Sunday, 30 April 2017

In spring when a developer's mind turns to demolition ........ down on Deansgate

When I passed the building a few weeks ago the scaffolding was up but I gave no more thought to it.

And now I wish I had.

Andy Robertson with that ever observant eye for a fresh development in the city centre captured the end of the building which was the one between John Dalton Street and Brazennose Street.

The rest as they say will be hard hats, bulldozers and a “grand plan.”

In time I will go looking for those plans on the Corporation’s Planning portal but for now I will leave with the state of play.

But for now I will leave you with a work in progress.

Location; Deansgate






Pictures; Deansgate, 2017, from the collection of Andy Robertson

The changing face of one shop in Chorlton

I am constantly surprised at how easy our most recent past is forgotten.

Yesterday I launched a new project on Chorlton’s cafes and restaurants.  

It will be both the story of the present clutch of eating places with a reflective look at the ones that have gone and it will be collaboration with local artist Peter Topping.

The first story featured Mabs which was on Wilbraham Road and is now occupied by Oxfam, and Peter followed up that picture with this painting of Tutku Cafe.

And that set me off because I had no idea what had been there.

It was of course Chorlton Discount Store which maintained that 1970s appearance with the pine cladding exterior and offered up a cornucopia of household goods many of which spilled out onto the street.

Before that it was Mrs Twyford’s fruit and veg shop whose family were trading apples, pears and potatoes from the beginning of the 20th century.

Painting; Tutku Cafe  © 2017 Peter Topping 
Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk
Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

*Who remembers Mabs on Wilbraham Road? https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Chorlton%20cafes%20and%20restaurants

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Who remembers Mabs on Wilbraham Road?

I won’t be alone in remembering a time when there were just a handful of restaurants in Chorlton.
In the late 1970s after you had visited the Mai Wah on Barlow Moor Road, and walked past Azad Manzil there was from memory just the Italian and another Asian restaurant on Wilbraham Road.

The Azad Manzil had opened in 1964 and the others in the decade afterwards and all are now gone, along with a string of cafes of which Mabs was one.

Now I never knew Mabs which was located in what is now the Oxfam shop but my friend Faith was only talking about it recently and Tony who contributes to the blog referred to it in one of his stories.

Of course there have been plenty more cafes over the last century and there will be many people with fond memories of the ones that have long since gone.

And so I think it is time to consider bringing them back out of the shadows in a project which combines both those that exist now and their predecessors.

The idea is Peter’s and as we move effortlessly to finishing the book on Chorlton Pubs and Bars I know there will be lots of people who will jump at the opportunity to share their own favourite cafe or restaurant, offer up a story and maybe even a picture or two.

So that is it, you can contact us by leaving a comment on the blog or by contacting either of us with a direct message via Facebook, Twitter not forgetting the old fashioned way of looking us up in the telephone book.

Location Chorlton

Picture; Mabs, Wilbraham Road, 1959, A E Landers, m18264, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

Friday, 28 April 2017

“Now I must make this a priority” ............. the end of the Odeon

And with these simple words I must make this a priority” Andy has launched a new project chronicling the demolition of one of my favourite cinemas.

I first saw West Side Story there, and later Woodstock, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and later still a shedload of films with our children.

So at least this way the end will be recorded.







Location; Manchester














Pictures; The Odeon, 2017 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Looking out at the allotments towards Sandy Lane sometime in the 1960s

Now here are two images of Chorlton which at first glance look familiar.  

We are on the allotments with the Park to our rear looking out towards Sandy Lane.

Back in 1903 my friend Ann’s grandfather lived at number 72 Sandy Lane.

She  grew up in Chorlton on Barlow Moor Road and has contributed a rich set of memories and pictures from the 1950s and 60s.

What I especially like about these two are the contrasts, one in full summer, the other deepest winter with snow still on the ground and of course the difference in colour.

It would be fun to find people who were working those allotments at the time and may have their own stories and pictures to add to the collection.

