Monday, 17 June 2019

Who remembers Lambolle Coiffeur?

It is the corner of Beech Road, and the shop which went under the delightful name of Lambolle Coiffeur.

 It was as I recall an old fashioned hair dressers.

The carefully arranged curtains, wooden panels and glass door fix it very much in another time.

Most us will have seen those early 20th century prints of the shop as Whitakers the grocers, and the family had been in business on this site or nearby since the 1850s. 

 A century later they were still there and had another shop off Ivy Green. But I thought instead I would like to publish this image.

It is another one of those pictures which are not too old but old enough to make the scene a little unfamiliar.

For a long time after the shop closed it stayed empty, then became rented offices before being taken over as an estate agents and reverting again to a hairdressers. During its refurbishment and transformation into offices the building lost its tiny panes of glass and reverted to something more like the original which had five large windows.

Picture; from the collection of Tony Waker

A film, a song and a clash of cultures, Italy in the '50s

Rome, an alley off  the Trevi Fountain, 2011
Black and white movies, Italy in the 50s, and a Neapolitan song 

Yesterday evening we sat and watched an old black and white Italian movie from the 1950s.

Perhaps it has a lot to do with getting old.

When I was young I avoided films that were in black and white. They were drab and boring and came from a time when technology had not mastered the art of colour. They were simply, the films of my parents and grandparents.

With age comes an appreciation of the subtle way the film maker can play with light and shadow.

When you first come across Harry Lime in The Third Man it is half way through the film and we catch just a glimpse of him, half hidden in the shadows.

A man who is not what he seems to be, and who evokes different responses from different people. Friend, lover, and criminal suspect, Harry Lime plays all these parts, with a playful smile and cavalier manner but also deals in deceit and poisoned medicine. It is a dark film and the shots of post war Vienna are best seen in black and white. Here is a grim city where people are on the margin making do in rubble strewn streets.

But there is another reason why I am drawn more and more to black and white films, and it is because many were made during the years I was growing up and take me back to my childhood. Those I remember best were often the B movies like the one shot near Tower Bridge looking out on a busy River Thames which is the drab workaday river I remember full of cranes, barges and tramp steamers

Naples, 1961
And that I think was the attraction of the Italian movie. It was set in the same post war world that I grew up in. Here were funny old cars, big odd looking radios and shops which were not giant supermarkets.

The film like so many of our own also had a charming innocence. The plot was implausible, a lot of the acting slightly dodgy, and there was a happy ending. Even so here was a vivid slice of a way of life as dead as Dixon of Dock Green or the trolley bus.

I watch fascinated as the storyline unfolds against a backdrop of Rome in the 1950s. I excitedly point to the floating bar and dance floor moored on the Tiber, and wonder if this is the same floating dance floor where Gregory Peck kissed Audrey Hepburn.

 For a while I forget the silly story line involving two best friends competing for the beautiful girl who in the end dumped them both for someone else, and try matching this Rome of fifty years ago with the one I know and love. It becomes part geography lesson and part history lesson and like Roman Holiday I lose myself in memories of Roman streets I have walked down and bars which bear have an uncanny resemblance to the ones we have been in.

Films of this period also bring alive that tension between the old and new Italy as well as the growing influence of the U.S. Smart little Italian cars and vespers compete for road space with horse and carts, and for every young man in his stylish suit there is a little old lady dressed in black. Our two young heroes dance with girls in bikinis and the music on the floating bar is a mix of traditional Neapolitan love songs and American swing.

Rome, 2011
And by one of those coincidences, Simone had been playing the classic 50s Tu vuò fà l'americano in the car as we headed back from Tuscany. It is a song written in Neapolitan, and translated runs so you want to be American. It pokes gentle fun at those Italians who act like Yankees by drinking whisky and soda, dancing to Rock ‘n Roll and smoking Camel cigarettes. But the sting is that the pretend Yankee depends on his Italian parents to give him the money, and with much fun Tina and Simone almost shout the lines

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

And behind the fun is that very simple truth that someone else’s culture can be the ruin of your own for

How can those who love you understand you,
If you speak half in American?
When one talks of love under the moon,
how can you say "I love you"?

