Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Down on Regent Road in 1876

Now one day I will go and research W.H. Bailey & Co the Albion Works Regent Road but not today.

The sun is out and the grass needs cutting, so you’ve had it.

Other than to say it is another of those fine adverts from Slater’s Directory of Manchester and Salford.

Brought to you by the Society for the Preservation of old Victorian Adverts [Salford Branch] Membership 1, but open to applications from Neil Simpson, Alan Jennings, Bill Sumner and anyone else with an interest in silly things.

And for those who have looked out of the window and seen the rain coming down like stair rods yesterday the sun shone as I wrote the story!

Picture; advert, from Slater’s Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1876

Travels on a tram ....... the much neglected Firswood

Now, never let it be said that Andy Roberston doesn’t roam wide.

In the space of two days he took off from Chorlton to Pomona and on in search of the new Trafford spur, and had time to explore Firs Wood, once a place of open fields and a farm.

Location, Firswood

Picture; on the tram 2018, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Painting Well Hall and Eltham ....... Nu 4 our house on Well Hall Road

An occasional series featuring buildings and places I like and painted by Peter Topping.

Now there had to come a time when I decided my bit of Well Hall Road should be recorded.

It came out of a conversation with Peter about the house two doors down which had been bombed in the Great War.

Tricia Lesley discovered the original war time photograph, Daniel Murphy tracked down its location to the same block where I grew up and with Tricia’s help we uncovered the full story.

All of which I have written about* and with that all done I asked Peter to paint the house knowing that in doing so our house would  get a look in.

But modest as I am I was content that part of it would be obscured behind that small tree.

Back in the 1960s when we moved in to 294 the spot was dominated by a tall oak tree which I guess had been planted when the estate was built.

It pretty much hid our house completely and in the fullness of time will do so again, but for now that's my old bedroom very much as I remember it and that will do for me.

Painting; 294 Well Hall Road, © 2015 Peter Topping 


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*Zeppelins over Well Hall,

Monday, 29 October 2018

The remarkable Mr Banks from factory worker to photographer by Royal Appointment

Oldham Street looking towards New Cross
There is something magic about this picture of Oldham Street which dates from around 1900.

And I am not alone in thinking this.  My friend Sally commented that “the image draws you in” and certainly you feel right at the heart of the city on a busy working day.

We are actually just past Hilton Street looking up towards Great Ancoats Street and New Cross.

Off to our right at numbers 56-58 was Abel Heywood & Sons, the booksellers who had in their time published some of the most important books on Manchester.

Beside them at number 60 was Marks and Spencer Ltd and beyond were the businesses of White the manufacturing jewellers whose sign dominated the skyline and the equally impressive sign of Crosby Walker Ltd whose draper’s shop stretched across numbers 82-86 Oldham Street.

In between were a branch of Maypoles’ the grocery chain, a Yates’ Wine lodge, and assorted photographer’s tailors, coffee merchants and confectioners.

My own favourite, at number 62, is the premise of Miss Isabella, servants registry office which is a reminder that this is still the age when even relatively humble homes aspired to at least one servant.

What is all the more  remarkable is the number of photographers who were offering their services in this small stretch running from Hilton Street up to Warwick Street but then photography had come of age and one of its best exponent was none other than Robert Banks who took this picture.

He had been commissioned by the Corporation as early as 1878 to photograph a series of pictures of the newly opened Town Hall and went on to compile sets of albums including the opening of the Ship Canal, the unveiling of Queen Victoria’s statue, and King Edward’s visit in 1909.

Many of these appear in an old and battered book which Sally picked up recently.

The cover and binding had long ago been lost but the pictures were intact and they are a wonderful record of our city just a century and a bit ago.

Here are celebrated some of the great achievements of the Victorian period, from the towering textile warehouses, to the impressive public buildings and in between street scenes of everyday life.

But few now know much about Mr Banks.  Back in 2011 a collection of his images was published by the History Press along with a short biography but the book sadly is now out of print.*

All of which is a shame because his was an interesting life and reflects that classic view of the self made Victorian.

He was born in 1847, his father was a journeyman carpenter, and at fifteen he was employed as a woollen piercer in Upper Mill.  At the age of twenty he was an illustrated artist working for the Oldham Chronicle and in 1867 had set up as a photographer in the High Street at Uppermill.

Reception Room, Town Hall
Now that move of course glosses over a lot because the step from illustrator to photographic studio I doubt could have been easy but at present I have no idea at the capital needed to begin such a venture or how he might have financed it.

Suffice to say that by 1873 he had moved to Manchester, set up home at 73 Alexandra Road in Moss Side and was renting a studio at 73 Market Street.

Over the next thirty years the business moved from Market Street to New Cross, and on to Franklin Street and Victoria Street and in 1903 was at 126 Market Street.

Likewise the family home was variously on Alexandra Street, and later Mytton Street, but the buildings have long since been cleared.

