Thursday, 24 May 2018

It started with a picture and became a story.......... Charles Ireland

The Palais de Luxe, circa 1928
It started with a picture and became a story.

The picture was of the Palais de Luxe Cinema on Barlow Moor Road and is not one I had seen before.

In that usual way of things it was in the possession of the archives and public records centre of East Dunbartonshire Council and got there because the fine iron and glass canopy which fronted the cinema had been made by the Lion Foundry in Kirkintilloch.

The story unfolded as the archivist and I sought to resolve the copyright issue of the photograph.

Ms Janice Miller was keen for me to see the picture but quite rightly was concerned that this might contravene the 70 year rule on copyright usage.

The photograph was by C Ireland and may have been taken around 1928 and that was all there was to go on. He might have been a local photographer or one especially commissioned by the Lion Foundry who came down from Scotland or just possibly one of those travelling photographers who captured local scenes to be converted into post cards.

Now both of us were fully prepared for a disappointment. After all we had just a name which is not much to go on.

But a Charles Ireland ran a photographic shop at 25 Lower Mosley Street in town during the first decade of the last century and continued in business there to at least 1927. The same set of telephone directories also revealed that by 1921 he was living at 76 High Lane here in Chorlton.

It is one of those amazing things about detective work that once the first secrets of a person’s life come to light others bubble up in front of you.

He had died in 1930 aged 63, left £5,330 to his widow and was buried in Southern Cemetery. He had been born in Newton in Manchester in 1867 and by 1891 the family were living here on St Clements Road.

This seems to have been a step up. The family home on Oldham Road in Newton was at the heart of an industrial area. Just to the north was the large carriage and wagon works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and to the south and east there were brick works cotton mills, bleach works as well a glass works.

25 Lower Mosley Street, 1964

Charles’s father Edward was in partnership as a pawnbroker although he also described himself as a photographer, and by 1891 this appears to have been his sole occupation.

There were as yet few photographers listed in the directories for Manchester in the 1880s and they are still described as artists.

By 1895 he had opened the shop on Lower Mosley Street which Charles still ran until the late 1920s.

The family continued to prosper and by 1911 they have moved to that large detached house on the corner of Edge Lane and Kingshill Road.

76 High Lane, date unknown

As ever the romantic in me fastened on the fact that in 1913 Charles married his photographic assistant. Edith May Hindley was 32 years old and like him had been born in Newton.

Sometime perhaps around 1918 they moved into 76 High Lane which had been the home of the artist Tom Mostyn the artist.

 It is still there having benefited from the addition of the large upstairs window and studio which I guess was the work of Tom Mostyn and which Charles in turn may have used.

I have yet to visit the grave in Southern Cemetery but it is on my list of things to do. Here he was buried along with his father and mother in law, his sister and finally in 1948 his wife

So far no other pictures accredited to Charles have turned up but they will. His working life stretched back over 40 years and the picture of 76 High Lane may even be his although sadly there is no date and the quality is pretty poor.

But I travel in hope that out there in a collection I will come across more of his pictures. Ms Janice Miller and the East Dunbartonshire archive can only be the first.

Location; Chorlton and Manchester

Pictures; the Palais de Luxe cinema, circa 1928 GD10-07-04-6-13-01 Courtesy of East Dunbartonshire Archives, 25 Lower Mosley Street by H W Beaumont 1964 m02915, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, & 76 High Lane, date unknown, from the Lloyd collection


  1. Can't wait for your book to come out I was born in Chorlton my family lived on Claude rd for over 50 years my mum would tell me some stories of the history of Chorlton but your photos and information are brilliant thank you

  2. Well Gill, there is already my book The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, 2012, and in collaboration with Peter Topping, Hough End Hall The Story, 2015, and Manchester Pubs The Stories Behind the Doors, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, 2017

  3. I remember going every week as a teenager to the Palais de Luxe (or the Bug Hut as it was known). Cheap and a little bit cheerful. Good when your 'spends' were running low. A bag of chips on the way home and life was perfect!