Saturday, 28 July 2018

Denbigh Villas ....... and the mystery of the missing coach house

Now, I like the way that not all of our history comes from a book or even from the memories of individuals.

The coach house, 2018
Sometimes you have go ferreting around, pulling up old council documents and equally old maps and matching them against street directories and adverts, and only then do those little bits of the past come together.

So it is with 1a Stockton Road which for as long as I can remember has been a lock up garage only shutting up shop around 2013.

But look closely at Peter’s picture and its origins as a coach house are clear.  To the left there are the large doors which would have given access for the carriage while above was the hayloft, with space to the right for the horse or horses.

It is a basic and familiar design, which was once replicated across Chorlton, and beyond.  They turn up in the grounds of even the most modest family homes and survive as flat conversions or workshops.

Ours stood in the garden of Denbigh Villas which were two semi detached properties, fronting High Lane.

If we want to be more precise, the coach house was in the garden of 59 so I guess it is reasonable to suppose the occupier of that house used or had the opportunity to use the building.

That said it might have been shared with 57, whose garden was dominated by two large green houses.

The mystery is just when the coach house ceased to be part of Denbigh Villas, because at present it is owned by a family who live opposite.

I could go and ask and I may do that but where is the fun in that?

The gardens of Denbigh Villas, 1894
Instead I shall ponder, using the OS map for 1933, which offers up the following clue, which is that by then the green houses have gone and what was left of the garden east of the coach house is marked as part of the Convent which had once been a school and is now the Islamic School for Girls.

So it would be reasonable to suppose that when the land was sold and the green houses demolished, our coach house also left Denbigh Villas.

By then its days as two grand homes may have also come to an end, but here the official documents are of no use, because both the record of who lived in both has been redacted because they might still be alive.*

And that means at present we have no idea whether the residents were posh enough to have owned or a horse and carriage or even if they had succumbed to the age of the motor car.

All I can tell is that neither property had started their long association with multi occupancy.  The record shows that both houses were occupied by one family each.
There is a suggestion that in the 1950s our coach house became the offices of a local builder, before it became that garage.  We shall see.

So that pretty much is that, except to say my grandparents had bought a big rambling old house on the edge of Derby, which had a coach house, and on a hot summer’s day there was still that distinctive smell of hay mixed with the lathe and plaster of the walls, along with the faint buzzing of trapped insects.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; the old coach house; 2018 from the collection of Peter Topping and the gardens of Denbigh Villas, 1894 from the OS map of South Lancashire, 1894 courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*1939 Register

No comments:

Post a Comment