Tuesday, 6 October 2015

When Gas was glamorous ............ in the show rooms of the South Metropolitan Gas Company at 36 Powis Street

Now the gas cooker, the central heating and the gas fired water boiler are pretty much taken for granted by most people.

Even given the ever increasing price of the stuff many of us will just get with using it, thankful that barring an accident the systems will come on at the push of a button or turn of the tap.

Most appliances are fairly utilitarian come in a number of shades of white and just do the business.

But back in the late 19th and early twentieth century’s gas could still be glamorous and it was the fuel of the future.

Read any of the handouts from the municipally controlled gas boards and you enter a world of cheap clean and safe living whether it be lighting the home or feeding the family.

Manchester Corporation both sold and rented gas cookers and in time did the same for electricity offering also very competitive rates for wring old houses.

All of which takes me to the show rooms of the South Metropolitan Gas Company at 36 Powis Street in Woolwich.

The South Metropolitan Gas Company was founded in 1829 and began an ambition programme of building gasworks at Vauxhall, Bankside and Thames St, Greenwich. These were extended by mergers with other companies, and bring me nicely back to the show rooms.*

The provision of gas along with its appliances was big money and to win over customers the show rooms had to look the part.

So I shall leave you with these scenes, all from postcards produced by Tuck & Sons in a series titled London, South Metropolitan Gas Company.

Now there is a piece of hard sell which can’t be bettered.

And just to doubly remind you of all the wonders of the place each picture post card had the times of opening on the back.

I think even I would have been impressed.

Pictures; from Tuck & Sons in a series titled London, South Metropolitan Gas Company, courtesy of Tuck DB, http://tuckdb.org/

*The National Archives, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=1866-sesom&cid=0#0

Walking in the north of the township in to Martledge in the summer of 1847, part one

Barlow Moor Lane, north to Martledge, a journey which will take in some great houses, a shop, farms and a pub as well as cottages of wattle and daub and brick

Barlow Moor Lane is a long road.

Standing at the point where the Row joins Barlow Moor Lane we have a choice, turn north and journey on to Martledge and then out of the township by various routes to Hulme and
Manchester, or south to Hardy Lane and on to the Mersey, Withington and Didsbury.

Martledge is much overlooked in most histories of the township so north it is.

And we will start with the Holt estate again.  Leaving the Row and heading north up Barlow Moor Lane we follow the east wall of the Holts, all the way to Lane End.  Everything on this side of the road dates from after 1908 when the last of the Chorlton Holts died and the estate sold off.

It finished at Lane End.  Directly opposite where today Sandy Lane begins was the grocer’s shop of Jeremiah  Brundrett.  It was a large house at one time known as Lilly Cottage.

The Brundrett’s were there long enough for the spot to become known as Brundrett’s corner  Facing the shop roughly on the site of the church was the home of Caleb and Ann Jordril.   Here was one of the last wattle and daub cottages.

Continuing north along the lane our journey would pass open fields until we reached the edge of Martledge.

Here to our left was Clough Farm and on our right Oak Bank House.

The farm stood roughly between Groby Road and Silverwood Avenue.   In that summer of 1847 it was occupied by Margaret Taylor and it would have been her farm land we would have seen as we walked up Barlow Moor Lane towards her home.

Today all of the land from Silverwood Avenue back towards High Lane and right back to Lane End was rented by her from the Egerton Estate.  There were 10 acres in all and it was a mix of arable, meadow and clover and included part of Scotch Hill.

Margaret was forty-seven.   Hers was no easy life.  To make 10 acres of land work and bring in a living required hard work.

Over and above the big points in the agricultural year of sowing, planting and reaping, there were the constant demands of weeding, chasing off pests and the journeys to the markets in Manchester.

These were tasks usually carried out by the whole family, but during the 1840s, she lost both her parents and two sisters which left her with just her 11 year old nephew.   Now Margaret was not alone in facing such loss, or in bringing up the child of her a relative.

Easing the chronic overcrowding meant that at least one child might be farmed out to relatives and Edward her nephew had been at Clough Farm since he was five and would still be there when he was 15 by which time she had married John Stretch.

From their fields they would have been able to gaze across at Oak Bank, one time home of William Morton and later the Cope family.  Oak Bank was a substantial building standing in its own grounds close to the modern junction of Barlow Moor and Wilbraham Roads.

Nothing now exists of the house but the path leading to it is now Needham Avenue. The house was situated in a garden which covered the area running on either side of Needham Avenue as far as Barlow More Lane in one direction and Corkland Road in the other.

The estate also included a large meadow field and small wood stretching back from Needham along Barlow Moor Lane to Lane End.

It had belonged to William Morton who had been there since 1821, but on death his will stipulated that the house and land had to be sold within five years.  

When this happened is not known but in 1845 a Miss Crofton was there paying rent to the Executors of Mr Morton.  

By 1847 the house and land were in the possession of Frederick Cope who rented both to John.  This was a short term arrangement and by 1850 the Cope family were living at Oak Bank.

William Morton had described himself as a member of the gentry.   Frederick Cope was a wine merchant who ten years earlier had been living with his wife and children on Oxford Street, close to where the University now stands.  Elizabeth had died by 1851.

