Saturday, 30 June 2018

All that’s fit to print ....... reading Chorlton’s news over the last 150 years

Now when you have lived in Chorlton for over 40 years you get to have read a lot of local and almost local newspapers.

Open Up, 2018
They came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, have varied in content and purpose and now courtesy of Open Up, have an on line version.

And here I must admit to a personal interest because I have been writing for Open Up for six years, starting when it went under the name of Community Index, and appearing in first its Chorlton edition, and then its Didsbury version.  Since then it has expanded, changed its name and along with its home edition has expanded the second magazine to cover south Manchester.

Before that we tended to be included in the City wide papers** along with those that added us as a passing thought which included the Journal stable of papers, and The Reporter series and the Chorlton and Wilbraham News.***

Of all of these my favourite is the South Manchester Gazette, which only lasted three years but had the foresight to commission our own Thomas Elwood to write the story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

The South Manchester Gazette, 1885
There were 26 articles which appeared during the winter of 1885 and into the spring of the following year and along with Reverend Booker’s A History of the Ancient Chapels of Didsbury and Chorlton, published thirty years earlier, remain the starting point for reading about the Township’s past.

And while Mr Elwood drew on the book by the Reverend Booker, he also recorded the memories of local residents who could talk about the Chorlton of their youth and by extension call up conversations and memories from their parents and grandparents, taking us back to the time when King Georg 111 lost us the American colonies.

Chorlton Green, 1984
But no review can miss out the short lived Chorlton Green which was an alternative community newspaper.

It ran from January 1984 to sometime in May 1986 and the first editorial set the style, “Let 1984 come alive with Chorlton Green....Chorlton Green is a community newspaper, and offers Chorlton the voice it’s never had before – in personal opinion, in creative work and as an information exchange”. 

Chorlton Peace Festival, 1984
And over the next two years the paper covered a lot of what went on in Chorlton and never shied away from controversial stories but could also ponder on the return of the tram and a time in the future when we might become “South Manchester’s Bohemian Heartland” including an “artist’s quarter” with a “glossy sheen of alternative bookstores, exotic antique shops, delicatessens and specialists in ....countercultural accessories”.

They didn’t see the explosion on the bar culture but I rather think got the rest about right.

We got our copy from Bryan the Book who sold it from his bookshop and it may even have been on sale at the newsagents on Barlow Moor Road, opposite Hanbury’s.

The Almanack, 1910
All of which leaves just me including the front page of The Chorlton-cum-Hardy District Almanack and Handbook For 1910.

It was published in that year by Harry Kemp who was one of our first councillors elected to Manchester City Council in 1904 and who had two chemist shops one of which gave the corner of Barlow Moor Road and Wilbraham Road the its popular title of Kemp’s Corner, which lasted as a name well into the 1960s’ predating the official designation of Chorlton Cross and the now frequently used Four Banks.

It is not a newspaper but has a wealth of local information, about what we were like, and in its way is part of all that was fit to print about Chorlton.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; cover of Chorlton Up July-August, 2018, courtesy of Open Up Magazines,  front page of South Manchester Gazette, 1885, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,, front page of Chorlton Green, 1984 courtesy of Bernard Leach, the Chorlton Peace Festival, 1984, from the collection of Tony Walker,  front page of The Chorlton-cum-Hardy District Almanack and Handbook For 1910, Harry Kemp, 1910 and Barlow Moor Road, 1980, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Open Up,

Barlow Moor Road, 1980
**The list is quite long and includes the Manchester Chronicle [1897-1963], The Manchester City News, [1864-1958], The Manchester Courier, [1825-1916], The Manchester Evening News, [1868-2018], The Manchester Guardian, [1821-1959], The Manchester Metro News,[1991-2],

*** Chorlton Journal [?], Chorlton and Wilbraham News, [?]Stretford * Urmston Journal, [?, ]South Manchester Chronicle, [1889-1897], South Manchester Express/Advertiser, [1992-2000], South Manchester Gazette [1885-1888], South Manchester Reporter [1993-2011]

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