Tuesday, 30 April 2019

On church parade on Barlow Moor Road sometime after 1911

I doubt I will ever get to the full story of this photograph but as my friend Sally said when she showed the picture to me “you just keep spotting things.”

We are on Barlow Moor Road during what the caption says was a Church Parade.

In procession on Barlow Moor Road
I don’t have a date but it will sometime after 1911, because that was the date the tram service arrived at Southern Cemetery.

Beyond the trees can just be made out the tall chimneys of the Corporation’s destructor plant, planned by by the old Withington Local Health Board and built by its successor the Withington Urban District Council a little after 1894.

 By 1912 it accounted for 12,320 tons of refuse, some which was sold on to farmers, and 365 tons burned in the destructor.

The original plans for the site included placing the destructor’s furnaces ten feet below the surface of the ground and surrounding the area with an eight foot high wall.

Those chimney's from the destructor
The destructor had been opposed by the Chorlton Union who expressed their concerns for the health of the inmates of the nearby Withington Workhouse.

But I doubt that any in the parade had the destructor on their minds on that summer’s day.

Someone far more qualified than me will be able to comment on the parade.  The nearest destination was Christ Church in West Didsbury which had been built in 1881.

But this is a big procession and seems to be mainly young children which suggests either a joint Sunday School activity or much bigger event involving a number of churches.

Of gates and processions
I will go looking in the local papers for a reference to such a procession but in the meantime will focus on those railings opposite and the stone mason’s yard in the foreground.

Now I have always assumed that the stone wall topped by those ornate ironwork were there from the beginning but not so as the picture reveals.

As for the stonemasons, in 1911 there were three, J & H Patteson, Hilton’s Monumental Works, and Albert Fieldsend.

So that is about it.

Location; Barlow Moor Road

Picture; Barlow Moor Road date unknown courtesy of Sally Dervan.

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 15 Essex Street

Less a forgotten or lost street and more the one with a fine view of the Town Hall's clock tower.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Essex Street, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Stories from our Co-operative past ………… no. 1 Chorlton and Manley Park Women’s Guild

For years this banner took pride of place on a wall in the Committee Rooms above the Hardy Lane Co-op store on Barlow Moor Road.

In those quiet moments during meetings I would stare at the banner and ponder on its history.

I can’t date when the banner was made but according to Lawrence Beedle the photograph was taken during the Chorlton and Manley Park Women's Guild 25th Annual Party.

At the meeting the "Freedom of the Branch" was presented to Mrs. Lomas the Secretary and Mrs. Scott for being associated with the Guild for a quarter of a century.

The cake was presented by Mrs. Mayo who received a cake stand for her services.

And it is well worth remembering that that making the cake would have been a real challenge, given that in 1948 when the event happened, food was still being rationed.

Circa 1986
The banner which is blue is now held by the People's History Museum in their banner archive.

It has stitching on a royal blue background.

The Co-op Hall has since it was opened been a venue for meetings of the Labour Party, the Co-op Party, along with Chorlton and Manley Park Women's Guild, the Woodcraft Folk and has regularly been used as committe rooms.

Research; Lawrence Beedle

Location; Chorlton

Picture; of the banner and the presentation, supplied by Lawrence Beedle the Manchester & Salford Herald Co-Operative Herald January 1948 page 21 and some of the Co-operative Party, circa 1986

The bridges of Salford and Manchester .......... nu 10 the 1980s

And here is the second of a few from John Casey.

Location Manchester & Salford

Picture; the river and bridge, circa 1980 from the collection of John Casey

Of lifeboats and shingle .............

This will I think be the last of the short series on Deal.

I say that but I have every expectation that our Elizabeth and Colin who live just outside the town, will be back with their camera, and soon I shall have more pictures to write about.

But for now, it’s the Walmer Lifeboat which sits in its 1870s building looking out from the shoreline.

The lifeboat station was established in 1830 and apart from a short break between 1912-1927, it had ben saving those in peril o the sea for one hundred and eighty-nine years.

During that time there have been stories of saved seamen and awards for the teams that risk their lives to save others.

And that just leaves me with the shot of the beach.

I am prepared to be corrected but the picture shows that broad expanse of shingle, which unlike sand is not as nice to sit on.

Location; Deal

Pictures, Deal, 2019, from the collection of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

Of war memorials and a pizza restaurant in Vico Equense

Now war memorials should be visited and given due respect but are also about the community they serve and I think should never become just “that place to visit” once a year.

And to that end they should always be somewhere prominent, be looked after and remain a place which continues to be part of the village or town where they stand.

This one on the Corso Fiangieri in Vico Equense and faces on to busy road but looks out across the Bay of Sorrento and is located in a small park with benches, and a water fountain, making it a perfect place to reflect on those who participated in the wars Italy fought.

Some of those recorded on the memorial may well have sailed from the nearby port while many more will have known the streets and the main piazza just round the corner.

And when we visited a few days ago the municipal workers were hard at work giving the garden a fresh make over.

I have to confess we hadn’t actually planned to visit the memorial, instead found it by pure chance which is always a good way to discover something new.

We had travelled down the railway line from Sant’ Agnello with the express purpose of visiting Pizza a Metro da "Gigino" L'università della pizza which for those who don’t know sells its pizza's by the metre

“This historic restaurant, located in the centre of Vico Equense, in the Naples province, is world renowned for its creation. Created by Gigino Dell’Amura, the Pizza a Metro has delighted its customers with its unique taste, authentic ingredients and its exclusive shape. 

The restaurant, also known as “Università della pizza” offers a big selection of pizzas, which can be enjoyed according to the “size” of your appetite. In addition to pizza, you can enjoy the chef’s specialities: large appetisers, seafood and meat specialities, and cakes for every taste.

The pizza a metro was born in 1930s, thanks to the idea of Luigi Dell’Amura, a.k.a. Gigino. Cleverness,  fantasy, intuition, hard work transformed the way of making pizza. 

The idea of creating pizzas with different sizes according to the number of people at the table was born in order to satisfy the need to serve more guests in the shortest possible time but with high quality standards. 

And finally, the Pizza a metro and the old bakery of the Dell’Amura family became a big restaurant – the pizzeria.”*

Now it all sounds a gimmick but it works.  The food is excellent as is the service and the restaurant.

And after we had finished we walked back to the war memorial and sat for a while gazing out at the bay and surrounding countryside and  on those who are recorded on its base and equally the families who derived some comfort from the memorial.

I suppose there might be the odd person who gibs at the inclusion of the Pizza a Metro in a story on a war memorial but I disagree.  Both are central to the town reflcting the past and the present and that is how I like my history.

Location; Vico Equense

Pictures; war memorial, Vico Equense, 2017 courtesy of ALTO•VISUAL

*Pizza a Metro da "Gigino" L'università della pizza, http://www.pizzametro.it/en/index.html

Monday, 29 April 2019

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 15 Library Walk and a forgotten painting of municipal pride

Now Library Walk might not count as a forgotten or lost street. 

It can’t even claim its hundredth birthday but it will have been used by shed loads of people as a shortcut sandwiched the Town Hall Extension and Central Ref.

I have used it lots of times and liked the way it followed the curve of the two buildings and allowing you to get good views of the Corporation rooms which generations of Mancunians used to pay their rate bills settle their electric and gas accounts and ask for advice.

Just inside the entrance on Mount Street was one of those fabulous paintings depicting municipal progress offering up a better future by sweeping away the grime, poor housing and poverty and providing sanitation, parks, schools and all the other things needed to make for a civilized life.

I don’t know when it was painted and no one now seems to know anything about it.  I would make special journeys just to look at it.

At some time the canvas was torn and it disappeared in the early 1980s for what I assumed was a repair job but it never returned.

I hope it is safe, and may even have made its way to the Art Gallery but I fear the worst with a decision to put it somewhere  “safe” it is in a basement where it has lingered ever since accumulating a dusty veneer and possibly even a bit of damp.

Worse even than that is the possibility that it will have ended up in a skip.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Library Walk, 2013 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Always check your photo collections

Always regularly check your old collection of photographs is not a piece of advice I follow which is a shame, because had I dug them out more recently I would have come across this one of Barlow Moor Road.

I can’t remember when I took it but it is before the digital camera which puts it at around 12 years ago. And I have to admit the quality is rather lacking but it tells a story.

