Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Of floods and weirs and peaceful places, on the edge of Turn Moss


The weir in 1915
I really don’t do enough pictures on the blog and rarely do those then and now sort of stories.  So here with the help of Nigel Anderson and Michael J Thompson of Hardy Productions UK* are some shots of the weir on the edge of Turn Moss just where the river takes one of its dramatic twists.

Now the Mersey is prone to flooding and after a particularly bad flood in 1799 the weir was built to channel storm water across the plain and into the Kickety Brook and so lessening the danger to the aqueduct which carried the Duke’s Canal.

And floods and the story of floods regularly pop up on the blog including the tale of the weir and Kickety Brook,.

Almost the same spot today © Nigel Anderson
So when Michael told me that he and Nigel had been down at the weir I just had to ask permission to use their photographs, along with two from 1915 which was the last time it served the purpose it was built for.


Their pictures show a benign spot, but it was not always so.

The river could flood with little warning and on one occasion a farmer just had time to release his horses from the cart as the water swept across the open land.

The weir from the flood plain, 1915
Another time in the July of 1828 flood water transported hay ricks from the farm behind Barlow Hall down to Stretford only later to take them back, while later floods proved to be even more destructive with one destroying the bridge across Chorlton Brook.

It was, wrote Thomas Ellwood the local historian
“no uncommon thing to see the great level of green fields completely covered with water presenting the appearance of a large lake , several miles in circuit,” and he recorded six major floods between  December 1880 and October  1881.

Looking towards Kickety Brook from the weir © Michael J Thompson


Not that it always worked.  Soon after it had been built flood water swept it away and during the nineteenth century neither the weir nor the river banks prevented the Mersey bursting out across the plain.

This happened in 1840 and in the following year it was rebuilt by the engineer William Cubitt.

After litigation the cost of repair was borne by the Bridgewater Trust who paid out £1,500, the Turnpike Commissioners £500, Thomas de Trafford £1,000 and Wilbraham Egerton £1,000.

*Hardy Productions UK https://sites.google.com/site/hardyprodsuk/

Pictures; of the weir in 1915 from the Lloyd collection and the weir today courtesy of Nigel Anderson and Michael J Thompson






Turning up bits of Chorlton’s history in the most unexpected places .... the T shirt

Now here is a bit of history, and like lots of good history it is something that takes us directly to one person’s story.

It belongs to Francesca who wrote “I helped Bob, my uncle in Buonissiomo during the holidays and it was always busy. 

Still have the black T shirts with the logo on the sleeve we were given as uniform.”

Francesca had left the comment as part of a series of posts following a story I did on Buonissiomo which was the Italian deli on Beech Road.

So there you have it a little bit of Chorlton’s history along with a big bit of Francesca’s.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; Buonissiomo T shirt, courtesy of Francesca

*Reflecting on Mr Amato’s Italian deli and Del’s cakes ...... changing Chorlton no 3, 

Passing the time ............... watching

An occasional series of pictures of people and places.



Location; Varese, Italy

Pictures; People & Places,Varese, Italy, 2010, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 8 .... Chapel Street

Now before any says anything I am quite well aware that Chapel Street is neither lost nor forgotten.

Anyone who has tried to cross the road from Trinity Church to the other side during the rush hour well testify to that.

But for JBS who sent this picture postcard on July 12 1905 at 3.30 pm Chapel Street as she experienced it has long gone.

She had arrived that morning “all safe ..... weather Beautiful, if I can I shall stay here till Wednesday providing I can find lodgings.”

I can’t be sure but given that the card was addressed to a Miss Smith of 78 Wellington Street, Batley, I think we can assume she was from Yorkshire.

And the rest as they is up to the curious to match her lost Chapel Street with ours today.

Location; Salford 3

Picture; Chapel Street, 1905, from the collection of Mrs Bishop

When horses raced on Middle Park Meadows

Middle Park Meadows circa 1900
Well I had no idea that we had a race course and the hunt is on to found out more.

And of course as ever the starting point has to be Mr Gregory’s book on Eltham published in 1909.

“The Eltham Races were also notbable events of the sixties [1860s].

The course was in the ‘Harrow Meadows,’ which lie between Eltham Green and Kidbrook-lane.

The meet was usually attended by prominent patrons of sport, amongst them on one occasion being his Majesty King Edward, who was then Prince of Wales.”

And no sooner had I posted this than Christine wrote "that I've just been reading on Wikipedia. 

The Middle Park Stakes was founded by William Blenkiron and named after his Stud at Eltham. Established in 1866 and originally called The Middle Park Plate. 

He sounds a very interesting man, well worth reading about him. He died at Middle Park on 25 Sept 1871 aged 64 and was buried on 30th in Eltham Churchyard."

There is even a picture but I will leave you to find that.

Location, Eltham, London

Picture; Middle Park Meadows from Bridge Lane,  from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm 

* The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909, page 294

War Baby ......... stories by Eddy Newport no 28 .........

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby, Eddy prefaced the next two stories with the comment that “I am afraid my blogs are not in any chronological order”  which is fine by me.

1940-1944 are years I have few memories. These was spent running to air raid shelters when a bomb scare was on, and carrying out the day to day business as best as the population can.

On 4th November 1944 my brother David was born in Woking Surrey as by this time the capital was under threat from Hitler’s V1 and V2 rockets. And once more pregnant mothers were encouraged to be evacuated to a safer place.

Dad and the army were on the move again and grandmother (Sara) wanted mother and me to be closer to her home and so rented accommodation was found at number 9 Braganza Street, Kennington, South London.

Kennington tube station was about 50 yards from the house. No 9 was in a row of terraced house and built on three levels. We moved into the middle flat. What I remember that at the back were a kitchen and scullery.

There was a bedroom with a window looking to the back of the house, and at the front, a living room overlooking the street and next to that was a small bedroom (mine).

In the front living room was dad’s prize procession a baby upright piano bought for around £35 from a music shop called Barnes in Oxford Street London. This piano was to be part of our lives for the next forty years.