That said it may be possible to locale the studio in Uppermill and there remains the census records from 1861 onwards and the Rate Books along with possible references in the Manchester Guardian.

I rather think I will also contact his biographer just because Mr Banks is an interesting chap who began in a factory and  along the way was given  the title By Royal Appointment.

Pictures; courtesy of Sally Dervan

Contributory research from James Stanhope-Brown

*Manchester From the Robert Banks Collection, James Stanhope-Brown, 2011, the History Press

A day in the Quays ......... celebrating Salford

There may be some who mutter this isn’t really Salford, not the one I remember, and that will be true.

But all places change and reinvent themselves and Mr Muggins in 1760 may well have reflected that the grand Victorian buildings that rose on the streets of Salford weren’t to his taste.

So here are some of Andy Robertson’s pictures of Salford taken on a bright sunny day in 2017.

Location; Salford

Pictures, Salford, 2017 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Painting Well Hall and Eltham ....... nu 3 Well Hall Cottages

An occasional series featuring buildings and places I like and painted by Peter Topping.

I have always been fascinated by Well Hall Cottages which were demolished in 1923 and  date from at least the mid 18th century.*

They consisted of six properties just north of Kidbrook Lane and  formed a rough L shape with three running west from Well Hall Lane, another two pointing north with a sixth at the rear on the western side.

By 1844 one of the six was occupied by John and Mary Evans. They were in their sixties, he had been born in Wiltshire and she was from Dublin.

Tracking down the other five has been less easy, but judging from the people listed on the census returns for 1841 and ’51 the cottages may have been home to agricultural labourers, a blacksmith and a carpenter.

There are plenty of photographs of the cottages but to my knowledge no paintings of the buildings so it was fitting that Peter should paint them using a coloured picture postcard dating from the early 20th century.

Painting; Well Hall Cottages © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph circa early 19th century.

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*Well Hall Cottages,

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Revealing the secrets of a Salford building

Now if like me you belong to that generation that grew up during or just after the last world war the scene of the side of house revealing what had once been a family home is still all too vivid.

And perhaps also for those that lived in clearance areas the memory of houses shorn of their front walls and roof exposing the peeling wall paper and empty fire places would have also been a common sight.

So here for all those who rarely see such sights is one from Andy Robertson’s collection which may very well have now gone.
Location; Salford

Picture; the end of a Salford building, 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Little Tony, Rock and Roll and Italy in the 1960s

Little Tony in 1967
I came across one of those old faded newspapers yesterday from the 1950s with a story of a local Watch Committee* deploring the “effect of that American style of music commonly known as Rock and Roll on young people.”

And it made me think of the influence of the music, films and life style that we imported from America during the two decades after the last war.

Now of course it had been going on for a long time before Bill Hayley and Elvis Presley strutted across the stage but the 1950s was when I was growing up and so it’s their music and all that went with it that I remember.

Rosa in Naples in 1961
And for Rosa growing up in Naples in the early 1950s the arrival of American culture was even more profound.  It was parodied in the Neapolitan song Tu vuò fà l'americano which gently pointed fun at a young Italian who wanted to look American by drinking whisky and soda, dancing to Rock ‘n Roll and smoking Camel cigarettes.

But the sting was that  this depended on his Italian parents to give him the money,

You want to dance rock and roll; 
You play baseball
But the money for the camels, 
Who give it to you??
Mamma’s handbag!

All of which I was reminded of with the announcement of the death of Little Tony who some had called Italy’s Elvis Presley.

“Born in 1941, Little Tony had a few hits in the UK in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the lead singer of Little Tony & His Brothers. He then returned to Italy where he pursued a successful career as a singer and actor.”**

Little Tony singing Il ragazzo col ciuffo in 1962

His first solo hit was Il ragazzo col ciuffo – The Guy with a Quiff  in 1962 and he went on to record a number of songs which sold over a million each.

And like many singers he made a successful  move into films starring in 20 films and began his own record company.

Watching clips from films and TV appearances there is no getting away from the American influence as in Il ragazzo col ciuffo

But for me it is the song Peggio Per Me - Worse For Me and the accompanying video which best shows not only the impact of American music but also the way it was taken over for an Italian audience of the 1960s

I saw him on TV and enjoyed his performances. He died of lung cancer on May 27, 2013, at the age of 72.

Now for those who want more I shall pass you over to that excellent site Italian Chronicles**, and in particular Italy’s Elvis Bops off to Heaven***which was where I drew much of the material for this story.

Little Tony's site can be visited at

*Watch Committees were responsible for police forces from 1835 till 1964 and so to "appoint constables to preserve the peace."



Pictures; Rosa in Naples from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and Little Tony from Wikipedia Commons and You Tube

Painting Well Hall and Eltham ....... nu 2 the Greyhound

An occasional series featuring buildings and places I like and painted by Peter Topping.

I was always remember this as the Greyhound and it will have been one of the first pubs I went into when I was old enough and so I asked Peter to paint it using a photograph taken by Chrissy Rose.

