Friday, 31 May 2019

Three for the ‘ville, number 1, the Sports Pavilion in the Recreation Area, circa 1914

I am in picture mood and over the next few days I want to return to Chorltonville and feature three more pictures of the place.

This was the Sports Pavilion in the Recreation Area not long after the ‘ville had been built.

 Like many projects of its kind the designers were keen to provide places of leisure and the sports pavilion offered both tennis and bowls.

I doubt now that we will ever discover the identity of the people in the picture.  Given that it was taken around 1914 even the young girl will now be dead.

And because this was a commercial photograph it is unlikely that it forms part of a treasured family album which might just offer up a name.

Still the young girl in the dark dress appears on a number in the collection and each case holding a tennis racket.

You have to admire the tenacity of our six 'ville residents, because judging by the leaves on the trees and bushes it must still be sometime in the spring.

But then we do get some nice weather in April and May, so perhaps they have taken advantage of just such a day.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 22 .............. Milk Street

Milk Street is one of those streets I never really noticed.  

Milk Street, 2016
It runs from Marble Street to York Street but once started at Phoenix Street.

Today there is little you can say about it.  Its only notable feature is that concrete lattice wall which hides the entrance to an underground car park, otherwise you are faced with the backs of several buildings.

Now if I dig deep enough I might be able to discover the origins of its name which might have something to do with dairies and the practice of keeping cattle in the city centre.

But if so It will predate 1793 when Milk Street was already there.

By 1850 its residents consisted of six businesses ranging from manufacturers, to a paper.

Milk Street, 1849
There were plenty of other properties including two closed courts and at the junction with York Street the Concert Tavern and the Queen’s Theatre.  The latter was swept away in 1901 for the Parr’s Bank.

And that is it.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Milk Street, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson
and in 1849 from the OS for Manchester & Salford, 1842-49 courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Didsbury’s history through its pubs and bars …… at the press of a button

Now this is less the story of Didsbury’s pubs and bars, and more a reflection on how very soon that story will be in a book shop.

I grew up and began writing when a finished manuscript or leaflet was still handwritten, and then handed over to a professional printer, who composed the text, added the images, and then having created the blocks, consigned it to a printing machine.

In that respect the process was pretty much the same as when Gutenberg produced his bible in 1455, and Caxton labouered on Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, three decades later.

It was a skillful job and was best done by those who knew what they were doing.

But today, that has pretty much been transformed, and so when Peter and I went into collaboration writing a series of books we choose the route of self-publishing.

I researched and wrote the text, Peter sourced the images, along with some of his fine paintings, and  laid out the book.

And then, after exhaustive proof reading, the finished manuscript was sent by the press of a button from a computer down the line to the company producing the finished product.

At which point I have to say that many months of hard work went into writing and laying out the manuscript, but the final act of committing it to the publisher took no time at all.

The downside is the loss of jobs, and of a technology that goes back into the Middle Ages, and beyond, but the positive is that suddenly writing a book becomes accessible to almost anyone.

The cynic may mutter that this opens a pandora’s box, where mediocre and trivial publications flood the market, but that was ever so, as the Penny Dreadfuls of the 19th century testify.

There is still a cost, and there are always issues of distribution, but these can be overcome.  In the case of money, there are now exciting crowd funding possibilities and many budding authors will aim their work at a specific market, which may not even need a book shop to sell through.

We however remain of the belief that bookshops are important, and we sell through local outlets as well as online.

So, yes this is an advert for Manchester Pubs The Stories Behind the Doors Didsbury, but it is also the story of Didsbury’s pubs and bars and how they tell the story of the township.

The manuscript went down the line at 10 this morning, will take about ten days to print and will be ready to be read by mid-June and is available from and local bookshops

Now that is exciting.

Location; Didsbury

Pictures; early printing press, from previously unpublished drawings of the elementary work of Johann Bernhard Basedow, Frankfurt am Main 1922

When Tuck & Sons confused Salford for Manchester

Now here is one of those picture postcards guaranteed to upset someone.

It was produced by Tuck & Sons and marketed around 1905, although the actual image maybe older.

It is entitled the Technical School and was part of the series of twelve cards issued as YE ETCHED MANCHESTER.

And if that were not enough the description on the front of the card runs, Manchester, Technical School, Salford, with the added insult that the designer incorporated the coat of arms of Manchester rather than Salford.

This may I suppose  make it a collector’s curiosity and one that seems to have been corrected on later cards.

Picture; Manchester, Technical School Salford, Tuck & Sons, 1905, courtesy of Tuck DB,

Thursday, 30 May 2019

What did Chorltonville do in the last war?

