Monday, 30 April 2018

From Chorlton To The City: Illustration techniques .... Liz Ackerley

Since January of this year I’ve been working on a little exhibition of my work called: From Chorlton To The City.

The exhibition will be held at The World Peace Cafe,
The Kadampa Meditation Centre, Chorlton.  The preview is on Friday 4 th May 5-8 pm.  In this second part of a two-part discussion about the work (you can read the first part here), I’ll explain how I’ve created the pieces that are in the exhibition.

There are 3 different types of images in the exhibition: Colour first sketches; Ink first maps and collages. Each approach has been used for particular reasons and requires specific techniques.

Creation of my sketches
There are 13 colour first sketches in the exhibition.  All of them have been done on location using a colour first technique.  As an urban sketcher and reportage illustrator, it’s important for me to record things actually on location, not from photographs.  

This is because I am trying to capture the energy of the place, that sense of place and occasion.

The use of watercolour before the linework also enables me to produce a more vibrant drawing.  It prevents on overly precious approach to the line work.

That said, a quality of line is critical.  In putting down the colour, I am trying to capture the key shapes or patterns but I am not necessarily getting them in exactly the right position.  

The idea of the colour first is to capture the scene, in a spontaneous way.  It usually looks quite abstract, even child-like and that is the point!

The pen work is always done with a fountain pen and waterproof ink.  Consideration is given to ensure that depth in the drawing is created.  This is achieved by variation of line weight and detail.  

My sketches are finished with handwritten titles.  I use a modified form of italic writing.

As a child I was taught italic writing with a dip pen at school.  I have then adapted that in various ways to create the font.

Creation of the compilation maps

There are 2 compilation maps in the exhibition, one represents the bus route from Cholton to Manchester and the other represents the tram from Chorlton to Manchester.

For these compilations I have used acrylic inks rather than watercolour to achieve the vibrancy I was after.

The colours represent either the bus or tram colours.

The linework is used to capture views/architecture of the journey to or through the city.   

Creation of my collages

There are 5 collages in the exhibition.

As a landscape designer and landscape architect, I am fascinated by materiality and texture.  I am therefore keen to convey this in my visual work and create a sense of touch and texture through collage.  I use different papers, paint and inks to achieve the feel and texture I want in my collages.

In addition, given my interest in lettering and words, the use of newsprint and other written materials enables me to incorporate a narrative into my work.  I use materials that are relevant to the collage in question, including tickets, leaflets, brochures, books etc.

I am trying to achieve a sense of place in my collages, similarly to my sketches, although I am also aiming to create more abstract textural elements within the overall image.

My process starts with sketches on location followed by compositional sketches to test out the best composition.

I then use the papers to create relatively abstract shapes and patterns.  I work with a limited colour palette and lay down acrylic inks and acrylic paint.  I limit the colour palette so as to produce a more impactful visual that allows the textures to sing.

I then use ink and palette knives and dip pens to create the familiar line work.  Often I go back and forth, adding more paper and colour as I go.
It is a non-linear and organic approach that balances with my somewhat overly analytical brain!!

I am currently using a mix of techniques, some of which are very connected to by sketching work (e.g. the line work), whilst others, using textural papers, inks and paints, are development areas.  

I’m really looking foreword to the exhibition and hope you will be able to make it to the preview on 4th May or sometime between May and July to view the exhibition.  All art works is original and is available for sale.

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects nu 16 .......... Australia and other parts of the Commonwealth

The story of the children sent to Canada from the late 19th century into the early 20th has almost passed out of living memory, but those who went to Australia were still leaving our shores in the 1970s.*

These Australian stories are no less harrowing than those young people who travelled across the Atlantic.

This shabby little episode, this last flickering of a discredited policy in child care was exposed by Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker in the 1980s.

