Saturday, 4 August 2018

Denbigh Villas ...... a work in progress

If you travel down High Lane you will have spotted the builder’s boards up around 57 & 59.

The two are on the corner with Stockton Road and were built in 1877, were called Denbigh Villas and pretty much reflect the story of where we live.

They were once grand homes of the comfortably well off, one of whom wrote a fascinating account of Manchester in the 1830s.

Later the two properties became a school for the children of the “middling people” who worked in the professions or owned businesses and could afford to pay for their children to attend private schools.

More recently in line with the trend across south Manchester they were converted into bedsits.

And now the properties are being redeveloped with work being done to strengthen the buildings, stripping away extensions which were long past their sell by date and creating 12 self contained apartments, making the best use of the space available.

But more than this,  Armistead Properties are saving two Chorlton building, with lots of local history.

So with that in mind I have decided to periodically revisit the site and record the progress.

And as you do, I told Peter who came along and took some pictures which will accompany the story, and he will also be on subsequent trips which will mean that there will be a detailed record of the transformation of an old and tired set of houses into something new and exciting.

In keeping with previous developments, the company will retain the facade, while making the interior fit for the new century.

As in all old conversions, the devil is in the detail, with nasty surprises sometimes hidden behind decades of poor re-plastering and layers of woodchip wall paper.

So, some internal walls were wobbly and the outriggers which for you and me are the jutty out bits at the back had seen better days.

These were not part of the original properties and added nothing to the grand plan.

In the same way, few of features that once graced the houses back in 1877 still exist, which is a great shame.

On previous developments, what features had survived a half century and more of poor bed sit conversions were kept, but sadly not here in Denbigh Villas.

But at least the foot print and the exterior of the buildings will survive and someone will have the opportunity to sit in what was once Josiah Thomas Slugg’s front room and speculate, that it was here that he put the finishing touches to his book, Reminiscences of Manchester,** and where maybe a bored school boy twenty years later, might well have gazed out of the window at the passing traffic on High Lane having been defeated by the exercise in his Algebra text book.

So there you have it the first instalment with more over the next 14 months to come.***

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; inside Denbigh Villas ...... a work in progress, 2018, from the collection of Peter Topping

*Armistead Properties,

** Reminiscences of Manchester, J T Slugg, 1881

***Denbigh Villas, 

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