Thursday, 31 January 2019

South east London and the pictures that mean the most

Now I am wondering just which scene means most to those of us who were born and grew up in south east London.

I fully accept that is a bit of a tall order given the size of south east London and if like me you have moved around a bit.

Added to which bits will have changed almost out of recognition so having been born in the first half of the last century the landscape of Woolwich and Peckham baffle me when I return.

But if I had to choose it might well be the Pleasaunce or the woods in Well Hall where I was most happiest, the ferry with its connection to the Thames or when the train pulls over the river towards Waterloo Railway Station and I know I am home.

The idea of a personal picture was sparked off recently when our Jill took a series of photographs of Greenwich Park, and like many who looked at them I was instantly transported back to magical times long ago.

Mine include playing in the park, taking a new girlfriend for a walk down into Greenwich, and that time in the autumn of 1970 when I showed the place off to a group of friends from Manchester.

Nothing will quite top that day.  The sun was still warm and set off the leaves which were turning from gold to brown but there was that slight chill which you can get in early October.

And it is of early mornings that I shall finish, because Jill took the pictures soon after the sun had risen, when the light is sharp and enhances the features of landscape.

So that is it.

Location; Greenwich

Pictures; Greenwich Park, July 2107, from the collection of Jillian Goldsmith

When we made cider and perry here in Chorlton in 1847

Back in 1847, the journalist Alexander Somerville had walked the lanes of Chorlton looking for evidence of potato blight, that disease which had destroyed the crops in Ireland, and was already in parts of northern Derbyshire.

He didn’t find any but recorded his conversations with some of our local farmers, one of which was James Higginbotham whose land included a strip along what is now the Rec on the corner of Beech Road and Cross Road.

The conversation turned away from potatoes to fruit which made up a significant part of the crops we grew for the Manchester markets and included raspberries, rhubarb, currants and gooseberries and above all apples and pears and in particular the Newbridge pear, and Rose of Sharon apple.

Look at any old maps from the mid 19th century and you are struck by the number of orchards across the township.  Most would have gone to the markets, but some would have been turned into cider and perry and drunk at home.

So it was of particular concern to James Higginbotham that in the June of 1847 his apples and pears were doing well.  As he said to Somerville who dutifully reported the conversations,

“The insects had made great havoc among the fruit in the adjoining orchard during the hot sunny days of May and the first week of June but the cold of last week and the rain of this had come in time to save still a good quantity.  He pointed to his Rose of Sharon apple trees which had bloomed so profusely as to be wonderful; they had been invaded by a terrible army of insects, and had hardly been able to maintain the conflict; but the myriads of diseased invaders wrapped in their winding sheets of cobwebs and laying upon the ground, where the rain had carried them, showed how beneficial the cold and rain had been.  There was still a goodly show of apples left, and the Rose of Sharon branches were again fresh, beautiful and healthy.  The Newbridge pears clustered upon the trees as if the invaders of the orchard had never been.”*

It is a priceless piece of reporting and not just because here are the voices of the people who lived in Chorlton over 160 years ago but because it provides us with the actual names of what types of apples and pears were grown here.

And I am indebted to Mary Pennell of the National Fruit Collection** who kindly dug out some information about both crops. “Newbridge – is in fact a ‘perry pear’. It is also known as ‘White Moorcroft’. Rose of Sharon – an apple variety that was exhibited from Cheshire in 1934. Unfortunately this is the only record for this apple but at least we know that it did at least exist at some stage.”  All of which is very exciting, well to me anyway.

Our Newbridge pears are harvested from the first to the third week in October about the same time as the Rose of Sharon apples.  Now what for me is revealing is that here we have the first evidence that along with cider our farmers were growing perry pears and must have been making perry.  And for anyone unsure, perry is made in much the same way as cider.

