Wednesday, 28 February 2018

When Well Hall, Woolwich and Manchester collided........ stories from a book

Now I no longer think it odd that one of the most vivid descriptions of the Royal Artillery’s Barracks at Woolwich should be from letters sent by a young soldier to his wife in Manchester.

George Davison, 1916
Or that his will made in the March of 1918 should have been witnessed by a friend who lived on the site of Well Hall Odeon just minutes away from where I grew up on the Progress Estate.

What links all of these is that they were part of the research I did for a book on Manchester and the Great War which came out last year.*

It told the stories of the people who lived through the conflict, waved loved ones goodbye who were destined for battlefronts around the world, and then got on with the daily demands of earning a living, and bringing up a family against a backdrop of rising prices, and food shortages.

Yesterday I reflected on that “last will and testament" of George Davison who was that soldier and also of his wife Nellie who spent time with the Drinkall family who witnessed the will and who were fond of both George and Nellie.**

In his letter’s home George writes about the conditions in the barracks, the poor quality of the food and the bedding, and the antics of his fellow soldiers.

And more than once I have pondered on the links between me and the Davison’s.

Our house on Well Hall Road would in all probability have been known to them, and I regularly passed the barracks where he was stationed.

Added to which, before he was married he lived just a ten minute walk away from where I live in Chorlton which is a suburb of Manchester.

So while we may have been separated by almost a century I have a strong connection with a soldier from Manchester who lived briefly in Woolwich and Well Hall and became part of my book.

Location; Well Hall, Woolwich and Manchester

Picture; George Davison, 1916, from the collection of David Harrop

*Manchester Remembering 1914-18, 2017, the History Press,

** Mrs Nellie Davison at Well Hall .......... stories behind the book nu 27 making the connection,

On our village green with the Narnia Lamp post .....

Now, it was our Joshua who first called the lamp post on the village green, the Narnia Lamp post and that is what it has always remained.

2018 from a picture, 1980

We have plenty of pictures of it taken over the years, from high summer, to autumn and a few in the depths of winter when everywhere was covered in a heavy snowfall.

And as everyone knows, in Narnia, before Aslan arrived, it was always winter and never Christmas, a fact that Lucy discovered when she went through the magic wardrobe and stood beside the lamp post in the snow.*

It is often the starting off point for the history walks and will be again on March 25th when we do our first Quirks History Walk.**

And so with that in mind Peter painted the lamp post as it looked one summer’s day back in 1980.

Back then the Horse and Jockey hadn’t acquired the title of the Inn on Green and it would be another twenty-eight years before Peter Dalton bought the pub from the brewery and began its transformation.

During those years our lamp post was a focal point for gatherings on the green from the summer fair to a production of Henry V.  It was also here that by chance one Wednesday evening in 1986 I passed a string quartet, all dressed in formal attire playing a selection from Vivaldi.

There was no audience, but they played on just for the fun of it, and then, and now I thought it seemed so Chorlton.

And for those who want a bit more history I can tell you that the lamp post has moved around a bit.

At one point in the early 20th century it was closer to the lychgate but I guess was moved as traffic got busier.

Later still in 1933 there is a picture of a similar one outside the Horse & Jockey which is different from ours, but why spoil a story?

Painting; The Narnia Lamp post, © 2018 Peter Topping from a photograph by Andrew Simpson, 1980


Facebook: Paintings from Pictures

*The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S Lewis, 1950

**Walking the Quirks of Chorlton cum-Hardy ....... the first saunter through our past, March 25th at 1 pm meet beside the Narnia Lamp post

Home thoughts from abroad nu 1 ................. Well Hall Road on a warm spring day in 1965

An occasional series on what I miss about the place where I grew up.

Now I don’t do nostalgia.  It’s over rated and too often offers up a view of the past which at best is deceptive and at worse downright wrong.

But having been away from Eltham for over forty years I have bit by bit been drawn back.

It’s partly those bouts of reflection that come from someone in his sixties but also because it was one of the places I was happiest.

That said for most of that last forty years it is somewhere I only came back to on flying visits.

