Thursday, 30 November 2017

The secrets of St John Street

Now I discovered St John Street about a month after this picture was taken and became captivated by these 18th and early 19th century houses. 

South side of St John Street, including number. 11, 1969
And a lot of other people have also been fascinated by them and you can see why because in a city which is constantly reinventing itself these are a link to a time when Castlefield was being developed.

Added to this over the years I have become intrigued by one house in particular, which is number 11.

This was the home of the Holt family who built the house in the early 1790s and occupied it well into the middle of the following century.

They had made their money from making the wooden engraving blocks used in calico printing, went on to own an extensive portfolio of properties in the surrounding streets and in the 1830s settled in a fine house in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

South side of St John Street, including number. 11, 2011
The first to make the move to the country were James and Hannah Holt who were followed by their children and grandchildren.

And during the writing of the Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy I not only got permission to tour number 11 but was given access to the deeds.

The 1969 image of the street have been unearthed by who came across it while engaged in a new project working on the Town Hall Photographer's Collection Digitisation Project, in the Central Library, which currently is Volunteer led and Volunteer staffed.

The negatives in the collection are dated from 1956 to 2007 and there are approximately 200,000 negatives to be digitised at three minutes a scan.

There are a dozen or so in the small collection and what struck me is that in those that contain people all of them are dressed in jackets and ties and in the case of women all carry those handbags.

But for me the other surprise was that modern bit of building which ran from the double fronted number 11 back towards Deansgate.

Detail of St John Street, 1969
I remember at the time thinking how out of keeping it was with the sweep of elegant period houses.

And then I guess sometime at the turn of the century I noticed that the spot was now occupied by a row of imitation 18th century properties.

For a while I was puzzled and almost doubted that they were relatively new, but Neil’s picture confirms my memory.

Pictures; St John Street, 1969, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass and in 2011 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

When St Andrew’s Day and a little bit of south east London come together with stories of Canada, Germany and maybe even India

Uncle George, circa 1918
Now St Andrew’s Day pretty much went unremarked in our house and that I find odd given that my grandparents crossed the border in to England just a century and a bit ago and three of my uncles were born  in Scotland.

Added to which I share the saint’s name and both Uncle George and Uncle Fergus served in the Black Watch and I grew up with stories of Robert the Bruce, the Young Pretender and our own tartan.

But south east London was a long way from the east Highlands where we originated from and Alloa which was the stepping off point for England for my grandparents is a place far away.

And  father had made the journey south by the 1930s so if he did ever talk about his youth it was of Gateshead and not of a time across the border.

So for me Scotland was pretty much just a place, and one that I didn’t even visit until 2006 but during the past year as I have been rediscovering my childhood in Lausanne Road thoughts of Scotland have also begun to bubble to the surface.

The tent of family stories, circa 1955

They are a mix of daring tales of the Highland clans mixed with the victories of Scots armies over the English and a string of laments from the Flowers of the Forest and farewells to the boy who would have been King to the haunting sound of the pipes.

My earliest memories are of sitting with Uncle George in our tent in the garden of Lausanne Road on hot summer’s days when the sun beat down heating the canvas and releasing that distinctive smell which mixed with his pipe smoke and was only interrupted by the buzz of insects.

A long time later he told me the more personal stories which pitched our family across the Highlands and involved tales of  itinerant traders, ships engineers who plied the oceans and barrel makers, shop keepers and many more.

All of which has made me reflect on our lost identities and how it is often very hard to draw them up from half told tales, family myths and a big dollop of romantic tosh.

But the last few years of trawling our own family history across south east London, the Midlands and into Scotland, and on to Germany and Canada have confirmed that the myths and half remembered stories will have more than an element of fact.

Family tombstone, Markinch, Fife, 1976
So the cocoa factory of Kender Street was real, our links to Canada are more extensive than I could have thought and the history of Well Hall and Eltham is very much mine.

And what has made it possible to confirm so much that was folklore and vague memory is the growing body of historical information now on online which has allowed me to call up army records from the Canada, opened up endless census returns, and read contemporary accounts which sit on dusty shelves in libraries as far away  as California and Australia.

Above all it has also allowed me to correspond with people engaged in similar research across the world and although there can be a time delay those links will pretty much be done in a few hours.

