Saturday, 31 October 2015

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 12 ....... an engraved silver cup 1917

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

The inscription reads, Presented to the Wesleyan Church by the Wounded Soldiers of the Wesleyan School Hospital Xmas 1917.  I doubt whether many people know that during the Great War we had two voluntary hospitals here in Chorlton.   One was in the Methodist Sunday school building on Manchester Road and the other in the Sunday School of the MacLaren Memorial Baptist Church on the corner of Wilbraham and Sibson Road.  Sadly little has survived in the form of records.  We have a few newspaper references, letters from some of the medical staff and patients, and a contemporary account in a Red Cross book of the work undertaken to care for the recovering soldiers. So this silver engraved cup is an important object recording not only the gratitude of the soldiers but the voluntary efforts of the people of Chorlton.

Picture; courtesy of Philip Lloyd

The Canadian Women's Army Corps part 1 .......... an article from Susan (Hillman) Brazeau

I am always pleased when friends offer to contribute to the blog and was particularly happy that Susan who lives in Canada agreed to write two more articles about aspects of Canadian history. 

In the following article she says "this was originally a speech I presented at the 100th anniversary of the college where I taught, which had  also been the Westerrn Training Centre for the CWAC; and, also at the 2013 Remembrance Day Services."

At a time in our history when we are beginning to recognize and honour those who served in peace time and in more recent conflicts, there is one important group of servicewomen from the past whom I want us to remember.

I refer to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, or, CWAC’s.

When World War II broke out, there was a quiet, but steady movement by women across Canada, to have the right to take an active role in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Not only did they have to convince the government of their worth, they had to persevere against the prejudices towards working women that was prevalent in Canadian society at the time.

In fact, the term “QUACKS”- which has since become a term of endearment - was, in the early days, considered derogatory and an insult by the Corps.

Nevertheless, these women persisted; and, although initially reluctant to have women do anything other than volunteer work, the Canadian government finally saw the advantage of having a female workforce with a fully trained, but non-combatant military presence that could free up more men to go off to war.

Thus, different branches of the military created their own women’s forces.   One of these was the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, and it is this relatively unknown part of Canadian history that is highlighted here.

Established in 1941, the Corps began to recruit the following year and officially disbanded in 1946 - five short years.

Two training centres were established: Kitchener, Ontario for eastern Canada; and the western centre was on the campus of what is now Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alberta.

All the women were tested for aptitude, interests, abilities and IQ.

Here are some of the criteria for a woman to be accepted into the CWAC`s. She had to be:

a British subject, which all Canadians were at the time;
in excellent health and weigh at least 105 pounds (or 47.6 kg);
between 18 and 45 years of age; and,
single, with no dependants, and,
she had to have completed grade 8

Although a few of the women were sent to Europe or the United States, most remained in Canada.

They performed a variety of jobs - close to 55 different types by war’s end - including roles that had traditionally been carried out by women, such as clerical work, laundry, cooking and sewing.

They also performed in stage shows for the male troops, before they went overseas.

CWAC’s also served as medical and dental assistants, switchboard operators and cipher clerks.  Others served in some of the more traditional male roles such as radio operators, mechanics and drivers of trucks, transports, jeeps and personnel vehicles.

By the end of the war, almost 22,000 women served in the Corps.

Twenty-five died, while in service.  Most who joined said they were doing it for the excitement, for pride of serving their country, or to do something entirely different from what they were used to doing.

One such woman was the author’s mother, Jessie Wright McKellar.

Her story is told in Part 2.

©  Susan (Hillman) Brazeau

Pictures; courtesy of the Library and Archives Canada

Gone and soon to be forgotten ......... on Warwick Road South

Now I know that not all old factories and warehouses are worthy of being saved especially when they will be replaced by low cost affordable homes.

And I have to say the old industrial complex down on Warwick Road South had little to commend it as an example of industrial heritage.

Andy who took the pictures linked the building  to “Thomas Goldsworthy founder of Emery Mill who had been  born 1798 Redruth, Cornwall.

The business was taken over by his son Robert who was born 1833.

When Robert died in 1904 having retired to Southport, he left £109,000 (£11million today)”
I doubt that the building will be missed and their epitaph might well be that they had “seen better days and done better things.”*

Having said that someone may well come forward with an interesting story or an equally interesting person who was linked to the place.

But for now all that can be said is that they have gone, and the gaping space is just awaiting the ground to be broken by the builders who in a matter of months will have developed the area leaving nothing but Andy’s pictures and a few records to show what was once here.

Pictures; Warwick Road South, 2014, 2015, from the collection of Andy Robertson

*"I see better days and do better things”, .....I Shall Be Free, Bob Dylan, 1963

Watching the changes on Burton Road in just a year

I won’t be alone in remembering an older Burton Road, but even by 1969 the place was changing and soon those traditional shops selling everything from bananas, elastic garters, and paraffin would be gone.

Peter’s painting perfectly captures that new busy Burton Road and since he painted it the big green off license has gone, which makes the picture as much a piece of history as the earlier one which dates from around 1900.

Then as a year ago there was a grocers shop on the corner with Nell Lane and the row of shops beyond were varied and interesting.

Of course what they sell has now changed reflecting the way we shop.

So in 1911 Miss Ettie, the tobacconist  along with Harry Cayton the butcher occupied the parade with a  cycle shop, hair dressers along with a ladies outfitter, a dyers and cleaners and Madame De Korti artists’ material dealer.

Today there is more of uniformity about the stretch which has more than its share of fast food outlets and restaurants.

And on the opposite side the school has become a set of offices, and the West Didsbury Public Hall a supermarket. All of which hides more than a little history, for it was in that public hall in 1902 that the Amalgamation League was formed.

There were those who judged that Didsbury along with Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Withington and Burnage would be best served by joining the city of Manchester instead of going alone.

Despite the League small membership the attractions of such a merger we not lost on the ratepayers of four townships who voted to join in the January of 1904.

And now it has changed all over again as I discovered yesterday.

Having just spent a bit of time in the walk in centre on Nell Lane and opting to catch the tram home I passed
what was Mr Walker Clavert’s  grocery shop in 1903, an off license in 2014 now a restaurant.

Paintings; corner of Burton Road and Nell Lane  © 2014 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,
Facebook:  Paintings from Pictures

Pictures; Burton Road, October 2015, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and  the same spot circa 1900 courtesy of Paul O’Sullivan

Another story from Tony Goulding .......... THE METHODIST CHURCH WAR MEMORIAL

Below are recorded , in no particular order, "pen pictures" of ten of these names-being the first instalment of a project to feature all the 32 men and 1 woman remembered here

William Eric Lunt
(D.o.W.14/10/1916 France)

Born in 1895 the son of John Henry Lunt, a greengrocer, and his wife Mary Ann of 60, Sandy Lane

Enlisted at Ardwick on 5th. September, 1914 into the 8th (Home Service) Battalion, Manchester Regiment transferred in 1916 to the 18th Battalion for service in France.

William's civilian occupation was as an apprentice in a millenary warehouse. William's papers indicate that he was a tall lean youth of just 19; 5'11'' and 129 lbs. with a 351/2'' chest and had brown eyes, dark hair and a sallow complexion. We even can discover his cap and boot sizes -7 and 10 respectively.

He had three cousins (and fellow Chorltonians) who were all also killed on the Western Front (2)

Thomas Roy Ellwood  
Son of the noted chronicler of old Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and chief clerk of Manchester City Council's Public Health Office, Thomas Loft house Ellwood

Thomas Roy was born in 1896, lived at 68, Brundretts Road and in civilian life worked as an apprentice in a Macintosh works warehouse until his family moved away to Bedale in Yorkshire.

He enlisted at Harrogate into the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own) reaching the rank of lance sergeant before his death in France.

His body was one of the tens of thousands which were never recovered from the battlefield and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
Christopher Thomas Bottrill
(K.i.A. 1/7/1916 France)

Resident of 52, Keppel Road. A sergeant In"C"company 16th battalion, Manchester Regiment and one of the casualties in the carnage that was the first day of the Battle of the Somme, he is also commemorated at Thiepval.

Christopher was born at Shelley Nr.Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1891. Sometime in the 1890's his father Christopher George, a master bread baker, moved his wife, Jane, young Christopher and his four sisters to Chorlton-cum-Hardy and opened a bakery at! 2, Barlow Moor Road.(3)

Christopher also (like William Lunt) worked as apprentice in a millenary warehouse (at 29, Dale Street for Pugh , Davies &Co.) while his two oldest sisters both worked as elementary school teachers.

Robert Taylor Hardman
( K.i.A. 1/7/1916 France)

Temp. 2cnd Lt. Royal Engineers, Special Brigade. (4)

Another casualty of the first day of the Somme. He was born in Higher Crumpsall, on 22nd July 1889, from where he attended Bury Grammar School.

Later attending schools in Manchester before completing a M.Sc. degree in Chemistry (1907-1911) at Manchester University. He gained a 2cnd class honours degree which was good enough for him to get a research fellowship (1912-1913).

At the outbreak of War, Robert had not long retuned from New York, where he had been working as a research chemist (Aug. '13-Apr '14) , and was living with his father, also a Robert Taylor  and mother, Alice Ann at the family home of 30, Church (now Chequers) Road -- later 32,Stockton Road.

At university he had spent more than four years in the Officer Training Corps and he was "gazzeted" in November 1914 into the The Kings Own Royal Lancs. Regiment before the formation of the "Special Brigade" saw his transfer to the Royal Engineers to better utilize his expertise. Again he lies in no known grave and is included in the list of the missing at Thiepval.


Arthur Kettle
(K.i.A. 18/11/1916 France)

Private in the 19th battalion, Manchester Regiment.  Yet another recorded on the Thiepval Memorial.

Married Mabel Lillian (nee Jones) at the Primitive Methodist Church on High Lane, April 2nd 1904.

Home addresses 2, Swayfield Ave. Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1879. Parents Joseph and Emily lived at 5, Oswald Lane.

Enlisted at Manchester on 7th September, 1914 despite being nearly 35 years old and a married man with six young children the oldest just turned 10 and the youngest, Pearl a 6 months old baby.

According to army records he stood 5'7'' tall, weighed 123 lbs and had a 35" chest, fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair.

Leonard Kitchen.
(K.I.A. 25/10/1918 France)
Private in Machine-gun Corps (originally "B" company 23rd battalion Manchester’s) born in 1888 at Worcester.

His mother, Annie moving   her young family back to her home town of Manchester following the death of his father John in 1895.

He married Agnes Kettle in 1913 making him the brother-in-law of the above man. They resided at 6, Provis Road. Tragically he perished less than three weeks before the Armistice of 11th. November, 1918, ended the fighting.

Raymond Percy
(D.o.W. 12/8/1918 France)

Temp.Lt. (acting Captain) 12th.battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment. Awarded a Military Cross.
Raymond was born in 1896 in Echuca, Victoria, Australia but was brought up in Chorlton-cum-Hardy at 20, Salisbury Road with his father, John Arthur, a pawnbroker and jeweller, mother Katie (nee. Kemp)  and older brother, George Leslie.

In the years prior to 1914 Raymond had attended a boarding school with his brother in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.

His parents had been married at St.Matthew's, Stretford on 29th. November, 1893 prior to their move to Australia.

Arnold Clifford Wagstaff M.M (1)  (D.o.W.29/8/1916 France)

A Lance Corporal in the Manchester Regiment -20th battalion and a recipient of the Military Medal, he was born in Sercombe ,Cheshire in 1894.

Before the hostilities he was an apprentice dental mechanic living with his parent’s , George Arthur an advertising agent and Rosa Ellen at 103 , Beech Road . Arnold would certainly have been well acquainted with the three Lunt brothers (referred to above) who lived above their father's greengrocer shop at 119, Beech Road.

Frederick Pontefract
(died 16/6/1918.France)

Frederick enlisted in Manchester on 11th May , 1915 , when aged 19 years and 2 months

He was assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps and posted to join the 2/3 field ambulance unit of the East Lancashire Regiment, spending some time with The Expeditionary force in Egypt before being transferred to France.

At his medical on the 11th. May 1915 the record shows he was 5' 6" and had a chest measurement of 35" with good vision and no distinguishing marks or "defects.”

The attestation papers reveal that he was a cashier by trade and resided with parents Frederick William, a cotton fabrics buyer, and Agnes Anne at 11,Grange Avenue.  He was born at 15, Beechwood Avenue and later lived at 5, Beech Road.

An examination of the service record of this individual brought to light a very sad story indeed
Frederick died of a skin infection "cellulitis lace" at Perronne Reserve Hospital , France whilst "a prisoner of war in German hands"

Very unfortunately it seems that due to the vagaries of communications between the combative powers (perhaps exacerbated by the imminent internal collapse of Germany) notification that Frederick was a P.O.W. only reached his parents on 9th August 1918 .
In the following weeks as the feeling that the end of hostilities was approaching grew, they likely had great hope that their son had survived only for it to be dashed with the notification of his death on 15th. October, 1918

Cecil William Somerville
(K.i.A.24/8/1918 France)

2nd.Lt. 82cnd. sqd. R.A.F. (originally joined the Manchester Regiment) Cecil had Irish parentage. William, a commercial traveller/linen merchant and his wife Mary of 11, Torbay Road and later 32, Egerton Road hailed from Co. Armagh.

Cecil was their eldest (surviving) child born in the Toxteth Park area of Liverpool on 19th.September 1897.

By the time of the 1911 census, Cecil had four siblings a brother, Vivian, and three sisters Doris, Edith, and Maudie. The family's initial home in Chorlton-cum-Hardy was at 29, Needham Avenue.
K.i.A. = killed in action.
D.o.W. = died of wounds.
Died = died of illness or injury while on active service

1) There is a double entry on the Memorial. The list of names on the front includes A.C. Wagsraffe whilst on the side the name A. Clifford Wagstaffe appears.

The explanation for this comes courtesy of my good friend David, a member and official of the Methodist Church.

According to him when the Primitive Methodist Church, on High Lane closed in 1967 and amalgamated with church on Manchester Road they added the names from their memorial to the side of this one .Presumably Mr. Wagstaffe had been a member of both congregations.

2) William Eric Lunt is also a relative of my friend David whose family resided in Dartmouth Road, which is just opposite the location of "Lunts" greengrocer shop on Sandy Lane. Gladys May, William's younger sister and only sibling married a Thomas H. Patching in 1916. My friend David's mother, Constance was the half-brother of the groom.

3) The Bottrill’s lived at 2, Oak Bank Avenue which is now Silverwood Avenue. The bakery on Barlow Moor Road was in the building on its comer now occupied by the Halifax.

4) The Royal Engineers "Special Brigade" was formed in 1915 as a response to the use of poison gas by the Germans. Its remit was to both expand Britain's own chemical warfare initiatives and develop defensive measures to counter any future German attacks.

© Tony Goulding

Pictures; from the collection of Tony Goulding

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 49 ............. leaving

The story of one house in Lausanne Road number 49 ............. leaving

The story of one house in Lausanne Road over a century and a half and of one family who lived there in the 1950s.*

I can’t remember when we were told that mum and dad were selling Lausanne Road and that we were moving to Eltham.

But having sold and bought a few houses I know that after the decision to sell, finding a place and doing the deals can take months.

So as we moved in the March of 1964 they will have begun the process at the start of the New Year but more probably in the winter of 1963.

Now Lausanne Road was all I had known for my entire life.  I went to school in Waller Road and later Samuel Pepys, played in Pepys park and as the years went by I wandered further afield taking in most of Peckham, Nunhead, New Cross and bits of Deptford and even Greenwich.

And after we left I continued to return to go to school and for a while at least would spend weekends with friends.

But looking back that move came at a time when lots of things were changing and I guess there will be many others who also moved out of the area in their teenage years that experienced that similar mix of regret at what was lost with all the excitement of what was to come.

For me it was that difficult time when all the clumsy bits of becoming a teenager were taking over.

So as all the old certainties were ebbing away, I no longer played with toys had stopped reading comics and was given to irrational outbursts at mum over absolutely nothing.

And I have to admit that I was far more a difficult and unpleasant teenager than ever my three sons were and for that I continue to harbour a deep shame.

Part of the problem was that having discarded the toys the comics and the adventures the things which were supposed to effortlessly take their place were slow to surface.

We didn’t have a record player for another year, my dress sense remained appalling and there was no girlfriend on the horizon.  All of which was made worse by that conviction that everyone else was having a better time.

I was unsure exactly what my friends were doing that was different and more exciting but given my own mundane existence that just had to be.

So I suppose I was ready for the move.

Not that much changed for another six months but by the September of ‘64 there was a growing confidence which showed up in what I was wearing and how I saw the world.

And while I still made that daily journey from Eltham to New Cross and would continue to do so till the summer of 1966 I didn’t go back at weekends  and Lausanne Road became just a memory.

But you never quite loose all those things that you grew up with and now I realize just how much of Peckham and New Cross is part of who I am.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of one house in Lausanne Road,

Friday, 30 October 2015

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 11 ....... the Lych Gate and Jubilee 1887

 A short series featuring objects which tell a story of Chorlton in just a paragraph and  a challenge for people to suggest some that are personal to their stories. They are in no particular order, and have been selected purely at random.

The Lych Gate on the green at the entrance to the old parish graveyard is an iconic image of Chorlton but dates only from the old Queen’s Jubilee in 1887.  It was paid for by the banker Cunliffe Brooks and is a very visible if now forgotten quarrel between those who favoured the new church on the corner of St Clements and Edge Lane, and the traditionalists who still worshipped on the site where the first chapel had been built in 1512.  I could have chosen anyone of a number of images of the gate but have chosen this one by Peter Topping, whose work is on display around Chorlton and can also be seen at

Pictures; ©Peter Topping 2012

On Vassall Road ............with a water trough, the Union and a butter factory

Vassall Road trough, 2015
Now I have Ros to thank for these fine pictures of the water trough at Vassall Road and as ever there is a story which unites the trough, the Union and a butter factory.

Vassall Road was outside my comfort zone when I was growing up in Lausanne because it was just a tad too far to walk looking for adventures.

Back then adventures started with a walk except on those rare occasions when we spent our pocket money on a train trip from Queens Road or bought a Red Rover.

Neither of which ever took me down towards Camberwell New Road.

So Ross’s water trough was new to me and unlike so many it has been preserved and in the absence of passing horses and other livestock has been filled with flowers.

But the inscription exhorting kindness “to your animals” can still be read even if one of the stone emplacements which would have protected the trough from wheel hubs of passing wagons has been lost.

And intrigued by its survival I went looking for it on the old maps and there it was just where Ros left it yesterday.

And in 1953
Sometimes these troughs were moved from the centre of a crossroads as part of road widening schemes or just because they were getting in the way of the growing amount of traffic, but ours seems to have been sited on Vassall Road by the early 1950s and while it doesn’t show up on earlier maps I am guessing this is where it has always been.

Close enough to the old Union public house for the odd carter to leave his wagon in charge of his assistant and while his horse drank from the tough nipped in to the pub for a quick pint.

And having chatted to Mr Cook the landlord of the Union our carter might have gone off to deliver to one of the many small factories in the area.

The trough, the Union and the Butter factory, 1953
Now Mr Cook was pulling pints at the pub in 1914 and not long before there had been a smithy just across the way on Farmer Road and later still a Butter Factory and Kenoval House (Roller Shutter Factory).

Today there are still some industrial units along the road opposite the Academy and bits of them may date back to our butter factory roller shutter factory but the set of streets which included Warrior Road, Westhall Road and Elfin Road have gone.

And even the Union has undergone change with part of it becoming Bar Lenuccia which makes the survival of the water trough something to marvel over.

Pictures; the water trough on Vassall Road, courtesy of Ros Parks, and detail of Vassall Road and Farmer’s Road, 1953, historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at Historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at
 with mapping provided by Landmark Information Group

Britannia Emery Mills down at Hulme Hall Road

Hulme Hall Road Bridge 1897
It’s a while since I visited Hulme Hall Road and that warehouse which suffered a devasting fire back in the summer.

At the time I ran a series of stories prompted by Andy Robertson’s pictures which he took at regular intervals recording the demolition of the building and yesterday he went back but mainly to solve a little mystery.

“My daughter alerted me to this picture showing the construction of Hulme Hall Bridge in 1897.

She wondered if ‘our building’ Excelsior was on it. 

Hulme Hall Road, 1930
We could not get or heads round it so I decided to go and have a look.

The frontage of the Emery Mill still remains.

 Since 1897 the buildings where the two men are standing has been demolished and replaced by a larger building which joins the Britannia on its right and goes all the way down Hulme Hall Road joining that building on extreme right of photo.

The 1930 aerial photo illustrates this.

Hulme Hall Bridge, 2015
Thomas Goldsworthy was here from at least 1870 to 1946 manufacturing glass and emery cloths, glass and sand papers and knife polish.”

Research by Andy Robertson

Pictures; Hulme Hall Road Bridge, 1897, H Entwistle, m60918, and aerial View of Hulme, Chester Road, and Hulme Hall Road, 1930 A W Hobart, m67731, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and the same scene 2015, Andy Robertson

Thursday, 29 October 2015

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 10 ....... bomb damage 1940-41

 A short series featuring objects which tell a story of Chorlton in just a paragraph and  a challenge for people to suggest some that are personal to their stories. 

Well I suppose I can be accused of cheating because here is not one object but a row of objects on either side of Claude Road.  But in a very real sense they form a whole, because they are the houses which were rebuilt after a night of air raids which also claimed the cinema on Barlow Moor Road.  Nor were they the only ones. On May 1st 1940 a direct hit on the corner of Chatsworth and Cavendish Road destroyed two houses and killed seven people. There were also fatal hits on Brantingham, Cheltenham, Scott, Torbay, and Dartmouth and on Cavendish Road on the night of May 1st 1941.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sending our children to Canada ..........Miss Maria Rye, Avenue House on Hanover Park and my great uncle

It never ceases to amaze me how the past twists and turns and confronts you with a little bit of your own personal history in a way you least expect.

Avenue House 1872
When I was growing up in Lausanne Road I was totally unaware that just over a century earlier Miss Maria Rye had been migrating young people from her establishment off Hanover Park.

This was Avenue House which she had bought in 1869 and used as a base for the onward migration of young people to Canada.

Nor was she alone in this enterprise, a number of philanthropists and charities had also begun “rescuing” young people many of whom were found destitute on the streets of our cities or in orphanages and workhouses.

The grand plan was to settle them on the other side of the Atlantic offering a fresh start in a new land.
These were the British Home Children and one of them was my great uncle sent over in 1914 with he Middlemore charity.

Their story is one that is close to me and one that I have written about extensively.*

But it is a story not so well known in Britain although there is a growing understanding of the importance of this bit of history in Canada.

After all over 100,000 children were sent between 1870 and 1930 and perhaps 10% of all Canadians are descended from a British Home Child.

Like all stories theirs was a mixed bag.  Some found that new life, while others were exploited, abused and used as cheap labour.

The later migration of children to Australia only stopped in the 1970s and featured in an important book and film.

Now this is a story I shall return to but for now I will just close with an extract from Miss Rye herself on the young people she took into her care written in 1872

“The children vary in age from 3 to 13 years; are all Protestants, and nearly all absolute Orphans; are bound (when not adopted) till they are 18 years old, on the following terms, viz: Up to 15 years old they are to be fed, clothed and sent to Sunday School. From 15 to 17 they are not clothed, but paid $3 a month wages, and $4 a month from 17 to 18.

If through any unforseen circumstances, it is necessary for a child to be returned to the Home, due notice of the same must be given in writing, one month before the child is removed; and if the child has been away from the Home six months, her clothes must be returned new and whole, and in the same number as they left the Home. 

In no case can a child be passed on to another family without first consulting Miss Rye, and in case of the death of persons (husband or wife) taking children, it is particularly requested that an immediate notice of the fact be sent to the Home.
Miss Rye reserves to herself the right of removing any child with whose treatment she is not satisfied.


Hon Secretary 

N.B. Only children under nine years of age can be adopted.”

Picture; Avenue House, High Street, Peckham, from the OS map of London, 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

And a thank you to Gail Collins, who found the extract.

*British Home Children,

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The remarkable Mr Banks from factory worker to photographer by Royal Appointment

Oldham Street looking towards New Cross
There is something magic about this picture of Oldham Street which dates from around 1900.

And I am not alone in thinking this.  My friend Sally commented that “the image draws you in” and certainly you feel right at the heart of the city on a busy working day.

We are actually just past Hilton Street looking up towards Great Ancoats Street and New Cross.

Off to our right at numbers 56-58 was Abel Heywood & Sons, the booksellers who had in their time published some of the most important books on Manchester.

Beside them at number 60 was Marks and Spencer Ltd and beyond were the businesses of White the manufacturing jewellers whose sign dominated the skyline and the equally impressive sign of Crosby Walker Ltd whose draper’s shop stretched across numbers 82-86 Oldham Street.

In between were a branch of Maypoles’ the grocery chain, a Yates’ Wine lodge, and assorted photographer’s tailors, coffee merchants and confectioners.

My own favourite, at number 62, is the premise of Miss Isabella, servants registry office which is a reminder that this is still the age when even relatively humble homes aspired to at least one servant.

What is all the more  remarkable is the number of photographers who were offering their services in this small stretch running from Hilton Street up to Warwick Street but then photography had come of age and one of its best exponent was none other than Robert Banks who took this picture.

He had been commissioned by the Corporation as early as 1878 to photograph a series of pictures of the newly opened Town Hall and went on to compile sets of albums including the opening of the Ship Canal, the unveiling of Queen Victoria’s statue, and King Edward’s visit in 1909.

Many of these appear in an old and battered book which Sally picked up recently.

The cover and binding had long ago been lost but the pictures were intact and they are a wonderful record of our city just a century and a bit ago.

Here are celebrated some of the great achievements of the Victorian period, from the towering textile warehouses, to the impressive public buildings and in between street scenes of everyday life.

But few now know much about Mr Banks.  Back in 2011 a collection of his images was published by the History Press along with a short biography but the book sadly is now out of print.*

All of which is a shame because his was an interesting life and reflects that classic view of the self made Victorian.

He was born in 1847, his father was a journeyman carpenter, and at fifteen he was employed as a woollen piercer in Upper Mill.  At the age of twenty he was an illustrated artist working for the Oldham Chronicle and in 1867 had set up as a photographer in the High Street at Uppermill.

Reception Room, Town Hall
Now that move of course glosses over a lot because the step from illustrator to photographic studio I doubt could have been easy but at present I have no idea at the capital needed to begin such a venture or how he might have financed it.

Suffice to say that by 1873 he had moved to Manchester, set up home at 73 Alexandra Road in Moss Side and was renting a studio at 73 Market Street.

Over the next thirty years the business moved from Market Street to New Cross, and on to Franklin Street and Victoria Street and in 1903 was at 126 Market Street.

Likewise the family home was variously on Alexandra Street, and later Mytton Street, but the buildings have long since been cleared.

That said it may be possible to locale the studio in Uppermill and there remains the census records from 1861 onwards and the Rate Books along with possible references in the Manchester Guardian.

I rather think I will also contact his biographer just because Mr Banks is an interesting chap who began in a factory and  along the way was given  the title By Royal Appointment.

Pictures; courtesy of Sally Dervan

Contributory research from James Stanhope-Brown

*Manchester From the Robert Banks Collection, James Stanhope-Brown, 2011, the History Press

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 9 ....... a legal agreement 1767

A short series featuring objects which tell a story of Chorlton in just a paragrah and a challenge for people to suggest some that are personal to their stories. 

It is one of the most revealing documents in the Bailey family collection and sets out the tenancy agreement between James Renshaw and Samuel Egerton who owned much of Chorlton.   By the contract James Renshaw was to rent “several fields, Closes or Parcels of land, ..... containing four acres,” as well “All that Messuage or Cottages and tenement.”  It laid out the timetable for paying the rent and the Egerton’s rights to any minerals found under the ground as well as all “Timber Trees Woods and Underwoods.”   It was an agreement which lasted into the 20th century with the family continuing to farm the land and live in the same farm house into the first decade of the 20th century. And at the centre of it all was the home which was only demolished in the 1970s.

Picture; from the Bailey family collection

The day I went to Brockley looking for a water trough and found a cinema

Now I like the way you start off on a story and end up discovering all sorts of things you never knew.

The Brockley Barge, 2008
So in my quest for water troughs across south east London I have had lots of people share their memories of ones they remember.

And yesterday Margaret Nash wrote that “I haven't thought about horse troughs for years but after your post it bought back memories of a very foggy evening in the early 50's. 

It was a real pea souper and I had a boyfriend who had a car, we were on our way to see friends at Honor Oak. 

As we slowly drove along Brockley Road we came up behind a vehicle so stopped for what seemed ages until my boyfriend got out to see what the long hold up was, only to come back to tell me we were parked behind a horse trough. 

It was at a point in Brockley Road where the road divides off to the right into what is now Foxbury Road. 

I wondered if my mind was playing tricks but googled street view and the horse trough isn't there anymore but a pub called the Brockley Barge stands where the road divides.”

And that was a challenge I couldn’t turn down and went looking for the pub and the site of the trough.

The Brockley Barge turned out to be the old Breakspear Arms which had opened in 1868 and was renamed in 2000 when it became a Weatherspoons, and according to that wonderful site London Pubology has appeared in the Good Pub Guide for six years.*

Having found the pub I found the water trough.  It stood just in front of The Breakspear and is there on the OS map for 1896 and was still there in 1952.

The pub, the cinema and the water trough, 1952
For those who want an exact date for when it was placed there I can’t offer one up although I do know it will have been sometime after 1872.

Nor do I know when it was declared obsolete and taken away, but at least we found it just where Margret left it, and although she never mentioned it the trough faced a cinema which I had no idea ever existed.

This was the Brockley Picture Theatre which opened its doors on September 27 1913 and underwent several name changes over the next 43 years.

According to Mr Ken Roe “It was re-named Palladium Cinema from 24th May 1915.

The Ritz, date unknown 
In 1929 it was under new independent ownership and had a change of name to Giralda Cinema. 

This only lasted until 1936 when it was closed on 2nd November 1936 for renovation. 

It re-opened as the New Palladium Cinema. By the 25th May 1942, it had been re-named Ritz Cinema.

The Ritz Cinema was closed on 14th March 1956 with Charles Drake in 'Tobor the Great' and John Derek in 'The Fortune Hunter'(The Outcast). It was demolished in April 1960 and the site was re-developed. In 2009 an MOT car testing centre and garage is located on the site.”**

And now the MOT centre has gone and the site is underdevelopment again.

Looking at the maps and comparing with an old photograph it was a big place with a 40 feet wide proscenium and a 16 feet deep stage and a massive entrance.

I had wondered why the place didn’t ring any bells but I would not have ventured into Brockley until the early 1960s by which time the cinema had gone and with it perhaps that water trough.

Pictures; Brockley Barge, July 2008 courtesy of London Pubology, and that water trough and detail of St Mary’s Road 1953 historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at Historical map extract courtesy of Southwark Council at
 with mapping provided by Landmark Information Group and picture of the Ritz by courtesy of Martin Tapsell from the Ritz Cinema, Ken Roe, cinematreasures,

* London Pubology,
**Ritz Cinema, Ken Roe, cinematreasures,

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 8 ....... a railway ticket circa 1920

A short series featuring objects which tell a story of Chorlton in just a paragraph and  a challenge for people to suggest some that are personal to their stories.

The railway had come to Chorlton in 1880, and provided a quick service into the heart of the city. It took just seven minutes to travel from Chorlton into Manchester and was one of the factors which helped the development of new Chorlton allowing people to work in the commercial heart of the city but live within a few minute’s walk of the countryside. I can’t tell you when the ticket was issued but I think it must have been between 1892 and 1947. I can be fairly certain because the Fallowfield Loop line to Fallowfield and Guide Bridge was opened in 1892 and the Cheshire Lines Committee or CLC which ran the lines out of Central Station through Chorlton ceased in 1947 when the railways were nationalized. Had we travelled on that ticket it would have taken us just seven minutes to get to Fallowfield, passing through Wilbraham Road station. And had we elected to go all the way to Guide Bridge we would have been on the train for just 22 minutes having passed through Levenshulme, Hyde Road and Fairfield, but our ticket was only valid for Fallowfield so I suppose that was where we would alighted.

 Picture; from the Lloyd collection

“At present we do nothing at all other than parade” ......... sharing a day in 1915 with George Davison at Woolwich Barracks*

Mr and Mrs Davison and their son, 1916 Ireland
Now I went looking for anything that might have happened on October 27 1915 but the databases proved unrewarding.

“Unfortunately” according to one “there are no historic events for this date” other than it was the day that Herschel Saltzman was born and as everyone knows he  “was a Canadian theatre and film producer best known for his mega-gamble which resulted in his co-producing the James Bond film series with Albert R.”**

So a day of little significance which was pretty much how George Davison of the Royal Artillery described that Monday in 1915 to his wife in a letter home.

Woolwoch Barracks circa 1914
He had enlisted the year before had spent Christmas and most of 1915 in Ireland before briefly being posted to Woolwich and judging by his comments the army was not quite ready for his arrival.

There were no beds but he had managed to “find two blankets and use my coat and trousers for a pillow – the floor is the only bed and it is abominably draughty.  Our German friends (?) chipped pieces off the barracks the other day and part of the roof is being temporarily held up by wooden joists.”

And time hung heavily “at present we do nothing at all other than parade at 6 o clock am 8 am and 1.45 pm to see if any clothing is available.  There are no knives forks or spoons to eat with so you can imagine the result when fingers have to be used.”

George's letter to Nellie, October 27 1915
His experiences were no doubt echoed by his companions and conditions must have been grim given “that there are 1500 more men than the place will accommodate” which accounted for meal times being “something approaching a football scramble.”

Added to which he was still unable to “send a complete address [because] there are about 1000 other recruits to be dealt with before I get posted to any Battery.”

But there were compensations and George had managed to get the pendant and chain his wife had asked for.

Now on the surface it is an unremarkable letter but of course that is what makes it so important, for here stuck in Woolwich was George Davison biding his time as the army coped with the huge numbers of men who had volunteered since the outbreak of war.

For anyone who knows Woolwich Barracks George’s description of his time there will be of special interest more so because of the reference to Zeppelin raids.

And here I have to own up to a personal connection because just under a year after the letter was written the house two doors down to ours on Well Hall Road was destroyed by a Zeppelin bomb.

History of War, Part XXIV October 27 1915
Nor is that the only link with Mr Davison because for a while he lived here in Chorlton-cum-Hardy just a short walk from our house on Beech Road.

But even if there were not these personal links I have over the last year become close to the man as I work my through the collection of letters he sent home to his wife.

The George Davison Collection is a wonderful insight into how one family coped with the Great War and is a neat contrast to a contemporary account of the war issued by the Manchester Guardian every fortnight.***

And by sheer chance the first volume I have is dated October 27 1915 and covers the Italian Campaign, Russian Domestic Politics and the war on the Western Front with the added bonus of a series of adverts for everything from A Sun Bath to Valkasa the Tonic Nerve Food and the Manchester Guardian Christmas Gifts Fun known as "Tommy's Christmas which was “open again for the supply of Comforts for Lancashire and Cheshire Regiments at the Front.”

I will never know if Mr Davison read the history or if he benefited from “Tommy’s Christmas.”

By November 1915 he was back in Ireland and there he would stay till he was posted to the Western Front.

Pictures; of George Davison his wife Nellie and son, the extract from his letter, postcard of Woolwich Barracks and over of the History of War, courtesy of David Harrop.

The George Davison Collection will be on show at the special presentation and talk at St John’s in Heaton Mersey, November 4 at 2.30 and other items from David Harrop’s collection can be seen in the Remembrance Lodge at Southern Cemetery, Manchester

*The George Davison collection is a unique record of material held by David Harrop and includes letters postcards, official documents many personal items from when Mr Davison was born in Manchester to his death on the Western Front in June 1918 and continues into the middle of the century. George Davison,


***The Manchester Guardian History of the War

Looking for my great grandmother in September 1939 ............ a unique set of records go online

Now next Monday will be a lot more interesting because Findmypast  has put the 1939 Register online*

Nana and grandad circa 1930s
The Register contains the names, addresses and occupations of everyone in England and Wales in 1939 and was used as the basis for rationing, identity cards and the National Health Service just under a decade later.

That in itself makes it a very important document but more so because it will be another six years before the 1921 census is published.

Added to which there is a gaping hole in what will be available given that the 1931 census was destroyed and the 1941 census was never taken.

Great grandmother Eliza and a policeman, 1894
And that will be important for me because after nearly a decade I have gone back to looking for my immediate family and in particular my great grandmother.

Eliza Boot was born in 1872 and had five children but never married their father.

They were a colourful pair, having once been fined for fighting with a policeman in 1894 and eventually separating in 1902 with Eliza retuning north to Derby to have her last child in the workhouse.

The surviving four children spent time in institutions and was migrated to Canada as a British Home Child.

And apart from a few fragmentary references and her death certificate I have very little else to go on.

Nana in Derby, 1930
Her medical records have long since been destroyed and her National Insurance records cannot be accessed, so just maybe the 1939 Register will reveal something to fill the gap between an address in a street directory in 1925a comment in a letter in 1941 and the official record of her death.

We shall see.

And if she continues to fall though the net there will be mother, uncle Roger and Nana and granddad in Derby and dad who by 1939 had migrated south from Gateshead to London.

So I travel in hope because there are 41 million lives recorded in the register.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

* Monday November 2 2015, the 1939 Register will be made available online for the very first time, only on findmypast,

Walking in Nunhead Cemetry

I have decided to find out what I can about the Chicken family.

They were buried in the cemetery between 1872 and 1917 and between them their lives spanned the 19th century.

The first was Mary Ann Chicken who was born in 1799 and that last was William who died in 1917.

And the historian in me wonders what events of that century and a bit impacted most on the family.

After all Mary Ann would have been sixteen when the news of Waterloo came through and just 38 when the old Queen ascended the throne.

I would like to know where they lived, how they made a living and their connection with Nunhead.

And perhaps I might also find a little about the people who the thoughtful or perhaps mournful angel stands over.

Pictures, Nunhead Cemetery, from the collection of Sue Simpson

Monday, 26 October 2015

Looking out from the churchyard........... home thoughts from abroad nu 1

There are many things I miss about Eltham.

Uppermost of course are the family who while they may have moved a way for a while have always come back.

And then thinking about it there are some special places which meant a lot to me when I was growing up in Well Hall and still do but for slightly different reasons.

All of which is the start of an occasional new series featuring bits of the Eltham I like.

They are in no special order and were prompted by a set of pictures taken by our Elizabeth and Colin.

I had asked if they could take a few next time they were passing through the High Street and with a fine day yesterday that is what they did.

So here we are in the churchyard looking out towards the High Street.

It is a long time since I was last there but the memories of walking through the place are still very vivid, more so because here lay many of the people I have written about over the last few years.

And that is all I want to say.

Picture; in the churchyard, October 2015 from the collection of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

A history of Chorlton in just 20 objects number 7 ....... a plough 1896

A short series featuring objects which tell a story of Chorlton in just a paragraph and  a challenge for people to suggest some that are personal to their stories.

This was the last time the land opposite our house went under the plough.  The year is probably 1896 and the field was Row Acre.  I can be pretty sure that the chap at the plough was Alfred Higginbotham whose family had farmed here since the 1840s.  Row Acre stretched down from Cross Road to what is now Acres Road and was divided into strips.  Along with the Higginbotham’s parts of Row Acre were farmed by the Bailey family, Thomas White and John Brundrett, and perfectly echoed the medieval idea of a community each working a strip of land.  And of course the plough reminds us that we were a farming community.

Picture; Ploughing Row Acre before it became the Recreation Ground, 1894 from the collection of William Higginbotham

A little bit about Samuel L Coulthurst and those amazing pictures of Manchester street life

Rochdale Road and Swan Street 1900
This is another of those images of Manchester street life by Samuel Lawrence Coulthurst.

It was taken in 1900 at the corner of Rochdale Road and Swan Street.

Now at this point I would normally go off and look for a story behind the image but today I am more
interested in Mr Coulthurst.

There are 171 of his photographs in the digital collection of Manchester Libraries, covering everything from those street scenes to buildings and portraits and taken between 1890 and 1920.*

There is also a book of his pictures which sadly is out of print. **

For a long time Mr Coulthurst was just a name I saw in the credit to the photograph I was studying but as more of his images turned up I became interested in him.

He was born in Blackley, described himself variously as a “book buyer” and “stationary buyer" and lived in various parts of Manchester and Salford.   He married Annie Higson in June 1900 and he died in Helsby in 1939.

Samuel Lawrence Coulthurst, 1890
And despite a series of wonderful photographs of the twin cities, I have only been able to turn up a poor quality photograph of the man himself.

But I have high hopes that something better will turn up.

After all he appears to have been well known during the late 19th century, exhibiting at the Royal Photographic Society in 1897 and was a member of the Manchester Amateur Photographic Society which under took the first photographic survey of Manchester and Salford between 1892-1901.

In 1901 232 platinotype prints were handed to the Manchester and Salford Reference Libraries.

A third copy was retained by the Society but over the years a number have gone missing. The photographs are mounted on sheets of card, either singly or groups of 2 or 4 photographs per sheet. Manuscript details are written in ink beneath each image giving a brief description, a number and the photographer’s name. ***

Now there is a lot more I want to know about Mr Coulthurst and I have contacted both Manchester Amateur Photographic Society and the Friends of Salford Museum’s Association.

In the meantime I will leave you with this small piece of his personal life.

In the March of 1922 Samuel and Annie took a cruise to Lisbon, Madeira and the Canary Islands.  I would just love to see any photographs of that trip, but I fear they have been lost forever, which brings me back to those of the digital archive which I will be going back to over the next few months.

Pictures; Rochdale Road and Swan Street, Samuel L Coulthurst, 1900, m41073 and Samuel L Coulthurst, 1890,  m72750, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*Manchester Local Image Collection,

**The Samuel L Coulthurst Photographs: Victorian Salford and Manchester, 1995, Friends of Salford Museum’s Association

***National Archives,

A little bit of history on Well Hall Road .......... friends renunted

Now as a piece of history goes  it is perhaps not even a footnote, but it has made my day because this afternoon I was contacted by Steve on the Well Hall  facebook site I set up.

Steve had posted an interesting picture of an iron boundary marker for Woolwich.

He had found it in his garden and I passed a comment to which he asked if I had lived on Well Hall Road with four sisters, which was prompted by his wife and sister in law who had lived just two doors down from us and had played with our Elizabeth and Stella.

And yes we all lived one house apart and they both played together and later went out to socials.

So it’s a small world but one made just a bit nicer by the Well Hall site, all of which allows me to bring out Peter's painting again showing our houses.

Painting; 294 Well Hall Road, © 2015 Peter Topping 


Facebook: Paintings from Pictures

Now you can go looking for a water trough and five turn up on the same day

My water trough was at the top of St Mary’s Road where it joined Evelina Road.

I remember it from the 1950s and so did Linda and Joan and in the case of Joan she told me that  “you have just given me a memory jolt... I can recall my mum telling me off for trying to get into that trough..... it was all green and slimy inside !!”

I vaguely remember others and said I would set myself the task of looking for them and it is a search which has already been helped by Ros, Linda, Sue, Sharon and Helen who all came up with fresh sites.

So now I know of the one on the Old Kent Road where it joined New Cross Road, the two at the top of Deptford Road, the one at Vassel Road and a fifth outside the Kentish Drovers on Commercial Road where Sue’s mum fell in “and swallowed her false tooth celebrating on VJ night. What a night that must have been” and finally one on Southhampton Way.

There will be others, after all there were lots of horses and other livestock on our streets and all needed watering.

So the project has just started.

I am hoping for more stories and pictures.  Pat has promised one of the tough at Vassel Road.

So as they say watch this space.

Thanks to Linda Barnes,Helen Middleton, Sue England, Joan Griffiths Sharon Wood, and Pat Ross.

Picture. down on Bexley Road 2014, courtesy of Jean Gammons