Her work in providing a history for all those Australians who grew up with no knowledge of a family in Britain or the circumstances which led to them being sent to Australia is documented in her book Empty Cradles which in turn became the film Oranges and Sunshine.**

Pictures, cover from the book Empty Cradles, and the film Oranges and Sunshine

*Growing up in Australia with no past, no family and just unanswered questions ..... Empty Cradles,

**Empty Cradles, was published in 1994. Its sales of 75,000 copies helped to fund the work of the Child Migrants Trust at a critical time when British government grants had been stopped. Empty Cradles has been dramatised as the 2011 feature film Oranges and Sunshine.

The Child Migrants Trust was established in 1987 by Margaret Humphreys CBE, OAM. It addresses the issues surrounding the deportation of children from Britain. In the post-war period, child migrants as young as three were shipped to Canada, New Zealand, the former Rhodesia and Australia, a practice that continued as late as 1970.

Having fun with Chorlton’s past ........ walking the walk

One of the nice things about doing the Quirks History Walks is that you meet up with old friends and regulars who return time after time for a dollop of our past.

Yesterday was the second of the Quirks walks, linked to the book The Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy but they are part of a bigger series which has been running from 2011 and pretty much has covered all of Chorlton.

Every year there is one run in association with Manchester Public Libraries, others have been commissioned by community groups and slotted in amongst all of these were annual ones for Chorlton Arts Festival.

And now for the rest of the year running through to autumn there will be more based around the Quirks book, with the next planned for late May when we will saunter from the Lloyds down to the Creameries, but more of that later.

For now I shall thank all of those who walked with us from the Narnia lamp post on the green to Ken Foster’s cycle shop on Barlow Moor Road and offer a special thank you to the staff at the shop who welcomed us with refreshments and the story of the Manchester B Bike which I will write about tomorrow.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; the Quirks Walk 2, 2018, from the collection of Peter Topping

Sunday, 29 April 2018

That house on Edge Lane and the story of nine lives

Now I say nine lives but for all I know there maybe more.

Today I tracked various planning applications for the property back to 1974 and there may have been more.

They all required the demolition of the old house and the building of between three and ten properties, some of which were to be flats and the latest a complex of town three story houses.

What they all have in common is that 28 Edge Lane is still there.

The earliest one was turned down because access to the site and car parking were unsatisfactory, while the proposed new build was out of character with the adjacent property and would therefore be detrimental to the visual amenities of the area.

Added to which there were other concerns.

A later proposal was permitted but nothing happened and now there is another in.

I hadn’t planned another story on 28 Edge Lane, but Andy sent over his pictures with an intriguing uncompleted extension at the rear which I guess would come down if the latest application were granted.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; 28 Edge Lane, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Manchester City Council Planning Portal,

Technical School Salford, 1905

Now the date for this postcard is June 26th 1905 which will be the date it first went on sale.

It comes from the collection of Raphael Tuck and Sons Ltd who I wrote about yesterday. 

The card was marketed as Technical School Salford from the Manchester set.

Picture; The Technical School, Salford, courtesy of TuckDB

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects nu 15 .......... reunited with family

Shipping records, 1925
A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects which are in no particular order, have been selected purely at random and will reflect one of many different stories.

One of the hardest things to cope with in the story of British Home Children is that sense of loss at being separated from family.

Now I have no idea whether my great uncle Roger was in regular contact with his two brothers one of whom was my grandfather, and I can be fairly certain that he never wrote to his father.

All of which leaves his mother and his sister.

His mother remains a shadowy figure who if I have this right had only a temporary grip of reality in later life, and certainly when her children were growing up was at one point deemed “unfit to have control” and this may account for great uncle Roger choosing his aunt as his next of kin when he enlisted in the Canadian army.

Great Aunt Laura with her husband, circa 1930
Laura was his sister.

She was born in the Derby Workhouse in 1902 and in 1925 he helped persuade her to leave Britain for Canada.

In one of her letters great aunt Laura wrote that he persuaded her to join him and I guess she may well have done so using the Empire Settlement scheme which aimed to migrate large numbers of British women as domestic servants.

He was most insistent that she should go and may have helped with money, but by the time she set sail he had moved west and in her own words she didn’t fancy the wilderness and eventually settled in Ontario.

