Wednesday, 30 November 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 68, ...... the hot water bottle, the alarm and a bit more on Joe and Mary Ann

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.*

The house in 1974
Now I have no doubt that Joe and Mary Ann would have used a hot water bottle.

They were and are a very cheap and effective way of warming the bed on one of those cold winter nights.

We still use them and have done so since the kids were little.

Even now when they stay over and especially when they have gone out on the town for the night I will fill the bottles and slip them in under the sheets.

It is something dad did in Well Hall Road over sixty years ago and remains a natural thing to do.

And as you would expect there is an art to it.

The water must be just off boiling, having been left for a few minutes, and you must never fill them to the brim.  Instead there should be a space and above all that space should be purged of air.

That way the bottle will allow you to manipulate it around your feet more easily and it has to be placed in the bed at least half an hour before you go up.

The other end of the terrace in 1958
All of which would have been familiar to Joe and Mary Ann, who lived in the house when the only heating were open fires which were rarely lit in the bedrooms.

Less familiar to them would have been the house alarm.

We installed it over thirty years ago and knowing a little about Joe I suspect he would have had one added when the house was built if the technology had been in existence back in 1915.

Ours was put in by Ian Henderson who I have known for something like 35 years and it was while talking to him yesterday as he serviced the system that I learnt a little bit more Joe and Mary Ann.**

I know the bare biographical details and there are plenty of people who still remember them but both died a long time ago and have left little of a trail to follow.

From Ian I have a bit of a physical description and more stories of their love of animals.

That love of animals led them to leave the house to the PDSA on Mary Ann’s death in 1974 and more than a few people have asked about the dead pets they buried in the garden which I can testify to on the rare occasion I have done the gardening.

Looking down Neale Road, 1958
But Ian may have the odd old rent book from when his family lived on Neal Road and other bits and pieces.I had always thought that most of the properties on Neile along with Provis had been built by Mr Scott for rent.

As such they were according to Ian always painted green but when his mum bought the house it was from the estate of a Miss Wilton which is intriguing.

Now the Wlton family go back to the early 19th century in Chorlton but the last I thought had died out in the 1890s.

Nor is that all because Neale was also the name of the butcher on Wilbraham Road who Joe was friendly with.

There may also be more because Ian’s grandfather worked for Joe and who knows somewhere in the family collection may be a picture of Old Mr Henderson standing beside Joe Scott, now that would be a find.

Pictures; that demand, 2016, and the house in 1974 courtesy of Lois Elsden, 3-51 Beech Road, built by Joe Scott’s father, m17663, taken in November 1958 by R.E. Stanley and Neale Road with some of Joe Scott’s houses in the distance, 1958 R.E. Stanley, m18135,, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*The story of house,

**HBA Alarms.Co.UK,

Mr George Dansie of Barforth Road Peckham Rye ......... currently residing in Manchester

Now yesterday I came across one of those fascinating links that connected my current city of Manchester with where I grew up in Peckham on Lausanne Road.

George writes home, 1917
And the connection was a Mr George Dansie of Barforth Road Peckham and a picture postcard he sent from Manchester in the November of 1917.

The card was of the Manchester YMCA in Piccadilly which was a temporary wooden building erected in the grounds of what had once been a hospital.*

It was also known as the Khaki Club and although meant for soldiers recuperating from wounds and shell shock was open to any servicemen and became a popular club.

I have yet to find out what Mr Dansie was doing in Manchester but given that he had been born in 1890 it is more than likely that he was stationed in the city.

There are a few men with his name in the military record and one in particular who was in the Royal Army Service Corps could be him.

The Manchester YMCA, 1917
Sadly George doesn’t give too much away in his message home.

He writes that he “will be writing a letter to you tomorrow” and that he had been to two theatres last week and was planning to visit another.

But what caught my eye was a sentence he added as an afterthought and squeezed into the top of the card where he wrote that the Manchester YMCA “is very like the Camberwell hut.”

And that took me on a journey which ended with the Camberwell hut or at least a painting of the building.

