Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Less a mystery more a piece of research ........... pondering on the age of those properties on the corner of Corkland and Wilbraham

Now occasionally I have wondered about the three properties on the corner of Corkland and Wilbraham Road and before someone mutters “the lad ought to get out more” there might well be a story here.

They must date from sometime between the mid 1930s and 1959 because they do not appear on the OS map for 1934 and were there twenty five years later when Mr A E Landers wandered down recording the whole length of Wilbraham Road.

I can’t say I would award a prize to the architects who while they did a decent job with the land available produced a pretty ugly building.

I have never liked those tiles they went in for in the 1950s and that frontage running above the shops is heavy and clumsy, and while I am at it the windows and door are less than elegant.

Still Gloria Fashion, Rushtons and the Co-op dry cleaning business seemed happy enough to trade from there and at some point so did  Gerry Marlowe with his Nylon Bar and J H Edwards.

And maybe I am being a little picky about the building which has prompted me to plan a visit to the Ref to look through the street directories for Cavendish Terrace which will supply me with a date for its construction and a complete list of who traded from the properties.

Armed with that list we should be able
to chart the changing shopping patterns of Chorlton which I think will make for a fascinating insight into how where we have lived has been transformed in just five decades.

All of which leaves me with that last observation that I can’t remember which businesses operated here a decade ago.

But with supreme confidence I know someone who will.

Pictures; Cavendish Terrace in 2014, from the collection of Andy Robertson and various views of the same properties in 1959 by A E Landers, m18453, 18451, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

A Christmas sometime between 1955 and 61

I don’t usually do nostalgia, but this week is an exception.

So for all those who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s here is a selection of the presents that came into our household each Christmas from 1952 till 1963.

They are not in any order and lean heavily on my own child hood experiences, but I bet they could be replicated by many who read this.

And for those whose childhoods came later there will be in another post, with images of Barbie Dolls, the Bay City Rollers and Mud annuals, along with scaletric, my little Pony and the Turtles, including all four sourced from the cellar.

Of course if I wanted to really revel in nostalgia I could invite contributions on the upstairs of Quarmby’s, the sparkling and  groaning shelves of Woolworths and that paradise for all ages which is Toys R Us.

I don’t recall doing the storehouse Father Christmas and think we avoided it when the lads came along, but I have always been a sucker for Christmas trees.

They have to be so big that you end up chopping a bit off the bottom, come from a forest somewhere and have a mismatch collection of decorations which are as much about past Christmases as they are about elegant design and appearance.

Only recently I gave up on the multi coloured tree lights and went with the wishes of our Josh that they should be all one colour.  And every year we still put the Christmas angel designed by Saul somewhere near the top.

That said there is always that debate when to buy the tree, too early and it runs the risk of losing its needles and too late and all that is left are those sad two foot specimens which have a bit missing in the middle.

But the event is as much about family traditions as anything so despite being 29 Ben will still get a Beano album in his stocking and Luca a selection of wine gums, fruit pastilles and the odd Kinder egg.

And because I grew up in the 50s and that pretty much has frozen in time the Christmas I like, we shall bring out the Monopoly board, insist that everyone tries a selection of the festive nuts, and gather to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

That said there will be the addition of those nice things to eat that Tina grew up with at home in Italy, at least three phone calls to Varese during the day and a visit from Ron and Carol.

All that and the Christmas football match which the boys and their friends play for half an hour on the Rec sometime after the presents and before the big meal.

It is a tradition which they have played for as long as I can remember, and over the years the event has pulled in friends, and anyone who is around the house on the day.

But mindful of my responsibilities I stay indoors, tending the fires, laying the table and reflecting on past family gatherings.

That said a few things have changed.  Back in the early 1950s we still attached candles to the tree, went out for a brisk walk up to Peckham Rye and ate directly after the Queen’s broadcast.

Not that it ever seemed to snow back then either.  But as they say be careful about what you wish for.  Back in the afternoon of Boxing Day in 1962 the snow fell across Peckham, New Cross and Eltham, and continued for months.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Wondering about ghost buildings and ghost signs down at the Rochdale Canal on Whitworth Street West

I like this picture of the Rochdale Canal with the Central Station and the Beetham Tower.

It was one of a series Andy Robertson took a few days ago and neatly captures the changing skyline and also reveals more if you look more closely.

The canal runs from Castlefield up to the Dale Street Basin and cuts through the city and after decades of neglect is back as a working waterway.

In the same way some of the old railway track which ran into Central is now part of the Metro link while the old station has become the modern exhibition centre.

But what draws me is in the line of that ghost building to the left of the huge window and the ho;es in the brickwork which would have been for floor joists.

In time I shall go looking for the evidence of that ghost building and perhaps also descipher the ghost sign below the parapet.

Of course there may well be someone who can supply the answers and maybe come up with more of the history of this spot which for those who don’t know is the corner of Whitworth Street West and Albion Street.

Pictures; from the collection of Andy Robertson, 2014

Snapshots of the Great War nu 3 ........... entertaining the wounded troops at the Ardwick Empire in 1917

If you were wounded and recovering in hospital in a city far from home I guess time must have weighed heavily.

And so the Special Matinees for Wounded Soldiers would have been an attraction not to be missed.

The programme and ticket are dated May and August 1917 and were for the Ardwick Green Empire.

Now in time I will find out exactly what was on offer because my old friend David Harrop turned up a copy of the programme with the inside pages.