Peter and I have been working together on projects for almost a decade including two books and an 80 meter installation along with various smaller displays and plenty of commissions.

And next time I am home I might book to eat in the restaurant.

Location; Eltham, London

Painting; Ye old Greyhound © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph by Chrissy Rose 2014


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In Flanders Fields at Central Ref* ...... the Lord Mayor’s visit

Now the growing popularity of the exhibition in Central Ref commemorating Manchester’s involvement in the Great War got a Civic recognition last week.

David and the Lord Mayor
On Wednesday, the Lord Mayor Councillor June Hitchen, toured the exhibition.

She was shown round by David Harrop, who organised the display of memorabilia from his extensive collection which includes material from Miles Platting and Newton Heath which is the ward Councillor Hitchen, has represented for the last 16 years.

Also attending were the three councillors for Chorlton Park, Cllr Dave Rawson, Cllr Mandie Shilton-Goodwin, and Cllr Joanna Midgley, all of whom have shown a special interest in David’s permanent exhibition of material drawn from both world wars in the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery.

Both of these exhibitions are quite unique for not only are they drawn from one private collection and range from medals, letters, official documents and other personal items, but many have a direct link with Manchester.

David with "Civic Friends"
And so it was fitting that one of the visitors on that day should be Helen Flanagan who discovered that some of the exhibits on display had belonged to her great uncle.

Nor has she been alone in being able to make a personal connection with In Flander’s Fields.*

Over the course of the last month and a bit other people have told David of their own links with the exhibition, making this truly an event for Manchester as well as Greater Manchester.

But given the length and the impact of the Great War, David has also added items from his collection which focus on other parts of Britain, including the bombardment of Scarborough and a scrap book compiled by a young Londoner during the early years of the war.

Discussing the exhibition
And it is of London that I shall close, because central to the exbition has been the George Davison Collection.

Mr Davison was born in north Manchester, grew up in Chorlton and began his married life in Hulme.

But as a member of the Royal Artillery he spent a lot of time in Woolwich  and was billeted just yards from where I grew up in Eltham.

His wife also stayed briefly at that address and one of the residents signed Mr Davison's will.

All of which takes the exhibition out of Central Ref and the city to a wider place.

Location Central Ref

Pictures; The Lord Mayor’s visit, 2018, courtesy of Helen Flanagan

*In Flanders Fields will continue in Central Ref till the end of November

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Painting Eltham and telling its stories ............ no 2

Now Peter Topping’s paintings of where I grew up remain popular.*

And so with that in mind I reposted the Facebook Page Painting Eltham and telling its stories and quick as a flash Lesley responded with, “why not make some suggestions of places you think would make great paintings. 

Then maybe some of our members who are very handy with their phones and cameras could go on a snapping spree. 

As it is we have some lovely photos they put on here for us, so we know how talented they are.”

So there you have it.  I would nominate Severndroog Castle the old Fire Station and perhaps even MacDonald’s because of it’s association with Burton along with the old tram sheds on Well Hall Road

All I ask is that it’s your own picture and is in colour

Earlier in the year people did make suggestions but now we need the images.

Just post them on the Well Hall site and the rest is down to Peter and his paint brush.

Location; Well and Eltham

Painting; Eltham Library and The Park Tavern   © 2015 Peter Topping


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* Painting Eltham and telling its stories

Antonio Peduzzi making what we wanted at 33 Piccadilly in 1824

Antonio Peduzzi was from Lombardy and settled in Manchester around 1810, ran a series of successful businesses, was married twice and ended his days in the Chorlton Workhouse on Stretford New Road where he died in 1846.

It is not much of an obituary for a man who had the courage to leave his native Italy, settle here in Manchester mixing his skill as a craftsman with more than a bit of entrepreneurial verve, loved two women and died insane in the workhouse.

But it is the starting point for a fascinating story which was first revealed by Alex Roe who works in Milan, has a wonderful site offering up all sorts of news about Italy and is related to Antonio Peduzzi.

I began thinking about the Italian contribution to the city a few days ago in the story Of Naples in 1961 and Little Italy in Ancoats in 1901 and as you do I was drawn in to the history of those Italians who came over at the beginning of the 19th century, which is the cue for Alex who wrote that

“my very distant relative Antonio Peduzzi died in 1846 after having been certified insane. Antonio’s madness may have been caused in part by the loss of both of his wives. He did not have any children either, poor man.

Prior to his insanity and death, Antonio Peduzzi ran what was by all accounts a successful business which framed and glazed needlework, drawings and pictures; re-gilded and silvered old frames and mirror plates; and made and repaired barometers, thermometers and hydrometers. He had premises in Oldham Street and in Deansgate in the early part of the 19th century.

