown up went off to see in the new year in places as far afield as the city centre, Leicester, Warsaw and Berlin.

And along the way how the rest of Chorlton celebrated it all has changed.

Once on those still cold nights the sirens of the ships from the docks could be heard marking the transition from one year to the next.

Today even if those ships from across the world were still plying their trade in the docks I doubt that we would hear the sirens over the noise of the fireworks.

It used to be that fireworks were just for Bonfire night.

The New Year Eve meal, 2016
Now they dominate the time either side of midnight, with their noise crashing and rebounding across the roof tops, lighting the sky in streaks and cascades of colours.

There will always be the one who let them off early, either through sheer incompetence or in a desperate bid to outfirework the neighbours and those that decide to repeat the exercise at 3 am.

But this year as for the last few, we will be lucky to see them, having fallen asleep sometime around 11.30, with me telling Tina stories of Andy Stewart and the Hogmanay shows, all along way from the way we marked the passing of the old year back in 1976.

But just possibly, how Joe and Mary Ann would have seen in the New Year during part of their time in the house.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; from the collections of Andrew Simpson, Lois Elsden and Lyn

*The story of a house,

Memories of that Salford Flood ...... September 1946

Yesterday I reflected on the story of the Salford and Manchester Floods of September 1946.

Flooded streets, 1932, Derby
And as so often happens, people came forward and contributed their memories of the events.

They make riveting history and here are the stories of Dee Watson and Ethel Waring.

Dee, wrote "I was eleven and in my first term at Broughton Modern ... The first I knew of the flood was when we were called mid afternoon to the Assembly Hall. Those of us who lived in the outer low lying areas, were taken by bus to Higher Broughton. 

I’ve learned since we were at St John's school/church hall. I had no idea of the devastation happening to my home in Lower Kersal - not until the floods subsided, and I went back and saw the smelly slimy aftermath”.

Extract from the Manchester Guardian, 1946
What struck me was the way the children appeared to be on their own, which I suppose given that it was only a few years since the wartime evacuation of children the decision to move them on mass made sense, but I wondered if the children’s parents had been told.

To which Dee replied  “Our parents had no idea where we were ... no home telephones back then,

It was like a military operation ... I don't know how others felt, but I took it all in my stride; the war and my upbringing had conditioned me to handle adversity ... No trauma counselling, or even words of comfort in such situations. 

An older sister was in her final term at the same school, so had I needed any reassurance, she must have been about somewhere ... I learned later that my two youngest siblings had been sent home from primary school before the flood came. 

Flood water, 1932
My eldest brother was at home. He worked at the Daily Mail in Manchester and was due to go on a late shift. My two eldest sisters had left for work - before it was known that the river was about to flood. One sister worked at Telephone House, so she must have been aware of what was happening. 

When she had finished her early morning shift, she made her way back to Lower Kersal, and swam the last few hundred yards through the floodwater, then she had to climb a drain pipe to enter through a bedroom window .. During the course of the morning, my father had been across the playing fields - to check the height of the river. 

He came home and reported that he had seen the river higher, and didn't think it would flood! .. .. 

Without warning, the water came up through the drains, and when the river broke its banks, the house was flooded to a depth of five feet“.

And Ethel added “I was 10 years of age at that time the water rushed over at the back of lower Kersal school and we had to paddle home through it. 

We lived Monsaii Avenue off South Radford Street were very lucky to what others suffered the playing fields were like a lake for weeks after.”

Now in the absence of Salford flood pictures I have fallen back on some from an earlier flood in Derby.

Location Salford

Pictures;  flooded streets, Derby, 1932,from Souvenir of the Derby Floods, Published by the Derby Branch of the Y.M.C.A., in aid of the Mayor’s Flood Fund. May 22nd 1932 the collection of Andrew Simpson and extract from the Manchester Guardian, September 21, 1946

*Rescues By Rowing Boat in Manchester Floods, Salford Rest Centres for Homeless, Manchester 

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no. 48 ..... back with a bargain

Out in Woolwich.

This was one of the pictures I took of Eltham and Woolwich in the mid ‘70’s which sat undisturbed in our cellar.

But all good things eventually come to light.

They were colour slides which have been transferred electronically.

