Sunday, 31 July 2016

Stolen in the night ........... with little concern for the historic and private loss

Now I know I shouldn’t be surprised of the news that a priceless collection of Great War memorabilia has been stolen.

We all at some time have to face just such an event, but the theft in the night of a collection of cap badges from men who served their country with distinction is unforgiveable.

More so because they were part of a collection which had been carefully researched by their owner David Harrop.

There is of course the possibility that they will be recovered, but I doubt it.  They will I expect have made their way to a dealer or collector with few scruples.

More than that the collection runs the risk of being broken up and sold separately.

But either way they will never be displayed with the same sense of history and degree of research that followed their time as part of David’s collection.

Other items were also looted like a pillar box similar to this one carrying the initials VR.

So there you have it, not a very nice story to close a Sunday evening.

Pictures; cap badges similar to those stolen from the collection of David Harrop

Welcome back Bramall Hall ....... two years, £1.6 million and it is open for business

No doubt somewhere over this week end there will be a sign welcoming the curious and the interested back into Bramall Hall.

It has been closed for a major restoration project which according to Stockport Council was funded from  a  “£1.6million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  

The impressive plaster ceiling in the Withdrawing Room has been repaired and re-painted, objects and items of furniture have been conserved and hundreds of panes of historic, stained glass that were dirty and broken now sparkle in the sunshine. 

Better facilities for visitors include modern toilets and a platform lift to improve access between levels on the ground floor. New interpretation will tell people about the hall’s fascinating stories through film, virtual tours, interactives and a giant family tree.

Major building development has converted the rundown and under-used stable block into a modern facility for visitors that now houses a gift-shop, small visitor centre and classroom facilities.

The adjacent café is a bright and airy space with a glass frontage that opens onto the walled garden for outside dining.”*

So to mark the reopening of the Hall Peter has done one of his paintings.

It is not a place I have visited, well not yet but I think it will be on the summer todo list.

After all it is is "a Tudor manor house in Bramhall, [which] is  a timber-framed building, the oldest parts of which date from the 14th century, with later additions from the 16th and 19th centuries. 

The house, which functions as a museum, and its 70 acres (28 ha) of landscaped parkland with lakes, woodland, and gardens are open to the public."**

I could say more and there is lots more but I will leave you to find that out by following the links.

Sadly I won’t be able to get in over the weekend as all tickets for entry into the Hall on Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31 have completely sold out but normal service will resume on Tuesday.

Painting; Bramall Hall, © 2016 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,


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*Bramhall Hall,

** Bramall Hall

The Black Horse Salford ................... remembering better times

Now for anyone with fond memories of the Black Horse on the Crescent this I think is how they would want to remember it. 

The Black Horse in happier times
It was opened in 1875 and while I can’t be sure he was the first landlord Mr John Maycock was there pulling pints and offering advice in 1877 and was still there a full six years later.

And with a bit more digging I should be able to track him across the years and come up with the later publicans who ran the place.

It has fallen on hard times,  having closed around 2003 it has sat empty and forlorn ever since.

But it captured the attention of Peter Topping who set out to paint the pub in its last throws of glory.

Empty and forlorn
And not content with that he began some painstaking research looking at older images peeling back years of old paint and additions to the building.

One photograph from the 1970s clearly shows there was once an entrance on the left of the door which might have given access for the brewery’s waggons.

Another reveals that the sign above the door has had at least one major paint job which might have been the moment the pub changed its name to the Black Horse Hotel from the Black Horse Inn.

Now this I know because picked out in ceramics directly over the door is the title the Black Horse Inn, which no one bothered to hide when the painted sign was added.

When that happened is unclear.  The directories in the 1870s and 1880s just list the pub as at the Black Horse.

But I bet there will be someone who remembers and will offer up this bit of information.

Remembering it as it was
Others have already supplied me with pictures of the carved keystones above the ground floor which range from a horse head and a set of blacksmith tools to a satyr and Bacchus.

All of which must once have looked very impressive but as Andy Robertson’s picture from last year shows they and the rest of the place are in a sorry state.