So there you have it, and tomorrow I think I shall pursue the story but in the meantime you can look again at the Newbridge pear and pear tree.  And reflect that some of the fruit trees which are there in our gardens may be have links to those seen by Somerville and farmed by Higginbotham.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Pictures; Newbridge pears and pear tree from the National Fruit Collection

*Manchester Examiner, Saturday June 19th 1847


The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no.26 on a sunny day

For four decades the pictures I took of Eltham and Woolwich in the mid ‘70’s sat undisturbed in our cellar.

But all good things eventually come to light.

They were colour slides which have been transferred electronically.

The quality of the original lighting and the sharpness is sometimes iffy, but they are a record of a lost Eltham and Woolwich.

It was, as I remember a warm day and the place was busy.

Woolwich was always a tad more edgy than Eltham High Street, but that was part of the attraction.

Back then I would take friends from Manchester around, showing off the river, the ferry and of course the market stalls.

They always left impressed.

Location; Woolwich

Picture; Woolwich circa 1976, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

For those with fond memories of Salford Lads’ Club

Now the story of Salford Lad’s Club is pretty well known.It was founded by the two brothers James and William Groves in 1903, opened a year later and has offered thousands of young people a heap of exciting, and interesting things to do.

I could at this point reel off the names of club members who went on to become celebrated actors, sportsmen and musicians but that would detract from all those who attended the club, got something out of its varied activities and also helped make the place a success.

It wasn’t the first that was Hulme Lads’ Club founded in 1850 which were quickly followed by others.

The historian Andrew Davies attributes the spread and success of the clubs as one of the contributory factors to the end of the Scuttler gangs.*

These were the youth gangs which were active across Manchester and Salford in the late 19th century.**

The gangs had a distinctive uniform and at times engaged each other in fairly brutal street violence.

But the lads’ movement offered an alternative which could be equally if not more exciting and had the added bonus that there was little danger of getting hurt.

So the clubs thrived and there will be people in Salford today who will also be able to claim associations with others like the Adelphi Club and Ardwick Club, the Openshaw across the river.

Now because for a while I lived off Grey Mare Lane my memories are of Openshaw Lads’ Club.

But for many in Salford it will be the Adelphi Lads’ Cub which strikes a chord.

It was the first in Salford, opened in 1888 and catered for young working class boys in Adelphi and Greengate.

And for those who want to know more I suggest you follow the link to that excellent site at Adelphi Lads’ Cub.***

All of which leads me to wonder whether Peter will go looking for more clubs to paint.

Some I know have long since gone but others linger on challenging anyone with a bit of imagination and a lot of spare cash to save the building.

For now though I will close by saying how much I like Peter’s painting.

Painting; Salford Lads’ Club, © 2016 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,

 * The Gangs of Manchester, Andrew Davies, Milo Books, 2008

** Of Scuttlers, and street violence,

*** Adelphi Lads’ Cub,

Rediscovering the Whalley Hotel

Everyone likes a Mary Celeste story. *

Usually it involves a place in perfect condition which appears to be abandoned, with everything left as if the occupants had just popped out for a minute.

And with that comes the hint of a mystery,  or of something not quite right.

In the case of the Mary Celeste it led to all manner of additions to the story which deepened  the mystery, but sadly were not true.

Now I can’t offer up a mystery to go with Andy Robertson’s pictures of the Whalley Hotel which closed suddenly and after a very long interval morphed into apartments.

There is nothing odd about that.

Former pubs, warehouses and churches as well as schools have been transformed into residential properties, with varying degrees of success over the last two decades.

What makes the Whalley just that bit different is that Andy “got in” with the permission of the builders soon after the pub went dark, which I suppose is better described as went dry.

The curtains were still up at the windows, the pictures on the walls, and the last notices to customers were still waiting for someone to read them.

But mixed with all of these, were the bags of cement, piles of plaster board and a mix of power tools.

I didn’t go in the Whalley Hotel that often, in fact the last time I ordered a pint there was in the summer of 1975.

That said, it was a place I passed on the bus most days and more recently a place I have written about on the blog.*

More than that it was a landmark featuring in countless photographs right back into the last century and beyond.

