Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Inside 523 Barlow Moor Road in 1960

523 Barlow Moor Road
If like me you were born in the first half of the last century you will remember the old cooking ranges, the small gas stoves, and those brass light switches which long ago were deemed unsafe.

They were the background to everyday life, and are now seldom seen other than in museums.

Our range disappeared from the old house in the early 1950s, the gas stove swapped for a gleaming top of the range Cannon cooker in 1962 and the old phone with its wooden base along with much more went when I was still a baby.

The range, complete with cat
That said one surviving brass light switch long sense disconnected still sits at the top of our cellar stairs, and like countless other Chorlton residents we made our way to Gorton and bought a cast iron bath and a lead lavatory cistern in its wooden box.

They replaced the plastic ones which in 1975 were part of the modernisation of the house.

And so what was taken out in the 1970s in south Manchester was in turn thrown away in favour of an older set of household furniture which was being saved from condemned and demolished properties a decade later on the eastern side of the city.

I doubt that many houses here in Chorlton can still boast those original features so I am indebted to my friend Ann who sent me a series of drawings she made of her home on Barlow Moor Road.

We think it will have been built sometime around 1890 and so what you see are some of the original fittings along with others which will date from the very early years of the 20th century.


Using the open fire
I remember my grandmother still used her range well into the 1950s but also fell back on a small gas stove which was easier to use and far quicker.

Municipal authorities like Manchester were keen to promote cooking on gas and householders could rent or buy on credit the same model that Ann drew in the 1960s.

Telephones may seem a luxury but in some of the more well off homes in the township they were a must, and the names of the good and worthy can be increasingly looked up in the telephone directories from as early as 1900.

It is of course easy to become sentimental about these old feature.  As warm and comforting the range might be it was run on solid fuel, which meant racking out the ashes and carrying heavy buckets of coal.

The telephone
The gas stoves were pretty basic models and the down side of a brass light switch was that someone was made to polish it.

So this is the first of a series which aims to open up the houses of late 19th century Chorlton and I guess for many they will be the first time that such stuff has been seen in the context of our own area.

Moreover and here I must avoid making either me or Ann feel like a museum piece were the things we used in our everyday life.

The phone may not have have lit up when it received a call nor would it store the number of the caller or allow them to leave a message, but it worked.

It did the business of allowing you to talk to someone not in the same house and not send a letter of a postcard.

In the same way the cooker cooked your meal with no recourse to a timer, a split oven or a  fan.

That said I like my phone which lights up in the evening and talks to me, and my fan assisted double oven makes life so much easier.

Picture; 523 Barlow Moor Road, 1959 A H Downes, m17504 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php? and drawings of the inside of 523 Barlow Moor Road courtesy of Ann Love

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