The painting and photograph will date from sometime in the 1960s and are a reminder that not all things change.

Pictures; of the allotments from the collection of Ann Love

Memories of Woolwich Arsenal

Now of all the pictures in the collection of the Woolwich Arsenal this one I suppose best sums up what was done behind the high walls just beyond Beresford Square.

This is the Bullet Factory, and while others in the collection show the Brass Foundry, Machine Shops, Wood workshop and the Boring Mill here is the end bit of one of the processes.

Hence the Arsenal’s name and its importance particularly when Britain was at war.
And also to the livelihood of many in Woolwich and the surrounding area.

After all the Progress Estate in Well Hall was built to house munitions workers and so many of us who grew up in Eltham are linked to what went on in Woolwich.

I grew up on the Progress Estate as did my friend  Jean and some of her family were employed in that giant plant which at its heyday gave work to 80,000 people and covered 1285 acres.

She remembered that,


“my grandfather and grandmother met working in the Arsenal, may be around the year 1905.

My grandfather had moved down from Norfolk and was an engineer.


They lived with her family in Plumstead, and my dad, the youngest of 5 boys was born at the granny’s house.

Dad was born in 1914 and the family were one of first to move into Love Lace Green.

It’s sad but dad’s mum passed away when he was 3 yrs old in 1917.

My grandfather then met and married another Arsenal girl. 

They all lived at Love Lace Green till 1957, when grandparents died and mum and dad moved to Well Hall Road.


Before my mother went into nursing at the beginning of the Second World War she worked on MUNITIONS, as she called it at the Arsenal.
She never told me much but that when she used to open the drums of CORDITE, THE RATS USED TO RUN UP HER ARMS."

Now any one who has walked around an old textile mill dating from the 19th century will be aware of those leather belts running from the machinery to rods in the roof which in turn were connected to drives.

And here they are each machine with its own belt running off towards the roof.

Picture; the Bullet Factory, Arsenal, Woolwich from the collection of Mark Flynn, http://www.markfynn.com/london-postcards.htm

Walking Woolwich on an April day

Now Woolwich is almost a lost place to me.

I left in the September of 1969 and do not go home regularly enough.

And so when I do it all looks very different, and some places so unrecognizable that I am hard pressed to find my around.

I miss the old street market and the chaos that was Powis Street and can’t quite get used to the new railway station or what they have done to the Royal Arsenal and spent a good ten minutes wondering why the Post Office was not where I left it.

But that is the price you pay for moving away and while I miss what I remember I suspect my Woolwich of the 1960s would be as equally bewildering to someone who grew up around Beresford Square in 1900.

They might well want to know why the “Smoke Hole” had gone, why anyone would want to destroy the old Garrison Church and would feel odd on a ferry with no paddle or funnel.

So there you are places change.

Location; Woolwich

Picture; Woolwich,, 2017 from the collection of Neil Simpson

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Down at Duffy's thinking about Audrey's and the man who sold a nit comb

Now Duffy’s has been serving up pints with football for almost as long as I can remember.

Duffy's in 2008
That said I did once have a meal in the place when it was an Italian restaurant and just about remember what was there before that.

But for those with longer memories and a greater claim to be from Chorlton  it will always be Audrey’s that rather elegant ladies clothes shop.

In the 1950s it was a double fronted premise taking in the next door shop and was pretty much all glass with impressive signage.

Audrey's in 1959
In time I will go looking for the story of Audrey’s and for the history of the chemists who occupied that corner shop at the very beginning of the 20th century.

Back then the parade of shops still known as Pemberton Arcade was relatively new and it may well be that Mr Walter Smith was the first tradesmen to occupy that shop on the corner with Needham Avenue.

In 1903 he was there dispensing his mix of prescription medicines, over the counter cough mixture and much else along with those huge glass jars of coloured liquid which were the hall mark of all chemist shops.

Window shopping for something nice at Audrey's
A full eight years later you could still call in and collect everything from a nit comb, surgical bandage to all a doctor might prescribe, although by then Mr Smith had moved on and sometime after that here will have been a stretch of business up to when Audrey’s opened.

All of which is for another time leaving me only to comment that Peter’s painting of Duffy’s is now itself a bit of history which I guess means he will back down there to paint it again now that it has adopted its bright new green sign and veranda.

Painting; Duffy’s Bar  © 2008 Peter Topping 

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

Picture; Audrey’s 1959, m17591, A H Downes,courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Councilhttp://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Watching the hail storm and much more in the Bay of Naples

The VIA R. REGINALDO GIULIANI  July 23rd
Never underestimate the surprises offered up in the Bay of Naples

We arrived in Sorrento in the blistering heat of late afternoon and that was how it was for two glorious days before the rain.

Now I am used to those Italian thunderstorms which come out of nowhere, rage with the full force that nature can devise and are over as suddenly as they came.

But in that brief few minutes the sky darkens and the low rumble of thunder becomes defeating as streaks of lightening flash and the rain just comes down like stir rods.

All that we had and hailstones too which even the locals claim were bigger than anything they had seen before.

Then in a matter of minutes the storm had passed leaving a carpet of fast melting hailstorms and a few broken leaves.

But as ever the storm had cooled the air and cleaned the streets, so that the evening stroll on Sorrento was a pleasant affair despite the crowds of tourists who were all intent on capturing that little bit of Italian life.

And Sorrento did not disappoint, all of which is why we returned the following day.

Eating in the VIA R. REGINALDO GIULIANI 
We took in the odd museum and a fair number of narrow streets each with a bewildering number of shops offering all manner of stuff to entice the tourist and which were pretty much replicated in the next half dozen streets.

All of which led us by degree to VIA R. REGINALDO GIULIANI and a meal at one of the many restaurants that spread out across the road from its beginning to the point when the it becomes too narrow.

The meal was good and of course the position offered up plenty of opportunities to sit and watch.

It cost just €70 which for four seemed acceptable until that is we sampled the delights of Naples a place I have fallen in love with.

Rome will always be my favourite city which has the power to draws us back but Naples is something else.


But that is for another time.

Pictures; Sorrento, July 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Hough End Hall still a working farm in the 1950s

This will be the last of the descriptions of the Hall from Oliver Bailey whose family rented and then owned Hough End and the surrounding land.

The Hall from Nell Lane, in 1952
It is a fascinating account not least because it is the only detailed description of the place during the 20th century.

There are a few anecdotes about the place from people who remember it as children and there is the 1938 survey commissioned by the Egerton Estate.

But most of these anecdotal accounts are vague and lack detail while the Egerton survey cannot be copied or photographed.

Back in the 19th century there is a short description of the Hall by the historian  John Booker which includes an engraving * and an inventory of the contents of the farm in 1849 published in the Manchester Guardian but this  sheds little light on the Hall itself.

So Oliver has cornered the market on descriptions of the Hall in the 20th century and at anytime come to that.

And in the process of sharing these memories he provided a plan of the buildings which to my knowledge apart from the Egerton survey is the only idea we have of what was there.

The Hall and surround buildings 1950s
It confirms that part of the hall was a smithy and right up to the end the place was a working farm with Mr Bailey’s pigs, horses and cattle and Jimmy Ryan’s rabbits.

“At one time my father had Highland cattle in the field where the school once was and there may be pictures in the Manchester Evening News archive. 

"My memory might be playing tricks there, he definitely had Highland cattle but they may have been in the field near Chorlton Station or perhaps even in both locations.

He also had a peacock with a couple of peahens and for a period Hough End was nicknamed Peacock farm because of the noise they made and because the peacock used to fly across Nell Lane into the park so lots of people saw it. 