Pictures;  from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A tunnel and the story of a railway …………….

Now the Docklands Light Railway was one of those things that happened when I wasn’t looking.

To be fair I do now live in Manchester, and have done so since 1969, when aged just nineteen I crossed the River and continued on till morning which took me to my adopted city.

And it was while I was away in the north that the railway was built.

To this day I have never travelled on it, and know only that it runs with the minimum number of staff, and crosses the Thames with stops in Woolwich Greenwich and Lewisham.

All of which will be quite familiar to many, but there will be those like me who left when the docks were still docks, and men labored unloading cargoes from across the world.

So here is another picture from John King, which I like of the Cutty Sark stop which captures perfectly the moment before the train arrives.

As to the story of the DLR, that has already been done, and I suspect better than I could do.
So, I will leave it at that.

Location; Greenwich

Picture; The DLR tunnel at the Cutty Sark Station. 2019, from the collection of John King

A history of Withington in 20 objects … 5 ….. the Town Hall

The story of Withington in just twenty objects, chosen at random and delivered in a few paragraphs.

It’s not every day that you get the chance to decide on becoming part of a city.

But that was exactly what happened in the January of 1904, when the ratepayers of Withington along with those of Burnage, Didsbury, and Chorlton-cum-Hardy were asked to take a leap and join the big city neighbour.

We had been part of the Withington Urban District Council since it was set up in 1876 and bits of its legacy are sill knocking around if you know where to look.

Some of the streets grids still bear the name Withington UDC and out by the meadows are the remains of the sewage works, although I have to confess my favourite bit of this long vanished little local authority is Withington Town Hall.

It was built in 1881 for the Withington Local Board of Heath which in 1894 became Withington Urban District Council.

After our vote for incorporation into the City the building remained in public use and I can remember many evenings spent in the great hall, although the details of why I was there have faded.

I wish back then I knew of its proud history and of the discussions which went on over issues like the sewage works down by the Mersey, the provision of new schools and the Library across the Township.

Location; Withington

Painting; Withington Town Hall, 2018, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Smelly Victorian sewer pipes no.3 …………. the one in Leicester

Now I collect those tall cast iron funnels that are a mute reminder of the efforts of Victorian sanitation engineers to make all things safe.

I grew up with one which was located just a few yards from our house in Peckham, and came across another in Plumstead.

This one I collected yesterday in Leicester just a couple of streets away from our Polly and Josh.

They were for venting the sewers of the more obnoxious and even dangerous gasses which could accumulate down below, and I suppose they still do the business today.

Oddly I have never come across one in Manchester, although they are all over the North East.**

That said there must be many more survivors, leaving me just to make that appeal for pictures, stories or anecdotes of other smelly Victorian sewer pipes.

Location; Leicester

Pictures; the smelly Victorian sewer pipe on Westcotes Drive, Leicester,2019, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Smelly Victorian sewer pipes,

** *The Northern Echo July 2008,

Lost and forgotten Salford streets nu 9 ......... Mallett's Court and Greengate

Greengate, numbers 34-42, circa 1895
You won’t find Mallet’s Court nor for that matter the beer shop of Mrs Lucy Parton which occupied numbers 34 & 36 Greengate, or the home of Mr James Finn shopkeeper.

They were all there on this bit of Greengate in 1895.  Mrs Parton’s beer shop is there on the immediate right of the picture announced by the sign of the Flying Dutchman.

But already the row of houses next door are marked, for there is a sign announcing that they are to be sold, and just a few years later the site is empty and later still has become a garage for the Daimler Motor Company.

The Flying Scotsman, circa 1895
Mrs Parton however hung into 1909 but she too had vanished two years later and the pub was now a boarding house.

Now in time I will go looking for Mrs Parton along with Mr Finn and the other inhabitants both of this bit of Greengate and Mallet Court which led off to seven back to back properties.

And for those wanting to know exactly where we are on Greengate, had you stepped just one more down from the beer shop you would have been standing on the corner of Greengate and Gorton Street.

All a bit more helpful than the caption on the picture postcard which just said “Old Houses, Greengate Salford.”

Which just leaves me to ask if any one is passing this bit of Greengate to snap the corner with Gorton Street and send me the results.