Now that may seem a long way from St Andrew’s Day, the garden of Lausanne Road or even our house in Well Hall but I think not.

St John River, New Brunswick home to great uncle Roger, 1914
The common thread is that search for identity and the desire to give a context to family members who we know little about.

For me hoovering up a family tree which finally gets lost two centuries ago is not enough.

I want to know how their lives were lived out and how their achievements and contributions were part of something bigger.

Grandmother's home Cologne, circa 1930
So I shall be crossing that border, and continuing the search for my great uncle migrated to Canada in 1914 and in the fullness of time explore a link with India.

Mother always maintained that my grandmother’s maiden name of Bux was not common in Germany where she had been born in 1895 but was from the sub continent.

It was for me a link to far and yet there in the historical records the name Bux is prominent amongst seamen who worked the ships that sailed from India to Europe in the 19th century.

All of which leaves me yet again with that simple observation that history is messy and full of surprises.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

The mystery collection part 4 ............. the portrait, the town and the men at sea

Now I am back with that mystery collection of photographs of which we know very little about.

In all there are forty-six images which were originally on 4x5 glass negatives showing everyday life somewhere on the Belgian coast at the beginning of the last century.

In all probability they would have been lost had they not been given to friend of David Kennedy who thought he might be interested in them and as they say the rest is photographic history.

I dare say there are collections with a greater claim on photographic history but these nevertheless capture the moment.

Today I am drawn to three very different images.

The first is of an unknown man and his son.

They stare back at us with all the confidence of people who have the money to command a posed studio photograph.

And like most people I focus on their appearance.  The father is in a well made suit with matching waistcoat and tie and his son is dressed in a sailor suit which was standard dress for his class from the mid 19th century onwards.

But look a little more closely and it is apparent that this is a working photograph perhaps the first of a series because the backdrop doesn’t quite fill the whole picture.

Behind them are shelves full of photographic props along with discarded frames and pictures and if we look even closer the backdrop itself is uneven and creased.

So, perhaps this is not the high class studio I had at first thought.

That said our photographer was not averse to getting out and recording the everyday life of the streets and the workplace.

Of these one of my favourites is the busy town square with its row of cafes, bars and hotels and a  mix of people going about their business.

I did try using the names of those hotels to locate where we are but the passage of a century and a bit pretty much meant this was a dead end.  Still I always travel in hope and it may just be that one of them will crop up on an advert or in a directory.

Which just leaves me with the third which unlike the others is one of those work a day images.

Almost half of the collection concentrates on men at sea and this one I like because there is nothing staged about it rather it captures a moment at sea with the captain and first mate deep in conversation while the
business of steering the ship goes on.

Pictures, from the collection of David Kennedy

Back in Sidcup in 1961, at the war memorial

I think this will be the last from the series of Sidcup in 1961.

This is the war memorial and our commercial photographer decided on just one more which was a close up of the parish church.

I have to confess I have never visited either but armed with this picture postcard I think I shall go looking for both next time I am home in Well Hall.

Picture; War Memorial, Sidcup, from the set Sidcup by Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB, https://www.tuckdb.org/


So no more Nokia

Well it has been a long relationship but it’s over.

My flirtation with Nokia which has lasted for almost two decades has ended.

And I have to say that if there were one available from my phone supplier I would happily continue the tryst.

But alas not.

The acquisition of the first clockwork Nokia was more accident than a purposeful choice.

Back then I had little idea about make, specification or design.

You made a phone call agreed the price, the plan and didn’t even get a choice over the colour.

That said when that first Nokia arrived I was hooked.

I liked the design, the ease with which you could use it and above all if you dropped it, it just bounced.

Added to which it had a battery which lasted all day and into the next two, and it played Snake.

What more could you ask of it?

Nor did its successors disappoint me and when I finally made the switch to smart I continued to be very pleased.

But the last one creaks and doth protest, so I have moved on.

I did have a brief flirtation with another older Nokia which belonged to Simone and came from Italy but its battery was tired despite constant recharging and by then I could see the logic of a machine which did emails, social media and allowed you to find out the weather in Scunthorpe as well as Naples.

So that is it ........... a little bit of personal history, no more no less.  And bound between the four is pretty much the history of the pocket portable, communication device which would have made Dan Dare and Captain Kirk proud to have used one.

Pictures; Nokia phones circa 1998-2015 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The mystery collection........... part 3 a working day

The last in the series featuring an unknown collection of photographs from the beginning of the 20th century.

Now I am always fascinated by pictures which challenge you to uncover their secrets.

They are usually ones where there are few clues to where they were taken with no date and often shed no light on the identities of the people who stare back at you.

And that is pretty much what we have here from a collection of images which belong to David Kennedy.

The originals were 4 by 5 glass negatives and date from sometime around the end of the 19th or the beginning of the 20th century.

Some are of street scenes, others of men and women at work and include a fair number showing life on board a selection of working ships.

They range from causally posed scenes to ones where the photographer has caught his subjects fully occupied and perhaps unaware that they are being photographed.

And amongst the collection are some which open up the world of work in a town somewhere just across the Channel.

Now I say that because at least one picture carries references to Belgium and in particular the towns of Nieupoort and Ostend and intriguingly to a number of restaurants which in the fullness of time might yield some more information on the location of the pictures.

But that aside they capture perfectly a group of people going about the daily routines of work.

A man trundles a cart accompanied by two dogs and given the umbrella covers the top of the cart and his white coat I wonder if he is out selling ice cream.

Of course that is bordering on a heap of speculation, but I am on firmer ground with the working boats and what might be a water tower.

And lastly there is the building with its posters advertising a host of different things including that word Telegraaf which Google Translate tells me is Dutch but is more equally Flemish or Belgian Dutch which fixes our photographs in the northern part of Belgium.

Of the three this one interests me the most.

Our photographer has caught one of those quiet moments perhaps during the midday lunch break when only the dog is out in the heat of the sun.

Something has been going on and I guess will do so again as the open cellar doors and the nearby wagon testify.

But at that precise point in time nothing stirs save the dog, which just leaves us to focus on the posters and in particular that one high up on the wall advertising some long gone event.

Alas I doubt that I will ever know what it was

Pictures; by courtesy of David Kennedy

The first Christmas card of November

Now if like me you are old enough to remember those letters to the Times on hearing the first cuckoo of spring, here is another.

In this case it’s the first greetings card for Christmas.

A first in that  we are still only in November and also because it is the earliest David has shown me from his collection.

It is dates from December 1916 and although I know he has much older ones this is still a first for me.

Somewhere in the collection I have some Victorian ones and perhaps it’s time for them to see the light of day.

David tells me this one was also a a Valentine's mailing novelty card so a double first.

And that is it.

I shall   leave you with this one, and no I don’t feel that I have brought Christmas in too early given our local supermarket has had advent calendars for a month and the first TV advert for the season aired sometime ago.

All I will say is that David continues to amaze me with the extent of his collection of memorabilia from the two world wars along with that of postal history.

Still that’s it for now.

Picture; Christmas card 1916, from the collection of David Harrop 

And the connection between three bottles of mulled wine from Morrisons and those facebook messages is .......?

Well in another outrageous bid for self promotion the answer is of course the new book The Quriks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Thank you Morrisons
It came out on November 16th, Chorlton Bookshop sold out in six days and both Peter and I have been stopped in the street by people who have told us how much they have enjoyed reading it.

And with the launch of the book set for December 4th, Peter made his way up to Morrisons to look for the ingredients to make mulled wine, which we will be offering on the night, along with mince pies which I might add are suitable for vegetarians.

Mindful that some may be driving home there will be a choice of alcoholic and non alcoholic mulled wine.

And here is that first connection, because Darren the manager at Morrisons,  gave us three free bottles.

He too had heard how good the book was, which chimed in nicely with the many facebook messages I received today.

The launch will be on December 4th, at Chorlton Library between 7-9pm and we have an event planned in the new year at Foster’s Cycle shop on Barlow Moor Road.












Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy




















*The Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, was published on November 16 and is available  from Chorlton Book Shop or from http://www.pubbooks.co.uk/ or 07521557888

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The mystery collection........... part 2 working the ships

Now I am always fascinated by pictures which challenge you to uncover their secrets and yesterday I featured a young woman and her baby.

I don’t know who they were or when and where the pictures were taken.

They come from a collection of glass negatives dating from the very beginning of the last century and were saved from being thrown away by David Kennedy.

They are usually ones where there are few clues to where they were taken with no date and often shed no light on the identities of the people who stare back at you.

Some are of street scenes, others of men and women at work and include a fair number showing life on board a selection of working ships.

They range from causally posed scenes to ones where the photographer has caught his subjects fully occupied and perhaps unaware that they are being photographed.

These I think must be from a cross channel steamer given that others from the collection  are of Ostend and the surrounding countryside.

If I have favourite it is the one of the three crew members taking a rest and staring back at the camera.

Working these ships was not easy and the rare moments for relation must have been treasured even if in this one there seems to have been a fair degree of acting in front of the lens.

But work and the demands of running such a ship will have crowded out many opportunities for play.
All of which just leaves me that image of the woman caught walking away from the photographer and like all good pictures you are left wondering what she was doing.



Pictures; by courtesy of David Kennedy

Monday, 27 November 2017

The mystery collection........... part 1 the photographer and his subject

Now I am always fascinated by pictures which challenge you to uncover their secrets.

They are usually ones where there are few clues to where they were taken with no date and often shed no light on the identities of the people who stare back at you.

And that is pretty much what we have here from a collection of images which belong to David Kennedy.

The originals were 4 by 5 glass negatives and date from sometime around the end of the 19th or the beginning of the 20th century.

Some are of street scenes, others of men and women at work and include a fair number showing life on board a selection of working ships.

They range from causally posed scenes to ones where the photographer has caught his subjects fully occupied and perhaps unaware that they are being photographed.

Amongst these are a few which may even be family members including this one which is a favourite of mine which is one of two.

In the first the mother is staring down at her baby and in the second she smiles back at the camera while in both the photographer is caught in the mirror.

There are no clues as to where they were taken but in one there is a reference to Ostend and a few carry the names of hotels and restaurants, added to which there is a very distinctive church  all of which should help.

And so over the next few weeks I shall feature more of these images and try to get closer to solving their mystery.

Pictures; by courtesy of David Kennedy

The Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy ..... first the book and now the film

Well that isn’t actually happening  just yet, but if you come to the book launch on December 4th in the meeting room at  Chorlton Library from 7 pm till 9pm you can ask the authors just how they plan on making the  film.



Application forms for the leading acting roles will be available from the back table.

Crowd scenes will be filled from the customers of assorted public houses, the Glad to be in Chorlton Choir and anyone with a spare half hour on Thursday November 1 1900.

Did you see what I did there with the date?

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

*The Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, was published on November 16 and is available  from Chorlton Book Shop or from http://www.pubbooks.co.uk/ or 07521557888

Sunday, 26 November 2017

One house on Barlow Moor Road over a century and a bit

Our house on Barlow Moor Road in 1904
Now I don’t usually go in for then and now pictures but today is different.

We are on Barlow Moor Road at the junction with High Lane, and I am looking at the same house over the last century and a bit.

Our first was taken by A. Bradburn in the winter of 1904, and of the three it intrigues me the most so I shall return to it later in the week.

The remaining two were taken in the May of 1959 by A.H. Downes and by me this month.

Just 55 years later in 1959
It should not be too difficult to track just when what is now 503 Barlow Moor Road gave up being a private residence or the different businesses which have occupied this and its neighbour over the years.

More than once I have found myself thinking about that first house on the corner, and when it lost the gardens to the front back and side.

In 1904 it was the home of James Chapman, was a solicitor.

He and his wife Emmie and their four children had been living at number 76 since at least 1901.

And today
James had done well for himself, for just six years earlier he had described himself as a solicitor’s clerk and the family had lived on Cranbourne Road.

But for now I shall leave you with the three images of one little bit of Chorlton.

But that is not quite it because After talking to Andy Robertson he remembered talking the same shot back in 1992 which I guess is when its time as the Microwave shop will be most familiar to many.


And in 1992
And Andy was also able to dig out that back in 1969 the shops were occupied by 503  H Morris and sons, decorators and at
505 Julia Allyson, ladies' hairdresser.

So there you ago the place continues to have a long and varied history.

Pictures; 78 [now 503] Barlow Moor Road, 1904, A. Bradburn, m17434, again 1959, A.H. Downes, m17508, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council and today from the collection of Andrew Simpson and in 1992 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Lost scenes of the Far East.......... Ceylon 75 years ago .... no 9 in the market

In 1944 a young Bob Ward was aboard HMS London stationed in the Far East.


During his stay on the island of Ceylon he recorded some of the everyday scenes he came across.

This is a record of some of what he saw.

There is no order or theme just a set of images which Bob passed over to his grandson who spent three months on the island in 2009.

Location; Sri Lanka

Pictures; Ceylon, 1944 from the collection of Bob Ward

Saturday, 25 November 2017

What future Chorlton? ........ no. 2 Ryebank Road

Now the discussion about building new houses on a much loved open space is not an easy one.

Ryebank Fields, 2015
Easy if you want to live close to where you were born and close to family, less so if you have come to treasure the place which could soon become a building site.

The land in question is Ryebank Fields that bit of open land at the bottom of Longford Road which for a big chunk of the 20th century bordered our old brick works, and before that was an area of pasture and meadowland.

During the 1930s it consisted of some clay pits and the lost “Cardiff Road”.

The site passed into the hands of the MMU and for decades was left vacant, but as nature abhors a vacuum the site has slowly been developing into a fascinating site for biodiversity covering 4.6 hectares.

The Isles, 1880s
And now given that debate I have returned to an earlier story* which featured an article by Stuart Marsden,

The history and natural history of MMU’s Ryebank Fields** which mixes the history of the site with a recent survey of the plant and animal life.

Written by Stuart it includes contributions from me and Lynsey Crellin an environmental consultant from The Environment Partnership (TEP), and together we “talk about the site, its history, and its current biodiversity value”.

Now this is one to read., which might help when contributing to the public consultation process.***

Location; Chorlton

Picture; The Isles, in the 1880, courtesy of Miss Booth, from the Lloyd Collection, and Ryebank Fields, 2015 Stuart Marsden

*Down at Rybeank Fields off Longford Road, with a belt of mature woodland some patches of native bluebells and a bit of our history, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/down-at-rybeank-fields-off-longford.html

**The history and natural history of MMU’s Ryebank Fields, Stuart Marsden's Conservation Research Group, http://stuartmarsden.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/the-history-and-natural-history-of-mmus.html

***The public consultation will run till December 15 2017 and comments and observations can be left at www.manchester.gov.uk/consultations

Lost scenes of the Far East.......... Ceylon 75 years ago .... no 8 washing

In 1944 a young Bob Ward was aboard HMS London stationed in the Far East.

During his stay on the island of Ceylon he recorded some of the everyday scenes he came across.

This is a record of some of what he saw.

There is no order or theme just a set of images which Bob passed over to his grandson who spent three months on the island in 2009.

Location; Sri Lanka

Pictures; Ceylon, 1944 from the collection of Bob Ward

Friday, 24 November 2017

When Manchester Microwave traded on Barlow Moor Road

Now there will be those who mutter how can this be history, it was there so recently?

But it has gone and joins that vast collection of Chorlton shops and businesses which have ceased trading, moved on or just changed what they did.

I can’t remember when Manchester Microwave opened on Barlow Moor Road but I am pretty sure it wasn’t there when I first washed up in Chorlton in 1976.*

And that is the point.

Some businesses like Burt’s the clothes shop stretch back to the beginning of the last century, others like the Plumbing and DIY store on the corner of Malton and Barlow Moor are gone within a trice.

So recording them is important partly because it reflects where we live but also because it points to the big changes that have and are happening.

I doubt that if anyone had told me a decade ago that almost all the retail out lets opposite the bus terminus would become bars and restaurants I would have believed them.

But they have and so posting Mike Lever’s picture of Manchester Microwave is just a reminder of what we have lost.

And almost as soon as I posted the story Lesley commented that in the 1970's it had been a busy hairdressers, and with that I can just about remember the place.

Thereby making the point and of course emphasising the importance of contributions to the blog.

Picture, Manchester Microwave, circa 2006, courtesy of Mike Lever

*And can now be found at Unit 1/Albany Trading Est/Albany Road, Manchester M21 0AZ

What future Chorlton? ..... reflecting on what has been and is to come ..... no. 1 the Precinct

Now the Precinct has served Chorlton well and if it is now in need of a little tender care and attention that is only to be expected.

The Precinct, 2015
It was designed in the late 1960s and finished by 1973 and really is a piece of retail development of its time.

During its construction we lost sixteen properties which had been built in the late 19th century and a section of the historic Manchester Road which vanished under the car park.

To its detractors the Precinct is a closed place, which is locked up at night and faces inwards offering little from Barlow Moor Road, other than that expanse of tired grass while the central area is not an inviting place to sit and relax.

Manchester Road, 1894
Added to which there is Graeme House which is a brutal lump of a building too big and totally out of keeping with its surroundings.

All of that said I do like the Precinct, and even on a wet day in November it has lots going for it, from the mix of shops to the produce which occupies the space in front of Adams the grocers.

The plans for its redevelopment have tumbled off the table over the years but never materialised.

And now there are a fresh set of ideas which proposes a new residential led mixed use scheme.*

The document makes much of the buzz word “urban grain” talks of being pedestrian and cycle friendly and of promoting sustainable travel.

Manchester Road, Nicholas Road & Barlow Moor Road, 1958
And itoffers up more residential accommodation in an area which is very popular and I might add an area where property values are now so high that none of my children who were born here could afford.

Of course some will argue so what?

The market drives all, and anyway no one should assume that an accident of birth guarantees them a place in a “chick, quirky and desirable suburb”.

Well I disagree, but that debate I will leave for now.

What does concern me is the scale of the large block which fronts Barlow Moor Road.

If the artist’s impression is to be taken as the plan then the building running from Sunwick House which is now the bank down to Manchester Road rises above the surrounding skyline and sits awkwardly with the existing Victorian and Edwardian properties.

Leaving aside Graeme House the present Precinct does not overwhelm you.  It may appear boring and unimaginative but it is on scale that many will find comfortable.

Of course 40 years ago its critics will have pointed out just how uniform it was, differing little from similar developments across the country, lacking in character and totally out of place.

All of which may be true, but it is a criticism which could be made of the latest plan.

Well we shall see.

The public consultation will run till December 15 2017 and comments and observations can be left at www.manchester.gov.uk/consultations

Location; Chorlton;

Pictures; the Precinct,2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson, the area in 1894, from the OS for South Lancashire 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ and corner of , Manchester Road, Nicolas Road, Barlow Moor Road A H Downes, 1958, m18046, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*Chorlton Precinct Development Framework Summary 2017

Lost scenes of the Far East.......... Ceylon 75 years ago .... no 7 the fishing boat

In 1944 a young Bob Ward was aboard HMS London stationed in the Far East.

During his stay on the island of Ceylon he recorded some of the everyday scenes he came across.

This is a record of some of what he saw.

There is no order or theme just a set of images which Bob passed over to his grandson who spent three months on the island in 2009.

Location; Sri Lanka

Pictures; Ceylon, 1944 from the collection of Bob Ward

So what did you do in Book Week?

Now I came late to writing and even now I don’t pretend it will ever pay the bills.

But like many I enjoy the challenge of staring at a blank screen and letting the words tumble out.

I don’t have a plan and pretty much just go with the flow, and I suspect were I to start the same piece on Wednesday instead of Tuesday it will go off in a different direction and be a totally different piece of work.

That said because what I write is factual there is a framework determined by the historical research and if it is a commission by the demands of the people who will pay me.

But even so, as we all know history is about interpretation and the emphasis my change over the course of the project and new evidence can alter the direction and the conclusion of the story.

A by product of the writing has been the blog which started as an outrageous act of self promotion as the first book was nearing completion and expanded to cover anything that took my fancy.

So, while the core is still focused on history it has become a vehicle to show off my photographs, and highlight events, galleries and museums.

And along the way it has also become a place where others can post their historical research along with their pictures.

All of which is why I so like the site The Moving Dragons Write, which began when a group of writers decided to work together. It arose from a writing school, became a blog and facebook site and has now published an anthology.

Like the blog it now gives people a chance to have their voice and to prove that simple observation that everyone has a story or a book waiting in the wings.

In the past that talent has not always been discovered or given an opportunity but social media, and self publishing now provide a platform, be it pictures, painting or writing.

Long may it continue.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson







*The Moving Dragons Write, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1549881809/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_jsl.zbWCR4TAS

Thursday, 23 November 2017

One hundred years of one house in Well Hall part 19 ........... the unremarkable

This is the continuing story of one house in Well Hall Road and of the people who lived there including our family.*

Now there is nothing over remarkable about these two pictures of our garden in Well Hall sometime in the 1970s.

The quality is a bit iffy but then they are over 47 years old and were taken with one of those old clunky instamatic cameras, which processed the film straight away and turned out the image in minutes.

The film was expensive and from memory you only got eight or so shots, but there was something magical about the instant nature of the process.

Today the mobile phone or the digital camera will do it equally fast with the added advantage that it can be sent on to family and friends across the planet.

But in 1970 this was pretty neat, and how better to use it than a snap of our back garden.

I doubt any of us will remember who took them but they show the garden just as I remember it.  My sisters, and in particular our Stella laid out the garden and Dad was on hand to do the actual work.

And like all back gardens, there in the corner was the shed, full of all sorts of treasures and a real necessity given we didn’t have a cellar.

Dad put it up around 1964 and a full thirty years later it still had that powerful smell of creosote.

Looking at out garden and across to our neighbours there is nothing remarkable about any of them, but that actually makes the fascinating and in their own way a real history lesson.

Here is how we decided to lay out our small gardens back in 1970.

They may not be much different from the same gardens today or those of the 1950s, but they do offer up a picture of life in 1970, added to which they are our garden, which is enough for me.

Location; Well Hall

Pictures; the back garden of our house on Well Hall Road, circa 1970, from the Simpson collection

*One hundred years of one house on Well Hall Road,
https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/One%20hundred%20years%20of%20one%20house%20in%20Well%20Hall

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 90 ......... the wind up wireless

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

I doubt the idea of a wind up wireless would have appealed to Joe and Mary Ann.

They may have been born in the 19th century but they grew to maturity, married and settled into the fine new home on Beech Road in the 20th century.

And the 20th century was the century of all things electric and so I rather think they would not have given house room to something that you needed to wind up.

Not so me who fell on the windup wireless as a pretty neat thing.

It was invented by Trevor Baylis back in 1991 after he had watched a programme about Africa and the absence of mains electricity across swathes of the continent.

It took him just half an hour to invent the machine and it went into production a few years later.

And around 1998 having come across the story of the wind up wireless I went out and bought one from Argos.

It was a novelty and a talking point as well as an opportunity to be silly but it was just what you need while taking a bath.

Trevor Baylis, 2017
Ours survived many steamy baths, as well as being dropped from a great height.

It was in those pre smart mobile phones a pretty neat idea offering instant communication.

I went looking online and now there are lots of models.

And just after I posted the story my friend Suzanne sent over these very nice pictures with the story of how "by coincidence, earlier this year David and I were wandering around Eel Pie Island when an elderly gentleman started talking to us, he said building his house on the island was the best thing he’d ever done and he invited us inside. 
Mr Baylis with windup wireless and  his car, 2017

We went through a large workshop, then a swimming pool to the sitting room then out to the garden by the Thames. 

It turned out to be Trevor Baylis and he regaled us for 2 hours with many tales. 

He showed us the original wind up radio, wind up torches and he had invented a shoe that charged your phone as you walked".

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; advert for radios, 1949, from the collection of Graham Gill and the photograph of Mr Baylis, 2017, courtesy of Suzanne Moorehead.

*The story of a house,
https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20a%20house

The familiar view with a difference ....... views from the tram no. 2

Now the view of the cross in St Peter’s Square is a familiar enough one, although for a while during the building of the Second City Crossing the bits sat in a yard waiting to be reassembled.

Today the scene has been added to by the onward climb of the Own Street Towers.

Andy Robertson was there on Tuesday and caught the scene.

By one of those odd coincidences I was there on the same spot just a few hours earlier taking a photograph of the same view.

Great minds.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; “from a tram stop”, 2017 from the collection of Andy Robertson