In time she married and raised a large family some of whom I rediscovered while looking for great uncle Roger.

And there is both the upside and downside of this BHC story for while she appeared to stay in touch we have lost him and I doubt that we will ever uncover what finally happened to him.

But in the process of looking for him and rereading her letters written in the 1970s and came across my Canadian family which has sort of reunited us.

Sadly I never met my great aunt although she did come to Britain in 1968 returning to Derby where she must have met my grandparents and her other surviving brother but for reasons I can't fathom I was either not told of the journey or it has slipped from my memory.

Such are the ups and downs of BHC stories.

Pictues; Laura Pember, nee Hall circa 1930s, and passenger details from the Pember/Simpson family collection

Exploring the many responses to British Home Children ........ the letter on the mantlepiece

Now I have been wondering just what the impact of the migration of young people had on the general public during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Patterson farm ....... 2009
For those engaged in fund raising for children’s charities and those who regularly read the newspaper accounts of the general meetings of those charities they will have been aware of the policy.

As would those who worked for the Poor Law Unions or were elected to the Board of Guardians.

Likewise amongst the poor there will have been some who had been involved in the migration of a family member or knew of someone who had.

For them it was another strategy or avenue to contemplate when faced with the death of a partner, a sustained period of unemployment or the ongoing grind of relentless poverty.

At which point it is important to stress that this was an awful decision, which was far worse than that of “going into the workhouse” or passing a child over for adoption or to other family members.

But today I have come across another example of how migration might have been perceived.  It came from an anonymous contribution to a blog story on BHC and said

The Griffith's place, 2008
“I don’t have a story other than to say that growing up in an area close to Manchester and Salford our mother would threaten us with sending us away on a ship called the Callio if we misbehaved.

There was a letter on the mantelpiece that she threatened to post, to keep us in line.

I wonder if this had anything to do with the kids that were sent away”. 

Now I don’t have a date, or an exact location and I haven’t yet tracked down a steam ship by that name.

Of course the name may well have been corrupted.

Against this, there is that obvious qualification that we are dealing with just one comment which may refer to something else entirely, and so I won't leap in to offering the comment up as indicative of how BHC migration was regarded by some people.

But that said many of us will have memories of being warned by parents who dangled other dire consequences in front of us and behind many such observation there maybe some historical truth.

We shall see.

Picture; places lived in by our BHC, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Today ...... at the Narnia lamp post on the green ...... and then on to 400 years of our Chorlton history

The sun is shinning, so  saunter with us for ......

Location Chorlton 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Saunter through our past ...... tomorrow

One to do tomorrow

Location Chorlton 

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects nu 14 .......... bound for Canada

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects which are in no particular order, have been selected purely at random and will reflect one of many different stories.

Anyone who wants to nominate their own is free to do so, just add a description in no more than 200 words and send it to me.

The image from the Together Trust collection carries the title "On Board."

The Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges like other organisations looking after destitute and abandoned children sent young people to Canada.

Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust,

Friday, 27 April 2018

Looking for the lost and unknown at 28 Edge Lane

There comes a point when you know that all the smart online stuff, along with years of experience of jumping from one historic document to another, picking up clues, cross referencing and deploying some imaginative guess work are all used up.

And then the alternative is that slow methodical trawl through a century of paper records, building up a picture and allowing the story to unfold.

This is where I am, with 28 Edge Lane, which I first came across a few years ago and have now been reunited with because it is at risk of being demolished.

That simple possibility has spurred me on to start digging into its past, beginning with a story I posted last year on a series of love stories connected to the house and then looking for the date that it was built.

I now think it was constructed in 1865 and was part of that “urban creep” which stretched back towards the new railway station at Stretford which had been opened in 1849 and the decision by the Egerton’s to cut a new road from Edge Lane through Chorlton and on to Fallowfield.

This “urban creep” predated the big housing boom of the 1880s and more modest in the number of properties that were built.

