Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Chew and Furniss – the Birth of the “Blues”, another story from Tony Goulding

Continuing the early history of Manchester City, this is the Hyde Road Hotel which in August, 1887 witnessed the meeting where Ardwick F.C. was established. 

The Hyde Road Hotel

Two stalwarts of Gorton (Association) Football Club, Walter Chew, the secretary, and Lawrence Furniss, a former club captain, had ambitions to develop the club into a more professional concern. They wanted to be able to compete against the top teams of the day, twelve of which were to form the professional Football League on the 17th April, 1888 in the Royal Hotel on Market Street, Manchester.

Walter Chew had recently acquired a new ground for the Gorton club to play on but as this was on waste ground besides some railway arches on Hyde Road, Ardwick, it seemed expedient to change the name of the club to reflect its new location. 

Walter retained the position of secretary of the newly-named club providing a stabilising factor. Although he was still unpaid his was a very important rôle as he was responsible for arranging many of the club’s fixtures (1) and for forging ever more important commercial links with local industry. Some important links were forged with local businesses, in particular, two  major factories between which the new ground 9was sandwiched .   Bennetts Iron foundry, Ardwick, at which a number of the clubs early players worked, and Galloways Boiler Works also a significant employer of the area (at one point over 800 persons had jobs in their boiler works)  who supplied some of the materials to develop the Hyde Road ground.  (2) 

Picture 2

Key: -  Dark blue G Galloways Boiler Works.

            Light green B Bennetts Iron Foundry.

            Light blue   ______   Elizabeth Street.

Walter Chew, was born in Hulme, Manchester on  the 27th, August, 1864 the second child of Thomas, a warehouseman, and his wife Sarah Ann (née Harrison). 

The census of 1871 records Walter, aged 6, living with his parents and an older brother, William Henry (9) at 16, Walter Street, Gorton. By the time of the next census in 1881, the family had moved to 12, Elizabeth Street, West Gorton. (This was the address used for correspondence for Gorton F.C. and later Ardwick’s early years) 

Walter and his brother were both employed as warehouse clerks whilst their father’s occupation was given as “calico printer’s journeyman”. There was also a new family-member, Elizabeth Ann, born in 1872. Another son, Thomas, was born in the June quarter of 1867 but sadly died in the December quarter of the following year. The 1891 census reveals the family still at Elizabeth Street, although William Henry had married in the September quarter of 1886 and moved away. Walter’s occupation was recorded as a mercantile clerk, his father was a warehouseman and his sister was described as a cigarette maker. During these years, however Walter must have also been kept very busy with his work for the Gorton and Ardwick Football clubs.


Elizabeth Street

Walter married quite late in life aged 36 to Dinah Smith in the December quarter of 1900; the couple remained childless. Sometime during the 1890s the Chews relocated to Levenshulme, Manchester, where in 1901 that year’s census shows Walter and his new bride living with both his parents at 13, George Street.  Ten years later he was still in Levenshulme but had moved to 14, Cromwell Grove. (3) His father, Thomas, had by then died, in the June quarter of 1907 and his widowed mother had moved to live at nearby 46, Wetherall Street. His occupation in this census was described as “clerk (counting house)” for “cotton spinners manufacturers”

       When the 1939 Register was taken, Walter had moved to 9, Redthorn Avenue, Burnage, Manchester and was recorded as a bookkeeper (retired). He was by then a widower, his wife, Dinah having died in May, 1925. Walter remained at this address until he himself passed away on the 30th August, 1948, while he was staying at Clifton, Towallt Road, Gwespyr, Nr. Prestatyn, Flintshire, North Wales. His estate, valued for probate, was the tidy sum of £4,364 – 7s – 7d. (£162,268 in today’s value)


He and his wife are buried in, this grave (H 1401) in the Roman Catholic section of Manchester’s Southern Cemetery. Southern Cemetery. (4)

Walter spent a lifetime in a variety of honorary positions within the game of football. After he had been succeeded as the secretary of Ardwick by Lawrence Furniss he served as the treasurer of the Manchester County Association 58 years.  He also served for a time as vice-president of the Manchester and District Referees and Linesman Association.  His earlier rôles with West Gorton, Gorton, and Ardwick were recognised in a broadcast celebrating Manchester City’s jubilee on General Forces Radio on the 26th July, 1944 together with Billy Meredith and Robert Smith.  

    While Walter Chew helped establish Ardwick as a force in local football and was responsible for a permanent ground for the club to play their matches at, it was his successor, Lawrence Wain Furniss, who oversaw Ardwick’s entry into the Football League. His story will be told in the next instalment.

Pictures   Hyde Road Hotel m 27241 and Elizabeth Street, West Gorton m 23352, Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Archives and Information Manchester City Council.  Map section and Walter Chew's Grave from the collection of Tony Goulding.

Notes: -

1) Very important as Ardwick were not in a League at this time apart from Cup competitions all matches had to be fixed up on an ad hoc basis.

2) Chesters Brewery who owned the Hyde Road Hotel used by the embryonic Ardwick F.C. as dressing rooms before games was also approached for support.. The managing director of the brewery, Stephen Chester Thompson’s, involvement provided Ardwick with new turf for the pitch and a £400 grandstand at the cost of monopoly rights for beer sales at the matches. As an Alderman representing the Conservative and Unionist Party he had some very influential contacts, one of which was A. J. Balfour the M. P. for East Manchester and a future prime minister. He witnessed the 1904 Cup Final when,  with Meredith scoring the only goal, Manchester City beat Bolton Wanderers 1 – 0 , being one of the first  serving prime minister to attend a Cup Final.

3) He may have also resided at 3, Parker Street, Levenshulme as both the electoral roll in 1909 and the following year's directory show a Walter Chew at this address.

4) I am not sure what Walter's link to the Roman Catholic Church was but his connection helps to explain why Manchester for the most part managed to avoid the the deeply ingrained sectarianism associated with Football clubs in other cities especially in Glasgow and, to a lesser degree, Liverpool. It also was part of the Connells' initial idea and later the desire to create a club for all Mancunians when Ardwick was renamed Manchester City.

    Again I have to acknowledge "The Manchester City Story" (1984) by Andrew Ward.

1 comment:

  1. Picture of Elizabeth Street is this correct, street sign appears to read Ensign Street. I lived at 14 Ellen Street earlier named Elizabeth Street, from 1951 till 1970 and the houses had bay windows. I am looking at the image on a laptop which distorts when enlarged.