The Camberwell YMCA, 1917
The picture is in the collection of the Southwark Local History Library and Archive and according to the background notes was painted in 1917 by "the artist Russell Reeve who was born in Norfolk and lived in Hampstead. 
He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal Academy of Art. 

In 1916 permission was granted for the building of a YMCA hut on Camberwell Green for the use of passing troops."

The Camberwell building is not unlike its Manchester companion and leaves me wondering what its fate might have been.

Interior of the Manchester YMCA, 1917
I don’t remember it but then we left Peckham for Eltham in 1964.

The Manchester YMCA was demolished sometime around 1920 when the site was turned into a public park.

So the hunt is now on to discover more of the history of the “Camberwell hut.”

Location; Manchester, Peckham and Camberwell

Pictures; YMCA Hut on Camberwell Green, 1917 Russell Reeve, GA0325, courtesy of Southwark Local History Library and Archive, the Manchester YMCA postcard from the collection of David Harrop and the picture of the interior from the collection of Bill Sumner

* Piccadilly Gardens ....... the early years nu 1 The YMCA Hostel 1917,

** Southwark Local History Library and Archive 

A pint in the Racecourse Hotel at Kersal before blowing it on the 3.20

Now this is one of the stories I am going to pretty much leave at the pictures.

We are on Littleton Road, Lower Kersal and Andy Robertson had taken himself off down there yesterday.

And this is the Racecourse Hotel which “was built in 1930 to attract the race goers” and I bet there will be a fair few stories of afternoons in the place which effortlessly slid into a night time session.

It is not a pub I ever went in but I recognise the size and style which came to dominate that new wave of pub building in the 1920s and 30s.

They were big, often very impressive looking buildings and built with the motor car in mind.

So what a half century ago might have been a stables and yard now became a car park.

And often they were created in the new estates and out on the bigger roads on the edge of the countryside.

So all memories of the Racecourse Hotel would be most welcome.

Location Salford

Pictures; the Racecourse Hotel, 2016 from Andy Robertson’s Salford collection

On trams David has seen .............. Manchester tram number 3118

Now there will be those who collect stamps and others who have spent a lifetime on the edge of railway station platforms jotting down the numbers of passing locomotives.

Recently I even encountered a group of four middle aged men at Oxford Road animatedly discussing just where was the best spot on the Sunderland to Newcastle line to observe passing rail traffic.

To these I can add my old friend David Harrop who is two off collecting the entire set of tram numbers for the Manchester Metro fleet.

He tells me “that so far they run from 3001 to 3120 and I have just seen my last tram 3118 in Oldham.”

And not content with that he also supplied me with a picture of an Oldham tram about to arrive at Market Street.

All of which took me off on one.  I pondered whether to reflect on the hobby of collecting “things” or instead to explore some of the different trams I have come to know.

I am too young to remember the old stately ones which graced our streets during the early 20th century having been born in the year the last Manchester tram completed its last trip, although I was taken to see the last LCC tram complete its final journey into the New Cross depot in 1952.

So I have to be content with that new generation of trams.

And of these pride of place has to go to our own yellow ones.

But I won’t be sniffy, and must mention the Sheffield ones who according to our Josh and my friend Patricia have a “clippy.”

Now I bet David didn’t know that.

Although he cleared up my confusion over the letters  A and some a B which appear after the number and just "indicate the tram end."

So I an now in the market for pictures of Sheffield trams and pretty much anywhere else.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; tram 3105 at Exchange Square, and 3069 in St Peters Square, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson and tram 3064 coming into Market Street, 2016 courtesy of David Harrop

Remembering Byrom Street in Manchester in the 1950s

Byrom Street, 1944
It is easy to over romanticise life in the narrow streets of places like Castlefield, Hulme and Ancoats in the middle decades of the last century.

There was certainly a sense of community and a willingness to stand by each other, but that can’t really compensate for homes which long ago had passed the test of decent places to live, areas dominated by noisy factories and the smell of all sorts of industrial workshops and where there was very little in the way of open spaces, grass and flowers.

Many of us are aware of the awful conditions of parts of Manchester in the 19th century but pass over those middle decades of the following century.

Not only were many of the worst properties still standing but the war had put on hold the slum clearance plans as well as actually creating a housing shortage.