So, for all those who never knew it, and a lot more who did, here are Andy’s last pictures, taken in 2015.

Leaving me just to make an appeal for stories, pictures or memorabilia about Didsbury pubs, which I know is an outrageous piece of opportunism.

But there are no traditional pubs in Whalley Range, and so having written a book about the city centre pubs and those of Chorlton, Peter Topping and I have fastened on Didsbury.

The book is well underway and like the others will tell the stories of pubs and the bars.

You can leave a comment on the blog or message us on facebook and twitter

Location; Whalley Range

Pictures; The Whalley Hotel, 2015, after the beer and customers had gone, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*The Whalley Hotel,

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

The lost orchards of Chorlton

Today I went looking for the Newbridge pear and the Rose of Sharon apple.

They had been grown here in the 1840’s and had caught the eye of the journalist Alexander Somerville who reported that both pear and apple were “fresh, beautiful and healthy.”

I wrote about them recently and it occurred to me that I should go on an adventure with my old botanist chum and see if we could locate any last vestiges of them.  David reckoned that there were still orchards on the other side of the Mersey not far from Jackson’s Boat, but the weather was against us and never being one for getting wet the quest has been postponed.

But in the meantime I set out for find the ones that Alexander Somerville described.  Now these belonged to the farmer James Higginbotham and they took in the land either side of what is now Crossland Road up as far as Higson Avenue.

But there were others dotted across the township.  Now the productive life of an apple tree is about 30-40 years although some can go for 80 to a 100 years,* so with this in mind I doubt that any we find today will date from 1847, but you never know.

So I travel in hope, but even if we don’t find any Newbridge pears or Rose of Sharon apples what fascinates me is that they confirm the possibility that were making cider and perry here in the township.  Of course most of our apples were sent to the Manchester markets but some will have been retained for home use.  And because the Newbridge pear is a perry pear it follows that either we were making perry or we were sending it on to be turned into perry.

All of which also means there is now the hunt for an old press, and if that could be found I would really be very pleased.

*And there are examples which were planted at the beginning of the 19th century

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; Higson’s orchard from a detail of the OS map of Lancashire, 1841, courtesy of Digital Archives,

The lost Eltham & Woolwich pictures ...... no.25 in the back garden of Well Hall Road

There is nothing more bitter sweet than uncovering the picture of three of my sisters in the garden in Well Hall.

We were all young with the world a head of us, and now we have fond memories of growing up there.

The image is one of those lost pictures I took of Eltham and Woolwich in the mid ‘70’s which sat undisturbed in our cellar for decades.

But all good things eventually come to light.

They were colour slides which have been transferred electronically.

The quality of the original lighting and the sharpness is sometimes iffy, but they are a record of a lost Eltham and Woolwich.

On that sunny day Dad will have been pottering, I was busy with the camera, and our Stella, Jillian and Theresa were discussing something, only Elizabeth was missing.

Location; Well Hall

Picture; Well Hall, circa 1976, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

On the start of all things Didsbury .......... the pubs and hotels

Now if  I was a member of the Friends of the Kingsway, I might be a bit miffed at the way its contribution to Didsbury is pretty much over looked.

The Gateway, 1959
And that is a shame because it is the great highway out of the city through Burnage to Parrs Wood and beyond.

It was completed in 1923, with plans to extend it to the city boundary in the 1930 Manchester Road Plan, and eight years later work began to extend it over the River Mersey to the Stockport-Altrincham road at Gatley.**

But such an important development gets scant attention in the two history books of Didsbury, with one offering up just nine references, of which only one stretched to a sentence.***

Added to which, neither mentions those two fine examples of 1930s pubs.

These are the Gateway whose license was approved in 1935, and the Parrs Wood Hotel which pipped it by five years.

The Parrs Wood Hoet, 1959
Now I can understand why, because when Mr Million, Mr France and Mr Woodall undertook their books, both pubs were mere interlopers, which couldn’t compare to the historic and iconic public houses in the village.