Other than that I will offer up the detail of the area from Goad's Fire Insurance maps which show Gorton Street, Greengate and Mallet's Court.

Greengate, circa 1900
At the time no doubt Mrs Parton was still offering up beer to her customers.

And here I must give a thankyou to Alan Jennings who corrected me on the original story where I called her pub the Flying Scotsman.

In my defence I couldn't read the name, and the directories only list the place as a "beer shop" so I was pleased that Alan came in with, "Hi Andrew, not trying to be picky, but the pub was called the Flying Dutchman, not Flying Scotsman. 

It was named after the 1849 Derby winner, it closed in 1906 when Cornbrook brewery were awarded compensation for the licence.

In 1850 it was a whip makers shop, 2 years later it was the Flying Dutchman, tenanted by Henry Smith, later licensees included William Boswell in the 1860s, Sarah Hindle in the 1870s and Paul Parton in early 1900s. 

The brewery installed Thomas Carney in July 1905, 8 months later the police reported that the pub was still being used by thieves and other bad characters and so it was referred for compensation. Carney was at the Waterloo hotel before that."

Now that is not picky just a sound piece of historical correction and has set me off looking for the story of the Cornbrook brewery.

Please keep them coming Alan.

Location; Salford

Picture;“Old Houses, Greengate Salford, circa 1895, from the collection of Mrs Bishop and map from Goad's Fire Insurance Maps, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Changing Chorlton ……………. always take the picture

Now if there is one thing I have come to learn ………… it is never miss an opportunity to record the changing landscape.

And when the landscape involves a controversial building a picture of the said building is a must.

This one has evoked some strong feelings, all which have bounced around social media, and is now in the hands of the planning department.

Along the way, its progress to the present involved what most people thought was an extension to the café, and the demolition of that tree.

Andy Robertson, as ever has been on hand to record the story from the destruction of the tree to now.

All of which means his picture will be a record of the changing Chorlton landscape, long after the tree and the open space with this building have been forgotten, as they surely will be.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; beside Chorlton Post Office, 2019, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Sunday, 16 June 2019

A little bit of our tiled past on Beech Road above the cocktails and pizzas

John Williams & Sons Ltd 2015
I can’t be exactly sure when this bit of tiled wall disappeared behind the false wall at number 32 Beech Road, but I am guessing it will have been sometime in the 1960s when the grocery shop which was John Williams and Sons became the Maypole Launderette and later still the Soap Opera.

And like many others who sat watching the washing going round and then waited for the clothes to dry in those huge tumble driers I was totally unaware that hidden from view high and close to the ceiling beside the window there was this sign.

The other surprise was that John Williams and Sons were not local traders but in fact owned a chain of grocer shops across the city and beyond which in 1931 accounted for 41 shops of which there were three in Chorlton**, six in Didsbury and another four in Rusholme.

John Williams & Sons, 1932
Back in 1895 they are listed  with five shops in Didsbury and Fallowfield which by 1911 had become 11 with John Williams described as managing director and the head office at 400 Dickinson Road.

Later still although I can’t date it is a wonderful advert for the company which advertises their ‘“Dainty, Delightful Delicious Tea, [from] John Williams & Sons limited, “The Suburban Grocers”, [at] 28 Victoria Street Manchester Stockport & Branches’.

And looking at the interior of one of their shops sometime in the early 20th century there is more than an element of “class” about the place.

So while the shelves groan with tinned produce and between the potted plants are the familiar posters advertising Californian Apricots at 6½d, and Coffee and other things, it is less cluttered, less in your face and far more discreet than some of the grocery chains of the period.

Taking in Beech Road in 1932
Of course we will never be quite sure whether our John William’s was typical of the chain but I rather think it will have been for then as now there was a corporate brand image to maintain.

Certainly the picture of the Beech Road shop in 1932 would suggest as much.

Which brings me back to the tiled bit of the wall.

Now given the way these things work I doubt that there will be many of these left, most will have been painted over covered in a thick skim of plaster or just knocked off the wall.

The closed Soap Opera, 2011
So all credit to the owners of the Launderette who have incorporated this little bit of the buildings past in the present decor.