South Drive, 1913
Now I always thought that Chorlton had by and large escaped the damage done to other parts of the city during the last war.

But that was not so and there is plenty of evidence that we got our fair share.*

Some of that evidence came to light in this edition of the Chorltonville News in the form of a compilation of extracts from the minutes of the Association for the war years.***

"In spite of its peaceful location, Chorltonville did not entirely escape the Second World War.  

Nell Lane, 1941
In June 1940 one of the estate workers, Pat Carly Jnr, was called up for military service and left.  An entry in 1944 records that he was then serving in Burma, and would like to take up his job “if he is spared to return”.  

Pat’s departure must have hit the family finances, because in July 1940 his father, also Pat Carly, requested a rise in his wages.  

The Committee agreed to an increase of three shillings and sixpence (about 18p) per week.  Mr Carly again applied for an increase in December 1941, due to war conditions.  

He was given an increase of four shillings (20p) per week, but granted it as a War Bonus – maybe so that it could be withdrawn after the war.

Also in 1940, the Committee was chasing up an application to Manchester Corporation for air raid shelters for the estate, “pointing out that no provision whatever had been made by the Corporation in case of emergency”.

Barrage Ballon on the Rec, 1941
Manchester’s Town Clerk was, apparently, not sympathetic.  He declined to provide the shelters, as the policy of the Corporation was to supply protection only for people caught by an air raid on the streets.  

The Clerk said that “each person who can afford to do so is expected by the Government to arrange for their own protection whilst they are at home”

The Committee accepted this decision, but protected their position by writing to the Corporation stating “that no responsibility can be taken by the Committee in the event of any unfortunate situation”.

The war evidently affected both finances and availability of people.  At the 1941 AGM, the Treasurer reported that the accounts were “as good as could be expected under current difficulties”, but still showed a deficit of over £37.  

The meeting voted a levy comprising a basic charge of 16 shillings, plus 3½d for each linear foot of frontage - under £1.50 for most houses.  

A deputy Auditor had to be found, as the elected Auditors were unavoidably absent.  The minutes do not say the reason, but one was still on “enforced absence” the following year, so presumably had been called up.

In May 1942 the Army erected Nissan huts behind Chorltonville alongside the cobbled lane by Brookburn School.  The Secretary wrote to the Royal Engineers (at Mayfield Rd in Whalley Range) asking whether the huts were for barrage balloons or gun emplacements, “as the Committee were most anxious that the presence of these things would render the Estate a target for the enemy”.

The Royal Engineers suggested he contact the balloon section, so the Secretary went to the local unit at the Recreation Ground in Cross Rd.  The corporal there had no knowledge of the huts and referred the Secretary to the Manchester RAF.  

The RAF replied with the enigmatic statement that the huts’ presence “does not increase the vulnerability of the estate to enemy air attack”.  The minutes do not say whether the Committee was reassured by this.

The Meade, 1913
The Committee was more successful in 1943, applying to the Corporation for extra street lights.  

Lamp posts were not in use because of the blackout, but they noted that the Corporation had introduced a modified form of lighting on some roads.  

They requested that these be introduced to Chorltonville, because of the danger to pedestrians using the roads and footpaths.  The Corporation agreed, and added dimmed lighting around the estate.

Interestingly, there is no note in the minutes recording either VE or VJ Day, but at the 1946 AGM, the Chairman tidily summarised:

“he spoke of the work of the past year, carried out under conditions as in the War, though happily the final Conflict had come to an end.  He continued that this Estate had been maintained under very fair conditions, and proposed that the levy stay the same.”

Pictures; Barage Ballon on the Rec, from the collection of Alan Brown detail from bomb damage at Nell Lane, 1940, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, m09736, and pictures of the ville from the Lloyd collection



*** reproduced courtsey of Chorltonville News

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 21 .......... Parsonage Lane

Now Parsonage Lane really is one of those little side streets which grows wider as you follow it down from Deansgate to Parsonasge.

It was there by 1793 and was already fronted by a selection of properties.

Fast forward half a century and these included a textile factory, the Admiral Hatchlock which also went under the name of Parsonage House, five other properties and the entrance to a closed court.

A search for Admiral Hatchlock drew a blank although I do know that our textile factory had by 1851 become Charlton & Sons Calendar Works which by 1900 had expanded across the road.

Today the original site of the textile factory is a big red office and retail block which is home to the Liquor Store.

And that is the close you will get a to buying a drink on Parsonage Lane because our pub which was still there in 1900 has long gone.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Parsonage Lane, 2016 from Deansgate from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Visiting the posh places ....... in Lugano

It had started snowing in the early hours of Tuesday morning and by 8 am there was a thick carpet of the stuff across the bit of Switzerland we were due to visit.*

But a day and half later it had all but gone and while there were pockets of heaped snow at the side of some roads the weather turned hot enough for most people to walk around without a coat and for some to sport just a tee shirt.

So we left Varese headed into Switzerland and spent the day in Lugano, rubbing shoulders with some very well off people, a couple of coach loads of tourists and a school party.

And before we got to the Lake there were the customary shops to visit.

Location; Lugano, Switzerland

Pictures; Lugano, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Walking the Woolwich foot tunnel in 1916

I can’t say I enjoy using the foot tunnels under the Thames.

There would have been a time when walking under the river using the Woolwich or Greenwich tunnel was an adventure.

But then I was only 10 and like the Underground these days if there is a surface alternative I will take it.

It may mean using a bus on a congested road in the rush hour but I prefer it.

Looking back I am surprised I was so nonchalant at the illuminated sign at Rotherhithe warning of “MEN WORKING ON THE PUMPS” and thinking what that meant for the short journey to Wapping.

And the same unease resurfaced when I read that the refurbishment of both the Woolwich and Greenwich tunnels included work to reduce leakage, improve drainage as well as installing new lifts, CCTV communication facilities and signage.

Of course the tunnels are quite safe but at 67 I shall continue to use the ferry or take the longer route and cross by bridge up river.

That said this 1916 image of the Woolwich foot tunnel from the collection of Kristine Bedford perfectly captures how I remember the place.

The tunnel was “built by Walter Scott and Middleton, opened on 26 October 1912 [and offered] a free 24/7 alternative to the ferry crossing, which was periodically suspended during bad weather.”*

Now whenever I used it I was pretty much on my own and that long walk with the echoing sound of my own feet, the light and the stone pavement stretching out for nearly a third of a mile was always an experience.

Added to which there was that slow incline down and the then the slight rise which indicated that the journey was nearing its end.

Once upon a time just before six in the morning and at the end of the day it would have been a much busier place, particularly when the ferry was not running, but this empty scene is how I remember it and given my disinclination to wander underground it will remain a memory.

Picture; Woolwich Foot Tunnel circa 1916, courtesy of Kristina Bedford

*Woolwich Through Time, Kristina Bedford, 2014, Amberley Publishing,

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 20 ............. Market Place

New Cathedral Street, 2016
Now I like the way that history has a habit of repeating itself.

So here is New Cathedral Street which runs from Market Street to Exchange Square.

Like me there will be many who remember it being cut in the 1990s following the IRA bomb.

But I had totally forgotten that less than a century ago there was a similar thoroughfare that pretty much followed the same route from Market Street towards the Cathedral.

Market Place, 1900
Back then it was called Market Place and continued as Old Millgate before joining Cateaton Street at Cathedral Gates.

In the 1850s a stroll down the two streets would have taken you past the Wellington Inn, the Black Boy and the Falstaff Taverns, as well as offering up the Fish Market, Fruit Market and the Poultry and Meat Market.

A full fifty years later and while some of the buildings and their usage might have changed the route was still as narrow and twisty leading to the Old Shambles.

And for those of a more adventurous or careless approach  running parallel was a short stretch of Corporation Street which gave access to a string of tiny streets and courts with names like Bull’s Head Yard, Blue Boar Court Sun Entry and Paradise Court.

Market Place, 1851
Now none of those have been recreated, they sit under the new Marks and Spencer and Selfridge stores.

But armed with a few old maps and with a bit of imagination you can at least walk along New Cathedral Street and the ghost of Market Place.

And of course at certain times of the year when the outdoor Markets have come to town there is that added bit of interest from the stalls which might just give up a flavour of the area as it was in the past.

Location; Manchester

Picture, New Cathedral Street, 2016, & Market Place, 1900, from Goad’s Fire Insurance Maps, and in 1851 from Adshead’s map of Manchester, 1851 courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Posters from the Past ........... no 17 ......... Woolwich .......Walking The River

Now the project is simple, take an image of a building we all love and turn it into the style of poster which was popular in the middle decades of the last century.*

And because so many of us have fond memories of the foot tunnels under the Thames, here is our take on how Woolwich Borough Council might have marketed the trip.


Painting; Woolwich Foot Tunnel, © 2018 Peter Topping,  Paintings from Pictures, from a photograph by Neil Simpson, 2016


*Posters from the Past,

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 19 ........... Back College Land and the vanished Press House Steps

Back College Land, 2016
Now Back College Land looks like it should have some dark and unseemly past with more than a few dreadful tales.