Antonio Peduzzi’s brother, and my more direct ancestor, was called James. Not a very Italian name, I know. I don’t know whether it was his real name, or one he had chosen to make his life in England a little easier.
James Peduzzi married Elizabeth Ward. The couple had three children, one of whom was Francis who would have been my great, great, great, great, great grandfather. I may have got the number of ‘greats’ wrong! Sorry, but it’s greatly confusing.

James Peduzzi set up in business as a picture frame maker in Spear Street in Manchester and later expanded into the making of thermometers and barometers. After applying for British citizenship, James was able to buy property, which he duly did.

In 1848, James bought a workshop and engine in Foundry Street, off Oldham Road. The property included other small workshops, houses and some shops. James’ business, it seems, flourished which fits in with the family rumour that the Peduzzi’s were quite well-off.

One of James’ sons, born in 1815 was Francis, who along with his younger brother – another James, joined his father in the Foundry Street premises.

Francis left this world in 1866 and his wife took over the business, but, and for reasons unknown, the Peduzzi business ceased trading after Elizabeth’s death in 1870."

33 Piccadilly marked in yellow in 1842
So with Alex’s permission and the help of the Museum of Science & Industry whose collection includes a barometer made by the Peduzzi company I plan to explore more of the life of Antonio and something of the Manchester he knew.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; the buildings opposite the infirmary including the premise of Peduzzi & Co, 1824, m5291, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,  33 Piccadilly and the Infirmary from the 1844 OS of Manchester & Salford, by permission of Digital Archives,   and detail of Carvers, Gilders, &c. From Pigot & Dean’s New Directory of Manchester & Salford 1821-22

Friday, 26 October 2018

Painting Eltham and telling its stories

Now here is a plan. 

Take the key iconic buildings of Eltham, turn them into paintings and tell their stories.

It is something I have been doing for years using the paintings of Peter Topping and exploring the odd, the sad and the funny stories behind each building.

And having read the blog it is time to read the book.

Back in November 2016, Peter and I published Manchester Pubs which told the story of 78 iconic public houses and has already sold out of its first two print runs and now because I grew up in Well Hall and Peter likes Eltham we are planning to do the same here.*

Of course there aren’t as many pubs so we decided to broaden it to include those places we all like and which have a history.

I nominated our house on Well Hall Road, along with the parish church and the library where our Stella worked.  One of my sisters threw in the old tram sheds and Peter wanted the Park Tavern.

So that is the plan, what we need are some more suggestions for favourite Eltham buildings, after all the idea is to make the project one that is shared by everyone from Shooters Hill down to the Palace and everywhere in between.

But given that we both now live in Manchester we need some good modern photographs of the outside of each building with some of the inside and if possible a few locals doing the shopping, sampling the beer or helping clean the pews.

So that is it ........... the new project Painting Eltham and telling its stories

You can get in touch by leaving a comment on the blog or leaving a message on our brand new Facebook site Painting Eltham and telling its stories

Location; Eltham

Painting; The Park Tavern & Eltham Library  © 2015 Peter Topping


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*A new book on Manchester Pubs,

Remembering Skillman's ............. 108 years of selling ukeleles, nails and power drills to the discerning of Woolwich

Now when I was last on Woolwich High Street number 108 was an empty shop, and despite a coat of black paint the front still displayed the name of Skillman & Sons, which was where my friend Jean “always went ...... as they had all sorts of nails and things not found anywhere else.” 

Skilman's, 1977
And judging from conversations I have had recently so did many other people. It was one of those places where you could you get pretty much anything you wanted and was part of our history which I knew nothing about until I came across the story of the Skillman family and number 108 written by the granddaughter of Mr
Alfred Skillman who established the business in 1900*

It opened selling everything from second hand furniture, men’s suits, outdoor clothing, and musical instruments supplying harmonicas and ukeleles to the sailors docking in Woolwich. and later changing emphasis to tools and hardware.

The shop continued in business until 2002 but the closure of the Woolwich docks in the 1960s and the slow demise of the area as a major shopping centre coupled with the development of the “super store” made trading more difficult.

Skilman's in 2002
It is a familiar story where the small independent traders who knew their customers and could anticipate their needs have vanished from our high streets replaced by strings of estate agents, charity shops and coffee chains.

So I welcome the story of Mr Alfred Skillman and his family who served the needs of Woolwich for 108 years but rather than just cherry pick from the original piece I suggest you go and read their story which first appeared in 2002.*

It is a fascinating account which combines the facts of a family business with some wonderful anecdotes like the one of the drunks and the pianos, when Mr Skillman told his children to ‘close now before the drunks come out of the pubs and start spitting into our mouth organs and harmonicas.’”

And a thank you to Tricia who foist alerted me to this very personal account.

Pictures; Skillman’s in 1977 from the collection of Jean Gammons and again in 2002 courtesy of S C Skillman

*The Ironmongers Shop Opposite the Woolwich Ferry, from SC Skillman Blog,

In the company of the Manchester Bees ..... no.22 ..... The Inscape 3

Now, just a few months ago the Manchester Bees were a tourist attraction.