Adapted from THE STORY OF CHORLTON-CUM-HARDY, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20for%20Chorlton

Pictures; map of Barlow Moor Lane, courtesy of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/  picture of Jeremiah  Brundrett, Wesleyan Handbook, 1908, courtesy of Philip Lloyd, and gravestone of the Morton family in the parish churchyard, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Tommy Ducks on East Street ............ a pub that vanished over night

Tommy Ducks 1993 painted by Peter Topping  in 2011
It’s a full twenty-two years since the demolition men did their worst to Tommy Duck’s on East Street and even now I have to retell the story to my sisters every time they are up from London.

I first took them there around 1977 and it always ranked alongside the Town Hall, Central Ref and John Rylands as a place to revisit.

So the story of a preservation order that ran out at midnight and couldn’t be renewed till the following morning, the demolition team which just happened to move in during the gap in time and the brewery fined for breaching regulations never ceases to amaze them.

I vaguely remembered the story but had to go back to Pubs of Manchester to fill in the gaps and to be reminded of the coffin story.*

Elaine in Tommy Ducks
Now the coffin at Tommy Ducks I don’t remember but I did happily sit beside one in the Nags Head in the '70s.

It rested in the bay window and was the sort of thing that appealed to students.

Later I went back looking for it but the coffin had gone and as you do eventually I just assumed I had imagined it.  But not so according to my friend Elaine who worked at Tommy Ducks and confirmed that when Ken Riggs the landlord left he took the coffin with him to the Nags Head.

I suppose it may have moved again with him or just no longer fitted the corporate design of the brewery.

East Street, 1903
In the same way Tommy Ducks will have been a very different pub earlier last century and I have gone looking for that earlier story

A pub occupied number 8 East Street in 1911 and had done so back as far as 1876 and with a bit more research it should be possible to determine when between the 1860s and 1876  it opened its doors and when it extended into the adjacent properties.

All of which means it achieved its first century but alas Derrick the Demolition man prevented it rolling onto a second centenary.

So that makes Peter’s painting of the place just that bit special.

And like all good images it draws you in and makes you ask questions.

Look carefully and still standing beside the end of the pub is a bit of the stone work from the old warehouse next door.

This bit of stone formed part of the arch way into the inside of the building.

When I first ventured down East Street sometime around 1971 it was still there, a large gloomy place which passed from one occupant to another.

In 1903 it was the place of work of Edward Samson Bros, merchants, and by 1911 had changed hands and no doubt continued to do so until its final demise.

So there is lots more still to explore and in time I will be back.

Painting; Tommy Ducks © 2011 Peter Topping

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: Paintings from Pictures https://www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

Picture; Elaine at Tommy Duck's courtesy of Elaine Archer and East Street circa 1903 from Gould's Fire Insurance Maps, 1880-1903, courtesy of Digital Archives Associationhttp://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

*Tommy Ducks East Street, Pubs of Manchester, http://pubs-of-manchester.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/tommy-ducks.html

The Four freedoms, Free Speech 1 Speaking

Andrew Simcock & Gerald Kaufman MP

A series of pictures taken in the 1990s debating the future of the National Health Service. 

Originaly issued last year.

In 1941 President Roosevelt spoke of looking forward to a world founded on "four essential freedoms." 

"Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear."

Later Norman Rockwell turned them into four paintings of which my favourite is the first where a blue collar worker speaks at his local town council meeting. And it struck me as I looked around the hall that we were doing exactly the same thing.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Another story from Tony Goulding ............the Irish of Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Growing up in Chorlton-cum-Hardy as the "austere" 1950's metamorphosed into the "swinging" 1960's and attending as I did both the school and church of St. John's Roman Catholic parish I could not but be aware of the large number of people with an Irish background who were by then resident in the area. 

The Irish Centre
Further more objective evidence for this observation is provided by the opening of the “Irish (Association Social) Club “on High Lane in 1956.

My recent forays into the field of local history have aroused in me a curiousness concerning the origins and development of this community

Like any enquiry of this kind the initial research is in the 19th century census returns. These reveal that there were very few Irish-born residents of Chorlton-cum-Hardy until after the 1861 census which recorded just 5 individuals, in 1851 the number was 9 whilst in 1841 there were only 4.

The Irish Club
Of the 4 included in the 1841 returns one was the township's first permanently stationed policeman William Gilpin who had recently arrived from Armagh, accompanied by his wife, Jane.   A third was a linen traveller who was visiting the Gilpin’s.

P.C. Gilpin did not remain long in the area as by the time of the following census in 1851 he was stationed in Ongar working for the Essex Constabulary, in which he would later rise to the rank of inspector, at Romford.

Nevertheless, it is perhaps the birth of this couple's first child, Sarah Anne early in 1842 that provides an appropriate starting point for this story.

The first parish church on High Lane
The following two decades witnessed a slow but steady increase in the numbers, by 1871 the Irish born population had grown to 38 and by 1881 it had reached 67. This increase came about due to two factors...