 The parade dates from about 1912 and in its time has been host to many businesses. Shortly after it was opened the first shop on the block was a sweet shop which by the late 1950s was selling electrical good and when I took my picture was Martins the Estate agent and since then has gone through many changes becoming more recently a computer repair shop.

 But for the best part of the 20th century the central section was Shaw’s Motor Garage. It was there when A.H. Downes recorded the scene in 1959 and was there soon after the parade was built. And sometime perhaps around 1912 Mr Shaw had opened the first kerb side petrol pump which in the way things were done was captured on camera.

The caption on the picture says 1912 but I am not so sure and I think a trawl of the directories might push the date a little later although having said that the car registration places the car at 1913.

But I am getting carried away. Charles Shaw was living on Wilbraham Road in a house now demolished next to the Royal Bank of Scotland and described himself in 1911 as a motor engineer which was logical step forward for a man who a decade earlier had been a cycle agent.

 There is more to the Shaw’s which I shall leave s for another time. They after all were one of those families to move from bikes to cars which in itself is the story of the 20th century. But it does take me back to my imperfect photo, for there briefly exposed above the tattoo shop was part of the old Shaw sign which takes prominent position in the old photograph. 

Ah I hear you mutter all this for an old sign but to me it is the very heart of history. Here boarded up for perhaps fifty years is a little bit of the past that takes us right back to the early 20th century and offers us some continuity for there is still a garage behind the present line of shops.

 Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson and the Lloyd collection

Stories with a camera in Deal ….. on a day in April ……… part 5

Somewhere there will be a book which records all those bits of seaside architecture the rest of us take for granted.

Now, I bet there are plenty of images of the iconic buildings from Blackpool Tower to a host of 19th and early twentieth century cast iron piers.

But I wonder how many of those mid twentieth century seaside structures make it into the books.  I doubt many do. 

And if they are photographed hey will be in the form of a holiday snap or one destined for the official tourist guide.

So here is the one in Deal taken by our Liz and Colin earlier in the month.

I don’t have a date, or a name, but someone will, and I hope they make a comment.

In the meantime, I think it is a wonderful example of its type.

Location; Deal

Picture; Deal, 2019, from the collection of Liz and Colin Fitzpatrick

The bridges of Salford and Manchester .......... nu 9 the 1980s

And here is the first of a few from John Casey.

Location; Manchester & Salford

Picture; the river and bridge, circa 1980 from the collection of John Casey

A sightseeing trip to Woolwich and those old wooden prison hulks with their chained convicts

Now I had completely forgotten about those old 18th century prison hulks moored at Woolwich and also of the excellent little book by Mr Reg Rigden*

The Floating Prisons of Woolwich and Deptford, describes in detail those three festering and rotting former warships.  I long ago lost my copy and so was over the moon when my friend Jean sent me her copy.

They were one of those short term measures used to solve the prison crisis in between sending convicts to America and later Australia.

And as so often happens they became tourist attractions with enterprising businessmen offering up river tours which provided glimpses of the chained men in the hulks or at work on the nearby shore.

So numerous did these excursions become that eventually they had to be ordered to stop.

I suppose it is easy to see why so many found such river trips a fascinating part of any visit to London.

“By 1777 there were over 220 felons at work in Woolwich, each chained by the leg.”*

Nor did the resumption of transporting convicted criminals across the world in 1787 spell the end of our prison hulks.

They had become part of the prison system and would continue well into the middle of the 19th century with the last Woolwich ship being burned in 1857.

There had been three such ships moored at Woolwich.

These were the Warrior, Jusitia and Defence which originally under "contract to a private individual, Duncan Campbell who looked after the convicts and was paid by the Government”* who in the 1780s had paid £32 a year for each convict which was later reduced to £26.

All of which promises more stories focusing on the awful conditions on board and some tales of desperate escapes.

So more later, alternatively you could just read Mr Rigden’s excellent book

Picture; cover from The Floating Prisons of Woolwich and Deptford

*The Floating Prisons of Woolwich and Deptford, Reg Rigden, 1976 London Borough of Greenwich

The placing of war memorials ...... in Intra on the Lakes

The memorial stands in a busy square facing out to sea in the small town of Intra on the Lake.

And its location is perfect.

All too often war memorials are sighted away from the hurly burly of everyday life and while this allows you to sit in peace and contemplate the sacrifices recorded on the panels of the memorial it also takes that record of the dead out of the space inhabited by the living.

So it is fitting that this one should be in that busy square surrounded by bars and a small playground allowing the living to acknowledge the war dead every time they sit and sip a coffee, meet friends or just play with the kids.

There are other memorials in Intra including one to a partisan executed in 1944 and another to the Italian air force.

Each like this one in  a place where lots of people will pass by.

Location; Intra

Picture; war memorial Intra, 2018, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Chorlton-cum-Hardy Churches in World War 1 ............. another from Tony Goulding

The use of the Sunday school buildings of both the Manchester Road Methodists and Mclaren Baptist churches has already been well covered on this blog and I have nothing new to add to their stories. However, the churches in the township also have other links to the War. 
High Lane (Macpherson Memorial)
Among the multitudes of young men who lost their lives in the conflict were two with links to a couple of prominent churchmen with strong ties to Chorlton-cum-Hardy churches.

These were Rev. John Cocker a curate at St Georges, Hulme and a close friend of Walter Sidney Tuke the future rector of St Werburgh’s Church (April 1944 – March 1953) and Raymond George Grayson, (1) the son of a former minister of High Lane Primitive Methodist Church, Rev. Joseph Watson Grayson. (1910 - 1913)

High Lane (Macpherson Memorial)
Primitive Methodist Church

(m 17903 A.E. Landers: 1959)

Rev. John Cocker K.i.A. Flanders 25th
April 1916
John Cocker and his “chum” (2) Walter Tuke volunteered together to serve as private soldiers in the newly formed 24th battalion of The Royal Fusiliers – the “Sportsman’s Battalion”.

At the time of their enlistment both men were curates of the Church of England serving in neighbouring Manchester parishes, Rev. Cocker at St. George’s and Rev. Tuke at St. Stephen’s both in Hulme. The two friends decided to join up as ordinary soldiers wishing to share in the common hardships of the other ranks.
While shaving outside his dugout on the morning of 25th April 1916 Rev. John was hit by a shell fragment and died instantly. He is thought to be the first serving minister of the Church of England to be killed whilst on active service in World War 1.  This factor and the human interest of his “chum” Walter having to conduct his funeral service led to the incident being widely reported in the press.
John Cocker was born, the son of William Pickup Cocker and Catherine (née Williams), in 1887, in Blackburn, Lancashire where his father, brother and two sisters all worked in a cotton mill – the family also ran a grocer’s shop. John’s mother came from Meliden Nr. Prestatyn, North Wales.
Soon after this incident Walter Tuke, himself, was also badly wounded, four pieces of shrapnel piercing his shoulder. While recuperating from this injury on 19th December 1916 Walter was appointed a temporary Army Chaplain which carried a rank of Captain. He served as chaplain at The Whalley War Hospital near Blackburn until the end of the War and later as chaplain with his old regiment in Egypt.
Walter was born in Leeds on 15th November 1889. His parents were George Thomas Tuke, a manager for a corn & hay merchant (who later became a contractor for The Post Office) and his wife Henrietta (née Roadhouse). A graduate of Durham University and London Divinity College he was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Manchester at Manchester Cathedral on 7th June 1914 and was appointed to a parish in Burnley, Lancashire.

The following year he was ordained as a priest and appointed to his position at St. Stephen’s, Hulme. On leaving the army Walter returned to parish work initially at Ashton-under-Lyme then St. Luke’s, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester and from 1927 as the vicar of St. John’s Church, Smallbridge, Wardle, Rochdale, Lancashire. (3) From this Rochdale parish he was appointed to St. Werburgh’s taking up this post from April 1944.
After 10 years as rector of St. Werburgh’s Rev. Tuke left the parish in 1954 and passed away in the March quarter of 1964.

Raymond George Grayson D.o.W. 7th August 1917

     Lance Corporal Raymond George Grayson of the 15th battalion The Royal Scots – (“The Edinburgh Pals”) died on the 7th August 1917 at Nottingham General military hospital and is buried in Colchester military cemetery where his father was the chaplain.

