Monday, 27 February 2017

Looking for the story of Graeme House and that Chorlton Shopping Precinct

Graeme House and Safeway, 1971
We don’t do recent history very well.

I guess it is simply because we take it for granted and don’t even see it as history.

Added to which it is sometimes quite difficult to track down the story.

So when I washed up in Chorlton in the mid 1970s the shopping precinct, Graeme House and that car park were a done deal, but only just.

They had replaced a set of houses and cut Manchester Road in two leaving just two properties as witness to what had once been.

Shops to let, 1971
You can find a few people who remember those houses and one of my friends attended a private school on that lost stretch of Manchester Road, but the memories are fading.

And to date I have found just a handful of photographs recording the demolished houses which ran along Wilbraham Road, Manchester Road, and Barlow Moor Road.

Part of the problem is that such developments don’t warrant being recorded in history books, so Mr Lloyd’s two books skip over the building of the precinct and the book written by Cliff Hayes has just a picture.*

From the Guardian, 1973
Of course the planning applications along with the deliberations of the Planning Committee should still be available but having crawled over the documents relating to the development of Hough End Hall a little earlier this can be long tedious and sometimes unrewarding.

All of which just leaves the local newspapers which will have recorded the events.

Graeme House and car park, 1973
And that has so far thrown up an advert for the remaining offices to still to be let in 1971 and a few photographs of Graeme House and the precinct.

Sadly I am no nearer to knowing why it was called Graeme House.

Intriguingly I did come across Graeme Shankand who was a planning consultant and architect who worked on projects in the North West.

It is a tenuous link but in the process did introduce me to a very interesting architect, who played an important part in founding the William Morris Society.

The precinct, 1973
But that as they say is for another time.

So for now I shall close with the memory of shopping in Safeway not long after it had opened in the precinct.

It was bright, busy and at the time the biggest supermarket in Chorlton, and for a while continued to operate after its bigger store had opened by the old railway station.

Now that should have been the end but to reaffirm that simple observation that history is messy, only hours after I posted the story Ste Passant suggested that the office block may have been named after Henry John Greame Lloyd who cropped up on a legal document.

Now I rather think that he was part of the Lloyd family that owned a large part of Chorlton coming from the same area and leaving £151,021 10s on his death in 1919.

All of which just leaves me to go off and search the records.

Pictures; the Shopping Precinct and Graeme House, H.Milligan, 1971, m17408, m19763, m17832, m17405 and Graeme House, The Guardian, October 22, 1973, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*The Township of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, 1972,  Looking Back at Chorlton-cum-Hardy, John M Lloyd, 1985, CHORLTON-CUM-HARDY, Cliff Hayes, 1999

** Graeme Shankand, John Kay, http://www.morrissociety.org/publications/JWMS/W84-85.6.2.Kay.pdf

*** Buldoze and be damned, Terence Bendixson, the Guardian January 8 1969



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