In the early 70s Well Hall was home between term time, and then a place to catch up with family and friends and later still where we brought the children for short holidays.

During those early visits I have to confess to a mix of feelings.  It was always nice to be back amongst familiar places but when you are 19 it is easy to be over judgemental.  After all I was living in the heart of Manchester which was vibrant and new, offering up a wealth of experiences and Eltham seemed small beer.

But I never entirely lost the pull of Eltham and in the last few years have begun digging deep into its history and remembering so much from my childhood.

So this is the first of those memories and it is nothing more than that walk I took from our house up to the High street.

We lived just beyond the roundabout and so on a warmish spring day it was no hardship to stroll down past the Odeon and the parade of shops taking a detour into the Pleasaunce before going under the railway bridge up past Spencer Gardens and that second parade of shops before reaching Willcox’s and the parish church.

More often than not there was no real purpose behind the trip which meant you could take your time, be delayed by looking in the window of the electrical shop near Wells the Chemist, gaze at one of the guitars in Norman’s before  deciding on a book from Willcox’s.

And then with the whole High Street ahead of you an hour or two could pass just looking at the shops and visiting the library.

Like others I have very fond memories of the library which offered up plenty to do, from digging out those obscure old volumes from the reference section to choosing an LP and a couple of books.

Of course Well Hall Road offered up more than just a route to the library and on other days when the sun shone it was the way up to the woods and on to Woolwich.

Now I know others will have their own favourite road and I have to concede that Court Yard and Colepits Lane had their attractions but sitting here just 4 miles from the centre of Manchester I will go for Well Hall Road.

Location; Well Hall Road, Eltham

Pictures; Well Hall Road, & Eltham Library, 2014 from the collection of Chrissy Rose

What’s stirring down by Southern Cemetery?

Andy’s picture of the crematorium by Southern Cemetery will be familiar to many, especially the Friends of Barlow Moor Road.

But I wonder how many know what is going on behind the builders panels?

I must confess I didn't and never got round to finding out.

Prompted by Andy’s photographs, I went and looked on the City’s planning portal, only to draw a blank.

But as you do I decided instead to ask Cllr. Dave Rawson of Chorlton Park Ward.

And within minutes of the email being sent I got the reply "The Crematorium are building new offices and reception rooms with a new car parking arrangements. We met with them quite a while back to discuss their plans and involved neighbours to try and resolve planning issues. I think it might be complete around October”.

Now that is pretty good service on the part of Cllr. Rawson, answers my question and gives Andy untold photo opportunities as the new buildings rise above those builder’s panels.

Leaving me just to say that I have completely forgotten what was on the site, before building began.

But since posting the story we went past and there on the gate post was the words Car Park.

So that is that then.

Location; Southern Cemetery

Pictures; By Southern Cemetery, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Knott what you expect to see ........

Well, when the picture arrived from Andy, with the one liner “Knott what you expect to see”, it just had to be added to the collection of silly stories.

Of course there is a serious point, which as the weather remains Arctic, I am guessing the two birds had enough of sitting it out on the canal.

And I will leave it up to them wot know, to say why the spelling is correct.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Knott what you expect to see, by Deansgate Railway Station formerly Knott Mill, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

The passing of old Chorlton .........

Now I say old Chorlton but there will be some who mutter that the former Blockbuster’s store was not that old.

And indeed it wasn’t, but it sat in a building which had a diverse retail history and for most of its existence was home to a printing business.

Nor is that all, because it seems to have begun as the “Market Place”, but just what that was, is as yet unknown.

Still in the fullness of time all will be revealed.

So for now the story is really one of those then and now posts, and there is nothing wrong in that.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; on Barlow Moor Road, 2015 & 2018 from the collection of Andy Roberston

The Clayton Hall stories ....... no 4 ...... Commemorating the Suffragettes

Now far be it from me to use that well known phrase ....."Back by popular demand", but it is, so this Saturday and again on March 17th go along and join Clayton Hall in ...... Commemorating the Suffragettes.

And to quote that well known song "there's a cup of tea and a bun if you come".

More info can be obtained by messaging  the Clayton Hall Fb page, or emailing

Monday, 26 February 2018

The new Manchester ....... Owen Street ....... scenes from a development no.7

Andy described this as one of his favourite pictures, and I do have to agree.

I am not sure what I think of the Owen Street development in the distance, which is coming to dominate the sky line.

I have nothing against modern buildings and new developments but for me the line is simply that, when the structures dwarf human beings it may be a build too far.

That said Andy has caught the growing dominance of those rising towers.

Location; Manchester, 2018

Picture; St Peter’s Square, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Quirky facts about Chorlton-cum-Hardy ..... no. 2

Sunday, 25 February 2018

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 98......... the night the fox came calling

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.*

The tree without the foxes, 2018
Now strictly speaking it wasn’t one fox it was two, and it was more the early hours of the morning when they parked themselves beside our tree and began that distinctive noise foxes make.

And it was that noise which woke us up, and as you do for a while I tried to ignore it but it didn’t go away and so I went to look.

There were two of them, one making the noise just sitting beside the tree, and the other prowling behind.

Of course by the time I decided to take a picture they had gone, no doubt to disturb someone else.

So instead of a picture of two foxes beside out tree at 2 in the morning you got the tree on its own at 11 am.

It isn’t the first time I have seen a fox on Beech Road, but it is the first time that they took up residence on our front doorstep.

And that made me think about how common they would have been when Joe and Mary Ann moved in to the house when it was built in 1915.  Back then there was still a large amount of farmland to the south of the house all the way down to the river and beyond, and so I suspect that there were foxes.

The old tree, 1974
Go back another half century and they would definitely been a feature of the landscape.

All of which makes for one of those little bits of continuity between us and Joe and Mary Ann.

Of course in the intervening century the urban development will have pushed the foxes out, but as in many towns and cities they are back, finding different things to eat and exchanging fields for pavements and back gardens.

There will be someone I know who will contribute a comment on the rise of the urban fox, but for now I will just close by saying how large they looked.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; from the collections of Lois Elsden & Andrew Simpson, 1974-2018

*The story of a house,

Friday, 23 February 2018

The history of Eltham in a day .......... less a competition more a collective showing off

Earlier today I was reflecting on where in the twin cities of Manchester and Salford I would take my friend Susan who will be arriving from Canada in June.*

That said she is only here for a day and a bit so it will be one of those pretty “zippy, pack lots in” sort of trips of the history of my two cities.

And as you do that got me thinking of what I would want to show her if I still lived at home in Well Hall.

It would be I suppose be a mix of what I thought was the iconic with bits that were personal to me and all rounded off by an understanding that there should be some history, the odd “odd” building and more than a few places to stop and drink, eat and drink.

So in no particular order my list would have to include the Pleasuance, and the Tudor Barn, the old parish church, along with the Palace, some of the High Street pubs and perhaps the site of our very first picture house.

Of course if the walk was done properly it would have to start at the old police station at one end of Well Hall make our way by degree down past the hospital and the site of the Welcome, before standing outside our old house at 294 for a quick history of the building and  the Progress Estate.

And then another stop at the Odeon, the Pleasaunce, and station, a rather longer pause at the other end of Well Hall Road taking in that other police station, the church, old tram buildings and Burtons.

I could also throw in the site of the old Crown Woods, and Avery Hill with an option on a excursion to Woolwich on day two.

All of which leaves me just to invite other suggestions, with pictures and a bit of a reason.

Of course there are no prizes, no free invites to the new Eltham cinema when it opens and not even a fancy cake.

No, all that you will earn is a warm glow and the knowledge  that you have shared a bit of  Eltham and Woolwich with the world.

And yes the blog is read on every continent except the one where the penguins live.

So that means that our Ryan's images will be viewed over coffee in Alberta, tiramsiu in Naples, and noodles somewhere east of Beijing

Location; Eltham, Woolwich and a lot more.

