Wednesday, 15 February 2017

On a day in 1910 at Kemp's Corner

Kemp's Corner, 1910

I am in Chorlton on a sunny day in the summer of 1910 and today I just want to reflect on what you could have done on that day.

So we shall start with the picture which is the junction of Barlow Moor Road and Wilbraham Road.

And in the company of the photographer we are looking up Wilbraham Road towards the Lloyds Hotel with the fire hut in the distance.

Today officially the junction is Chorlton Cross but most people refer to it as the Four Banks, which echoes its earlier name of Bank Corner.

Harry Kemp's Chemist
But for most of the 20th century it was Kemp’s Corner after Harry Kemp’s chemist shop which is to the left of us, and is now the HSBC bank.

Well into the 1960s it was an accepted place to meet up, not least because the shop displayed an enormous clock outside and so was a landmark.

Harry Kemp had opened his shop in the early years of the 20th century and it was still there on the corner long after he had died.

Oliver Bailey remembers the shop in the 1950s with its huge jars of coloured water which was also the place he bought the ingredients to make his own fireworks.

While Ida used it as the place to meet her friends.

Directly opposite is Sunwick now another bank but then a large private residence, and stretching out down Wilbraham Road are more stately houses all with their front gardens which have  yet to become the shops we know today.

But the buildings beside it along with the magnificent advert for Shaw’s motor garage were demolished to make way for the shopping precinct.

And soon after our picture was taken Mr Shaw had opened his new garage on Barlow Moor Road in that prime set of new shops which ran from High Lane to the tram terminus.

Always a head of his commercial rivals the premise had the first kerb side petrol pump in Chorlton.

Road mending
Looking directly at us are the men mending the road, or I should say the man mending the road because there is only one in shirt sleeves standing a little back while in front appear to be the supervisors and possibly someone from the Corporation.

And as ever in work scenes from the period there are the hand carts which would have carried his tools and the materials needed to do the job.

There is of course lots more going on and we are spoilt for choice.  There are the women out shopping some with parasols, the man on the cycle and away in the distance tradesmen with their horse and carts doing the delivery rounds.

Post Offices, pillar boxes & posting times, from the Almanack
Now I want to leave aside the scene for a minute and instead reflect on what you might want to do on that sunny day, which is pretty much drawn from Harry Kemp’s Almanack  & Handbook which he published in the January of 1910 and provided you with all you might want to know about Chorlton.

Here were the addresses of the local post offices, the pillar boxes and posting times as well as our first public library houses in a converted house on Oswald Road.

It remains a surprise just how many collections and deliveries there were at the time, all of which enabled people to send a postcard in the morning confident that it would arrive in time to alert a friend to a proposed meeting in the afternoon.

Trams, trains & a Penny Savings Bank, from the Almanack
Likewise our first public library was a fulfilment of a promise made when we voted to join the city in 1904.

And then there were the tram times along with our railway stations which offered a regular service into the heart of Manchester.

But my own favourite in the Penny Savings Bank which operated from the school on the green once a week, and is a reminder of the social divide in Chorlton, for while this part of the township had the banks the old village had only a sub post office.

Books, fire engines and policeman, from the Almanack
Pictures; Kemps Corner in 1910 from the Lloyd collection, details from The Chorlton-cm-Hardy District Almanack & Handbook For 1910, published by Harry Kemp from the collection of Andrew Simpson
Looking down Wilbraham Road towards the Lloyds Hotel and Fire  Hut

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