Lady Buzzington
They were visited, photographed and written about and during the summer I regularly featured them on the blog, and then they were gone.*

But not quite, because here are three I missed, courtesy of the archivist of the Together Trust who alerted me to the final resting place of three bees.

These are Lady Buzzington, Let there bee love and Robot battle bee, which are now in the offices of the Together Trust in Cheadle.**

The design and names of the bees were created and voted for by students from Inscape House School which is a non-maintained day special school in Cheadle, Cheshire,  meeting  the needs of children and young people aged five to 19 years with autism spectrum conditions and related social communication difficulties. ***

Let there bee love
At which point I shall just quote what the school has said about each bee.

"Lady Buzzington was painted at Inscape's 25-year anniversary party this May, with each hexagon on the bee decorated by past and present students and staff. 

The multicoloured design of the bee reflects the diverse nature of autism and its glorious variety of outcomes.

Let there bee love was inspired by a song with the same name from Manchester band Oasis. 

Many of the young people at Inscape are nature lovers, so they designed their bee covered with flowers. 

Robot battle bee
Its design also represents peace, love and unity and the colourful and diverse nature of the many children who painted it.

Robot battle bee's unique design is partly realistic and partly robotic, with a steampunk edge. 

Its design reflects Manchester's industrial and worker-bee heritage, with cogs, wheels and Victorian machinery hidden amongst its design"..

And that is it.

Location; Together Trust, Cheadle

Pictures; three bees courtesy of the Together Trust

*Manchester Bees,

**Together Trust,

***Inscape House School,

Walking down Kender Street looking for the cocoa works and finding a lost cinema

It will be something well over half a century since I last walked down Kender Street and even now it’s the smell of cocoa which is the first thing that comes to mind.

Kender Street, 1872
We lived at number 14 for about a year and a bit back in 1950 into ‘51 and for most of that decade and into the next we regularly  went back to visit one of mum’s friends.

And Kender Street was also one of those alternate routes from Lausanne Road up to the public library on New Cross Road, the wool shop and mum’s other favourite haunt the private lending library.

Now I went looking for all those places recently and of course the passage of fifty five years has not been kind to my child hood memories.  The cocoa works along with number 14 and a big chunk of the street have gone as have the library, the wool shop and much else.

And so comprehensive has the change been that I did begin to question just how much I remembered.

Undaunted I turned to a set of historical maps running from 1872 till 1954.

Most are online courtesy of Southwark Council* and they offer a pretty neat picture of the area over 80 or so years.

Now I couldn’t confirm the cocoa plant but I was struck by the number of industrial units ranging from a print works, and iron works to a cooperage and engineering plant.  Most were developed in the years after 1872 and plenty of them were still there around Kender Street and Pomeroy Street in the early 1950s.

Of course having spent years living in east Manchester which retained its heavy industry until the 1980s and only saw the colliery close in 1968 I shouldn’t have been surprised.

What I did find fascinating was the lost cinema on Queens Road which I only discovered from one of those old maps.**

This was the Ideal Cinema House which stood between Kender Street and Pomeroy Street.

It had opened in 1914 as the Queens’ Cinema House, changed its name a year later to the Queens’s Road Cinema and in 1916 was renamed again the Ideal Kinema and when it was bought by Naborhood Theatres Ltd around 1935 becoming the  Narborhood Cinema.

And there in its 790 seat theatre audiences could have thrilled to Tom Mix, Charlie Chaplin and enthralled at the first talkies.

Alas it’s time as the Narborhood were numbered.  It was destroyed by German bombs in 1940 and the remains demolished the following year which I suspect was why I knew nothing of its existence.

All of which just points to that simple observation that if you want to revisit your childhood, best do it with some maps, and the odd history book.

Of course there may be someone who has a picture of the old cinema and even of the cocoa plant, and may be even the Eno’s Fruit Salt Works on Pomeroy Street whose wall also backed on to the gaden of nu 14 Kender Street.

Now that would be something.

Picture; Kender Street !872, from the OS for London 1872, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, 

* Southwark Historical mapping

**Naborhood Cinema, 277-281 Queen's Road, Cinema Treasures,

A little bit of Ordsall Lane in the April of 1911 and a correction to the original story

Ordsall Lane, 1894
I was on Ordsall Lane recently on that short stretch between Woden Street and Everard Street.  It is a mix of flats, houses and some open land.

And like so many city landscapes what you notice is the solitary pub which in this case is the Bricklayers Arms facing Woden Street.

What is a little odd is that the entrance is not on the main road but up the side of some open land that leads to an alley and on to Freya Grove.

Now that is odd as you would expect the entrance to be on the main road, and it looks very much as if the building has been turned sideways.

But not so because originally that open land was the continuation of Woden Street and our pub was built with its entrance facing that street.

