Sunday, 7 May 2017

A farm on the green

No matter how many times I look at this picture it always has the power to draw me back in.

The date is uncertain but my old friend Tony Walker suggested sometime in the 1860s but I cannot be sure.

The bowler hats worn by two of the men began appearing in the 1850s so a date just a little later might fix the photograph.

What I do know is that it cannot be any older than the mid 1880s because the familiar lychgate at the entrance to the parish church is missing.

 Now this was erected to celebrate the old Queen’s golden jubilee so we are dealing with a scene from sometime in the decades after the mid century.

It is Higginbotham’s farm yard. The family had lived on the green and farmed out towards the Mersey since the 1840s and were still there in the 1960s. It takes me directly back to the period of Chorlton’s history that I am most interested in and has featured in my book.

Here are those usual objects associated with a busy farm and like any working place not as tidy as perhaps it should have been.

To the left is the farm cottage with its distinctive rear porch. To the right the barn which in the early years of the 19th century was one of the sites where the Methodists held their services before building their chapel on the Row.*

Later still it became the work shop for the Walker Brothers who ran a building firm from the site.

There was for many years a stone inscription in the barn recording its part in the history of Methodism in the township but sadly it has been lost.

My second picture dates from the 1970s when the Walker’s still had the yard.

Pictures; Higginbotham’s farm circa 1860 from the collection of Marjorie Holmes, & the same spot circa 1979 from the collection of Tony Walker.

*The Row was later renamed Beech Road

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