This was a wedding present that they bought themselves using mum’s inheritance from her granddad.

The group photo was taken in Oakhurst Grove.  Note there are ny husband in thes photo as they are all overseas. Note the photo on the piano it is of my dad Ted.

Across the road was Gaza Street leading to the primary school and a bomb site. Nan’s flat was about a five minutes walk away.

There was a pub with a yard next to it and Kennington Park was about ten minutes away. Bombs falling and wartime disruption did not affect me in any way.

Of course, I vaguely remember being woken up in the night by the sirens going off, and being wrapped in a bed quilt and carried to the underground station or a Morrison shelter in case a bomb fell on our house, it never did.

For years, I used to have vivid dreams about tube trains sucking me into the tunnel and falling onto the railway line. I had a fear of going on the tube right up to the time I started work in London and had to travel on it. Trips out were very often to the park or to nanny visit.

Sometimes I would go out on my own with a friend or two and make our way to the park. The park was locked up at 7 o’clock and one day I got locked in. I became panicky when I could not get out through the gates. By this time mum had come to find me and with her outside and me inside wondering what to do.

However I decided that I was not going to stay in the park anymore I climbed over the gate much to the horror of the mother but glad I made it out.

I was always wondering off to explore the bomb sites. At one time on a long summer evening I decided to go home from the bomb site it must have been about 10 o’ clock. Father was on leave at the time and in I went only to find out that dad and mum had called the police and reported me missing.

1945 after the war had ended. I was taken to the top of our street at the junction of Kennington Park Road to see the victory parade go by. Military bands, marching soldiers, tanks, navy personnel, big guns and still more bands. The climax of this was to see Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery with his famous berry standing up in the back of his jeep waving to the crowd. A historical moment which at the time was lost on me, but later on in life I realised its importance to Londoners as the crowds were huge.

© Eddy Newport 2017

Pictures; from the collection of Eddy Newport

Looking for the bigger picture behind 12 Hope Street

The Hall family circa 1914
Now I know that one person’s family history is another’s yawn

I have in the past been all too guilty of boring the pants off friends with the intimate details of my great grandfather and the house the family lived in by the gas works, close to the canal within hearing shot of the shunting yard.

That said it is what that family history leads to which can make all the difference.

In my case it was the decision that while I wanted to explore their lives it had to be in the context of the bigger picture which pitched their lives and experiences against where and when they grew up.

So approached like this the story of any family becomes much more than a personal journey and instead becomes a history lesson with the added dimension that it is your people who lived it.

My family were ordinary enough.  There were no politicians, famous generals or people of wealth and none have left their mark in the annals of the great and good.

In that respect they were like the majority of the men and women who lived little lives in great centuries.

Derby circa 1930
They left the land sometime in the early 19th century, found new occupations in the growing towns and cities of the north and midlands and some made it to the capital.

My father’s family left the Highlands and bit by bit progressed south till grandfather crossed into England and dad to London.

They did their bit for Queen, King and country and then settled back into making the wealth that others enjoyed.

Generations of them and me included lived in those classic two up two down terraced houses and it is these which will occupy my thoughts today.

Many still exist today often modernised, with central heating, double glazed with the addition of a bathroom and lavatory and in some cases have even had the downstairs knocked through.

My own memories of growing up in my grandparents two up two down are hazy and the one I bought in Ashton-Under-Lyne was done up before we moved in.

Plan of 5 Hope Street, 1947
But here is the plan of the house opposite my grandparents, in Hope Street in Derby.

There was no bathroom, the lavatory was out in the shared yard and heating came from open coal fires and the cooking was done on a range which later was replaced by a gas cooker.

There was electricity but power points were limited and if you wanted to run things like an electric iron you did so via a connection to the lamp socket in the ceiling.

Many of these basic homes were built in the late 19th century but some dated back into the century before and some were back to backs which had been modified.

Those in Hope Street dated to sometime around the 1770s and mine to about  1890 and all went through some modernisation in their lifetime which might consist of the provision of mains water and basic electricity and gas.

But these were the homes of the majority of our nation both in the sprawling cities and towns or the isolated villages and hamlets.

The yard of 12 Hope Street, 1950
They were rented not bought, some were better maintained than others and had been built by speculative builders some of whom left their names in the streets where their houses stood.

My great grandmother lived in Whiteman's Yard, named after Mr White, and in the heart of Little Ireland can still be seen Frank Street and James Leigh Street.

Such was the vanity of these small businessmen that long after their properties have vanished their names remain.

A few modernized their assets, other waited till the Corporation demanded changes and most seem to have had scant regard for much more than taking the rent.

Most of these houses became tired and unfit to be saved.  Plenty went during the last war, more vanished under slum clearance and civic redevelopment plans but many more still exist.

So next time I am invited to listen to a family story I shall want to know about the house, the job and whether they went to school.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Random pictures of Deansgate ........... no 2

Take a fine day, the price of a tram ticket from Chorlton to town and you have a start of a new series.

Andy Robertson introduced the new collection of photographs he sent over as “Random pictures of Deansgate” and that is a title I like.

Now this one I suspect will ignite a flurry of comments, given the pub, its history and the development soon to roll over the area.

Perhaps one of the last pictures of the place.

Location; Manchester




Picture, by the Great Northern, from the series Random Pictures of Deansgate, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Monday, 27 March 2017

Random pictures of Deansgate ........... no 1

Take a fine day, the price of a tram ticket from Chorlton to town and you have a start of a new series.

Andy Robertson introduced the new collection of photographs he sent over as “Random pictures of Deansgate” and that is a title I like.

So here is the first and and it captures the place perfectly.

Location; Manchester


Picture, by the Great Northern, from the series Random Pictures of Deansgate, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Beech Road in the summer of 1932


We are on Beech Road in the summer of 1932.  

Judging by the shadows and the activity it must be sometime in the morning.

The manager of John Williams and Sons looks on as his assistant sweeps the pavement in front of the shop and beyond him other shop keepers are laying out their produce.