The quality of the original lighting and the sharpness is sometimes iffy, but they are a record of a lost Eltham and Woolwich.

And this one really is a lost scene for which no more needs to be said.

Location; Woolwich

Picture; Woolwich, circa 1978, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Buying a holiday and shopping at Liptons in 1981

It is one of those pictures which you recognise instantly and then reflect on just how different it is today.

It is sometime in the early 1980s and I have to say I remember going to most of the shops in the parade.

My favourite was the Travel Agents, two doors down from Liptons.  This was the age before internet booking, and the cutting edge of arranging a holiday was the telephone.

So my trip to Paris was arranged over the phone, first the chap behind the counter phoned the hotel, checking availability, and then I bought the railway tickets from Manchester to London, London to Dover and lastly from the French coast to Paris, booked the ferry crossing and lastly confirmed the hotel.

And while I waited, I stared at posters advertising train excursions to Scarborough, a mystery coach trip to somewhere in the Midlands and two nights in Blackpool, "bed and breakfast for the weekend and the wonderfully romantic Illuminations".

I suppose I could have flown but it never even crossed my mind.  I do know that with the money I thought I had saved by not flying I ate in the restaurant next door.

A decade earlier as a student it would have been the three course business meal offered for the staggering price of six shillings. It was a good deal and an instant introduction to the variety of Chinese and Asian food.

So leaving aside my cheap student meals, I think I will close by reflecting on holidays.  For many they were still a thing you did in Britain and if like me you didn’t have a car then it was the train. Just a few decades earlier it would have been how most of us went off to the seaside.

The bus ride from home to the station, the wait on the platform and if you were posh or just sensible flopping down in reserved seats and watching as people walked up and down looking for somewhere to sit.

Usually we were part of that scramble.  The kids sent on a head to grab enough places, and once we were all settled and the row about who had the window seat were sorted, it was time to open the sandwiches and begin the campaign to persuade the grownups that a jam filled choc roll bought from the local supermarket was no substitute for the delights that were offered in the buffet car.  All of which was made easier on those trains where the trolley of food and drinks was brought down the corridor.

Still all of that is a long way from Liptons, and the old fashioned travel agents.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; from the Lloyd collection, Wilbraham Road and Chorlton station

“The Flooding was the most serious experienced in Salford”* .......... September 1946

Now I knew about the Salford flood of 1946, but had completely forgotten about it.

I rediscovered it while doing research for something entirely different.

And having found it decided it was worthy of a mention, after all there will be people who remember it and many more who will have been told the stories of what happened on the  night of September 20 and 21.

Nor was it just confinded to Salford.  “The Mersey burst its banks in the Northernden area yesterday and last night the Manchester Northenden road was cut by the floods, grain barges broke from their moorings in the River Irewell near Exchange Station and were carried a mile and half into the Chip Canal, in Collyhurst Road 73 children were marooned .... and the L.N.R.R service between Bradford and Halifax and Keighley and Halifax has been suspended.”*

So I shall now sit back and wait for the memories to come in.  I was going to say flood in but that would be in poor taste.

Location; Salford & Manchester

Picture; extract from the Manchester Guardian, September 21, 1946

*Rescues By Rowing Boat in Manchester Floods, Salford Rest Centres for Homeless, Manchester Guardian, September 21, 1946

It really did happen ...... Boy Jones and Millie the Mole ........ The story of one house in Lausanne Road no. 52

Now the story of Millie the Mole and Boy Boy Jones has lived with me ever since I was told about the pair.

The back of Lausanne Road, circa 1955
They  lived in our house in the 1950s and according to cousin Mary he drove the getaway car for a smash and grab gang.

I first featured them in The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and half, and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

I was too young to remember them but they were just some of the people who rented rooms in my parent’s house on Lausanne Road.

Now this was the period just after the last world war and housing was still in short supply, and most people lived in rented accommodation.

It was the age of the private landlord and “living in rooms” was commonplace.

Ours was a tall terraced house built sometime in the last quarter of the 19th century. It had nine rooms spread out over three floors, with cellars and a long garden.