They of course have also given a nod to the buildings previous use and now also to its time as a grocery store, all of which reminds me that the price of preserving the past is eternal vigilance which I am the first to admit is to misquote what the American Abolitionist and liberal activist Wendell Phillips said in 1852.**

Now that is almost where we came in because I only discovered that bit of tile after yesterdays story on Beech Road in 1932, which prompted Anne-Marie Goodfellow to point out that it had been preserved by the restaurant.

And in turn that led me back to two of Peter Topping’s painting from his series which set out to record how Chorlton was changing.

The Launderette 2014
Late in 2011 Peter had painted the Soap Opera after its last rinse and tumble dry had finished and went back just after the Launderette had opened its doors offering “cocktails and carbs” and much more.

Now I bet there will be plenty of people who also have pictures, memories and the odd bit of memorabilia from a lost Chorlton shop which we would all like to share.

And just after I had posted this story John commented that  "I used to deliver orders on a real order bike with a big cage on the front, from that very shop on Beech Road, 15/- bob a week, and tips. 1959/60."

Which is a nice way to conclude, given that we started with that tiled sign  for John Williams and Sons, purveyors of all things grocery and end with John the delivery boy.

Pictures; the tiled advert for John Williams and Sons, 2015 from  the collection of Andrew Simpson suggested by Anne-Marie Goodfellow and  Beech Road in 1932 from the Lloyd Collection

Paintings; the Soap Opera, © 2011 and the Launderette, © 2014, Peter Topping, 
Facebook; Paintings from Pictures, Web:

*32 Beech Road, Wilbraham Road, 211 Upper Chorlton Road.

**“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” Wendell Phillips on January 28, 1852, speaking to members of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.

Remembering Eltham in 1977

Nothing dates more than the recent past.

I am looking at pictures of Eltham taken in 1977 and what strikes me most is how different the place looked just under 40 years ago.

It is a mix of the colour that was used on the prints and the slightly unfamiliar looking clothes.  And of course the absence of some of the buildings which you take for granted.

All the more so when Eltham is no longer your home but just a place to return to.

Which takes me back to the pictures of the Castle in the High Street and the King’s Arms on Eltham Hill, which are pubs whose names stretch back well into the past.

I can’t say I liked the Castle and only ever went in there once, but in the space of two visits home it had gone and I can’t even remember when.

Likewise the Kings Arms which was for a while was our local is also no more.

Thinking back I am not sure why I did like it, unless it was that tendency in the young to scorn old pubs which had character and interest on their side.

All of which is my loss.  The Greyhound would certainly have impressed my Italian family as did the Royal Sun when I was in there a few years ago.

But we do take things for granted and I suppose don’t even register the changes that are happening.

All of which makes pictures like these wonderful pieces of history.

As always you have to be careful not to descend into nostalgic rubbish.

Places evolve, buildings come and go and not everything that is demolished is worth saving.

Although as I grow older I do rather look on the buildings of the 1950s, 60s and 70s with a bit of a jaundiced eye.

Simple concrete box designed shops and houses lack something of the charm of earlier buildings.  The 1970s Post Office has little to compare with its predecessor

So while I don't mourn the end of the Castle I would hope that its neighbour is still standing in 30 years time.

This is  the old David Grieg building which is a fascinating piece of old Eltham with fine brickwork, balconies and terracotta initials of the company in the gables.

And in turn will write in with their memories of their last pint in the King’s Arms as I  remember eating in the Golden Orient or whatever it had become by the 1990s.

So it matters to keep taking the pictures, saving them and bringing them out every so often to chart the changes which we miss.

Pictures, courtesy of Jean Gammons

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 8 .... Chapel Street

Now before anyone says anything I am quite well aware that Chapel Street is neither lost nor forgotten.

Anyone who has tried to cross the road from Trinity Church to the other side during the rush hour well testify to that.

But for JBS who sent this picture postcard on July 12 1905 at 3.30 pm Chapel Street as she experienced it has long gone.

She had arrived that morning “all safe ..... weather Beautiful, if I can I shall stay here till Wednesday providing I can find lodgings.”

I can’t be sure but given that the card was addressed to a Miss Smith of 78 Wellington Street, Batley, I think we can assume she was from Yorkshire.