All of which is a clue to the whole sale redevelopment of the area along this bit of Ordsall Lane.  I say development but it is more the demolition of what was there and in particular a row of houses that faced our pub and ran down from Woden Street to Everard Street.

That said I have to admit to getting this bit a tad wrong, for only a few hours after I posted the story I received this comment  from Bernard . 

"Andrew I lived in The Bricklayers Arms from 1948 to 1954. 

At that time the front entrance was on Ordsall Lane and the address was 148 Ordsall Lane. This would fit in with the 1911 street directory as shown in your article. The front door was blocked up when the pub was extended and now there is just a window there."

Outside the Bricklayers Arms, circa 1950
This is a photo of me and some friends at the Woden Street entrance to the Bricklayers taken c1950. 

Before the pub was extended in 60s the front door was on Ordsall Lane and the address was 148 Ordsall Lane."

Now that is what I like about the blog, not only are people reading it but they are kind enough to make a contribution.

And as you do I became interested in them after having come across the Edwards family who lived at number 168 in 1911.  There were nine of them living in just five rooms and that was all I needed to draw me in.

Looking at the remaining 13 houses was to be taken back to that classic period of inner city living where rows of small terraced houses were home to large households.  Most of the row boasted five rooms but a third had just four and crammed into the block were a total of ninety-three people, some of whom did come from large or extended families but in other cases were a mix of family and lodgers.

So at number 160 Mr Tierney along with his own family of eight added five lodgers to what was just a five roomed property, and while this was the most extreme case of overcrowding plenty of the houses had lots of people squeezed in.

The Street Directory, 1911
Here were the usual mix of occupations including labourers, carters, cotton workers, shop assistants and one insurance agent.

Some of the householder varied their occupations depending on whether they were talking to the people who compiled the street directory in the November and December of 1910 or the census enumerator in the April of the following year.

So Mr Cooke had become a hardware dealer in April but earlier had been happy to be listed as “iron monger and grinder,” while Mr Dean chose to specify that he was a herbalist rather than plain shop keeper.

What is surprising is that there was very little in the way of turn over between the six months or so from November to April with only three changes of occupation.

Now I don’t pretend that this is anything more than a snap shot of a few households in some small bit of Salford, and I would like to acquire a picture of the properties, but in the meantime next time I stand with my back to that pub and gaze across Ordsall Lane I will have something more to stir my imagination.

Picture; detail from the OS map of South Lancashire, 1894, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, picture of Bernard and friends, courtesy of Bernard and detail from Slaters' Directory of Manchester & Salford 1911

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Everyone Remembered .........commemorating those who fought in the Great War

Each of the forthcoming memorial services for the men and women who participated in the Great War will be a special event.

But for me attending the event in Cheadle on November 13 2018 will be particularly poignant.

Over the last two years I have worked closely with the Trust on a new book to mark their 150th anniversary, and in the course of that project I came to know something of the young men associated with the charity who went off to fight.

A plaque has been commissioned, in memory of those who died and will take pride of place in the Cheadle grounds.

Alongside this Together Trust have also been awarded five silhouettes, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust for display.

Young people from our Ashcroft service have been working hard to learn more about the charity during World War One and have been involved in art work, music and poetry. A

ll will be displayed on Tuesday 13th November and we hope the local community will join us to remember those who fought.*

You can read the full story of the preparations for the day by following the link to their blog.*

Location Cheadle

Pictures; courtesy of the Together Trust

*Remembering those who fought in WW1,

“Regent Cinema, Eccles 1920-1962, opened with Fatty Arbuckle, closed with Ingrid Bergmann”

“Regent Cinema, Eccles 1920-1962, opened with Fatty Arbuckle, closed with Ingrid Bergmann”

Now in terms of cinema history that pretty much sums up how many of our picture houses went.

They opened in their hundreds across the country as this new form of entertainment caught the public attention and started going dark as televisions proved an even greater draw.

And so Andy’s comment which accompanied the photograph pretty much says it all.

The lucky ones became Bingo Halls and some even made their way back to showing films, others became supermarkets, and even undertakers while the unlucky ones remained closed and eventually were demolished.

The Regent fared a little better and so while its bingo days lasted for just a few short years it became a wine bar in 1983, reopened as the Silver Screen night club and in turn was saved by J.D. Wetherspoon becoming the Eccles Cross.”*

Nor is that quite all because in looking for information on the old cinema I became a cross a wonderful short video on Eccles in 1949 which as you would expect included our picture house.

Picture; the “Eccles Cross” from the collection of Andy Robertson, August 2014

*Regent Cinema, from Cinema Treasure,

**Salford Online “Rare and unseen film footage of Eccles in 1949,

Mr Greig's superior grocers shop in Eltham High Street

A short series looking at the story behind the picture.

I don’t suppose many people ever look up at the top 132/136 which is a pity given what is there and the history behind it.

The building was “erected for the grocers David Greig in 1905 – the initials are in terracotta in the gables.  Note the fine brickwork, the two balconies, and lots of quirky detail.”*

And not to be out done the building next door at 130 dates back to the mid 19th century

*Spurgeoon, Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000

Picture; from the collection of Jean Gammons

Up the Junction with those brooding Owen Street Towers

Now yesterday Andy took himself off to photograph the Grand Junction which has always caught my interest but a pub I never visited.

Those two towers
There was no reason for my failure to call in other than that I lived in Chorlton and never quite got round to breaking my journey and getting off the bus that was taking me to town.

Recently I decided I should give the place a go only to find it had closed.

But more on the Junction later, for now it’s those two tower blocks on Owen Street that have got into the story.

After all you can’t miss them, and even more than the Beetham Tower they seem to be the buildings you can see from so many different parts of south Manchester.

All of which is how they got here, but now that is dealt with, on to the Grand Junction which my copy of The Old Pubs of Hulme Manchester, informs me was first licensed in 1846, although it was intended as a pub the year before.*

In 1969 it lost its third floor and is now closed.

Location; Hulme

Pictures; the Grand Junction 2015 and 2018, and those towers, 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson

* Potts Bob, The Old Pubs of Hulme Manchester, 1983

Manchester Retold ......A City’s Journey Through History ...... Part 2 ..... Grim Tales

Now I am looking forward to Manchester Retold ......A City’s Journey Through History, which is a special evening of readings and book signings with local authors, hosted by the History Press at Central Ref.*

As the title implies this will be an opportunity to sink deep into our collective history with Graham Phythian, Joanne Williams, Michala Hulme, Sheila Brady, Michael Billington, and me.

The subjects covered by the six historians include Manchester during two world wars, the darker side of the city’s past, the history of Urmston, Flixton and Davyhulme, and the contribution of the residents of Chapel Street in Altrincham to  the Great War.

And as I promised earlier I have decided to feature each of the six in turn, and so in no particular order, the second is Michala Hume, whose book, “A Grim Almanac of Manchester collects together 365 of the darkest tales from Manchester’s history – terrifying true tales of riot, assault, murder and crime, of slums, disease, death and disaster.

It is filled with amazing historical horrors ranging from the bizarre – such as the night a poisoned cake caused a sickness to sweep through Ancoats – to the horrific, like the tragic time twenty-three people were crushed to death attempting to escape a fire in the overcrowded Victoria Music Hall.

Some of these incidents were resolved, but many remain mysteries to this day**.

At which point I could write about Ms Hulme, but instead, you can talk to her yourself on the night.

The event will take place in the Performance Space of Central Ref, and is free ...... but with only 108 places you are advised to follow the link and book soon.**

* Manchester Retold,

**A Grim Almanac of Manchester, Michala Hume, 2015, £12.99 & Manchester Bloody British History, Michala Hume, 2016, £9.99

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The 10/- insurance........ and other stories

I suppose it must have been my dad who got me to carry a 10/- note in my wallet whenever ever I went out.

Three telephone kiosks, Kanresbrough, 2013
It was an insurance against having spent up and was the emergency reserve.

I pretty much carried it from when I was 16 through to when I left Well Hall for Manchester three years later.

By which time I had abandoned smart jackets, Ben Sherman shirts and neat ties for the uniform of a student, and wallets didn’t quite fit the image.

But now I have reverted to the habit and carry a fiver, which I know is daft, because in this almost cashless world we inhabit, my piece of plastic will pay for a bus ride, a cup of coffee and much more.

My favourite Nokia, 2014
And that got me thinking of the passage of time and the things we, and our parents and grandparents never went out of the house without.

For some, depending on wealth and status it would have been the pocket watch, which might have been engraved and would have been suspended from a heavy silver or gold chain.

While during the war years there would have been the necessity of always having your identity card, and in the early stages of the last world war the all important gas mask.

Both dad and grand dad always wore hats, which in the case of granddad was a flat cap and for dad it varied between a beret and a homburg.

And for mother and Nana it was the head scarf, which might be swapped for a hat on special occasions and was always accompanied by one of those string bags, which had to be carried “just in case I see something I want.”

Today the move away from plastic shopping bags has brought a return to the “bag just in case” but the watch I think may be on its way out.

Pocket watch, 2016
After all, who needs to a watch when most of us carry a mobile?

And that mobile phone offers up a shedload of things which made much of what we carried or needed to do totally redundant.

Like looking for the right change for the telephone box, buying an early edition of the Evening News, and the most basic of all, not having to prearrange a meeting place after a day shopping separately in town.

Now I grant you that in the great sweep of history stories this is nothing more than a triviality, but it is the small bits of the past which are often so much more fun to read about.

And yes I do think Wagon Wheels are smaller today, Jubilees were a con, and sherbet and liquorice sticks are as disgusting now as they were when I was ten.

Abandoned and forgotten, 2015
But I still savour sherbet lemons, miss the white dot as the telly was turned, have no idea what to do with our growing collection of ancient mobiles, and wonder what happened to my ten bob note.