Pictures; the Pleasuance, 2016, Ryan Ginn

*The history of the twin cities in a day .......... less a competition more a collective showing off,

The cranes of Salford ........ number 1 .... Adelphi Street

Now I have called the series “The cranes of Salford” and it will feature, record and celebrate the new developments in Salford.

And yes I know “it all looked better before the old Victorian and Edwardian buildings were swept away” but many were no longer fit for purpose, having lost their original use or just got very old and then neglected.

I never knew that old Salford so I am not perhaps the best person to pass comment.

Added to which I freely admit much that is going up is pretty run of the mill, and could have been designed by Year 4 while some are just ugly and too big.

Moreover some that are rising from the streets have no originality and could be buildings from Spinningfields, Docklands, or that brash new development in Milan.

All that as maybe Salford, is changing and Andy Robertson was on hand to record it and in the case of Adelphi Street has kindly offered up an old picture for everyone to compare and contrast.

I say old but it dates only from November 2014.

And that  just leaves me to finish with his last from the shoot which I think is taken from the same spot as the 2014 picture.

The keen observers will instantly want to comment that in three years the cars have moved from off the site to beside it ........ such is progress.

Location; Salford

Pictures; Adelphi Street, 2014 & 2017, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Stockport battle tank .....

Now this is the story of the Stockport battle tank.

I can be fairly confident that it was made sometime after 1918 which could stretch to the following year.

After 1920 I doubt that there was as much interest in a piece of crested china with a war theme.

By then the country had put the conflict to rest and if the china companies were still churning out war pieces, the items would have been of war memorials like our own Cenotaph while the rest of the factory switched back to key rings, miniature replicas of Blackpool Tower and Ann Hathaway’s’ cottage.

But for the four years of the war, crested war china was everywhere from model tanks to aircraft and battleships.

And to make the piece just that bit more marketable, they were sold with the name and coats of arms of towns and cities.

So you could buy the Stockport tank and the Manchester tank along with HMS London, and HMS Liverpool.

Such was the headlong pursuit to turn out such collectables that one company produced a battleship carrying the name Manchester even though the navy had no such battleship during the Great War.

I had no idea just how many of these souvenirs were turned out but of course they one of the ways people at home could identify with the war and with a loved one who was serving in the armed forces.

This one belonged to David Harrop who has an extensive collection of crested china along with memorabilia from both world wars and the history of the post office.

But this one is the biggest and has that additional comment on the side about the signing of the armistice which I will make it just that bit different.

Location; Stockport

Pictures; the Stockport battle tank circa 1919, from the collection of David Harrop

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Who will mourn Sally's place on Turn Moss?

Once pretty much everyone in Chorlton would have known where Sally died.

Sally's Hole, 1945
It was one of those stories to terrify young children and act as a warning never to play by open water.

And the lesson was equally, young women should never put your trust in a young man who offers the sky but delivers nothing, because as the story went young Sally fell in love but was abandoned and in her utter despair drowned in the large pond on Farm Moss, which was a field of five acres beside the Old Road.*

Just how long ago the tragedy happened is unknown but the pond became known as Sally’s Hole and later Sally's Pond and was a popular place for kids to play as late as the 1960s.

The pond in 1845
By then sadly it was also popular as a place to dump old bikes, discarded milk crates and the odd dead cat.

All of which meant that it was eventually filled in, but the hollow can still be seen by anyone who ventures off the lane.

In the 1840s the pond and the field were farmed by William Whitelegg who rented it from the Egerton estate.

Mr Whitelegg was also the landlord of the Bowling Green pub and went onto build those two fine houses on Edge Lane opposite the church.

And now if I have done my geography correctly Sally’s last resting place will be “the Grass Running Rounds” which form part of the master plan for the redevelopment of Turn Moss.

Leaving me just to wonder who will mourn for Sally and the place she died.

Picture; Sally’s Field, J Montgomery, 1958, copied from a 1945 photograph, m80104, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and detail from the Tithe Map for Chorlton, 1847

*Hawthorn Lane

Past the Four Banks and up to Redgate Farm in the summer of 1900

Looking across the Isles, 1882
This is another one of those walks I would like to have taken if only to set the contrast from what I would have seen just fifty years earlier in the summer of 1853.