So like many I will just go back to Peter’s painting and reflect on its past grandeur.

Picture; The Black Horse, 2014, from the collection of Andy Robertson, 

Painting; Back Horse, Salford © 2016 Peter Topping 


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Miss Maude Fealey star of stage and screen in 1902

Now there will be those who accuse me of losing the plot as I focus on another of those celebrity picture postcards from the early 20th century.

But I do think they deserve to be brought out of the shadows, partly because so many of them a re stunning images and also because in their time these young actors and actresses were as popular as our modern footballers and singers.

So here we are with Maude Fealey, born in 1883 in Memphis Tennessee.  She performed on both the stage and screen appearing in twenty films between 1911 and 1955.

Now there is much more but I think that I shall leave it there.

Except to reflect that the series from which this image was taken must have been a profitable one for Tuck and Sons who marketed it.

There are a large number in the collection and they spanned not only these "young beauties" but character actors, music hall stars and Shakespearean performers.

Picture; Maude Fealey, from the series CELEBRITIES OF THE STAGE, by Tuck and Sons, 1905, courtesy of Tuck DB,

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 15 Essex Street

Less a forgotten or lost street and more the one with a fine view of the Town Hall's clock tower.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Essex Street, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

On Mauldeth Road West with a ghost sign

Now there are a growing number of us who are fascinated by ghost signs.

These are the painted signs dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries which advertised products and businesses, most of which have long since disappeared.

So these fading and often peeling names are all that are left of a bit of our past.

All of which is a lead in to Neil Simpson’s picture of the gable end on Mauldeth Road West which he proudly told me, “look what I found on the side of a shop on Mauldeth Road West - a Ghost Sign for Wills Gold Flake Cigarettes for Andrew Simpson."

And then went on to supply a link to Wills Gold Flake.

And that pretty much is that leaving me only to thank Neil who has come up with some pretty neat ghost signs over the years.

Location; Manchester

Picture; ghost sign 2016, courtesy of Neil Simpson

*Wills Gold Flake, https

James Arthur Parkes, from Chorlton, the oldest Manchester soldier to die in the Great War

James Arthur Parkes was the oldest Manchester soldier to die in the Great War.

Your King and Country Thank you, date unknown
He was 64 years of age, had been born in Chorlton on Medlock and his family were living at 9 Meadow Bank in Chorlton when he died on March 29 1917.

Now given the mountain of statistics about the war it would be easy to pass this fact by.

After all in total 10,995 men from the city died during the conflict, the first being Charles Routledge of Andrew Street who died in August of 1914 and Thomas McLean Dunlop of Elvey Street who was killed on the last day of the war.*

And in between there are the depressing list of casualties which include the total killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme along with the youngest man to perish and much more.

But I was drawn to Mr Parkes because of his age which given that we think of the Great War as a young mans’ war rather marks him out as significant.

And behind that simple record is a fascinating story that begins in Chorlton on Medlock and runs out across Canada, Scotland and northern England and finishes in a family grave in Sourthern Cemetry.

I know that he was born in 1854 in Chorlton on Medlock and that he married Margaret Gowrie in 1878 in New Brunswick in Canada.

This is at least the obvious inference given that five of seven children were born there between 1879 and 1891.

He appears to have settled with his family briefly in Scotland in the April of 1881 and again a decade later in 1891.

From the Daily Mail, 1916
But was also in Canada during most of the 1880s before returning to the UK in the middle of 1891 and moving on again to Barnard Castle in County Durham in 1894 which is where the family were still residing in 1898.

Not that any of this surprises me.  This was after all one of the centuries when people were migrating to the Empire and were coming home again more frequently than we might think.

That said the clue to James’s wandering is there in his occupation.

In 1911 he described himself as a retired army officer, while in 1881 he was a  Sergeant 26th Regt and a ten years later a Quarter Master Army at the Hamilton Barracks.

Now the 26th Regiment of Foot became a Rifle Regiment and adopted the regimental name of the Cameronians in 1881 under the army reforms.**

So his postings in Canada and across Britain make sense. And with a bit more research it should be possible to match the family homes with the movement of the regiment.

