Thursday, 20 July 2017

Rolling back the history of that building on Needham Avenue

The entrance
Now here is a mystery I have been putting off solving.

For years I have passed the building on Needham Avenue beside the Post Office yard and wondered about its origin.

Today it is a set of 12 workshops and I do have a memory of it once being a printer’s and there’s even a suggestion that once it had a connection with a local brewery who used the premises in the 1930s.

In the fullness of time I shall trawl the street directories and they should shed light on its previous use, its earlier owners and perhaps when it was built.

Now I can be confident that it dates from sometime between 1894 and 1907.

Oakley House in 1894
Back in 1894 the site was still part of Oakley House which dated back to the beginning of the 19th century and must have been a pretty impressive place.

It had previously been known as Oak Bank and was home in its time to the wealthy Morton family and later still the Cope’s who ran a chain of wine shops and drinking establishments in Manchester.

It stood in its own grounds which ran along Barlow Moor Road as far as Sandy Lane, and was bounded by what are now Zetland, Corkland and Wilbraham Roads.

By 1894 the estate had shrunk too little more than a pocket hemmed in by the houses on Corkland Road, Wilbraham Road and Maple Avenue and while its garden still extended west to Barlow Moor Road this too would be surrendered to housing by the beginning of the 20th century.

Today all that is left is a stone gate post with the name of the house and a bit of the old garden wall.

The building today
Not much I know but a bit more than I knew before.

And it is just another example of how you set off with one story and end up with two.

All of which brings me back to those 12 workshops and the building itself.

The interior is of a very high level of workmanship and the entrance with its tiled frontage is indicative of the quality of time and effort that went into its construction.

Which makes me wonder again who built and owned the property and for what purpose was it originally constructed?

And the answer may be in William H. Wallworth who was living at number 2 Needham Avenue in 1901.  He described himself as a corn miller and baker and ran his own business.  He is also listed in the  1901 trade and business directory at the same address which may suggest that his bakery was our building.

The building today
A decade earlier he had living on Great Ancoats Street and his business premises were listed as number 90 Great Ancoats Street and 76 Port Street.

So sometime around 1901 or a little earlier he, his family and the business vacated to Chorlton.

It is not conclusive yet but I think the first use that was made of our building was as a bakery.

Still there is more research to do and so we shall just have to see.

And just as the story was posted Andy tells me that there is a picture of Mr Wallworth's son in his father's carriage outside the bakery on Needham Avenue in 1910 in the collection of Greater Manchester County Record Office, 328/12.

Now that I will have to see.

And it all  fits with Wallworth Avenue which was that that short stretch of what is now Needham Avenue running off from Barlow Moor Road to the junction of Priory Avenue where it continued as Needham.

So our baker seems to have been quite a significant chap and justifies even more research.

Pictures; from the collection of Andy Robertson, detail of Oakley House & Chorlton from the OS for South Lancashire, 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

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