Thursday, 10 August 2017

Claude Road and a clue to the vanished Beech House



The date on this postcard of Claude Road is 1915 but the scene must be earlier.

On the surface it seems an unremarkable image.

It would look to be a morning perhaps in the holidays and the peace is disturbed only by the children playing close to Beech Road and the appearance of the delivery man who has attracted the woman on the right who I guess has come out of her house to catch him.

It is not unlike the same scene today with of course the absence of parked cars and passing traffic. But what does make it remarkable and dates the photograph to sometime in the first decade of the 20th century is the wall and gateway at the bottom of Claude Road where it joins Beech Road.


They are part of Beech House which had stood in its own extensive grounds since at least the 1830s.

Three generations of the Holt family had lived there but the last had died in 1906, and by 1908 the house was empty and the estate was awaiting sale. By sheer chance a postcard showing the lodge has survived. 

The message records a pleasant afternoon spent in the grounds and the speculation that it was soon to disappear. “Edith and I had tea on the lawn of the big house which you see the lodge in the picture. It will soon be sold and then will probably be divided into small plots.”

By the following year part of the garden which ran the length of Barlow Moor Road as far as High Lane had been bought by Manchester Corporation who felled the trees demolished the wall and built the tram terminus on the land. 

The remaining land was developed with the cinema and a row of shops and the garage of Mr Shaw.

But we can be even more precise about the date of our photograph. Claude Road and its neighbouring Reynard had been built by 1907 and the estate wall demolished in 1909.

So that little detail of wall anchors our photograph and provides a view of Beech Road that has gone forever.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture, from the Lloyd collection circa 1907-09

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