All of which brings me to his death in 1917.  I had assumed it was on a battlefield but that would be stretching it given his age.

Greetings from the Front, date unknown
He was by then a Captain in the Durham Light Infantry and was buried in Southern Cemetery on April 3 1917 in a plot which was to include his wife and children.

In time I will fill in the missing bits including where they were in 1901 and his role in the Durham Light Infantry along with a cause and place of death.

All of which is for later except to say that sometimes you can be too clever.

I had thought Mr Parkes served in Canada, given that the 1911 census has his wife and some of his children listed as being  born in Glasgow and Hamiliton NB which I took to be New Brunswick but appears to have been a mistake.

Earlier census returns record Mrs Parkes and the children as being born in Scotland upon which turns a reversal of James Arthur’s time in Canada which I had confidently described in earlier stories.

Ah well not everything is as you think.

Pictures;  from the collection of David Harrop

*The First World War and the price Greater Manchester Paid, Manchester Evening News August 4 2014

**Regiments of Foot, H.L. Wilkes, 1974

Wishing you well ........... postcards from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham for the summer ..... nu 6 old houses Woolwich

A short series with few words looking at the postcards we sent from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham.

Now the caption is none too helpful and offers up just the description “Old houses Woolwich.”

But the building proved popular enough for another postcard company to reproduce a similar photograph with the more a more useful description which places them at “Free Ferry Approach.”

And according to one source was “situated on Hog Lane, later Nile Street, this timber building of fifteenth and sixteenth century origin had deteriorated into a lodging house by the time its northern half was cleared for the Free Ferry Approach during the 1880s.  Its southern half survived until 1905 when it was condemned.”*

Now I went looking for Nile Street and there it was in 1972 running into Rodney Street hard by the river and in time

Location; Woolwich

Picture; Woolwich, 1902, Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB,

*Woolwich Through Time, Kristina Bedford

Beware a challenge ...... the story behind the Fatal Wedding

I am on a quest to find the most boring picture post card ever seen, bought, or sent.

I can’t claim this was an original idea.  It came from my friend Jean who laid down the challenge.

“In the 70's when I was working in the National Postal Museum we did an exhibition of postcards.

As part of this, we did a small display which we called "Boring Postcards."

One I recall was the public lavatories at Huddersfield which to add to the gloom was not even in colour.

But it proved to be the most-looked at part of the Exhibition! “

So off I began with the collection of Tuck and Sons and the site, Tuck DB which offers 133,745 postcards, 29,023 sets and 309,326 uploaded pictures.*

Now this is a site I have plundered over the last year because of the sheer number and variety of images covering the late 19th and a big chunk of the 20th century and it has given up plenty of fascinating stories.**

And sure enough with just a little effort I came across this card from the series The Fatal Wedding from the Princess’s Theatre, London.

I thought I had struck gold and while it does not rival the public lavatories at Huddersfield it seemed a close contender.

But then as you do I went in search of Mr Bert Coote’s big production of the Fatal Wedding and discovered a story.

The Fatal Wedding was written by Theodore Kremer who was born around 1871 and died in 1923.  He wrote a number of melodramas including The Slaves of the Orient, The Great Automobile Mystery and Bertha the Sewing Machine Girl which focused on a sweatshop worker who is victimised by her father’s murderer.***

The Fatal Wedding falls into the same category mixing drama, danger and forbidden love.  In this case Cora Williams destroys the happy marriage of Howard and Mabel Wilson and drives them to divorce. Howard gets custody of their children Jessie and Frankie but Mabel winds up abducting them.

Five years later Cora discovers Mabel living in poverty with the children. She tries to poison Mabel and frame Jessie on a charge of theft but is unsuccessful. Howard and Mabel eventually reconcile and live with their children.****

It was first staged in New York in 1902, before going to London and went on to tour Australia where in 1911 it became a film under the same name.  Like its stage predecessor it proved very popular but sadly is one of those lost films.

Nor is that quite all. For the Princess’s Theatre, London also has a history.

It was on Oxford Street and opened in 1828 as the Queen’s Bazaar before adopting the name the Princess’s Theatre in 1836.

Over the next seventy years it specialized in operas, light entertainment and pantomimes and for a while staged Shakespeare productions by Charles Kean before concentrating on melodramas.

And it was our play, the Fatal Wedding which was the last ever to be acted out on its stage.
In 1902 it closed and became a warehouse before being demolished and replaced by a Woolworth store and has since been home to a number of big retail chains.

All of which leaves me to concede defeat with the most boring postcard, so I leave it open to suggestions and retire from the competition leaving Jean at present the winner.

Picture; from the series, “The Fatal Weeding from the Princess’s Theatre, London, Tuck & Sons Ltd, 1902, courtesy of Tuck DB,

*Tuck DB,

**Raphael Tuck and Sons Ltd,

*** Daniel S. Burt, The Chronology of American Literature: America's Literary Achievements from the Colonial Era to Modern Times, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004 p314 quoted in Theodore Kremer, Wikipedia,

**** The Fatal Wedding,

Friday, 29 July 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 14 Back Pool Fold

Now Back Pool Fold has already featured in the series, but I couldn't resist taking a walk down its twisty progress from Chapel Walks to Cross Street.

And until sometime in the early 19th century it ran hinto Pool Fold, hence its name as Back pool Fold.

Enough said.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Back Pool Fold, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Wishing you well ........... postcards from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham for the summer ..... nu 5 Greenwich Park

A short series with few words looking at the postcards we sent from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham.

Now I don’t think this scene of the park had changed over much between when it was sent to Miss L E Thompson of Shepherds Bush and when I played there a full half century and a bit later.

It is unclear whether “C S” lived in Greenwich.  He sent the card from west London just after midday in the August of 1902 and confined himself to the simple message “Isn’t it nice.”

Location; Greenwich Park

Picture; Greenwich Park circa 1902, Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB,

On Bennett Street in Ardwick, at St Benedict's sometime around 1900

Now I am intrigued by this picture post postcard not least because it was one of six showing the church from various angles.

We are on Bennett Street which ran off from Hyde Road and was a mix of houses shops and factories.  It was not unlike plenty of other streets in this part of the city.

At one end the street was crossed by the large railway viaduct of the London and North West Railway whose Manchester terminus was London Road, and a large part of the eastern side of the street was dominated by the engineering works of Galloway Ltd which made boilers and Atkinson and Co, mechanical engineers and the Garland Company which made forgings.

So during the day there would have been the noise of heavy industry coupled with the passing of countless trains and at night the clunk of goods wagons being shunted around the marshalling yards just a few minute’s walk away.

And into this place “in the midst of a dense artisan population” according to the Manchester Guardian, St Benedict’s was opened in 1880.*

It had been entirely funded by Mr. Alderman Bennett of whom more at a later date.

Now again at another date I think I shall explore the church in more detail but for today I shall just reflect on what was going on in our picture.

According to the reverse of the postcard, we are watching “A Parochial Procession.  

The Patronal Festival is observed on July 11, The Feast of the Translation of St Benedict.  

On the Sunday afternoon within the octave of the feast it is customary for the Congregation to make a procession of Witness and thanksgiving round the parish.”

And that is what our photographer captured sometime I guess around the beginning of the last century.

But as dense as the population had been in the 1880s a century later the clearance policy of the council and the demise of heavy industry meant that there were few left to worship in the place it finally closed in 2002, only to reopen three years later as the Manchester Climbing Centre.

*Manchester Guardian, March 22nd 1880.

Picture; A PAROCHIAL PROCESSIION from the series CHURCH OF ST. BENEDICT, ARDWICK, MANCHESTER, back ST. BENEDICT'S, MANCHESTER, marketed by Tuck & Sons, date unknown, courtesy of Tuck DB,

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 13 Old Bank Street

Now I know that Old Bank Street is not lost and has not been forgotten.

It is after all used by heaps of people every day taking the short cut from St Ann's Square up on to Cross Street.

But it's narrow, has been there a long time and so qualified.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Old Bank Street, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

A peacock, a plough and a very old picture ............. the photograph album from Hough End Hall

One of the peacocks, date unknown
Now I am back with a unique collection of photograpghs from a family picture album which I had thought lost.

It belonged to the Lomax family who had lived and farmed at Hough End Hall from the late 1840s till the death of Mrs Lomax in1940.

I say lost but to be strictly accurate I had no idea of its existence until recently and I wish I had come across it earlier when I was writing a book on the hall’s history.*

At the time I thought that there must be some family images of the Lomax family but all that had come down to us was one of the children dated at the turn of the last century and taken from some distance.

But now I have that album of pictures and as you would expect it is a mix of snaps, a few of the hall and gardens and a rare couple of the farm.

And what first caught my eye was the peacock which for a while at least was how the farm was known.

Ploughing on the farm, date unknown
There are still people who speak fondly of the peacocks but with the passage of time some have confused its location despite at least one painting carrying the name Peacock Farm.

I have to admit I never gave it much thought preferring instead to concentrate on the working side of the farm and the people who ran it.

And the album has offered up a wonderful image of the land being ploughed.  I don’t have a date but guess it will be from the early 20th century.

Mrs Lomax circa 1930s
By then the farm had shrunk from about 220 acres and by its end was just a little over three, but it was still a working business and in the 1930s Mrs Lomax was still advertising for farm hands.

She had been born in 1864 married Samuel Lomax in the March of 1888 and took up residence in the hall sometime in the early 20th century on the death of Mr Lomax’s uncle who had run the farm since the late 1840s.

And here is Mrs Lomax.

The picture dates from sometime after the late 1920s and was taken looking south.  Directly behind her is the recently cut Mauldeth Road West and the Corporation houses.

It is a picture I like very much for not only do we have a photograph of Mrs Lomax but also an indication of  just how much the farm has changed in a couple of decades.

As late as the 1890s looking south there were clear views across open land south to the Workhouse while a little to the west was Nell Farm, a nursery and the edge of the newly opened Southern Cemetery.

And that is what makes the family album so unique because the first pictures date from the last decade of the 19th century and span the years almost into the middle of the next century offering up a major contribution to the story of hall.**

The wonder is that they have survived and points up that simple observation that there is more out there than we ever suspect.

Pictures; the Lomax family album now in the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Hough End Hall The Story, Andrew Simpson & Peter Topping, 2015,

**Hough End Hall,

Wishing you well ........... postcards from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham for the summer ..... nu 4 The Royal Observatory

A short series with few words looking at the postcards we sent from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham.

Now as a kid I often took myself off to  Greenwich Park which for a 10 year old was full of adventures.  For a start there was that long walk up through the big ornate gates from the Heath and watching as that statue of General Wolfe got closer and closer.

And then as you reached its base, there below the summit was the Thames, the naval buildings and the museum.

I have to say the observatory played a minor role in the set of adventures that might take us off to the right hiding behind trees or just rolling down that slope.

Location; the Royal Observatory

Picture; the Royal Observatory  circa 1905, Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB,

A lost bridge across the Brook

Now I think it is time for a walk across the meadows in search of Mosley Bridge.

It was a small bridge over the Brook put up by Charles Walker and later washed away.  Charles Walker was the son of Thomas Walker, the radical, and lived at Longford Hall and the bridge connected his land on either side of the brook.

In the 1830s it was destroyed by a flood, and a new one was built where the brook joins the Mersey which makes it easy to find.  It’s there on the old tithe map of 1845 and looks to be roughly where the bridge is today.

But I am not sure that this is our bridge.  Over the last fifty years the banks and the land on either side of where the brook runs into the Mersey have been raised a number of times but from memory the masonry looks old.  And a bridge does show up on the right spot not only the tithe map of 1845 but on the earlier OS for 1841 and the later OS of 1888-93.

So far I have not come across any old photographs of the bridge but there is a painting made by J Montgomery in 1963 looking east along the line of the Brook.  Stand on that exact spot today and to the south there is a dense collection of bushes and small trees which were entirely missing when Montgomery recorded the scene.

But neither his or the modern view are how it was.  Back in the 1840s, to the south of the Brook on what was Charles Walker’s land were water meadows, while away to our left just beyond the field was Walker’s orchard.

Now before I take a walk down to the spot I should really ask my old botanist pal David Bishop whose knowledge of the place goes back to the 1970s and whose blog at is a wonderful collection of information about the land and the plant life along this stretch of the Mersey on the edge of our township.

Picture; Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, Junction of Gore Brook [Chorlton Brook] and the River Mersey, J Montgomery 1963, m80140

A wartime photograph

There is something about this photograph that draws you in.

This is John, Annie and Nora Garvey and we must be sometime near the end of the Great War.

Nora was born in 1915 so I think this must be 1917 or perhaps even 1918.

John by then will have been 30 and Annie 28.  They had been married at St Thomas’s in Pendleton and Annie had worked at one of the local cotton mills.

The photograph is one of those standard posed pictures that professional photographers went in for with studio props and often a backdrop.

But what makes this one all the more interesting are the poses and expressions on the faces of Annie and John.

He stares directly into the camera while she looks off to the left.

It may just be that Annie’s attention has been caught at the moment the picture was taken.  Perhaps the assistant dropped something.

Or this picture was one of a series and this was the one which was never meant to be released.

But photographs cost money and I doubt John and Annie wanted an also run in the collection.

So this picture was the one they chose and I can’t help feeling that while she looks a little distant he has an air of melancholy about him.

Of course we will never really know.  Nor at this stage can I say for certain when our picture was taken.

In time I hope we will know more about his military record, including where he served and which regiment that in turn might bring us closer to a date for the picture.

Pictures; Mr & Mrs Garvey and their daughter Nora, courtesy of Alan

HOE'S SAUCES .......... THE VERY BEST, reading the adverts in 1900 and discovering a bit more only this morning

Now here is a story that has just got to see the light of day again.

Back in December 2013 I posted this picture with the hope that one day “I can track down Hoe & Co Ltd, Manchester.”

Well it took a tad longer but here from Bill Sumner is the following, posted to the orginal this morning.

As the Corporation Gas Board used to say, “We always get there in the end.”

And so here thanks to Bill is the added bit of the story.

 “Hoes Sauce Factory was behind the Robin Hood Pub on the corner of Ryecroft Road and Urmston Lane.

The bus stop to Urmston was just beside the Office doors and waiting for a bus there you had to endure the overwhelming strong smell of vinegar.

The sauce was a dark fruity sauce not unlike H.P. 

The Company was taken over by Norco Pickles Middleton and the factory was demolished in the 70's/80s and is now the Robin Hood Car Park.”*

Picture; Hoe’s Sauces   from the series Celebrated Postcards, marketed by Tuck & Sons, date unknown, courtesy of Tuck DB,

* Bill Sumner

Jazz in the Square

More pictures of live music in St Anns's Square during the Manchester Jazz Festival.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Full festival line up:
Official festival playlist:

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 11 Dalton Entry

Now this is a bit of a cheat, because I have already written about this little alleyway which leads in a twisty way to Tasle Alley and Mulberry Street and the Hidden Gem.

But that won't stop me.

Location; Manchester

Picture; 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Revisiting the Great War how we see that war and how it was perceived in the past

I have never doubted the sacrifice made during the Great War.

It reached into almost every home and for many the legacy was the loss of a loved one and in some cases more than one and that sacrifice is there in the memorials for the fallen across the country.

They range from small plaques in quiet village churches to large brass polished lists of the men who fought in office buildings along with the more public monuments like stone crosses and our own Cenotaph.

There is as they say a certainty in that national sacrifice but what I continue to revisit are the causes of that war and the numerous differing interpretations of whether Britain should have joined a continental conflict in the August of 1914.

Now I belong to that generation whose view of the war was coloured by Joan Littlewoods’s Oh What a Lovely War and the fact that I grew up in the 1960s which to a young mind pretty much challenged all the conventional wisdoms.

That said as I have grown older I realize that every decade does exactly the same thing and the critical analysis of why we fought and the value of the war were being hotly debated soon after it was all over.

Now there is nothing wrong with that.  History is not set in stone, fresh discoveries, new scholarship and changing ideas mean that every event is open to reinterpretation which is what makes the study of the past both fun and rewarding.

I was brought up with that premises that here was a war of rival imperialisms where the growing antagonisms of the European Great Powers and Japan led to a costly arms race, the creation of two armed camps and the possibility that one or two of these countries fearful that they would lose superiority would strike first.

It sat alongside that even more simple interpretation that in an age when the vast armies of Continental Europe were moved by trains, the train timetable imposed a logic to events.

So that once the decision to move an army up to the border had been made this would have to be matched by others and in the war rooms and Cabinet offices even the suggestion that this might be about to happen called for the issue of mobilization orders.

It was and for me still is an attractive interpretation and took on more validity during the Cold War when the two super powers contemplated a nuclear exchange of weapons even using them as bargaining gambits while at the same time carrying on their conflict using smaller countries to fight proxy wars.

So here and I don’t claim it will always be over original will be few short posts on the mood of Manchester on that August of 1914 and on how that war was seen at various times during the conflict and since.

Tomorrow, Revisiting the Great War nu 1 ............ who spoke in favour?

Pictures; A fag after a fight, 1916, Daily Mail Official War Pictures, and Mother, Why Doesnt Daddy Come Home? date unknown, Bamforth & Co, Holmfirth, the Patriot Series nu 1888, from the collection of David Harrop

Wishing you well ........... postcards from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham for the summer ..... nu 3 Plumstead

A short series with few words looking at the postcards we sent from Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham.

Our card was sent from Charlton on Sunday August 3 in the last summer before the Great War to a Mrs Greensmith of 14 Greening Street Abbey Wood.  The sender left their name off the card, but they were pleased that “Mrs G” had sent some kind letters and were sorry that “you couldn’t get a trap they are spoken for.” 

Sill it had been “a lovely day” and there was an invitation for Mrs G to come down any tine.

Location; Plumstead, circa 1913,

Picture; Plumstead, circa 1913, Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB,

Miss Suzanne Sheldon and picture cards I would have collected in 1903

I have to confess that if I had been 15 in 1903 I would have been saving up to buy one of these picture postcards.

They come from a series variously marketed as Play Pictorial, and Celebrities of the stage, and serve to remind us that a fascination for celebrities is not new.

That said I suspect it would not have been Dane Leno or the other popular male actors and stars of the Music Hall that I would have collected.

No, it would have been the likes of Miss Suzanne Sheldon, Gertrude Elliot and perhaps Constance Collier, all of whom brightened the stage in the closing years of the 19th and opening decade of the 20th centuries.

Now as ever this picture of Miss Sheldon aged 28 is just a starting point which might take in the Great War, a Salt Lake City newspaper and what at present is a puzzle.

But first to Miss Sheldon who was born in 1875 in Vermont to a wealthy family, acted both here and in the States and was for a while married to the actor Henry Ainely.

And that at present is about it.  In 1911 she was living with Henry at 1 Grove End Road in Marylebone in a 9 roomed property and employed a cook and domestic servant and had only just got married.

Sadly little else has turned up except a newspaper article from the Deseret News for August 28th 1915.   

What makes this a bit of a puzzle is that the Deseret News was published in Salt Lake City in Utah, and among along local stories and the war news from Europe it  included  a piece on “NOTED ACTESS WORKING AMONG SLUM CHILDREN” in London, “Suzanne Sheldon American, Trying to Make Better Little Citizens Out of Tots in Squalid District, Reads Plays and Poems, to Boys and Girls Brigade [and] Shows them How to Improve Their Wretched Homes – Nurse to Wounded Soldiers.”

The article runs over several columns includes a reference to her accompanying a friend to the war zone and a report on how she tended to sick German soldiers having already done the same in Britain for British wounded servicemen.

It is an intriguing story but one that seems to have been lost and so far this is all there is.
She was just 40 when she was engaged in what the paper called her “war work” and only 49 when she died in 1924.

She was a well known actress who had acted with Ellen Terry and Henry Irving in many popular plays including If I were a King set in medieval France in which she played Hugnete.

The play was written by the Irish nationalist, Justin Huntly McCarthy who served as an M.P from 1884-92, haing first entered Parliament at a by-election when he was returned unopposed as the Home Rule League member for Athlone in Leinster.

All of which is a long way from a picture postcard from 1902, but interesting enough.

Picture; HUGNETTE, MISS SUSANNE SHELDON, TABARIE, MR. W.R. STAVELEY... TEASING HIM, from the series, PLAY PICTORIAL IF I WERE KING SERIES II, 1903, issued by Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB,

My Salford ........... nu 4 those cranes

Now I don’t claim that any of the following short series of pictures of Salford are magnificent photographs but I like them.

And I have chosen those cranes to start the short run.

They have gone now but they always fascinated me.  Seen in the right light and with a bit of imagination it was just possible to imagine them striding along.

Location; Salford

Picture; Salford cranes 2013 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester .......... nu 12 Chancellery Lane

Now I had wandered over to Spring Gardens to find Concert Lane and instead rediscovered this last bit of Chancellery Place most of which is broad enough but then narrows as it does a slight twist and opens up on Pall Mall.

Both of them are streets I have known for forty years and just rather took them for granted, but now I am wandering them all over again.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Chancellery Place, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

My Salford 7 a memorial

Now I don’t claim that any of the following short series of pictures of Salford are magnificent photographs but I like them.

Location; Salford

Picture; Salford 2008 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Hough End Hall in the 1950s

Now the thing about very old buildings is that usually we focus on that very old bit.

So it is with Hough End Hall built in 1596 and for a big chunk of its history the family home of the Mosley family.

Most of the accounts of the place concentrate on its Elizabethan design and the Mosley family and ignore the last two hundred years when it was a farm house and later still an office and restaurant.

But I am more interested in its time as the home of tenant farmers during the 19th century and then its uncertain time from the 1920s when it was under threat of demolition by road widening plans.

Today there is nothing much left and so I have decided to call on the memory of Oliver Bailey whose father took possession of the Hall and surrounding land at the beginning of the Second World War and worked it in conjunction with his farm at Park Brow.

Here and over the next few weeks are short accounts of what was once three and which I hope will set off more memories from other people.

"Looking at the front of the hall on the right hand side I remember a man called John Hallsworth had a blacksmith shop in the 1950s. 

He had been an iron worker with British Road Services and rented the smithy at Hough End from my father after he retired from BRS.

There was a wooden staircase up the wall of the hall inside the smithy itself. He he made a couple of gates for Park Brow Farm. 

Sam & Jack Priday, who were farriers with a smithy in Withington,  came round and used the forge to shoe my father’s Suffolk Punch horse. 

I remember walking beside him as he used a horse drawn single furrow plough in the field next to Mauldeth Roadd, probably late 1940s. 

At the rear right hand end there were various add-on outbuildings at the back, probably nineteenth century. 

One was a cottage and another a store of some sort that had fallen into disrepair .

The left wing of the Hall suffered severe structural damage which was perhaps caused by subsidence and had to be rebuilt in the 1950s by the Egerton Estate and I remember they used artificial stone lintels and cills for the mullioned windows. 

On the upper floor there was an old mangle that was basically a large box full of cobbles that rolled back and forth on rollers on the wooden base when it was worked by turning the handle.

 I think that ended up in Ordsall Hall, definitely went to Salford as Manchester had no interest."

© Oliver Bailey, June 2014

Pictures; Hough End Hall, 1952, m47850,the hall from the south east, 1952 m 47856 and the hall and duck pond, 1952, all by T Baddeley, m47859, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Next, a plan a riding school and the man who kept rabbits