And the rest as they is up to the curious to match her lost Chapel Street with ours today.

Location; Salford 3

Picture; Chapel Street, 1905, from the collection of Mrs Bishop

A history of Withington in 20 objects ….... no. 4 ….. the milestone

The story of Withington in just twenty objects, chosen at random and delivered in a few paragraphs.

The milestone is just beyond the Red Lion, in front of the old Fire Station.

It records that the distance into Manchester is just 4 miles, and may have been installed by the Turnpike Trust and is now the only remaining one along the road.

Adapted from the new book on the pubs of Withington and Didsbury, published on June 14th, 2019*

Location; Withington

Picture; the milestone, 2019 Peter Topping

*Manchester Pubs The Stories Behind the Doors Didsbury, Peter Topping, Andrew Simpson, 2019 and is is available from and local bookshops.


By the lake at Mergozza ........ remembering those who marched away

It is a simple monument as befits the small village of Mergozzo.

The memorial looks out across the lake and stands in the main square, ringed by restaurants and surrounded by stone benches, making it part of the community.

Location; Mergozza

Picture; the war memorial Mergozza, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A house in Harpurhey, the holiday in Weston-super-Mare and the start of a story

Now I will have to take advice on this one but I think Beach Lawns at Weston-Super-Mare may be all that is left of a trail I have been on for the last half an hour.

It began and looks as if it will end with the detail in this picture postcard which was sent to Mr and Mrs Turner c/o Mrs Hanman at 15 Oxton Street, Harpurhey in the August of 1933.

Eve wrote to the Turner’s  "Dear Eddie and Bessie.

Having a very nice holiday.  Had a visit from Flo and Frank yesterday.  How’s this for a lovely spot?”

And as you do I went looking for Oxton Street but it has vanished and appears to have had a short existence.  It dates from some time at the beginning of the last century but is now no more.

Nor without a surname will I be able to find Eve or for that matter Fred and Flo, leaving only an outside chance that the Turner’s or Mrs Hanman will turn up in the historical record.

Not that I will be deterred, there are always the city’s burial records, the directories and  the census returns.

The 1939 Register had quite a few Turner’s so with patience and a bit of luck something might come out of the shadows.

So for now I am back with Beach Lawns.  We did Weston some years ago but I have no recollection of this bit so I shall have to ask my friend Lois who has lived there on and off for a long time.

Location; Weston-Super-Mare and Harpurhey

Picture; Beach Lawns at Weston Super Mare, circa 1933 from the collection of Ron Stubley

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Tram jam, ........ waiting for the shift to end at Trafford Park

The caption is not over helpful.  Just “Car 929, AEI Trafford Park.”  

But I guess we will be sometime in the late 1930s or ‘40s.

The photograph perfectly captures that moment just after the end of the shift at AEI.

The long line of trams waits for the workforce which is just appearing through the factory gates.

This was the period when Trafford Park was still a major industrial centre.  In 1945 75,000 people worked there and produced everything from bricks to electric cables, and food.

All of which is well documented, so instead I shall concentrate on the detail.  The first of the workforce is out of the factory and hurrying to catch the first tram.  It is a scene captured countless times in photographs and news reels from the period.

What is missing are the hundreds of of people who any minute will appear on their bikes, reminding us that this was still the time when the cycle was a cheap alternative to the tram or bus.  And of course what we won't see in any great numbers are workers driving home in cars.

I had hoped that the products in the shop might give a clue to a date.  But Robin cigarettes were being marketed at the beginning of the last century and were still being produced in the 1950s, long after our line of trams had gone to scrap heap.

But the shop front in its way is also a comment on the period.  Look closely and almost all of the products being advertised are cigarettes or tobacco.

A timely reminder that this was still a time when smoking was common place and when the upstairs of the bus or tram would be blue from the tobacco smoke.

Much of which would be from the roll up which like the tram is almost a thing of the past.

Picture; from the collection of Allan Brown

Crossing the Mersey in 1955 to Jackson's Boat

Like many of Derrick A. Lea’s pictures of Chorlton this one was made in the winter.

We are at Jackson’s Boat, that pub across the river and the year is 1955.