There was a deep depression in the field near the rear left hand corner of the plot of the Hall itself and it was made a by a bomb which dropped there during the second world war, certainly it was known as bomb crater corner. 

According to family history the blast knocked my father over – he was an ARP Warden during the war so could have been out at night on fire watch.

During the war there was a riding school at Hough End, a Mc somebody – a search through a trade directory might find him - and my sisters learnt to ride horses at that time. The horses were kept in the loose boxes in the long building parallel to Mauldeth Road."

All that is left is for me to thank Oliver and his family for taking the trouble to recall the old hall and just hope it provokes more memories.

© Oliver Bailey, 2014

Picture; Hough End Hall from Nell Lane, T Baddeley, 1952, m47852, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

Plan; © Oliver Bailey, 2014

*John Booker, A History of the Chapels of Didsbury & Chorlton, 1857, Cheetham Chetham Society Manchester

A scene now lost in time ............. looking out from the short lived cafe in Piccadilly Railway Station

Now that I grant you is not the most imaginative title but it does the business for this scene looking out across the city.


It was taken just after the railway station had its makeover.  Back then this space was a cafe and on a warm day I wandered in took a few pictures promised myself I would return only to discover it had become a supermarket.

Such are the ups and downs of the amateur photographer.
And I know I have featured it before and for those wanting to challenge the date I have to say I can’t remember.

Location; Piccadilly Railway Station

Picture; view from Piccadilly Railway Station, circa 2003, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A short but busy life .............. Broadcasting House 1975-2011

Another in the occasional series of Lost Manchester.

Planning permission had been granted in 1968 and after a hiccup building began in 1971 was finished in 1975 and the place was home to the BBC until 2011.

And for those wanting to impress a companion, about 800 staff worked there and with the opening of the second studio in 1981 the BBC closed Broadcasting House in Piccadilly which had been there for 52 years

Location; Manchester 2011

Picture; Broadcasting House, 2011 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Friday, 21 April 2017

A city landmark already fading from the memory ............ Elisabeth House

It is remarkable how quickly you can forget a building.

Not that I suspect many will mourn the passing of Elisabeth House which was all glass and concrete walls and which was so misunderstood and disliked that no one can quite agree on when it went up.

Various sources suggest a date in the 1960s which does not quite fit with my memories of gazing across at its Victorian predecessor in the 1970s.

But recollections of events, places and buildings can so easily be wrong and I was prepared to accept that this was just one of those times when I was mistaken.

But not so. According to A Manchester View run by David Boardman,* Elisabeth House was built in 1971, which I am pleased to say means that my long term memory is fine, even if I can forget to put the wash on, turn off the lights.

And emboldened by having my memories confirmed I am sure the Ceylon Tea Centre inhabited what became the Dutch Pancake House.

The Tea Centre was  a commercial showcase for Ceylon’s products and it was there that I first discovered a salad could be more than a soft tomato, some limp lettuce and a bit of curly cucumber smothered in salad cream.

Here were rice dishes, some of which were curried and others which contained fruit, nuts and other exotic things.

It was a place I took for granted and then suddenly it had gone and now has been joined by Elisabeth House and soon the cinema just a little down Oxford Road, where I saw West Side Story, Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid and revisited with our young children in the 1980s and early 90s.

I can’t say I miss Elisabeth House but when I ever I do feel a tad nostalgic for the place I turn to that excellent series Blue Murder with Caroline Quentin  which ran for five series from 2003 through to 2009.

Look carefully and there are plenty of shots of the building and as a bonus from inside outwards Central Ref and the Town Hall Extension.

And in time these may well be some of the only images of the building to survive.

Location; Elisabeth House, 2011

Pictures;  Elisabeth House, 2011, from the collection of Ian Robertson

* Elisabeth House - St. Peter's Square http://manchesterhistory.net/manchester/tours/tour6/area6page61.html

The Lloyd’s ................... one I’ve never seen before

Now I never pass up the opportunity to preview a new picture of Chorlton.

