Saturday, 24 September 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford .............. nu 21 Gravel Lane the car park

Now whatever you might have thought of Gavel Lane I doubt that it deserved to become just one big car park.

But that is pretty much all it offers from the moment you reappear from under the railway viaduct and head north past King Street, Norton Street and Queen Street to Greengate.

In all I counted five big cark parks where once there were houses, shops two pubs a beer shop, a chapel and even a school.

Today, while there are some tall flats on the corner with Viaduct Street and that glass office bock that straddles Gravel Lane and Greengate the rest of the street is an open landscape which is a home for cars.

All of which presents me with a puzzle, because sometime in 1900 that veteran photographer Samuel L Coulthurst took the picture of the Jolly Carter on Gravel Lane.

Of course I cannot believe he got the pubs name wrong but according to the directories for the period from 1895 through to 1903 there is no Jolly Carter on Gravel Lane.

There is instead the British Queen on the corner of Queen Street, a beer shop at nu 63 and finally the Legs of Man at 67 Gravel Lane.

So it does seem he mistook the name, which I think was the Legs of Man which stood on the corner of  Gravel Lane and Greengate and is now under that glass office box.

Of course there will be someone who knows and I hope will come up with a solution to the problem.

As it was judging by the closed shutters and empty streets Mr Coulthurst had no one to ask.

In the meantime it just leaves me to point out that the wall to wall advertising of household products is not new and nor is the amount of litter that was strewn across the street.

And that is not all because before I made the second coffee of the morning Alan had written in with, "yes this is the Jolly Carter, it stood on the corner of Cable Street and Gravel Lane, it was used as a beer house for 60 years or so prior to its demolition in 1893 for 'Railway use.'"  

So a thank you to Alan, apologies to Mr Coulthurst and a reminder to dig deeper into the directories.

Location; Salford

Addition research Alan Jennings

Picture;  the Jolly Carter, Gravel Lane, 1900, Samuel L Coulhurst, m08787, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 48 ........... Byrom Street just half a century ago

It is easy to over romanticise life in the narrow streets of places like Castlefield, Hulme and Ancoats in the middle decades of the last century.

Byrom Street, 1944
There was certainly a sense of community and a willingness to stand by each other, but that can’t really compensate for homes which long ago had passed the test of decent places to live, areas dominated by noisy factories and the smell of all sorts of industrial workshops and where there was very little in the way of open spaces, grass and flowers.

Many of us are aware of the awful conditions of parts of Manchester in the 19th century but pass over those middle decades of the following century.

Byrom Street, 1965
Not only were many of the worst properties still standing but the war had put on hold the slum clearance plans as well as actually creating a housing shortage.

So today I want to concentrate on the memories of Lisa’s mum who was born in 1946 and grew up in Byrom Street just behind Deansgate.

Today it is a mix of new inner city living, and swish office blocks.

Some of the first new residential properties were built at the southern end of Byrom Street in the 1970s soon after the courts and alleys filled with houses from the late 18th and early 19th centuries had been cleared away.

The more elegant town houses of John Street and part of Byrom Street have now all become offices and exist beside new commercial properties which have gone up at the beginning of this century.

But back in the 1940s and into the 60s this was still a residential area and even after the families moved out little really changed till the developments of a decade ago.

Location; Manchester

Byrom Street, 1944

Pictures; Byrom Street in 1944, City Engineers Department, m78877, Byrom Street, left hand side, 1965 J Ryder, m00691, and Byrom Street, early Victorian shops, 1947 T Baddeley, m00659, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, 

A late day in summer on Barlow Moor Road sometime after 1911

It is one of those pictures which are easily recognisable.

We are on Barlow Moor Road and just by the tram is the junction with High Land and Sandy Lane.

Now I can’t be sure of the date but it will be after 1911 when the parade of shops on the left had been built.

Just at the edge of our picture is Christopher Wilson who in 1911 was dealing in furniture.

That’s him I think standing in his shirts sleeves underneath the awning displaying his name.

Next to him was Mrs Winifred Blake the tobacconist with William Armstead confectioner at number 90 and on the corner with High Lane was John Gordon, the fruitier.

Judging by the shadows and trees we must be in the late afternoon of a summers’ day and given the number of people about perhaps close to the end of the working day.

In the middle of the road staring back at the camera are the crew of car number 150 who along with a few other bystanders seem to have little else to do.

Not that everyone is over bothered by the presence f the photographer, so much so that the two men by the lamp post seem oblivious to what is going on while in the distance on the benches in front of the church sit a group of people taking in the sunshine.

And what I like is the little details which fix it in another age.

To our left is the ladder and handcart while beside the tram is another cart and just coming out of Holland Road is a waggon.

There will be lots more I could say about the picture but I rather think I will just leave it at that.

Picture; from the Lloyd collection

Pictures from a family album, Dartford 1928

I have to confess I am drawn to old family photographs.

Nor does it matter that they are not my family.

In fact very few of ours have survived.  Now this may be simply bad luck or a tendency that runs through the family to always be the person taking the pictures not the subject.

Added to that some of those that have not been lost or destroyed have no name, or date and so they remain a mystery.

Now that should be a lesson to all of us, and even more so in the digital age where while the opportunities to take pictures are boundless the chances are that even less will stay the course.

