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, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/growing-up-in-australia-with-no-past-no.html


**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. http://www.childmigrantstrust.com/

Wishing you were here ........... Eltham in the past nu 3 the old vicarage 1833

The caption says "The Old Vicarage as seen from what is now Sherrard Road.  In the distance the Church. 

On the right the old Chequers Inn. 

Date 1833.  The shops on the immediate right are still in existence.”

And that is pretty much all you will get today, except to say that “today” was 1909 and back in 1833 Sherrard Road where it joins Eltham Hill was the start of Well Hall Lane, but that is another story, for another time.

Picture; the old vicarage, 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

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

The day Salford came to Southport

Here is another of those examples of the long reach of Salford.

On the evening of August 21 1909 Mabel posted a message from Southport to her friend Miss Wingman of Churchtown in Southport.

It was a cheery little message which just said “Hearty congratulations from Mabel C Howie.” 

Short simple and to the point and Mabel choose a picture postcard of Peel Park and the Technical Institute to carry the comment.

Now there is nothing over surprising in that, except perhaps why she selected this picture above all the others.


Was she from Salford, had been in Salford, or did Miss Winman have a connection with the park or the institute?

Of course we will never know and I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

But the upshot of all of this is that I have become interested in D&D Postcards who marketed Mabel’s choice.  There are a fair few of their cards on eBay for sale but so far I haven’t tracked them down.

But no matter I will and perhaps before I do someone will know something about them and tell me.

In the meantime it is just another example of a little bit of Salford in a faraway place.

Location; Salford and Southport

Picture; Peel Park and the Technical Institute, circa 1909 from the collection of David Harrop

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, http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/200074/planning/5865/planning_permission/1

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 http://tuckdb.org/history

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

Hampton House ......... and a mystery down on Edge Lane

This is about as close as we are going to get to Hampton House.

The garden wall of Hampton House, 1959
It stood just a little back from Edge Lane and gave its name to the road that now runs past its northern side.

Time has not been kind to the house or its memory and even the caption has helped wipe it off the map because there is no reference to Hampton House in what is otherwise a very detailed description.
“Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Edge Lane, Victorian Post Box, North east side: 10, Corner of Hampton Road, showing Victorian Post Box built into wall of semi-detached houses built in what was garden of Barway House”.

Now Barway House still stands, and is nu 28 Edge Lane, but the plot now inhabited by those semi-detached houses, behind the stone wall with its Victorian Post Box was home to Hampton House.

Like it's neighbour Hampton House was built around 1866 and was situated in its own grounds with a long straight drive which ran off from Edge Lane, past the house to what may have been a large stables.

Hampton House, 1894
I can track its residents through from the 1860s into the 20th century, and then the trail goes cold.  It is not listed on the street directories for 1903 or 1911 and is absent from the census records.

But there is perhaps a clue in the listing for 1909 which records that a Mr George Meredith was living there and described him as “caretaker”.

And that suggests that the owners were not there and that no one was renting the property which was also the fate of Barway House at about the same time.

But unlike Barway House which was reunited with residents later in the century Hampton House may not have been so lucky, because by 1921 it had been demolished and maps show the site remained empty until sometime in the mid 1950s when our semi-detached houses were built.

All of which begs the question of what might have been wrong with property.

It may have been poorly built or it might just have been too large.  By 1939 Barway House had been divided into flats and the adverts in Manchester Guardian show that the same fate had befallen some of other big houses in Chorlton.

In the end the answer will in part lie in a careful trawl of the street directories for the early part of the 20th century which if we are lucky will reveal the names of residents up to 1921.

Well we shall see.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Edge Lane, Victorian Post Box, North east side: 10, Corner of Hampton Road, showing Victorian Post Box built into wall of semi-detached houses built in what was garden of Barway House, A E Landers, m17775, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass extract from the OS map of 1894 courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

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, http://www.togethertrust.org.uk/

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.

2018
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.

1894
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.

1958
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.

2018
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, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass extract from the OS map of 1894 courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ 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
 http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/lives-revealed-commitments-rediscovered.html

** Dr Garrett, http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/wales/archive/bbc-north-west-wales-conwy-dr-garretts-childrens-home-history.pdf

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 peter@pubbooks.co.uk 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 www.pubbooks.co.uk/ 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. ......it 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

Love stories from number 28 Edge Lane

Now here is what looks like a series of love stories featuring no 28 Edge Lane.

But first to the house which for a great chunk of its existence was known as Barway House.

It is still there hidden during the summer by a canopy of leaves but recognisable from this 1958 photograph by A E Landers.

Barway House 28 Edge lane, 1959
It is typical of the sort of house which ran along Edge Lane and dates from the 1880s when it went under the name of Barway Villa.

It seems to date from 1865 and was built by a John M Hazelgrove, who lived there for a year before taking up residence at the Oaks on Edge Lane.

It was then occupied by Mr Arthur Kay Dyson who was in imports and exports with an office at 28 George Street in town.

And in 1881  was the home of Alexander Henry Gilbody and his wife Mary Ellen.

The house in 2018
The Gilbody’s had three children and were cared for by three servants which is what you would expect of a family which appear to have been comfortably well off and living in a 12 roomed house set in its own grounds with a large greenhouse to the south and stables to the rear and a rateable value of £110.

The family were still there a decade and a bit later which neatly offers up the first two love stories.

For on November 8 1891, Philip Matthew Schofield aged 25 married Hanna Crosby from Wales.  She was just 20 and both worked in the house.  Mr Schofield was the coachman and Hannah a servant.

And in the February of the following year Miss Amelia Caroline Sharpe married Harry Wells Currie a hair dresser, both were from Port Maddock.

Barway House on Edge Lane and Barway Road, 1894
Ten months earlier she had been living with her mother and brother at home in Wales and I guess may well have come to Barway House to take the place of the newly married Hannah Schofield.

In time I shall go looking for both couples but for now I shall finish with George Davison who was living at Barway House during the end of 1904 and into the following year.

I did at first think he was lodging there but a little later a George Davison is listed as the caretaker and later still is on the census return.

But this was his father because by then our George had married his sweet heart who he had written to throughout 1904 and 1905.

Some of his courting letters have survived and they are a mix of affectionate comments, concerns about Nellie’s health and descriptions of his studies which take up much of the correspondence

He was set on bettering himself and here are the records of his success in Latin and French along with English and Maths all of which were governed by his desire to do well and offer her a secure future.

From George to Nellie, 1904
But what strikes you more than anything is the frequent reference to the arrangements of where to meet whether it was at the “end of the Grove” or at her parent’s home.

Today all of this would be accomplished by a phone call or a text but back then it was the letter and the postcard which with the frequency of the post meant that arrangements to meet could be made on the same day with the confidence that both would get the message.

By the end of 1905 he was living in Old Trafford and in 1908 the couple were married by which time he was back in Barway House, and from there they started their married life in Hulme.

So perhaps not a tale of great consequences or matters of high politics but just a set of stories of people behind the door of number 28 Edge Lane, a house I have passed countless times but given no thought to.

Pictures; Barway House in North east side, 1958, A E Landers, m17773, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass extract from the OS map of 1894 courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ the house in 2018, from the collection of Jonathan Keenan, and letter from George Davison from the George Davison collection courtesy of David Harrop

Heading down Shooters Hill in 1846

Now I always thought that these fine houses on Shooters Hill were in Blackheath but I am wrong.

They are in Kidbrook and so feature in Darrel Sprugeon’s excellent guide to Eltham and its Environs.

All of which leads me nicely in to quoting from his book.

These are “an elegant terrace of bow fronted brick houses of 1846, originally known as Waterfield Terrace, with deep eaves and round-headed dormers in distinctively shaped roofs.”

*Sprugeon, Darrell, Discover Eltham and its Environs, 2000

Picture; from Discover Eltham and its Environs, 

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, http://togethertrustarchive.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-blog.html

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Walking the last 88 years of Redbank

2018
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.

1936
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.

1930
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.

1960
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







1966








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, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*This stretch of Cheetham Hill Road was Ducie Bridge