Added to which these were big houses, set in extensive grounds, often detached and were the homes of wealthy families who described themselves as “merchants” or “living on their own account” and were employers.

So far I can count three families who inhabited our house from 1865, through to 1900.  Some were the owners and others rented the property.  At the turn of the 20th century number 28 appears to have been vacant but then around 1903 Mr and Mrs Davison were employed as “caretaker” a role they were still performing in 1911.

But in the case of the Davison’s that perhaps doesn’t do them justice.

He was a retired solicitor’s secretary, leaving some to ponder on whether they were there as some sort of retirement package from an employer who either owned the house or had a connection with it.

And there for the moment the trail goes cold and the answer to who occupied the property from them on will be a matter of sifting street directories and electoral registers down at Central Ref.

That said there is one last bit of information which comes from the 1939 Register, which was complied just before war broke out.  The information which was gathered was used for wartime identity cards, and for the future NHS.

It is an invaluable record, not least because the 1931 census was destroyed and no census was undertaken in 1941.

The register reveals that by 1939 our house had begun its long period as a place of multi occupation.  There were six people living in the house although it is unclear how many flats there were.

Two were young policemen, one was a manager in a cotton firm dealing with exports, and Mr Howard was a carpenter leaving Mrs Howard and a Kathleen Hilton who were down as “Unpaid Domestic Duties”.

And that for now is that, leaving me only to plan my days in the Ref.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; Barway House in North east side, 1958, A E Landers, m17773, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, extract from the OS map of 1894 courtesy of Digital Archives Association, the house in 2018, from the collection of Jonathan Keenan, and picture of the planning notice by Lauren McFadden Fox, 2018

Back with the Crown on Blackfriars Street

Now yesterday I featured one of John Casey’s photographs of Blackfriars Street in the 1980s.

It drew a lot of attention as I knew it would with people remembering nights in the Crown and the two shops next door which sold wallpaper and LPs and P J added the story of Robinsons’s Records.

And later in the day my old friend Andy Robertson sent over these two fine pictures of the Crown from 2014.

What I particularly like is the detail of the pub’s name, which all too often we take for granted.

I will go looking for any reference to the future plans for the old pub which until recently was Cillians, “Nails Hair and Beauty.”

Location; Blackfriars Street

Pictures; Blackfriars Street, 2014 from the collection of Andy Robertson

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects nu 13.......... speaking out against migrating children

The Manchester Guardian, October 5 1907
A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects which are in no particular order, have been selected purely at random and will reflect one of many different stories.

Not everyone involved with the care of children in Britain agreed that migrating poor, destitute and abused children to Canada was the right policy.

Three of those who campaigned against the practice were the three socialist Guardians on the board of the Chorlton Union.

The Chorlton Union was responsible for the administration of the Poor Law across south Manchester and had within its care groups of young children.

Dr and Mrs Garret along with Thomas Skivington opposed the policy arguing that it there was not sufficient monitoring of the children migrated, that there were cases of abuse and that there was evidence that some children were deeply unhappy.

Futhermore the employment of young children in Canada contradicted British law governing children at work, was often a means for providing cheap labour and above all ignored the need to address poverty and child abuse in Britain.

The three also campaigned against the petty but often cruel practices of the workhouse.

Thomas Skivington was also active in the unemployment campaigns of the early 20th century as well as arguing for a more just and equal society.*

The Garrett’s went on to establish a clinic in north Wales for working class children suffering from the unhealthy conditions in the city.**

Picture; from the Manchester Guardian October 5th 1907

*Lives revealed, commitments rediscovered

** Dr Garrett,

A pond, a lost clay pipe and the mystery that is Mr Daniel Sharpe ....... Walking the Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy* ....... our second saunter through the past

Now you may well ponder on the missing pond and clay pipe which were once on Beech Road, as was this house which was home to Mr Daniel Sharpe who lived here from 1841 and maybe earlier.

He was a wine merchant and may have moved into the property with his new wife after their marriage in 1833.

Sadly she died in 1846 leaving him a widow until his own death in 1861.