Now I have written about Mr Lea already and I keep getting drawn back to his images of Chorlton which were made in the 1950s.

They work for me on a number of different levels.

At its simplest they remind me of the style of pictures I grew up with.

But it is also that you don’t see many drawings, paintings or wood cuts of the township, so these are particularly appealing.

“The pub was built in the 18th century and so might count as the oldest in the township.  It was known variously as the Old Greyhound and the Boat House, before reverting back to the old Greyhound.  Briefly it was called Jackson’s Boat and then the Greyhound from 1834. 

The names may in part be explained by the origins of the site.    At some point a farmer called Jackson farmed the land and kept a boat for ferrying passengers across the river. 

Later still Samuel Wilton built a bridge in 1816 over the river at this point at a cost of £200.  

But the ferry and the right to transport passengers across the Mersey were still in place in 1832 when the pub and the surrounding land were put up for sale. 

The advert throws some light on how the relationship between owner and tenant. The land and pub were owned by John Marsland and tenanted by a George Brownhill who seems to have benefited from the ferry charges.  

The sale in 1832 went to Edmund Howarth who may well have placed Samuel in as tenant.”*

All of which may seem a long way from the picture, but not so.  In 1955 the bridge was free to walk across, but until the late 1940s there had been a toll, which had been there since Sam Wilton’s old bridge in 1816 and was just a continuation of the fee charged to cross the river by the ferry.

The gate was on the south side of the bridge and there are those who can just remember paying the penny to cross over, and one wonderful story of a young girl who chose to chance her luck and crossed by a more dangerous and unconventional way.

She lived in the Block which was a collection of cottages on Hardy Lane, and this seemed a quicker and cheaper alternative to a long walk or the penny payment.

Picture; Derrick A. Lea

Location; Chorlton

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Andrew Simpson 2012,

Looking east along the River …………. past a forest of cranes

This is the view from London Bridge that I remember.

And it was a scene I thought was lost forever, leaving me just a memory of that forest of cranes, and ships that had crossed the oceans to unload goods as varied as fruit, ball bearings and much more.

Now I know there are heaps of pictures of the Thames when it was a busy industrial waterway, but not this view, which was one I saw, as I walked over London Bridge in the late 1950s and 60s.

I regularly travelled up from Peckham and later Well Hall on the train, alighting at London Bridge Railway Station, and by degree making my way over the river, down those stairs at the northern end of the bridge and then along Lower Thames Street, past Billingsgate Market to the Tower of London.

It was a Saturday trip I did quite frequently, almost always on my own, with the aim of submerging myself in the history of this bit of London.

The Tower was always the object of the trip, but there was always so much to see, and in the case of the old Peak Freens factory to smell as well.

And to this day, the equally powerful smell of the fish market bounces back from my memory and reminds me of the image of bits of abandoned ice and fish bits which lay in the gutter before they were cleared away.

On the odd occasion I get home, and equally rarer moment that I retrace my steps over the river at London Bridge, that old scene of the warehouses, ships and cranes is difficult to recreate.

So, I was pleased that John King shared his picture of the Thames from the bridge which he took in 1968, and its companion taken over 40 years later.

Together they encapsulate the changes which have taken place along the river.

And here I am the first to say I don’t do nostalgia.  The Thames could be a cruel place, and those who made their livelihood along it, did back breaking and dangerous work, often for a pittance, while life in the terraced houses and tenements behind the warehouses could be a constant struggle to make a home clean, and safe in buildings which were long past their sell by date.

But given all of that, I miss that view, east over the water to Tower Bridge and the docks.

Location; London

Pictures; the River Thames, 1968 and 2011, from the collection of John King

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 6 ............ Gravel Lane

Now I know that strictly speaking Gravel Lane is neither lost nor forgotten.

It runs from Blackfriars Road up to Greengate, but that first chunk is hidden underneath the railway viaducts which make it a tad foreboding.

But if you do wander into that dark cavern you will be rewarded by some fine cast iron pillars on the corner of Viaduct Street.

These support the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway’s track which was constructed in 1844 and while it was a substantial structure carrying four railway lines it was not yet the structure we know today.