Now I have been writing about a series of walks that you could have made along what was then called Barlow Moor Lane north from the junction with Chorlton Row up past Lane End, and on into Martledge.*

We would have seen a few fine houses, a couple of farms, and a mix of more humble dwellings along with a pub and beer shop all surrounded by fields and the meandering Rough Leech Gutter.
But by 1893 the fields had all but gone, as had two of the farm houses, and the old wattle and daub cottages.

There was still a little of that old Chorlton to see.  Up where the Library now stands was Redgate Farm and just before it Renshaws Buildings which dated from the early 1830s and lasted well into the 1920s.

And tucked away in splendid isolation in their own grounds and hidden behind high walls were Beech House and Oak Bank.  These two dated back to the early decades of the 19th century and both in that summer of 1893 would soon also be demolished.

Renshaws Buildings circa 1900
In their place would be the houses that still line Barlow Moor Road and Manchester Road.

These were the product of the housing boom from the 1880s and were the homes of the professional, business and clerical families, many of who used the newly opened Chorlton station to get into the heart of the city in just ten minutes.

Now although I fight it I am an old romantic and I don’t think I would have made much of this stretch of Chorlton in that last decade of the 19th century.

So what would we have seen from what is officially known as Chorlton Cross but is more now popularly called Four Bank Corner, or just the Four Banks?

The simple answer is not that different from today.  What is now the HSBC would soon become Kemps the Chemist and Harry Kemp’s name would be what this corner would be called well into the 1960s.

Sunwick House, circa 1900
Opposite was Sunwick House which is still there but is now the Royal Bank of Scotland and beyond down towards Redgate Farm there was a row of large detached houses set back from the road, while on the north side there were Renshaws Buildings and the old Royal Oak.

This dated back to the beginning of the 19th century and was pretty much just a beer house serving the local population, the thirsty farm labourers and the Manchester trade who had come out from the city for the walk and a drink in the countryside.

The present pub would not be built until the mid 1920s and would replace Renshaws Buildings.  It is still possible to see the kerb and bit of pavement beside the pub which once fronted the old property.

But all of that is a little in the future and so back in 1893 our walk would have taken us north of Sunwick past Warwick and Selbourne Roads up to the farm.

Sedge Lynn, 1885
We probably would not have really noticed the home of Aaron Booth which went by the name of Sedge Lynn.

It stood where Nicholas Road joins Manchester Road. Back.

In the 1890s Nicholas Road had yet to be cut and our little section was still part of Manchester Road which ran off down through what is now the car park of the precinct and over Wilbraham Road. And for those of a tidy mind I might just add that Wilbraham Road was still quite recent having been cut in the 1860s.

Now I have written about Sedge Lynn, Mr Booth and his fascination for amateur photography and it is his pictures which more than anything shows the dramatic transformation of this bit of Chorlton in the decade before our walk.

Looking across Manchester Road towards the station , 1882
In 1882 he took a series of pictures just after he had moved in looking west across the Isles into the area which is now Oswald Road and across Manchester Road towards the station.

Stand on the site of Sedge Lynn today and look towards the station and the view is obscured by the houses of Warwick, Albany and Keppel Roads, which is pretty much what you would have seen in 1893, but a decade earlier this was still open farm land.

Pictures; of Martledge in 1882 courtesy of Miss Booth, Sunwick from the Lloyd Collection and the corner of Barlow Moor Road and Wilbraham Road from the collection of Marjorie Holms

*Chorlton Row is now Beech Road, Lane End is the junction between Sandy Lane, High Lane and Barlow Moor Road, and Martledge was the area north of the Four Banks.

A little bit of 1930 on a table near you

Now I never underestimate the power of a simple object to draw you in and bring you closer to your family.

This is a Rolls Razor which until yesterday I didn’t know existed.

Our Jillian brought it north to join the other bits of family memorabilia.