This one is the Lloyd’s sometime in the 1940s.


And it is the small detail I like.

I doubt many will remember that wall to the left of the pub.

At some point a long time ago it was demolished and this became a car park.

Before that this will have been the site of the pub's tennis courts.

It comes from the site of Mark Fynn

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester
















Pictures; The Lloyd’s circa 1940s courtesy of Mark Fynn


*Manchester Postcards, http://www.manchesterpostcards.com/index.html

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Naples ........ eating what the city does best

Now if you are in Naples the obvious choice of something to eat just has to be pizza.


We had ordered up some good ones in Sorrento but the Neapolitan ones were better and turned out to be cheaper at 3€.

And when our Saul and Emilka were there last week they ended up with two fine pizzas.

Enough said.

Location; Naples

Picture; Naples in 2017 from the collection of Saul Simpson and Emilka Cholewicka

Looking for the changes on Manchester Road in just over half a century

Now I suppose I can see why this bit of Manchester Road tended to be ignored by those commercial photographers of the early 20th century.

They concentrated on those other bits of Chorlton usually fastening on the area around the four banks or off along Wilbraham Road.

But this row of shops regularly features in the collection of Andy Robertson* and here is his latest along with one taken by Mr Downes in 1958.









Pictures, Manchester Road, 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson, and in 1959 by A.H. Downes, m18033, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*Looking for our lost launderettes, no 1 ........... Manchester Road, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/looking-for-our-lost-launderettes-no-1.html


Coming soon ........ Manchester Remembering 1914-18 ........... a second book signing

Now in one of the most outrageous bouts of self promotion here for all those that missed the first book signing event at Central Ref in February is news of a second opportunity to get a signed copy of Manchester Remembering 1914-18.

The first was attended by the Lord Mayor, some of the descendants of men and women who appear in the book along with a selection of Great War memorabilia from David Harrop.

So successful was the event that we have decided to repeat the day this time at the Imperial War Museum North at Salford Quays on Sunday June 4.

So as they say watch this spot for more details and as a trailer here picked from random is a page from the book.

Location; Imperial War Museum North









Pictures; page from Manchester Remembering 1914-18

*Manchester Remembering 1914-18, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Manchester%20and%20the%20Great%20War

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Pictures from an Eltham bus ........ nu 11 ....... three for one

The top deck of a London bus has to be a pretty neat way of seeing the world below.

"The new flats on the old Grove Market site in the distance"
And when it is the same bus at about the same time every day then you have got yourself a project.

All you need is a camera and the patience each week to record the same spot.

It helps if there is a major new development underway like the one in the High Street and the rest as they say is Larissa Hamment’s “Pictures from an Eltham bus.*

And today Larissa sent me three ........ “the new flats on the old Grove Market site which you can see from the distance, a nice shot of the church in the window and the old Co-op site completely levelled” 

Now what I particularly like about Larissa's project is the way it captures month by month the changes to our High Street.

"A nice shot of the church in the window"
All too often we take those changes for granted, and within a few years only vaguely remember what had once been there.

So the beauty of the series is that you can look back and capture that past.

I can not remember the old Grove Market being built or for that matter what was there before and while there are some images of the properties that were demolished, I have yet to come across any of the precinct being built.

And I would love to see more photographs of the construction of the Progress Estate, the Well Hall Odeon and the former Burton's.

"the old Co-op site completely levelled"
But with the demise of the old Co-op we do have Larissa's pictures and that  has got to be good for all of us who like Eltham and its history.

Location, Eltham High Street, Eltham, London





Pictures;  2017, from the collection of Larissa Hamment

*Pictures from an Eltham bus, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Pictures%20from%20an%20Eltham%20Bus

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

“Cow muck,” “no more school” and “Cowboy Joe” ........ lost playground chants no 4

Now as you would expect memories of playground chants and songs have bubbled up in response to the first ones I posted, and here are some more.  