As yet there are few people about and most of those are on bikes are more than likely out on their first delivery rounds.  Most seem oblivious to the camera, except that is for the two by the lampspost who have stopped their conversation to gaze back at the photographer.

The picture perfectly captures Beech Road in the early years of the 1930s.  The stone setts on Wilton Road have yet to be covered and the old railings around the Rec are still in place, otherwise it is not so different from today.

Of course the absence of cars is quite striking as are the shop fronts with their tall windows,  and painted signs.

What is all the more remarkable is that it is a scene which is more familiar to us than to those who walked the road before 1930.

I had always assumed that the row of shops which included John Williams & Sons had been built sometime soon after the beginning of the 20th century.

The site had originally been occupied by Sutton’s Cottage which was a wattle and daub dwelling and may well have been built in the early 1800s and was demolished in 1891.*

So it was reasonable enough to assume that the plot was built over soon afterwards but not so.

The other surprise was that John Williams and Sons were not local traders but in fact owned a chain of grocer shops across the city and beyond which in 1931 accounted for 41 shops of which there were three in Chorlton**, six in Didsbury and another four in Rusholme.

Now I rather think there is a story here.  Back in 1895 they are listed as John & Sons with five shops in Didsbury abd Fallowfield which by 1911 had become 11 with John Williams described as managing director and the head office at 400 Dickinson Road.

Later still although I can’t date it is a wonderful advert for the company which advertises their ‘“Dainty, Delightful Delicious Tea, [from] John Williams & Sons limited, “The Suburban Grocers”, [at] 28 Victoria Street Manchester Stockport & Branches’.

And looking at the interior of one of their shops sometime in the early 20th century there is more than an element of “class” about the place.

So while the shelves groan with tinned produce and between the potted plants are the familiar posters advertising Californian Apricots at 6½d, and Coffee and other things, it is less cluttered, less in your face and far more discreet.

All of which makes me wonder at what our own shop on Beech Road would have been like, but that like the full story of John Williams and Sons will just have to wait.

Location; Beech Road, Chorlton





Picture; from the Lloyd Collection

*Sarah Sutton http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/sarah-sutton-life-lived-out-on-row.html

**32 Beech Road, Wilbraham Road, 211 Upper Chorlton Road.


Tall, elegant with a hint of decay .................. abandoned in the park ......... Viareggio 2010

It was one of those indifferent mornings which made going down to the beach a less than attractive idea so with the promise of cheap bikes for hire we went along to the park.


It stretches for miles is full of tree lined avenues and is perfect for a bike ride which seemed to be what shed loads of people were doing.

But I have never learned to ride and I was not about to so while the rest of the family disappeared off into the distance I went looking for pictures.

And as so often happens this one came from nowhere.

She was one of about half a dozen which were part of an event now long forgotten.

They stood in various stages of decay their wheels half hidden by the long skirts.

I only took the one but now wish I had taken the time to record the others.

All of which just leaves me to say that Viareggio is in Tuscany, with decent beeches and just about an hour from Florence but that is another story.

Location; the park, Viareggio, Tuscany

Picture; in the park in Viareggio, 2010 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Rediscovering our recent past the Coldharbour Estate in Eltham sometime in the 1950s

I rather think that we often overlook our most recent past.

There was one history teacher of mine at Samuel Pepys Secondary Modern School who maintained that if wasn’t at least a hundred years old it didn’t class as history.

Now I know what he was getting at but that ignores so much of ore recent past, a past still vivid in the memories of many people.

So today I have decided to look at the Coldharbour Estate some of which will have clocked up sixty-six years of history which makes it older than even me.

The estate is “a large and spacious estate developed on the site of the Coldharbour Farm by the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich from 1947.  It is sliced in two by a major road, William Barefoot Drive, where the small shopping centre and community buildings are located.

The estate was planned as a ‘garden suburb’, and there are many attractive greens.  From the open space at the Court there is a magnificent view of Eltham Lodge.”*

And there is the St Albans Church, “a small red brick church designed by Ralph Covell in 1953 it has a nice square tower and gently bowed window, and is linked by an arcade to the original vicarage.”*

The estate was not some where I knew well but only because none of my friends lived there so I had no reason to visit it, and when you are sixteen there are far more interesting places that call you over.

So I never went and now forty-seven years on and 230 miles further north I guess I won’t.
But that is not to say I have ignored the place.

Like many other post war developments it was a part of that determined effort to provide decent housing in pleasant surroundings.

And Coldharbour must have been significant enough a place to warrant a set of postcards by Tuck and Sons Ltd.

My favourite is the one of Witherstone Way mainly because of what was written on the back which announces that “The HOUSE MARKED X IS MY HOUSE. La maison c’est chez moi”

It has been dated to 1976 but the card must be older and is in that tradition of local communities getting their own visual record of what they were like, along with that even older habit dating back to the beginning of post card of marking the spot where you lived.

And reminds us that once the image had been created the company continued using it despite the fact that by 1976 the cars and the fashions had moved on a full twenty years if or more.

Pictures; Witherstone Way and St Albans Church and the Mound, courtesy of TuckDB, http://tuckdb.org/postcards

*Spurgeon Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000

The places I usually don’t photograph ................... nu 3 the cut through

It was September 2014 and I was on my way to meet up.



Location;  Manchester

Picture; Manchester, 2014 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Stories from Naples in the spring of 1944



I am reading Naples '44* and it is one of those delightful moments when history and my fascination for Italy collide.

It’s 1944 and Norman Lewis is a British intelligence officer with the allied armies in Italy.

He landed at Salerno in September 1943 with the American 5th Army and the book chronicles a year of his life in the city of Naples.

It is a closely observed description of life after the war has moved on leaving an aftermath of broken buildings, a desperate lack of food and a breakdown of the usual conventions of morality.

So on a journey to Afragola he saw “hundreds if not thousands of Italians mostly women and children in the fields all along the roadside driven by their hunger to search for edible plants ... they had left their homes in Naples at daybreak, and had to walk for between two and three hours to reach the spot where I found them.”

But there are those vivid little pictures of Neapolitan life which I suspect had been lived out before and after his visit including the family who lived opposite his office and who “carried out a table and stood it in the street close to their doorway.  This was briskly covered with a green cloth with tassels.  Chairs were placed round it in an exact distance and on it were placed photographs, a vase of artificial flowers, a small cage containing a gold finch, several ornate little glasses, which were polished from time to time as the day passed by to remove the dust.”

And around that table they carried on the daily routines of life, from domestic chores to grooming the children, washing and eating.  There were other tables out further along the street and people called out to each other, while a man with “tiny twisted legs was carried out by his friends and propped up in a comfortable position against the wall.”

It is a scene of street life which my parents in law knew well.  Simone and Rosa were born in Naples just before Italy entered the war in 1940 and grew up in the harsh years of that war and the equally hard years afterwards.

Not that this is any rosy nostalgic account of a simple but good way of life.  For many in Naples life was a struggle lived out against a backdrop of poverty which the war made that bit more difficult and led many down darker and more brutal ways of survival.

All of this along with the horror and confusion of the fighting falls out of this book.

But so often it is the carefully observed little scenes that that draw you in, like the “two lean, hip swinging American soldiers, sharing a bottle of wine [who] passed down the street, and the two girls at the table [who] looked up and followed them with their eyes until they turned the corner and disappeared from sight.”

Location; Naples, Italy

*Naples '44, An Intelligence Officer in the Italian Labyrinth, Norman Lewis, 2002, Eland Publishing Ltd, http://www.travelbooks.co.uk/

Picture; from the front cover, designed by Robert Dalrymple and cover image Neapolitan Girls – A Brothel 1945 © Archivio Carbone



War Baby ......... stories by Eddy Newport no 27 .... 1956

1956 was the year I started at OPC and my social life was running much as before. 

Chris Barber and band, 1957
Steve Searl, Ron Devlin and Bob Taylor had secured apprenticeships in various firms and we still kept in touch with each other.

Bob and Ron had bought guitars and were trying to learn to play them. Skiffle had become very popular by then due to a hit song by Lonnie Donegan whose “Rock Island Line” had become a number one bestseller and was topping  the charts.

Lonnie Donegan was the banjo player of a traditional jazz band run by Chris Barber.

They produced an LP with a number of regular jazz tunes and had some space to add more music, so the story goes, Lonnie who sang American folk and blues songs with the band, had the chance to record a few fillers to go onto the LP.

During a break in recording Lonnie played guitar Chris played bass and a friend of the band was jazz singer Beryl Bryden who happened to have a washboard with her (this was played with thimbles on fingers running up and down on the serrated surface of the washboard thus producing the rhythm) and they recorded two songs “Rock Island Line” and “John Henry”.

This LP (long player) became a hit and it was soon realised that Lonnie’s tunes were the most popular. These two songs were released as a single and shot Lonnie Donegan to fame and fortune in his own right. The effect it had on a my generation of boys and girls who had been brought up on a diet of full band arrangements, ballad singers  and boring dance music was immense .

Rock and Roll had given us own musical identification and Skiffle was to give us the ability to be able to get involved ourselves and have a go at playing it.

Skiffle groups were being formed all over the country. All you had to do was learn three chords on a guitar and be able to sing in tune and if all the group members joined in a passable sound was produced. One problem that had to be overcome was the need for a bass. This was solved by getting a large tea chest which was a plywood square box about two foot by two foot, drilling a hole in the middle of one of its sides and with a stout piece of string secured in the hole and the other end to the end of a broom handle a reasonable note could be obtained.

You had to put one foot on the top of the chest and with one hand keeping the string taut by pulling back the broom handle and plucking the string a bass note was produced. Of course, a washboard was an essential part of the sound too. Washboard were hard to find as washing machines were becoming used more in homes and the old fashioned washboard was being thrown out with the rubbish.

my first drum kit
It was suggested that I would play the washboard (if I could find one) and Steve could play the tea chest bass. I did find one but it was made of glass and not suitable. However, I did manage to get an old banjo. I took off all the strings and with a pair of drum brushes; I produced a passable rhythm by tapping the banjo skin.

We would all meet at Bob’s house and in his bedroom; we would attempt to play some skiffle music.
Tim Leonard and I were becoming firm friends and I meet up with him in the evening and weekends. He lived with his mum, dad and sister.

His sister had been the head girl at the Gordon School. Tim also had a love of music and liked modern jazz. He was taking lessons on the clarinet and the tenor saxophone.

He liked to listen to Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, and American sax players such as Zoot Sims and Stan Getz. I was not too enthused about this style of music, as I was more into the traditional style as played by Louis Armstrong and Chris Barber. Cont:-

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby.

© Eddy Newport 2017

Pictures; Chris Barber;(trombone); Monty Sunshine (klarinet); Eddie Smith (banjo); Dick Smith (bas); Ron Bowden (drums); Ottilie Patterson (zang), 1957, Joop van Bilsen (ANEFO)from GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license and others from the collection of Eddy Newport

Pizza, pesto and a trip up country ........... getting closer to my Canadian history

Until recently I had no idea just how deeply my family’s past was linked to Canada.

Our connections with Germany and Italy were pretty straightforward but the Canadian side rested on a few stories of my great aunt Dolly who crossed the Atlantic in 1925.

Of course if I had thought hard enough it would have been obvious that a fair few of the family would have chanced their arm and started a new life on the other side of the world.

After all with an empire upon which the sun never set there were plenty of open spaces.*

I knew about Uncle Charles who had gone out to East Africa and later India in the 1930s and pretty much never came back but was totally unprepared for the rest.

These included the brother of our great grandfather who had slipped off to New Zealand before settling in Australia the relative who had plied the high seas as a ships engineer and great grandfather Montague who in the course of serving in the old Queen’s army had seen the sun rise in the West Indies, idled his spare time in Gibraltar and spent three years in South Arica.


