Thursday, 31 May 2018

How we used to play ........... part 1 the roundabout ........

Now I have never been a fan of roundabouts and said so yesterday in a short piece, about all things that go round and offer amusement to lots of people.*

So despite them making me feel ill, so many people like them that a new series has been born.

At first I was going to limit it to roundabouts, but I rather think it will be about all playground features, from the seesaw to the rocking horse and on to  the slide and the swing.

All were popular in the 1950s and into the 60s.

This is one of those very simple roundabouts which were still there in the 1984 in Longford Park.

The photograph was taken by David Dunnico and I like it, not least because it offers up that promise that playgrounds and the apparatus are not just for the young.

So, if there are people with pictures, or stories of the Corporation Rec and the things they played on .... just post them over.
You can see more of David's work at https://daviddunnico.wordpress.com/


Location; Longford Park

Picture; merry go round, Longford Park, 1984, from the collection of David Dunnico, https://daviddunnico.wordpress.com/

*All that glitters and moves .......... the roundabout, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.com/2018/05/all-that-glitters-and-moves-roundabout.html

So who was Miss Edith Townley of 13 Rectory Place in Woolwich and how did she spend the Christmas of 1917?

Now I went looking for number 13 Rectory Place yesterday which was home to Miss Edith Townley in 1917.

Writing to Edith in 1917
It is there on the old maps of the area, along with the street directories and looks to have been a grand property.

In fact walking up Rectory Place towards St Mary’s Street I reckon I might well have felt quite out of place.

But there is no crime in walking past and looking at a posh house, except that none of them are there now.

Instead there are some blocks of flats which is all a bit of a shame.
Along Rectory Place in 1872
But then Miss Townley also seems to be lost to history.

According to this wartime postcard Fred was expecting to be home on leave and was so confident of Christmas in Woolwich that he told her not to send the parcel.

The problem is simply that I can’t find her anywhere in Woolwich for 1917, and that nu 13 had been the residence of the Rev Charles E Dove as late as 1914 but he was also in the habit of changing his address and can be found at one time or another living in several addresses both in Woolwich and further afield.

Added to which there were a lot of Townley’s living in both London and serving in the armed forces.

"Dear Edith .........."
All of which might seem to make this a bit of a non story but I think not.

There will be someone who can help me with when those blocks of flat went up, replacing the grander properties which included nu 13 and with a bit more patience I might be lucky and identify Fred and in turn come closer to finding Edith.

In the meantime I have to say I have discovered a bit of Woolwich I never knew existed and might get to know more about the postcard which set me off on the search.

It belongs to my old friend David Harrop who recently purchased it as part of a batch he found on eBay.

Miss Edith Townley
I look forward to seeing it and getting to know the picture on the front, which may not help me discover anything more about either of them but will perhaps give me a clue to the type of photograph Fred liked and thought Edith might enjoy.

We shall see.

Location; Woolwich, London

Pictures; postcard, December 1917, from the collection of David Harrop, and detail of Rectory Place, from the OS for London, 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

Leaving Salford part 3 ................... a new life and looking back

This will be the last of the stories on the Hampson family who left Salford for Canada and a new life sometime after 1849 and is part catch up on how their lives turned out and a reflection on what is left of the Salford they knew.

Railway posted, date unknown
James Hampson was born in 1816 and married Sarah Tildesley in December 1838 at the Parish Church of Eccles.  In 1841 he described himself as a cotton dyer and in that year was living in Pendleton.  Sarah’s father was an engineer and both James and his father were cotton dyers.

Before the 1850s the process still relied on natural dyes using the flowers, berries, leaves, barks and roots of plants and herbs.  As such the work would not have been as dangerous as it was to become with the introduction of chemical dyes.

But it must still have been very uncomfortable.  James would have constantly been exposed to hot and cold water and dyes which left his hands stained different colours.

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

Looking out from their home the Hampson’s would have been faced with a row of one up one down back to back houses which backed on to Miners Row.

Aston Street, Pendleton, 1848
Theirs might have been a slightly bigger house but the detailed 1848 OS map shows that their nearest water pump was some distance away.

Now bits of their new life in Ontario are still vague but their son Henry who had been born in 1839 worked on the railways, as did his son William.

William married Agness Beetham whose family were farmers from Albion which was just outside of Toronto.  Her family had settled in Canada in the early 19th century.

