Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Two old houses, a shop called Audrey’s and new friends ................. how the past makes its own connections

Now the connection between two old houses on Upper Chorlton Road, the much missed “fashion” shop which was Audrey’s and a growing group of new friends might seem an odd one.

198 & 200 Upper Chorlton Road, 1960
But the connections are all there, starting with the obvious one that all are in Chorlton or almost  and secondly my name appears underneath each story which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

I write about Chorlton’s history and on occasion people get in touch to share their memories.

So having written about Audrey’s yesterday which sold fine gowns, blouses and ladies accessories I was contacted by Catherine and Jo.

Catherine I already knew through social networking because we shared an interest in a now vanished local farm, but it turns out that she ran Cafe Tabac which was situated in one of the two shops owned by Audrey on Barlow Moor Road.

And Jo is Audrey’s daughter and more than that when I sold my house on Reeves Road she and her partner bought it.

Catherine has promised to tell me about Cafe Tabac, while next month I shall be meeting up with Jo, her husband and a friend all of whom have many memories of Chorlton.

Audrey's on Barlow Moor Road, 1959
And also next month I have been invited to see the progress on numbers 198 and 200 Upper Chorlton Road.

They were once fine family homes dating to sometime just after 1871, but the passage of time and changing lifestyles meant that they had fallen on hard times.

But the two are currently being renovated and converted in to apartments by Armistead Properties and in the process bringing them back into something of their former glory.  Peter who owns the company asked me to find out what I could about the properties and out of that came some fascinating stories, and I hope more.*

The Chemists which became Audrey;s circa 1900
All of which reinforces that simple observation that history is messy and can take you off in all sorts of directions making links that you never expected.

Nor does it stop there, because one of my present projects is a book on Chorlton Pubs and Bars with local artist Peter Topping, which will include the bar Duffys and what is now Duffys was once Cafe Tabac having also been Uhuru and an Italian restaurant and before that Audrey’s.

And as we enter the local elections, a Mayoral contest and the General Election I shall just say that the two houses on Upper Chorlton Road were once owned by a Chorlton councillor who was leader of the Conservative group on the City Council.

So I am not surprised at the connections that bubble to the surface, and after the next round of meetings with new friends I reckon there will be more.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures;  no 200, m40865, Downes A H, Audrey’s 1959, m17591, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,  the Chemists which became Audrey;s circa 1900 from the Lloyd Collection

*Armistead Properties,

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