We photograph what takes our fancy in an instant with a camera phone, may send it to friends but rarely save them for long.

Even if we are more mindful of the future the likelihood is that they will be stored on a computer with no hard copy made of the image.

All of which has been prompted by these delightful photographs of Harold Morris, who was born in Eltham in 1902, grew up in Welling and died in 1976.

His was a full and productive life.  He married Alma Minnie Shrove in 1928 and these are some of their photographs, courtesy of his niece who has written

“Young Harold's first love broke his heart, but when he was 26 he married a Bexleyheath girl, Alma Minnie Shove. 

The bridesmaid was his youngest sister, Dorothy who was Jean’s mother, a self-willed child. 

Her dress had too many frills in her view and so, on the bus journey to Bexleyheath she took scissors with her and cut off as many as she could before her parents noticed.”

Such are the stories from family weddings.

Pictures’ courtesy of Jean Gammons

The doctor’s bill and the story of a family in Fallowfield in 1867

Now I am always fascinated by how a chance discovery leads to a story.

This is the envelope sent to Mr Matthew Dean in 1867.
Contained inside is a doctor’s bill for the sum of £6 10 shillings and falling back on that old chestnut, I can’t read the doctors handwriting.

But I am sure Ron who lent me the bill can put me straight on what the charge was for.

That said I may well just stay with the envelope, after all even given that almost a century and half separate me from Mr Dean I rather think he is due his privacy.

And that of course raises that big question of just how much should you reveal about a long dead person’s life, and at what point a bit of legitimate research becomes voyeurism?

This I know from my own family history when one Saturday morning a death certificate I had ordered up for one of the brother of my great grandmother fell through the letter box revealing a very dark secret which stopped me in my tracks.

Now happily I don’t think there is such a tragedy here, but £6 10 shillings does seem a lot of money, particularly for Mr Dean who variously described himself as a warehouse manager, and cotton salesman.  But given the bill was for 'professional services' we may be dealing with more than one visit.

He lived on Wilmlsow Road, was married to Julia and they had seven children all who were born In Fallowfield.

I can’t find a date for their marriage but their eldest was born in 1853 and so I am guessing it will be sometime around that date.

Of course the term manager is a loose one and Mr Dean may well have been at the top end of that occupation.  Certainly by 1881 the family were well enough off to have added a cook as well as a housemaid to their staff.

I may even be lucky and find their home which in 1881 was listed as Portland Villas somewhere along Wilmslow Road which may help determine their wealth.

Sadly it is more likely that it has gone which at present leaves us with just this envelope and bill and the odd fact that on different census returns he is listed with different birth years.

Not unusual I know but a fact.

Location Fallowfield

Picture; envelope, 1867 from the collection of Ron Stubley

Of coffee, reputations and the joy of espresso

Now if you grew up in the 1950s coffee was still something that “other people” drank and when it was served usually came as a light brown milky substance which was as weak as it was insipid.

Espreeso at the station
Of course there was Camp coffee which was a totally different experience but did nothing for an appreciation of the real thing.

And nor did  those coffee bars of the 1960s with their cups of the frothy stuff or the profusion of instant and powered brands.

All of which I suspect feeds that prejudice amongst many North Americans that coffee is best drunk west of the  New England and Newfoundland coasts.

But all things change.  The revolution in what we eat and drank in Britain which began with the end of post war rationing, growing prosperity and the influence of people like Elizabeth David have transformed the scene.

For me the first hint of that magic came with the Polish couple who lived in our house in 1956 and ground their own coffee which they often served with those dark chocolate covered cinnamon biscuits

That said it would be decades before I really came to understand that love affair of the coffee bean and it came when I first began regularly visiting Italy and experienced the joy of standing in a bar taking a small cup of espresso.

For our Italian family it doesn’t come simpler and better than that.

Sometimes they will have a large milky version but it will only be drunk for breakfast and never again for the rest of the day.

And I now begin the day with an espresso, without milk or sugar, the perfect start to the day followed by another half an hour later and then no more.

Coffee, for me is best drunk first thing in the morning, in small shots and because I am now very picky I don’t often bother with coffee shops during the day.

But there are some fine ones, many of which are independents with a love of offering up some fantastic coffee.

And the point of the story?  

Well apart from the sheer joy of the stuff it is I suppose that historical journey we have undertaken from a post war Britain where food was nutritious but boring and still limited to what we have today but which sits against food banks, the worry about the amount of sugar in our diet and the quality of food produced by factory methods.

Which in turn I suppose can be contrasted with the wholesale adulteration of many foodstuffs in the Victorian period.

Nuff said

Location; our kitchen

Pictures; the bar on Viareggio, 2010 and the most regular Italian brands to cross the front door.

“Dear Eddie & Bert do you know the Clough?” ............ picture postcards from the 1930s

Now as we move effortlessly towards October the season of sending holiday postcards will slowly come to an end.

So with that in mind here is number two of a short series which will come to an end when either I run out of them or we get the first snow of winter.

The humour was sometimes gentle occasionally risqué and at times very funny and very rude.

I suspect Eddie and Bert were of the gentle kind.

Location; on holiday

Picture; comic card, circa 1930s from the collection of Ron Stubley