 Raymond was born in Ealing, Middlesex on the 18th September 1897 the son of Rev. Joseph Watson Grayson and Bessie Mary (née Kidd). Just 8 days after his 19th birthday he enlisted on 26th September 1914, initially at Colchester into the 5th battalion Essex Territorials. After just 10 days he was discharged from this unit in order to travel to Edinburgh where on 7th October 1914 he joined the “Edinburgh Pals” His civilian occupation is recorded as accounts clerk.
Lance-corporal Raymond G. Grayson suffered a serious shrapnel wound to his head on the Western Front in France on 24th April 1917. After a lengthy stay at a hospital in Boulogne   he was transferred back to England on 9th June and admitted to Nottingham General Hospital.

For a time, he appeared to be on the road to recovery only to experience a sudden and rapid deterioration of his condition due to an abscess forming around an undiscovered foreign object lodged in his cerebellum which was to prove fatal. He died some 12 hours after an operation to remove the shell fragment from his brain.

The George Cross
Canon Edward McGuinness M.C.

Long after peace had returned, at least temporarily, to Europe Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s churches links to the “Great War” continued when another ex-Army Chaplain Edward McGuinness M.C. was installed as the new parish priest of Our Lady and St. John’s Roman Catholic Church on the death of Monsignor Joseph Kelly in 1930.
Father Edward was born on 21st February 1878 in Workington, Cumbeland. His parents were John McGuinness, a mason / builder and his wife Sarah (née McMullen). Edward’s mother died aged just 40 when he was only 6 and his younger brother, Robert William not yet one year old.

After attending St. Bede’s College, Whalley Range, Manchester he was trained for the priesthood at St. John’s College, Waterford, Ireland where he was ordained on the 19th June 1904. In the years before the First World War Fr. Edward was involved in parish work in Blackburn and Bolton in Lancashire. On the outbreak of hostilities, he became a chaplain with The Irish Guards. In this role he was awarded a Military Cross, for gallantry, while serving on the Western Front in the same battalion as Captain Harold Alexander the future Field Marshall (4), the two becoming life long friends. Fr. Edward remained a chaplain to the Irish Guards at the end of the war later spending a year in China. Immediately prior to his appointment to “St. John’s” he was the chaplain at Catterick Army Camp in Yorkshire. A few months before his death on 28th March 1946 Fr Edward had been made up to a Canon. He was buried in grave D 219A in the Roman Catholic section (naturally) of Southern Cemetery, Manchester on 3rd April 1946.

Pictures; High Lane (Macpherson Memorial) Primitive Methodist Church, A.E. Landers: 1959  m17903, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass remaining images, courtesy of Tony Goulding

Notes: -
    1)  During the three years of his father being the minister of High Lane Primitive Methodist Church, the family home was   3, Napier Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy
    2) “chums” was how the newspapers of the day insisted on referring to the two friends.
   3)While vicar of Smallbridge in May 1930 Walter was involved in a tragic and sensational case
Canon Edward McGuinness’s Grave
when he was called upon to give evidence at the trial regarding the violent deaths of his sister-in-law and 15-year-old nephew. Testimony was given that Walter’s brother, William Clarence, a former electrical engineer turned accountant, had murdered his wife and child at their home in Edgware, London It was stated that he suffered from periodic mental breakdowns and it was alleged that at the time of the deaths he’d, had a particularly severe breakdown due to the stress over concerns regarding the future care of his mentally handicapped son. The jury brought in a verdict of ‘Guilty but of unsound mind” without having to leave the jury box and the defendant was sentenced to be “detained at His Majesty’s pleasure”

4) Having also been decorated with a Military Cross and a Distinguished Service Order in the First World War, Earl Alexander of Tunis was one of the most   illustrious officers in the British army during World War 2. After overseeing the last part of the evacuation from Dunkirk he went on to serve with distinction in Burma, in operations in Tunisia harassing Rommels retreating “Afrika Korps” and in the capture of Sicily and the move into Italy. In 1946 he was appointed Governor General of Canada by King George VI a post in which he proved very popular. On his return to the United Kingdom in February 1952 he served briefly as the Minister of Defence in Sir Winston Churchill” s cabinet. He was created an Earl by one of the new Queen’s first acts on the 14th March 1952. A member of the organising committee for the Coronation he was chosen to carry the Queen’s orb in the procession on that occasion. Earl Alexander retired from politics in 1954 and died on the 16th June 1969.

