Thursday, 31 July 2014

Down at Oswald Road School on a July day, capturing another changing moment

Now the skill of recording events which will mark a moment in history can be just good luck.

For many photographers it will be that they were there with a camera just as the event unfurled.

A few minutes earlier or later and that event would have been lost.

Now in the case of Andy Robertson who took these pictures of Oswald Road School the images come from a keen knowledge of what is going on in Chorlton and a determination to record the changes as they happen.

And in doing that he is following a small group of local photographers who diligently took pictures across the township in the 1950s and 1960s.

These are now in the city’s image collection, and are a powerful record of what Chorlton was like.*

And I hope Andy will in the fullness of time pass his onto the local studies library.

In the case of the school he has recorded the building of the new extension and now the demolition of the old one.

Like all good pictures that capture a point in time, it is sometimes the one most people miss that says it all.

So here amongst the bulldozer, and broken bits of building is that pile of classroom furniture and other things which for me sums up just what as going on.

Now that for me is what a camera should be for.

Pictures; Oswald Road School, July 2014

*Manchester Local Image Collection,

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

A little bit of Naples in 1890 ..... part 2

This is the second of those pictures of Naples at the close of the 19th century.*

In a city where people lived outside as much as inside their homes here are vivid pictures of life in a southern Italian city and compare with what Samuel Coulthurst was recording here in Manchester at roughly the same time.**

Picture; Naples circa 1890

*Napoli coom’era, 2013

**Samuel L Coulthurst,

On Ducie Street turning up another ghost sign

Now you grab ghost sign opportunities because you never know how long they will remain.

So there we were a few days ago sitting by the canal at the Dale Street Basin and looking out towards Ducie Street and there ahead of us was the sign for H. A. Howard and Sons.

The block is now apartments but the developer left the sign and that I think is all to their credit.

Later I shall do some digging on the story behind the company but for now I shall just reflect that here is one ghost sign which might  just last for a bit longer.

Picture; of H.A. Howard and Sons Ltd from the collection of Andrew Simpson, July 2014

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A little bit of Naples in 1890 ..... part 1

A street in Naples circa 1890
I am fascinated by street scenes and especially of those taken in the late 19th century of the poorer and rundown bits of our city.

But as ever wanting to branch out I decided it was time to look at other cities in other parts of Europe and so courtesy of the publishers, Intra Moenia  are a collection of street scenes from Naples during the last part of the 19th century.*

In a city where people lived outside as much as inside their homes here are vivid pictures of life in a southern Italian city and compare with what Samuel Coulthurst was recording here in Manchester at roughly the same time.**

*Napoli coom’era, 2013

**Samuel L Coulthurst,

Watching the geese at Hough End Hall sometime in the 1940s

Now sometimes the picture is pretty much all you need and so it is with this one.

We are on the low wall which ran along Nell Lane looking across at the geese with Hough End Hall away to our left and the farm buildings containing the pig sty belonging to Mr Bailey which also housed Jimmy Ryan’s rabbits on our right.

I don’t have a date but the young girl in the middle with the striped jumper is Miss Veronica Jones which I guess places the picture sometime in the early 1940s.

She told Peter that they were there on the wall “feeding Geese and then ‘snuck’ up to look in at the window as a dare.”

All of which makes the photograph a remarkable piece of history, for not only do we have a rare glimpse of the Hall in its last years as a farm but have a name and a set of memories.

And by comparing it with the plan of the hall and farm buildings drawn by Oliver Bailey we can place our three young people including Miss Veronica Jones exactly on the spot where they sat.

So there you have it and I rather hope this will spark more memories and pictures.

Picture; of the hall, courtesy of Miss Veronica Jones, date unknown

Living at 523 Barlow Moor Road in the 1940s

I am back with the memories of my friend Ann who grew up in a big house on Barlow Moor Road in the 1940s and 50s.

Her parents ran an undertaker’s business and along with descriptions of the house there are some wonderful insights into the work they did

"Like most houses in the 1940's, there was no central heating, and in winter, the only room which was warm was the kitchen. 

This was heated by the 'Range' a small open fire, which heated an oven, and a top oven for pans, and was covered in dark blue tiles. 

There was a trivet to stand the heavy cast iron kettle, and a coal scuttle which needed refilling several times a day, which meant going down the cellar for buckets of coal.  

Each side of the Range was fitted cupboards, and my Mum had her sewing machine in front of the window. 

She had trained as a dressmaker, and had worked in Manchester making and altering dresses, before she was married, and then had become a housewife’, as women did in 1928. 

She told me she had altered a dress for Tallulah Bankhead, (A famous actress at the time) and that it hadn't been cleaned, and smelt of sweat.

Entertainment at the time was the wireless, or the piano, or having friends round to play cards.

There wasn't a sink in the kitchen, but there was a small room at the side called a scullery, where the washing up was done. We didn't get a washing machine until about 1957, so all washing was done by hand, except for large things, like sheets and tablecloths. 

Our Laundry No was 1971, which incidentally became the year of our marriage.

Each Saturday evening at 5-o-clock, there had to be absolute silence, whilst my Dad checked his football pool results. He won 100 pounds one week, and bought my Mum a fur coat.

The workshop at the side of the house was the only room on ground level – all the other rooms were about 6ft above, and were reached by steps at the front and the back. 

There was a door from the driveway which led to a short passage, one side of which had a glazed partition, with the workshop to one side.

This was where Dad would varnish, or wax polish the coffins. Wax polishing was only done on the more expensive coffins, as it was very time consuming, and required several layers of wax being applied and rubbed in, until my Dad was satisfied with the finish. 

Then my Mum would line the coffins with kapok and taffeta.

When business was quiet, Dad would make spare coffins in different sizes, which could be stored in the cellar. They were stacked against the walls, and were perfect for playing hide and seek when my cousins came over to play.  

The door from the driveway was used for deliveries – we had bread, and meat delivered, once or twice a week.

The bread was from bakers opposite the Lloyds Hotel, but the butcher, called Frank came from  Heaton Mersey.

The internal stairs led up to a short corridor with two doors, one leading to the kitchen, and another, with stained glass panels led to the hallway.

In the hall were two doors which led to the front rooms, and a short passage, with a room under the stairs, called the pantry. This just held all the extra china that we used when we had visitors. 

My father had a box which held a most peculiar implement – he had been on a course to embalm bodies, (preserve them) and the box held a sort of pump to remove the blood and replace it with embalming fluid. I can't remember it ever being used, but it sat on a shelf in the pantry.  

The two front rooms were called the dining room, and the lounge. Just to differentiate them I think.

The lounge was used as a billiard room when I was very young, and had a full sized billiard table, but when my grandfather re-married when I was about seven, it must have been sold. and we used the room in the evenings, and when friends came my mother used to play the piano. I had lessons, but didn't get very far, I was much more interested in drawing.

The 'dining room' was used when people came to make arrangements for funerals. There was a large oak table covered in a brown chenille cloth with a fringe, and a carved oak sideboard.

Dad would take down details of the kind o funeral that was required and organize everything.

From the laying out of the body, the type of coffin, the white gown which covered them, the nameplate and brass handles, contacting a minister to take a service, the cemetery or crematorium for the disposal of the body, hiring of the hearse and cars, bearers to carry the coffin (usually the drivers of the hearse and cars) obituary notices in the newspapers, and finally a meal for those who had travelled a long way, often at the Southern Hotel."

© Ann Love, 2014

Pictures; by Ann Love