All of which could be the story of many British families but what I never expected was the great uncle migrated to Canada in the spring of 1914 by the Derby Poor Law Guardians because my great grandmother “was incapable of caring” for him and his siblings which included my granddad and great aunt Dolly.

Once established he persuaded Dolly to join him which she did but in her own words not “fancying the open wilderness of the far west” she settled in Ontario got married and that is how we now have an extensive Canadian family who in turn can draw on French and British settlers from the late 18th century along with a Mr and Mrs Pember who set out from Salford in the 1840s and never looked back.

And in the winter of 2015our Saul wass there in Ontario,.

He did the tourist bit of visiting New York, Memphis and Texas before making the 36 hour bus journey north from New Orleans to Ontario crossing the border at 6 am on a cold Saturday morning and has spent the last week with our cousins.

During that week he met more of the family, saw some stunning countryside and in return dished up homemade pizza and pesto and in the process brought all of us a lot closer.

All of which could be a prelude to a shed load of family stories but instead it will just be a thank you to Chris and Andrea and their two sons for making him so welcome and to our  Jac who sent me the first picture of them all together.

Andrea has more photographs ready to send but for now that’s it.



Pictures; a meal and the landscape of Ontario from the collection of Saul Simpson

*Possibly according to one American journalist because God didn’t trust the British and so wanted to always be able to see what we were doing.

Salford pubs ................. nu 1 ........ The King's Arms and a bit of a mystery

Now here is a lesson in being overconfident and not looking for the simple answer.

This is the King’s Arms in Bloom Street, the sign on the side of the pub says 1883 and from another source I got the date 1879 for when it was built.

And I just wondered why in the middle of the reign of the old Queen our pub would be called the King’s Arms when you would expect it to be the Queen Victoria, especially given that the coat of arms at the top of the building is that of Queen Victoria.

Of course the solution was supplied by the pub’s own web site, “the original Kings Arms stood on a plot across Bloom Street from the present pub and was first licensed in 1807.

At this time Bloom Street was lined on both sides with houses, shops and beer houses.
In October 1850 The Kings Arms was advertised to let by the Adelphi Brewery.

The new tenant was Thomas Holden and when he was leaving in September 1858, the advertisement stated that the pub had been selling seven barrels of beer a week for seven and a half years.

The original premises pulled down to make way for the building of Salford Corporation's gas offices and the current building was constructed in the 1870s on the opposite side of the street.

For over a century the three main buildings on Bloom Street were the Corporation gas offices, Salford House and The Kings Arms. The gas offices closed long ago and the last residents of the hostel left in the 1990's but happily The Kings Arms is still in business.”

And there you have it and what’s more I suggest you check out that site because the King’s Arms has more to offer.

All of which just leaves me to confess that I had written about the pub back in 2014, but Peter’s fine painting made me decide it was time to revisit and remind him he owes me a pint which we could very well take in the King’s Arms.

Location; Salford

Painting; the Kings’s Arms, Salford, © 2016 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook:  Paintings from Pictures

*The King’s Arms, http://www.kingsarmssalford.com/index.php?id=8



Sunday, 26 March 2017

Rare pictures of the Horse and Jockey and a mysterious historian of Chorlton



This is one of three photographs that I doubt very few people have seen.

It is the Horse and Jockey in 1933 and appears in a Short History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy published privately in that year.

There are plenty of pictures of the pub from the very early years of the 20th century and lots from the 1950s onwards but so far I have only come across a couple which date to the 30s and 40s.

So this is an interesting one and shows the original before it expanded into the cottages on the left of the front door.

To our right beyond the fence had been the home of the Wilton family who lived there for most of the 19th century.  It was Samuel Wilton who around 1818 enclosed the green for his own personal garden with tall hedges and an allotment.  The space only returned to public use with the death of his daughter.

The remaining two photographs are of the parish church and Hough End Hall and all three were taken by F. Blyth who also printed the book at the College of Technology in Manchester while on his second year course.

But the text is by a J.D. Blythe and is as far as I know the first new account of Chorlton’s history since the twenty-six articles written by Thomas Ellwood during 1885-86.

Mr Blyth drew heavily on those articles and in places follows the earlier history word for word.  Not that this is to rubbish the book, particularly as I doubt it was meant as a serious rival to Ellwood’s work.  It may have just been a vehicle for F Blyth to complete a course at the college demonstrating his skill at photography and printing.

Now there is very little on either man.  J.D. Blythe was here on Claude Road between 1922 and 1929 and  is listed in the telephone directory but without trawling the street directories for the period we have no knowing when he went to live in Chorltonville and when he left.

There is a record of a J.D Blyth leaving for South Africa in 1919 with the stated purpose of settling in the Natal, but he returns just four months later in February 1920, and so far that is about it.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; the Horse & Jockey in 1933, F Blyth from A Short History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, by J.D.Blyth, 1933

On Whitworth Street in May 2007


One from the archive.

It is a scene you won’t see for much longer.


































And as I haven’t been down this way with a camera for a while it my already have changed.

It was May 2007 and I was on Whitworth Street, standing on a partially demolished bit of wall.

Location; Whitworth Street, Manchester

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson


Why did the Derby Poor Law Guardians lose grandad's place of birth?

Beware what you wish for is one of those warnings I have never really understood.

William Henry Hall, circa 1930
But then I have never really made that many wishes and likewise have never really been one for planning out my life.

For me it’s about bumping along which some would suggest betokens a lack of ambition but on the other hand means I am rarely disappointed.

And in the same way I have not got over upset about the discoveries I have made about our family history.

There have been the usual ups and downs, from unemployment, sudden and early deaths to some surprising achievements and along the way a few born out of wedlock,  a couple of rogues and a lot of ordinary people who lived out their lives against the great events of the last three centuries.

But just occasionally I have been brought up sharp, like the time I discovered a relative who had committed suicide.  It had been one of those fairly routine exercises in tracking him down and sending for his death certificate only to be confronted with the evidence of a horrible death and a sense that I was somehow intruding into someone’s private life.

