Saturday, 23 June 2018

The Booth family .............. a new family for a New Chorlton

I have been trying to clear up a few little mysteries about the Booth family who lived here on Manchester Road during the time when the township went through its most dramatic transformation.

This was when we leapt from being a small rural community into a suburb of Manchester and those tall rows of terraced and semi detached properties in long roads went up catering for the middling people who worked in the city but still wanted to live on the edge of the countryside. The Booth family saw all of that and despite still being here in the early 1940s I lose them after The Great War.

I came across Aaron Booth some months ago when I added four of his photographs to the collection.  They were taken in the summer and winter of 1882 of Martledge which was that part of the township from the four banks down to the Library.

And that was pretty much it.  I knew he and his family lived at Sedge Lynn which was an impressive Victorian house on Manchester Road and that he was businessman.

Then as you do I became more curious.  They were one of those new families with money behind them and business interests in the city who had made their home here just as the housing boom of the 1880s was about to take off.

We can track the family across the city from 1861 and during the next twenty years they lived in a succession of comfortable addresses on the edges of the city finally moving to Sedge Lynn in the November of 1881.
Before that date the evidence trail is a little vague but I am fairly confident that Aaron married Emma in 1853 and their first child was born two years later followed by another ten children.

These were the years when the family firm prospered.  In 1861 his packing company employed four men and seven boys and over the next few decades his work force increased as did the number of premises.  So while in 1863 he was located on the corner of South Street* and Albert Square by the 1890s he was listed at “3 & 6 Hall street, 20 Oxford st, St Peter’s, 12 St Peter’s square and 1 & 47 Lower Mosley Street.”

And by 1911 at the whole corner of Oxford Street and Lower Mosley Street as well as Hall Street and Chepstow Street.  On his death in 1912 he left £1,827 in personal effects.

All of which suggests that they were a comfortably well of Victorian family.  Sedge Lane was a detached house which in 1881 stood in splendid isolation in what was pretty much open land.  To the rear were the Isles a mix of ponds, tiny streams and fields which stretched up to Longford Hall, and to the west and east they were bordered by farms. It had had eleven rooms as well as a bathroom and kitchen and commanded an annual rent of £28.

And I have no doubt that they participated in the life of the community.  Aaron was an amateur photographer and it is reasonable to suppose that the rest of the family filled their leisure time with all sorts.  The 1911 Kemp’s Almanac for Chorlton boasted a host of cultural organisations from operatic and drama societies to a range of sporting ones and the city with its theatres was less than 15 minutes away on the train.

The children either followed their father into the family business or took up that increasingly suitable occupation for young women of teaching.  All of the girls lived at home and so is tantalizing to speculate on whether they taught in the local school or one of the new academies or crammers which were opening up across Chorlton to cater for the young middle class.

In a grimmer way they were also typical of the period.  Emma was just 49 when she died, and two of the children died even younger at 21 and 22.  In all ten of the family are in Southern Cemetery.  They were buried there between 1881 and 1942 in two plots close to Nell Lane.

But two of the children are not there and so far have eluded me as has the identity of the Miss Booth who originally made available the four 1882 photographs.  And then there is the mystery of where they lived after the Great War.  Aaron died in 1912 but there is evidence that they were still there at Sedge Lynn a little later, but by 1919 or 1920 they had gone.  This much I can be confident of because by 1920 the new impressive Savoy cinema had opened on the site of Sedge Lynn.

In the way of things some of the mysteries will be solved.  Out there in a parish magazine or in the local press will be a reference to them and when I next get into Central Library there will be the electoral registers which may place all of the children in the years after 1928, so still a lot to go on then.  And on the next fine day I will take myself off to the cemetery.

Which just leaves one last loose end.  In May 1969 the company Shepley Booth & Associates Ltd was wound up in Birmingham.  I have no way of knowing the connection but I am sure there is one, as each of the male sons of Aaron and Emma were given Shepley as a second name, so one more mystery.

And here is an addition which has only just occurred to me and changes the date of when I thought this picture was taken. As late as 1894 what we now call Nicolas Road was a thin strip of land with trees, running back from where the old bit of Manchester Road joined Barlow Moor Road ad onto open land.  At this stage Oswald Road stopped just beyond Vincent Avenue.

By 1907 it is shown as a path and possibly an unmade road with houses roughly where the Health Centre is.

All of which changes the date of the picture which I had always assumed was 1882 which is the date on a similar print but there in the distance is what I think is Oswald Road School which was completed in 1908.  Just goes to show!

Pictures; Sedge Lynn the Lloyd collection, the work place of the Booth family on the corner of Oxford Street and Lower Mosley Street, circa 1900 from Goads Fire Insurance Maps, courtesy of Digital Archives, and 47 Lower Mosley Street where the Booths were also listed in 1895, photograph by H W Beaumont 1964, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council m02925

*now Southmill Street

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