Although that is not strictly so, because in 1852, he married his servant Ann Bailey, who was much younger than him.

The marriage seemed not to be successful ,for nine years later she is no longer with him, and in his will made shortly before he died, having left her nothing he adds a codicil and awards her a small sum of money.

It is a story I will return, to on our walk, and so if you want to know about Mr Sharpe, the pond and the clay pipe which incidentally was found in our front garden, then you had best join us on Sunday, April 29th at 1.00pm on Chorlton Green beside the Narnia lamp post.

So that just leaves me to say that the maximum for the walk is 50 and knowing how popular it will be it is best to book ahead, by contacting or text 07521557888 leaving your name and the names of the people you will be bringing.

Andrew Simpson & Peter Topping in association with Chorlton Voice.

Location; Chorlton Row

Pictures; Daniel Sharpe’s house, 21012, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The Quirks of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, is available from Chorlton Bookshop or from or 07521557888

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The building waiting for the stories ........ the Northern Hospital .... Cheetham Hill Road

On Park Place, 2018
Now here is a building with lots of stories, which in the fullness of time will be revealed.

Andy Robertson was up on Cheetham Hill Road recently and spotted this building.

“I caught a glimpse of it, on Park Place and immediately thought ‘hospital’ and so it was! 

It was the Northern Hospital originally opened as a Children's hospital in 1867. It later began admitting women.

Cheetham Hill Road, 2018
Due to demand an extension was built in 1892 giving it a facing on Cheetham Hill Road and I think it must be the red brick building on beside the old Central Synagogue. seems to fit”.

I have to confess that when I was there a few weeks earlier I totally missed the building on Park Place and ignored the one on Cheetham Hill Road.

In 1911 it was “Open daily, except Sunday, from 8.30 am, to out patients”, with its office at “38 Barton Arcade, Deansgate”*

The Hospital, 1911
I shall now sit back and wait for the stories.

Location; Cheetham Hill Road

Pictures; the Northern Hospital, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Slater's Trade Directory for Manchester & Salford, 1911 page 2136

On Blackfriars Street sometime before now

Now there will be a lot of people with fond memories of the Crown on Blackfriars Street.

Blackfriars Street circa 1980
It was a pub I have always been meaning to go in and finally when I had the time and was in the right place I discovered it had closed.

And before anyone points out that it has been closed a long time, I shall just say “I knew that.”

More recently it was Cillians’s specialising in “Nails, Hair and Beauty.”

All of which makes this picture by John Casey a bit of history.

I think John took the photograph sometime in the 1980s and it comes from a collection he has kindly given me permission to use.

Comparing the scene with today I have to say it is an example of how things can only get better.

Blackfriars Street, 2016
The rather ugly modern exterior of the property two doors up has had a makeover which I guess happened when it became The Gentry Grooming Co.

Likewise the two shops in between which sold LPs and wall paper looks a little more elegant as an Interior business but I bet the record shop was fun to visit.

And that is what makes John’s picture so important because we don’t do very recent history well.

A street scene from just twenty or thirty years ago hardly causes a stir and yet some of the most dramatic changes to our urban landscapes have happened very recently.

So I thank John for sharing his collection I will dip into them again and again.

Location; Blackfriars Road, circa 1980s

Picture; Blackfriars Street, circa 1980s from the collection of John Casey

The story of British Home Children in just 20 objects nu 12 .......... the decision that made a British Home Child

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects which are in no particular order, have been selected purely at random and will reflect one of many different stories.

WILLIAM HALL, entered on 8 May 1913, age 14, reason given as mother unfit to have control.  To be placed on TS Exmouth until the age of 18.

LAURA HALL, entered on 8 May 1913, age 11, reason given as mother unfit to have control.  To be put to domestic service until 18.

ROGER HALL, entered 30 Dec 1913, age 15, no reason given.  To be sent to TS Exmouth until 18. 

Now I say this was the decision which made my great uncle into a British Home Child.

