Monday, 23 October 2017

A history of Chorlton in 20 objects, number 20, a painting from a lost artist and scenes of Chorlton’s past

Lime Bank, in 1968, from a photograph dating back to 1942
J. Montgomery was a local artist who has been lost to us.

For twenty years Montgomery painted pictures of the township almost always from old photographs and postcards and many of these can be seen in the digital archive.*

What is all the more remarkable is that this artist has left nothing in the way of a personal life, and despite appeals for help, no one has come forward with any information.

The body of work is quite extensive and captures scenes of Chorlton that have now vanished as in some cases have the photographs and postcards he used.

Lime Bank still exists behind the MacDonald’s on Barlow Moore Road. It was painted in 1968 from a photograph dated 1942.

Since then the house has undergone substantial internal renovation, but the footprint of the building is as it was when it was built sometime in the late 18th century.

Lime Bank today
So despite various maps and a lot of official records this is the only image of the place from the past.  All of which is a shame.  It was once a fine property occupied by families who were comfortably off and some of whom played an important part in the township’s history.

Once it commanded good views east towards Hough End Hall and south to the Brook.  All of which is a little hard to envisage today given the surrounding buildings.

And that is the value of Montgomery, for here we have a vanished Chorlton, and perhaps all that I want now is a little more on this lost artist.

Picture; Lime Bank from a photograph, 1942, J. Montgomery, 1968, m80040, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and Lime Bank today from the collection of Andrew Simpson 2011

* Manchester Local Image Collection

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 52 ............ the one beside the Police Station

Now you would be forgiven for thinking this was nothing more than the entrance to a lock up, but not so.

Maps from the late 19th and early 20th centuries show it as a road running into Salford Approach.

But it does seem to predate the Police Station and Salford Approach which were built and cut in the early 1880s and seems the start of what in 1849 was Harding’s Buildings, a shirt stretch of which has survived as Harding Street

Location; Salford

Pictures; Chapel Street 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the area in 1900, from Gould’s Fire Insurance Maps, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Wandering down Court Yard letting the magic wash over you

When I was growing up the area around the Palace was a pretty magical place.*

Of course the old hall was only open at certain times but that just meant you were forced back to wander down Court Yard and King John’s Walk which let your imagination soar in all sorts of directions.

Back then the history of the half timbered buildings were unknown to me but you could tell that they belonged to a time when the Palace was an important part of any Kings travels around London and beyond.

So with just a bit of historical license it was easy to people them with the great and the good along with the not so good and a whole raft of servants who worked long hours for little reward and have passed out of history.

Now they and the gates into the Palace along with Court Yard and St John’s Walk are regularly photographed and Chrissy and Jean have taken some fine ones over the years which they have been kind enough to allow me to use.

But working on the basis that you can never have enough pictures of Eltham here are two taken by our Elizabeth and Colin one Sunday at the end of October.

And what I like about them is that each offers just a glimpse of this old part of where we live allowing my imagination full reign to conjure up stories of who lived and worked there and just what they said to each other as they watched the sunlight play on the water.

Pictures; around Eltham Palace, October 2015, from the collection of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

*Eltham Palace,

Remembering the South African War

It is the one in St Ann’s Square, commemorating the men who served in the South African campaign.

Location; Manchester

Picture; St Ann’s Square, 2010 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 22 October 2017

A little bit of Manchester in Eltham Palace

Now I do miss Eltham, it was where I grew up and it is a place I was very happy.

But at the age of 19 I went north following a girlfriend who had started a course at Manchester Polytechnic, which on reflection was not the best way for me to choose a degree course especially as she left for London just three months later.

The Sentry, 2007
I stayed and the city has been my home ever since and I do think of it as home, but like all ex pats I never forgotten Eltham and in particular Well Hall.

All of which made the discovery that one of the City’s war memorials was replicated in miniature and sits on a table in the study of Eltham Palace a source for thought.

