Thursday, 31 August 2017

Stories of young people ............. the Children's Act 1908 ....... more from the Together Trust

I have just read the latest blog from the Together Trust on the Children’s Act of 1908 and the charity’s involvement in helping young one person.*

The Children’s Act "made it legal for children to be removed from parents if they were being mistreated or neglected and placed into the responsibility of a ‘fit person.’"*

The rest as they say is there in the story, which just leave me to direct you to the link and the article, and the equally excellent stories by the archivist of the Trust which was the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges.

The charity began in 1870 when it set up a refuge for destitute boys and almost 150 years afterwards still works to help young people and their families.**

Location; Manchester & Salford










Pictures; from Getting Down and Dusty, courtesy of the Together Trust

*The Children's Act, 1908, Getting Down and Dusty, http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/the-childrens-act-1908.html

**The Together Trust, http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-together-trust.html

Revealing the history of Eltham High Street behind its buildings in the summer of 1977

I like this picture which was taken in 1977 of the northern side of the High Street looking down to the parish church.

And the reason why I like it is that it is a good starting point to learning a little of the history of this bit of Eltham.

Of course you have to look and be aware that some of what you see in not what it seems.

So the building which is occupied by the Market, Frisby’s and Granada was built around 1720 with a later addition on its eastern side dating from the mid 19th century.

This was Cliefden House and has been variously a home, a school and now a mix of shops and offices.

According to that wonderful guide, Discover Eltham* “The original upper floor windows remain, apart from the first floor window above the entrance which is modern.  The interior incorporates some 17th century structure, including a fine carved wooden staircase.  Next door at no 103 is the mid 19th century extension”

Until the 1920s it was set back from the High Street behind a wall and front garden, but these vanished I think when the road was widened.

As did the two fine houses which stood a little to the west where the low bungalow shops and the Nat West Bank now stand.

Here were Sherard and Merlewood Houses which in the case of Sherard House dated back to 1634.


Now I am not someone who will defend the retention of every old building which through a combination of age, neglect and size is no longer viable, but the loss of these two seems criminal.

Of the two I suspect Sherard House was the more interesting. It retained many of the original features including “the handsome mantelpieces of carved oak, oak panelling which surrounded the library and the quaint old open fire places. ** 

I would have loved to walk through its 20 rooms and sat in the garden which extended north to the footpath known as the Slip.

But its demolition and replacement by the shops and the bank says much about how Eltham was changing in the early decades of the 20th century which for me was characterized by that big building on the corner of the High Street and Well Hall Road.

Today it is a McDonalds but it was built as a Burtons, dispensing good affordable clothes for men, from readymade jackets and trousers to the “made to measure suit.”

It was opened in 1937 and was about that new style of consumerism which was beginning to make what we now take for granted affordable to a whole new group of people.

And just beyond the shop is the spire of the parish church, pointing us back to Eltham’s rural past.

Picture; Eltham High Street, courtesy of Jean Gammons, detail of Eltham High Street,  1844 from the Tithe map for Eltham courtesy of Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone, 
http://www.kent.gov.uk/leisure_and_culture/kent_history/kent_history__library_centre.aspx

*Spurgeon, Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000
** Gregory, R.R.C., The Story of Royal Eltham, 1909

“I wonder if he will ever come back” ............. thoughts from 1916

Now in the course of the last few years I have come across a lot of picture postcards from the Great War.

And as you would expect they range from gentle comedy to the  risqué and suggestive with a fair dollop of sentimental and patriotic messages mixed with simple landscapes and those beautiful embroidered cards.

But I can’t make my mind up about this one.

It was sent in 1916 and while I can see the hint of humour it is a much darker and bitter comment.

The trouble is I have nothing to compare it with so I don’t know if it was part of a series or just a one off.

Given the date it was posted it might be easy to conclude that two years in to the war a degree of weariness and cynicism might have been tapped into by the image of what my Nana would have called a floozie.

And the message on the back expresses the wish that “it was all over and peace again but we must with patience till the sun shines and the daises bloom again.”