Sadly if they exist I haven’t found them.  Instead there is just this very narrow street connecting Parsonage with College Land.

I think I can date it to sometime between 1793, and the following year when what looks like our street ran back from College Land towards some open land bordering Parsonage.

Just a half century on from that and it is a clearly defined place with even narrower thoroughfares leading off into closed courts on its southern side and a stables on the northern corner beside Parsonage.

I had hoped that it might have a listing on the street directories but it doesn’t which means its residents are pretty much lost to us.  Although Parsonage has offered up names which were on the 1851 census, Back College Land has as yet to offer up its people.

Back College Land and Press House Steps, 1851
Having said that the return for Parsonage did reveal the details of those who lived directly opposite our narrow street.

These were the residents of Press House Steps.  The census records that 122 people lived in just 33 properties bordering the river.*

They worked at a mix of jobs including a porter, some textile workers, and as milliner along with some hat makers and even a poultry dealer.

In the absence of our people from Back College Land I rather think those of Press House Steps will prove most interesting.

We shall see.

And if they prove to yield up some stories it will be a fitting reminder of the people and the place given that it had been swept away by 1900 when the the showrooms and work place of Orme and Sons, makers of Billiard Tables stood on the site.

Location; Manchester

*Press House Steps, Enu 1bb, 20-24, Market Street, Manchester, 1851

Pictures; Back College Land, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and Press House Steps, 1851 from Adshead’s map of Manchester, 1851 courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Looking out from Salford 2 Media City

A short series mostly around the Quays looking at  Salford

Location; Salford

Picture; Salford, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 27 May 2019

Snow and a bit of history in our parish graveyard

I like snow, not just when it first starts falling, but all of it even when it’s that slushy dirty brown stuff, although I am the first to concede that when it ices over it can be awful.

In the graveyard, circa ealry 1980s
And if you want a snow scene there is no better a place than the parish church yard after a fresh fall of snow.

This picture will have been taken sometime after the makeover which tidied up the old gravestones, landscaped the area and picked out the foot print of the church.

Today it can be an attractive haven, where you can sit and relax for a while but as pleasant a place as it is, I rather wish for the old graveyard, which was full to bursting point with grave stones recording those who have lived in the township way back into the18th century.

It is true that they were in need of some care and attention but the fate of the majority was to be spirited away leaving just a handful.  The rest I suspect were broken up and became hardcore in a development somewhere.

Samuel and Elizabeth Nixon, 2011
And that is a tragedy given that here were so many who had made their lives in Chorlton.

What are left are interesting enough, including the head stone of Mary Moore who was murdered on her way back from the Manchester markets, a local who died in Afghanistan and a mix of the good, the notable and the ordinary.

Not that any in the graveyard should be described as ordinary and many from the Renshaw family, and the Nixon family have a story to tell.

And then there are the bits of grave furniture like the pillar which is broken off and signifies a life cut short.

In the grave yard, 2012
Each of the surviving stones helped when I was writing The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy and all of them continue to fascinate me for the untold stories they offer up.

In the same way I marvel at how small the parish church was which was built in 1800 to replace an older chapel and which was later enlarged.

There are only a few surviving photographs of the interior along with some descriptions dating back into the early 19th century and so far only one more recent description which was given to me by my dear friend Marjorie Holmes, who remembered it before it was closed in 1940.

That contemporary description along with the older ones and the pictures also appear in the book, but now I am endanger of slipping into a bout of outrageous self promotion, so I will stop, and instead reflect on the last picture, which  was taken in 1979 when the meadows were just being developed as part of the Mersey Valley.

In its time the meadows has been a dumping ground for Corporation rubbish and for centuries was farmed as meadow land which was a form of farming which involved flooding and draining the land repeatedly for the production or “early grass”.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; the parish graveyard and the meadows circa early 1980s from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 18 Marriot's Court

This is Marriot’s Court which for some people will just be a cut through from Spring Gardens to Brown Street and for others that narrow little street beside the Post Office.

Marriot's Court, 2016
But for me it is one of my favourite little streets, more so because back in the 1970s the building opposite the Post Office was home to a Curry House and a little jewellery shop which always caught my eye.

If I am honest I never clocked its name or for that matter the history behind the street.

Had I paused to think about the origins of Marriot’s Court I might have wondered who Marriot was and where the court was situated.

The court was easy enough to find it was on the north side of the street under what is now the Post Office and was there by 1793.*

But as to who Marriot was that has proved more difficult.  In 1775 a Thomas Marriot was the Borough Reeve for Manchester which was the most important municipal post and just twenty years later there are four Marriot’s listed in the street directory for 1774.

