Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Outside GMex admiring the open space and the Midland

Now I know it’s no longer called GMex and also on a cold wet and windy January day the open space in front of the exhibition centre is not so appealing.

But on a hot day in May with plenty of sun it is not a bad place to be.

It does after all command good views of the old railway station and the Midland Hotel and also allowed Andy to comment “that building seems to be taking a lot of time to get demolished!”

It’s the one in the distance and I have to agree.

I did try to remember what it was called but that has defeated me.

For those with longer memories GMex was Central Station which closed only months before I arrived in the city in the September of 1969.

I wandered around it when it was a car park and later toured the site with the late John Smith when the conversion into the exhibition centre was well under way.

And that is all I want to say, except that I once did have tea in the Midland.  It was back in the 1970s and like Andy's building my memory of the event is very hazy.

So that really is it.

Location; Manchester







Pictures; outside GMex, May 2017, from the collection of Andy Robertson

On Range Road in Whalley Range with the Manchester Carriage and Tramway Company depot

Now as far as a story goes that I think will have to wait but I couldn’t resist using Andy’s picture of this bit of Grange Road taken last month.

Range Road, once a tram depot later a laundry and homes, 2014
The jury maybe out on whether using the facade of an old building and constructing something entirely new behind it constitutes good design but I rather like the idea.

If you can’t use the original for what it was intended for this at least allows a little of its history to be preserved and in the process gives a context to this bit of Range Road.

It also prompted me to try and understand what this building was and more importantly how it fits with the rest of the structure on the corner of Range and Withington Roads.

The bits of the deport that are left, 2014
Today the bits of what was once one building look odd and pretty much defy any attempt to make sense of what is a brick block with a canopy on one side of it.

If I think hard enough I can just remember it as a garage and that is about it.

You would see it as you passed on the bus and it never really intruded very deeply.  It was just a jumble of ugly bits of building made worse by someone’s attempt to paint some of the brick work.

That canopy, 2014
But once it belonged to the Manchester Carriage and Tramway Company and extended along Withington Road and round on to Range Road.

The company had been formed from a merger of two transport business's in 1880 and for over 20 years operated horse drawn tram services throughout Manchester and Salford.

At its greatest extent in 1900 it ran services over 140 route miles, using 515 trams and 5,244 horses housed in 19 depots.*

And our building was one of those depots with another close by on Chorlton Road.

Badly painted walls, 2014
But by the early 20th century local authorities were showing an interest in operating their own Corporation transport services and the Manchester Carriage and Tramway Company ceased trading in 1903.

So while in 1894 our building was one of their deports by 1911 it had moved with the times and was home to the Provincial Motor Cab Company Ltd.

But this “new century” enterprise had no use for all of the original building and so the stretch on Range Road was used by Mrs Emma Thompson as a laundry.

And that pretty much is where we started the story with that picture of Andy’s which was once part of a horse drawn tram empire became a laundry and now fronts private residences.

Not that I have finished because just as I couldn’t resist starting with Andy’s picture I shall close with this one of part of the building in 1962, when it was the Range Garage.

Range Garage in 1962
Something of the grandeur of the place when it was owned by the Carriage Company can be seen from the picture by A H Landers.

And there is that canopy to the left of the great entrance, complete with petrol pumps.

But this original was too big even for a garage which boasted it was open Day & Night so the section to the right housed the Metalic Construction Company (Manchester) Ltd.

All now gone save that odd bit of brick and canopy and of course the facade on Range Road without which Andy wouldn’t have had a picture or me a story.

Pictures; Range Road and the surviving bits of the deport from the collection of Andy Robertson, and the Range Garage, 1962, A H Landers m41068, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

* Gray, Edward (1977), The Manchester Carriage and Tramways Company, Manchester Transport Museum Society

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Manchester Remembering 1914-18 ......... at the Imperial War Museum North ..... Sunday June 4

Now this Sunday at the invitation of the Imperial War Museum North I will be signing copies of Manchester Remembering 1914-18.*

The book “offers an intimate portrayal of the city and its people living in the shadow of the Great War. 

A beautifully illustrated and highly accessible volume, it explores the city's regiments, the background and fate of the men on the frontline, the changing face of industry, the vital role of women, conscientious objectors, hospitals for the wounded and rehabilitation, peace celebrations, the fallen heroes and war memorials.