So today I want to concentrate on the memories of Lisa’s mum who was born in 1946 and grew up in Byrom Street just behind Deansgate.

Today it is a mix of new inner city living, and swish office blocks.

Some of the first new residential properties were built at the southern end of Byrom Street in the 1970s soon after the courts and alleys filled with houses from the late 18th and early 19th centuries had been cleared away.

The more elegant town houses of John Street and part of Byrom Street have now all become offices and exist beside new commercial properties which have gone up at the beginning of this century.

Byrom Street, 1965
But back in the 1940s and into the 60s this was still a residential area and even after the families moved out little really changed till the developments of a decade ago.

“My mother was one of 14 children. Mum was born at St Mary’s hospital on 15th November 1948, making her their 9th child.

The family lived in the middle of 3, 3 storey houses on Bryon Street overlooking where the playground once stood on St John’s gardens.

My grandparents lost their first born, a son named Joseph when he fell into the canal close to their home. The child was just 3 years old at the time.

He couldn't be saved as his leg became trapped in some discarded machinery which had earlier been thrown in. My grandma worked as a live out housekeeper for a doctor’s family on St John’s Street & my grandfather worked on the railway.

My mum attended Atherton Street School with some of her siblings whilst the others attended St Marys School.

Life was a struggle so Wood Street mission would invite the family to their Christmas parties where mum & her siblings got a gift from Santa.

My grandfather did like a drink & spent many hours in a pub called the Ox* which I think may still be there.

Byrom Street, 1947
The family had to move around 1957 when the houses were being pulled down.

Mum said they topped & tailed with 4-6 sleeping in each double bed with my grandparent’s coats as covers. 

The fire would only be in use once my grandfather was home and he was always given the best foods. 

However he did protect each of the children & wouldn't let anyone say a wrong word against them.”

*The Ox was the Oxnoble pub named after the Oxnoble potato which was landed at Potato Wharf close by

Pictures; Byrom Street in 1944, City Engineers Department, m78877, Byrom Street, left hand side, 1965 J Ryder, m00691, and Byrom Street, early Victorian shops, 1947 T Baddeley, m00659, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The lost houses of Princess Street begin to reveal their secrets

Now you won’t find these two properties.

Brook Street as was
Once and for a very long time  they stood with a collection of similar buildings just down from Charles Street on Princess Street.

They vanished sometime between May 2011 and September 2012 and all that remains is the outline of the roof on the neighbouring building and a fine view across the vacant space to the skyline of Oxford Road.

They were so much a part of the landscape that like many I took them for granted and gave little thought about their history.

If pushed I suppose I did wonder about the people who might have lived in them.

The rear of Brook Street
But at a time when access to rate books, census returns and old maps was more difficult the chances of personalising these properties was beyond me but all things change and today it  is much easier  explore a street or a house and so it is with these.

They will postdate 1819 and were well established when the surveyors of the Manchester and Salford OS map completed their task in 1849.

Two years later Slater’s directory recorded the residents of the row and Mr Adshead featured them on his colour map.

All of which means  I can confirm that along the stretch there were a motley collection of businesses and householders, from James Carruthers beer retailer and Lydia Dodson, tobacconist to Edward Hooper of the Medlock Inn.

In total there were twelve buildings running down to the Brook Street Bridge from Charles Street which neatly brings me to the fact that back in 1851 the bridge and our houses stood on Brook Street rather than Princess Street.

Brook Street, 1851
At which point I could have gone off and explored the rate books where the details of Mr Carruthers beer shop are listed but instead I will just reflect on just how much easier it is today to research properties like these.

Starting with the maps and then the directories it is possible to locate an individual householder, and armed with a name find them on the rate books and census returns.

The rate books will tell you not only the rateable value and the annual rent but whether the householder was a tenant or the owner along with what the building was used for.

And the name will also offer up the possibilities of finding them on the census return which will reveal their occupation, date of birth and their family.

That said the census return for Mr Carruthers has been badly damaged, but I travel in hope that some of the others on the stretch will come to light.

The rear after the demolition, 2014
We shall see.

For now I have Ray Ogden to to thank for finding the two images and Mike Peel who gave permission to use what are two of his photographs.

And in\turn a thank you to Nick Rusthon who took this picture of the rear of the two houses after they had been demolished.

I like the detail of the original stone work with the brick of the two houses above.

Detail of the rear wall

I am guessing that the stonework will predate the properties.

The small aperture in the brickwork might suggest that the building had cellars which were common enough but now I am not sure given the height from the stonework to the street level.

But then I am no experts so I shall leave it to others to make a judgement

Location; Manchester

Picture; Princess Street, date unknown, courtesy of Mike Peel,  (    under CC BY-SA 4.0 (  rear of the properties from the collection of Nick Rushton, 2014, and map of the area, from Adheads map of Manchester 1851, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Down at Eltham Palace in the summer of 1958

Now I am back at Eltham Palace, a place that first captured my imagination back in 1964 and continues to do so.*

This is the cover to the 1958 Ministry of Works Official Guide-book price One Shilling.

It runs to just 14 pages with four photographs and a map, and of course is a little bit of history in its own right.

When I first wandered around the Hall I don’t think what I saw would have been so different from what the guidebook described.

Now fifty-six years on I am not so sure.  It has been a long time since I have been there and the Army Education Institute have long gone.

So for no particular reason other than I have the book, here are some of the pictures from that guide and the fun will be deciding if anything you see has changed.

Great Hall from the south, 1958

I can still remember standing under that great timber roof in the hall.

Since then I have come across pictures of the hall from the 18th century when it was used for cattle.

And read about the painstaking work of restoration undertaken in the 1930s.

So I know that next time I am back in Eltham I shall make every attempt to visit the Palace although even here times have moved on.

Roof of the Great Hall, 1958
Back in 1958 the Great Hall was open only on Thursdays ans Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during May to October, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November to April and admission was free.

Today it will cost you £10.20 if you an adult, £6.10 if you are under 15 but it will be open Sunday to Thursday 10 till 5 in the afternoon.

Pictures; from Eltham Palace, Kent, Ministry of Works, 1958

The first Christmas card of November

Now if like me you are old enough to remember those letters to the Times on hearing the first cuckoo of spring, here is another.

In this case it’s the first greetings card for Christmas.

A first in that  we are still only in November and also because it is the earliest David has shown me from his collection.

It is dates from December 1916 and although I know he has much older ones this is still a first for me.

Somewhere in the collection I have some Victorian ones and perhaps it’s time for them to see the light of day.

David tells me this one was also a a Valentine's mailing novelty card so a double first.

And that is it.

I shall   leave you with this one, and no I don’t feel that I have brought Christmas in too early given our local supermarket has had advent calendars for a month and the first TV advert for the season aired sometime ago.

All I will say is that David continues to amaze me with the extent of his collection of memorabilia from the two world wars along with that of postal history.

Still that’s it for now.

Picture; Christmas card 1916, from the collection of David Harrop 

On Blackfriars Street in 1894

We are on Blackfriars Street sometime at the beginning of April 1894.

Now I can be pretty certain of that because our old friend Samuel L Coulthurst wrote the location on the picture and the dates on the adverts place it just before April 7.

It is that classic image most of have of a northern city.

One of the women wears a shawl; another is in one of those long dresses with a white apron while the men all wear the distinctive hats of the period or the equally characteristic flat cap.

It is a period when the young still dressed like their elders and so in the centre is a youngster who looks just like a cut down version of the men around him.

And it is all in the detail, from the enamel jug held by one woman to the slightly dirty hands of one the men.

I would love to know what is going on, for while the woman in the shawl looks directly at Mr Coulthurst, the attention of the rest has been caught by something we cannot see.

The clue may be the half obscured man facing us who at pinch might be singing or addressing the crowd.

It may be a fancy on my part but there is just a hint that the woman with the shawl and jug looks a tad apprehensive, but I might be wrong.

The original notes accompanying the photograph may help but sadly I don’t have access to them.

They appear to have been quite detailed including a description, catalogue number and the photographer’s name.