I don’t know how many lodgers we had at any one time, but until the arrival of my twin sisters in 1955, there was just mum dad and me. So after accounting for the three downstairs rooms and the bath room, this still left enough for a collection of paying customers.

The back in 2010
But back dear reader to Millie the Mole and Boy Boy Jones. Now smash and grab raids were at the cutting edge of big time crime.

The gang would choose a suitable jewellers and using a brick and pick axe handle smash the window, grab the loot and escape in the waiting car. Boy Boy Jones was the driver.

A career which came to an abrupt end when he drove off during a raid, leaving the gang to struggle along a crowded Peckham High Street, with assorted diamond rings, a necklace and several watches.

Needless to say their progress was somewhat hampered by the loot and the Saturday shoppers and they were caught.

Boy Boy Jones remained free which was not necessarily a good thing for Millie, who according to cousin Mary their relationship  was tempestuous at the best of times and led on "one occasion to Boy Boy arousing the street as he dangled her out of one of the upstairs windows by her wrists".

From the front, 2007
As stories go it caught my imagination and has fascinated me ever since.

But with all good stories there is always that nagging doubt about the veracity of the tale which with the
passage of over sixty years is now lost in time.

Or so I thought until Gerry responding to the story yesterday commented, "I knew BoyBoy Jones he was my mates older brother their family home was Tustin Street. 

He always drove a big American car. He was the only person I'd ever seen with an old white fiver. 

Wasn't around much as he spent some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure. If it's the same one, and it seems to be, his name was Arthur, I know he was infamous as a getaway driver and he was a nice bloke to us kids ”**

And that is that.

Picture; Lausanne Road circa 1955 and in 2010 and in 2007, from the collections of Andrew Simpson and  Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

**Gerry Gough, 2017

Friday, 29 December 2017

The Lost Chorlton pictures ......... no1. ..... out across the fields

Now some will already have picked up on the new series, The lost Manchester Collection, and the story behind how the pictures came to light.*

And this is the off shoot, being an occasional series from The lost and forgotten pictures of Chorlton.

It will have been taken around 1978 and strictly speaking isn't in Chorlton.

That said I shall have to check the old tithe map of 1843 to be doubly sure.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The lost Manchester Collection,

The lost Manchester Collection ..... no.1 ....... August 4 1980 in Castlefield

They were a series of photographs I took during the late 1970s into the ‘80s and have sat in our cellar for over thirty years.

They were taken in the old days of film, and were developed and printed in a dark room using smelly chemicals.

That said most never got beyond the stage of being negatives, and when I finally gave up on the hobby they were a neglected piece of history made all the more redundant because the enlarger, chemicals and all the other bits of chemical photography were thrown away.

But now with a new Christmas present which scans the negatives I am back in business.

The images are not always the best quality but they are a bit of our collective past

So here are the first of the hundreds, chosen at random,  and are of the Steam Exposition at Castlefield on Saturday August 4 1980.

The old railway deport on Liverpool Road had closed and the Science and industry Museum had yet to move from Grosvenor Street and take over the site, and so on a Saturday in August lots of people came to enjoy the steam.

There was a band. lots of steam locomotives, a handful of vintage cars and buses and this old lady who had wandered into see what all the fus was about carrying her shopping bag and wearinger her slippers.

Location; Castlefield, 1980

Pictures; the Steam Exposition, 1980, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Looking for "June" The Ladies hairdresser and Busy Bee Stores, sometime in 1930

Looking "June" the Hairdressers on Wilbraham Road
I never underestimate the power of a collection of old local adverts to offer up fascinating stories and pretty much take you all over the place.

So here in front of me are a set of those adverts which appeared on the dust jacket of a book lent out by Mr R. Greig Wilson who owned a newsagents on Sandy Lane and also ran one of our Circulating libraries.

Now circulating libraries were private affairs and existed alongside the local public library, and such was the demand for novels and lighter factual material that many of our newsagents went into business renting books out.

Busy Bee
At home in London mother was a regular at the local bookshop who also traded in lending copies and across Chorlton there were quite a few, from the one that operated on Beech Road, to Mr Lloyd’s on
Upper Chorlton Road and of course R. Greig Wilson’s on Sandy Lane.

It is a topic I have visited quite a few times over the years and no doubt will return to.