Andy Robertson reminded me of that old favourite,

“No more days of school
No more days of sorrow
No more days in this old dump
We'll be home tomorrow”

While Margaret chimed in with one about her rival primary school, “Christ church bulldogs sittin' on a wall, eatin' cowmuck penny a ball" adding “we used to sing a similar song about other rival primary schools.”

And from Judy Wilson came
“I remember skipping on the long rope, a kid turning at each end of the rope, to Cowboy Joe from Mexico, hands up, stick 'em up, drop your guns and pick them up, out you go. And in would go the next kid to skip.” And “some others that come to mind of group games in the playground. The wind, the wind blows high and In and out the Scottish bluebells.”

Location; the playground

Picture; Oswald Road School, 2014 from the collection of Andy Robertson

An eighteenth century house, a conversation in Italian and stunning Lakeland views

Now we got away from the city and went north to the Lakes and the break was everything we wanted.

Aynsome Manor Hotel, 2017
As you do we took the journey slowly, passing through small villages and even smaller hamlets and stopping as all good tourists do to admire the scenery and take the pictures.

And we also struck gold with the hotel which was just outside Cartmel.

The Aynsome Manor Hotel is a gem.  The house is late 18th century although there are bits dating back another century, and it commands magnificent views across the surrounding countryside.

The accommodation and the food are excellent and there was that interesting mix of guests which make breakfast just that bit more interesting.

Added to which Tina struck up a conversation with one of the staff in Italian who was from Romania and had spent some time in Italy.  I rather liked the idea of being in the middle of the Lakes, sitting in an 18th century house listening to the two of them talk about Padua in Italian.

It was one of those delightful evenings which were enhanced by conversations with the hotel manager and the owner who recounted the history of the property.

Views from Hill Top, 2017
The rest of the weekend was spent wandering the nearby town of Grange on the Sands more hamlets and that tourist trap which is Windermere, followed by a visit the home of Beatrix Potter.

Here I fully admit that her books did nothing for me when I was a child and still as an adult have little appeal.

But her commitment to the Lake District and her determination to save the surrounding farms from the developers and thereby preserve the way of life has to be admired.

Hill Top, 2017
And in turn The National Trust is to be praised for the way it has maintained her home of Hill Top and the cottage garden.

The Trust carefully manage the number of people who visit on any one day which given the size of the cottage makes sense both for the preservation of the building but also because it allows you to see the rooms better.

And above all it means the peace and the tranquilly of the place is not destroyed which I have to is always one of the real attractions of being in the Lakes.

So with that here ends the first of the Blog's travelogues.

Location; the Lakes

Pictures; the Lakes, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 17 April 2017

We’re off, we’re off, we’re off in a motor car, ........ lost playground chants no 3

More playground chants and songs for long journeys.

I can't claim I collected any of them ....... they come from an LP by the Oldham Tinkers and if you go looking there are books  that record many more.

“We’re off, we’re off, we’re off in a motor car,
Sixty bobbies are after us an’ we don’t know where we are.”

“Th’night wer dark an’ stormy, t’ rain fell down in lumps,
Th’ tram wer on its journey from Hollinwood to Mumps,
A dog ran in the tram lines, the driver rang his bell,
T’ dog didn’t here the signal, now he’s on his way to Halifax.”

“Mi father wer an ‘ero, ‘is bravery made me blush,
They wer givin’ free beer up at t’ Roebuck, an’ mi dad got killed in t’ crush.”

More tomorrow

Picture; from the collection of Ron Stubley

*The Oldham Tinkers, Oldham’s Burning Sands   TOPIC TSDL206 STEREO, 1971

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Snaps of Chorlton nu 17.............. outside Mr England’s shop by Chorlton Green

Now this is the last of the short series taken from the collection of Paul England.

