Friday, 3 February 2017

Cooper’s the Butcher's - Barlow Moor Road ....... another story from Tony Goulding

This sign on a wall near the “four banks” has quite a curious history. 

"Coopers" the Butcher's shop, 2017
The building was indeed a butcher’s shop for much of the last century but it was last operated by the Cooper family in the mid 1930’s.

In the 1939 Register it is occupied by George Thorneycroft, also a butcher, and his family. As the picture below shows the sign was not visible in May, 1959.

The first recorded presence of a “Coopers” butcher’s shop in Chorlton-cum-Hardy is as early as the 1891 census.

This record shows Alfred Cooper living at 25, Barlow Moor Road with his wife Rachel Ann and 6 children. Alfred was born in Charlesworth, Nr. Glossop, Derbyshire in 1846 where his father, Joseph, was a cotton spinner.

He married Rachel Ann (1) (née Ashworth) at St. Andrew’s Church, Ancoats on April 14th, 1870. Alfred had shops at 107, London Road, Ancoats and 262, Upper Brook Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, before his arrival on Barlow Moor Road.(2) The couple had three sons and three daughters; in order Joseph William, Rachel Ashworth, Alfred Oscar, Mary Hannah, Carl, and Beatrice Maud.

All three daughters remained unmarried  and in 1939 were living together at 269, Withington Road. Two sons followed their father’s trade. Carl assisting his father whilst the eldest, Joseph William, after working as an assistant first in the family shop and later at Ardwick Terrace, Ardwick, set up in his own account at 15, Ashton Old Road. To complete the picture Alfred Oscar moved to Peterborough set up as a draper and married, in September quarter of 1904, Sophia, the daughter of Joseph Clifton who kept a hotel in the town.
At sometime in the 1930’s the butcher’s shop opposite what was known at the time as “Kemp’s Corner had a change of proprietor. The 1939 Register shows it occupied by, George Edward Thorneycroft, his, Cheshire born wife, Lucy (née Cornes) and his son George Albert (born 7th November, 1914).    

George Edward Thorneycroft was born on 18th March, 1889 in Sale, Cheshire were his father, Samuel George, was a grocer’s assistant married Lucy Cornes at the Knutsford Registry Office on the 10th February, 1913.

During the First World War he served in the 2cnd Battalion The Coldstream Guards and, although not arriving in France until the spring of 1918, was  still a casualty twice , both times as a result of gas attacks. His army records indicate that, at his attestation on 9th December, 1915, he was living at 42, Higson Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy and was employed as a butcher’s manager.
On 22cnd November, 1939 the younger George married Bessie Dawes at St. Clement’s Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Bessie lived at 2, Regent Road, (now Reeves Road) with her widowed mother Helena Blanche (née Kinder).

The shop 1959
Her father Albert had been a shipping office clerk. Post World War 2 the couple resided at 4, Hardcastle Avenue and raised a son Paul and 2 daughters Annette and Susan.

 The Thorneycrofts, father, son, and grandson continued their business until at least 1983 as it is included in “The Yellow Pages” (3) of that year. George, the son, took over the reins on the death of his father in the June quarter of 1958, though still trading under his father’s name. When Paul, George Albert’s son became the third generation of Thorneycroft butchers he, also, kept the same trading name.
We are still left with the mystery of the vanishing and reappearing sign. Perhaps the best theory would be that it reappeared when the flat behind the decorated wall was renovated towards the end of the 20th century with the cleaning of the brickwork resulting in the removal of the layers of soot (which coated all buildings of such vintage) and/or a deliberate camouflaging by the new owners in the 1930’s. (4) Whichever way perhaps the sign has been left as it is thought to add a certain period character to the property.  On a personal note I once visited the flat, in question, when it was occupied by a work colleague during the 1990’s. Unfortunately I can’t recall whether the sign was visible on that occasion.

© Tony Goulding 2017

Pictures; “COOPER'S" the butcher shop sign, 2017 from the collection of Tony Goulding and in 1959, A.H.Downes, m17580, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

1) The Ashworth family resided at 18, Buxton Street, where Rachel Ann’s father William worked as an engraver for a calico printer and her grandmother Ann Tidsdale kept a grocer’s shop      

2) The street directories of the first decade of the 20th century proved quite unhelpful as they all mostly erroneously show the occupant of 25, Barlow Moor Road to be a Reginald A. Cooper, butcher. The compilers of the directories Alfred (the Chorlton-cum-Hardy butcher) with the Leicestershire-born Alfred Reginald of 11, Broxton Street, Bradford, Manchester who had the intriguing occupation of a “cap blocker” in a cloth cap factory. His only link with the meat trade being that he had previously worked as a dairyman.
One item of interest is revealed by these directories is that the 1911 directory includes a telephone number CHORLTON 109, under the entry for the butcher’s shop at 25, Barlow Moor Road; surely an indication that the business must have been thriving, having such an early telephone connection.

3) Interestingly the shop’s telephone number retained its “109”, it then being 0161-881-3109

4) Having a fresh look recently I thought I could detect some marks in the brickwork suggesting “Coopers” sign may have been covered over.

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