On a Sunday in Trafalgar Square ......... sometime in the 1980s

Now I am the first to say that I have taken better pictures, but this one from a demonstration in the early 1980s does capture the moment.

I have no idea of the year or the route we took but back then I attended quite a few and with time they have blurred together.

I vaguely remember that the sight of the young people waving the banner looked similar to that iconic image of the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima.

Of course there the similarity ends.

It will have been a Sunday and the journey down by chartered train would have meandered across the country and will have added an hour at least to the trip.

I am fairly confident that the second picture dates from a different demonstration but I can’t be sure.

And while Trafalgar Square was the final destination for some of those marches I know also that we ended up in Hyde Park for others.

Location; London

Pictures; of a demonstration, circa 1980s, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 14 Century Street

Century Street, 2016
This is Century Street which runs from Whitworth Street West to Tariff Street and here are bits of a story I wrote earlier.*

Back in 1911, the Railway Hotel occupied the open space beside the street which now offers up the new stairs up to the metro stop.

It was run by John Bardsley who was 66 years old, single and shared the 16 roomed hotel with three staff.

Now I rather think there may well be some stories here not least that of Mrs Helen Cattermole who was 29 years old had been married for five years and had one child who had died.

But for now I am more intrigued by the two properties just a little further along Whitworth Street, just where it meets Century Street.

Century Street, 1902
In1902 this was Crown Street and the taller of our two houses was listed as number 4 Crown Street.Whitworth Street West  and Crown Street during the canal work, 1902

And in that year they attracted a lot of interest from Mr Bradburn, who was perhaps more interested in the work being done to the canal but came back five years later to record the houses all over again.

The three images he tool perfectly capture both the houses and the Railway Hotel but and there is always a but, number 4 and its companion have so far not yielded up any further information.

Neither is listed in the street directories for 1903 or 1911 and without a name searching the census record is a long complicated process, but I will go looking if only to see how much I can find out about them and the people who lived there.

I have to say that the steps up to the metro are far more impressive than the old ones and go nicely with the new footbridge across Whitworth Street to the railway station.

The corner of Century Street, 2016
The old one was looking quite tired.

And because that canal gets a mention a few times, I thought that I would include the plaque.

Once the tunnel continued some distance further long the canal which for my money remains a pretty good little stretch of water running as it does through the heart of the city.

Location; Manchester

The Gaythorn Tunnel plaque

Pictures; Century Street, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the corner of Whitworth Street West and Deansgate, May 1902, m05501, by A Bradburn, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*That metro stop at Deansgate-Castlefield and a hidden story of hotels, canals and vanished houses, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/that-metro-stop-at-deansgate.html

At the toll-gate on the Lee-Eltham Road with Jean Gammons

Now it has been some time since I have included a story from my friend Jean and so here is a short piece on the toll-gate on the Lee-Eltham Road which was part of a talk she gave to the Eltham Society.

The toll-gate was much disliked by many who resented having to pay to travel on a road.

The companies of course who built them and maintained them argued you don't get anything for free and those who wanted to use these new and well kept  roads had to contribute to their upkeep

So  from the very start there had to be gates across the roads, with a gate keeper's house and clearly laid down charges.

Nor were these erected just at the start of a company's road but at junction with existing roads thereby preventing people from skipping a section and missing the toll.

“This is the toll-gate that used to be on the Lee-Eltham Road, near the junction with Umbridge Road.

This old toll-gate saw much activity in the days of the once famous Eltham Races at Middle Park.

The Eltham Races were the social event of the year and were visited by the young prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, and other members of the Royal Family.

It must have been like old times for Eltham.  Not since the great days of Eltham Palace had so many members of the Court visited our little country village.”

Picture; the toll-gate courtesy of Jean Gammons

Deal’s own version of the internet …….. circa 1821

Now I am always pleasantly surprised at those little bits of history which challenge our 21st century obsession with high speed communication and the internet.

Because, here on the seafront, Deal had it all.