An acute shortage in the agricultural workforce, as the native-born English drifted from the land to take up better paid employment in the mills and factories of the rapidly expanding industries of the neighbouring areas necessitated the recruitment of farm workers in Ireland. (1)

Allied to this the increasing amount of upper middle homes with their concomitant higher demand for low paid domestic servants led to the arrival in Chorlton of a few Irish girls to fill some of these positions.

As the 19th century drew to its close the number of Irish in Chorlton continued to grow both in terms of those recorded as being born in Ireland but more especially of the children having at least one Irish-born parent.

It was common for the single immigrant men and women to marry in England, often to locally born spouses. (2)  In this period to the nature of the Irish population of the area was changing. Some of the newer arrivals were professional men and merchants which allied to the increase in "Irish" families led to the emergence of a settled stable community replacing that of a more transient nature based on casual agricultural labour

The 1927 church
Physical evidence of this change can be seen in the provision a Catholic church and school the congregation and pupils of which would have been predominantly though not exclusively of an Irish heritage.

The initial Roman Catholic presence in the area was at a house on Needham Avenue which, from 1890, served as St. Peter's Priory mission church. The clergy was a group of Benedictines led by Fr.Jerome the brother of Herbert Vaughan the Bishop of Salford and founder of St.Bedes College who was soon to become the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

Before the advent of the new century premises had been acquired on High Lane to be used as a church and presbytery with a school being built adjacent in Church (now Chequers) Road, the foundation stone being laid on 11th June 1898 by Bishop Vaughan's successor the Right Rev. John Bilsborrow

Throughout the first half of the 20th century the Catholic, still largely Irish (3), community continued to grow and to a degree prosper. A fine new church with the priest’s house incorporated was consecrated by Bishop Thomas Henshaw in June 1927.

Parish centres with the alcoves said to have been the confessional boxes of original church
The old parish buildings being utilised as  an expanded primary school until the present purpose built school was opened on Chepstow Road off Longford Road  in 1968 , they are now used as a parish centre and a Boxing Club. For a time in the 1960's overcrowding had necessitated the use of the recently vacated hall of the High Lane , Primitive Methodist Church (now a Buddhist meditation centre ) as an annex to the main school buildings.

To complete the picture mention should be made of the convent on High Lane .This building between Acres Road and Stockton Road and now an Islamic girl’s school functioned as a Convent school for girls started by

The Sisters of the Christian Retreat from before 1911 until it closed on 9th August 1991

© Tony Goulding, 2015

Pictures; from the collection of Tony Goulding

1) Included in this group were the Habron brothers of the P.C, Cock case.
2) An early recorded example of this in Chorlton-cum-Hardy was James Gresty's marriage to Isabella Davison at St.Mary's , Hulme on 12th June g, 1864.
3) The size of the congregation at "St. John's" was also swelled  by a number of conversions from other denominations and by the arrival  of Italians, Poles, and other nationalities as a consequence of the various conflicts in Europe throughout the 20th century.

The story of one house in Peckham number 43 ............ rabbits, dolls and other money spinning plans

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

Now mother came of that generation which was very practical about pets and erred on that simple premise that they either contributed to the common family good or they weren’t crossing the threshold which is how we got the rabbits.

There were two of them bought from a pet shop in Rushey Green and the grand plan was that like all rabbits everywhere they would breed and produce off spring which mother could sell.

To do this day I am not sure if this meant just selling on the baby rabbits , or taking the project to the next level and dealing in the meat and the fur.

Dad had been dragooned into building the hutch which stood on legs a full three feet off the ground with a long “run” made from an old door he had acquired.

But the plan failed because the rabbits didn’t like each other and after a decent time they went back to the pet shop and the hutch became firewood for the kitchen stove.

Of course we weren’t alone in such schemes.
Mr and Mrs Potts next door kept chickens and the man who lived beside Nana and granddad in Chellaston managed pigs.

Later mother joined one of those outsourcing schemes which in her case involved assembling little tourist dolls which were dressed in classic London outfits including a policeman, Guardsman and Yeoman of the Guard.

All these were just the casual way people round our way supplemented the weekly income.

Pictures; mother around the time of the rabbit project

*The story of one house in Peckham, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20story%20of%20one%20house%20in%20Peckham

Monday, 5 October 2015

One more lost scene of Chorlton ......... from the winter of 1963-4

It was taken in the winter of 1963-4 from the back upstairs window of Ida Bradshaw’s house on Neale Road.

Today the view would be obscured by the flats of Lawngreen, but back then it was all that was left of the farm yard, workshops and land of the farm which had fronted the parish graveyard for two hundred years.

To the right in the background is the Bowling Green Hotel, to the left the houses which face Brookburn Road. 

And away in the distance are the meadows.

 What is perhaps remarkable are the buildings on the horizon just left of centre.

 These I think were the homes of the sewage workers and stood just to the left of the little footbridge across Chorlton Brook.

It is still possible to make out a break in the hedge where the garage of the properties was situated. There are those in Chorlton who remember living in one of them.
Nerdy perhaps, but still real living history. If anyone has any pictures of Chorlton I would love to see them.

Picture; from the back upstairs window on Neale Road from the collection of Ida Bradshaw