And today has been another of those moments.

I knew that my grandfather and his siblings had been brought up in care and that eventually one would be dispatched to a naval training camp, another to Canada as a British Home Child, the eldest apprenticed to a blacksmith and great aunt Dolly into domestic service.

Laura Isadora Pember nee Hall, 1968 
What I was not prepared for and what has saddened me is that the entry in the census returns for all three while in foster homes listing their places of birth "as unknown."

And yet the documentary evidence is all there.

Great uncle Jack was born in Bedford my grandfather and great uncle Roger in different parts of Birmingham and great aunt Dolly in the Derby Workhouse.

Which leaves me with that simple question of why were their places of birth unknown?

It might have been the policy of the Guardians to omit such information which looks to be the case given that none of the youngsters in either foster home has a place of birth beside their name.

And I certainly don’t think it was because the information was not out there.  My great uncle Roger was 13 in 1911 and must have known where he had been born and likewise it beggars belief that the authorities didn’t know where great aunt Dolly had been born given that it was in their own hospital.

Now I know that their mother way well have been unable to help. I had long suspected that her grip on reality was light.

After a brief spell of looking after them in 1913 she was judged  to be “unfit to have control” and the younger three were taken back into care, and later in 1939 she was in the Borough Mental Hospital where she died in 1963.

But I still find it hard that the children were listed as such.

Great aunt Dolly was well aware of where all of them had been born and said so in a letter she wrote in the 1970s and I suspect so did the others.

It is true that later great uncle Roger would tell the Canadian army that he was born in Derby but he also listed as his next of kin his aunt rather than his mother which would suggest a deliberate decision to muddy the waters which given that he was running would fit with him also lying about his age and changing his name.

It is all a long time ago and all of the children are now dead but I am more than a little angry that such a vital piece if information as their place of birth was never recorded.

Location; Derby

Pictures; William Henry Hall, born 1899,  Laura Isadora Pember nee Hall born 1902, and John Nelson, Montague Hall, born 1896,  from the Pember and Simpson collections.


Passing the time ............... early evening on the beach

An occasional series of pictures of people and places.




Location; Alghero, Sardinia, Italy

Pictures; People & Places Alghero, Sardinia, Italy, 2012 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 6 ............ Gravel Lane

Now I know that strictly speaking Gravel Lane is neither lost nor forgotten.

Gravel Lane, 2016
It runs from Blackfriars Road up to Greengate, but that first chunk is hidden underneath the railway viaducts which make it a tad foreboding.

But if you do wander into that dark cavern you will be rewarded by some fine cast iron pillars on the corner of Viaduct Street.

These support the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway’s track which was constructed in 1844 and while it was a substantial structure carrying four railway lines it was not yet the structure we know today.

Back in the late 1840s looking out from the north side of Trinity Church there was still a wide expanse of space beyond which were a  Rope Walk, a series of mills and foundries and a timber yard.

Gravel Lane, 1849
And a walk up Gravel Lane in 1849 would have taken you past the Methodist Chapel, a whole shed load of houses with access to some closed courts and Christ Church which stood between King Street and Queen Street.

All a little different today.

Location; Salford

Pictures; Gravel Lane, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the area in 1849, from the OS for Manchester and Salford, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

The case of Mrs Crowfoot's plum pudding ......... dark deeds at Well Hall in January 1870

I don’t often go looking at the Proceedings of the Old Bailey which are now online and cover the period 1674-1913 which is my loss.*


Well Hall Cottages, 1909
They are “a fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.”*

So I am indebted to Colin Benford who drew my attention to the case of George Pritchett who broke into the home of Robert and Ann Crowfoot in January 1870.

Mr and Mrs Crowfoot lived in one of the cottages in Well Hall.

Now I have long been fascinated by these houses and have  written about them, and so was intrigued when Colin wrote that the Crowfoot’s were residents in 1851 and were still there in 1870 when George Pritchett broke in.

And that seems an appropriate point to quote from the records.

232. GEORGE PRITCHETT (27) , Burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Robert Crawfoot and stealing therein 4 lbs. of beef and a plum pudding, his property.

MR. PATER conducted the Prosecution.

ANN CRAWFOOT . I am the wife of Robert Crawfoot, of Well Hall Cottages, Eltham—on 3rd January, at 8 a.m., I went down stairs and found the pantry window open, which was shut and fastened when I went to bed at 9 o'clock—I missed from the larder a piece of beef and a very large plum pudding with a little piece cut out of it—I found the pudding in the shed, and saw a portion of the beef taken out of the prisoner's pocket.

ROBERT FAIRWEATHER (Policeman R 320). On Sunday night, 2nd January, about 10 o'clock, I saw the prisoner going down a path at the back of some houses, within 200 yards of Mr. Grawfoot's—I saw him again about 11.15 or 11.30 in a shed, covered up with horse litter—I searched him and found a piece of plum pudding, some suet pudding, and a quantity of beef—I asked what he had been doing; he gave no answer—I asked where he got the beef and pudding—he said, "From a servant girl"—I asked him who she was—he declined to tell me.

The original records 1870
JAMES PIPER (Policeman R 37). On the morning of 3rd January I went to the prosecutor's house, and saw footmarks there, which I compared with the prisoner's left boot and the impression was the exact model of the sole—half the heel was worn off, and half on top was left, and there was every nail, nail for nail—I did not make an impression by the side, I was satisfied without.

Prisoner. How can you swear to the footmarks when there had been three hour's rain? Witness. 

There was no rain from the time you were in custody till 10.30 or 11 o'clock.

GUILTY — Three Months' Imprisonment.***

In the great sweep of history it may not even count as a full stop but it offers up one of those opportunities to touch the past and bring you closer to the people who lived in Well Hall.
And as you do I went looking for the three of them.  Not unsurprisingly George Pritchett pretty much drew a blank.  The records are full of George Pritchett’s but none offered up a clue as to which might have been our man.