This is the Deal Time Ball, which stands atop a building which helped the Admiralty convey messages to the Fleet in a wave of a semaphore.

I say semaphore, but I am full prepared to be put right by Mr. Eric Trellis of Barnes whose chosen specialty is naval communication during the nineteenth century.

Leaving that aside, the tower carried a semaphore mast maintained by the Royal Navy, and from 1855 supported a time ball which fell at 1 pm triggered by a signal from the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

Added to which the building is on the site of an earlier shutter telegraph, which from 1796 to 1814 allowed the Admiralty to send messages quickly from London to the Naval Yard at Deal.

Today the building houses, a series of display related to communication, semaphore and signaling, including interactive displays. *

And for those unlike Mr. Trellis who have an interest in the time ball it, is programmed to “drop every day at 1pm. Additionally, during the open season (1 April – 30 September) the ball drops hourly from 9am to 5pm. The Timeball also drops at midnight on New Years’ Eve.  The drop cycle is as follows: At 5 minutes to the hour the ball goes half way up; at 3 minutes to the hour it goes to the top of the mast and drops on the hour. The drop cycle is automatic. The Timeball is controlled by the MSF Radio Time Signal transmitter located at Anthorn, in Cumbria”.

The picture was taken by our Elizabeth and Colin on one of their regular visits to Deal.

All of which is straightforward, but left me with a little mystery, because the last picture in the collection is this one also on the sea front.

The mystery is not the installation but the Canadian national flag fluttering in the breeze on the right.

But like all these things, someone will put me right

Location; Deal

Pictures; Deal, 2019, from the collection of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

*Deal Time Ball Display, http://www.dealtimeball.co.uk/visit-us

Down at Parrs Wood Parade in 1931........... pondering on that park and the litter

It is the detail in this 1930s postcard which I like. 

On a wet summer’s day the Corporation bus has just set down a group of passengers and above them the sign announces that the East Didsbury Station is still part of the London Midland and Scottish Railway.

It would be another eighteen years before the LMS became part of the new nationalized British Railways.

In the distance the small grassed park still retains its ornamental gates and underneath the glass and cast iron canopy of the Parrs Wood Arcade are adverts for Players Navy Cut and Wills Golden Flake tobacco and cigarettes, Hovis Bread and the Dispatch newspaper.

And I was drawn back to the postcard by a discussion with the artist Liz Scantlebury who like me was intrigued by those small ornamental gates

We were both intrigued by their date and I have to admit I am not sure when the park was laid, but I guess it will be sometime around the 1920s.

I know it can be no later than 1931 when our postcard was sent and I think it will not predate the Kingsway which was cut between 1928 and 1930.

But I do now there will be some someone out there who will know and will put me right.

I  hope so.

And finally for those who lament the passing of a cleaner and tidier Britain I suggest you ignore the discarded lamp shade left under the bridge.

All of which just leaves me to fall back on a piece of outrageous self promotion and mention the first book on the history of Didsbury, which I wrote with  Manchester artist Peter Topping which was published in 2013.

It should not of course be confused with our Didsbury book on the pubs of the area which is due out later this year.

Location; Didsbury

Picture; Parrs Wood Parade, Didsbury, circa 1931

The bridges of Salford and Manchester .......... nu 8 back with a favourite

The day back in November was grey and cold and the clouds seemed to touch the ground.

So I cheered myself up with another picture of that bridge I like.

Location; the River Irwell,

Picture; The Irwell Road Bridge, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

The Rohatyn Jewish Heritage Program

Rohatyn is a city in western Ukraine, with a population of 7,983, and a history dating back to at least 1184.

Rohatyn, from the Jewish cemetery, 2011
And I doubt I would ever have come across it, were it not for the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage Program which is “a volunteer-led program of heritage preservation and education, working to re-connect the history of Rohatyn’s now-lost Jewish community with the people and places of the modern town. 

With the cooperation of current Rohatyn residents and volunteers from around the world, today the program focuses primarily on recovery of Jewish headstone fragments discovered in town and their return to the old Jewish cemetery”.*

During the last World War that Jewish community was all but wiped out, with almost all of the 3000 Jewish inhabitants murdered during the Holocaust.

Brush clearing, old Jewish cemetery, 2018
“Today it is difficult to see evidence of the long history of Rohatyn’s Jewish community anywhere in town, but the surviving sites and physical heritage, together with records and family stories, can help to reanimate this significant part of life in Rohatyn”.

A shared experience, 2012
And that in part is what the program is all about, with active projects including both physical work in Rohatyn recovering Jewish headstone and ‘virtual’ work on the website and its educational resources. Future projects such as cemetery rehabilitation are currently in the planning and costing phases”

I could say more, but that would only be repeat their web site, so I will just leave you with the link to the site and urge you to visit Rohatyn Jewish Heritage Program.

Alternatively, there is a facebook site, Rohatyn Jewish Heritage

Location; Rohatyn, Ukraine

Pictures; view toward Rohatyn town centre from the old Jewish cemetery, 2011, brush clearing at Rohatyn’s Old Jewish Cemetery, 2018, a shared experience during headstone recovery work, 2012  © Jay Osborn courtesy of the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage,

*The Rohatyn Jewish Heritage,  http://rohatynjewishheritage.org/en/

Remembering those who went to fight from Sant’Agnello

Sant’ Angello is just outside Sorrento and like everywhere has its own war memorial.

It stands in front of the Municipal Building in a small open space filled with flowers and sits perfectly at the heart of the town.

To one side are some street benches, and on the other a series of cafes from which you can stare back at the statue and the names inscribed on the four faces of the memorial.

It is easy to forget that Italy stood with the allies in the Great War and while the Fascists took the country into the that second war on the side of Nazi Germany there were many who opposed that alliance with Hitler.

And there were many who not only opposed Fascism and the Fascist adventures in Africa, and then from 1940 in Greece and elsewhere, but also were killed by the regime and later by the German army for that opposition.

All of which makes those tired jokes about Italian bravery both bad taste and inaccurate.

From the socialist deputies murdered when Mussolini took power to the partisans who fought both his government and the Germans that opposition was fierce and determined.

All of which were in my thoughts as I sat in the sun yesterday beside the war memorial of Sant’ Agnello.

The life of the town moves past it and I doubt that many give it much of a glance, but then that I suspect is how most memorials are regarded.

They are a memorial to those who died and are venerated as such but remain just a part of the towns existence.

And that is how it should be.

Location; Sant’Agnello

Picture; the war memorial, Sant’ Agnello, 2017, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Stretford Precinct ………… before it becomes something new and shiny

Now, in a few years from now, when the new shiny addition to Stretford Precinct has become part of the landscape, these pictures will be an important record of the history of that place.

Back when the first development was underway, I doubt that may people took photographs of what was going on.

And, many of those pictures will have long ago been lost, damaged or consigned to the back of a cupboard.

So, I was pleased when Andy Robertson began recording the changes to the shopping centre.

At which point I must confess I can’t remember what it is now called, or the details of the plans for the new ones.

Suffice to say you saw the start of it all here.

Location; Stretford

Pictures; Stretford Precinct, 2019, from the collection of Any Robertson

A day in London ……. doing something different

Now I am a Londoner who long ago left for Manchester.

And I regularly return, usually to visit family in south east London, but occasionally washed up in the City, for the day walking the streets as part of a demonstration.

A few were organized to protest a new generation of nuclear weapons which in the 1980s were being placed across Europe by the Super Powers.

Others were shouts of anger at the rise of unemployment and cuts in public services, and one was linked to the Miner’s strike of 1984-85.

What they had in common, was an early start from Manchester and a long journey south, followed by the march, lots of speeches and finally the trip home.

Usually there were chartered coaches or trains, which got you there, although in the case of the railway the route sometimes took one of those roundabout journeys, which alternatively took you from Lancashire into Yorkshire and zigzagging across the country.

And I have often wondered what would happen if you missed the designated coach or train.

Not that I ever did, but I do remember once giving up on the protest and catching an early train home to my shame.

Always accompanying me was a camera and much of my time was spent snapping away, which was tolerated back then, in a way I doubt it would be today.

Most never saw the light of day, but more recently I have dusted down the pile of negatives, and while I can’t claim they are great photographs, they are a record of demonstrations, now all but forgotten.

Location; London

Pictures; from a demonstration, circa 1981, from the collection of Andrew Simpson