I came across it recently while working on the new book.*

The original was commissioned by S & J Watts to commemorate those who worked for the company and died in the Great War.

The memorial was erected  in 1922 in the main entrance of the company’s building on Portland Street.

The Sentry is a bronze sculpture, which stands in an arched niche just inside the building and faces a marble plaque commemorating the dead.

It depicts the sentry standing on duty, and was commissioned from the British sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger who also designed the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, London.

Eltham Palace, 1961
And to my surprise and pleasure there is a small version of the figure in the study of Eltham Palace, where it was displayed by Stephen Courtauld, who like Mr Jagger was a member of the Artists' Rifles.

So there you have it a little bit of Manchester in the heart of Eltham.

But I can’t close without a reference to the building which holds the orginal statue.

This  is the  large, Victorian Grade II listed building known as Watts Warehouse.

It opened in 1856 as a textile warehouse for the wholesale drapery business of S & J Watts, and was the largest single-occupancy textile warehouse in Manchester.

Today the building is part of the Britannia Hotels chain.

Watts Warehouse, 1973
One source has referred to its ornate style as being typical of
the extravagant confidence of many Mancunian warehouses of this period, but the Watts Warehouse is notable for its peculiarly eclectic design. Designed in the form of a Venetian palazzo, the building has five storeys, each decorated in a different style – Italian Renaissance, Elizabethan, French Renaissance and Flemish – and roof pavilions featuring large Gothic wheel windows.

The interior was similarly lavish in its decoration, with a sweeping iron cantilever staircase, balconied stairwell, and mahogany counters for displaying merchandise.”*

And that makes it a sort of palace.

Location, Manchester and Eltham in London

Pictures; the Sentry, Cnbrb, 2007 Wikipedia Commons, Eltham Palace, from Eltham Palace Ministry of Works Guide Book, 1961and the Watts Warehouse, 1973, m56859 , courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War,

** Watts Warehouse,

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 19, a Liverpool half penny dated 1791

Continuing the story of Chorlton in just a paragraph. They are in no particular order, and have been selected purely at random.

For the last two objects I tried to choose one of the oldest and newest which help tell the story.  This Liverpool half penny is not the oldest object to have come out of the past that belongs to a silver half groat of Charles found in the parish churchyard but at 1791 the half penny is beaten only by a contract dating back to 1767.  Half pennies like these were not strictly coinage but tokens which were only redeemable at the warehouse of the merchant who issued them.  But during the 17th and 18th century there was little low denomination coinage issued and so enterprising businessmen here in Manchester and in Liverpool and other Lancashire towns made their own.  Our coin was issued in 1791 in Liverpool as part of a very large series by Thomas Clarke who produced ten tons of these copper coins between 1791 and ‘94.   Clarke was a Liverpool merchant. The coin itself although common remains a beautiful piece of work.  The obverse side shows a ship under canvas with crossed laurel branches beneath and the inscription Liverpool Half penny.  The reverse bears the motto and arms of Liverpool. Ours had not fared so well and part of the upper mast and rigging from the ship had worn away.  I have no idea how it ended up in the parish churchyard or whether it had been used or was just a keepsake, but its Manchester equivalents may well have circulated in the township and there may even have been a reciprocal agreements between the merchants of Manchester and Liverpool.  Read the full story in Chorlton-cum-Hardy a new history due out later this year,

Picture; detail from the report on the Archaeological dig conducted by Dr Angus Bateman during 1980-81

Pictures of Eltham I wish I had taken ................ down by the Palace

You can never get enough pictures of Eltham and so here is one from Ryan which he sent up to me yesterday.

For those of us who left Eltham a long time ago pictures like this one are a link with where we grew up and a reminder of what we left behind.

And in the same way it will act as a reminder for lots more people of what is on their doorstep.

Now this should be the point where I wax lyrical about the Palace and the surrounding buildings, but I regularly do that so instead I will leave you with the image.

Picture; down by the Palace, 2014, Ryan Ginn