Robert and Ann Crowfoot were easier to trace. They were living in the cottage at Well Hall in 1851 and were from Suffolk, at the time of the burglary he was fifty eight and Ann a year younger and given that he was an agricultural labourer and she a laundress the loss of that food must have been serious.

In time I shall find out more if only to sort out the misspelling of their name which appears on the census record as Crowfoot and in the court documents as Crawfoot.

Pictures; Well Hall from the OS map of Kent, showing Eltham, 1858-73, Well Hall Cottages from The story of Royal Eltham,  R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm and the original court document from The Proceedings of the Old Bailey

A thank you to Colin Benford who researched the story

Location; Well Hall, Eltham, London

* The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/index.jsp

** A map a photograph and some old records, Well Hall cottages in the spring of 1844, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/a-map-photograph-and-some-old-records.html

*** GEORGE PRITCHETT, Theft > burglary, 31st January 1870. http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18700131-232&div=t18700131-232&terms=Well%20hall#highlight

War Baby ......... stories by Eddy Newport no 26 ....

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby.

Ted went to war, in the same way, as his dad David went to war in 1914. This was to set up a line of defence with trenches to stop the enemy advancing.

The history of the war is well documented and I am no historian. Ted’s involvement was that his regiment got as far as Belgium before it was realised that the foe was far better equipped that the British forces were.  Ted did get to dig his field hospital.

As he was getting ready for action and his platoon were doing their stuff, when the order came down to abandon everything and get back to the coast and head for Dunkirk as soon as possible.

He and his men were responsible for some wounded and they had to be stretchered back over a canal bridge as quickly as they can, as they were going to blow it up.

Dad said in later life that an officer was decorated with a gallantry medal as being the last soldier to defend this bridge and being the last one back over it. Dad always maintained he and his group were, in fact, the last ones over that bridge.

So the rush back to the coast began and the army was in disarray with many units breaking up. Ted and his men were on their own. His wounded were taken off by trucks or ambulances but the poor old foot soldier had to make do with what he could find.

It was at this time that Ted fired a gun in anger. The story goes that an officer commandeered Ted and his men. He gave him the order to use an anti-tank rifle and to take up a position at a corner of a street and then wait for a German tank to poke its nose round the corner.

Ted’s job was to fire around at it to make it stop and hold it up for a few minutes to delay the advance. The effect on the tank with this weapon was like firing a pea shooter at a brick wall but it seemed to work. I asked dad what he did next. He said he took out the bolt, through away the gun and ran like bloody hell.


Another incident happened on the way back to Dunkirk. He and his men were running across a field and he came under mortar fire. Ted’s running for cover managed to lose his glasses and he stopped to try and find them. His mate Geoff Burchill asked what the hell are you doing and told him in no uncertain way to get a move on.

Ted had a spare pair in his pack, but it did not occur to him at the time.  On another occasion, he was approached by a French man who having seen Ted’s medical badges on his uniform asked to go to his farm house and his wife was in the late stages of childbirth. Ted did not have any experience of this but got things going with hot water and was about to do his best when a medical officer arrived and took over and told

Ted to get back with his men and keep going back to the coast. He always wanted to know what the lady had but never found out.

Ducking and diving into ditches to avoid the German air force that were doing their best to destroy them.


They managed to find Dunkirk beaches at last. He then joined the queues to the boats that were waiting to take them back to England.

At last, he managed to get on board a navy ship. Stripping himself of all his packs and making himself comfortable on the deck, he prepared for the journey home. When a German bomber came over and dropped a bomb straight down the funnel and exploded. The next thing Ted knew was he was in the water and trying to swim for his life. Ted was not a good swimmer and the fact he was not weighted down with his packs saved his life.

Dad said he did not know how long he was in the water but a French man grabbed him and got him to the beach. I ask dad about this incident and questioned him what he did next. Can you imagine, Ted was soaking wet with no pack or equipment.

He said he looked around and found a lorry with some uniforms in and put on a dry uniform. He later found a helmet and rifle from a dead soldier. Having kitted himself out, he once more joined the queue back to the boats. Queuing was a dangerous business as German planes were bombing and shooting up the beaches. On one occasion instead of running to the sand dunes for cover he just lay down where he was and a bomb exploded close to him.

Unharmed he got up and looked about him and realised he was on his own, so he ran as fast as he could and gained some extra yards on the queue. Eventually, he got on a smaller boat and finally got back to Dover absolutely knackered, he got onto a train going to London and once on board he fell asleep. Later he awoke to find the train had passed through London and was well on its way Cardiff. Finding himself alone he later found that the train had stopped at the Elephant and Castle and all the London soldiers got off.

No one woke Ted up and he was very upset that the train had stopped only a stones through from his home.

He could have gone home to his own bed and family.
 Eddy Newport ages one year 1941.

© Eddy Newport 2017

Pictures; from the collection of Eddy Newport



Leaving for Canada in 1849 .... a momentous step


I think you would have to be really poor of imagination not to feel something at seeing the marriage certificate of an ancestor.

I am staring at the marriage certificate of James Hampson and Sarah Tildsley who were married on December 9th 1838 in the parish church of Eccles.

Now strictly speaking they are not family, but belong to my cousins in, Ontario, but Pendleton where they were both born and lived is just five miles away from Chorlton and they began their married life during the time I been writing about our own township.

And sometime just a decade after their marriage they took the momentous step and left for Canada with their five children the eldest of whom must have been no more than eleven and the youngest just about two years old.

James Hampson was born in 1816 and Sarah a year later and they reflected something of the changes that were happening to Pendleton.  Both came from families which were connected with the new Pendleton which was a place of cotton mills, dye works and coal mines.  Sarah’s father was an engineer and both James and his father were cotton dyers. By the 1840s this part of the northwest had become a centre for the manufacture of cotton.  In 1842 there were 412 cotton mills employing thousands of workers in what is now the Greater Manchester area while Manchester alone had 41 factories.