Location; sometime before now

Pictures; three telephone kiosks, Knaresborough, 2013, my Nokia 3310, 2014, a selection of our old phones, 2015, and the watch of Earl C Duffin, courtesy of David Harrop

In celebration of the new Salford ......... nu 6 waiting for a tram

A short series mostly around the Quays looking at  Salford

Location; Salford

Picture; Salford, 2015, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Bowling along on the Berlin Tram

Now I will apologise at the outset for the title and move on, to the interesting stuff.

The Berlin network is one of the oldest, having been established in 1865 and is the third largest tram system in the world beaten only by Melbourne and St Petersburg.

It runs 22 lines covering 430 kilometres and boasts 800 stops.

All of which made it a perfect subject for Peter to paint.

Now there are plenty more fascinating facts but I shall leave them for another day.

That said there will be plenty out there who will have lots to say including Peter who has done the Berlin tram routes and is therefore a better authority than me.

Location; Berlin

Painting; the Berlin tram © Peter Topping, 2008


Facebook: Paintings from Pictures

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Priory ........ a campaign to save a row of trees .......... and that new book

Now here is a story with a contemporary ring.

St Peter's Priory 1895, from 7 Maple Avenue
In the April of 1897 more than a few residents of Chorlton were moved to write to the Manchester Guardian in defence of a row of trees which were in danger of being demolished.

One correspondent described the plan to cut them down as an “act of vandalism” while another argued that the loss of “the plantation of well grown trees which now graces the garden adjoining St Peter’s Priory” highlighted a trend where “Chorlton is growing so rapidly that green acres are disappearing almost under the pressure of bricks and mortar, and it seems more than a pity, nay almost a crime, to cut down a single tree unless absolutely imperative.”*

Oakley, 1894
The trees in question ran parallel to Barlow Moor Road in the garden of St Peter’s Priory, which had once been known as Oakley, and even earlier as Oak Bank, and had been built in the early 19th century as the home of William Morton, and later the Cope family.

Oak Bank was a substantial building standing in its own grounds, close to the modern junction of Barlow Moor and Wilbraham roads.

Nothing now exists of the house but the path leading to it is now Needham Avenue. The house was situated in a garden which covered the area running on either side of Needham Avenue as far as Barlow More Lane in one direction and Corkland Road in the other.

The Oakley gatepost, 2016
The estate also included a large meadow field and small wood stretching back from Needham along Barlow Moor Lane to Lane End.

William Morton had been there since 1821, but on his death his will stipulated that the house and land had to be sold within five years.

When this happened is not known, but in 1845 a Miss Crofton was there paying rent to the Executors of Mr Morton.

By 1847 the house and land were in the possession of Frederick Cope who rented both to John.  This was a short term arrangement and by 1850 the Cope family were living at Oak Bank.

William Morton had described himself as a member of the gentry.   Frederick Cope was a wine merchant.

Oakley gardens after development, 1907
And in 1892 the house became the Priory of St Peter, the “object of which was the conversion of England by means of outdoor lectures and sermons to non Catholics”.**

But its existence was short lived and four years later, “it was found impossible to carry out the terms of the contract with the vendor of the property, and the estate was sold".

This was only a temporary hiccup and a year later “the land and buildings known as Chorlton High School on High Lane were purchased”.**

All of which brings me back to those trees, because as ever, there was a developer waiting in the wings, and in the space of a few years, the Priory was demolished, the trees cut down and the garden was built over.

The stretch along Barlow Moor Road became Pemberton Arcade, with Needham and Priory Avenues behind, and Maple Avenue to the south.

Pemberton Arcade, Barlow Moor Road, 1982
The story of the “battle of the trees” is now well in the past, but as we know the issues of redevelopment and the loss of green bits is topical, as is the conflict between public and commercial use, which was also echoed back in 1897 by another “tree letter”.

Writing on the same day, J.G.J, argued that the Oakley site should be given over to a public school and free library “which are required badly”.

It never happened and Chorlton had to wait another decade to get the school and a temporary library.

But those are for other stories, leaving me just to point out that the full story of St Peter’s Priory along with the opening of the Catholic Church on High Lane appear in our new book on the places of worship in Chorlton, which is an outrageous plug I know, but one I will pursue.

I have finished writing it, Peter is in the process of adding the photos and paintings, and laying it out, and soon the finished book will be winging its way to the publisher, ready for self publishing, by Christmas.

You can obtain your copy  from us at or Chorlton Book shop, 506 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9AW 0161 881 6374

Pictures; St Peter’s Priory, circa 1895, from the collection of Ray Jones, the gate post of Oakley from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the Oakley from the OS map of South Lancashire 1893, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, and the OS for Manchester & Salford, 1907

*Correspondence to the Manchester Guardian, April 7, 1897

** Monsignor Joseph Kelly, St John’s Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Commemoration New Church Year Book, 1928