Which just leaves me to ponder on what is left of where they lived. 
Just a short 40 years after they left, their street had gone, replaced by a whole set of small terraced houses, and while by 1894 there were still textile factories close by I can’t say which he may have worked in or whether it still survived.

Pendleton, 1894
The railway is still there but he would be hard pressed to recognise the old Manchester and Bury Canal which ran alongside the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

He may of course not given that much thought to Salford.  

Certainly my great aunt who left Britain in 1925 and married into the family pretty much left the old country behind. 

She returned only once in 1968.  

Her brother who had been migrated as a British Home Child nine years earlier came back only one on his way via a training camp to the Western Front in 1916.

Fastest to Canada, date unknown
But that is not quite the end.  Just as I finished the story my friend Neil Simpson sent over these wonderful railway posters which were produced by the Canadian Railway company and distributed across Britain.  

They will post date the Hampson’s journey but are similar to those being produced by steamship lines in the 1850s. 

Neil came across them during a week touring Ontario while taking the train from Toronto to Vancouver and spotted them on a railway station in Jasper.

So there you have it.  The Hampson’s never returned to Salford but there is lots of evidence that some at least who went out to Canada, Australia and New Zealand in the middle decades of the 19th century made the journey more than once.

Pictures; 1848 OS map for Lancashire, Salford, 1894 from the OS South Lancashire, 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/ and railway posters from the collection of Neil Simpson


The night watchman............ out on the streets of Manchester in 1896

Once the night watchman would have been a familiar sight sitting beside his hut keeping warm at the brazier and maintaining a solitary vigil over the road works or building site.

They feature in much literature during the last two centuries and only disappeared sometime in the 1960s.

Back in 1896 Henry Tidmarsh recorded this one somewhere in the centre of Manchester.

In all he produced over 300 illustrations for the book Manchester Old and New which  was published in 1894 by Cassell with a text by William Arthur Shaw.

In three big volumes it told the history of the city but the real value of the book was in Tidmarsh's vivid depictions of Manchester, with streets and buildings animated with people.

Pictures; The night watchman, 1896, Henry Tidmarsh, from Manchester Old and New, William Arthur Shaw, 1896

The nowhere adventure ........ out of Peckham and on till morning

Now I say on till morning, but the adventure will have started sometime just before mid day and would have all been over in a few hours.

Me in 1959
Our trip to the small park on East Dulwich Road is all but a vague memory but then it was almost sixty years ago, and I have no recollection of whether we made a deliberate decision to go there or it was just the end of a long walk.

And a walk it would have been, starting from Lausanne Road, and by degree, along Evelina Road, past Nunhead Green, and Peckham Rye.

Back then, walking was what we did, often with a vague idea of a destination but not always.

On this day we may have been heading for the Common, and then just pushed on with that optimistic observation that “it is always better to travel than arrive”.

What we found was a small Corporation play area, with a mix of play furniture.  There will have been a roundabout, a rocking horse which seated eight, a seesaw, a slide and swings.

I do remember it was wet and having exhausted all the damp attractions we headed home.

That water trough,  1928
Now, anyone who has ventured “out of district” will know that there is always a slight tension in that you are on someone else’s turf and while kids are kids and just want to get on with playing there can be those sticky moments when you are seen to be “on the trespass”.

That and the dampness will I think have done for the adventure.  After all we were at the limits of our known world, and there was always the long walk back, which I now know was not that long.

When I started the story I assumed the distance between our house on Lausanne Road and the park was quite some distance, but it is only just over a mile and according to the AA Route planner would take just six minutes in a car.

Banfield's, circa 1960
Of course it would have taken us longer, more so because of the obligatory stops along the way which will have included the horse trough at the start of Evelina Road, Nunhead Gardens, and a lingering look at the coaches in the depot by Banfield Road.

And no nine year could ever pass Peckham Rye Common without a couple of races, and roll in the grass.

Such was the nowhere adventure.

Location; East Dulwich

Pictures; me, aged ten, 1959 from the collection of Andrew Simpson &Evelina Road, circa 1920-26, and Banfield  Garage, circa 1960s supplied by Adrian Parfitt

Mrs Martha Thorpe, the slaughter house and a new row of shops on Beech Road

Now when Mrs Thorpe opened her “slaughter house” in 1879 on Beech Road I doubt she thought that she would still be there selling cuts of meat, mince and tripe at the dawn of the next century.