And the image formed part of a wider collection which had been commissioned by the Manchester Amateur Photographic Society which under took the first photographic survey of Manchester and Salford between 1892-1901.

So our Blackfriars picture is one of these.

But even given the absence of those notes there is much that the photograph offers up.

On the wall there are countless adverts which take us back into Manchester and Salford of the 1890s.

Alderman Dickins who features on the Sale of Works ad for April 6 & 7 was a prominent Conservative politician on the city council who in 1894 was in his mid 50s and described himself as a cotton merchant.

Croxton Park Races was an annual event which drew large crowds.

They were held near the village of Waltham of the Wolds which is in Leicestershire and is another example of the degree to which Victorian past times had long since extended beyond local boundaries.

It appears to have begun in 1821 and lasted till 1914.*

That said I doubt that any of our crowd would have made that journey.
And for now I will leave them watching the event captured by Mr Coulthurst.

There is more here, like the location of the grand house at OLD TRAFFORD,   SOLD FOR AUCTION and what looks to be the announcement of an election.

But they will wait for another time.

Picture; Blackfriars Street, 1894, Samuel L Coulthurst, m 80496, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*Croxton Races: pre 1881, Waltham on the Wold,

Monday, 28 November 2016

An unfamiliar photograph and a lost cottage

Sometimes you come across a picture which you know has rarely seen the light of day and yet must at one time have been familiar to everyone in the township. 

It’s of the parish church looking north from the meadows.

To our right is the back of the old Bowling Green Hotel and in the distance framed between the church and the large house is the barn of the Higginbotham’s who lived on the green and had farmed here since the 1840s.

It is a pleasant enough rural scene but has undergone some alteration.

To the right of the large brick house stood a one up one down cottage which had become run down.

Someone and I guess it was the company who issued the postcard had painted it out by extending the bushes and trees behind the pile of bricks.

The building can just be made out in a monochrome copy of the same photograph dated sometime in the 1890s and originally owned by a May Boardman.

Our postcard issued by H.Burt of Chorlton was sent in the May of 1906.

Picture; from  the collection of Rita Bishop

On Market Street a century and a bit ago

Now I can't be remember when the first photograph was taken but it wull be sometime at the beginning of the last century.

I did research the picture in detail and looked through the directories to match the shop names with a year, but I am being lazy and haven't gone looking for the notes.

So instead  I will leave you with a bit of Market Street today as it looked on a very wet day just a month before Christmas, 2016.

And the rest as they say is for you to spot and compare

There are no prizes for just how many interesting and different things separate the two.

Picture; Maarket Street circa 1900,from the collection of Rita Bishop, courtesy of David Bishop and In 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simosom

Bits of Salford I like ........... nu 2

The picture says it all.

Location; around the Lowry

Picture; Salford, 2015 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Flags of the World, a little bit of our history

Now you can be very stuffy about history.  

At least one of my history teachers dismissed everything that had happened after 1914 and more recently my use of online historical sources was ridiculed as not serious research.

So with that in mind here is a little bit of history delivered through a collection of bubble gum cards, issued in the 1950s which I collected avidly.

They were the Flags of the World and came in waxed envelopes with a thin sheet of pink bubble gum.

For weeks after you purchased the cards they retained that faint sweet smell.

Looking back I hate to think what the gum did to my teeth or my insides.

But the cards were one of those crazes which took over me and my friends.

You bought them from the local sweet shop for waht I guess as a penny a time.

There were the serious collectors who kept their collections in immaculate condition and then there were those who used them to play card games.

I hovered between the two.

The game was simple enough, two cards were rested against a wall and the idea was to flick cards to knock them down.

The one who was successful got to collect all those that had been flicked but which had failed to deliver the knock down blow.

You could use any picture cards.  Back before the way these would have been the cards given away with cigarettes, but by the time I was growing up the “fag card” had been superseded by those that came in packets of tea.

So the tobacco smelling cards and given way to those smelling of tea and with Flags of the World came that aroma of bubble gum.

Now the Flags of the World were much favoured for the game because they were bigger and easier to flick and easier to knock down.

For most of my friends that was about it.  The flag itself and the facts that were contained on the back about each country were pretty much ignored.

And that was a pity because contained on the back of each card were facts like the Capital city, the population. Type of government, money unit and language.

Nor was that all because assuming that one day you might visit the Soviet Union. Israel or Italy there was the section How They Say.

This gave you four words which were seldom the same from card to card and offered up the translation.

So card number 26 which was Great Britain had the words Policeman, Movies, Candy and Terrific for which the translations ran BOOBY, CINMEA, SWEETS, and TOP-HO.

All of which is odd enough but places when for Italy the words were Hello, BON-JAW-NAY, Friend, AH-ME-GO, Goodbye AREEV-VEH-DEH-CHAY, and Thanks, GRATS-SEE-AH.

The cards were produced in the USA and so distances were calculated in air miles from New York.

All of which gives the cards a wonderful entree into the world of the 1950s when ait r travel which was still a distance experience for most of us was never the less becoming a more common form of global transport than the oceans.

And then there are those simple history lessons which come from flags which have long since vanished as the governmental system they represented have passed into history.

The USSR and all those east European communist states have gone as has that imperialist concoction known as Indo China along with the old Republic of South Africa and many more.

But despite all the uncertainties of the period the manufactures concluded the series with the flag of the United Nations which I always thought a nice touch.

That said I never remember coming across the blue flag of the U.N, for some of the cards were always more difficult to collect than others.

So for every flag of France I bought that of the USA always proved elusive.

I have long lost all mine and was only reminded of them recently when I came across the site Flags of the World where for a modest and in some cases less than modest out lay I could recreate my collection and in doing so savour something of the 1950s.

Now I bought them from our corner newsagents, but now all of them are available for at a tad  more than I paid for them at Flags of the World, sadly without the bubblegum.

And in that post Brexit world I will leave you with that flag of the UN and reflect on international cooperation and greater understanding.

Pictures; Flags of the World, courtesy of 
Flags of the World

On Chorlton Green with Derrick A Lea in 1957

We are on the green sometime between 1955 and ’58 outside the Horse and Jockey.

Now I know this because the artist who drew the scene completed a series of pictures of Chorlton during this period.

He was Derrick A Lea and he is one of those local artist who has slipped out of our history.

He lived here during the 1950s through to the ‘70s, and that is about it.  So for now it is his pictures that will have to speak for him.

And today it is this one of the pub on the green.

It is a picture which I like partly because the style reminds me of so many that I grew up with in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Often they were the sort which appeared as adverts in magazines or in prints that were displayed in railway carriages on the trains of the Southern Region.

Most were of the countryside and most showed southern England in full summer.

So this one is somewhat different and what draws me in is not just the wintry scene but the way Mr Lea captures the brisk movement of the couple on the right.  It’s partly their stride as they follow the dog but also the way the woman’s coat spills out covering as it would an equally expansive dress underneath.

This was that period when in direct contrast to the fashions of the war everything was bigger and more showy, as if to say “we are done with rationing and making do.”

And the historian in me is fascinated by the picture of the pub itself which is almost the one we know today but not quite.

In the 1950s it had not extended into the building to right of the entrance below the sign.

This was still a private residence and so had not yet been given the wooden beam effect.  Nor had the top floor of what had once been Miss Wilton’s home been taken down.

But not all in the picture is completely accurate for what looks like a pond in front of the trees is  an invention of Mr Lea’s imagination.

There were village ponds but sadly not here.  There was one further to the south by the Bowling Green Hotel and another on Beech Road stretching from Acres Road up to Chequers Road but not outside the Horse and Jockey.

Not that I am over bothered by the deliberate error.

It remains a pretty neat picture of a moment in the mid 1950s which will be one most of us never knew, and I do like his depiction of the pub and the green on a wintery snowy night.

So it just remains to close by repeating  the image he drew.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture; the Horse and Jockey, Chorlton Green, by Derrick A Lea taken from a greetings card in the possession of my old Margaret.

The magic of crossing the river at Woolwich by ferry

Now the ferry is just something that sticks with you no matter how many years it is since you were on it.

And it still has the power to win friends.

So when we were heading back to Manchester I persuaded Tina that we should cross the river at Woolwich and sure enough my Italian partner was won over.

This is the Will Crooks with the Ernest Bevin in the background.

They came into service in the 1930s and carried on doing the business till 1963.

Now I know that on a busy wek day morning waiting to get on board can be tedious and the journey is a short one, but even now fifty or so years after I first did the trip its magic.

Picture; from Woolwich Through Time, Kristina Bedford, Amberley 2014

In Piccadilly before the last tram ran

Now this is another of those how to date a picture stories where either dear reader you sit back in awed wonder at my detective skills or just mutter tedious big head and move to the bottom of the page for the answer. 

So I shall begin with the working out.

It could be anytime in the year but no later than spring  judging by the number of people in overcoats.

And the flowers are out in the gardens to our left and the whole place seems bathed in that sharp sunlight which opens everything up but does little to warm the city.

I guess it might be sometime in the 1930's into the 40's.

In the absence of any wartime hints I think we are in the years of peace before 1939 or in those last four years before the last of our trams ran in 1949.

And it must be after 1932 when that great slab of a white building with its radio mast was opened.

This was the Rylands Building which back in the 1930s was the largest wholesale textile warehouse in the city.

At this point I have to confess that I had to rewrite the post in the light of a very helpful set of comments from Jane Campbell who is the research cataloguer and database administrator for the Photographic Collections held at the University of St Andrews, which I trust dear reader will make you ponder on the lengths I will go for a good story.

St Andrews has an extensive collection of postcards produced by Valentine and Sons of Dundee and our picture was one of theirs, so as you do I contacted them and Jane kindly replied with a possible date. But before I reveal that I should point out that there are a few obstacles in the way.  As Jane says,

"with Valentine care needs to be taken when using the registration date for dating their images – these registration dates refer to when the title was written into the register and was not necessarily when the photograph/view was taken.  

They sometimes would replace the original image with a newer photograph (updating the scene but using the same title) and in the earliest numbers the photograph could have been taken sometime (even years) earlier than the registration date.  As for the actual date of the postcard that you hold that would depend on when it was printed.

It is an interesting photograph not least because most in the collection date to a time before the 1920's but as ever the place is busy.

I especially like the glass and iron shelters which run down in front of the statutes.

And that reminds me that sometime in 1970 someone had painted a set of foot prints leading from Queen Victoria’s statute to the public lavatories.

I suspect she would not have been amused.

I guess there will not be that many who remember this view of Piccadilly and the northern section of the gardens.

Picture; from the collection of Alan Brown

And for those who want to follow up on Valentine & Son, the link to the University is Valentine Collections available via our new website at

Salford Station ............ the one you miss

It’s the one you miss. Salford Central Station is on New Bailey Street and is set back between two railway viaducts.

So travelling out of Manchester into Salford even on foot it was not the most visible of places.  

Moreover the actual entrance seemed to retreat away from the road and so apart from the station’s name on the wooden canopy there was  really only the sign above the entrance announcing the way “To the ticket office” and the railway timetables which gave a clue as to what was behind the maroon door.

But all that has changed.  The viaducts have been painted and the detail highlighted, as have the pillars and the entrance is now behind a glass wall which draws you into the station itself.

It is one of our oldest stations having been opened in 1838 as the terminus of the Manchester and Bolton Railway and in 1843 the viaduct across New Bailey Street were built to connect with Victoria Station.  Only the Liverpool Road Station is older, but that closed for passengers in 1844 when Manchester Victoria was built.

Of course the purist will point to the fact that I am mixing up Manchester and Salford and treating them as one but I rather think that is being a wee bit pedantic.

The station has had many names.  For the first twenty years it was just plain Salford, was then renamed Salford (New Bailey) until 1865 when it reverted to its original name and in 1988 it was changed to Salford Central.

I suppose the fact that for a long time it was only open at peak times and is closed on Sundays does continue to make it a bit of a forgotten station.  So to bring it back I thought I would include the 1894 painting of the station by H. E. Tidmarsh from Manchester Old and New.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson and Manchester Old and New, William Arthur Shaw