It was sent to the Iron Duke which in 1916 was the flagship of the Grand Fleet and the lead ship at the Battle of Jutland.

It had been commissioned in March 1914 and was one the dreadnought battleships serving through out the Great War.

All of which adds to the card which  comes from David Harrop's collection which includes memorabilia from both world wars and the history of the postal service, some of which is on permanent display in the Remembrance Lodge at Southern Cemetery.

I will ask David if he has any other such cards and until then await the experts to pile in and offer chapter and verse but in the meantime it remains an interesting card with a theme I shall return to.

Pictures; “I wonder if he will ever come back” circa 1916 from the collection of David Harrop

That hole in the ground on the High Street

Now anyone who remembers the RACS store on the High Street will no doubt be following the new development.

Over the months it has featured quite a few times.*

And now Ryan has added another picture to the collection ....... which he has entitled, “foundations for crane at the former Co-op store on the High Street” which pretty much says it all.

If like me you left Eltham a long time ago here is one of those little updates that bring you closer to home.

So a thank you to Ryan who regularly sends me fine photographs of Eltham.

Location; Eltham

Tomorrow, Ryan's ghost sign in Lewisham.




Picture; foundations for crane at the former Co-op store on the High Street

*Pictures from an Eltham Bus,  Larissa Hamment, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Pictures%20from%20an%20Eltham%20Bus

Crossing Continents ............ one picture, two people, three countries

Now I like the way the blog occasionally wanders off across time and space.

Last summer I met Sandra in the Italian seaside resort of Alba Adriatica and later we swapped facebook friendships.

Yesterday she posted a series of pictures of what she said "was my lake.”

I assumed they were of Italy but it turns out that they are of Lake Constance which is in the south-west corner of Germany, bordering Switzerland.

And that made me wonder if my dad had visited the place when he was taking coach tours across Europe from the late 1930's through to the 1970's.

The coach tours were all inclusive lasted for seven to fifteen days and took in everything from lakes to cathedrals, and mountain  to cities.

It is easy to be a tad sniffy and suggest if the passengers looked away from the window they might miss a country.

But that is to be unfair on what for many was their first opportunity to see continental Europe before cheap holiday packages became the norm.

Which of course just reinforces that idea that the world is really pretty small, and without thinking it we touch so many places

Location; Germany







Pictures; Lake Constance 2016, from the collection of Sandra  Muscella

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Everything you ever wanted to know about Chorlton but never knew who to ask

Now many will be familiar with Alan who dresses well and who in his time has been mistaken for a University professor and a leading member of a 70’s rock group.

Alan
Neither of which is true, but for the real story you will have to wait for the publication of our new book on Chorlton which will be out for Christmas.

Following on the success of the other Chorlton books which we have produced individually and collectively we have now finished the “very interesting but little known bits of Chorlton’s past” which features everything from Kemp’s Corner to the story of a library and the Titanic and more than a few people who were either born here, lived here or passed through.

The title is the Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy but for now I shall just fall back on Woody Allen, and say that the theme is simply “everything you ever wanted to know about Chorlton but never knew who to ask.”

So that is it.

The book will be on the shelves of Chorlton Bookshop in mid November and  in someone’s stocking on Christmas Day.

Picture; Painting; Alan © Peter Topping, 2017, Paintings from Pictures,
Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk 




*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Andrew Simpson, 2012, The Story of Hough End Hall, 2014, Peter Topping and Andrew Simpson, 2014, Manchester Pubs The Stories Behind the Doors, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, 2017.



Along with Manchester Remembering 1914-18, Andrew Simpson, 2017, Didsbury Through Time, Peter Topping and Andrew Simpson, 2013 & Manchester Pubs - The Stories Behind the Doors, City Centre, Peter Topping and Andrew Simpson, 2016.

A little bit of gentle fun at the seaside in the 1930s ............. no 7 "I'm Respectable"

A short series reflecting on a bit of gentle fun from the seaside.


Location; at the seaside in Wales

Picture; courtesy of Ron Stubley


Picture postcards, Postcards and their history, Ron Stubley

More stories from the Northern Territory in 1984

It is thirty years since June Pound and her husband travelled across the Northern Territory and that qualifies them as stories of Australia’s past.

It is a vivid account of an area which I guess has already changed, and what I particularly like are those vivid pictures which perfectly capture the landscape with its mix of arid and sun burnt ground and those pockets of fresh water.

"When we left Kununurra camping ground behind us we entered into even more arid and dusty country as we started heading south. 


At Wyndham, which is a very ugly outback town, we pull into a garage for fuel and quick look around this remote place. 

Here the houses were built mainly of asbestos cement and the gardens are dry and dusty and almost non-existent except for a few tired looking shrubs in gaudily painted old tyres. 


On the way again we were driven up a very steep little hill to a lookout the Five Rivers Lookout from which there is a view where on a clear day you could probably see forever but  there are grass fires burning making the whole area hazy. 

The Five Rivers are the Forrest, the Ord, the Durack, the King and the Chamberlain. 

Explorers had trouble here finding the right river to navigate to the better country inland. 
Wyndham probably owes its existence to the meat-works where cattle are slaughtered to be sent overseas or down to southern markets. 


Blood and offal, in those days, washed into the sea and, naturally, attracted hundred of salt-water crocodiles. 

Even the sea looked sullen and depressing beneath the hazy sky. 

We then headed away from Wyndham and the coach pulled up in what looked like a God-forsaken spot where we were to have our lunch. 


We were then directed to a track which led down a steep cliff, I could not climb it now, but I went down it then as we always needed exercise after sitting for some hours in the coach. 

Lo and behold, at the bottom of the cliff there was a delightful waterhole in the desert with crystal clear water where we all had a swim! 

Most refreshing. This was called the Grotto and it was complete with a rope swing for the adventurous! We also looked at a hill where there was a wall of stone made by nature for all the world like the 'Great Wall of China'. It runs across the hills here for some 15 or 16 kms. 


We spent the night at Hall's Creek which has had quite an interesting history. There were a great many small dark reddish stones here protruding from the ground. 

There was a great deal of ironstone around this part of the country. 

Then we arrived at 'Old' Hall's Creek, now a ghost town and now in ruins. Forrest once reported that there was a possibility of gold being found here and, in 1885 gold was discovered by Charlie Hall and his mate 
Jack Slattery. 

Their first payable load of gold, some 200oz, was carried to Derby on the coast and this started a rush to Old Hall's Creek. 


All that was left when we were there was part of the old Post Office, built of adobe and the cemetery on the hill along with an old windlass and bucket. 

There was talk of restoring this so that people could see what the town was once like. I have a feeling I have told you before about Russian Jack who pushed his dying mate in a wheelbarrow to the port, three hundred miles away!

We had our lunch at another pool, called the Caroline Pool, that day. That night we camped at Geikie Gorge National Park where the facilities were fairly basic. Our tents were right in the bush. 
Next morning we cruised along the Geikie Gorge in a barge and enjoyed the view." 

Text © June Pound

Pictures; from the collection of June Pound, 1984

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Chorltonville from the air


Chorltonville is is tucked away south of the Brook and was opened in 1911. 

This aerial picture dates from the 1920s when there were still fields close by.

 To the north are the farm buildings of Oak Bank Farm while at the bottom of the picture is the land stretching out to the Mersey.

Picture: from the Lloyd collection

A choice of images on Red Lion Street and the story of a lost church

From Red Lion Street, 2014
I am always fascinated at how a photographer chooses an image.

The best capture something about a place and time and leave you admiring the photo but also wondering about the stories that sit there.

This is Red Lion Street on the corner with Catlow Lane and we are looking at one of Andy Robertson’s pictures and instantly it drew me in.

He had been out by Church Street and “had passed lots of lovely buildings but was particularly interested in this one” and I can see why.

A sorry state
This is the rear of the place and it fronts on to Union Street.

Back at the turn of the last century it belonged to Harrison & Co who were carpet factors, and I should be able to follow its ownership back  another half century or more.

Today it is empty, and pretty forlorn.

What had once been a grand entrance is bricked up and painted over and the neglect is pretty apparent from the picture.  Some of the windows are broken, the warehouse doors look to be on their last legs and at least one window frame is in danger of collapsing.

Not a promising prospect.  But that said the building next door has been renovated and has a new purpose.

So in time and with some money so might this one.

The area in 1844
Of course a developer might just pull it down and fill the space with something new.

Now I could rail against this but this little bit of the city has constantly been pulled apart and rebuilt.

The property on the other side of our old carpet warehouse was in 1911 the Bulls’ Head and Commerical Hotel and there was a pub here as far back as 1844 and perhaps longer.

In this warren of tiny lanes and back streets there have always been those smaller enterprises whose fortunes have waxed and waned but were always central to the business life of the city.

St Paul's Church from Turner Street, date unknown
And it is important that people like Andy continue to capture the changes to an area which is often neglected.

That said of course we are on the edge of the Northern Quarter a place which once thrived, went through a pretty shabby period and has emerged as an exciting part of Manchester.

As you might expect the area has always been changing, and back in 1844 Catlow Lane was called Church Lane and continued across Red Lion Street to link with Chapel Street which ran beside St Paul’s Church.

This 18th century church faced onto Tib Street and had “an unprepossessing appearance; it is built of brick, with stone dressings, there is a tower at the west end, the top of which is entirely of stone.  

The interior is very handsomely decorated.  

There are three galleries, the pillars supporting the roof, are gilt, as well as the back of the altar, organ case, pulpit, &c.  

The church has lately been much improved by the addition of a handsome coloured window over the altar.  The choral service is performed here on Sundays at half past ten and half past six.”*

Interior of St Paul's
But it had gone by 1894 and today both this stretch of Church Lane and Chapel Street are buried under the car park.

So on the turn of a photographer’s choice of image comes a a jumbled collection of half stories with the promise of more to come.

Picture; from the collection of Andy Robertson and detail of the area in 1844 from the OS map of Manchester & Salford, 1842-44, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ and St Paul's Church, m80323, & m80324, date unknown,courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass 

* The Strangers Guide to Manchester, The Strangers Guide to Manchester, 1850

A little bit of Naples in 1890 ..... part 1

A street in Naples circa 1890
I am fascinated by street scenes and especially of those taken in the late 19th century of the poorer and rundown bits of our city.

But as ever wanting to branch out I decided it was time to look at other cities in other parts of Europe and so courtesy of the publishers, Intra Moenia  are a collection of street scenes from Naples during the last part of the 19th century.*

In a city where people lived outside as much as inside their homes here are vivid pictures of life in a southern Italian city and compare with what Samuel Coulthurst was recording here in Manchester at roughly the same time.**

*Napoli coom’era, 2013

**Samuel L Coulthurst, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Samuel%20L%20Coulthurst

Monday, 28 August 2017

Sandy Lane and the lost cottages


This is one of those pictures in the collection I keep returning to but which continues to retain its secrets.  

The caption states “old cottages in Sandy Lane after abandonment but before demolition.  The nearer was occupied by Mr Morris the Sweep.  His parrot was hung outside during good weather and he had a cylinder phonograph in the window.”

I am pretty sure that we are on the corner of Fairhaven Avenue and Sandy Lane and that the building behind the lean too is the side of number 2 Fairhaven.  It has the distinctive pattern of brick which you can still see today.

But we don’t have a date for the photograph or for the buildings but I rather think they may date from 1850 if not a little earlier, and the picture from the middle decades of the last century.

A trawl of the street directories and rate books  should pin the time Mr Morris and his neighbour last occupied the properties but that is for the future.

In the meantime there are a few things that we know about them.  They consisted of just two rooms and by the end of the 19th century into the 20th were both occupied by very old widows.

Mary Anne Nield at number 8 was 80 years old in 1911 and living with her unmarried daughter who described herself as a corset maker.

Her neighbour Charles Samuel Walker was 76 and gave his occupation as gardener and seems to have supported his 37 year old daughter.

And while we don’t know when they were demolished it must have been sufficiently late into the last century to make these some of the last one up one down brick dwellings in the township.

Finally I am left intrigued by Charles Morris.  He had been one of our three chimney sweeps in 1911 when he was aged 57.  In that year he was living with his wife Florence at number 12 Sandy Lane, which was a four roomed house. So we are with presented more questions.

Did he move into number 8 sometime later in the century, or has John Lloyd got the caption wrong and number 8 was never occupied by Mr Morris the Sweep, his parrot cylinder phonograph in the window?

All of which is why I keep returning to the photograph with as yet little success.  Ah well I suppose it will all turn on those directories and rate books.  But that is for another time.

And a little after I posted the story Ted Harris and Gary Page came back with information that narrows the time slot of when the picture was taken.
“I was wondering” Ted wrote, “if the road sign might help with dating.  A quick search has found that after 1947 new signs had a '+' rather than a 'x' on them.”

And Gary added, “the bill board in the picture is advertising wrestling at Belle Vue. The first wresting match at Belle Vue was in 1930 at the King’s Hall. The bill boards must have been there for some time as I remember them,  born 1958”

So possibly after 1930 and before 1947.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

The Kenora Great War Project ........ Susan Hillman Brazeau

The Kenora Great War Project ............. Susan Hillman Brazeau

It started out in the late days of 2012 with three local organizations and, in particular, three women - Judy, Becky and Gloria - who were interested in both research and Great War history.

Lake of the Woods Milling Company
Over a cup of coffee, they discussed ideas about how best to commemorate those fateful years between August 4, 1914 and November 11, 1918.

One suggestion was to research the names of those local servicemen and women who died serving Canada.  This thought gradually led to the inclusion of all who had some connection to the Kenora area and who had served in World War 1. Thus began a project, the enormity of which none of them could have imagined.

Kenora sits on the western edge of the vast province of Ontario in Canada. Only a 40- minute drive from the Manitoba border. Its nearest neighbours are the villages of Keewatin, just across the bridge; Redditt, located on the Canadian National Railway line about 40 miles to the north; and the summer village of Minaki only a few miles west of Redditt.

The overall population of this area when war broke out was no more than 10,000.  Yet, these communities, in this remote area of north-western Ontario, saw an enlistment of almost 1800 individuals, mostly young men.  Despite this sizeable number and resulting sizeable undertaking, the group, which now called themselves, The Kenora Great War Project, decided to learn all their names, research each person, and write individual tributes. These tributes would then be placed on the group’s own site and that of a larger, national website called The Canadian Great War Project.  

It was not an easy task, but it was one full of enthusiasm and required dedication and commitment.  It was demanding, time consuming, frustrating and challenging. It required careful research to ensure factual detail.
Others who had an interest in researching and writing tributes were invited to participate, but, as time passed, the original three have completed the bulk of the work.

The Keewatin Honour Roll
The project required scrutiny of the Personnel Data Base, War Diaries and other relevant databases on the Library and Archives Canada. Contacts were made with Royal Canadian Legion branches; local cemeteries; families, when they could be located; the Lake of the Woods Museum; and, local historians or people who might be able to share stories or information.

Each cross and headstone in the military section of the Lake of the Woods Cemetery was photographed and cemetery records gone through. The names on memorial plaques and the cenotaphs were recorded and also photographed.  Local newspaper archives were read page by page to find every war related article from this period.  Almost immediately, the research extended beyond the Kenora area, right across Canada and to other countries.

It is now the end of year five, since the project first began to take shape. Over 1400 individuals have their tributes placed on the two websites.  The goal is to have most of the tributes, onsite by November 11, 2018, even if only partially completed.

For my part, I will have contributed about 60 tributes, upon completion of the project. Each person’s story is of value and deserved to be written and remembered.  Yet, there were those who were a bit more interesting or exciting than others, such as my great uncles and friends of my family.
 A particular challenge was the American who enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces and changed his name three times.

The Ice Candles, Lake of the Woods Cemetery
An emotional search was for the veteran who died alone, in a cabin in the woods many years after the war and who was buried under a military cross with the wrong name. I eventually uncovered his history, his name and found his family, who had always wondered what happened to him.
Then, there was the young soldier, who later became a prominent figure in Kenora, and whose very first medical entry in his file, before he even left for England, was his treatment for gonorrhea.

Telling details of the individual, yet collective experiences of the war are found in almost every personnel record: death; hospitalization; shell shock; lifelong respiratory conditions from mustard gas. Shrapnel and gun shot wounds; being covered with mud for days in collapsed trenches; the loss of limbs; or, the loss of the use of one or more limbs, are all found, somewhere, amongst the tributes to the men and women whose names are being etched in the Kenora Great War Project.

I came to the project in August of 2014 and began to learn so much more about the Great War and Canada’s role than I thought I would. Overall, my participation has been one of the most satisfying and meaningful experiences in 30 years of research.

In honour of those who served…

Susan Hillman Brazeau BA, MA-IS
August 27, 2017

kenoragreatwarproject.ca
canadiangreatwarproject.com

Photos courtesy of the Kenora Miner & News; and, the author’s own collection.


Sunday, 27 August 2017

In the trenches with My Dug Out Dream and other pictures and stories

Now I wonder if my great uncle Roger read the book Oh Canada which was “a medley of stories, verse, pictures and music contributed by members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.”

The Byng Boys, 1916-
He served with the C.E.F., from 1915 untill the duration.

On balance I think not, partly because of what I know about him and mainly I suspect because the book was meant for an audience living in Canada.

I can’t be sure until I have done some more research but I think it will be one of those patriotic productions aimed at keeping an interest in the war by featuring stories from men of C.E.F. who were on active service on the battle fronts.

And I expect there was a fund raising element, but all that will have to wait for more research.  At present the title “Oh Canada” has only thrown up references to Canada’s national anthem.

My Dug Out Dream
The book has just been acquired by my old friend David Harrop, and in time I hope to see the original.

It is a first edition and was published in 1916.

But for now I shall just leave you with some of the images he has taken from the book which looks to be a fascinating insight into Canada at war.

My favourites are My “Dug Out” Dream, from an original drawing by Captain R.G. Matthews, C.E.F., and  “The Byng Boys are here.”

“The Bing Boys Are Here, styled ‘A Picture of London Life, in a Prologue and Six Panels,’ is the first of a series of revues which played at the Alhambra Theatre, London during the last two years of World War I. 

The series included The Bing Boys on Broadway and The Bing Girls are There. 

The music for them was written by Nat D. Ayer with lyrics by Clifford Grey, who also contributed to Yes, Uncle!, and the text was by George Grossmith, Jr. and Fred Thompson based on Rip and Bousquet's Le Fils Touffe. 


Other material was contributed by Eustace Ponsonby, Philip Braham and Ivor Novello.

The Bing Boys Are Here opened in 1916 in the West End and ran for 378 performances. 

It was one of the three most important musical hits of the London stage during World War I”*


Location; Canada

Pictures; from Oh Canada, 1916, courtesy of David Harrop.



* The Bing Boys Are Here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bing_Boys_Are_Here

Badge of the week no.3 .......... celebrating Manchester Airport

The third in the series featuring badges from the collection with a bit of a story.*

Now I have to be honest these two are not from the collection but were recently posted by Stephen Marland who like me revels in all things odd, interesting and different.

So here are two badges celebrating Manchester Airport which Stephen thinks date from the late 1960s.

And they offer up a host of supplementary questions from who made them to why were they created.

Of course there will be someone who recognises them and will have their detailed history ready to be told.

I hope so.

Location; Manchester











Picture; Manchester Airport, courtesy of Stephen Marland

*Badges of the week,
 https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Badge%20of%20the%20week

Hidden and forgotten .......... bits of our not so distant past ............. road signs I like nu 3

Now actually there is nothing hidden or forgotten about the road sign announcing Dunvegan Road.

It is there where I remember it and was recorded by Ryan yesterday.  But it is showing its age a little but it remains a fine example and enters the Hall of Fame of road signs and street furniture.

Thanks Ryan.  There are plenty more I know, Karen from Peckham found one, “just off Camberwell New Road, not too far from Camberwell Green. The same side as the Greek church” and Adam also in Peckham has wandered over to New Cross to find some.

And Neil and Bill ferreted out ones from Warrington and Macclesfield.

And in the interests of recording more for the series Road Signs and Street Furniture lost and found, ......... bring them on down.

Location, Well Hall, Eltham, London

Picture; Dunvegan Road, 2016, from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Ghost signs in Well Hall

Now you can wait all year for a Ghost sign and then two turn up at the same time.

And for these I have Chrissie to thank who as ever on her way to work went hunting for these signs which start the story of long forgotten shops and businesses.

For that is what a ghost sign, the often last reminder of a firm which once flourished and has now gone.

They were painted in the sides of buildings and a few can still be seen.  But most are fading fast, weathered by years of rain sun and neglect.

Some have even been painted over but stubbornly the lettering still forces its way through reminding us of a grocery shop or painting business.

The first of Chrissie pictures is from the corner of Well Hall and Dunvegan Road and you know, I must have passed it lots of times and never given it a glance.

Such are ghost signs.

The second is by the Tiger’s Head in Lee, and before someone mutters that this isn’t Well Hall, all I will say is that you have to take your ghost signs where you find them.

In time I shall go digging into these two signs.

In the meantime thank you Chrissie and for all of you who have passed a sign it is time to record it.

Most will not be with us for much longer, and when they have gone the record of the people who had them made along with their stories will vanish.

And that I think is a shame.

Not least because many of the signs were themselves works of art, carefully planned, beautifully executed and a comment on what what we bought and who we employed.

Today the same publicity will appear on facebook sites, pop up in freebie newspapers and community magazines.

Most were for local consumption, becoming house hold names for a few generations.

So they were and are a little bit of our history.

Pictures © Chrissie Rose 2014

The picture of Rusholme that washed up in London and came back to Chorlton

Now I grant you it’s not the zippiest of titles but it does the business.

Wilmslow Road, date unknown
We are on Wilmslow Road although I don’t exactly have a date.

But I know that in 1911 the Clarence Pub was run by Mr James Oldham and his neighbour at number 83 which is just visible in the picture belonged to George C. Pinchien, tobacconist and more about both gentlemen at a later date.

The has gone but more recently has been a restaurant.

Mr Oldham of the Clarence Inn and his neighbours, 1911
The picture was sent up to me by my friend Tricia who still lives close to where I grew up in Eltham in South East London, which pretty much explains the title.

Tricia saw a picture I have in the collection of London Transport Tram 1622, on route 40 to the Embankment via the Old Kent Road and Westminster and prompted her to share this one of a Manchester Corporation tram on Wilmslow Road.

The Clarence Inn, date unknown
And as you do I went looking for a date, which I have yet to find, but in the process I did discover that along with the Clarence Inn and Mr Pinchien there was Mr Albert Barber, the butcher, Herbert Mee, the saddler, and Mrs Ann Maria Willcocks, shopkeeper all of whom were neighbours of the Maypole Diary Company and John Armstead, milliner.

Which just leaves me to wonder whether anyone will be able to come up with a date.

And in answer to that question my old mate Andy Robertson has gone one better and sent over a picture of the Clarence Inn from 2015.

It was back then the Pharaoh  but I am not quite sure if it was a night club or a place to eat.

But someone will come back with chapter and verse, adding their own stories of nights in the place and perhaps even of nights when it was the Clarence Inn.

We shall just have to see.




Location; Wilmlsow Road

Picture; Wilmslow Road, date unknown from the collection of Tricia Lesley and the Clarence Inn in 2015 courtesy of Andy Robertson.

Revisiting the Great War nu 4 ............ "there shall be NO STRIKE OR LOCKOUT"

Munitions workers, Openshaw, 1918
The right of ordinary men and women to go on strike during a war came in for a lot of comment in the newspapers during 1915.

And a century or so later there might still be those who think it was wrong, unpatriotic and more than a little cynical given the sacrifice being played out on the Western Front.

Of course then and now the reasons for that industrial conflict have for some been neatly swept to the corners, and words like greed, unprincipled and even cowardly could be used to explain what went on.

Certainly at the time the papers were quick to print letters from men at the Front questioning the strikes while the Government forced through compulsory arbitration for wage disputes and suspended trade union rights in munitions factories making strikes in factories engaged in war work illegal.*

Bullet Factory, Woolwich Arsenal, 1918
“One of the most emphatic provisions of the Act is that, during the war, whatever differences may arise there shall be NO STRIKE OR LOCKOUT ........ Under the Act the meaning of the terms “strike” and “lockout” are broader than their generally accepted meaning in normal times.  

Workmen need not necessarily walk out, to be on strike, nor need the doors be closed against the men to constitute a lock out.  

Any concerted action by workmen, which involves any stoppage of work, with the purpose of compelling an employer, to accept, or to aid workmen to compel an employer, to accept any “terms or conditions of or affecting employment” is, in the sense of the Act, a strike**

For which the penalty for any workmen involved in a strike was £5 a day or part of a day

Added to which in factories engaged in the manufacture of armaments workers were forbidden to leave their current job for another without obtaining the consent of the employer were prevented from refusing to take on a new job regardless of the rate of pay and could not refuse to do overtime whether this was paid or not.

And while the act made it clear that these provisions only covered demands for pay or conditions of work sitting behind this piece of legislation was the far more draconian Defence of the Realm Act*** which could be used against “any person who, inter alia, “attempts to impede, delay, or restrict the production, repair, or transport of war material or any other work necessary for the successful prosecution of the war.”**

Cost of living demonstration, 1915
The year had seen large numbers of strikes, some over issues directly related to the regulations prohibiting workers leaving without the consent of the employer.

In Openshaw in August this had led to confrontation between the firm Armstrong, Whitworth and the workforce over the dismissal of 121 men from the armour plate department without the relevant certificates allowing them to get work elsewhere.

Elsewhere the issue was simply the rising cost of living which was not being matched by a similar rise in pay in some industries.

As early as February 1915 the Manchester Guardian had reported that wages were “much as they were before the war.”****

At a time when the cost of food, fuel and rents were on the increase.

Speaking in Manchester at a large public meeting in February Henry Hyndman the leading socialist pointed out “since the war had begun prices had gone up 22%, so that now the purchasing power of a sovereign was from 13s. 6d to 13s.9d.”*****

At the Front, 1916
That said not all industrial disputes centred around pay, in Oldham the employees of the Co-op were in dispute over the Society’s refusal to pay women the same rate as men, while at Sandbach the issue was over the refusal of Foden’s the truck builders  to recognise a trade union.

All of which brings us back to that simple observation that here there is much more to find out, including trawling the full records of strikes in 1915 and bringing to the fore the words of those involved.

Pictures;courtesy of the Labour History Archives & Study Centre,  at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, http://www.phm.org.uk/ Women Munitions workers Belsize works, Openshaw, 1918 m08093, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass the Bullet Factory, Arsenal, Woolwich, 1918,  from the collection of Mark Flynn, http://www.markfynn.com/london-postcards.htm Daily Mail War Postcards, 1916, courtesy of David Harrop

*Munitions of War Act 1915

**1915 Act, s.2(1), p61, 1915 Act s. 19(b), p81 from Employers and Workmen Under the Muntions of War Act 1915 & 1916, 2nd edition 1917, page 31-31

***Defence of the Real Act, August 1914, It gave the government wide-ranging powers during the war period, such as the power to requisition buildings or land needed for the war effort, or to make regulations
creating criminal offences.

****War Effects on Wages and Conditions, Manchester Guardian February 20 1915

*******LABOUR AND FOOD PRICES. A FREE TRADE HALL PROTEST, Manchester Guardian Feb 15 1915