But for today my attention has been drawn to Busy Bee Stores  (W. Wellard, Proprietor) at 264 Upper Chorlton Road, and “June” The Ladies’ Hairdresser and Beauty Specialist on Broadwalk Wilbraham Road.

It will take some time to date the collection of adverts and that will involve trawling the directories but I think they will be from the 1930s.

Not that Mr Grieg has been much of a help for he was selling his “Stationary, Tobacco and Picture postcards” along with delivering his newspapers from at least 1911.

That said it will be after 1911 because down on Upper Chorlton Road at 264 was a Mr John Joseph Taylor who was a tailor.

Now Mr Wellard was trading as an iron monger at the shop by 1929 and Charles Slightman who also advertised on the dust cover was selling his newspapers and lending out his collection of over 1,000 books from his lending library on Manchester Road from 1923 through to 1935 so we are in the right decade and a bit.

And until those directories yield up a definite date I am settling for sometime in the 1930s for it was around then that “June” at the Broadwalk began Permanent Waxing by the Nestlé System which was the "Radione" system in which the hair was wound dry and inserted into hollow cellophane tubes sealed at both ends, but contained moistened paper”*

Long along Wilbraham Road circa 1930s
She was in her saloon at 523 Wilbraham Road by 1929 but Karl Nessler who had perfected his alternative method of curling hair in 1905 using a mixture of cow urine and water did not come up with the improvement which he called the Nestlé System until the 30’s.

“June” charged 20/- for the process and also offered "Tinting, Manicure, Face Massage , [and] all kinds of hair work carried out by experts.”

I have often wondered whether her customers were aware that Mr Nessler had arrived in Britain from Germany in 1901 and facing being interned when the Great War broke out fled to America, or that during his first experiments on his wife he managed to burn her hair off and cause some scalp burns.

That advert for an early perm, circa 1905
All of which is a complete digression but is one of the fascinating little journeys behind which there is a serious point because together the eleven adverts will reveal a little bit more about the Chorlton of just eighty or so years ago.

And in one of those nice little twist of coincidences, 264 Upper Chorlton Road is again a hardware store specialising in much the same stuff as Busy Bee which along with offering “Glass and China [as] a speciality offered “Electric Vacuum cleaners for Hire.”

But there the coincidences stop for now where “June" permed and manicured the present proprietor offers sweets and newspapers which I suppose has almost brought us full circle.

Pictures, adverts from the dust cover of a book courtesy of Margaret Connelly, Wilbraham Road in 2014 from the collection of Andy Robertson and an  early 20th century advertisement for Nessler's permanent wave machine, transferred by SreeBot, Wikipedia

*Perm (hairstyle),

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no. 46 ..... cranes, ships and the barrier

When the river was still a working waterway.

For four decades it was one of the pictures I took of Eltham and Woolwich in the mid ‘70’s which sat undisturbed in our cellar.

But all good things eventually come to light.

They were colour slides which have been transferred electronically.

The quality of the original lighting and the sharpness is sometimes iffy, but they are a record of a lost Eltham and Woolwich.

Location; Woolwich

Picture; Woolwich circa 1976, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Always look up ........ no. 20 .... from the Goldsmith Collection

Masts and things.

Location; Greenwich

Picture; Greenwich, 2017 from the collection of Jillian Goldsmith

Lost views of Chepstow Street and the Peveril of the Peak, 1994

I took this in 1996. I don't think you've seen it before. You won't be able to view the Peveril from this angle anymore. When re-viewing this photo just now I was rather (selfishly) hoping that that old tall building on the left had been demolished. However today it is The Rain Bar, 80 Great Bridgewater Street.”

Across to the Peveril, 1994
And with that intriguing opening comment Andy Robertson set me off on another of those journeys around the city which threw up fascinating insights into our city’s past.

So first that picture taken in 1994.

Today a whole slab of new build stands between us and the Peveril of the Peak and had Andy chanced down that way a little earlier he would have had had no chance of seeing uninterrupted from his vantage point across to the pub.

Great Beidgwater Street, 1964
I had quite forgotten the set of old buildings that ran along Great Bridgewater Street which Andy found in a 1964 photograph.

The one still standing had been home to a set of printing firms back in 1911 and the remaining section belonged to the Corporation and was the “Town yard” of the Highways Committee and included the Public Weighing machine.

And comparing the two pictures tells us quite a bit about how the owners and architects set about the design of the building that remains.

The front facing Bridgewater may have been basic but still managed to look impressive, while the rear was far more utilitarian with its loop holes on each floor to receive materials and hat large arch.

AChepstow Street, circa 1900
Delve even deeper into the area using the maps of the period and you get a sense of just how the nearby streets were crisscrossed with  arms from the Rochdale Canal.

So running off north under Great Bridgewater and then parallel with Chepstow Street was a stretch of water way that looped round terminating higher up Bridgewater Street.

Now I bet Andy has others from that period when this bit of the city was undergoing changes.
I hope so.

Picture; Looking across to the Peveril of the Peak, 1994, from the collection of Andy Robertson, Great Bridgewater Street, 1964, W Higham, m02008, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,  and map of Chepstow Street circa 1900 from Goad’s Fire Insurance map courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Thursday, 28 December 2017

As others saw us ....... No. 1 ... the children’s charity

An occasional series featuring a comment from someone about the twin cities.

“Manchester has many glories but none I venture to think which shine brighter or reflect more completely on the city’s best self than the Refuges and Homes” The Right Rev F.T. Wood 1920

The Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’s Refuges and Shelters began in 1870, offering young homeless boys and bed and a meal for the night.*

It quickly expanded its activities to include homes for girls and boys, provided vocational training, migrated some to Canada as well as offering summer camps, and campaigned for the rights of children.

In 1920 it moved out to Cheadle from where as the Together Trust it still works today.**

The comment was supplied by the archivist of the Together Trust.

Location; Salford and Manchester

Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust

*The Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’s Refuges,

**The Together Trust;

Reflections ........ no. 19 .... from the Goldsmith Collection

The window, the door and the river with that "other building".

Location; Greenwich

Picture; Greenwich, 2017 from the collection of Jillian Goldsmith

Inside Tommy Ducks one day in 1960 ......... reflecting on where all the pictures went

Now one of the things that continues to puzzle me is the absence of pictures of the inside of Manchester pubs.

I suppose the grand professional photographers never saw it as a suitable subject while everyone else was too busy enjoying themselves to bother.

Of course tucked away in cupboards and family albums there will be a shedful of snaps recording birthdays, nights out and romantic moments but for obvious reasons these rarely get entered in to the archives.

There are exceptions.

I have some fine pictures by Bill Brandt of London pubs in the 1940s and Humphrey Spender’s Bolton pictures from a decade earlier but there must be loads more.

I can think of only a few in the collection from Chorlton and have yet to come across many from elsewhere in Greater Manchester.

All of which made this discovery of these three both a bit of a find and an introduction into a world of pubs which we have pretty much lost.

All three date from 1960 and were taken in Tommy Ducks on East Street, and come from a time long before the coffins or the display on the ceiling.

Back then it was a pub with little in the way of frills.

It served beer, offered companionship and like all pubs of the time, opened at 11, closed at 3 and reopened in the evening till 10.30 with an extension of just half an hour on Fridays and Saturdays.

And woe betide any landlord who infringed those licensing hours because they remained one of the reasons why they could lose their pub.

For most of us back then those time slots pretty much suited our lives.  During the week you were at work and while you might slip in for a pint at dinner time it was usually just the one.

Nor could most of us afford going down the pub every evening and even if you did 10.30 was a sensible time to be turfed out if you had to be at work for 8 in the morning.

And I have to say after a couple of hours I had had enough.  We always went down for the last hour, doubled up at last orders and went away satisfied.

That said it would only be in the morning when you smelt what you had worn the night before that the enormity of what you had inhaled from cigarette smoke really hit home.

Nor did it matter whether it was the vault or the saloon they were full of the stuff.

I can still remember the odd late afternoon in a city centre pub watching the sunlight mingle with the smoke and catching sight of the yellowing ceiling and paintwork which had once been white but was now a darkening yellow.

Added to which if you touched the woodwork it had a slightly sticky feel which clung to your fingers.

