Sunday, 30 April 2017

Net curtains, venetian blinds and that horseman on Brookburn Road .......... Chorlton in the 1920s and 30s

More than anything it’s the detail that draws you in to this photograph of Annie  and Nelly  outside 67 Hawthorn Road in the spring of 1930.

It starts with those net curtains which had been a badge of respectable living from the early years of the last century and would only be swept away by the new look of the 1950s.

I remember them well but more than the curtains it’s those blinds, made of slated wood which made a distinctive clunk when you raised or lowered them.

They filled the windows along with the nets and of course those heavy plush curtains which between them were required features of any surbuban home no matter however modest.

And each in their way made perfect sense.

In an age before central heating the heavier the curtains the better to keep the place warm in winter, while the blinds were essential for houses modifying the full strength of the sun in summer.

Today we might find the nets a tad over fancy but this was still a more private time when displaying the contents of your front room was regarded as more than a bit ostentatious.

The only concession to the seasons was that in some homes at least the heavy curtains came down in summer for lighter ones around the time the sweep would be called in to do the chimneys.

It is a way of life which has pretty much gone, along with the iron railings that topped the small front walls and could be as elaborate as these at number 67 and with that care for detail the gate’s design mirrored perfectly the railings.

And back when Annie and Nelly posed for the camera their home was less than thirty years old and had been part of that housing explosion which had turned Chorlton from a rural community to a suburb of Manchester.

But this was still a period of transition when the sight of a man on a horse was unlikely to turn a head.

We still had farmers who used horses to cart their produce from the fields while plenty of tradesmen transported their good across the township by horse drawn vans.

All of which is a lead in to Jim Mcloughlin sitting astride a horse by Brookburn Road.

Behind him is Brook Dairy which long before it  specialized in milk had been a farm dating back into the 18th century.
I am not sure when the farmhouse was demolished but it should be easy enough to find out by trawling the directories although I doubt that any one will remember its passing.

It will I suspect date from the when the dairy was taken over by Express Dairies which have now also gone leaving the site to be redeveloped into a row of modern houses,

That said there will be plenty who remember the yard, and on reflection I wish I had asked for that big sign which reminded drivers to be mindful of the neighbours.

After all the residents of the houses next door would still have been asleep when the crates of milk were being loaded onto the floats.

And that is now as much a part of our past as horses on Brookburn Road and net curtains up by Hawthorn Road.

Pictures; from the collection of Peter McLoughlin.

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