That said the Gateway and the Parrs Wood should be celebrated as part of Didsbury’s history.

And to rectify that over sight they will appear in the first chapter of our new book, Manchester Pubs – The Stories Behind the Doors Didsbury, which is the third in the series, after the pubs of the City Centre and Chorlton-cum-Hardy.****

Like all our books, this one will include stories of each pub, original Peter paintings, and heaps more, all laid out as a series of walks.

Leaving me just to make that appeal for pictures, memories or memorabilia, details of which you can leave as a comment on the blog or a message via facebook or twitter

Pictures;The Gateway 1959, M42721, & The Parrs Wood Hotel, 1959, m50211, J. F. Harrs, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*New Roads For Manchester, Nine Schemes Approved, Manchester Guardian March 19, 1930

**Extension of Kingsway, Manchester Guardian, October 14, 1938

***A History of Didsbury, Ivor R. Million, 1969, A New History of Didsbury, E. France & T.F. Woodall, 1976

****  Manchester Pubs- The Stories Behind the Doors, Centre Centre and Manchester Pubs- The Stories Behind the Doors, Chorlton-cum-Hardy are available from and Chorlton Bookshop

The River .......... no. 16 ..... from The Goldsmith Collection

Now anyone who has walked this bit of the River at Greenwich will remember the noise of the water lapping the stones and the smell.

It doesn't matter how many times I pass this spot it always fascinates me.

Location; Greenwich

Picture; the River 2017, from the collection of Jillian Goldsmith

Petrol cans ....... I wish I had bought

Now the petrol; can has pretty much been around since the motor car.

Roger's petrol can
I can’t say I have given them much thought.  Ours is green and was bought a few years ago after one of those embarrassing moments.

A quick trawl revealed that they come in all shapes and sizes, catering for the purist who favours metal over the flippity gibbet who always buys plastic.

What started me off was this one sent up to me by Roger in a lighted hearted bit of banter centering on our old and now long gone Citroën 2CV.

And in an instant I was pulled.  It looks old and Roger has promised to venture back out to his shed to see if there are any clues to its age.

Unlike many petrol cans today, old ones came with a name or even a logo of the company that  dispensed the.

So, on that fascinating site, A History of the World, run by the BBC and The British Museum, I came across two.

One of which, was a Shell can, which also contained a separate oil container. It had a screw-on top made of nickel silver, which ceased to be used around 1928 when chrome was introduced.

The other was a blue can from the Belfast company, Munster Simms, which had the all-Ireland franchise for petrol.*

Our 2CV
They are in their way, beautiful things, and there are lots more on another site dedicated to all things petrol.**  On its home page, Alan Chandler comments,   "the purpose of this website is to share with other Petroliana collectors and enthusiasts the items and information available regarding our hobby. 

Little is currently published either on paper or the internet covering early petrol pumps, globes, motoring enamel advertising signs and associated petroleum items. 

  This is surprising given the great interest in anything antique and the similar interest in old cars and associated automobilia. 

And three from Mr Harrop
This website is largely based on photographs of the 1500 plus items in my personal collection that I have assembled and restored over the last eight years."

And as these things happen once the blog is posted, the story just grows.

So Roger came back commenting that, "the significant thing about all of these cans is the fact that they were pre filled with one gallon of petrol and the price of the can and its contents were embossed into the can and the cap sealed with wire and a lead seal. 

With the price of fuel being fairly stable 80 years ago, the manufacturers/suppliers of the pre filled cans could safely have the price embossed into the top of the can with no fear of fluctuating prices giving them a headache".

1118 Chester Road, Stretford, undated
And Bill sent this, adding, "the granddaughter of this shop passed the picture on to me. In the early days of motoring those cans of petrol would have been purchased from shops like this one at 1118 Chester Rd Stretford as few garages existed".

All of which I suspect is the start of a new series.

We shall see.