Over the last few days I have been featuring some of his family photographs which were taken in the 1960s

And I am finishing with two which in the way are the most personal

They speak for themselves but perhaps just need me to add that the first is Paul’s dad and the second is Paul.

They were taken outside the family shop on St Clements Road and point to the importance of the family snap, which in its way is a far more useful piece of photographic history than the carefully composed picture made by the professional.


Picture, shopping in Chorlton in the 1960s, from the collection of Paul England

Charlie Chaplin in Oldham .......... playground chants and songs for long journeys no 2

Now I first heard this collection on an LP by the Oldham Tinkers.

"About 40 years ago the Oldham Tinkers strung together all the songs they could remember being sung about Charlie Chaplin and punctuated them with a chorus which in its present form has its roots buried in the trenches of the Great War."*

All of which makes it perfect for the series playground chants and songs for long journeys.

"The moon shines bright on Charlie Chaplin
His boots are crackin’ for want of blackin‘
And his owd fusty coat is wanting mending
Until they send him to the Dardenelles

Charlie Chaplin had no sense.
He bought a fiddle for eighteen pence.
The only tune that he could play
Was tarara boomdiay.

Charlie Chaplin meek and mild,
Swiped a sausage from a child.
When the child began to cry
Charlie socked him in the eye.

Charlie Chaplin went to France
To teach the ladies how to dance;
'First you heel, then you toe;
Lift up your skirts and round you go'.

Charlie Charlie Chuck Chuck Chuck
Went to bed with three white ducks.
One died. Charlie cried.
Charlie Charlie Chuck Chuck Chuck.

One, two three, a lera,
I saw my auntie Sarah
Standing at the door, a lera
Kissing Charlie Chaplin.

The moon shines bright on Charlie Chaplin    
His boots are crackin’ for want of blackin‘
And his owd fusty coat is wanting mending
Until they send him to the Dardenelles"

Location; the early 20th century

Picture; soldiers on Oldham, date unknown from the collection of David Harrop

*Charlie Chaplin, the Oldham Tinkers, http://www.oldhamtinkers.com/charlie-chaplin.html

The Green End ........ “drove past here today half expecting it to be gone and I was right”

 Now Andy Robertson is economical with his words leaving his superb set of pictures to tell a story.

April 10 2016
So here are another of his before and after photographs.

I never went in the Green Lane but there will be many around Burnage Lane and Mauldeth Road who did.

In time we may get some of their stories.

Location; Manchester



April 14, 2017
Pictures; from the collection of Andy Robertson, 2016 8 2017

Mr George Dansie of Barforth Road Peckham Rye ......... currently residing in Manchester

Now yesterday I came across one of those fascinating links that connected my current city of Manchester with where I grew up in Peckham on Lausanne Road.

George writes home, 1917
And the connection was a Mr George Dansie of Barforth Road Peckham and a picture postcard he sent from Manchester in the November of 1917.

The card was of the Manchester YMCA in Piccadilly which was a temporary wooden building erected in the grounds of what had once been a hospital.*

It was also known as the Khaki Club and although meant for soldiers recuperating from wounds and shell shock was open to any servicemen and became a popular club.

I have yet to find out what Mr Dansie was doing in Manchester but given that he had been born in 1890 it is more than likely that he was stationed in the city.

There are a few men with his name in the military record and one in particular who was in the Royal Army Service Corps could be him.

The Manchester YMCA, 1917
Sadly George doesn’t give too much away in his message home.

He writes that he “will be writing a letter to you tomorrow” and that he had been to two theatres last week and was planning to visit another.

But what caught my eye was a sentence he added as an afterthought and squeezed into the top of the card where he wrote that the Manchester YMCA “is very like the Camberwell hut.”

And that took me on a journey which ended with the Camberwell hut or at least a painting of the building.

The Camberwell YMCA, 1917
The picture is in the collection of the Southwark Local History Library and Archive and according to the background notes was painted in 1917 by "the artist Russell Reeve who was born in Norfolk and lived in Hampstead. 
He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal Academy of Art. 