It comes from a report which a colleague found in the records of the Derby Poor Law Union.  Not much of the archive has survived and the background to how the authorities got involved is lost.

But it will be familiar to many and continues to be replicated to this day.

Now I say this was the decision which made my great uncle Roger into a British Home Child, but to be fair it was only one of the steps.

His mother had returned to Derby in 1902 to give birth to her last child in the Derby Work House having separated from my great grandfather.

Both my grandfather and great uncle were placed on a training ship which was really a naval boot camp for wayward boys.

Here they were taught seamanship in a strict environment, but for whatever reason great uncle Roger declined the placement and I can only think the Poor Law Guardians either decided or offered him the alternative of a passage to Canada.

All of which makes the reasons for his arrival in Canada a little different.  He was not homeless nor was he an orphan and there does seem to have been some attempt to keep here in Britain and not foist him off across the Atlantic.

And judging by what his sister said over sixty years later both he and my grandfather were running wild and were challenging children.

The part played by my great grandmother is unknown.  There is evidence that both her and my great grandfather were themselves challenging adults, and separated leaving her to bring up three children under the age of five while having their last child on her own in the Derby Work House.

Anyone who wants to nominate their own is free to do so, just add a description in no more than 200 words and send it to me.

Pictures; a training ship, Picture; from the archives of the Together Trust, courtesy of the Archivist,

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Walking the last 88 years of Redbank

I like the idea that there will be people who remember how Redbank has gone full circle, from a place to live and work to one purely to work and after a period as an empty space is again full of residential properties.

For those who don’t know Redbank nestles behind Cheetham Hill Road, rising up from the River Irk like a series of terraced olive groves starting at Scotland which faced the river.*

Not of course that there was anything exotic about the place. The area was well developed by the middle of the 19th century and rows of back to back properties existed beside a mix of industry.

In the 1850s just north of Scotland was a tannery with a nearby piggery and off to the east was the Ducie Bridge Brewery owned by Smalley & Evans while directly over the river were a series of Corn Mills, and the main railway viaduct of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

I hazard a guess that the bright sunlight of early spring struggled to lift the spirits and banish the noise of assorted industrial processes which vied with the all pervading smell from the tannery.

By the time I was exploring the area most of the land from the river up towards the summit was empty waiting for the new development.

The transformation began in the late 1930s when the houses were demolished and replaced by low rise industrial units which eventually also were demolished.

Now I am not old enough to have seen that transformation but there will be people who have.

After all, a person born in 1930 will be just 88 as I write this and could have played amongst the half demolished houses in 1936, worked in one of the small factories or warehouses thirty-years later and have been invited by a grandchild to view a flat in one of the tall apartment blocks that look down on Redbank today.

For the rest of us, there is that fine collection of pictures from Local Image Collection maintained by Manchester Libraries which hold photographs of the area from the 1890s from which I have chosen a few marking the changes.

Location Redbank, 1850-2018


Pictures; the new developments, 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson, and in 1936, m5139, later in the year, J F Stirling, m05142, and 1960, m05145 and 1966, T Brooks, m60605 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*This stretch of Cheetham Hill Road was Ducie Bridge

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects nu 11 .......... a success story

A story of British Home Children in just 20 objects which are in no particular order, have been selected purely at random and will reflect one of many different stories.

Tom and Frances were two of the children migrated to Canada by the Manchester & Salford Boys’ & Girls’ Refuges.

The Refuge had begun in a modest way in 1870, providing a bed and meal for the night for boys found homeless on the streets of Manchester & Salford.

It quickly extended its work to girls as well as boys, provided long term care for the destitute, and abused, while publically campaigning against child exploitation as well as using the law to prosecute neglectful parents.

It also provided holiday homes for the children in its care, vocational training and from 1870 till 1914 migrated some children to Canada.

It was one of the first charities to stop sending children.

This is a letter from one of its agents commenting on two of the children who were sent across.