The Great War story of Manchester is told through the voices of those who were there and is vividly illustrated with evocative images.”

Sunday 11 am to 1 pm and again from 2 pm to 4 pm.

*IWMN,  http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-north Trafford Wharf Rd, Stretford, Manchester M17 1TZ


Walking the water ........... the Rochdale Canal in late May

Now the Rochdale Canal has seen its own fair share of changes.

From working waterway to derelict and sad dumping spot it has been returned to a place with a purpose.

And as before, the boats ply the stretch from the Castlefield Basin up to Dale Street at Piccadilly and even some of the branches that led off from the main canal to warehouses cotton mills timber yard and coal wharves coal have been restored.

So what better to do on a hot May day than walk the waterway.

Location; on the Rochdale Canal, Manchester,

Picture; on the Rochdale Canal, Manchester, 2017 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Remembering Slightam's of 105 Manchester Road

Slightam's, circa 1966
Now I have become interested in Slightam’s of 105 Manchester Road.

They ran one of the shops which offered a full range of services from "Newsagents, Stationers, Fancy Goods [and] Tobacconists" but also acted as a “Lending Library [with] over 1000 books.”

I first came across them on the dust cover of a book from one of those lending libraries which had been passed to me by my friend Margaret.

And not long after I posted a story about the book cover which referred to Slightam’s Lorna and David came back with memories of the shop.

Lorna remembered “that was a shop with immense character. It was a newsagent. Mr Slightanm always wore gloves with no fingers in. I don’t think the shop changed for many years, it was like Aladdin’s cave” while Dave added that “I remember, I even delivered papers for him. There was an old fashioned phone kiosk in the back of his shop that took old pennies”

Sowerbutts, 1911
All of which deserves a lot more research, more so because the 1911 directory listed 105 as “Sowerbutt’s Robert, newsagents Telephone Call Office” which not only offers up a wonderful sense of continuity but throws a light on how the telephone system worked in the early 20th century.

And in turn that telephone link helps date my dust cover.

I thought it might be the 1930s and said so but looking again at the advert for Slightam’s the clue is their telephone number which was Chorlton 140 and which in was changed to “now -881-3146.”

Now that change occurred in 1966 and so our hand written correction to the number means that the dust cover and the circulating library from which this book came was still doing the rounds in the 1960s.

Not earth shattering history I grant you but I think it’s fascinating and may well lead to a few more stories about the Slightam’s.

Thank you to Lorna and David.

Picture; advert courtesy of Margaret Connelly.

Monday, 29 May 2017

The mystery of the blocked up archway beside the canal at the Gaythorn Bridge

Now I haven’t yet got to the bottom of the mystery beside the Rochdale Canal and I rather think I never well.

Lock 90 and that mystery, 2017
Of course there will be more than a few people with an interest in tunnels and dark secret passages who will have a theory and an explanation.

For now, I wonder where that archway led and its original purpose.

It stands by lock number 90 on the Rochdale Canal just before the canal runs under the Gaythorn Bridge.

Soon this bit of the waterway will be dwarfed by the huge residential and commercial block which according to the developers will consist of 360 luxury apartments rising above Albion Street in 28 storeys.

A window not an entrance? 2017
And that is how I came to our arch because while I have past it countless times it was only when Andy Robertson sent me a new set of pictures of the building site that I noticed the entrance to nowhere.

Its part of a stone structure and may once have given access to what was variously a timber and coal yard, although closer inspection suggests it was perhaps a window.

Lock 90 in 1849
The maps from the late 1840s and into the 50s show that the land directly beyond that arch was a coal wharf with a weighing machine shown almost on the spot of the entrance.

Later still in 1894 there does still appear to be a building but none of the directories from the period list anything on this side of Trafford Street which runs parallel with the canal.

The bigger picture, 2017
I did come across one picture in the digital archive of the tow path facing the bridge on Albion Street dated 1909 but I am sure this in not our wall.

So for now that is it but if there is anything constant in the world it is that someone will know or will go off to look for the answer.

I hope so.

Location; the Rochdale Canal

Picture; down on the Rochdale Canal, 2017 courtesy of Andy Robertson, and from the 1849 OS mapd of Manchester & Salford, 1844-49, courtesy of Digital Archives Associationhttp://digitalarchives.co.uk/

Sunday, 28 May 2017

From furniture shop to restaurant, Coupe to Croma


I remain fascinated by the way that a place you have known and taken for granted changes and almost overnight you forget just how it had been.

For me this corner of Wilbraham and Manchester Roads was M.E.Coupe the furnishers, in the same way that Quamby’s was the toy shop and H. Burt’s was the shop you went to for a pair of braces or cuff links.

For an older generation I suppose there was Stevenson’s the hair dresser whose family firm had operated from the same shop opposite the Post Office since the early years of the last century, and continued in business into the early 1980s or Joy Seal’s the Chemist on Beech Road.

And it is this which makes Tom McGrath’s photographs of Chorlton so interesting.  They are of the near past, and so things look almost as they do today but just not quite the same.  I look at his series taken in 1985 and again in 2012 and it’s a bit like watching the Sweeney.  Everything is just that little old fashioned.

So there is the furniture shop, and for those in the know Coupe’s also had a lock up on Beech Road which had once been the old Methodist Chapel. It was a nice traditional place and I wish I has used it more often.

The pictures also hint at that huge transformation in the retailing fortunes of Chorlton.  From furniture shop to restaurant, it is a development which is mirrored across the township.  Not that this is a rant against the change, just an observation in how things have gone and a timely appeal for any one with similar pictures to share them with us all.

So I would love to see pictures of that bit of Manchester Road which is now the car park and the precinct just after it was opened.

Pictures; from the collection of Tom McGrath

Looking for Corporal Fletcher and his sister in the spring of 1916 ................. stories behind the book nu 3

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War.*

Altrincham Street and arch leading to Britain Street, 1960
Now you won’t find Britain Street any more although there are clues to its previous existence.

It once ran from Granby Row to Brierly Street crossing Altrincham Street close to London Road and was swept away the during the extension of the UMIST campus.**

But it is still possible to follow its line of route and the keen street detective just needs to turn off London Road on to Altrincham Street and there to the right is the railway arch and the remnants of one side of Britain Street while directly opposite and running into the university buildings is the continuation of the street.

Letter to Miss Fletcher, 1921
And that feint echo of what once was there is pretty much replicated in the story of Corporal R Fletcher of the Manchester’s who died on April 12 1916 and is buried at the Amara War Cemetery in Iraq.

His story began with the discovery of a letter to his sister which accompanied his war medals “which would have been conferred upon [him] had he lived.”

I would like to know more but the historical records have as yet offered little more.  I know his sister was living at nu 32 Britain Street in 1921 but a search for her or for anything more on Corporal Fletcher has drawn a blank.

Envelope addressed to 32 Britain Street, 1921
There isn’t even a picture of the house on Britain Street which judging from the maps and the remaining evidence was a narrow street of industrial units and residential properties overlooked by the railway line and flanked by the very busy London Road.

Nor do its residents get a listing in the street directories which is odd because by the beginning of the 20th century most people would be recorded from even the most humble of dwellings.

And the houses were occupied.  In 1898 nu 32 was home to W H Worall who along with his nine neighbours paid a weekly rent of five shillings and six pence to Buckley Shaw their landlords and for this they got a six roomed house which by then may well have been over sixty years old.

Britain Street, 1893
All of which means that there is lots more work to do on the Fletcher’s.

Sadly his military records appear to have been destroyed and his sister stubbornly sits in the shadows.

But I am confident I will find them and they will make their way into the book.

Well, we shall see.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Altrincham Street, W H Beaumont, 1960,  courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass letter and envelope addressed to Miss M E Fletcher, 1921 from the collection of David Harrop, and Britain Street, 1893  from the OS Lancashire, 1888-1893 courtesy of Digital Archives, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

*Manchester and the Great War, Andrew Simpson, due out at the end of 2016, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Manchester%20and%20the%20Great%20War

**University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology

***Manchester Rate Books, 1898

Celebrating our Municipal Town Halls part 6 .......... Manchester Town Hall*

Well I could hardly leave our own Town Hall out of the collection.*

It is a building I have been fascinated by for nearly half a century, although when I first saw it I was not convinced.  Back then I was still into classical buildings and rather was disdainful of all that Gothic stuff.

Plenty of people would come to its defence including one friend who pointed out that it had just been cleaned as if that would make me like it all the more.