In 1916 permission was granted for the building of a YMCA hut on Camberwell Green for the use of passing troops."

The Camberwell building is not unlike its Manchester companion and leaves me wondering what its fate might have been.

Interior of the Manchester YMCA, 1917
I don’t remember it but then we left Peckham for Eltham in 1964.

The Manchester YMCA was demolished sometime around 1920 when the site was turned into a public park.

So the hunt is now on to discover more of the history of the “Camberwell hut.”

Location; Manchester, Peckham and Camberwell

Pictures; YMCA Hut on Camberwell Green, 1917 Russell Reeve, GA0325, courtesy of Southwark Local History Library and Archive, the Manchester YMCA postcard from the collection of David Harrop and the picture of the interior from the collection of Bill Sumner

* Piccadilly Gardens ....... the early years nu 1 The YMCA Hostel 1917,

** Southwark Local History Library and Archive 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Beavers Bulldogs sittin’ on a wall, ........ lost playground chants no 1

“Beavers Bulldogs sittin’ on a wall,
Sellin’ ‘orsemuck penny a ball”

“A wer standin’ on the corner eatin’ apple pie,
A policeman asked for a skinny bit so I poked him in the eye.
He went an’ told mi mother, mi mother wouldn’t come,
So I went an’ got a lollypop an’ stuck it up his bum.”

Now when I was a kid one of the most popular playground chants revolved around  popular TV westerns, where Rawhide, Laramie and the Cisco Kid were thrown together and the story played out using their names set against impossible things they did.

I don’t remember any of them anymore, but still repeat for the amusement of our grown up lads some that date back into the early 20th century.

I would like to pretend I had collected them in the "field" but in fact I heard them on an LP by the Oldham Tinkers in the early 1970s.*

They made me laugh then and still do today.

For some the expressions may seem odd, and you will have to affect an Oldham accent to do justice to them and that I suppose is a bit of the challenge.

Stick with it and you are back in the early decades of the last century somewhere in the North.

That said I bet the same chants could be heard in the playgrounds of South east London, and as far away as Belfast and Devon.

More tomorrow

Pictures; from the collection of Ron Stubley

*The Oldham Tinkers, Oldham’s Burning Sands   TOPIC TSDL206 STEREO, 1971

Snaps of Chorlton nu 16 .............. on Beech Road with Mrs England just 41 years ago

Now I can’t be exactly sure of when Mrs England posed on Beech Road for this photograph but it will be sometime before 1974.

And it is a scene I will have missed by just a few years, because while I remember Threshers,, the old frontage of Ettchel's and Richardson’s it is the absence of Ivy Court opposite the Rec which fastens the date to sometime before 1974.

Look closely and just beyond the car on the right is the outline of the farmhouse which was demolished to make way for Ivy Court.

There will be plenty of people who still remember Mr and Mrs Riley who lived there in the 1960s and there will even be some who remember being sent for milk from the diary.

My old friend Marjorie had the regular job of going across the road from the family home on Provis and had more than a few stories of the place.

But the farm stretched back into the 18th century and was farmed from the 1760s by the Renshaw family and later the Bailey’s who were still there at the beginning of the last century.

By the time they left for Park Brow Farm at the bottom of Sandy Lane Beech Road was pretty much as it was in this picture and there was a degree of continuity.

There has always been a news agents on the corner of what is now Beech Road and Chequers, and its companion premises has always been a fish and chip shop.

That said the rest of the parade of shops up to Wilton dates from later in the century while the Thresher frontage was changed sometime after Mason and Burrows departed the building.

So there you have it a little of the history of Beech Road at a time before now, and yes I will conclude with that obvious observation that there ain’t many cars to be seen.

And there I will leave it with just a big thank you to Paul England who allowed me to share another of his family photographs.

Picture; Beech Road sometime before 1974, from the collection of Paul England