Saturday, 25 March 2017

Another story from Tony Goulding .... Brownhills Buildings and “Brownhills the Saddlers” ------ linked? You decide!

For much of my childhood I lived on Ansdell Avenue and have vivid memories of playing in this back entry, which ran alongside Brownhills Buildings. I first became aware of “ Brownhills the Saddlers” during the 1970’s my family  having moved to Cundiff Road  and I recall purchasing asset of tungsten darts (which I still possess) from the shop around the end of that decade. 

Brownhill's Buildings, 1973
What follows is an attempt to assuage my curiosity concerning a link between these two places.
The history of Brownhills Buildings is already extremely well documented on this blog. For my purposes it is suffice to reiterate that they were built in the middle part of the 19th century by Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s wheelwright William Brownhill (1) and remained a feature of the Sandy Lane area until being condemned as unfit and demolished by the city council in 1972.
As with most such research the starting point for this enquiry was the 1881 census which shows a William Brownhill, born in 1839 in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, with a saddler’s business on Chester Road, Stretford.

Brownhill's shop, 2017
A look into earlier censuses (2) shows that this William was the son of the William Brownhill the builder of the Buildings which bear his name. Later records show that William Jnr’s  son Arnold(3) took over the business and up until at least the time of the 1954 street directory a shop was still trading under the name of “William Brownhill and Sons the Saddlers” on Chester Road (4) (5)

However, there is some doubt how, if at all, that business in Stretford is linked with these old premises on Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Directories of the 70’s and 80’s combined with a certain amount of local knowledge tell us that the proprietors of this shop from that time until it ceased trading in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century were Frederick  Allen and his wife Jean W.(née Parker).

As yet I have been unable to trace a familial connection. It is possible that the name “Brownhills the Saddlers” merely continued to be used as by that time it had become such a well established trading enterprise.  What is known: is that Arnold Brownhill married late in life, to Hilda (née Cookson) at All Saints Church, Stretford on the 28th August, 1909. Arnold and Hilda had no children and both passed away during the early 1940’s.
Of Arnold’s siblings only his youngest sister, Hilda appears to have a further connection to Chorlton-cum-Hardy. She married Lionel Nixon at St. Clement’s (Old Church) on the 11th October, 1906.
Lionel, the son of Samuel Edward Nixon the deceased Post Master, was residing at 18, Church (now Chequers) Road at that time. The 1911 census shows the couple running a stationer/tobacconist business together at 44, Beech Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Beech Road, 1968 from a photograph, 1947
No children are recorded but Lionel and Hilda appear to be “care givers” to Hilda’s 34 years old brother Leonard William who is described, rather unkindly, on the census as “feeble minded”. Interestingly, also, Lionel’s occupation on his wedding certificate differs from the 1911 census entry; it shows him as a “cha(i)rliner”
                    PICTURE 3

Finally this picture discovered in the Manchester Local Images Collection really “queers the pitch” as it purports to show two shops on Beech Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. The full caption states that this is an “oil painting taken from a 1947 photograph.”
After spending some time looking through census returns, street directories and rate books this picture remains a bit of an enigma. I’ve found no evidence of any “Brownhills” on Beech Road. There was however a smithy operated by the Clarke family (John and his sons Charles and Bould) from 1860 until the mid 1930’s.

The smithy was located on Beech Road adjacent the Methodist church building now functioning as a restaurant under various guises. However the date of 1947 is misleading as by that date the “smithy” was long gone , the 1939 register records that both it at no.127 and adjoining 129, Beech Road were both void properties.

© Tony Goulding, 2017

Pictures; Brownhill's Buildings, H.Milligan, 1973, 17696, and  Beech Road,  J.Montgomery Oil Painting of Beech Road, 1968 (from 1947 photograph) m80148  courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,
and Brownhill's shop, 2017 from the collection of Tony Goulding
1) William’s house and workshop were at the Barlow Moor Road end of Sandy Lane an area then known as “Lane End”
2) Especially the 1861 census which records the 22 year old William still living at “Lane End” with his father but already working as a saddler.
3) Not to be confused with his nephew and namesake Arnold the son of his brother James who had taken over his father’s wheelwright business. Young Arnold died tragically, aged just 4, after he was bitten by a rabid dog on 28th July, 1882. A report in “The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser” dated 15th describes how the lad developed symptoms of rabies on Monday 11th and despite the ministrations of the young Doctor Arthur A. Pownall of Derwent House, High Lane he  died of Hydrophobia on Wednesday 13th September, 1882.
4) Originally at no.1154 later moved a little way to no. 1194.
5) William Jnr. was baptised in St. Clements, Chorlton-cum-Hardy on the 7thof April, 1839. He married Maria Langford in Manchester Cathedral during the September quarter of 1861.  Several of the couples children continued to be christened at St. Clement’s but, on 5th November, 1871, Arnold was baptised in St. Matthew’s Church, Stretford

See also One family trading on Beech Road from 1841,

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