Sunday, 28 August 2016

Back in St Peter’s Square ................ Library Walk

Now I recently featured Library Walk in that series on lost and forgotten streets of Manchester and as I was passing through St Peter’s Square on Friday, I just had to snap the entrance.

The decision to close the walk at night proved controversial and I have yet to make up my mind.

Location, Manchester

Picture; in St Peter’s Square, Friday August 26, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Remembering Kingspot on Barlow Moor Road

Kingspot, circa 1980s
I went looking for pictures of Kingy today.

It was just one of those places we took for granted and long before Pound Shops it was somewhere you could get a bargain.

Here could be found everything from washing pegs, to happy colourful toys and that fabulous print of the San Francisco Bridge at sunset.

Much of what was on offer was plastic and sometimes I wondered whether they had their own plastic factory somewhere east of Hong Kong.

A post box and a sun shade, May 1959
So it was no surprise that Kingspot was always full and getting round the shop could be a challenge which often involved avoiding the buggies, and shopping trollies as you worked you way down the two isles looking for a washing up bowl and ending up instead with two plastic imitation Flying Ducks to hang above the plastic water fountain.

Our kids always seemed to be in their usually when the latest craze for BB guns hit Chorlton which I suspect followed a few days after a new consignment of cheap toys had arrived from China.

It was no different from when I was growing up.  Back then there seemed to be the regular season for marbles, cap guns and fag cards which on reflection also coincided with the latest shipment of cheap toys from abroad.

In its way Kingy was just a shop version of the market stall, but as we don’t have an old fashioned market in Chorlton this place did the business.

Sitting in the sun,April 1959
It was for a while an institution and there will be many of a certain age with fond memories of the place.

So far only the one picture of the shop has come to light and so I thought I would contrast it with a time before those plastci toys and pegs and pictures were available.

And so here are two taken in the spring of 1959 by Mr Downs who was responsible for many other fine pictures of Chorlton in the 1950's

Shirt sleeves and overcoats on that April day
It was clearly a bright day and some at least of the shop keepers had those canvas sheets over the front of the windows which performed the double task of protecting the display and advertising the business.

Bright as it may have been some waiting by the bus station had opted not to trust that April sun and walked out in overcoat and head scarf.

Others however were just sitting watching events pass by.

Now I first posted the story without that picture of Kingspot and I have Wendy to thank for pointing that it
was already there on the Chorlton facebook site and to Brian who gave me permission to use it  all of which goes to show the power of social networks

Pictures, Kingspot, circa 1980's courtesy of Brian Lee Williams, east side of Barlow Moor Road, May 1959, m17609, and west side by the bust terminus, April 1959, 17610, A H Downs, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 28 ............... two for one

Now I am coming to the end of the series, but I couldn’t close without offering up some of Richard’s pictures of more of the back streets of the city.

Like me he has been attracted to these often narrow places which long ago lost their residents and are pretty much now dominated by the backs of buildings and used as a short cut.

So here are the first two of a few.

No need for words I will just let Richard’s pictures, do the business adding his commentary.

The first “is this is beautiful almost untouched business front on Richmond Street behind Canal" Street and the second “Little Ancoats Street which is rather lovely in its own way too. 

Just near the old post office on Newton Street. Tiny little streets, very evocative of old city spacing.”

Which just leaves me to ponder on the bricked up cellar window in the second picture and what stories it might hold.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; from the collection of Richard Hector-Jones, 2016

On the High Street in 1873

I have moved a little south from Well Hall and am wandering the High Street sometime in 1873.

It is a scene we will return to in detail later.

For now what strikes you perhaps more than anything is the absence of Well Hall Road which today runs down from the High Street past the church and off in a straight line down to Well Hall.  This was to be cut much later.

In the 1870s this spot would have been dominated by  St John’s to the west and opposite the vicarage, while beyond this point heading east would have been a collection of fine houses, not so fine houses  and the smithy and National School.

Picture; the High Street from the OS map of Kent, sheet 08, 1858-73, First Edition

When Salford went to Shrewbury

Now I am intrigued by this postcard sent by Ellen to Miss Mullins who was living at Hook – a- Gate near Shrewsbury.

Now I can’t be sure where Ellen was in October 1907 but it wasn’t Salford because the post mark is also Shrewsbury.

Which begs the question of why she should send a post card of the Royal Technical Institute from one address in Shrewsbury to another, and the answer is in the message.

She hoped that her friend “would like this for your album", told her that J was coming home and asked when Miss Mullins “was coming to see us again.”

Now there is no reason why a postcard of Salford should be in sale in Shrewsbury but that said I rather like the idea.

Location; Salford

Picture; Royal Technical Institute, circa 1907 from the collection of David Harrop

Sailing with the Phoenicians to the Tin Islands and more ......... A Picture History of Great Discoveries 1954

I am back with another of those history books written for children in the 1950s.

Many of the ones I was given at the time have survived and sit on our book shelves along with others that I have bought over the years.*

What makes A Picture History of Great Discoveries different is that while it was originally published in 1954 it has been reissued along with A Picture History of Britain.**

They were part of a series which also included the history of France and Italy and were striking in their use of colour and dramatic images.

That said I never quite took to these books in the way that I did to those of R.J. Unstead whose pictures were simpler and more realistic.

But the images in both books are of their time and reflect a style of painting which will be all too familiar to anyone who grew up in the 1950s and 60s.

And Great Discoveries is also a book of its time when it was still fashionable to write about voyages of exploration and the discovery of the “New World” with that Eurocentric notion that these were places which having been lost were now rediscovered.

I doubt that the peoples of the Americas, or Africa and the Far East ever quite saw it that way.

Still A Picture History of Great Discoveries remains a fascinating glimpse into how children’s history was written over sixty years ago and by extension how our view of the world and its history was shaped.

Picture; cover of A Picture History of Great Discoveries

*Books Children,

** A Picture History of Britain,

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Waiting for a tram going through St Peter’s Square

Well that interruption to the tram services through St Peter’s Square seems to have lasted for ages.

But soon .......... in just a few days the trams will rumble past Central Ref again which for anyone who has had to terminate their journey at Deansgate Castlefield will be good news.

I was in the city yesterday and just had to take the picture on a spot which was free of metro traffic.

The Cross is back in place and the line will be open for business from Sunday.

Location; Manchester

Picture; looking towards St Peter’s Square, August 26, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson