Monday, 30 July 2018

The picture of Annie Magee on Hawthorn Lane and that young Chorlton bandsman

Now if there is a simple lesson about old photographs it’s that you should never take them at face value.

So here is a picture from Peter McLoughlin's collection of family pictures which shows his mother Annie in 1925.

I was drawn to it the first time I saw it and it began the first of series of stories that feature those family albums.

But what I missed or more accurately ignored was the young man standing beside her.

I don’t know who he was or why he posed with young Annie and just assumed he was a young serviceman, but looking again at that uniform it seems far more elaborate and I think it is that of a bandsman and if pushed I think it might well be from our own Brass Band.

And that makes it rather special because there are very few pictures of our brass band which was at the centre of life in Chorlton from the mid 1820s till 1945.

Of course the Stalybridge Band is older and can claim to have marched in to St Peter’s Fields on the day of Peterloo but ours had an almost continuous run until it agreed to wind up after the last world war.

It performed in many of the great and not so great events here in the township and went on to win prizes in brass band competitions.

There are a few accounts of its founding in the 1820s and some more of when it reformed in 1850.

I know the names of some of the men who made up the early bands, along with the prizes they collected during the late 19th century and continue to come across newspaper reports of their activities.

The band neatly reflects the history of the township, starting as a small band whose members made some of their instruments including the drum which once made proved to big to get out of the cottage.

The early band was almost exclusively drawn from Methodists and most made their living from the land.

By the 1890s few of the members still worked the land, most worked in Manchester and most were either newcomers to the township or were first generation.

But so far I guess there are just half a dozen images of the band, some as they marched through Chorlton and one of them at Barlow Hall in 1893 but sadly that’s the lot.

All of which makes this picture of our young bandsmen so interesting and perhaps in time I will discover more about him.

Picture; Annie Magee and that unknown young man, 1925 from the collection of Peter McLoughlin and the Brass Band circa 1920 courtesy of Allan Brown

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