Back in the late 1840s looking out from the north side of Trinity Church there was still a wide expanse of space beyond which were a  Rope Walk, a series of mills and foundries and a timber yard.

Gravel Lane, 1849
And a walk up Gravel Lane in 1849 would have taken you past the Methodist Chapel, a whole shed load of houses with access to some closed courts and Christ Church which stood between King Street and Queen Street.

All a little different today.

Location; Salford

Pictures; Gravel Lane, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the area in 1849, from the OS for Manchester and Salford, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

A history of Withington in 20 objects … 3 ….. Hough End Hall

The story of Withington in just twenty objects, chosen at random and delivered in a couple of paragraphs.

Hough End Hall, 1849
This is Hough End Hall, that Elizabethan manor house.*

 It was in Withington but is so close to the border with Chorlton, that almost every historian since John Booker in 1853 has included it in their accounts of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

It served as a fine home to the grand Mosley family until it was sold to the Egerton’s in the mid 18th century who rented it out to tenant farmers which was its story for 250 or so years.

During the early 20th century its future seemed uncertain, with the Corporation wanting variously to demolish it for a new "super road" or transform it into an arts centre.

It was finally sold to a local Chorlton farmer, who sold it on to a developer, and for a while it was a restatraunt with a brief spell as offices and is now a community centre.

Pictures; Hough End Hall in 1849, from The Family Memoirs, Sir Oswald Mosley, 1849

*Hough End Hall;

Pictures with no stories ........ no 1 on a beach sometime before now

Now I am fascinated by stories  and more than that the way that a photograph can offer up a story even when there is apparently nothing there.

And this is one of those.

It comes from a collection of picture postcards which were found by a friend of Ron Stubley who looked after them and recently passed them over to me.

They are a mixed bag, consisting of saucy seaside cards, more than a few of holiday destinations and some which are of a family but have no names and no dates.

Many were sent to addresses in north Manchester from resorts on the Welsh coast and that is about it.

Over the last few months quite a few of them have featured on the blog but until now I have not used those which have no means of identifying the place or the people.

And that brings me to this one.  We are clearly on a beach with a pier and judging by other cards in the collection I think the date will be sometime in the 1930s.

Someone may well recognise the pier in the distance, although I am not counting on it.

For me the story is just that the picture perfectly offers up a day at the seaside.

That mix of sand, sandwiches, warm beer, tepid tea and very cold sea water.

Location; unknown

Picture; somewhere on a beach, date unknown, from the collection of Ron Stubley

Budapest on a fine April day ...... from the camera of Julie Thomas

Now Budapest is not a city I have visited, so it has been fun to see the place through the camera of Julie Thomas.

Julie told me “I have my phone on the setting Noir so I will call these Budapest Noir'”

And that is all I am going to say.

Location; Budapest

Picture; Budapest Noir, 2018, from the collection of Julie Thomas

Friday, 14 June 2019

Back with Derrick A. Lea in the Chorlton of 1955

It’s one of those odd things that we have few pictures of Chorlton in the 1950s. 

Now there are a few fine collections in the Local History archive* but nothing compared with the huge range and number from the beginning of both the 20th century and the last decades of the 19th.

So when examples come up it is as well to include them in the story of Chorlton.

And so here we have another from the pen of Derrick A. Lea who drew pictures of the area in the 50s.  As I have said before along with J Montgomery Mr Lea is a bit of a mystery.

I know a little about him including where he lived in Chorlton and that some of his pictures were turned into greetings cards and that is about it.

Now given that pictures as opposed to photographs of where we live do not turn us as regularly his collection are quite unique.

This one is of Wilbraham Road sometime in 1955 and it appears to be a warm day in perhaps March or early April because despite the absence of any leaves on the trees people are walking around without those heavy overcoats everyone seemed to wear during the period.

Of course there may be a bit of poetic license here but there is much that is just as it should.

And it is a scene that has changed.  The Conservative Club and Public Hall was still solid reminder of the fact that Chorlton elected Conservative politicians to the Town Hall  and would do so until 1986.

In much the same way the Lloyd's Hotel has not changed overmuch since it was built in 1870

But with the benefit of hindsight we know that Mr Lea’s picture captured a Chorlton that has now gone forever.  The Conservative Club and Public Hall closed earlier in the year after the Conservative Association had wound itself up and currently the plans are to convert the building into flats.