It will have belonged to Uncle George but with so many things he owned, I am never quite clear whether he used it or just “collected it” at some car boot sale or second hand emporium.

Either way it is a nice object, still with its cardboard box and in pretty good condition given that it will be nearly 90 years old.

The metal case is solid and chunky and came in a variety of finishes from nickel plated, to silver and even gold.

But what makes the razor unique is that it was designed so that the blade could be re-sharpened, using a strip of leather and a honing stone which were contained in the box.

I have to say I have read the description of how it all works, taken the bits out, moved them around but have been defeated as to how the thing did the business of sharpening the blade.

In time I will work it out but for now it is just a nice object, well crafted with functional beauty.

The device was patented in 1927 and was in production until 1953 with our model dating from sometime after 1930.

I can’t recall Uncle George ever using it at our house when he visited, and given that it is still in its cardboard box I suspect it was a casual purchase.

That said it could equally have been Dad who bought it. He too had a habit of buying up objects, with one purchase being sixty copper bars which were fluted with a screw and terminal cap at one end and a sharp point at the other.

They had been manufactured by Frederick Smith in the Anaconda Works in Salford.

It took me a while to  work out what they were and finally discovered after reading the box that were for a wireless, which dated them to a little earlier than our razor.

Such are the things you find knocking around in the family store cupboard.

Pictures; Rolls Razor Imperial No 2, circa 1920 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

What we did in Alexandra Park in 1906, nu 5 ......... admiring the Clock Tower

A short series of how we used Alexandra Park in 1906, from a collection Valentine’s Snapshots of Alexandra Park.

And no sooner had I posted this when Dave Hulson shared this, 

"Hi Andrew, I know the tower clocking Alexandra park was a gift from the market traders of Sheudehill Manchester as they didn't want or need it.

When it was erected at Alexandra Park it's clock faces never kept the correct time

This is where it gets a bit strange it was removed from the park ( date not known) and reappeared at Belle Vue on an island , but I don't know what happened to it after that or the date it was removed."

Well Dave that should set the memories going.

Location; Alexandra Park

Pictures; the Clock Tower, Alexandra Park, from Valentine’s Snapshots of Alexandra Park, date unknown, courtesy of Ann Love

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 97......... the noises we make ... the stories they tell

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.*

We are early rises.  The first coffee of the day can be at anytime between 5 and 6 am and the first out of the house will be up by the old tram terminus by half past six.

But some in the family depending on work patterns, will sleep on, vaguely hearing the noises being made but letting it sit as a backdrop before falling asleep again.

Now I have experienced both.  Once a long time ago it would be dad stoking the fire, listening to the early news bulletin on the wireless, and me, being just aware of the start of his day but knowing I didn’t have to do anything, and that fairly soon all would be silent again.

Half a century on it is me, raking the ash, running the radio and just “clumping around”.
I suspect that my noises are almost a replication of Dad’s and probably also Joe and Mary Ann’s who
moved into our house in 1915 and were the first residents to call it home.

Their noises would have been very much the background to the early 20th century, with the sound of fires being cleared, coal collected from the cellar and noise of countless horses, from the milkman to traders calling with the items Mary Ann had ordered up the day before.

The Scott’s were very modern and embraced all the new consumer goods.
So by the early 1920s there would have been the sound of the telephone, followed by the wireless and in the mid 1950s the television, all of them marking the major shifts in the lives of people during the last century.

Against this were the loss of all those rural sounds including the cows being walked up the road, the call of the ploughman working the fields and the voices of the itinerant tradesmen who wandered into Chorlton carrying anything from brass buttons, to silk finery and the unglamorous but essential items from cooking pots to bars of soap.

That said, Joe and Mary Ann would have seen cows on Beech Road, called in at the smithy and perhaps bought the their eggs from Higginbotham’s farm on the green, or Mr Riley just yards away at Ivy Farm.

And the final transformation from a rural community to a suburb of Manchester would linger on across the last century while the memories of being sent to buy fresh milk from farms around the green are only now fading from living memory.

We are lucky in being able to track all four owners of our house and while in some cases what we know is sketchy it is enough to be fairly confident what noises would have been made during the last century and a bit.

Noises, which would have included the first time the music of Tamla Motown was played in the house, and the sound of John building his boat.

For me one of the most significant sounds has been that of children at play, because our kids were the first children in the history of the house.

But that as they say is another story.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; from the collections of Lois Elsden & Andrew Simpson, 1974-2018, and Graham Gill

*The story of a house,

Corporation Tramways Water car No 1 on Brook Bridge 1930, now that's a zippy title

You won’t see one of these on the roads of Chorlton, and yes once they would have been a fairly common sight.

It is a water car and this one was Corporation Tramways Water car No.1 on the Brook Bridge on Barlow Moor Road sometime around 1930.

Now they seem to come in all sorts of designs, size and shape, but they all did the same job which was to clean the tracks.

I have a picture of one from South Shields in front of me as I write and water is cascading from the bottom of the car.  I guess ours worked in the same way. 

And I bet there will be someone out there who either corrects me or supplies further information which I am always happy to have.  

I must admit I have wondered on how many there were in the fleet, how regularly they came round and whether we would have seen more of them in the autumn when the leaves were falling or in the hot summer months when the tracks might have needed cooing down, which just goes to show how little I know.

What I also like about the picture is the hint of other things.  So just to the left of the car and behind the fence can just be made out Oak Farm which was there by the beginning of the 19th century and may be even older.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

The new Chorlton ........Faces from market day ...... Saturday

Saturday was not the most pleasant of days.

True there was a bit of sun and it wasn’t that cold, but the threat of rain or worse hung over the city.

And on a whim after a morning in the Northern Quarter we came home and wandered the local market.

There was the usual range of interesting things to buy, from artisan bread, home cooked pies, to clothes and bespoke, gin, rum and vodka.

And amongst them all was the stall selling tea.*

Tina bought a pot, while I took the pictures.

In the busy afternoon I forgot to ask permission to use the images but I am sure no one will mind.

And after the tea there was the scarf, the lemon drizzle cake and an assortment of crafted pies

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; market day, Chorlton, 2018

*My Tea,

Who doesn’t have their own Beech story?

I suppose if you stick around a place long enough you will get to clock a fair few different decorative styles that have been applied to our pubs.

The Beech has had greyish walls, white ones, and if memory serves me a sort of creamy yellow.

So this is my story of the Beech, which is less a story and just a reminder of what once was.

Location; Chorlton

Picture, the Beech, 1979 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 19 February 2018

On Market Street on a summer day sometime before 1908

Judging by this postcard from 1908 nothing much has changed on Market Street.

Then as now it was a busy and bustling place which was compounded back then by the presence of traffic which pushed the crowds to the sides.

And it is the sheer detail that fascinates me.  Lewis’s still retains its individual shop fronts and each window is cluttered with advertisements and price notices.  It is the old “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap approach but Lewis’s still had style and so hanging in front of the shop are a series of elegant light globes, which in the late afternoon of a winter’s day must have added to the magic of shopping there.

But this looks to be a warm summers’ morning heading towards lunch time with some of the crowd in shirt sleeves and at least one couple protected by a parasol.

As you would expect there are plenty of horse drawn vehicles and my attention is drawn to the horse drawn carriage at the bottom of the photograph loaded with a large trunk and basket.  Something has caught the driver’s interest but whatever it is has been blotted out by the superimposed coat of arms of the City.

Which is a shame really but whatever it was seems not to have bothered anyone else, they all continue on their way with just a few attracted by the shops.

So just another day on Market Street then.

Picture; from the collection of Rita Bishop, courtesy of David Bishop

Sunday, 18 February 2018

What we did in Alexandra Park in 1906, nu 4 ........ at the bowling green

A short series of how we used Alexandra Park in 1906, from a collection Valentine’s Snapshots of Alexandra Park.

Pictures; The bowling green, Alexandra Park, from Valentine’s Snapshots of Alexandra Park, date unknown, courtesy of Ann Love