Sunday, 31 January 2016

More of Well Hall from the camera of Ryan Ginn

Yesterday I was in the Pleasaunce with two of Ryan’s pictures and as you do I have decided to feature two more.

For all of us who long ago left Eltham but remember it with fondness this collection is magic.

As a kid I was fascinated by the moat and the bridge and later delighted in both the art gallery in the Tudor Barn and the occasional folk concerts in the auditorium on warm summer evenings.

Our Jill was captured in a newspaper photograph back in the August of 1964 siting with a other children watching a show put on by the Council and once a long time ago my own three lads also sat in the gardens on one of my short visits home.

So for all those reasons and because I like Ryan's pictures these two will kick off a series of his work over the next few weeks.

Location; Well Hall, Eltham

Pictures; Well Hall, 2015, from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Passing the time ............... the glass of wine

An occasional series of pictures of people and places.

Location; Beech Road, Manchester

Pictures; People & Places Manchester, 2009 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Back on Barlow Moor Road sometime after 1911

Now sometimes you do have to wonder about what makes a particular spot so likely to be photographed again and again.

Barlow Moor Road at that point where it crosses High Lane and Sandy Lane is just one place.  On one level you can understand why.

This was where the trams terminated, and where the tram office was, and a little later after this picture was taken would be where the new terminus was constructed.

It was one of our landmarks known for a great chunk of the 19th century as Lane End and for a while as Brundrett’s corner but that is a story for another time.  All of which meant it was a popular place for a rendezvous which would be agreed in advance given that this was a time before the mobile phone.

So being a popular place it was a natural choice for the travelling photographers to capture and make into a postcard scene.

Earlier in the month I included one that had been taken around 1911, A late day in summer on Barlow Moor Road sometime after 1911 

And today I turned up another possibly made at roughly the same time, and I rather think it speaks for itself, although I will just point out that litter is not something peculiar to today.

Picture; from the collection of Alan Brown

A pub, a name and Mr Wahlhauser

Now I really would like to have met Mr Louis Wahlhauser if only to get his side of the story about the Waldorf on Gore Street.

According to one history the pub dates from the 1880s when he named it after a Victorian general who was visiting Manchester to open a lodge of the Masons.

Part of my problem is that the source in question spells the pub’s name slightly differently to that of the general.

And by one of those annoying hiccups in the historical record the street and trade directories list only the name of the landlord not the name of the pub.

Added to which by the 1920s the place has become the Waldorf all of which is most unsatisfactory.

Nor do the maps help.  In the 1840s in to the 1890s there is no reference to a pub on Gore Street and while the Fire Insurance map of  1900 records a public house it sits there with no name.

Of course I could ply through all the directories from the 1850s onwards to find the first mention of a beer shop/ pub but I won’t.

Instead I will go off and explore the life of Mr Wahlhauser who was born in Germany in 1847 was married in 1870 to the daughter of a sea captain and by 1881 was running a boarding house  opposite what is now the Waldorf.

Later much later it appears to have gone up market trading as the Temperance Hotel but later still had reverted to a plain “boarding house” and by 1911 had become a printers.

By then Mr Wahlhauser had himself moved on, first to Moss Side and finally to Blackely and during that time his fortunes seem to have ebbed.

In 1881 he had run the boarding house, a decade later and  he described himself as a “hotel porter” and in 1911 a “hotel servant.”

Not that he had owned the boarding house.  The rates show that he was merely the tenant running the business and so far his name fails to appear on any other rate record.

Added to which by 1886 the pub is listed under the name of another landlord.

All of which makes Mr Wahlhauser a continuing enigma and gets us no further with the name of that pub.

Location; Manchester

Painting; the Waldorf, © 2015 Peter Topping 


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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Walking in Well Hall ............. the moat and barn

Now you can never get enough pictures of the Pleasuance and the old Tudor Barn.

So with that in mind here are two from a collection Ryan took yesterday when as he says, "I was just walking around the moat . It's still a rather mesmerising place to come and reflect."

And I have to agree.

Location; Well Hall, Eltham, London

Pictures; Well Hall, 2016, from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Summer in the City

Now for no particular reason other than I took them and they are of Manchester, here is a short series celebrating places I like.

All have appeared before and some a long time ago.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; around Manchester 2002-2015

Chorlton by night nu 1 ............. Oswald Road School

Now this is one of those pictures which needs me to add very little.

We are looking across at Oswald Road School pretty much as it has looked for a century.

Andy Robertson took the image on an early evening at the end of November.

Just over to our left and out of shot is the library opened in 1914 and the snooker hall.

Picture; Oswald Road School, November 2014, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Just so you don't get lost........ another story from Barny

 from Ogilby's strip map,  1675 
Now, you probably own some sort of Sat-Nav (satellite navigation), to help you find your way around. 

Not so long ago these systems were installed in the dash of many new vehicles, but today, all smart phones are equipped with Sat-nav, Maps, and GPS.

The first satellite navigation system was 'Transit', a system deployed by the US military in the 1960s.

It wasn't always like this!

AA Route Cards - Handwritten - 1910
Originally the AA Route services were introduced in the form of AA patrols. AA patrols could be consulted for verbal directions and advice.

Soon after the introduction of the AA Routes service in 1910, AA paper routes were launched to provide members with reliable directions due to the lack of signposts.

Bagshot to Andover, circa 1930s
AA Route Planner in 1920s
With the introduction of handwritten cards detailing the information between 2 different points the AA Routes became widely used. The increased demand lead to the need for printed cards. As a result 7,000 printed route cards were launched. Also more than half a million routes were added to the AA Routes service every year.

AA Route Planner in 1930s and 1940s
Strip maps introduced in the 1930s resulted in more reliable route information. After a few years after the introduction of Strip maps, progressive mileages were added to them which resulted to the demand of these maps to over 6,000,000 per year. But during the Second World War the demand for these maps decreased rapidly.

AA Route Planner in 1950s
The end of the world war resulted in the rise of demand for AA Routes. The demand also increased at an alarming rate at the time of patrol rationing in the 1950s. An introduction of places of interests was also added to the maps during this time.

AA Route Planner in 1960s
In 1960s, with the expansion of motorways, the 1960s was a remarkable period for AA Routes as the demand rose from 4,000 in 1949 to 221, 387 in 1965.

The 1960s also saw the introduction of AA “through route” maps which were based on the maps of 55 different towns.

These maps showed the routes from the towns to over 500 destinations. This period also saw the evolution of Route Books which was the collection of the most essential routes and also the best driving routes.

So, don't you get lost again!!

Pictures; the Surrey Heath section of Ogilby's 1675 strip map of the route from London to Lands End & Bagshot to Andover circa 1930s courtesy of Barny

Friday, 29 January 2016

What was lost is found ............... remembering Alan Brown

I wish I had known Alan Brown longer than I did.

Alan Brown at Brookburn School, 2011
We got to know each other just a handful of years ago but quickly discovered a common fascination for Chorlton’s history.

The difference was that while I read, researched and wrote about it Alan had lived it.

Many of our conversations started with a name or an event and in the course of the afternoon we would wander over everything from Chorlton’s Brass band, to his early years in the school on the green and his memories of his grandmother who laid out the dead.

But he was never one to think he knew it all and was forever asking me about my latest bit of research and more often than not that in turn led back to an Alan story.

So it was with the barrage balloon on the Rec which my old dog walking friend John Telford first told me about it over thirty years ago even pointing out where the concrete based was to be found.

Then one day this tiny bit of wartime history was taken away during a refurbishment of the recreation ground and bit by bit I came to doubt my own memory.

But Alan had the picture of the balloon along with many more some of which found their way into my book.*

And two of the pictures that have stayed with me were of our own brass band which had begun in the 1820s and only folded in 1945.

Chorlton Brass Band circa 1930
Of these my own favourite was of the band possibly in the 1920s, including his grandfather and the young girl looking over the wall.

The other was of the band in full regalia at Barlow Hall in 1893, and for the historian what makes this photograph so important is that it contains the names of each band members which allowed me to track all but two of them across Chorlton.

It was one of those bits of research that caught Alan’s imagination and sparked off a train of band stories.

My regret is that we didn’t pursue the research into his own family which got so far but was interrupted by other projects and then when I was ready to start he had died.

I hadn’t seen him for a while mainly because I had been ill and then when I tried ringing he was out doing things.

So the weeks stretched to months and then on a pretty miserable day I went down to find the house was for sale.

I left a note but heard no more and then by chance today in response to one of Alan’s pictures I posted the current owners got in touch to say that his collection was safe with them.

In the fullness of time they have promised that I can look through the material which includes those pictures, and a shed full of documents all of which will help add to the story of Chorlton and remind me of my old friend.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; Alan at Brookburn School, 2011 with his picture of that barrage balloon, courtesy of  Chorlton Good Neighbours,** and Chorlton Brass Band, circa 1930s from the collection of Alan Brown

*The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy,

**Chorlton Good Neighbours,

Down in the Northern Quarter

I like the Northern Quarter.

The name may be new and there is lots of new development but there are still a shed load of quirky shops and interesting things to see

Location; the Northern Quarter, Manchester

Picture; the Northern Quarter, 2014, from the collection of Andrew Simpson 

The picture of Annie Magee on Hawthorn Lane and that young Chorlton bandsman

Now if there is a simple lesson about old photographs it’s that you should never take them at face value.

So here is a picture from Peter McLoughlin's collection of family pictures which shows his mother Annie in 1925.

I was drawn to it the first time I saw it and it began the first of series of stories that feature those family albums.

But what I missed or more accurately ignored was the young man standing beside her.

I don’t know who he was or why he posed with young Annie and just assumed he was a young serviceman, but looking again at that uniform it seems far more elaborate and I think it is that of a bandsman and if pushed I think it might well be from our own Brass Band.

And that makes it rather special because there are very few pictures of our brass band which was at the centre of life in Chorlton from the mid 1820s till 1945.

Of course the Stalybridge Band is older and can claim to have marched in to St Peter’s Fields on the day of Peterloo but ours had an almost continuous run until it agreed to wind up after the last world war.

It performed in many of the great and not so great events here in the township and went on to win prizes in brass band competitions.

There are a few accounts of its founding in the 1820s and some more of when it reformed in 1850.

I know the names of some of the men who made up the early bands, along with the prizes they collected during the late 19th century and continue to come across newspaper reports of their activities.

The band neatly reflects the history of the township, starting as a small band whose members made some of their instruments including the drum which once made proved to big to get out of the cottage.

The early band was almost exclusively drawn from Methodists and most made their living from the land.

By the 1890s few of the members still worked the land, most worked in Manchester and most were either newcomers to the township or were first generation.

But so far I guess there are just half a dozen images of the band, some as they marched through Chorlton and one of them at Barlow Hall in 1893 but sadly that’s the lot.

All of which makes this picture of our young bandsmen so interesting and perhaps in time I will discover more about him.

Picture; Annie Magee and that unknown young man, 1925 from the collection of Peter McLoughlin and the Brass Band circa 1920 courtesy of Alan Brown

*Chorlton Brass Band,

Trenches in Piccadilly ............ a New Use for the Old Infirmary Site June 1917

Looking across to the old Infirmary site, date unknown
Now Piccadilly Gardens continues to excite a wealth of feelings from those who miss the old sunken gardens and have no love for that concrete slab to those who dwell on the seedy last days of the old park and point out that in these cost cutting days the present space is pretty low maintenance.

Of course before 1914 there were no gardens just the site of the Royal Infirmary which when it was demolished left a debate on what to do with the site.

It took a few years before the Corporation decided that this was a perfect place for a park in one of the busiest parts of the city.

This much I knew but what I didn’t know was that in the June of 1917 according to the Manchester Evening News the Red Cross “found a practical use for the old Infirmary site in Piccadilly ....[turning] it into a miniature sector of the Western Front.

Manchester Evening News, June 1917
The front line trenches and their equipment are said to be perfect in every detail.  There are grim touches of realism here and there, - like the torn and tattered heap of clothing nearthe terrible barbed wire entanglements to represent a dead Boche.  Some rare and valuable war relics may also be seen, including some fine specimens of enemy guns.

With infinite labour the trench diggers who were the convalescent soldiers from Heaton Park, have passed right through the heavy masonry and substantial brickwork of the old Infirmary foundations.”

There is no record of what the "convalescent soldiers from Heaton Park" thought of the task and I have yet to dig deeper to discover what the public made of the “miniature sector of the Western Front” in the heart of the city.

But once they had explored the trenches they could go on to visit the adjoining museum which “was wonderfully interesting.”

All of which just begs the question of why the display was produced.

Given that it had been produced by the Special Effects Committee of the East Lancashire branch of the Red Cross I suspect that along with its propaganda value it was linked to the organisation’s campaign for volunteers and funds.

I do know that Heaton Park had had its on set of trenches which were open to the public and no doubt so did other parts of the country.

Pictures; the site of the Infirmary, date unknown from the collection of Rita Bishop and Trenches in Piccadilly ............ a New Use for the Old Infirmary Site June 1917,  the Manchester Evening News from Sally Dervan

*Now I know what Father was doing in the Great War ...... trenches in Heaton Park in 1916,

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Finding your way home ............... finger posts old and new and a challenge

Now here is another  of those stories focusing on what we may be losing.

Over the last few months I have wandered over a collection of old street furniture from water troughs, those red telephone kiosks to the humble pillar box.

And  now it’s the turn of the road sign or to be more accurate the finger post.

Once they cropped up everywhere and there must still be plenty around but I wonder for how much

Originally they would have been made of wood and later of metal but  many of the old traditional ones may be  almost redundant.

In an age of cars and fast travel those big day glow signs fit better with the way people travel offering up giant indications of destinations,

Added to which those posts dating back a century or more are in danger from a combination of rust and neglect.

That said they remain elegant reminders of how we used to find our way around and of course there are still plenty of new ones in new locations often painted black or green with the lettering picked out in gold or yellow.

Thesetraditional ones come from the collection of Graham Gill who posted some on his excellent facebook site, Hidden Cheadle/Gatley & Cheshire.

I remember there were some in Chorlton and I will go looking if they are still there.

And leaves me to ponder on how many more I must have known and whether any still exist in the places I grew up.

So here is the challenge for those who share my interest in street furniture to furnish their own pictures and for good measure the location and a description.

I will not be sniffy, any finger post can be inducted into the hall of fame although in the interests of history those that are clearly old and may even be in danger of disappearing are a must.

Which just leaves lamp posts , but that’s for later.

Location; Cheadle & Gatley, Cheshire, Eltham, London

Pictures; finger posts in Cheadle & Gatley, 2016, from the collection of Graham Gill & In Eltham, 2012, courtesy of Steve McDonald

Playing on the Nine Fields, all the way from Well Hall to Kidbrook

Kidbrook Lane in 1872 with the Nine Fields to the north
Now I know there will be people who know of the existence of the Nine Fields just beyond Well Hall out towards Kidbrook.

But I think there will not be that many, and certainly now few who will have played on them

Their existence was unknown to me and it was my friend Jean who set me off on a search for them.

She rememberd that “my father told me there were fields stretching from Well Hall Road from the Catholic Church,right across to Kidbrook, before the Kidbrook estate was built. 

Dad was talking about the 1920s when he was growing up at 47 Lovelace Green.”

And with the power of the internet there almost as soon as I started was a reference to the open land that was called Nine Fields, before the Page Brook estate was built.  Moreover she remembered that they were one vast children’s play area.  At one time small bi-planes were there offering cheap flights.”*

And in turn this led me on to an excellent description of the estates being built in the 1920.**

In the great sweep of world history I grant you that this little discovery is hardly earth shattering, but for people like me who have wandered that bit of Eltham and my sister who lives on Bournbrook Road it remains an interesting insight into what was and what has now gone.

Even more so because when we washed up on Well Hall Road in the 1960s those fields were still within living memory.

Now I am not so sure.

Location, Eltham, London

*Lily Tyrrell (Brown), from Eltham, Mottingham, New Eltham SE9
Royal Borough of Greenwich,
**Municipal Dreams,

And in turn this led me on to an excellent description of the eststaes being built in the 1920.**

Picture; detail from the OS for London 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Walking in the City

Now for no particular reason other than I took them and they are of Manchester, here is a short series celebrating places I like.

And yest this one is Salford, not Manchester.

All have appeared before and some a long time ago.

Location; Salford

Pictures; around Salford 2002-2015

Painting New Cross ..... my swimming baths

Now the other day I was telling Peter how I learnt to swim at Laurie Grove and how I still carry a small scar on my chin from the Boys Baths.  

That scar was the result of being too clever and attempting to come out of the water onto the side, which in my case was a failure as I fell back into the water catching my chin on the ridged stone slabs which were supposed to help you from slipping.

And with that tale firmly lodged in Peter’s stories to tell in the pub he also decided to paint a picture of the place.

So here in the series of Painting New Cross is Laurie Grove which I know will strike a chord with many and add to the comments which have come with other stories on the place.

Painting; Laurie Grove Swimming Baths, © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph by ©  Dr Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Down in Castlefield

Now for no particular reason other than I took them and they are of Manchester, here is a short series celebrating places I like.

All have appeared before and some a long time ago.


Pictures; around Manchester 2002-2015

Back with Mrs Elsie May Crump, a bit of broadcasting history and Chorlton

Now I am pleased that a lot more people are going to read about Mrs Elise May Crump and her part in a little bit of broadcasting history.*

In October 1946 she had appeared on the first broadcast of Woman’s Hour and three months later was invited back to reflect on how it had all gone.

She described herself as a working woman who found it difficult to listen regularly because she assisted her husband in their butcher’s shop on Oswald Road.

And as you do I went looking for a story and along the way I asked for anyone who knew her and quick as a flash my old friend Bob Jones came up with this picture which he is fairly confident is Mrs Crump.

There will be others I am sure who also remember Mrs Crump and so it seemed a perfect story for the Chorlton edition of Community Index.**

 And having submitted the story Linsey the editor turned up a snippet from a newspaper on the other side of the country reporting on Mrs Crump’s appearance on the wireless.***

I dare say that there will be other snippets of her broadcasting debut just waiting to be discovered and while as yet they remain hidden I am confident that as the Community Index drops through the letter boxes there may be fresh discoveries.

And that is all I want to say for now.

Pictures; Mrs Elsie May Crump, from the collection of Bob Jones, and the advert for Mrs Crump’s shop, 1928 from the St Clement’s Souvenir Handbook of the Church Bazaar, 1928 

* Mrs Crump of Chorlton-cum-Hardy and a piece of broadcasting history,

**Community Index,

***A Chorlton Woman's Hour,

Walking the in the City

Now for no particular reason other than I took them and they are of Manchester, here is a short series celebrating places I like.

All have appeared before and some a long time ago.


Pictures; around Manchester 2002-2015

Revisiting The Vintage Beauty Parlour on Kingshill Road and a lot more history

Now I always planned to revisit that corner shop on Kingshill Road partly because it has history and also because it is back doing what all corner shops should do which is to be interesting and offer something to the community.

It began as a newsagents run by Annie Frazier and continued to sell cigarettes sweets and newspapers after she died in 1911.

I say that but I have still to double check using the directories, but her daughter Ada was there at nu 1 Kingshill until she died in the April of 1923.

At which point I have fallen back on the some of the documents held by the current owners who told me  that “a chap called Bushell died and his estate was sold to a Mrs Farrington, possibly as part of a wider business. 

Whitaker then got the place in 1927.

In the late 60s the shop and house was then owned by the Flanagans, closing in '83.”

Now the Whitaker’s are remembered fondly by many in Chorlton.  Bob Jones emailed me to say that

“I lived at no 12 opposite the shop born and bred so nice to see the shop open again  after many years boarded up

I was an order boy at the Beech Road shop of Charles Whitaker and Jeff his son, happy days.”

And for those who don’t know the Beech Road shop which was the Whitaker’s first business out let was on the corner by the green.

An advert from 1928 proudly announces that T C Whitaker’s had been established in 1896 but a family with the same name were trading along Beech Road as grocers as early as 1851.

Now I haven’t yet found a picture of the Kingshill shop from when it was owned by the Whitaker’s but there is a 2008 google street image of the shop with the faded lettering with their name still visible.

The current owner like me thinks it is a shame that copyright might prevent me from using the picture and recalled that

“I used to live in the house back then and it was freezing, just an empty flooded space, with no floor, you fell straight into the cellar. Then some kids smashed the shop windows, which is why it got boarded up.”

But all is now well and there is no doubting that transformation from a grim and empty retail property to its current use as The Vintage Beauty Parlour

Pictures; Kingshill Road, in 2016 and 2012,  courtesy of The Vintage Beauty Parlour 

*The Vintage Beauty Parlour,

Pictures from an Eltham bus ........two month on

January 2016
The top deck of a London bus has to be a pretty neat way of seeing the world below.

And when it is the same bus at about the same time every day then you have got yourself a project.

All you need is a camera and the patience each week to record the same spot.

It helps if there is a major new development underway like the one at Grove Market and the rest as they say is Larissa Hamment’s “Pictures from an Eltham bus.”

November, 2015
It promises to be an interesting collection of images which when the development is finished will prove to be a unique record of a bit of changing Eltham.

Location, Eltham High Street, Eltham, London

Picture; the work at Grove Market, 2015/2016, from the collection of Larissa Hamment

Ghost signs in Stockport .......the one on Hopes Carr

Now I am back with a ghost sign and a story that I suspect will run and run.

This is the side of a 19th century smithy on Hopes Carr in Stockport and like many ghost signs this one may soon have faded to a point that there is little left to see.

And that is a shame because ghost signs are often all that is left of a business or product which were once household names.

My problem is that I don’t know Stockport as well as I should and do not have access to the trade and street directories for the area which would allow me to identify the company who had the sign painted.

But I bet there is someone who does or can pick out the now very faded name and with that will come a story.

Looking at the 1912 map of Stockport I am struck at the contrast between Hopes Carr then and now and leads me to think that once the sign is identified there could be a shed load more to say about both the smithy and Hopes Carr,

In time I will compare this map with the earlier one from 1870 and explore the history of that smithy.

But for now I shall just make that appeal for any one with easy access to the street directories or better still memories of the place.

Location, Hopes Carr, Stockport, Greater Manchester

Pictures; ghost sign and building on Hopes Carr, 2015 from the collection of Graham Gill and detail of Hoes Carr from the Cheshire OS, 1904-1910, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Painting Peckham ......... the ever changing Duke of Sussex

Now it rather looks like Peter has gone off on a new one.

Over the last few weeks he has been painting pubs that have long since ceased to pull a pint.

In one case the pub has become a betting shop and another is now a residential conversion.

But here with the Duke of Sussex on the corner of Friary Road and Commercial Way we are back with one still doing the business although he has captured it as it would have looked around 2008.

Those familiar with it now will notice a few small differences, ranging from the change in the background colour of the signage,  and the addition of benches and railings outside.

Location; Peckham, London

Painting; the Duke of Sussex, © 2009 Peter Topping from a photograph, 2008 


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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Painting Nunhead ........ Nu 1 a pub and a shedful of memories of walking to school in 1961

Now when you are just 11 and on the way to school pubs don’t feature very heavily and the Old Nuns’s Head was no exception.

It is on Nunhead Green and I will have passed it pretty much every day on my way to the Annexe on Old James Street which housed the over spill for Samuel Pepys.

There were other routes I could have taken from Lausanne Road but this was I think the most direct.

And when I was passing it the pub was coming up for its twenty-seventh birthday, although according to that excellent pub blog, London Pubology* there was a pub here in the 18th century when “the pub was known for games (it had a skittle alley), dancing and particularly for its tea gardens. 

These were a fashion of the era — tea had only been introduced to the country during the 17th century and had built up an immense popularity during the early parts of the 18th century to become effectively the national drink. 

The tea gardens were suburban relatives of the pleasure gardens (such as the famous one at Vauxhall), where high tea was served in the afternoon. 

To a certain extent, too, they were tainted with the same negative connotations, being the playgrounds of the frivolous leisured classes, encouraging licentious behaviour and gambling, and frequented by prostitutes. There is no indication in the sources that the tea gardens in Nunhead were anything less than respectable.”

In the mid 19th century it was run by Sarah Dyer and I rather think there might be a rich history here to trawl.

But of course all of that was unknown to me back in 1961.

Today one guide describes it as a “large, airy and child-friendly pub with a mish-mash of old furniture, serving modern British meals” and perhaps when I next get down to Nunhead I might call in.

I think Peter’s painting pretty much captures the place although straying from side to side is to be shocked at the new development which aren’t in keeping with the green or the old alms houses.

That said I bet there were a few back in 1934 when the pub was built who muttered darkly at “pretend Tudor buildings” and lamented the earlier one which just leaves me to go and search for an image of that older pub and reflect on all those trips along Evelina Road and Nunhead Lane half a life time ago.

Location; Nunhead, London

Painting; The Old Nun’s Head Nunhead Lane © 2015 Peter Topping from a photograph 


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*London Pubology,

Monday, 25 January 2016

One year and a bit down at the Wilburn Basin

Now back in the summer of 2014 Andy Robertson took a series of pictures of the Wilburn Basin.

It is sited between the Middlewood Locks and Woden Street Bridge and features in the plans for the River Irwell Park which sets forth the vision for  an urban river park to be delivered over the next decade which “will transform the day to day workings of an 8km stretch of the Irwell”*

Our city “has been rated the 14th greatest European city in an independent survey.  
The other 13 cities ahead of Manchester have fabulous water fronts – and Manchester needs the same.  

The Irwell has always been the lifeblood of Greater Manchester and by keeping a singular vision we can make it a unique place to visit.”**

So there you have it, a plan and to go with that some of Andy’s pictures.

Even in its present state the area looks exciting with a hint of its industrial past and stunning views across to the twin cities.

There will be people who will remember it as a working place and I hope will come forward with stories and perhaps old pictures to compliment Andy's collection.

And I noticed some of the land went up for sale last year, comprising 1.34 Hectares (3.3 Acres), Highly Visible with River Frontage, Castlefield & Spinningfields Nearby.***

A year and bit on and Andy was back with a series of pictures which show the development since 2014 and yes the basin is still there but just not as visible.

Pictures; the Wilburn Basin June 2014 & January 2016, from the collection of Andy Robertson

* River Irwell Park,

**Chris Farrow, Chair, Irwell River Park Executive Management Group


What's in a van? ............ stories yet to be discovered

Now this is one of those stories which will be fun to dig into.

At present I know nothing about it other than the date may be the 1930s, and that  the picture comes from the collection of Andy Robertson who says “the older young man is my great grandfather's brother's son.”

And I am making this harder for myself by deliberately not asking Andy for any more information.

Instead in the quiet moments I shall regularly revisit the picture and see what the records reveal.

The van offers up the name of the company, the date it was established and a place in London.

So that will open up a trawl of the census returns and street directories and of course the telephone directories and maps of the period.

The local archive centre might just have some records on the company with pictures and even details of the people who worked for them.

And then there is that simple wild card where you type in the name on Google and wait to see what pops up.

These hit and miss searches always amaze me more because often they do turn something up.

In the case of Thomas E Carwardine & Co. Ltd the search provided a typed street directory for 1921 which listed the firm at 138 Kingsland Road amongst a mix of small business stretching along the east side of the road from 120 Shoreditch High Street to Kinglsand High Street and comprising 65 businesses three pubs and Cotton Gardens.

Now for someone who does not know east London here is an anchor from which to move out and look for the other stores or branches of Thomas E Carwardine & Co. Ltd.

It may be that they only had the one premises but they were operating at least 39 vehicles, some of which would be motor vans and others perhaps horse drawn or hand pulled carts and that is an impressive fleet.

And I am fascinated by the hand painted sign.  All things Egyptian had been given a real boost by the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.

Likewise it may just be possible to draw some conclusions from the buildings behind the van so while the house looks solid and residential enough there is that building next door which might have been a stables but equally could be commercial.

There will be plenty of more clues and of course once you finds the first set of records they usually send you off on a whole set of different paths.

At which point I recognise that this will be read by many who mutter that in looking into the story of an east London firm I am well out of my usual haunts.

But not so and especially because the methodology in picking through the clues can be used any where, and that seems a sensible point to stop for the time being.

Location; London

Picture; from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Pub History in the UK,