Picture; red Esso petrol can, undated, from the collection of Roger Callow, and three, courtesy of David Harrop, and 1118 Chester Road shared by Bill Sumner

*Petrol Cans


Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Down at Eltham Palace in the summer of 1958

Now I am back at Eltham Palace, a place that first captured my imagination back in 1964 and continues to do so.*

This is the cover to the 1958 Ministry of Works Official Guide-book price One Shilling.

It runs to just 14 pages with four photographs and a map, and of course is a little bit of history in its own right.

When I first wandered around the Hall I don’t think what I saw would have been so different from what the guidebook described.

Now fifty-six years on I am not so sure.  It has been a long time since I have been there and the Army Education Institute have long gone.

So for no particular reason other than I have the book, here are some of the pictures from that guide and the fun will be deciding if anything you see has changed.

Great Hall from the south, 1958

I can still remember standing under that great timber roof in the hall.

Since then I have come across pictures of the hall from the 18th century when it was used for cattle.

And read about the painstaking work of restoration undertaken in the 1930s.

So I know that next time I am back in Eltham I shall make every attempt to visit the Palace although even here times have moved on.

Roof of the Great Hall, 1958
Back in 1958 the Great Hall was open only on Thursdays ans Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during May to October, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November to April and admission was free.

Today it will cost you £10.20 if you an adult, £6.10 if you are under 15 but it will be open Sunday to Thursday 10 till 5 in the afternoon.

Pictures; from Eltham Palace, Kent, Ministry of Works, 1958

Two elephants, a farmer’s son and a travelling circus ......... Part two

Yesterday I re ran the story of my old friend Oliver Bailey’s association with two elephants. *

To be more accurate it was Oliver’s father who was connected with the two elephants, but that was yesterday’s posting.

Today I thought I would share the remarkable account which Oliver has dug out from the introduction by the publishers to the book about the two elephants* and provide a link to the author's excellent blog on the story,

Here you can read not only about the elephants but much more about the history of the circus.

'Salt and Sauce were owned and presented by some of the most famous show business people of their era. Their owners included Carl Hagenbeck, George William Lockhart, Herbet "Captain Joe" Taylor, John "Broncho Bill" Swallow, Dudley Zoo, Tom Fossett, Dennis Fossett, Harry Coady and Billy Butlin. Their presenters included Ivor Rosaire and Emily Paulo. Formerly members and believed to be the longest suriviving members of George William Lockhart's "Cruet", they were featured in various books, newspapers and magazines in their day, and are the focus of a new book "The Legend of Salt and Sauce".

The elephants were famed for their vast array of tricks, but also feared for their temperamental moods. Sauce (known as "Saucy" most of the time) killed George William Lockhart (her owner and trainer) in an accident at Walthamstow Station and Salt killed William Aslett (an elephant groom) when she attacked him in 1957 on Rosaire's Circus.

Despite both Salt suffering dropsy symptoms that had already killed two other members of "The Cruet" she went on to live for five decades. Her death was well documented in the Cambridge local press (source: The Legend of Salt and Sauce) when she accidentally got stuck in Vauxhall lake whilst touring with Ringland's Circus in 1952. 

After seven hours and with the aid of a crane she was freed from the lake, but suffered from pneumonia and died after a week. According to the local press over one hundred wreathes were left for her at the circus. It was predicted that her lifelong companion, Sauce, would die soon afterwards (source: Salt and Sauce were Separated by John D. Swallow), but she lived until 1960, dying from "natural causes".

The book tells the true story of Salt and Sauce, two Indian elephants, who arrived in Britain in 1902 and became involved in the live entertainment industry from the Music Hall scene to circus and finally Butlin's Holiday camp. This is the story of how the elephants became both feared and loved by some of the most famous people of their era, and how their story became mythical among the circus community."

* The Legend of Salt & Sauce: The Amazing Story of Britain's Most Famous Elephants
by Jamie Clubb with Jim Clubb  ISBN Number: 187290436X Publisher: Aardvark Publishing

Pictures; from the covers of the book courtesy of Jamie Clubb

The Happy Window ........ no. 17 from the Goldsmith Collection

Not to be confused with the Happy Door I featured earlier.

Location; Brighton

Picture; the Happy Window, 2017 from the collection of Jillian Goldsmith

Clayton Hall ....... inviting memories of the past

Now I remain a fan of Clayton Hall, more so since I rediscovered it, and came to know the Friends of the Hall.

The team have done much to restore the hall, regularly mount events to celebrate the building and the surrounding area and are always keen to share the Hall's past with parties of school students and interested visitors.

Their events focusing on Bradford Pit and the Great War and Clayton were a great success, and generated memories and artefact's which have increased our knowledge.

All of which just leaves me to reproduce this poster of their next venture.

Picture; poster courtesy of Friends of Clayton Hall, and  Hall in 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Clayton Hall,

Monday, 28 January 2019

Two elephants, a farmer’s son and a travelling circus Part One

Now the reason why Robert Bailey rode an elephant here in Chorlton in the summer of 1942 had a lot to do with the family farm. 

The Bailey farm was at the bottom of Sandy Lane and ran along St Werburgh’s Road and had a large enough supply of water to satisfy the thirst of the two elephants.

The Bailey’s also owned the land where the circus camped.

It was the strip of land which ran along the side of the railway track all the way from St Werburgh’s Road to Wilbraham Road.

And when the circus moved on the Bailey's left their cattle to graze there.

Photographs of the animals  on the land are in the local collection of Manchester Libraries and just to underline the point another photograph contains the sign “Beware of the Bull.”

Nor were these pictures from some distant past but were taken in 1959. Oliver Bailey remembers also driving pigs from the railway station along the roads to the farm.

Picture; Wilbraham Road m18513, Landers 1959, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

When young Bertha Geary heard history in the summer of 1911

I am looking at a postcard of Didsbury sent in the summer of 1911.

But the scene is not as important as the message on the back, for Bertha Geary aged just 13 of School Lane has heard history.

“We saw the flying man on Tuesday night fly over head.  Beaumont is his name.  I wish you could have seen him.  It made such a noise.”

He was André Beaumont and he was one of 30 competitors in the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Air Race in 1911. Flying in a Blériot XI he was the first to complete the course which was no mean achievement as many of the aircraft either failed to take off or crashed along the way.

So to him went the £10,000 prize awarded to a man whose real name was Lieutenant Jean Louis Conneau of the French Navy.

All of which today we take for granted but was pure magic and wonderment to young Bertha, after all the persistent buzzing of the aircraft’s engine above her head was something new and I guess louder than anything she had yet encountered.

The streets were still dominated by the horse drawn vehicle, few had telephones, and radio as a form of mass entertainment was still in its infancy.

So hers was a generation which would embrace profound changes, and this drew me towards Bertha Geary.

She was born in Prestwich in 1898, and her father described himself variously as a school keeper and general labourer.  One of her elder sisters worked as “children’s milliner” and the other made “children’s costumes.”

There the trail goes quiet for Bertha, because if she married I can find no record, nor of when she died but she did leave one clue and that was her address on the postcard.

It is a simple but vital clue which allowed me to track her family on the street directory for 1911, establish a surname and search the census for that year.

Her story and many others appear in Didsbury Through Time by Andrew Simpson and Peter Topping.

Picture; Bertha’s postcard from the book Didsbury Through Time

Didsbury Through Time is available in Didsbury from Morten’s Bookshop on Warburton Road, Didsbury, and of course from all other bookshops.

* E.J. Morten Booksellers, 6 Warburton Street, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6WA,
Telephone: 0161 445 7629, Email:

The day Mr Jackson captured the kerfuffle on Hardman Street in 1913

We are in Didsbury in 1913 and Mr Jackson has been recording the ebb and flow of people and traffic up and down Hardman Street.

At first glance I thought we were dealing with a sequence of potographs taken on the same day and despite the presence of two carts and what might be the same people they are more likely to have been taken on different days.

That said the two together capture perfectly a morning in Didsbury in 1913.

Hardman Street connected Wilmslow Road with William Street, and both  pictures are looking east down towards William Street away in the distance.

The butcher’s shop cannot have long been open when the pictures were taken because the shutters are still down and some of the people look as if they are on their way to work.

In the second something is amiss, and whatever it is has brought the customers and the shop keeper out of the shop.

The obvious answer may be something to do with the coal wagon and the handcart as they passed each other.

The attention of the delivery boy to our left and the man on our right are both drawn to that coal man who has stopped and looks directly at the camera.

There were coal yards at the bottom of Hardman Street and at the top opposite our shop so I guess street congestion was a fairly common event.

I am tempted to suggest a chain of events but that would be to drift into idle speculation and nothing good comes of that.

Pictures; Hardman Street in 1913 by J. Jackson, m21852 & m21851 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

We Remember ............

On Holocaust Memorial Day, I have reproduced the following post from Marla Raucher Osborn. 

“Remembering today my grandmother's HORN family of Rohatyn, with four cousins shown in this 1937 Hebrew school photo. None of these children survived. #WeRemember”*

It is sobering to read that a recent survey revealed “Five per cent of UK adults don’t believe the Holocaust – the intentional murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators – really happened and one in 12 (8%) say the scale of the Holocaust has been exaggerated, according to research released on Holocaust Memorial Day (Sunday 27 January 2019).

The poll, commissioned by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, a charity established and funded by the UK government to promote and support the international day of remembrance”.**

Anyone wishing to learn more about the Holocaust in Rohatyn should go to the website:

The photo is shown and sourced on our page on the interwar years:

Picture; from Rohatyn Yizkor Book

*Marla Raucher Osborn, Project Lead Jewish Headstone Recovery at Rohatyn Jewish Heritage

**Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Sand, boats and sky .......... on the Kent coast

Now I have never been to Broadstairs.

It is a coastal town on the Isle of Thanet about 80 miles east of London.

To the north is Margate and to the south  is Ramsgate.

We didn’t do holidays back when I was growing up so it is nice to see that our Jillian was recently down there with her partner Jeff.

And during her time amongst the sand, boats and sky she took this picture which I like.

Location; Broadstairs

Picture; the beach, Broadstairs, 2017, from the collection of Jillian Goldsmith

On School Lane buying the fish and chips in 1911

We are on School Lane and the year is sometime around 1911 and I am drawn to the people in the picture. 

I doubt that we will ever be certain who the woman staring back at us is but I rather think it will be either Mrs Martha Meredith who ran “the Supper Bar (Fish and Chips)” at number 1 School Lane or Ellen Tennant who was the wife of George Tennant the butcher from number 3.

And if pushed I think it will be Martha who at 36 described herself as a widow with a 14 year old daughter and shared her home with her brother in law, Mary Ann who she employed as a servant and John Wilson the boarder.

Alas the children’s identities are lost to us but they will be local and must have been drawn from their homes by the presence of the photographer.

The properties are still recognizably the same and by one of those odd coincidences just one hundred and eight years after our picture was taken number 1 is still a fish and chip shop.

Despite the passage of just over a century it is still possible to recognise the scene today.

Not long after this picture was taken young Bertha Bertha Geary aged just 13 of School Lane has heard history. “We saw the flying man on Tuesday night fly over head.  Beaumont is his name.  

I wish you could have seen him.  It made such a noise.”

He was André Beaumont and he was one of 30 competitors in the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Air race in 1911.

Flying in a Blériot XI he was the first to complete the course which was no mean achievement as many of the aircraft either failed to take off or crashed along the way.

But that is for another story.

The image comes from a collection  Didsbury through Time, by Peter Topping and Andrew Simpson.

Pictures; from Didsbury through Time.

When history met a beer festival and became a story

Now looking out of Manchester Central at a grey city skyline was to be reminded that what was going on inside the exhibition hall was so much better.

Looking out on a grey skyline, 2019
Yesterday was the last day of the CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival, and over the last four days we had observed lots of very happy people, enjoying the beer and cider, comparing notes, and generally just having a good time.

The guests included the dedicated, who selected the drinks they were interested in, completed the check list awarding points, exchanged opinions, and then went off for a different brew.

They mingled happily with those who, while they enjoyed the beer, were less interested in point scoring.

Inside with the beer and cider, 2019
And finally, there were those who saw it as their mission to down as many pints as they could, admitting only the distraction of a challenge on Mr. Porky’s stall where if they could successfully get five ping pong balls in a series of beer glasses, they won a packet of pork scratching.

All of this we observed from our stall, promoting the two Manchester pubs books we published in 2016 and 2017. *

Both of which are not guides to the pubs, but the stories of the pubs, and the surrounding area, richly illustrated with paintings by Peter Topping.

Plenty of people came up to us and commented how much they had enjoyed the first book on the city centre pubs, were back for the one on Chorlton-cum-Hardy and were pleased that we were working on the Didsbury edition.

Quite a few, also shared fresh stories of Manchester pubs.

But of all the encounters on the four days, the best was from young Karl who on the last day bought a copy of the city centre book for his sister, discovered he was in the book and promptly came back and purchased a second copy.

Karl with Andrew Simpson and Peter Topping
Leaving me to reflect, that if you have to promote a book a beer and cider festival in an iconic old railway station is a pretty neat choice.

Location; Manchester

Pictures, inside GMex at the Beer and Cider Festival, 2019, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, Karl meets Andrew Simpson, 2019, courtesy of Peter Topping

*** Manchester Pubs- The Stories Behind the Doors, Centre Centre and Manchester Pubs- The Stories Behind the Doors, Chorlton-cum-Hardy are available from and Chorlton Bookshop

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Sometime on Beech Road and a lesson to photographers

It’s one of those things about taking pictures. 

You have to be disciplined because if you are not then the details get lost.

And that is something I constantly wish I could conjure up with many of the photographs in the collection.

All too often there is no date, and certainly no indication of who the people are that stare back at you.  They are lost to history and with the passage of time there is no one left to claim them.

Now with this one I can speak with some authority not least because I took the picture. We are on Beech Road and I remember it as one of those perfect late spring days which still have the habit of surprising  you.

The sun shines with that bright sharp light which penetrates everywhere but it can be bone cold.

But not on this early Sunday afternoon when it is warm enough to sit in shirt sleeves and linger over that second glass of dry Italian white wine.

As for a date that is rather hazy.  I was standing inside Treshers off license which puts it a good few years ago and I am ashamed to say that is the best I can do.

It is so perfectly Beech Road with that mix of casual drinkers and a jam full of parked cars.

Of course the historian in me has to point out that this is all still relatively new. Café Primavera, and the Lead Station which set up in the early 90s were pretty much all there was on the Road, and as a food review of 2003 pointed out a decade later it will still pretty much the same.

Taking in the whole of Chorlton there were the few familiar names which are still around to day, like the Turkish Delight  but the roll call of the vanished is depressing including as it does Michaelangelo, the New Mai Wah, Palmiro, The Nose Wine Bar, Sasso and Azad Manzil.

Add to this Buonissimo, the deli run by Bob and Del and Murial’s the greengrocers.

Now I am the first to admit that Murial’s was old Beech Road but the fruit and veg were second to none and not only did she run a tab for me but was happy to give some cash during the week which just went on the bill to be settled at the end of the week.

Now this is not some sentimental lament for what we have lost.  During the 1970s into the 80s, food shops on Beech Road were closing fast and by and large not being replaced by anything.

There was a seedy neglected feel about the place which was not made any better when the amusement arcade opened beside the Post Office.

So despite the weekend parked up cars outside our house and the constant procession of people down Beech Road, watching the customers relax in the sun with their glass of dry white is just another part of the story of our road.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

 *Where to Eat in Chorlton, July 2003