Looking don towards the "slaughter house" circa 1900
But that is just exactly what happened and in the process will have been visited by countless customers in what is now Elk, which given its name is an interesting turn of events for what was originally a shop dealing in dead animals.

Until recently I had no idea of the date of the building and it was only as I trawled the rate books that its age came to light.

The rate books will tell you who owned the property and if it was rented and the estimated annual rent along with its rateable value.

And by slowly tracking back year by year it will be possible to arrive at the date the building was completed and first assessed for rates.

In our case this was 1878, not long after Chorlton Row and been renamed Beech Road, and when there were still farms, and smithy within a few minute’s walk of Mrs Thorpe’s business.

Beech Road, circa 1900
The discovery of the “slaughter house” was not an accident and came out of the research on the bars of Chorlton for the new book Chorlton pubs and bars, which we published last week.

The book is the story of the 33 Chorlton pubs and bars and while some of our pubs date back to the late 18th century the bars are relatively new.*

And that poses a problem when you are writing about their history and the stories behind their doors.

So as you do I went looking into their earlier history which was as varied and interesting as the bars themselves.

But for more you will just have to buy the book.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; Beech Road circa 1900 from the Lloyd collection


You can  order the book at www.pubbooks.co.ukemail Peter at peter@pubbooks.co.uk or the old fashioned way on 07521 557888 or from Chorlton Bookshop

**A new book on the pubs and bars of Chorlton,https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Chorlton%20Pubs%20and%20bars

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

At the opening of the Well Hall Odeon, May 20th 1936

Now it would be a full 28 years after the Well Odeon was open that I first saw a film there.

And of course I have no idea what the film was or for that matter almost any of the pictures I went on to see at the place.

But it was a regular haunt made more so because I had the job of taking my sisters there on a Saturday morning.

Of all the picture houses I been in there was something special about the Odeon.

It started with that unique box office in the centre of the foyer, that thick carpet, the decor and of course the smell.

Put them all together and you felt that this was somewhere special, a place not only to be entertained but a place where for a few hours the daily routines along with the niggles of the day could be forgotten.

And these picture houses were designed for just that purpose.  Plenty of homes back in 1936 were still austere places little in the way of luxury and by comparison drab and dim and cold.

But the Well Hall Odeon radiated style from that tall glass and tiled tower to the sweep of the entrance roof.

And it was big. It dwarfed the houses that surrounded it stretched back and was only really challenged by the church opposite.

So I am really pleased that Chrissie shared the souvenir programme with me.

Location; Well Hall, Eltham, London

Picture; souvenir booklet of the opening of the Well Hall Odeon, 1936 courtesy of Chrissie Rose

Claude Road and a clue to the vanished Beech House



The date on this postcard of Claude Road is 1915 but the scene must be earlier.

On the surface it seems an unremarkable image.

It would look to be a morning perhaps in the holidays and the peace is disturbed only by the children playing close to Beech Road and the appearance of the delivery man who has attracted the woman on the right who I guess has come out of her house to catch him.

It is not unlike the same scene today with of course the absence of parked cars and passing traffic. But what does make it remarkable and dates the photograph to sometime in the first decade of the 20th century is the wall and gateway at the bottom of Claude Road where it joins Beech Road.


They are part of Beech House which had stood in its own extensive grounds since at least the 1830s.

Three generations of the Holt family had lived there but the last had died in 1906, and by 1908 the house was empty and the estate was awaiting sale. By sheer chance a postcard showing the lodge has survived. 

The message records a pleasant afternoon spent in the grounds and the speculation that it was soon to disappear. “Edith and I had tea on the lawn of the big house which you see the lodge in the picture. It will soon be sold and then will probably be divided into small plots.”

By the following year part of the garden which ran the length of Barlow Moor Road as far as High Lane had been bought by Manchester Corporation who felled the trees demolished the wall and built the tram terminus on the land. 

The remaining land was developed with the cinema and a row of shops and the garage of Mr Shaw.

But we can be even more precise about the date of our photograph. Claude Road and its neighbouring Reynard had been built by 1907 and the estate wall demolished in 1909.

So that little detail of wall anchors our photograph and provides a view of Beech Road that has gone forever.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture, from the Lloyd collection circa 1907-09

Rediscovered in Ashton's parish church ...... the Cheetham family of Hooley Hill

It started with a gravestone and became a story which is only at the beginning.

This is another of those gravestones I recorded back in 1979 in the parish church yard.

At the time they were just an exercise in taking pictures of a place I had once lived.

Then, the details became examples of child mortality in the early 19th century which I drew on in writing about the period and featured in  The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.*

That said I hadn’t ever looked too closely at this memorial to the children of James and Hanna Cheetham of Hooley Hill, nor had clocked exactly where the place was.
Hooley Hill was a small village, 2 miles south west of Ashton and just down from Guide Bridge Railway Station.

In 1854 it boasted the Guide Bridge Iron Works, a brick field, The Queen’s Arms Public House, two Methodist Chapels, an assortment of houses and Shepley Hall.

Just seven years earlier it had five Chartists who were part of the 167 Ashton Chartists who subscribed to the Chartist Co-operative Land Society.**

And just  a century ago was the scene of a huge munitions explosion in the June of 1917 at the Hooley Hill Rubber Company, which killed 46 people including children on their way home, injured thousands and did much damage in the surrounding area.

All of which will offer up rich avenues of research.

But while I will no doubt be lucky in tracking the 5 Chartists from Hooley Hill I have yet to fine Hannah Cheetham in the 1841 census.  She will be there I have just git to be a tad more patient.  Still  I have found a Robert Cheetham who lived the village.

But more of him later.

Location; AshtonUnder-Lyne,

Pictures; grave stone, parish churchyard, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and Hooley Hill from the OS for Lancashire, 1854, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Andrew Simpson, 2012 the History Press

** They were William Bamford, Labourer, Robert Cheetham Hatter, John Hulton, Printer, John Howard, Watchman, and Jonathan Taylor, Labourer; http://www.c5d.co.uk/chartists.php

***from the OS map of Lancashire, 1854, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A story behind the picture, ............ ploughing on Beech Road in 1890


It’s a familiar enough picture and takes you back to that moment when Chorlton had almost lost its rural character.

It was taken around 1890 on Beech Road and may have been one of the last times the land was ploughed before becoming the Recreation ground.

But like so many photographs there is much more.

The picture belonged to William Higginbotham who may be the man behind the plough. His family had lived on the green since the 1840s and most of the land they farmed was on either side of the Brook stretching up towards the Mersey. But they also worked a small strip of land between the Row* and High Lane.

In the 1840s this was almost entirely Egerton land and was rented out in strips to a number of farmers. Along with James Higginbotham, there was William Bailey, George Whitelegg and Thomas White.

This pattern of land tenure was not so different from the old medieval strip farming where each peasant had a share of the land in different places.

This was repeated across the township and so while the bigger farmers had most of their land concentrated near the farmhouse, the land of smaller farmers and market gardeners were distributed across the area.

The Higginbotham’s farmed a mix of meadow and pasture land close to the Mersey and arable along the Row.

This arable farming along the Row continued well into the 19th century so as late as 1893, there was open farm land and orchards running from Cross Road down to what was to become Wilton Road and stretching back to High Lane.

Pictures; ploughing on Beech Road, circa 1890 from the Lloyd collection, and detail from the 1841 OS map for Lancashire by kind permission of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

*The Row or Chorlton Row is now Beech Road

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 104 ......... a wonky world

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.*

Food as it comes out of the ground, Italy, 2015
I wonder what Joe and Mary Ann would have made of wonky foods.

I first came across them in Morrisons, which because they buy the whole crop from their suppliers, have started marketing the less than perfect fruit and veg as “Wonky Morrisons”.

And with a bit more digging I discovered a whole range of companies selling wonky food and pretty much all trading under names which include the word wonky.

Now for anyone born before the 1970s the idea that there is anything novel in misshapen fruit and veg will seem odd.

Must green grocers sold the food as it came from the wholesalers who in turn got it direct from the farmers.

I suspect a bit of quality control went on at each stage, but essentially what everyone in the chain was interested in, was the taste and the freshness of the stuff.

But the drive to perfection and uniformity by the big supermarkets pretty much did for the bent carrot and the twisty stick of rhubarb, and that extended to ensuring that everything came clean and clear of dirt which might just betray its origins in the ground.

Not that all supermarkets were seduced by such practices.  The chain in Italy used by Rosa and Simone still buy in food which has not passed a perfection gauge and often still carries soil from the ground it came out of.

Bright and fresh, 2015
While over here some shops now make a feature of their unwashed carrots and potatoes, selling them just that bit cheaper.

At which point I do have to confess that washing carrots and potatoes is time consuming and messy, but something that mum, and Nana did without a second’s thought and I suspect so did Mary Ann.

Of course the counter agreement might well be that with wonky might come a lot of waste, as you cut away the odd bits which are too small to be used.

Equally fresh, 1956
But my experience of the range from that supermarket is that enough quality control has already gone on to make that concern irrelevant.

So we buy wonky whenever we can and as daft as it sounds as I am peeling the potatoes and cutting the carrots in the kitchen where Mary Ann also prepared the food, I rather think there could be a sense of continuity.

That said I rather think that she was of that generation who having cleaned, peeled, and cut for decades, embraced the readymade range of frozen foods which were stealing the market from the 1950s onwards.

They came in small packets, given that most people didn’t own a fridge, let alone a freezer, and were sold as fresher than the produce in the greengrocer and quicker to cook.

They became how we ate vegetables in our house and pretty much determined that we only had peas, green beans and sometimes carrots.

Mother even flirted with those “all in one” TV dinners which she was drawn to, because of the novelty value, but even she had to admit the quality was not so good.

"ready prepared, ready to cook, 1956
Perhaps Joe and Mary Ann also experimented with roast beef, gravy, potatoes and green veg in tin foil, or perhaps they did stick with wonky stuff, still bearing the dirt, but sadly I will never know.






Pictures; from an Italian supermarket, 2015, from the collection of Andrew Simpson and adverts for Birds Eye Foods, from Woman’s Own, January 12 1956

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

Faces from our past ......... John and Jane Holmes of Jubilee Cottages

Now I remain fascinated by other people’s lives, and when you can put a face to a story so much the better.

Here are John and Jane Holmes who lived in Jubilee Cottages which were off the High Street, down a narrow ginnel and might almost count as a closed court.

It is a place I have written about in the past*, and also one that Eltham historian Mr John Kennett explored in his article, The Jubilee Cottages, which appeared in SEnine.

Mr and Mrs Holmes appear on the 1881 census and I will have clocked them as I did the preliminary research but of course they were just names, until Steve Elphick, got in touch with his family story.

Like so much family history it is an ongoing project, but here is what Steve has uncovered so far.

"Hi Andrew, have posted the following info about Jubilee Cottages in Eltham, in a comment on your Blog, don't know if it's of any use. Regards, Steve

Incidentally, I worked at Hinds of Eltham from 1970-72, but the cottages had gone by then. However, I think I have a couple of family photos taken at the Cottages; if you're interested.


These two shots taken outside the cottage, are of family members but, again, I sadly don't know exactly who they are - possibly the head of the family John and his wife Jane, but that is just guesswork.

As previously mentioned, I worked as a teenager at Hinds of Eltham in the early 70's but, at the time knew nothing of the family link to the area. I also found out later in life that my Grandmother (Hilda Elphick nee Knott), who was Rachel's daughter, worked for F. Hinds in their original Blackheath store .....small world!”

And by his own admission there is lots more to find out but if these are John and Jane Holmes Of Jubilee Cottages then we have a powerful link to our collective past.

Location; Eltham

Pictures; John and Jane Holmes, date unknown, courtesy of Steve Elphick

*In Jubilee Cottages behind the High Street in the spring of 1851, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/in-jubilee-cottages-behind-high-street.html

Selling flowers ........ By St Ann’s Church sometime around 1904

Now I fell on this picture postcard of the flower seller by St Ann’s Square fully intending to write about a century of selling flowers at this spot.

The post card is from a series dated to 1902, so here we seemed to have over a hundred years of continuity.

But by one of those twists of historical research my facebook friend JBS came up with one for 1898 and in the way of these things I bet someone was selling flowers from this pitch even earlier in that century.

That said it is just possible that the painting is earlier than 1902 and might have been made in the last decade of the 19th century, but I would be guessing so I shall just leave you with the observation that it is a nice picture.

Picture; St Ann’s Church  from the series Manchester, marketed by Tuck & Sons, 1904, courtesy of Tuck DB, http://tuckdb.org/

That Zeppelin raid on Ramsgate ..... not once but twice and the porcelain cat and Teddy

Now I am absolutely convinced that someone in the Imperial Bazaar saw the upside of the two Zeppelin raids on their premises at Albion Hill in May 1915 and June 1917.

Nor were they alone as the series of picture postcards issued sometime after the May 1915 raid testifies.

I have seen four postcards which show the shop, some of the damage, a group of bystanders and four policemen holding up the remains of the bomb cases.

I suppose given the absence of the wireless, and television and the infancy of the film industry, picture postcards were the most immediate way of telling the story, with the added advantage that they could be sent all over the country and beyond.

By contrast these crested pieces of porcelain cost more and would never have the same visual impact as the cards.

They were produced in their thousands from identical moulds with just the application of a transfer coat of arms and a name to mark them out as Ramsgate, rather than London, Blackpool or Great Yarmouth.

But never one to miss out, the producers or the retailers at Imperial Bazaar had the idea of adding on the base of each piece, the legend, “Souvenir from the Imperial Bazaar Albion Hill Ramsgate Twice wrecked by Zeppelins May 17 1915 and June 17 1917”.

All of which made these bits of unremarkable china something very special.

I would like to have shown the picture postcards, but they may remain copyright, because although the original copyright will have long ago expired, there may be issues with the four examples I have seen which are the property of an individual.

Location; Ramsgate















Pictures; crested porcelain circa 1917, from the collection of David Harrop

Of things to come ......... on Manchester Road between the tiny Tesco and Unicorn

Now, neither, Andy Robertson, or me were around when that box like block of former offices went up on Manchester Road between the tiny Tesco and Unicorn.

I say that but we might have been, but until relatively recently I was not that observant about what was being built in Chorlton.

Andy is well known for recording the story of a building, from the moment an old empty and derelict property is demolished through the cleaning of the site, the moment the builders break the ground and the slow rise of the new structure.

In this case after a period of laying empty, our office block is being transformed into apartments and a restaurant.

All of which you can research for yourself using the city council planning portal and so I will leave you to it, observing that there are for sold signs up for some of the uncompleted flats and certain that Andy will be back with more images of the development.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; Manchester Road, 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Well Hall in the 1920s nu 1 ........... catching the train and watching out for the cows

A short occasional series on Well Hall in the 1920s.

Now I washed up in Eltham in the spring of 1964 and for two and half years made the daily  train journey back to New Cross and Samuel Pepys School which continued until I switched to Crown Woods.

I didn’t like the school over much and the trip from Well Hall to New Cross and back was pretty much the best bit of the day.

Even now I have fond memories of seeing the woods above out house come into view ast thetrain took that final bend and came into the station.

The trains were always packed but there was something about knowing you were coming home to Well Hall.

And I suspect Mr Jefferson may have shared that feeling, so here are some of his memories of the same station just 40 or so years before I used the station.

They are taken from the book he published in 1970.

“The railway station was called simply ‘Well Hall’ when we came and the platforms were not so long as they are now.  

A workman’s ticket cost 8d return to London and early workers making their way past the tumbledown ‘Well Hall’ which is now the Pleasaunce would frequently be hindered by cows coming up hawthorn-hedged Kidbrooke Lane and turning in at the wide gate in Well Hall Road.”*

Location; Well Hall

Picture; the railway bridge over Well Hall Road, 2014, from the collection of Chrissie Rose

*The Woolwich Story, E.F.E. Jefferson, 1970 page 202

Apologising to Mr Lightly Simpson of Beech Road

Now Lightly Simpson is not a name you forget and ever since I first came across him I have wondered about his life and career.

Chorlton Row, now Beech Road in 1844
He came from Tadcaster and was born in 1810.

And I have done him a big injustice because he appears in the census for 1841 living on what is now Beech Road listing his occupation as “druggist” and I naturally assumed he was one of our shopkeepers, worse still I said so in the book.*

It did seem a tad odd that a small rural community like Chorlton should have a druggist but there he was living with his family somewhere near the bottom of the road where it runs into the green.

But it transpires he was much more than just a country chemist having a prestigious shop in the heart of the city which he opened in 1830, two more in the suburbs and was granted a patent for his invention of a better way of preparing colours for printing cotton and other fabrics.

