Friday, 29 June 2018

Miss Sarah Ann Walker of Crescent Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy ....... and a trail of mysteries

I don’t have a picture of Sarah Ann Walker, and I doubt I will ever come across one.

Stanley Grove, 1972
She was born in 1872, worked as a domestic servant and briefly ran the grocery shop at 1 Crossland Road, in Chorlton-cum-Hardy and was buried in Southern Cemetery in 1958, where she rests with her parents

In between she had lived and worked in Didsbury and Southport and very possibly other parts of the north.

Hers is an interesting story because it matches the lives and experiences of countless others who history has forgotten.  I say forgotten but the reality is it never took much notice.

Until yesterday I was blissfully unaware of her existence, but I came across her because of the shop which a few years later her mother was running.

And that drew me in.  Miss Walker’s father was a labourer and her mother a laundress and sometime in the early 1880s the family exchanged their home in Bengeworth in Worcestershire for Chorlton.

1 Crossland Road and Stanley Grove, 1972
I can’t be exactly sure, but in 1881 they were in a small cottage in Bengeworth and three years later in Stanley Grove in Chorlton and from there they moved around.

In 1885/6 they were on Beech Road, Clarence Road and finally after another short stay on Stanley they settled into Whitelow Road.

And it is there in 1891 that we pick up the family on a census record.

By then Sarah Ann was living and working on Palatine Road as a housemaid, along with a cook and waitress in the home of an “East Indian and General Merchant”.

The Vine Inn, 2015
A decade later she had progressed to a finer house in Southport and had risen to be the cook in a household with three other servants and in 1904 she was in the shop on Crossland Road.

After which the trail becomes a bit messier.

There is a listing for a Miss Sarah Ann as a cook at 133 Washway Road, in Sale and references to a Mrs Sarah Ann Walker in Stanley Grove in 1903 that is also described a cook, as well as a listing at the shop in 1909.

Finally there is a record in the 1939 Register to a Miss Sarah Ann Cook who was living at 13 Royal Avenue.
She is described as an invalid and the householder, and lived with her sister Florence and a lodger.

It is quite possible that she might have decided to adopt a marital status and then revert and the link to the occupation as a cook is consistent which takes us back to 133 Washway Road which today is the Vine Inn, prompting me to go looking to see if the street numbers  are still the same.

All of which is a tad confusing, and made more so when you look at the burial plot in Southern Cemetery.

The Vine Inn 2015
Sarah Ann is there with her mother who was buried in 1931, her father in 1924, her sister in 1913 and possibly her sister’s daughter who was interred later in 1913.

It looks pretty straight forward but for her father, who all the earlier evidence suggests died between 1900 and 1901.

So we return to the observation that Miss Sarah has presented us with a trail of mysteries, but along the way reveals something about who was living in Chorlton in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where they came from and the work they did.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; Stanley Grove, 1972, A Dawson m18210 & 1972 H Milligan m18208, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and the Vine Inn, 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

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