So you can take your pick from Mrs Marriot who lived at nu 6 Princess Street, Richard Marriot, a “fustian manufacturer" listed at the Bridgewater Arms yard, Christopher Marriot manufacturer who lived on Alport Street and William Marriot, yarn merchant residing at 41 Cannon Street.

Any one of these might have gone in for some speculative building leaving their name as testimony to their enterprise but I just don’t know.

Marriot's Court, 1851
The Rate Books are no help for while there is a William Marriot listed in 1768 and a Richard Marriot in 1798 neither has properties on Marriot Court and there are no others listed for the period from 1768 until 1802.

As for the occupants of the court which provided part of the streets name there no records although we do know that in 1850, at nu 9 there was Spencer John & Son  who were manufacturers, along with Samuel Sedgewick Goodwin, solicitors and John Prince, share broker.

Marriot's Court, 1900
Later in the century all the properties on the northern side were swept away to be replaced by the Post Office.  Work began on the new building in 1881 and was finished six years later which in turn was demolished in the 1960s.

I just missed visiting the old Post Office by a few years which is a shame particularly because I would have been able to see the large memorial to the men of the Manchester Post Office who died in the Great War.

It consists of a Winged Victory at the centre, holding a flaming torch flanked by a young boy and girl and at their feet are the symbols of war including a helmet and a sword.

After the closure of the Post Office the memorial went on its travels and currently resides the entrance to the Royal Mail Sorting Depot on Oldham Road.

Now I could have just left it there but in trawling the Annals of Manchester I came across this entry for 1775 when Mr Thomas Marriot took up his office of Borough Reeve, “the Theatre Royal, in Spring Gardens was built and opened on June 5.  The first stone was laid of the Gentleman’s Concert Room in Fountain Street.  

Marriot's Court, 1793
Mr Richard Arkwright took out another patent for carding, drawing and moving frames.

The ducking-stool was still in use.  

It was an open bottomed chair of wood, placed upon a long pole, balanced on a pivot, and suspended over a sheet of water at Pool Fold***  I

t was afterwards suspended over the Daub-holes- the Infirmary Pond – and was used for the purpose of punishing scolds and disorderly women.”****

Now I have no idea what Mr or Mrs Marriot would have made of all that or whether they frequented the Theatre Royal or even if they took a stroll down to Pool Fold but two centuries and a bit on I suspect they would have been a little miffed that their court had disappeared.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Marriot's Court, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and Marriot's Court, 1851 from Adshead’s map of Manchester, in 1900 from Goad’s Fire Insurance Maps,  and in 1793, from Laurent's map, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Laurent’s Map

**Scholes Directory, 1794

***Pool Fold ran from Chapel Walks to St Market Street and is part of Cross Street

****Axon, W.E. The Annals of Manchester, 1885, p103

Celebrating 127 years

The sign in the window announced that the hotel was celebrating 127 years of offering a bed, some breakfast and a welcome to the weary traveller stopping off for the night in Lugano.

And on that warm sunny day in March this chap had decided to sit outside and watch the day go by with a nod to the local paper.

He may have been a resident in the hotel or just a passer by.

I know I should have asked him but he seemed to intent on reading the paper.

Location; Switzerland

Picture; outside a hotel in Lugano 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The moment Manchester became New York

Historians will look back on the rapid transformation of the city’s skyline and debate the point when those towers started to change forever the character of Manchester.

The date it all began is also open for argument with some going for when Sunlight House was built, with others offering up the CIS building, and much later the Beetham Tower.

Of course the early 20th century saw the Refuge Building and before that the steady expansion of the Royal Exchange and earlier the new Town Hall.

But as big and magnificent as all these were, they were still on a human scale which can’t be said of those towers which dominate the skyline and can be seen miles away.

And I think Cathy Robertson has caught their overbearing presence.

Location; driving into Manchester

Picture; driving into Manchester, 2019, from the collection of driving into Manchester, from the collection of Cathy Robertson

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 17 New Brown Street ... the one under the Arndale

New Brown Street from Market Street, 1903
Now I vaguely knew about New Brown Street but it took Matthew Cobham to bring the place out of the shadows.

“New Brown Street, heading east off Market Street and now under the Arndale, was one of my haunts in the 70s. 

The original home of On the Eighth Day and the headquarters of Mike Don's Mole Express underground paper (originally called Moul Express, but no one got the reference or knew how to pronounce it.”

It ran from Market Street up to Withy Grove, and by the 1970s had seen better days but offered up a fascinating mix of shops to visit including as Matthew said the first On the Eighth Day.

Back Cannon Street, 1937
Go back to the beginning of the 20th century and a walk along this narrow and twisty street would offer up the usual range of small textile businesses, some bigger cotton and woollen manufacturers along with the odd small engineering factory.  But above all it was a place dominated by tailors.

Fifty years earlier in  1851 and the directory lists twenty-five businesses mostly describing themselves as merchants, or manufactures.

I can’t remember exactly when New Brown Street vanished and it will have still been there when I washed up in the city in 1969, but sadly for me I have no memory of the place making it truly one of the lost streets of Manchester.

And with its passing also went those small side streets, like Swan Lane, Back Sugar Lane, Back Cannon Street and Peel Street, some of which led off to closed courts and a labyrinth of even smaller thoroughfares.

New Brown Street, 1973
Some of these like Marsden Court were only accessed through tiny entries and once inside you were pretty much locked into a different world.

All gone as is Mole Express which I had entirely forgotten about Matthew.

Location Manchester

Pictures; New Brown Street from Market Street, 1903, City Engineers, m03562,  Back Cannon Street from New Brown Street, 1937, m74955, New Brown Street, A P Morris, 1973 m03619, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Stories of the Great War from Eltham and Woolwich ............. nu 4 a fitting memorial

How we chose to remember the Great War was varied.

Some families erected their own memorial plaques in the local church, or parish graveyard subscribed to collective tablet or fashioned their own very personal tribute.

Private Shepherd
The one for young John Edmund Shepherd who died on May 30 1915 aged 19 during the Gallipoli Campaign is made of paper on card and measures 37.5 cms by 24.5 cms.

It carries the flags of the six allied nations either side of an oval insert which contains his picture and has the simple inscription “Duty Called, Duty Done, He Died a Noble Death.”

During 1919 discussions on the form of memorials that should be adopted by the churches led to “a crucifix at the ‘Church in the Square’ for all visitors to the Market to see, a Cross of Sacrifice at Eltham Parish Church, another crucifix at Holy Trinity, Southend Crescent with the Gallipoli Memorial inside the church and at Christ Church, Shooters Hill combined with a cross, that unique milestone.”*

The milestone had originally been erected by the New Cross Turnpike Trust and was adapted to carry a powerful memorial.**

The Shooters Hill Milestone
But for some a more fitting mark of remembrance would be the creation of a new hospital to replace the small cottage hospital which stood close to the Red Lion on Shooters Hill.

It had been opened in 1890 and like the one in Eltham had dome sterling service.

There had been plans for a new hospital in 1912 but these were postponed during the war.  But with the end of the conflict preparations began again and in an age before the NHS much of the cost would be met by subscriptions and fund raising.

In 1920 the Building Committee having visited a number of hospitals accepted plans for a design which would be completed in three stages staring with accommodation for one hundred and twelve beds and admin block and ancilliary buildings.

The ground was broken in February 1923, two years later the foundation stone was laid and in 1927 the hospital was opened under the title,

The Woolwich and District Memorial Hospital with the first patients being received in March 1928.

"In 1948 it joined the NHS as a general hospital.

In 1953 a new Out-Patients Department was opened by Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, who was Patron of the Hospital.  The X-ray Department was completely refurbished in 1955, with two new X-ray sets installed.

The memorial at Eltham
Although originally dealing with general cases, by 1965 the Hospital began to specialise in surgery.   It had a Casualty Department, but it was felt that its facilities were too limited to deal with the increasing number of road traffic accidents in the area.  
In 1969 the Department closed when the new Accident Centre opened at the nearby Brook General Hospital.  The acute wards were transferred to the Brook General Hospital and St Nicholas' Hospital in Plumstead.

In the 1970s  the Memorial Hospital became a geriatric hospital, with 128 long-stay beds.  A Day Hospital was built in 1975." ***

Since at least 2005, it has been run by the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust,[4] and mainly functions as a day centre for the elderly while also offering facilities for psychiatric patients.

Pictures; the Shepherd memorial courtesy of David Harrop, and the Shooters Hill memorial stone and Eltham memorial from the collection of Ryan Ginn

*The Woolwich Story E.F.E. Jefferson, 1968

Looking at Salford a bit before today ....... nu 5

Now I am fascinated by pictures taken of places during the last half century.

This is the last of that short series on almost old pictures of Salford.

All were taken on Chapel Street sometime during the last forty years.

And each is a telling reminder of how this bit of Salford has been changing.

None of them are dated but I am guessing they will be from the 1960s into the 70s with possibly a throw back into the 1950s.

And the rest as they is for you to ponder on.

Location; Salford,

Picture; on Chapel Street, date unknown, m77281, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Friday, 24 May 2019

“The work of a tram guard is not a woman’s work” ......... stories behind the book nu 18

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War*

Clippie, date unknown
Now this picture postcard of a “clippie got me thinking of the contribution made by women during the Great War, and in particular the opposition they faced from their male counterparts.

In the May of that year Salford Corporation took on 15 women to work as guards on their trams and a few months later Manchester followed suit while the Manchester postal authorities decided to utilise the services of women in the “delivery of letters.”

This had followed an appeal by the Board of Trade in the March for women to register for work at the their local Labour Exchange and in the course of the next three years women were to be found working in heavy industry, as well as on the land, and in offices and on the transport network.

Of course in many respects none of this was new.  For over a century they had worked in textile mills and coal mines, laboured alongside men and children in the fields and done a variety of dirty and unpleasant occupations often for little remuneration.

But the scope of their involvement and the fact that many of these occupations were new to women marked a sea change as did the fact that some of these occupations were far better paid than their previous jobs.

Not that this was without opposition.  Tram workers in Salford had argued that “the work of a guard is not a woman’s work and that it would be too much to expect that women should take charge of the early workmen’s cars or the late cars which would keep them up until midnight.”

And a full three years later Mr Frederick A Price the superintendant of the Manchester Gas Department reporting to the Gas Committee of Manchester Corporation on the work of the 31 women clerks and 85 women meter inspectors concluded that while they were “good and careful workers” and were “industrious and painstaking, they lacked initiative, were not capable of discharging the higher administrative duties [and lacked] the necessary imagination and concentration with the power of organisation” added to which they “liked to indulge in a little gossip.”**

Munition workers, 1918
It is easy to dismiss his assessments as period pieces but a full half century later similar prejudices were being expressed during the debates on the passing of the Equal Pay legislation.

But in comparison with others his were rather gentle prejudices.

In a series of correspondence to the War Emergency Committee which had been set up by the labour movement when war broke out the National Agricultural Labourers’ & Rural Worker’s Union consistently opposed the employment of women on the land.

During the February of 1915 they wrote a series of letters making clear their opposition to “the employment of women in the agricultural industry on moral and economic grounds” pointing to the growing practice of employing women and children on lower wage rates.****

A fear which appeared to be the case from evidence they uncovered during 1915.

Location; Manchester, 1914-18

Picture; “Clippie,” date unknown and Munition workers, 1918 from the collection of David Harrop

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War,

**Woman Tramguards, Manchester Guardian May 29, 1915

***Women at Mens’ Work, Manchester Guardian, January 5, 1918

****Walker, R B secretary, National Agricultural Labourers’ & Rural Worker’s Union R B Walker, to the War Emergency Committee, WNC, Box 1 file 4, Labour History Archives & Study Centre, the People’s History Museum, Manchester

Animals for the pot back in the kitchens of Chorlton and Well Hall in 1848

Back in rural communities in 1848 pigs and chickens were common enough and many families aspired to keeping a family pig. 

These were kept in the back garden or yard and could be fed on almost anything and would provide a family with food for almost the entire year.

As well as fresh pork there was salted bacon, cured ham, lard, sausages and black pudding.

Beyond its food value the dead pig offered its pigskin for saddles, gloves, bags and footballs while the bristles could be used for brushes and an average pig gave a ton of manure a year.

All of this was fine but often the pig became a family pet which made its killing just that bit harder.  Not that this halted the inevitable, which tended to be done in winter.

It was reckoned that the cooler months should be preferred given that in the words of the farming expert Henry Stephens, “the flesh in the warm months is not sufficiently firm and is then liable to be fly born before it is cured.”    

So the traditional time was around Martinmas in early November which had the added advantage that cured hams would be ready for Christmas.

As for the slaughtering of the pig this was done by the local butcher who was often paid in kind, and could be a traumatic event for both pig and family.

Not that there was any set way to carry this out and stories abound of botched attempts all of which led Stephen’s to recommend that the pig be placed on a bed of straw and the knife inserted into the heart.

The event was very much a family affair with everyone pitching in to scrap the hair clean from the body by either immersing it in boiling water or pouring the scalding water over the carcase, and later salting down the meat.  Immediately after it had been killed it was hung and left for the night before being cut up.

It was a time consuming job to rub salt into the hams and not a pleasant one either.  First the salt had to be crushed from a salt block which was then rubbed into the meat.

A side could be anything up to four feet [1.2 metres] in length and special care had to be taken to rub the salt into the bone joints.  All of this left the hands red raw.

Nor was this the end of the process.  The meat then had to be soaked in water and dried before being wrapped in muslin and hung up.  Meanwhile some of the pork might be cooked up into pies and the blood made into black pudding.

The family pig was indeed an important part of the means by which many in the township supplemented their earnings.  But pigs were part of the local economy and both farmers and market gardeners would find keeping pigs a profitable undertaking.

As we have seen they could be fed on almost anything.  In winter this might be potatoes or turnips and in summer they could be left to graze in a grass field.  The going rate at market in 1844 for a pig was anything between 24s [£1.20p] and 30s [£1.50p].

Our old friend Henry Stephens calculated that two brood sows could produce 40 pigs between them and that retaining six for home use the remaining 34 could easily be sold at market.

So many of the smaller farmers and market gardeners in the township might well keep at least one sow and use it to supplement their income.

The same was true of poultry which existed happily enough in a back garden or farmers’ yard.  But I doubt that there was much to be made from selling the eggs.

A dozen eggs in the summer of 1851 might cost 4d [2p] a dozen and rise in price to 8d [4p] later in the year.

Enterprising farmers and market gardeners might store up summer eggs to sell in the winter.  This involved smearing them with butter or lard while still warm and packing them in barrels of salt, oats or melted suet then transport them into the city or sell them to egg merchants who visited on a weekly basis.

Pictures; from the Book of the Farm Henry Stephens, Vol 11 1844


The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 48 ............. the Evelina Mission Hall, a chair and a promise

The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

The chair, 2015
Now I like the way that what seem to be totally random bits of the past come together to tell a story which in this case brings together a Mission Hall, an old chair and a promise.

What connects them is this chair which I am guessing must be at least a century old and in its time has travelled from Peckham to Eltham and on to Manchester and now resides in our dining room.

As far as I know it began life in the Evelina Mission Hall on Evelina Road close to where dad had worked for forty years.

I don’t remember the hall which was just past the railway arch on your left heading back towards Lausanne Road or when it was built but it will be sometime between 1896 and 1914 which I grant is a  dollop of history but it’s a start.

I know this because while it doesn’t show up on the OS map for 1896 it was there by 1914, listed in the Post Office Directory for that year.

There were plenty of similar halls in the area but by the mid 1960s if not earlier it was struggling for a congregation and closed.

And Dad always scenting a bargain came home with it one winter’s day in 1964.

By then we had moved from Lausanne Road to Eltham but it remains a little bit of the place where I grew up.

Now it may well be that there are people who remember the hall and if I am very lucky will have stories of attending the services there and perhaps even the odd picture.

But I doubt it such bits of our collective history vanish all too quickly although I did find a reference to the hall being bombed on September 7 1940.

According to the official records it took a direct hit from an explosive bomb just before 11 pm which “severely damaged the mission hall.”*

Given the time I doubt that there were any casualties and the hall must have been rebuilt which opens up a fascinating bit of research, all of which is for later.

That said there are so many unanswered questions of which how it survived the explosion, when it was made and by whom will I suspect never been answered.

And I have to say until recently I didn’t even know where the hall was, but guessing it was close to Dad’s garage on Brabourn Grove  it was fairly easy to track down.

The Mission Hall on Evelina Road, 1952
In turn I have to wonder if this was the location for his other great acquisition which were loads of those old wooden blocks which had formed the original road surface back in the 19th century.

Back then there had been a spirited debate about how roads should be surfaced with some favouring wooden blocks which it was argued would be quieter.

What I do know was that when they were finally lifted and arrived in our house in Lausanne Road they offered a superb fuel for the kitchen stove.

All of which may seem a long way from the chair so I shall close with that promise, which was that a long time ago one of my sons made a claim for the chair for the future.  He got in before his brother’s which means that at some point in the future our chair will be on the move again.

But I hope not for some time yet.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson 2015, and detail of the Mission Hall on Evelina Road, 1952,  courtesy of Southwark Council at

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

**London Blitz 1940: the first day’s bomb attacks listed in full, Simon Rogers, The Guardian Datalog, September 6 2010,

Coming soon ......... a story about this place

And in the meantime, one all about it's past.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; from the collection of Andy Robertson,2014

*Rediscovering the Savoy cinema on Manchester Road in Chorlton,

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Snaps of Chorlton No 9 Kathaleen Leavy in the Queen and Pasley, mid 1960s

An occasional series featuring private and personal photographs of Chorlton.

We are inside the Queen and Pasley Laundry on Crossland Road.

I have featured both the picture and stories on the laundry* but rather think it is time to bring it out again for this series.

Picture; from the collection of Tony Walker