Just as now some of the support for wounded soldiers came from charities and the performance of August 2nd 1917 was provided by the “Lloyds Bank Entertainment Fund for Wounded Soldiers."

The Ardwick Empire was built in 1904 on the corner of Higher Ardwick and Hyde Road and stayed in business till it was demolished fifty years later having changed its name to the New Manchester Hippodrome in the mid 1930s.

Back in 1917 our wounded soldiers would have been recovering in one of the many Red Cross Hospitals across the city.

Pictures; from the collection of David Harrop

*The Ardwick Empire,

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

One house on Barlow Moor Road over a century and a bit

Our house on Barlow Moor Road in 1904
Now I don’t usually go in for then and now pictures but today is different.

We are on Barlow Moor Road at the junction with High Lane, and I am looking at the same house over the last century and a bit.

Our first was taken by A. Bradburn in the winter of 1904, and of the three it intrigues me the most so I shall return to it later in the week.

The remaining two were taken in the May of 1959 by A.H. Downes and by me this month.

Just 55 years later in 1959
It should not be too difficult to track just when what is now 503 Barlow Moor Road gave up being a private residence or the different businesses which have occupied this and its neighbour over the years.

More than once I have found myself thinking about that first house on the corner, and when it lost the gardens to the front back and side.

In 1904 it was the home of James Chapman, was a solicitor.

He and his wife Emmie and their four children had been living at number 76 since at least 1901.

And today
James had done well for himself, for just six years earlier he had described himself as a solicitor’s clerk and the family had lived on Cranbourne Road.

But for now I shall leave you with the three images of one little bit of Chorlton.

But that is not quite it because After talking to Andy Robertson he remembered talking the same shot back in 1992 which I guess is when its time as the Microwave shop will be most familiar to many.

And in 1992
And Andy was also able to dig out that back in 1969 the shops were occupied by 503  H Morris and sons, decorators and at
505 Julia Allyson, ladies' hairdresser.

So there you ago the place continues to have a long and varied history.

Pictures; 78 [now 503] Barlow Moor Road, 1904, A. Bradburn, m17434, again 1959, A.H. Downes, m17508, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council and today from the collection of Andrew Simpson and in 1992 from the collection of Andy Robertson

More on that hole in the ground in St Peter's Square

Now you can never get too much of a good story about a hole in the ground.

And so here is the third of the stories about the hole that has been opened up in St Peter’s Square.

It all started when Sally told me that excavations were under way in front of One St Peter’s Square which had once been the site of St Peter’s Church which had been demolished in 1907 after a century and a bit of serving the community.

She kindly took some pictures which revealed the remains of the church and Andy Robertson has sent me some of his to add to the collection.

Together they offer up some fascinating glimpses into the old church, for amongst the assorted service pipes and old Corporation tramlines can be seen the large stones which formed the base of the wall around the church.

They are revealed for the first time in Andy’s pictures for over a century and can be compared with the pictures of the church both during and before its demolition.

But the pictures also reveal how the old church dominated the surrounding buildings but would today be dwarfed by the modern properties which have gone up since 1907.

Sadly I know I will never be invited down to crawl over what is left of the archaeology of the church its crypt and its foundations so I will have to be content with the scene recorded by Andy and Sally.

Of course by the time it came down in 1907 much of the residential properties had themselves long gone replaced by offices and warehouses and so I guess the church was a little surplus to requirements.

I have to confess I think it is not the most attractive churches to have

graced the city and I can't say that tower or clock does much for me.

In time I think I will go and look for its history some of which is revealed in a wonderful guide book on Manchester in the 1850s but that is for another time.  Instead I will just close with this interior shot of the church taken as the workmen were beginning to know it down.

Pictures; St Peter’s Square in 2014 from the collection of Andy Robertson and, the church in the process of being demolished in 1907, m80961, as it was before demolition 80329, W H Fisher,  and the interior in 1907, m71326, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

With the Labour Party Conference at Lambeth Baths in 1913 supporting the right of women to vote

I am looking at a photograph of the Labour Party Conference in 1913.

It was held at the Lambeth Baths at the end of January and it seems an odd choice of subject for a picture post card.

But the Labour Party was beginning to shake a few trees.

It had been formed as the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 as "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, and agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour."*

Its role was to coordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class.

In 1906 the LRC won 29 seats and at the first meeting after the election the group’s MPs adopted the name “the Labour Party.”

So here we are in the Lambeth Baths at what was their eighth conference since the adoption of the new name.

Now I have yet to find out the details of that three day conference but I do know that it was here that the Labour Party decided to oppose any legislation which merely extended the vote to more men.  They were instead fully committed to votes for women and would only support moves to that end.

In response the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, sent a telegram on the second day of the conference expressing “Heartfelt congratulations on fine policy adopted by conference.”

In time I guess I will be able to unearth who all the delegates were and the rest of their decisions, but in the meantime I am drawn to the details in the photograph and in particular the reference to the Daily Citizen.

This was a short lived newspaper which hit the streets in October 1913, just months after the launch of the Daily Herald.

Delegates and spectators might well have whiled away some of the more tedious moments with the paper or gazed at the poster with its stirring slogan of “Forward! The day is breaking.”

And amongst those earnest people looking back at us would have been the delegates from the Woolwich Labour Party which still in the 1960s had the largest membership of any constituency Labour Party, but that is for another time.

Pictures; the Labour Party Conference 1913, courtesy of Mark Flynn Postcards, and the poster, Forward! The day is breaking” the Labour Party