Thursday, 18 May 2017

Looking down Oxford Street

I doubt that there will be anyone who now recognises this scene.

We are looking down Oxford Street from St Peter’s Square and I think it must be sometime between 1912 and 1924.

Now I can’t be certain but St Peter’s Church which stood on the site was demolished in 1907 and the Refuge Assurance Building with its huge tower which is just visible in the distance was built in 1912.

Nor can it be any later than 1924 when the Cenotaph which dominates this end of the square was erected.

And I rather think that time slot fits with the detail in the picture and the other photographs from the collection.

Virtually all the buildings have long since vanished and as I write the area to the left of the photograph is again being redeveloped.

A few like the tall office block beyond Hall Street on our right has survived even if it is only the facade, while away at the top of the picture is the tall chimney of the Bloom Street power station opened in 1901 which was built beside the Rochadale Canal and was designed so that coal could be off-loaded from barges directly into the bunkers.

It not only provided electricity to the city and the nearby suburbs but as late as the 1970s also supplied steam which ran in great lagged pipes along the side of the canal to nearby buildings.

I can still remember the sound of the escaping steam from one particular pipe just beyond Oxford Road even now.

So I am drawn back to this collection because it was not the work of a professional but of an amateur snapper who took what ever caught his attention, which in a way makes them more of an insight into the daily life of the city than the carefully crafted images of the professional.

Picture; from the collection of Sandra Hapgood.

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