Lily Cottage, later Row House circa 1980
All of which he had achieved by the age of 25 and which by the late 1840s he had left behind plunging instead into the wonderful and exciting new business of railways, ending up as a director on numerous companies.

None of which I knew until Mr Bill King made contact and asked me about Lightly’s connection with Chorlton and as they say a whole new chapter emerged.

But because this is still a piece of research in the making I shall not trespass on Mr King’s work until he has published it.

Lilly Cottage, later Row House 2008
Instead I shall fasten on the time Mr and Mrs Simpson were living on Beech Road which looks to be no more than three years from the June of 1841 to 1844.

They are on the census for 1841 which was taken in the June, but do not appear on the directories which will have been compiled in late 1840.

One of their sons was born here in 1842 but they were in Burnage two years later for the birth of their next child and by 1851 were in Flixton where Lightly and his eldest son described themselves as “retired druggists.”

All of which just leaves the question of where they lived on Beech Road.  I had assumed it might have been one of the wattle and daub cottages underneath the Trevor, but given that our Mr Lightly was already a man of substance I suspect it would have been all together a much grander affair.

Chorlton Row and its residents in 1845
Sadly I doubt that we will ever be able to locate it.

There are a number of possible properties all of which have long since been demolished but if pushed I think it might have been Lilly Cottage which was a fine looking house which stood on the corner of Acres Road and Beech Road.

It had been the home of the Blomley family in the early 19th century and in 1845 was occupied by a Mary Holland.

Later still it was the home of William Batty when it was known as Row House.

And it was still there as late as 2008.

In time I might come across more evidence, but the most detailed records for Beech Road are the Rate Books which begin in 1845 and the Tithe schedule which dates to the same year.

Alas by then Mr Simpson had moved on, but at least I can now be sure it was not from a chemist shop.

Pictures; detail Chorlton Row, now Beech Road from 1844 OS map of Lancashire, courtesy of Digital Archive Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/ and Row House in 1980 and 2008 from the collection of Lawrence Beedle

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/the-story-of-chorlton-cum-hardy.html

So what was going on at All Saints in Weaste on July13 1912?

Now here is a mystery worthy of investigation.

We are at All Saints Church in Weaste on July 13 1912 and it would be fun to know exactly what was going in.

Of course the most obvious suggestion would a fete or perhaps even a celebration of the establishment of the church which “began as the mission church of St. Paul in the parish of St. Luke's was built in 1903, extended by Rev. Theodore Emmott, and consecrated as All Saints on 31 January 1910. 

An Order in Council, 19 July 1910 (London Gazette, 26 July) assigned part of St. Luke's parish to All Saints.

In 1949 the parishes were re-united as St. Luke with All Saints.”*

It was situated on the Eccles New Road with its vicarage at nu 542 close to Stott Lane.

Now some at least of the records of the church are in the Manchester Archives and Local Studies centre so

I may find a clue there to this event and a trawl of the papers might also turn something up.**

July 13 1912 was a Saturday and if I wanted to be really nerdy I guess I could find out the weather for the day.

But I shall close with that name on the bottom left hand corner which is a G Greenhalgh who may have been the photographer and who may also have been responsible for turning it into a picture postcard.

I found a George Fredrick Greenhalgh at 17 Derby Street but there is no listing of him as having a photographic studio.

Not that any of this detracts from what is a nice photograph of an unknown event in Salford in 1912 and leaves me to ponder on whether any of those staring out at us were related to the men who appear on the All Saints War Memorial now in St Lukes.***

Location; Salford







Picture; All Saints in Weaste on July13 1912, a picture postcard from the collection of David Harrop

*The National Archives, http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/rd/4dfa81eb-e538-457b-b499-a017ab385114

** Manchester Archives and Local Studies http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/448/archives_and_local_history

***Salford War Memorials, http://www.salfordwarmemorials.co.uk/all-saints-weaste.html

"Shedding an occasional ray of light and cheer upon the dull lives of the slum children" ......... the Cinderella Clubs

Now until yesterday I had no idea that there was an organisation called the Cinderella Club or of its links to the wider socialist movement and of its work in helping poor working class children.

It is one of those little stories which has faded from view, but is an interesting insight into how we were dealing with child poverty over a century ago.

“The idea of the Cinderella Clubs seems to have originated with Robert Blatchford, a journalist with the Sunday Chronicle. According to the Leeds Mercury of 18 April 1890, the Cinderella Club Movement, which was founded in Manchester, aimed 'to shed an occasional ray of light and cheer upon the dull lives of the slum children.' 

The Chronicle had 'asked for helpers in other towns,' and appears to have had little difficulty in securing these from the middle and working classes as well as patrons from the better classes.  In Leeds, for example, the Cinderella Club could count amongst its patrons the Mayor and Lady Mayoress and at least one local Member of Parliament.”*

In pursuing the story I came across twenty-five photographs of the work of the club taken in 1910.

They cover everything from Christmas visits to parties and the inevitable day out by the sea.

And it clearly there is a story here, both in its own right and as another challenge to those who saw the migration to Canada as the answer to child poverty, destitution and neglect.

Of course the Cinderella Clubs could never do more than be a short term fix to a big problem and there will be those who argued that in the long run a new start away from the grime and awful conditions of our inner cities in the fresh air and open fields of Canada and later Australia was the way forward.

For a few this may have been the case but as the records are beginning to show the migration of thousands of children to Canada brought heart ache, suffering and in some cases a degree of cruelty which exceeded what these young people had experienced here.

It also neatly side stepped the real issues that the prevailing economic and social system was responsible for the conditions endured by the majority of working people which even in good times was circumscribed by the possibilities of ill health unemployment and just bad luck.

Any of which could pitch a family into real poverty and destitution.

So I shall dig deeper in to the Cinderella Club Movement and into the Christian Socialists who seemed to be linked to the clubs.

All of which only leaves me to thank Dee who first published the story on facebook yesterday and in turn led me to the various sites which gave me some insight into their work.

In the meantime I shall just return to the images from the archive and in particular to the four I have featured.  I could have chosen others. But these I think sum up the club.

They all convey that mix of excitement and sheer pleasure that from a  party and a day out.  It is there in the smile on the face of the lone boy and from some of those in the hall.

And then there is the station scene.  It is a destination I do not know but maybe someone will follow the clue of “FURNISH AT WARINGS MANCH’R or recognise the station approach and come up with a place.

It is so representative of an institutional day out.  The children all in the best clothes, with a uniformity in their dress, the adults also decked out in their finest accompanying their own children and beyond them the day to day throng of railway passengers.

But there is also something else which I am not so sure about and sits a little uncomfortably with me.  It starts with that sign announcing “POOR GIRLS AND BOYS”, and going on to explain that the camp is SUPPORTED SOLELY BY VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS, and that it is "OPEN FOR INSPECTION DAILY.”

This may be a necessary part of any voluntary organisation and good self publicity but  reminds me of those before and after images that the children’s societies of the period went in for as a way of promoting their work of rescuing young people off the streets.

But I suspect that those in our picture were not bothered about the sign, they like the lad with the smile and the present are more content with what had been offered them.

Pictures; Cricket Game with the Cinderella Club, 1910,  m68190 , a party meal, m68191, one happy child, m68208, and setting off, m68209, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council

* The Cinderella Club Movement from the blog, Victorian History, http://vichist.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/cinderella-club-movement.html

**Manchester Local Image Collection, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/ResultsList.php?QueryName=BasicQuery&QueryPage=%2Findex.php%3Fsession%3Dpass&Anywhere=SummaryData%7CAdmWebMetadata&QueryTerms=Cinderella-Club&QueryOption=Anywhere&Submit=Search&StartAt=1

The story that isn’t .......... down on Wright Street by Chester Road

Now, many of us are familiar with the work of Andy Robertson, who has been recording the changing landscape of the Twin Cities and beyond for a decade and a bit.

2018
He begins with a derelict or empty property, and then returns at stages, as the building is renovated or more likely demolished.

By degree, he then carries on chronicling the progress from the moment the builders break ground and onto the finished building.

But today he offers up an intriguing set of pictures which he says are of “Wright Street which runs parallel to Chester Road.

2016
This is unusual as it depicts the demolition of a building before it was even properly constructed!”

There will be someone on the know who will wade in with chapter and verse, so I shall await their contribution.

In the meantime here is the sequence of pictures taken from May 25th of this year back to May 2014.



2014
Location; off Chester Road

Pictures; Wright Street, 2014-2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson