Friday, 16 June 2017

What did Chorltonville do in the last war?

South Drive, 1913
Now I always thought that Chorlton had by and large escaped the damage done to other parts of the city during the last war.

But that was not so and there is plenty of evidence that we got our fair share.*

Some of that evidence came to light in this edition of the Chorltonville News in the form of a compilation of extracts from the minutes of the Association for the war years.***

"In spite of its peaceful location, Chorltonville did not entirely escape the Second World War.  

Nell Lane, 1941
In June 1940 one of the estate workers, Pat Carly Jnr, was called up for military service and left.  An entry in 1944 records that he was then serving in Burma, and would like to take up his job “if he is spared to return”.  

Pat’s departure must have hit the family finances, because in July 1940 his father, also Pat Carly, requested a rise in his wages.  

The Committee agreed to an increase of three shillings and sixpence (about 18p) per week.  Mr Carly again applied for an increase in December 1941, due to war conditions.  

He was given an increase of four shillings (20p) per week, but granted it as a War Bonus – maybe so that it could be withdrawn after the war.

Also in 1940, the Committee was chasing up an application to Manchester Corporation for air raid shelters for the estate, “pointing out that no provision whatever had been made by the Corporation in case of emergency”.

Barrage Ballon on the Rec, 1941
Manchester’s Town Clerk was, apparently, not sympathetic.  He declined to provide the shelters, as the policy of the Corporation was to supply protection only for people caught by an air raid on the streets.  

The Clerk said that “each person who can afford to do so is expected by the Government to arrange for their own protection whilst they are at home”

The Committee accepted this decision, but protected their position by writing to the Corporation stating “that no responsibility can be taken by the Committee in the event of any unfortunate situation”.

The war evidently affected both finances and availability of people.  At the 1941 AGM, the Treasurer reported that the accounts were “as good as could be expected under current difficulties”, but still showed a deficit of over £37.  

The meeting voted a levy comprising a basic charge of 16 shillings, plus 3½d for each linear foot of frontage - under £1.50 for most houses.  

A deputy Auditor had to be found, as the elected Auditors were unavoidably absent.  The minutes do not say the reason, but one was still on “enforced absence” the following year, so presumably had been called up.

In May 1942 the Army erected Nissan huts behind Chorltonville alongside the cobbled lane by Brookburn School.  The Secretary wrote to the Royal Engineers (at Mayfield Rd in Whalley Range) asking whether the huts were for barrage balloons or gun emplacements, “as the Committee were most anxious that the presence of these things would render the Estate a target for the enemy”.

The Royal Engineers suggested he contact the balloon section, so the Secretary went to the local unit at the Recreation Ground in Cross Rd.  The corporal there had no knowledge of the huts and referred the Secretary to the Manchester RAF.  

The RAF replied with the enigmatic statement that the huts’ presence “does not increase the vulnerability of the estate to enemy air attack”.  The minutes do not say whether the Committee was reassured by this.

The Meade, 1913
The Committee was more successful in 1943, applying to the Corporation for extra street lights.  

Lamp posts were not in use because of the blackout, but they noted that the Corporation had introduced a modified form of lighting on some roads.  

They requested that these be introduced to Chorltonville, because of the danger to pedestrians using the roads and footpaths.  The Corporation agreed, and added dimmed lighting around the estate.

Interestingly, there is no note in the minutes recording either VE or VJ Day, but at the 1946 AGM, the Chairman tidily summarised:

“he spoke of the work of the past year, carried out under conditions as in the War, though happily the final Conflict had come to an end.  He continued that this Estate had been maintained under very fair conditions, and proposed that the levy stay the same.”

Pictures; Barage Ballon on the Rec, from the collection of Alan Brown detail from bomb damage at Nell Lane, 1940, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, m09736, and pictures of the ville from the Lloyd collection



*** reproduced courtsey of Chorltonville News

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