Thursday, 28 June 2018

On Crossland Road looking for a story with Mrs Margaret Walker in 1911

It began as an idle bit of research about a house and developed into a story of when this bit of Chorlton was developed, and about one family who settled here in the early 1880s.

No. Crossland Road, 1972
The house is on Crossland Road and for most of its 128 years it was a corner shop, selling groceries.

And for a long time I have wondered when it and the two small rows of houses close by were built.

Members of the old Chorlton Brass band were living in some of them by the mid 1890s, but just when they went up had puzzled me.

Not that I ever bothered to go and look, but yesterday I did.

The Rate Books suggest that Stanley Grove dates from 1884 and that the one on Crossland from 1890.

Now at this stage those dates are not set in stone, but there are no records of either property before then.

Looking down Crossland Road, 1972
At the time they were owned by John Neale and together the 14 houses brought in an annual rent of £217, while his two houses on Albemarle Road collectively earned him another £35.

I can track the residents at no. 1 Crossland back to 1890 and forward with some hiccups to 1969.*

In 1939 it was the home of Mr and Mrs Gibb who sold sweets, groceries and tobacco from the shop and just 28 years earlier Mrs Margaret Walker did the same.

And it is the Walker family that caught my interest not least because Margaret had been married at 15 and had had 5 children.

Beech Road, 1907
Together, the Walker’s and the Crossland Road and Stanley Grove offer up new insights into how this bit of Chorlton grew.

We are in what had become known as Old Chorlton or the Old Village to distinguish it from the development that began in the 1880s around the Four Banks, which was quickly built up and catered for the “middling people” many of whom worked in the city and commuted back by train to the township which still had a rural feel.

I suspect at weekends they took themselves off to the village green and by degree walked the fields crossing Chorlton Brook and on the Mersey and beyond.

But our bit of Chorlton was also being developed, and Crossland, Stanley and Redbridge Grove fit into that, development.

Looking at the census returns, a fair number of the residents were new comers, as were the Walkers.  They came from Worcestershire and Mr Walker gave his occupation variously as labourer and gardener.

They were still in Worcestershire in 1871 but were here by 1884, when they were living in Stanley Grove, and in the course of the next few years moved on to Beech Road, Acres Road and Clarence Road before settling on Whitelow Road.

Of all the properties only two have vanished and of these it is the one on Beech Road which is intriguing because this I think will be the row of cottages which ran at right angles and jutted out on to the road, roughly opposite what is now Reeves Road.

Sometime around 1900 or into the following year Richard died and the family relocated to Stanley Grove.

Crossland Road, 1909
Or so it seemed.  This death would explain the move to Stanley Grove from the bigger house and by 1911 she described herself as a widow, but there is evidence to suggest that her husband didn't die until 1924.

Margaret continued to work as a laundress, but given that she now lived opposite the big Pasley Laundry it is just possible that she went to work there.

Either way by 1911 she was dispensing groceries from no. 1 Crossland Road, possibly assisted by her daughter Florence and her son Charles who was a Postman.

And it appears she had taken over from one of daughters who was running the show two years earlier.

The 1911 census records that there were four rooms to the house, which is pretty much where we came in.

Only to reflect that the story once again challenges those who are particularly sniffy about newcomers to Chorlton, with that hint that anyone not born here is somehow an outsider, which of course is silly, given that all of us will have a family history that once upon a time started somewhere else.

*In 1890 the shop was run by a Johnson Clarke and in 1969  by Mrs D Jones.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; cottages on Beech Road, J Jackson, 1907, m17651, Stanley Grove, From Crossland Road, H Milligan, m18209, m18209, and m17732,  courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass



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