I have always liked the idea of getting from Chorlton into town in a matter of minutes. It was what made where we live so attractive to the families of those who lived here in the years after the railway arrived.
For some it was the advantage of being able to travel home from the city centre for lunch and be back in time for the afternoon session. So the tram for me just ticked loads of boxes. Not only is it quick but it recreates a little bit of how we used to live. The new railway was so popular that during its first five years the number of season ticket holders rose from 200 to 600.
And the railway didn’t just mean passengers there was also the goods side. Today on the site of Morrison’s and stretching down along Albany Road down to Buckingham Road were three railway tracks and the businesses which relied on the railway to bring the goods. Of these coal was the most obvious. From here operated the coal merchants like Norman Bailey. More than one old friend remembers being sent down to pay for the order of coal.
And then there was also the livestock. The Bailey’s also had the farm at Park Bridge and brought their pigs from the station down to the farm well into the 1950s.
Now Peter’s painting of the tram brings back the excitement of travelling on the railway.
I always think it has a sleek look which is in contrast to the big powerful engines of steam. And it was while I was thinking about a train story that I came across this 1955 picture of Loco Number 73000 passing through the station. In the background is the station and the marshalling yards and beyond them Albany Road.
It is good that the tram has reawakened the old line and put to rest Slow Train that old Flanders and Swann song lamenting the loss of so many branch lines during the Beeching cuts. Written in 1963 it is as much a comment on the end of these railway lines as the passing of a way of life.
“No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat,
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street”
Chorlton survived the cuts in 1963 only to close 4 years later and 44 years later it’s possible ride the line again. Not a bad way to close the story on Peter's painting.
Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester
Pictures; ©Peter Topping 2011 www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk & Loco Number 73000 passing through Chorlton Station, 1955, the Lloyd collection
comment on the end of these railway lines as the passing of a way of life.