The Lloyd’s may appear superficially the same, but internally much has been altered.  The small rooms have been knocked through, and the staircase taken down.

I can’t say the changes are for the worse.  I remember it from the late 1970s and early 80s as a place waiting for something to happen.

All of which would have pleased its landlady back in the 1880s.  This was a Mrs Crabtree who by all accounts “improved the place considerably in various particulars” and it may have been her who encouraged the bowling green members to build their own club house which was open on Wednesdays during the season.

She was an enterprising woman with an eye for business and also laid out a lawn tennis court on the open land along side Whitelow Road.

By the time I had washed up in Chorlton the tennis courts had become a drab car park while going inside the pub was like stepping back into the 1950s.

Nor did much seem to improve during the course of the next decade, and sadly the place became somwhere you went to only for a quick dring before eating on Wilbraham Road.

Not until very recently has I been in the Con Club, but both it and the Lloyd's had offered live music on and off so perhaps I was the loser.

In the same way slowly the history of the Public Hall is coming back out into the open including its role as a place of amateur dramatics groups.

Which brings me back to Wilbraham Road in 1955.

Picture;  Wilbraham Road in 1955, Derrick A. Lea


Always look under the floorboards ………. stories from a Leicester house

There are always secrets waiting to be found in any old house.

The bottle, 2019
Most I grant you will be mundane, but they will still be a secret with a story.

So here is the one concerning a beer bottle and the space under the floorboards of a house on Harrow Road in Leicester.

The bottle was found by our Polly and Joshua soon after they moved in, and with it comes a little bit of Leicester’s history.

The name on the bottle was R C Allen, and a search of the directories for 1906 showed they had premises at Humberside Gate and 2 Gallowree gate, and according to one source, “the Allen family has long associations with the brewing industry in Leicester. 

In the late 1860's, Thomas Allen ran the 'Lord Rancliffe' in Redcross Street and, in 1870, John Allen was a wine and spirit merchant on Gallowtree Gate.  

By 1875, 'Southern & Allen were mineral water manufacturers and 'Allen & Co.' were wine and spirit merchants on Humberstone Gate.  

In 1898, R. C. Allen was set up as a limited company, being a joint venture between 'Everards', 'Welch Brothers' and the 'Leicester Brewing & Malting Co.' to bottle beer brands other than those of Allsop's, Bass and Guinness.

Allen House (on the corner of Oxford Street and Newarke Street) was built in the late 1920's and incorporated both offices and the bottling plant.  Taken over by 'Praeds in 1951, part of the building was eventually used as an antiques centre”*.

Looking out on Harrow Road
Now, I recommend the site because there is a lot more including pictures of the Allen’s buildings and information on some of the breweries associated with R C Allen.

But as ever, I never crib other people’s research and so suggest you follow the link to read more about the Allen’s and Leicester’s brewers.

For now I will return to Polly and Josh’s bottle which is a fine example of others that can be found for sale, along with a delightful “ginger beer bottle opener” which has the name R C Allen embossed on the handle.

We were discussing what Polly and Josh should do with the bottle, and I like the idea that they may leave it to the next owner, because as Josh said, “it belongs with the house”.

We will never know when it got there, but the chances are that it was left during the construction of the house sometime around or a little before 1906.

This would make it just one of those careless acts by one of the builders, but the romantic in me wonders if it was put there by the first residents to mark their presence in the house.

A rival, 1906
Such acts are quite common and go back far into history.

My maternal grandparents discovered a George III coin under the front step of their terraced house, which fits with the rough date of its construction, while friends have discovered shoes and other objects under their floor boards, none of which seem random acts.

Fine dinning in Leicester, 1906
Of course, the secret of the bottle will for now remain just that.

But I like the link with Leicester’s history.

Sadly a trawl of the directories didn't come up with any adverts for R C Allen, but I did find these two which caught my fancy.

Location; Leicester

Pictures; from the collection of Polly and Josh, 2019, adverts from a 1906 directory

*Past and Present pubs of Leicestershire & Rutland,