And cotton dyeing is an essential part of the cotton process.  Many of the dye works were situated along the banks of the River Irwell utilising the steady flow of water.  Before the 1850s the process still relied on natural dyes using the flowers, berries, leaves, barks and roots of plants and herbs.  As such the work would not have been as dangerous as it was to become with the introduction of chemical dyes.

But it must still have been very uncomfortable.  James would have constantly been exposed to hot and cold water and dyes which left his hands stained different colours.  He would also have worked longer hours than other cotton workers.  Long after the government had begun to regulate working hours in the cotton industry a Royal Commission in 1855 found that many bleaching, dyeing and printing workers  regularly put in fifteen or sixteen hours a day and often continued for several days and nights without stopping.

The family lived on Ashton Street within a few minute’s walk from cotton mills, a dye works and a coal mine with the newly built railway and the slightly older canal close by.

Looking out from their home the Hampson’s would have been faced with a row of one up one down back to back houses which backed on to Miners Row.  Theirs might have been a slightly bigger house but the detailed 1848 OS map shows that their nearest water pump was some distance away.

And while there are was sill dotted with plenty of open land it must have been obvious that in the next few decades all of it would be developed for more industrial and residential use.

The rural appearance of where they lived should not blind us to the fact that it must have been a hard life.
Hours were long and wages were low. Engels quotes from the Factory Inspector, Leonard Horner in October 1844

“The state of things in the matter of wages is greatly perverted in certain branches of  cotton manufacture in Lancashire; there are hundreds of young men, between twenty and thirty, employed as piecers and other wise who do not get more than eight or nine shillings a week, while children under thirteen years, working under the same roof, earn five shillings, and young girls from sixteen to twenty years, ten to 12 shillings per week” *

Wages fluctuated with the trade cycle.**  In 1833 the highest wages were paid to men between the ages of 31 to 36, with huge disparities recorded for women and children. Their wages could also be docked for minor misdemeanours ranging from lateness to leaving a window open.***

Now trying to make sense of wages one hundred and sixty-years later is always fraught with difficulty. However Engels living in 1845 was in no doubt that the above wage levels were not good.  And this had a direct impact on the standard of living.  Their food was basic and monotonous. The staples were bread, oatcakes, watery porridge, potatoes, and a little bacon. Sometimes the porridge was flavoured with onions. Porridge was also made in thick lumps so it could be eaten with the hands at work. Tripe (sheep stomach lining), slink (calf born too early), and broxy (diseased sheep) were regarded as treats by the poorest.

Many workers were still paid on a Saturday evening and by then the quality of food at the markets was poor.
“The potatoes which the workers buy are usually poor, the vegetables wilted and the cheese old and poor quality, the bacon rancid, the meat lean, tough, taken from old , often diseased cattle”****
An observation Engels followed up the report that on January 6th 1844 eleven meat sellers had been fined for selling tainted meat.   Added to this there was the adulteration of food as this report from The Liverpool Mercury shows
 '
Salt butter is moulded into the form of pounds of fresh butter, and cased over with fresh. In other instances a pound of fresh is conspicuously placed to be tasted; but that pound is not sold; and in other instances salt butter, washed is moulded and sold as fresh...pounded rice and other cheap materials are mixed in sugar, and sold at full monopoly price. A chemical substance...the refuse of the soap manufactories...is also mixed with other substances and sold as sugar...chicory is mixed in good coffee. Chicory, or some similarly cheap substance, is skilfully moulded into the form of the coffee berry, and it is mixed with the bulk very liberally...cocoa is extensively adulterated with fine brown earth, wrought up with mutton fat; so as to amalgamate with portions of the real article...the leaves of tea are mingled with sloe levies and other abominations. Used leaves are also re-dried, and re-coloured on hot copper plates, and sold as tea. Pepper is adulterated with dust from husks etc; port wine is altogether manufactured (from spirits, dyes etc.), it being notorious that more port wine is drunk in this country than is made in Portugal. Nasty things of all sorts are mixed with weed tobacco in all its manufactured forms.” *****

Hard work, long hour’s poor housing and a poor diet left its mark on the health of people.  In 1842 the average life expectancy of the working class in Manchester was just 17 years of age.  There is no reason to suppose it was any better in Salford.  Indeed infant mortality in Salford in 1850 was much higher than the national average.******

All this took its toll as this description of mill workers by a medical worker in 1833 is horrifyingly unflattering:
'...their complexion is sallow and pallid--with a peculiar flatness of feature, ...their stature low--the average height of four hundred men, measured at different times, and different places, being five feet six inches...their limbs slender, and playing badly and ungracefully...a very general bowing of the legs...great numbers of girls and women walking lamely or awkwardly, with raised chests and spinal flexures...nearly all have flat feet, accompanied with a down-tread, differing very widely from the elasticity of action in the foot and ankle, attendant upon perfect formation...hair thin and straight--many of the men having but little beard, and that in patches of a few hairs...' *******


Given all this it is easy to see why a family might choose an alternative and the 1840s were a  hard time for all but the rich and there were schemes to resettle working families across the Empire. This was a policy that was actively pursued by the Poor Law Commissioners with parochial aid or assistance from local landlords.   The Commissioners reported that over 2, 000 had gone to Canada in 1841 which was an increase on the year before, and that assistance was also being given to move to Australia and New Zealand.

Location; Salford, Greater Manchester

*Horner Leonard Factory Inspector quoted by Engels Frederick The Conditions of the Working Class in England 1845 page 170


**Frow, Edmund & Ruth, Radical Salford 1984 page 34

***Frow, page 4

****Engels page 101

*****Liverpool Mercury quoted in Engels, Friedrick page 102

******In 1850 infant mortality was 175 per thousand compared to 150 nationally

*******Gaskell P, The Manufacturing Population of England, London, 1833

Pictures; Marriage certificate from the collection of Jacquie Pember-Barnum, 1848 OS map for Lancashire and Union Street Mill,Ancoats, Austin and Gahey, 1835, m52534, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass