Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A Victorian pillar box, the Portico Library and a story about the old Queen

I wonder how many letters Mr Ernest Marriot posted in this pillar box?

He was the secretary and librarian of “the Portico Library and Newsroom” which is in the building that includes our post box.

The Portico Library which still occupies the upper floor of the building dates back to 1806 and predates our pillar box by some decades.

The Library is an elegant place with an air of serious learning which makes it easy to slip back two and bit centuries to when it was opened offering its subscribers thousands of books as well as newspapers from across the country

If you do get that invitation or just take advantage of one of the special exhibitions you enter by a side door on Charlotte Street, ascend a few flights of stone stairs and the magic begins.

Alternatively there is always the pub which is now called The Bank, and before anyone expresses sadness at the change of use of part of the Library,  it is worth noting that the downstairs area which was the Reading Room was surrendered to a bank back in the 1920s and remained so until relatively recently.

All of which takes me back to the pillar box.

Peter and I were on the first of our research trips exploring the 79 pubs which will feature in the new book and having met Duncan who manages The Bank I asked Peter to turn the post box into a painting.

We debated whether to lose the stickers and scribble, but in the interests of historical accuracy I think we will keep them in.

At which point I am sure someone will mutter “we are not amused” given that this was one of the old Queen’s post boxes.

But that would be to repeat a much misunderstood quotation from Queen Victoria, who apparently used it in the context of a rather drunken oaf who was making unfunny and obscene jokes at the dinner table.

Now I have to confess I have never used the post box but rather think it is time to do so.  Peter tells me that he is minded to convert his painting into one of his picture postcards which I will then post to me from the box.

Daft maybe but fun.

Location; Manchester

Painting, postbox outside The Bank bar © 2016, Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 29 ............... the one with two names

Now I have never walked the entire length of West Mosley Street which starts at Princess Street, and ends at Marble Street.

If I did I would cross first Nicholas Street, then Charlotte Street and lastly York Street.

It was there by the 1790s but twenty years earlier the area was just open land.

It is one of the twisty little streets which originally began at Dickinson Street which ran along the north side of St Peter’s Church

Today both of church and most of Dickinson Street have now gone, although a short stretch of  the street does still exist from Portland Street into St Peter’s Square.

Sometime in the 20th century West Mosley Street acquired its present name, which before that was simply

Back Mosley Street.

Location; Manchester

Picture; West Mosley Street, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Edwin Norman Harland, born in Sidcup and emigrated to Canada and the case of Dr Crippen

The young Edwin
Now, I always find it a privilege when friends take the time to write for the blog and so I was especially pleased when Jean added another chapter in the story of her family.

Unlike my uncle, Harold Morris the milkman, whose whole life was, spent living a stone's throw away from the house in Welling where he was born; his uncle was to live out his life
in Canada, thousands of miles away.*

Edwin Norman Harland (a younger brother of Maud, Harold's mother) was born in Sidcup in 1882.

His great-grandfather, William Harland, had been a brickmaker working in places such as Loampit Hill, Lewisham, and Whitewall Creek, near Rochester, where he was to die in 1832 as one of England's first victims of cholera- leaving a widow and several young children to be cared for by his eldest son, also a brickmaker.

Making bricks circa 1870
One of these children, aged eight at the time of his father's death, was Richard Harland.

He struggled to make good and in time became a Master Brickmaker, founding his Camden Brickworks on Whitehorse Hill, Chislehurst, in the 1860s.

Edwin was named after his uncle, Edwin Harland, whose own brickworks (Harland Brothers) were in Sidcup, where Harland Avenue is today and where young Edwin's father, George, had worked until his early death at the age of 35.

Young Edwin had undoubtedly inherited his dark, good looks from his grandmother: Eleanor Cooper, Mrs Page.

Unusually for a Harland, Edwin was destined not to become a brickmaker.

It is not known when he chose to follow this different path, but by 1901, when aged 17, he had become a Railway Booking Clerk in Mottingham, close to Eltham where his widowed mother, Annie Page, had opened a baker's shop in what today is known as Footscray Road.

At the same time, 1901, a young Devon girl -Maud Mary Westcott- was working as a general servant to the Read family at No. 73 West Chislehurst Park, Eltham.

By now, Edwin was using not his first name but his second: Norman.

“Norman” and Maud were to marry in January 1905.  He was 22 and she was 24.

They were to have two sons: Lloyd George (born in 1906) and Ronald Norman (born in 1907).

Maud and Edwin, 1905
It would seem that by 1910 they may well have been having dreams of a better life for their sons, perhaps in Canada, with a land grant that would enable Norman to become a farmer working his own land.

In July 1910, another couple had plans for a new life in Canada.

They were an American physician Hawley Crippen and his lover, Ethel La Neve, who fled England after the circumstances of Dr Crippen's wife's death in London, gave cause for questioning.

Hawley and Ethel embarked for Canada at Antwerp, sailing on the SS Montrose; but they were recognised on board and, by means of the Montrose's wireless apparatus, the police were alerted and the couple arrested upon arrival.

This was the first time that Marconi’s wireless technology had been utilised at sea in this way, the couple's arrest making history. The value of wireless for life-saving purposes became so great that soon British ships of large size and carrying passengers were being equipped with the apparatus; and it was the summoning of vessels to the sinking Titanic in 1912 that brought home to the world the importance of wireless communication.

By 1914 nearly a thousand British merchant ships were using wireless. It was in that year that the Montrose was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands. With the outbreak of war, she had been sold to the Admiralty for use as a blockship at Dover, but she broke loose from her moorings during a gale, drifted out to sea and was lost.

By 1911, a year after Dr Crippen and his lover had fled from Antwerp in the Montrose,  Norman and Maud, with their two young sons (Lloyd aged 5 and Ronald aged 3) had made up their minds to seek a new life in Canada.  Joining the Montrose at Liverpool, they arrived safely at New Brunswick on 27 March.

The ship's log records show that their destination was Winnipeg, and that Norman's intention was to be a farm labourer.   Ten years later, Norman and his family were living in the municipality of North Star, in the district of North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

In Canada
Now aged 39, Norman's occupation was given as Farmer.  His two sons, Lloyd and Ronald, were now aged 15 and 13.

What happened next is best left to Carol, Norman's great-granddaughter....

Story © Jean Gammons

Pictures; from the collection of Carol Spencer, Edwin's great granddaughter

* The Harland Family,

Monday, 29 August 2016

The excursion on Liverpool Road that became an adventure

Now there is a very big difference between an adventure and an excursion.

An adventure is something which is pretty much unplanned, where almost anything can happen and usually does.

Lower Campfield Market, 2016
An excursion as my mum would say has to have a starting time, and end time; there must be a variety of sandwiches which have to include egg, ham and cheese to cater for everyone’s preferences and enough lemonade to plug the energy gaps.

Of course in an emergency Tizer will do but never Lucosade, that is what you have when you are ill and any way costs a shed load more money.

All of which meant that Peter and I were embarked on an excursion last Wednesday when we went in search of some Manchester Pubs.

For reasons unclear to me we didn’t have the sandwiches or the lemonade, but Peter had his camera and a tripod, his book of paintings of every one of the 79 pubs we plan to include in the book and I had my notepad.*

The Campfield, 1849
Not that I intend talking about the pubs, for that dear reader you will have to wait for the book due out around Christmas.

Instead it is the buildings we countered on our journey and the ones we didn’t.

Peter was keen to include this one of the Lower Campfield Market partly because it is now the bit of the Museum where all the aeroplanes are displayed, and because I told him that back in 1851 this had been a spot of open land beyond which was the church of St Matthews which occupied the spot between Liverpool Road and Tonman Street.

The church has gone now but on our walk up Liverpool Road I doubt we would have lingered long admiring the scene given that one report in 1853 drew attention to the unsanitary nature of Tonman Street.

In the absence of proper sanitation some at least of the residents had taken to dumping their excrement by the northern wall of the church on the Tonman side.  So extensive was the problem that the church authorities had been forced to erect planks above the wall fastened to the rails to prevent slippage.

And that I suppose was the moment that the excursion became an adventure and we went off to explore Tonman Street.

But the details of that adventure and more importantly what you might have also encountered back in 1849 I will leave to an earlier story.**

Painting, The Science & Industry Museum Manchester. Painting © 2016, Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,


Picture; detail of Campfield, in 1849, from the Manchester & Salford OS 1842049, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*A new book on Manchester Pubs,

**Walks I wish I could have taken, ...... up Liverpool Road towards Deansgate in the spring of 1849,

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Back in St Peter’s Square ................ Library Walk

Now I recently featured Library Walk in that series on lost and forgotten streets of Manchester and as I was passing through St Peter’s Square on Friday, I just had to snap the entrance.

The decision to close the walk at night proved controversial and I have yet to make up my mind.

Location, Manchester

Picture; in St Peter’s Square, Friday August 26, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 28 ............... two for one

Now I am coming to the end of the series, but I couldn’t close without offering up some of Richard’s pictures of more of the back streets of the city.

Like me he has been attracted to these often narrow places which long ago lost their residents and are pretty much now dominated by the backs of buildings and used as a short cut.

So here are the first two of a few.

No need for words I will just let Richard’s pictures, do the business adding his commentary.

The first “is this is beautiful almost untouched business front on Richmond Street behind Canal Street" and the second “Little Ancoats Street which is rather lovely in its own way too. 

Just near the old post office on Newton Street. Tiny little streets, very evocative of old city spacing.”

Which just leaves me to ponder on the bricked up cellar window in the second picture and what stories it might hold.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; from the collection of Richard Hector-Jones, 2016

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Waiting for a tram going through St Peter’s Square

Well that interruption to the tram services through St Peter’s Square seems to have lasted for ages.

But soon .......... in just a few days the trams will rumble past Central Ref again which for anyone who has had to terminate their journey at Deansgate Castlefield will be good news.

I was in the city yesterday and just had to take the picture on a spot which was free of metro traffic.

The Cross is back in place and the line will be open for business from Sunday.

Location; Manchester

Picture; looking towards St Peter’s Square, August 26, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Almost a century of cutting hair on Wilbraham Road with the Stevenson family

Now there will be plenty of people with fond memories of Stevenson’s the hairdressers.

It did the business of cutting, shampooing and much more from 432 Wilbraham Road from 1908 until almost the end of that century.

I remember it well as does Bob Jones who shared with me some of his wife’s photographs of when she worked there in the 1960s.*

And just last week leafing through an old souvenir book I came across this 1908 advert for the shop.

Nothing quite prepares you for how different shop fronts were more than a century ago.

It starts with that large ornate lamp at the entrance which carried Mr Stevenson’s name and I guess would have been lit by gas.

And from there your eye is drawn to the shop window which conforms to that simple marketing approach of fill every bit of space with something to sell which included everything from shampoo, to umbrellas and even wigs.

Now I have no idea just how much call there was for wigs back in 1908 but Mr Stevenson described himself as not only a “hairdresser” but also “a wig maker and fancy dealer.”

I have to confess that the term “fancy dealer” had me stumped but it describes someone who sold imitation jewellery and ornaments which in the context of the shop made perfect sense.

After all having had your hair done for that night out it made sense to buy something special to go with it, and no doubt Miss Emma Stevenson who assisted in “the sales department” could be relied on to offer up expert advice.

At 27 she was 15 years younger than her brother and may well joined the business when Mr Stevenson made the move from his shop on Barlow Moor Road which I think he opened in 1899.

Back then he employed two male hairdressers and seems to have made the move to Wilbraham Road sometime between 1903 and 1908.

Now in 1903 the row of shops from Albany down to Keppel Road had yet to be added on to the front of what had been a fine set of terraced of houses.

Such I suspect was the demand for more retail properties with the growing population that the owners of the terrace recognised the commercial advantages of the conversion.

And that has seemed to have been a sound decision.  For decades it was a prime place to do business, just yards from the railway station and almost directly opposite the post office.

So much so that the Stevenson family along with Burt’s the “gentleman’s outfitters” saw no reason to move and continued offering perms and ties to generations of Chorlton people.

At some point Mr and Mrs Stevenson moved out of the flat above the shop and settled on St Werburgh’s Road where Mr Stevenson died in 1936.

But as they say that’s another story.

Location; Chorlton, Manchester

Picture; advert forJ.R.Stevenson’s, 1908 from the Souvenir of the Grand Wesleyan Church Bazaar, 1908, courtesy of Philip Lloyd and three young stylists at Stevenson’s circa 1965, from the collection of Bob Jones.

*Stevenson's the hairdressers, cutting and styling from 1909 on Wilbraham Road,

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 27 ............ Royal Exchange arcade

Now I doubt that anyone using the arcade as a short cut from St Ann’s Square would agree that its either lost of forgotten, nor for that matter the shop keepers.

But for any one of my generation the arcade was always one of those ways you got to the underground shopping precinct which offered up a fascinating range of out lets, from a coffee emporium to the small but magic shop selling old model railway locomotives, and carriages.

And of course before that it was Boots the Chemist which you entered at street level and descended to the floors below.

I can’t remember when Boots gave way to the shopping precinct or for that matter when the precinct closed, although I know it in the case of the precinct it seemed a death by a thousand closures with businesses shutting down and nothing replacing them.

Since then I get a feeling that something is about to happen but never does.

So it's less a forgotten street and more a lost precinct.

Location; St Ann’s Square

Picture; Royal Exchange arcade, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

The young bride from 73 West Chislehurst Park, Eltham, living a new life with her family in the Canada of the 1900s

Now I am in reflective mood and have returned to stories of those who left Britain to start new lives in Canada and even further afield in Australia and New Zealand.

Maud and Edwin and the boys 1909
So here is the first of three from Carol Spencer some of whose family left south east England for the wide expanses of Canada just before the Great War.*

"Edwin Norman Harland along with his wife, Maude Mary Harland and two sons Lloyd and Ron set sail for Canada on the Montrose out of Liverpool, England.  They were heading for a better life in which free land was promised.

At that time to encourage settlers 160 acres of land was offered with a few conditions. First you must pay $10. Next a home must be built in the first year and 10 acres ploughed. Lastly you must live on the land for at least 6 months of the year for three years.

It really sounded so simple and easy to become a landowner!

Who could resist when owning land in Britain was almost an impossibility!

The family landed in St. John, New Brunswick in late March of 1912.  It was still winter in Canada.

They went to a restaurant for a meal and were really looking forward to it after the long voyage on the boat.

The restaurant served the best tea Maude had ever tasted and she asked the waitress what it was.

In Canada in 1912
Orange Pekoe became her tea of choice ever after.

The waitress was very friendly and struck up a conversation with them asking about their plans.  They were planning on heading west to Manitoba in hopes of finding work and possibly learning a little about Canadian life.

She gave them some excellent advice. The little boys, ages 3 and 5, were dressed in their best short pants and socks made of cotton.  She advised them to purchase long woollen underwear and heavier outer clothing otherwise they would freeze on their way west.  Clothing was upgraded and they were very grateful for the advice.

The train was boarded along with their settler’s effects which were few.  Maude did bring a few treasures with her.

A large brass bed warmer, which her great grandchildren always thought was a banjo minus the strings, a cut glass dish which was a wedding gift and her grandmothers  silver-plated bean pot.

They travelled by train for 3 days to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Once in Manitoba work was readily available on farms.  Edwin got work as a farmhand and Maude became the housekeeper and cook for two bachelor farmers.  Edwin got on well as there was someone there to instruct him.

Maude was on her own and had to learn to cook many things in a new way.  Things were not the same as in Britain.  Two items in particular caused many trials.  Yeast for bread was dry not the same as home.  It needed to be soaked to make yeast sponge before mixing into the flour.

This was unknown to Maude and several batches of bread were mixed and buried when they would not rise!! Only to later rise out of the ground when the sun warmed them sufficiently!!

Being a very proud, independent woman, she had difficult time asking for help.  Pies were another experience.  They were made from dried fruit and unless soaked beforehand, would not work.

After dismal failure of turning out hard shells with fruit rattling around inside Maude waited for an opportunity to watch and learn.  She had acquired a hired girl and told the girl she should go ahead and make the pies and Maude would prepare the vegetables.

Maude kept a sharp eye on the girl and discovered her mistake while saving her pride."

© Carol Spencer, 2013

Pictures; courtesy of Carol Spencer

*The Harland Family,

Rediscovering a bit of police history half a century ago

Now here is another of those books whose contents has passed into history.

The Eagle Book of Police and Detection, was published in 1960.

At the time I can remember thinking how modern most of what I was reading was but now with the passage of over half a century much of it looks as dated as those rattles carried by Peelers in the 1830s.

All of which offered up a fascinating hour or so of reading from the CID, and fight against crime on the Thames, to new the new technologies and methods of detection which were at the cutting edge of police work in the late 1950s.

Of course I am well aware that this book which was one of the Eagle collection will not be available to many people.

I long ago lost my copy and had to buy this one from Brian the Book on Beech Road in the 1980s and I doubt that many copies still exist.

So for those who will never come across a copy I shall just leave you with this image.

The caption reads “Old and new together in the City of London; a mounted officer of the exacting City Force with a walkie talkie apparatus.  City Force are distinguished by the brass on their helmets and the red stripes on their arm bands.”

For me the term walkie talkie is as familiar as the trolley bus and the telegram but for many they will be as remote as the horse drawn omnibus and the films of Tom Mix.

But then until last month I still had a clockwork mobile from the last century and a preference for the music of Glen Millar, all of which made my 1960 book on the Police a familiar friend.

Pictures; from Eagle Book of Police & Detection, 1960

*Eagle Book of Police & Detection, Richard Harrison, 1960

Friday, 26 August 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 26 ........... Little Nelson Street and a few secrets

Now the interested student of history and the visiting tourist will at some point fall on Little Nelson Street.

Little Nelson Street, 2016
It’s just yards from Angel Meadow and of course is dominated by the Charter Street Ragged School both of which have been explored extensively and by much better people than me.*

And any way as this is the story of those streets which have been forgotten or lost I will stick with Little Nelson Street, starting with Antony’s picture which captures perfectly the length and width of the street.

The open ground opposite the school was once home to six properties stretching from what was then Charter Street to Ashley Lane and also included the even narrower Holden Street and further eighteen houses some of which were back to back and most consisted of just two rooms.

Little Nelson Street, 1851
Added to this Holden Street also gave access to four enclosed courts.  Sadly so far none of the residents of any of these small streets have come to light.  They were unworthy of inclusion in the street directories and the census records for 1851 were so damaged that there is little to see.

Which is all the more galling given that underneath our building which was constructed in the 1860s was Bone Street with its six back to back homes.  It survived into the late 19th century but was lost when the Ragged school was extended in 1900.

Little Nelson Street, 1964
Its entrance will have been roughly where the two blue painted doors are positioned.  Judging by the maps it will have been even narrower than Little Nelson Street and I doubt that much air or light penetrated to lift the gloom.

Its neighbour Holden Street also fared no better.  First it lost its name becoming just an extension of Bone Street sometime after 1893 and disappearing completely along with all the properties running back from the south side of Little Nelson Street down to Mincing Street in the mid 20th century.

I can’t be sure when that happened by 1958 the spot was cleared and already a car park.

Houlden Street/Bone Street, on the right, 1964
We might still be lucky and come across some records of the area.

Only yesterday I was looking at the rate book entries for Charter Street in the 1850s as well as the census returns for the same streets comparing them with the returns for 1911.

All of which means that the secrets of Little Nelson Street, Bone Street and Holden Street will soone be revealed.

Location; Angel Meadow

Pictures; Little Nelson Street, 2016, from the collection of Antony Mills, and in 1964, Kay, 01391, 01389, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and Little Nelson Street in 1885 from Adshead’s map of Manchester, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Who remembers the Gorton Brook Hotel which became the Gorton Arms and has now gone?

Now you know you are of a certain age when more and more old and familiar pubs have shut up shop and in some cases are just holes in the ground.

What’s more there seem to be more of them with each year that passes.

That said I never visited the Gorton Arms which stood at the end of Clowes Street and didn’t even clock its demolition.

I am not sure when it changed its name from the Gorton Brook Hotel, but as the Gorton Brook it was there by 1894 and just a few decades later it was the home of the landlord Mr Henry W Woods.

In 1911 Mr and Mrs Woods shared the nine roomed pub with their two sons and two staff.  Both Henry Wood and his wife Emily came from London, and had moved around the country.  Their eldest son had been born in Northamptonshire and their youngest in Longsight.

Alice Hibbert who worked as a barmaid was from Clapham and their general servant Bertha Lowe was from West Gorton.

So, quite a mix of accents and backgrounds and no doubt each had stories to tell over the bar to those who wandered in for a pint and a chat.

As I said I never went in but must have passed the place during the time we lived on Butterworth Street which was off Grey Mare Lane.

I did go back recently which as they say is always a mistake.  Our block of flats had long gone, as had the SGB Scaffolding yard on Pottery Lane where I worked for six months along with the big engineering works opposite.

Moreover Pottery Lane itself seemed wider and busier than it was although it did seem a bit greener than it was in 1973.

So with all those changes I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the passing of the Gorton Arms.

And that just leaves me to point the interested to Pubs of Manchester which offers up a bit of its history along with some photographs to compliment Peter’s painting.*

Well almost the end because a few hours after the post was published Ron commented that, "it became the Gorton arms on the 1st March 1985 I know because I met my now wife there on the opening day I was a manager for the brewery and Julie was part of the bar staff there."

Location, Gorton

Painting; the Gorton Arms, © 2011 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,

Picture; the Gorton Book, 1971, m49676,courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*Pubs of Manchester,

Looking back on a century ............ Alive, Alive Oh! and Other Things That Matter...... one to read

Now here is a book I have enjoyed  reading and have startted all over again.  

It is Alive, Alive Oh! and Other Things That Matter by Diana Athill .*

It covers the years after the Second World War when Ms Athill was in her late 20s and challenges that widely held view that the late 1940s and early 50s were drab.

On the contrary they were an exciting period full of new possibilities but above all a time of peace after six years of a hard war.

And so reflecting on the twin celebrations of VE and VJ Day she writes that these were not just celebrations of victory but more of peace and the chance to get on with lives interrupted by the conflict.

My own parents rarely talked of the war but for them and for others of their generation however necessary they thought the war might have been it put their lives on hold.

Sylvia in Ashton under Lyne once confided that that six years had robbed her of her adolescence.

But the essay is about far more than just the war and ranges over the exciting new ideas in fashion, home design and leisure, culminating with one of the early package tours to Corfu with Club Mediterranean, taking in the brilliant sunlight, the scenery and the smells of fresh herbs and lemons.

All this would be a fascinating enough but she also focuses on the changing political climate which ushered in not only the National Health Service but saw Britain divest itself of many of its former colonies and attempt to redress the inequalities of the past.

These then were “lovely years to live through.”*

And that just leaves me with the dilemma........ do I put it on the Christmas wish list or go out and get it from the local bookshop today?

I could of course wait and listen to the remaining four programmes.

We shall see.

Picture; cover of Alive, Alive Oh! and Other Things That Matter, and VE Day celebrators in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, 1945 from the Lloyd Collection

* Alive, Alive Oh! and Other Things That Matter, Diana Athill, Granta £12.99

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 25 Ashley Lane ............. now even the name is lost

Now Richard’s picture of Aspin Lane as it runs under the railway viaduct is as atmospheric as you could get.

Aspin Lane, 2016
The wet stone setts, the lonely lane framed by that viaduct takes you back a century or more to another age when this bit of Angel Meadow was one of those places where “poverty busied itself.”

Like Richard I have spent many years wandering the streets around the old St Michael’s Rec and burial ground.  In my case it came after meeting the historian Jacqueline Roberts, reading her book on the area and using some of her material in classes I taught on working class housing in the 19th century.*

And it was she who first introduced me to the idea of using census material to engage students in exploring social history.  The unit focused on the streets around Irk Street, John Street and Back Ashley Lane in the 1851.

Ashley Lane, 1849
Here in just 16 houses lived 120 people, making their living from a variety of occupations from factory work, to cap makers, porters and that lowest of jobs, a brush maker.

Some like Mr and Mrs Shaw and their three children lived in the cellar of number 3 Back Irk Street, while round the corner at nu 3 John Street the eight members of the Riley family were squeezed into one of its two rooms.

So Richard’s photograph drew me in but as hard as I looked there was no Aspin Lane on the old maps, but that was simply because Aspin Lane was indeed Ashley Lane and an unknown photographer had got there before us and in 1910 took a picture from almost the same spot.

Ashley Lane, 1910
Location; Angel Meadow

Pictures; Aspin Lane, 2016 from the collection of Richard Hector- Jones, and in 1910, m00218, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,  and in 1849 from the OS for Manchester & Salford, 142-49, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Roberts, Jacqueline, Working Class Housing in Nineteenth-century Manchester: The Example of John Street, Irk Town, 1826-1936 1983

The Schools of High Lane ......... another from Tony Goulding

For over 140 years some of the young people of Chorlton-cum-Hardy (and beyond) have been educated at a wide variety of educational establishments along the length of High Lane. 
The New Art School

When walking, along High Lane, from the Edge Lane end towards Barlow Moor Road; the first such building observable was in what is now the Buddhist centre and “World Peace Café”, which also used to be the headquarters of a Road Transport Union.

It was in this building that the accomplished Manchester artist Thomas E. Mostyn (1) opened an art school in 1896.   (The glass roof of the studio is still clearly visible evidence of the building’s former use) This institution only had a fairly brief life before being taken over in  August, 1904 by Manchester Education Committee; immediately following the incorporation of Chorlton-cum-Hardy into the City of Manchester.

For 5 years it served as the area’s mixed municipal school, with places for 220 pupils. It closed in April, 1909, being replaced by the newly opened, purpose-built, Oswald Road School.

Chorlton Grammar School
Walking further down High Lane the next “educational establishment” reached was housed in Denbigh Villas at nos. 57&59. This was the site of Chorlton Grammar School which was operated by Charles Carey Dadley M.A. (2) from, 1896.

Initially only using no.59 as the school whilst living nearby at 2, Napier Road, he later expanded into no.57 which also became his residence. This school remained in use until 1930 with the retirement of Mr Dadley, and then aged 62. This may have been prompted by competition for pupils following the opening of the Education Committee’s Chorlton High School on Sandy Lane in, 1924. (This latter became a Grammar School in, 1952.)

Manchester Islamic High School for Girls
Neighbouring Mr. Dadley’s school was the convent school at 55, High Lane which was opened around the middle of the first decade of the 20th century and housed a congregation of Roman Catholic nuns belonging to the order of “The Sisters of the Christian Retreat”.

Besides operating a convent high school for girls these nuns also provided a head mistress and a number of teachers for the parish primary school a little way along High Lane.

After almost a century the nuns left in August, 1991; the building then taking on its present use as The Manchester Islamic High School for Girls.
Chorlton High School:

St Augustine's'St John's R.C School
The penultimate location on this walk through the history of education on this road is a building which merits inclusion on two fronts.

The buildings on the corner of Chequers (formerly Church) Road and High Lane functioned as a school of some sort for close on 100 years. Originally, from 1872 it housed Chorlton-cum-Hardy Commercial School renamed Chorlton High School two years later.

It was founded by Mr. Robert Davies (3) who appears to have made a success of being a school proprietor, as when he sold the building to the Roman Catholic diocese of Salford in 1897, he was able to retire comfortably to Southport.

From this date, for over 70 years this was the location of the parish primary school first known as St. Augustine’s.

High Lane Primitive Methodist Church briefly an annexe to St John's School
The final stop of this historical journey may well prove to be a surprise to many.

Further down High Lane still is this building now a centre for Buddhist Meditation which some will recall as the hall of the High Lane Primitive Methodist’s Church (Macpherson’s Memorial).

However for a very short interval, between the closure of the Methodist Church and the opening of St. John’s new school buildings on Chepstow Road, this building functioned as an annexe  of that school - in the words of a Max Boyce  song “I know ‘cos’ I was there”

1)Thomas Edwin Mostyn (1864-1930) was born in Liverpool but raised in Salford, and Harpurhey, Manchester.  He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and later studied Fine Art at a college in Manchester. His parents were Edwin and Elizabeth (née Jones). Thomas’s father was a lithographic artist and for a time Thomas worked in partnership with him at a premises on Granby Row. Mr T. E. Mostyn, a one-time president of the Manchester Academy, had a successful career as a painter with over 80 works still available in print. He left the Manchester area after 1904, and in the 1911 census he is settled in St. Marylebone, London. The record of Thomas’s death, on 22nd August, 1930 and other sources show that the family later moved to the Totnes / Torquay area of South Devon.
Whilst he was living in Chorlton-cum Hardy, Thomas and his wife, Florence (née Shaw) had their youngest child, Edna May, christened at St. Clements’s on 29th May, 1895. Also, in 1911 the census reveals that his father, brother, and half-sisters were residing in Chorlton-cum-Hardy; at 234, Oswald Road. Interestingly it indicates too, that following his first wife’s death in 1885 his father had re- married in 1888 the mother of Thomas Edwin’s new bride.

Playground of St John's
2) Claude Carey Dadley was born in Nottingham in 1868, where his father, Elijah, was a “chemist and druggist”. In 1898 Claude married in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire Elizabeth Greaves, a schoolmistress 12 years his senior. The couple had no offspring and following Elizabeth’s death in January, 1922 Claude re-married Lily Marguerite Sestier in Manchester Cathedral during September quarter of 1924. This lady’s death in May, 1930 perhaps further influenced Mr. Dadley’s decision to close his school.
Charles Dadley together with both his wives is buried in Southern Cemetery (Grave 0 377). Unfortunately although still discernible the memorial stone is in a somewhat dilapidated state.

3) Robert Davies was born in, 1843. His father, John, a tin-plate worker had married his mother, Amelia (née Fitzpatrick) at St. Mary’s Church, Parsonage Green, Manchester on 24th October, 1841. The family home in 1861 was in Copton Street, Hulme. Robert married Emily Sturges (of Harlaston, Staffordshire) at St. John’s, Manchester in the September quarter of 1868.Three successive census records show only one child of Robert and Emily, a son Samuel born in 1870.
Mr. Davies’s prosperity in his    retirement is indicated on the 1901 census return on which his widow (Robert died in June quarter of 1899) and journalist son, Samuel are able to employ three servants at their house; 5, Alexandra Road, Southport.

© Tony Goulding, 2016

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; courtesy of Tony Goulding

So just how does an archive near Manchester help explore the story of a British Home Child in Canada?

Now as many will know I have long been interested in the work of the Together Trust which as the Manchester & Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refugees has worked tirelessly on behalf of young people for nearly 150 years.

Archives at the Together Trust
I first came across the charity when I was starting to research British Home Children.

They began in 1870 here in Manchester providing shelter for destitute children from the twin cities, expanded into the provision of permanent homes which offered accommodation and training in an occupation, and briefly migrated young people to Canada.

Alongside these activities they were active in protecting the welfare of children both through the courts and through legislation.

Much of what I know about what they did has come from their archivist who maintains the Trust’s extensive archive and runs their excellent blog.*

Today’s article explores the relationship between archives and their place in a world dominated by the global nature of research.  Never before has it been so easy for a researcher in Canada to trawl the official records of this country, whether it is a census return, a street directory or a shed load of online maps.

But along side these huge advantages have come issues of confidentiality, and the practical pitfalls of interpreting what is on the page and relating it to the bigger picture.

All of which means there remains a job for an archivist, not only to act as custodian of the records but to assist in their transmission and explanation to the amateur historian .

So next week in London the annual conference Archives and Records Association (ARA) will assemble to explore many of the global issues of maintaining an archive.

And that is directly of importance to all of us struggling to discover the story of our own British Home Child.

Sadly I am not qualified to attend but I bet it will be both fun and instructive, which just leaves me to wait for a report back from our own archivist and suggest you follow the link to the blog.

Picture; resources at the Together Trust, courtesy of the Together Trust,

*Getting down and dusty, the Together Trust,

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 62 ............ a quiet place

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

Events in a story ...........1996
I have often wondered how Joe and Mary Ann lived in the house during their half century here.

It is after all a big place and there must have been times when some rooms just never got used, and when their conversation echoed through those empty spaces.

I say that because I am reflecting on the passage of time with our own kids.

Three have left to set up their own homes and while our Ben is just down the road, Josh is in Sheffield and Saul in Warsaw which just leaves Luca who really just has a reservation on his bed which he uses once or twice a week.

Now that is perfectly normal and is after all exactly what I and most of my friends did.

We left home arrived in a new city with a shedful of bravado and optimism, vaguely committed to a degree and study but really just relishing being away from home.

.......... 1974
I never gave much thought to how my parents thought about the move or the empty bedroom I left behind.

And that again is just as it should be.
All of ours are making their own lives but come back for Christmas, which still involves the Christmas Day kick about on the Rec and regularly stop over for the odd weekend.

But they have left and the house is a quieter place.

Long ago I swore I would never wander the rooms looking for a piece of dirty and discarded clothing to wash as a way of justifying my existence and that has pretty much worked.

In the space which was about caring for them I spend researching, and  writing.

............. 1956
And things go on as they have done for the forty years I have lived here.

Each room is full of memories, from the birth of our Saul in the big bedroom to the time the dining room was the play room and back beyond that when I shared the house with Mike John and Lois.

There was the time when there was no heating in the house save a gas fire, and the arguments revolved around whose turn it would be to face the cold and make the coffee.

And somewhere in the dining room there are still the holes John drilled in the floorboards when he was bending timbers of wood for the boat he built in the back garden along with the model paint that the kids spilt while making their War Hammer models.

And of course there are the photographs of parties, Christmas events including the boat turning celebration, and the night Mike lost his socks after a particularly long session in the Trevor.

But none of all these memories intrude, instead they sit beside each other adding to the general history of the house.

Sadly what are missing  are the photographs of Joe and Mary Ann and the house as it looked from the time they moved in 1915 till Mary Ann’s death in 1974.

............... 1977
Bits of their story and the big events that went on around them have come to light and have been reflected in the sixty-two stories which I have written about the house since the first in December 2011.

I remember in that first story pondering on how all of us are custodians of the place we live and it matters little if that place is Blenheim Palace or a post war prefab.

And I concluded, I would “write about our house. [which] was built a hundred years ago, and has had only four custodians, of which we are the only ones to have had children here. 

........... 2008
More than that this is the only home our eldest three have known and it was where one of them was born. 

It is also a place where countless friends have come and stayed before moving on, seen Christmas parties, a boat turning event in the back garden, and a succession of decorating fashions.

So over the next few months I want to tell the story of this one house set against the bigger picture of what was going on here in Chorlton and the national backdrop.”

Well those months stretched across five years and I am not sure whether this is the last.

We shall see.

Pictures; the eldest three, circa 1996 and the dining room in 2008 from the collection of Andrew Simpson,the advert for Birds Eye Foods, from Woman’s Own, January 12 1956, and the house in 1974 and 1977 courtesy of Lois Elsden

*The story of a house,

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester nu 24 Barton Square .......... all in a name change or two

Barton Square, 2016
Barton Square is that narrow little street that runs from Exchange Street round to St Ann Street and is dominated by Barton Arcade that 19th century shopping mall more glass than wall.

I use it quite a lot and I always let my imagination wander as I follow its twisty route but until recently I had never given much thought to its name.

Barton is obvious given the arcade, but square seemed a little odd, after all this is a street. 

I supposed there might be a connection with St Ann's Square but that seemed remote and the more I thought about it even Barton threw up a puzzle given that the arcade was built in 1870 and the street is there a century before.

So as you do I went looking at the old maps of the area and the story is as complicated as you could expect.

In the 1840s and 50s that first stretch leading to the arcade was Red Lion Street which extended  under what is now the arcade just stopping short of Deansgate with four little side streets around a small square called Barton’s Buildings.  These were accessed via an entry.

Red Lion Street & Back Square, 1851
And that almost offered up the answer, but not quite, because the rest of what we now know as Barton Square had undergone a number of name changes, from Back Square in the first half of the 19th century to Back St Ann’s Square in 1793.

So mystery solved, and with a bit more digging it should be possible using the directories to pinpoint the date it all became Barton Square which it was by 1900.

Leaving me only to record that in 1851 Red Lion was occupied by mix of professional occupation including an accountant, commission agent, stockbroker and consulting engineer while Back Square was full of small manufacturing businesses.

As for Barton's buildings these belonged to a Mr Barton and consisted of four warehouses and an office with a joint annual rental income of £305 which were occupied by George and Edward Wood who dealt in cotton and cotton waste and and Tobler Anschelf & Co listed as merchants.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Barton Square, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and in 1851, from Adshead’s map of Manchester, and in 1900 from Goad's Fire Insurance maps, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Down a coal mine in the January of 1952

I have only ever been down a coal mine once.

It was the summer of 1972 and my future father in law who was the Chief Mechanical Engineer at Seaham Colliery made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Although a long way down, out under the North Sea and crawling through old tunnels to the coal face I was unconvinced that this had been a good idea.

But all their family were miners and even if I had chosen teaching as a career I just knew this was one decision that had already been made for me.

I survived and if truth were known rather enjoyed it, which I suspect would not have been the case if this was what I did every working day.

It is a memory that had long since been buried with the marriage and Seaham Colliery which along which closed in 1994.

But it resurfaced when I came across one of my old Eagle comics from 1952, which featured “a modern British coal mine.”

The article was one of those wonderful cut away drawings popular since the 1930s.

It could have been a ship, an aircraft, a motor car or in this case a coal mine.

The insides were laid bare and important features numbered and referenced back to an explanatory panel.

They were popular at the time capturing as they did an interest in all things technical.

Now of course they are a useful source of information about how the world worked back in the 1950s and 60s.

Picture; from the Eagle, January 11, 1952 from the collection of Andrew Simpson