Of course that Gothic prejudice has long vanished and during the 1970s into the 90s I spent many hours in the building and came to fully appreciate it as a fine statement of all that municipal power.

And here I have to mention Mr Tidmarsh whose illustraions have been regularly used by any one wanting to show our city in the last decades of the 19th century.

Many of them can be found in the three volumes of Manchester Old and New by William Arthur Shaw published in 1894.

I noticed a recent auction of the 3 which estimated that they might go for
£30-£40, and there are also paper back versions as well as an e book.

I chose to opt for the Library copies which once ordered up arrived at Chorlton Library in a matter of days, something I am sure would have pleased the Corporation's Library Committee back at the beginning of the last century.









Pictures, Manchester Town Hall, by H.E. Tidmarsh from Manchester Old and New, William Arthur Shaw, 1894

*Our Municipal Town Halls, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Our%20Municipal%20Town%20Halls

Of flower beds, and park benches, ......Piccadilly Gardens in the 1950s and 60s

Now many of us have fond memories of Piccadilly Gardens.

And this postcard marketed in the 1950s by Tuck & Sons Ltd goes a long way to show why it remains close to many Mancunians.

In the spring and summer the sunken gardens were a blaze of colour and a perfect place for a lunch break or a pause from shopping.

Moreover if you had missed the bus there was no better place to sit.

All of which might begin to stray into silly nostalgic tosh, but I think not.

The gardens back then had a human scale to them and were far better suited to an urban landscape than the windswept place of today with its patches of threadbare grass and brutal concrete slab of a wall.

I am well aware that the planners may have thought that a concrete barrier was a sensible way of blocking the tram and bus traffic but it does not work and has led to that silly idea of painting it green or covering it with creepers.

Neither of which will really solve the blunder.

But enough of this rant.

The gardens had become a run down and shabby place but as the plethora of old pictures goes to show it was somewhere worth saving.

Picture; Piccadilly Gardens, from the series Manchester, Lillywhite, issued by Tuck & Sons, courtesy of TuckDB http://tuckdb.org/history

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Goodbye to Carry on Nurse , choc ices and the back row ..... the Odeon

Now anyone with a nostalgic side should probably look away.

For decades this was the spot of magic nights, a first romantic date and a long love affair with the cinema.

But as Andy Robertson’s pictures show all that is almost gone.

Well actually, sitting in the dark with a Carry on film, a choc ice and those impossibly sweet Kiora orange drinks went a long time ago.

The building has lingered on but is now almost gone.

The boards outside the site announce an office development of “178,000 sq ft of Premium Grade A Office space” and even the imposing facade will vanish.

According to that excellent site Cinema Treasure, “The Paramount Theatre was built in 1930 to the designs of architects Frank T. Verity & Samuel Beverley for the U.K. arm of the American Paramount Theatres chain. 

The Manchester Paramount Theatre was a sumptuous American import.

Verity & Beverley were Paramount Theatre’s chosen architects for their U.K. enterprise — they were also responsible for the Paramount Leeds, Paramount Newcastle-on-Tyne, Paramount Glasgow, Paramount Liverpool, Paramount Birmingham and Paramount, Tottenham Court Road, London. Their architect’s practice continues today as Verity-Beverley.


Originally containing 2,920 seats in orchestra, mezzanine and balcony levels, the Paramount Theatre was the largest of Manchester’s picture palaces to survive as a cinema. 

It opened on 6th October 1930 with Maurice Chevalier in “The Love Parade”, plus a variety show on stage, and it was equipped with a Wurlitzer 4Manual/20Ranks theatre organ. 

The Paramount Theatre also had a cafe for the convenience of its patrons.

In November 1939 the Paramount circuit was obtained by Oscar Deutsch’s chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. and it was re-named Odeon in April 1940. 

It was twinned in 1973, triplexed in 1979 with a further four screens created in 1992.


The cinema was closed in September 2004 due to competition from the AMC Great Northern 16, which had opened nearby in December 2001. 

In Autumn of 2010, plans were approved by Manchester City Council to demolish the former Paramount/Odeon and redevelop the site for an office building. Preparation for demolition work began in late-June 2013, but demolition work wasn’t commenced until August 2016, and then only a little was done mainly to the interior. Total demolition began in April 2017 and will be completed in June 2017.”*

So for those with a nostalgic disposition you had better look away as Andy’ pictures show the indignity of demolition.

Leaving me to remember standing under those lights and that ceiling.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; the demolition of the Odeon, May 2107, from the collection of Any Robertson

*Cinema Treasures, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/2430

Today in Stevenson Square


Location; Stevenson Square

Pictures; Stevenson Square, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Revisiting the Great War nu 2 ............ food queues, aliens and a marriage

Queueing fot poataoes in 1914
We all have our own images of the Great War and for most of us they will be that mix of young men in ill fitting uniforms, barbed wire, trenches and women at work in our munitions factories.

Less familiar perhaps will be those of people queuing for food or the lines of policeman escorting enemy aliens into custody.

Now these are part of that landscape which is the Second World War but is less commonly featured in stories of the Great War.

Leaflet for meeting, 1915
And yet as rationing was not introduced until 1917 and food prices along with the cost of fuel and rents rocketed upwards queuing became a way of life.

It led inevitably to a level of discontent which was recorded in the media and manifested itself in demands by the Labour movement for greater control over the production, distribution and sale of all everyday commodities.*

Much of these demands can be followed in the minutes and leaflets of the Food Vigilance Committees which sprang up all over the country.*

These were grass roots organisations composed of trade unions, co-op societies women’s groups  and labour party branches and fed their deliberations, along with reports of the actions they undertook to the War Emergency Workers National Committee which had been established by the labour movement at the start of the war.

I doubt today that many know of either organisations or the part they played in protecting the living standards of working people.

Manchester Guardian 1914
And in much the same way the swift response to those who became known as enemy aliens rarely gets the same attention as the moves made by the Government against Italian and German nationals in 1939.

Churchill’s “collar the lot” and the subsequent imprisonment of both the innocent and the potentially sinister is the stuff of many television documentaries but the experiences of Germans in 1914 is less well covered.

At best there are a few references to attacks on German property violent attacks on individuals but that is it.

Like the Defence of the Realm Act, the Aliens Registration Act gave the Government wide spread powers, which required all aliens  over 16 to register with the police and to seek permission if they planned to be away from their registered home for more than 24 hours.

And so within just twelve days after the war began the Manchester Guardian reported that two thousand Germans living in Manchester had registered.***

But registration was just the start, for by the following month some at least of these were being arrested and sent to a camp at Queensferry.

On September 9th according to the Manchester Guardian “Fifty-five more German and Austrian subjects who had been arrested by the Manchester police were sent to the camp at Queensferry.  

They were manacled and chained together, and were under an escort of policeman armed with rifles.  

The total number of alien enemies arrested in Manchester is now 107 of whom 99 have been sent to military detention camps.****

The authorities justified the action by citing that “news of the German advance towards Paris had brought about a distinct change in the attitude of the younger members of the German colony.  They began freely to express their satisfaction at the German successes and boast of what they would do as soon as German soldiers landed in England.”

To its credit the Manchester Guardian was appalled that the detained men had been chained, commenting that “it should be borne in mind that these men are untried, that they are arrested on suspicion ....... and though there may be good ground for their detention there is none for degrading them.”

But such was the mood of the country a mood which would only get darker during the course of the next four years.

So with that in mind I shall finish with one of those little bits of normality which so often get overlooked.

Marriages, August 3 1914
And that was that on the day before war broke out VICTOR GEORGE CHARLES BREEDEN had married HILDA KATHLEEN DOBBS, both of Chorlton-cum-Hardy at St Werburghs Church.

Mr Breeden went on to serve in the Great War and was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal but his military records gave not survived and I have as yet not been able to locate them in Chorlton.

All I do know is that Mrs Breeden died in Wales in 1963.

So that is where I will leave it.

Pictures; Queue for Potatoes, 1914, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass
 leaflet announcing a Mass Meeting organised against the rising cost of living at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, February 1915, and the aims of the London Food Vigilance Committee, 1915 courtesy of the Archives & Study Centre,  at the People’s History Museum

*Food Vigilance Committees, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Food%20Vigilance%20Committees

**The War Emergency Workers National Committee http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20War%20Emergency%20Workers%20National%
20Committee

***Germans in Manchester, Manchester Guardian, August 13 1914

****Alien enemies in manacles, Manchester Guardian September 9 1914

Friday, 26 May 2017

Waiting for the rush hour at Oxford Road ............

Now I have a soft spot for Oxford Road Station and like plenty of others I have taken more than a few pictures of that reflection of the Refuge Building.

I can’t remember exactly when or why I was there but I managed to get the photograph on one of those quiet moments.



Location; Oxford Road Railway Station, Manchester




Picture; Oxford Road Railway Station, 2009 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Revisiting the Great War nu 1 ............ who spoke in favour?

That image of people cheering the news that we were at war in August 1914 and turning out on the streets pretty much sums up what we think was the mood of the country facing its first major continental war in a century.

Men flocked to the Colours, many wanting to do their bit before it was all over and Rupert Brook wrote

"Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping.*

And yet it can only have been one aspect of how collectively the country greeted the news.

After all Sir Edward Grey’s famous comment that "The lamps are going out all over Europe” was made by the man closely associated with the decisions which led to our ultimatum with Germany.**

And on that day the Manchester Guardian had been full of letters deploring Britain’s possible involvement while the editor C.P Scott had commented that

“If we rush into war ...it will be both a crime and ruinous madness in which we risk everything of which we are proud and gain nothing.”***

Such feelings were mirrored by resolutions passed by churches and church bodies calling for neutrality, and large meetings held across Greater Manchester including one at the Milton Hall on Deansgate the day after war was declared reaffirming a belief that we should have remained neutral.

Uppermost were the fears for those who would be called to fight, the loss of treasure involved in paying for the conflict and the unease at lining up with countries like Russia and Serbia.

And amongst sections of the Labour Movement there was the a real concern that “wars are of no concern to Labour.  

The only purpose as far as we are concerned, would be to divert attention from social needs, and the only people who would benefit would be the armament firms. 

We never know what financial forces are behind movements which precipitate nations in to wars of this kind.”****

A sentiment which was matched by resolutions from trade unions like that from the Electrical Trades Union,

“strongly protesting against the present war in Europe as a ‘wanton and wilful waste of human life which will be the cause of unparallelled misery and hardship to the workers of all countries.’”*****

That opposition never really went away and as the war deepened it maintained a constant, but the majority of the country swung behind Britain’s involvement.

By September the Labour candidate in the Bolton by-election was unopposed by the other two parties because he “was a whole hearted supporter of the war policy.”******

And a little over a month later the Labour MP for Manchester East,  John Edward Sutton speaking to a meeting in his constituency commented that  “when our ultimatum was sent [the Labour Party was] practically unanimous in deciding to support the war through.  

Our policy as a party was to sink and fall with the Government, as the Opposition had done, and do their best to bring the war to a successful issue.” ******

Although it is interesting that he maintained that “German Socialists like the Socialists of this and other countries were against war... but were out numbered in the German Parliament by the militarist and aristocratic party” concluding that they now “had to do the best they could for their country just as we believed we must fight the war to the finish.”

His speech was met by frequent applause and that I guess brings us back to the image of the cheering crowds complimented by the recurring news of the numbers enlisting in Manchester Pals Battalions  and the report that of the 280 Manchester undergraduate on the Officer Training Corps over 200 had taken commissions in the two months since the war began.

Next, the treatment of enemy aliens, unemployment, distress and the growing role of women in the war effort.

Pictures; selection of picture postcards from the collection of David Harrop

*Peace Rupert Brooke, 1914

** "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time."

***To a group of Manchester businessmen and Liberals on August 3 1914

****Councillor W.T.Jackson, Secretary of the Manchester and Salford Labour Representation Committee, Labour Protest in Manchester, Manchester Guardian, August 3 1914

***** The Attitude of Labour, Manchester Evening News, August 3 1914

******Bolton By-election, Manchester Guardian, September 15 1914

******The Labour Party, Manchester Guardian, October 12 1914

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Wednesday May 24 ................. My Manchester

We will all have our own slightly different feelings about the events of Monday night and yesterday.

For all of us it will begin with the loss of life and the impact that those deaths will have on family, friends and the wider community.

And because so many of those who were murdered were young there is that awful sense that their futures and all they may have become and all they may have achieved has just been ended.

Others far more eloquent than me have summed up the collective feelings of the people of the City and beyond.

But the bravery and dedication of the emergency services and bystanders on the night along with so many individual acts of generosity and kindness during yesterday deserve to be spoken of again and again.

All day yesterday like so many others, we received messages from friends and family checking on us and expressing their revulsion and sadness.

And that is all I want to say.



Picture; looking out on Manchester, 2002

St Ann's Square, Snaps of Manchester nu 6

I have to say that there often seems to be building work on the corner where Old Bank Street runs into St Ann’s Square.

And so it as when this snap was taken sometime I think in the 1930s.

Back then the Royal Exchange was an exchange trading in cotton and after the completion of its extension between 1914 and ’31 was the largest trading hall in the country.

Now I might be slightly out with the date, the cars suggest the 1920s and it all hangs on whether what we see is the finished exchange.

Happily someone will have an opinion and provide an answer.

Either way it is another of those wonderful snaps from the collection of Sandra Hapgood, and as I have said before they are a valuable record of what the city looked like.

For unlike the carefully posed professional images these were instant pictures, taken by someone who just liked what they saw.

And so often are ones that no one else has taken.

Picture; St Ann’s Square, date unknown courtesy of Sandra Hapgood

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A little bit of continuity on Chorlton Green

Now I like the way that some buildings almost return to what they once were.

floral affair, 2017
So this is number 15 Chorlton Green which has been floral affair from 2015 and a century and a bit ago was a greengrocer.

Of course I have no idea if Mr Johnson Clark sold flowers back in 1903 but I bet the odd bunch of daffodils sneaked their way in to the shop with the apples, pears and potatoes bought from the markets in Manchester.

Had he been trading half a century earlier when Chorlton was full of market gardens I doubt that he would have travelled into the city, but by 1903 where we lived had pretty much lost its rural character.

Chorlton Green Supper Bar, circa 1975
And as if to underline that transformation within a few years number 15 and the adjoining property had become a fish and chip shop, and that will be how many people remember the building.

Only recently a friend shared a picture of the place when “Chippy Madge” was there and I bet there will be plenty of others with the odd snap of the steamy shop on a cold January night.

And more who will call the mix of gossip and banter exchanged by those waiting for their crispy chips and crunching battered cod.

I can’t be sure yet when the property was built but it is there on the OS for 1893 and with a bit of detective work using the census returns, street directories and rate books we will get close to knowing the date.

For those with a pressing need to know I think it might well have been 1893, because a first trawl of the rate books shows no property for that year or before which might suggest it was built in that year but unoccupied till later.

We shall see.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; Chorlton Green Supper Bar, circa 1975 from the collection of Tony Walker

Painting; floral affair © 2017 Peter Topping

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My Manchester

My Manchester, pictures without the words, ............ Looking out onto Exchange Square, 2013



Picture; Looking out on Exchange Square,2013  from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 22 May 2017

Snaps of Manchester number 7 ....... the Town Hall and the Cathedral in the 1920s

Now if you live in Manchester or like me claim it as your adopted city the chances are that you will have taken a picture of the Town Hall.

It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse and finished in 1877, and it remains a splendid building.

 I spent many years from the 1970s in the various state rooms and when meetings ground to tedious repetition and sloganising there was always the paintings, the wallpaper and the ceilings to marvel at.

The outside is no less impressive, but I have never found a good angle at which the to take a picture, and the result is that you  end up somewhere on Cross Street or South Mill Street trying to get all of the building in the frame.

Now I know it is possible to stand directly opposite on Brazenose Street but all too ofteh you have to wait for a clear moment when a bus a taxi or a lorry aren’t passing.

So I am always pleased when someone pulls it off.  In this case the picture comes from the collection of Sandra Hapgood and dates from the early decades of the last century.

It is another of those Snaps of Manchester which are often just as valuable as the carefully composed images taken by a professional.  And although they are often undated and their significance is lost they can be just as interesting.

More so because they are often of places which are unrecorded by the professional or commercial photographer.

Having said that I would like a £ for every image I have seen of the Cathedral.  This one comes from the same collection and will date from the same time.

It was taken from Exchange Station, now long gone, although bits of its railway past are still littered around what is now a car park.

Today the stretch of Victoria Street is closed to traffic which seemed a good idea but I rather think the temporary building in front of the Cathedral however worthy its use detracts from the Cathedral.

Pictures; from the collection of Sandra Hapgood