Monday, 24 October 2016

When Central Ref opened in 1934

I think it is fitting that this handkerchief should be given its own slot today on the blog.

Just 82 years ago 250,000 of these were issued to Manchester school children to commemorate the opening of Central Ref in 1934.

Location; Manchester

Picture; from the collection of Linda Rigby

Who laments the passing of the old milk machine?

It is as much a piece of history as the Penny Farthing bike or the old fashioned tram.  

I am trying to remember when I would have used one.  I suppose it would have been after the pub in those years when I was a student and living in a bed sit in Withington.

There used to be a milk machine by the Scala Cinema which in turn was beside the White Lion. And I guess it would have been that bit of forward thinking about milk for breakfast which would have got me using it.

But then without a fridge and with most shops having closed by nine in the evening buying your emergency milk from a machine made sense.

Of course getting the cartoon open was another matter.

All of which  got me thinking about the age of the vending machine which I assumed came along in the 19th century.

And there I was wrong, there is a reference to one in the first century when Hero of Alexandria came up with a machine to dispense holy water.*

The first modern one was introduced onto a London street in the early 1880s and sold post cards.  For me the first I really remember were the Five Boys Chocolate bars usually on railway stations and which could be guaranteed to deliver slightly dry flaking chocolate which had gone white at the edges. There were also the polo mint machines and the chewing gum ones.

Along with the cigarette machines they were just one of those bits of street furniture you took for granted.  I don’t really remember when they began to disappear to be replaced by the giant all glass fronted multipurpose dispenser.

As for the milk vending machine I rather think they began to vanish in the 1970s, possibly in the wake of the supermarket revolution along with cheap fridges.  For who would want to stand at what was often a shabby and knocked about machine, fumbling for the sixpence only to discover the coin had got stuck, the machine refused to accept it or worst still there were no cartoons left?

This one was on on Shude Hill and was photographed in the March of 1960 which may have been at the height of their popularity.

I suppose they fitted into that new high tech way of life that was the late 1950s and 60s, and I have to say that thinking back to the period it does look ultra modern and there was something novel about getting your milk this way instead of from a milkman.

Not of course that the milkman visits many houses anymore and I hear today that one more newspaper is about to turn itself over to an electronic version.

As someone who grew up in the 50s thinking that milk delivered to the door step along with a daily newspaper was the hall mark of civilized life this all seems a little sad.

And if  I don’t stop I am in danger of sounding like my uncle who still could not bring himself to accept the fall of Constantinople.

Pictures; vending machine on Shude Hill taken by L Kaye, March 1960, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, m59879, m59878, m5987,

The Rec in 1933

Long before it was Beech Road Park it was the “Rec” and depending on which name you use marks you out as a newcomer or a local.

 Now we have always called it the Rec and so do all my children which I guess says something about us.

Of all the pictures of the Rec in the collection this is my favourite and I have to own up it’s because it features our house.

The date on the postcard is 1933 and the path running along the inside parallel to Beech Road has long gone.
Otherwise apart from the size of the trees it is a scene not so different from today.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

The history of Eltham in just 20 objects ........Nu 9 a family photograph

The challenge is to write a history of Eltham in just 20 objects which are in no particular order, and have been selected purely at random.

Anyone who wants to nominate their own is free to do so, just add a description in no more than 200 words and send it to me.

This is a picture of Annie Morris sometime around 1911 outside her home at 25 Court Yard.

She was born in 1848 at 4 Pound Place, and almost her whole life was spent in Eltham.

She was a cook and may have worked for Captain North at Avery Hill and through her life we have a snap shot of what Eltham had been and what it was becoming.

Her grandfather had set up a farrier’s business in Eltham in 1803 on what is now the Library, and “attended the old Parish Church in his leather apron.”*

All of which makes her a little piece of Eltham’s history.

Pictures; from the collection of Jean Gammons

*Eltham District Times, June 1931

Searching for a date in an old Salford picture

It will I think be very difficult to date exactly this picture of a group of Salford Mill women and by extension know what was being celebrated.

It might be Empire Day which would place it on or after 1904 when the event was started or just possibly to mark the end of the Boer War which was two years earlier.

And it will hang on which of the women in the picture is Annie Holland.  She was born in 1889 and grew up around on Cobden Street in Salford and was the grandmother of Alan who has kindly allowed me to use three family photographs of Annie.*

Annie  is one of the women at the back on the right which puts the picture sometime after 1911, which means we might be looking at the celebrations for the coronation of King George V in that year or more likely an event during  or after Great War.

Now this is not the youthful face that stares out of us from the earlier photograph  so I minded to think we must be mch later, but just when is still unclear.

*Annie Holland in Salford in 1911

Picture; Salford Mill women courtesy of Alan

Bargains and pictures in Bury Market on a day in March

Now the thing about Bury Market is that it offers up a shed load of stalls to wander around.

My sisters and our Geoff are particularly taken by the food side of the market but once that has been done, it’s on to pretty much everywhere else.

For Jill it was the wool stall, for Theresa it was a sideways slide back to the stall offering pies and for Jeffrey it was anywhere where there was a bargain.

And me?  Well I just took pictures.

We spent the day there and then let the tram do the serious business of bringing us back to the city.

And really that is that only to add that  for once there is not a history story in sight.

That said I did wonder about reflecting on the passing of the old Grey Mare Lane Market, which f we lived opposite for nearly two years.

On market days it was just matter of leaving our front door walking across Butterworth Street and we were there.

I have still got a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell LP bought from the record stall.

It had the same feel as the market in Beresford Square, but unlike Woolwich was contained within a set of walls.

All very different from Woolwich where the stalls spread out across the square and buses carefully made their way along a narrow stretch of road.

I was back home in Woolwich recently and it is all a pale imitation of what it was once.

But that is bordering on a history story so I shall stop.

Location; Bury Market

Pictures; Bury Market, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Who was this young man?

I wonder who this young man was.

This question has been preoccupying the thoughts of my friend Tricia from Bexley who sent me the picture with the comment

“Would you do me a favour and walk the streets of Manchester and pin the attached picture of the mysterious Manchester Soldier to every lamp post in the hope that someone may recognize him.

I am getting no nearer to identifying the young man the only info I have is on the postcard with the exception of the fact that underneath the photo it stated he was a 2nd Lieutenant I assume they came to that conclusion through the evidence of his one pip shown in the photo. 

It may be the person who wrote on the postcard knew the young man perhaps a relative.

I have been through all the cemetery records at Deville Wood where he fell and am halfway through the Thiepval Memorial but have had no luck. 

I have also tried Ancestry but the outcome was the same.”

Now the reverse of the card simply says, "16th Manchester, (30th Division.) Missing
Reported “Wounded and Missing” from 26th July 1916, probably taking Deville Wood.”

It is not much to go on but if Tricia has the names of those officers killed at Deville Wood or in the July of 1916 we may be able to move forward.

My old friend David Harrop has lent me the huge volume containing the Roll of Honour of the Manchester Pals and between the two we might be able to identify him.

And this is an appropriate moment to try and find him given that next month marks the end of that battle a century ago and of course will also be dominated by the acts of Remembrance across the country.

Here in Manchester as elsewhere there will be ceremonies for the anniversary of the Armistice as well as Remembrance services.

David will be participating in a “remembrance walk and talk” in Southern Cemetery with Emma Fox and has also added to his permanent exhibition in the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery, of which more later.

But for now it may just be that someone recognises the picture and can help us.
Location; Manchester

Picture; Unknown Soldier from the Manchester Regiment, date unknown from the collection of Tricia Leslie