Not that I was over bothered back then by such things because  that was just how it was.

In the same way the decor of most pubs I visited was pretty basic.  You might get the odd framed picture which unlike now didn’t trade on nostalgic Manchester.

Instead there would be the tired painting of an elk which competed with an equally faded photograph of a
pub day out to Rhyl and a dozen or so  posters for the breweries best bitter along with a hand written notice of the next four darts fixtures.

All of which brings me back to Tommy Ducks one day in 1960 when Mr H. W. Beaumont took his pictures, none of which I would have come across had I not featured Peter’s painting of the pub sometime before it was demolished in 1993.

Pictures; inside Tommy Ducks, 1960, H W Beaumont, m50721, m50272, and m502775, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Painting; Tommy Ducks © 2011 Peter Topping


Facebook: Paintings from Pictures

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no. 46 ..... looking for a bargain

This was one of the pictures I took of Eltham and Woolwich in the mid ‘70’s which sat undisturbed in our cellar.

But all good things eventually come to light.

They were colour slides which have been transferred electronically.

The quality of the original lighting and the sharpness is sometimes iffy, but they are a record of a lost Eltham and Woolwich.

And this one really is a lost scene for which no more needs to be said.

Location; Woolwich

Picture; Woolwich, circa 1978, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

When Ron went to Greenwich ........

Now, as you do I rather think of Eltham, Woolwich and Greenwich as my own.

And the passage of almost half a century here in the far north has made that sense of possession all the more fixed in my mind.

Yet all three are now tourist centres, and will be visited and photographed by travellers from pretty much everywhere.

So I was not too surprised when my friend Ron sent me some of his collection of pictures which included a few from Woolwich where they stayed and Greenwich which caught their interest.

Thinking about it I can’t ever remember going to Greenwich market and back in the 1960s and ‘70s I doubt that the Cutty Sark had these neat little vans, or that Clive the Clamper Man had yet set himself off on his career path of clamping vehicles.

Location; Greenwich

Pictures; Greenwich, 2012, from the collection of Ron Stubley, 

Painting New Cross ..... my swimming baths

Now the other day I was telling Peter how I learnt to swim at Laurie Grove and how I still carry a small scar on my chin from the Boys Baths.  

That scar was the result of being too clever and attempting to come out of the water onto the side, which in my case was a failure as I fell back into the water catching my chin on the ridged stone slabs which were supposed to help you from slipping.

And with that tale firmly lodged in Peter’s stories to tell in the pub he also decided to paint a picture of the place.

So here in the series of Painting New Cross is Laurie Grove which I know will strike a chord with many and add to the comments which have come with other stories on the place.

Painting; Laurie Grove Swimming Baths, © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph by ©  Dr Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


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Discovering a little bit of Whalley Range’s history

Now here is a bit of history that I bet lots of people know but has passed me by and it concerns St Margaret’s playing fields in Whalley Range.

The land is on Brantingham Road and was gifted by the wife of one of the vicars of St Margaret’s and in in 1937 it was the destination of that years Chorlton carnival.

Back in the 1930s there were a number of carnivals across the city but Chorlton’s seemed to be the biggest according to the Manchester Guardian which reported that “the gala held in St Margaret’s playing fields, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, on Saturday [June 19th] may be said to mark the opening of the charity carnival season.“*

Now I recently wrote about the carnival but pretty much ignored the playing fields but after a few people asked where they were I went looking.**

The obvious place was beside St Margaret’s Church in Whalley Range and while I was close I wasn’t in quite the right place.

The church had been built in 1849 on land given by Samuel Brooks but the playing fields date from sometime later.

I have yet to establish when but I do know that in 1894 the land was still part of Whalley Farm and as late as 1911 Brantingham Road had yet to be developed fully.

That said I hope to talk to Mr Boulter the vicar at  St Margaret’s and perhaps even before then someone will come forward a bit more of the story.

And within minutes of posting this story,  Pawel Lech Michalczyk who pointed out that  "St Werburgh's Church owned playing fields.

These were opposite Parkgaye Farm, accessible via the short cul-de-sac off St Werburgh's Road.

It was the whole triangle between the railway line and Chorlton Brook, almost up to Mauldeth Road West.

Its now part of the Chorlton High School campus."

Location; Whalley Range

Picture; horses being paraded along Oswald Road sometime in the 1930s, courtesy of Mrs Kay, from the Lloyd collection

*Manchester Guardian June 21 1937

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

A 'gang' of 'teenagers' ........... just before the War outside the Horse and Jockey

Now I like the way that people continue to be generous with both their family pictures and the memories.

So I was very pleased when this one was sent to me by Yvonne.

The Horse and Jockey will always be special to me, not only because as one of our oldest pubs it featured in my first book and was the venue for its launch but also because as the “Pub on the Green” it has been at the centre of much of Chorlton's history.*

But rather than ramble on I will share Yvonne’s description of the picture.

"Hello Andrew!  I enjoy reading your post on the Chorlton Blog.  

I was born there - leaving when I was 8.  I have a photo of my mother and sister with their 'gang' from about 1936 outside the Horse and Jockey.  

It’s of a 'gang' of 'teenagers' just before the War outside the Horse and Jockey. 

My mum Dilys on the left, her sister Gwen on the right. She used to tell us all their names but the only one I can remember is Joe Rook!”

And that is a pretty good start.

Yvonne hopes it will “stir some memories up” and so do I.

All of which just leaves me to thank Yvonne.
Location; Chorlton

Picture; A 'gang' of 'teenagers' outside the Horse and Jockey circa 1936 courtesy of Yvonne Richardson

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, 

Robin .... A Christmas Annual from the Hulton Press, in 1953

This is the last of those comic annuals which were published by Hulton Press.

Robin was aimed at very young children and while I remember getting the comic and perhaps even the first annual in 1953 sadly neither comic or book have made their way into my collection.

So I have fallen back on a wonderful site dedicated to the Eagle Annual  for this image of the first Robin Annual.*

Eagle, along with Girl and Swift were the companion comics and books which Hulton was responsible for during the 1950s, and for anyone wanting to know more or recreate their childhood the Eagle Annual site  is a wonderful starting point.

Robin contained a lot of colour strips and short stories which parents could read to their children and given the decade it came out in it included stories on Andy Pandy and the Flower Pot Men.

Number one also featured Birthday wishes to the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

And even with the help of the Eagle Annual site that is about the extent of my knowledge, although I can remember cutting the comic up for its comic figures.

Alas all a long time ago.

Now given that this is the end of the short series on the Hulton four I shall also mention Eagle Times, which for the last 25 years has set about keeping the Eagle comic alive with stories features and conversations with those directly involved with it during the 1950s.**

Picture; Robin Annual Nu 1, 1953, courtesy of Eagle Annual

*Eagle Annual,

The walk in the park........ no. 18 ...... from the Goldsmith Collection

Our Jillian often gets her best pictures first thing in the morning when the light is sharp, the air is fresh and there is a promise of another exciting day.

Location; Greenwich Park

Picture; A walk in the park,, 2017 from the collection of Jillian Goldsmith

What we have lost ....... inside the Corn Exchange

I really liked this metal and glass structure.

It was in the Corn Exchange beside Exchange Square, and I always thought it was an innovative way to fill a space.

Added to that I rather enjoyed sitting in there sipping an espresso and waiting for the shopping expedition to finish.

But it has e gone since the was transformed from a retail centre to a series of themed restaurants from Italian, to Thai, and many more.
The Corn Exchange is a listed grade II building and was originally the Corn and Produce Exchange built in 1897 and opened in 1903.

Its role as an important centre for business suffered during the 1920 and 30s and and by the time I arrived in Manchester in 1969 its role as a trading floor were over.

But I remember it as a place full of independent traders ranging from second records and comics to clothes and jewellery.

You could spend hours wandering the stalls on the trading floor and in the surrounding rooms, but that IRA bomb did for all this.

The building was severely damaged and many of the traders relocated to what has become the Northern Quarter, and the building was redeveloped as the Triangle specialising in swish retailing, but it never seemed as busy in later years, and despite a re branding in 2012 seemed to miss a trick.

And then it closed reopening as an interesting place to eat.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; interior of the Triangle, July 2013

*Corn Exchange, Manchester,,_Manchester