Picture; from the archives of the Together Trust, courtesy of the Archivist,

That house on Edge Lane a planning application and the love letters of Mr George Davison

Now, I am not surprised that there is a planning application in to demolish 28 Edge Lane and replace it with 10 three storey properties.*

After all time and modern living has not been kind to houses like this one, which was built in age of cheap domestic labour and for some at least unrivalled wealth.

The surprise is perhaps that it hasn’t all ready gone.  It was part of the “urban creep” that made its way up Edge Lane from the railway station during the late 1860s into the 70s and predated the really big housing boom of the 1880s.

They were the homes of wealthy professionals, and had impressive sounding names.  Ours was originally Barway Villa but became Barway House.

I am still researching its early history but I know that by 1911 it was home to Mr and Mrs Davison who lived alone in this twelve roomed palace.  Earlier in the century their son George had also lived there and it was here he who wrote a remarkable set of love letters to his future wife.

But those letters, and Nellie, the love of his life is a story for tomorrow.

Today I shall concentrate on the house.

And there is a little mystery attached to it because nowhere does it appear on the street directories for 1911, 1909 or 1903, when the Davisons were there because our love letters are dated from 1903 onwards.

Added to which, Mr and Mrs Davison show up on the 1911 census.

It is of course possible that they were caretakers and the owners chose not to be listed.

He was retired and a decade earlier they had been in north Manchester.

All of which just requires some digging in the rate books and there is an urgency given that application.

If the application is succesful, the ten houses will sit in an L shaped plot of land with four properties fronting Edge Lane, three more on Barway Road and the remaining three sitting behind the Barway three.

The plans are all there to see on the city council’s planning portal.  There are eighteen documents covering design and access statement, elevations, typical house floor plan a tree survey and location plan and even a crime impact statement.

Now in defence of the application, ten houses mean ten families, which is more than could be accommodated in Barway House which in 1911 had twelve rooms, and is according to the developers made up of nine flats.

But I wonder at what price the ten will sell for and if any will be designated for social use?

As for the houses themselves I will let others judge as to their appearance.

Some might question why our house has to go.

Of course the success of the plan requires it to be demolished, but there are some very imaginative adaptions of old properties around Chorlton including the award winning development at 198 and 200 Upper Chorlton Road.

Pictures; 28 Edge Lane, 2018 from the collection of Jonathan Keenan, letter from George Davison, 1903, from the George Davison Collection, courtesy of David Harrop and picture of the planning notice by Lauren McFadden Fox, 2018

*Planning Application, 119208/FO/2018 | Erection of 10 four-bedroom, three-storey houses with associated parking, landscaping and boundary treatment following demolition of existing house | 28 Edge Lane Chorlton Manchester M21 9JY, Manchester City Council Planning Portal,

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Exploring the River Irk .........and travelling to Scotland via Victoria Railway Station

Now, there is something quite awesome about the spot where the Irk goes over the weir by Cheetham Hill Road.

It is I suppose the contrast between the slow mowing water as it reaches that stone wall and then the cascading bubbling swirl of water that disappears off under the bridge.

I first encountered it way back in the 1990s, when you could access the view from a stair way down from the main road.

Back then it was not the most edifying of places, and you had to pick your way past accumulated rubbish including discarded sleeping bags, empty bottles and much worse.

But you got a fine view of the river and across to that oddly named street Scotland.

Back then the area behind Scotland was open ground but like so much of what was once the run down bits of the city has become tall blocks of apartments and hotels.

But amongst all these examples of modern city living there is still the bits that take you back to our industrial past and the squalid housing that was crammed in the dismal and dark streets.

And over the next few weeks I will be revisiting that grim side of Manchester and renew an interest in a tiny stretch of streets that made up John Street, and Back Irk Street while also posting more of Andy Robertson’s pictures of the area.

He was down there yesterday and playfully introduced the collection with the title, "had a couple of hours spare, so decided to go to Scotland via Victoria" and not content with that added “this is Scotland where the Irk makes its final disappearance before meeting the Irwell.  Didn't spot any kilts though”.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; the Irk, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson