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,

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,

Monday, 28 November 2016

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

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Exploring that lost building on Barlow Moor Road

Now if like me you have wandered out of Max Speilemann’s and wondered what once stood on that bit of open land next door, Mark Flynn’s picture helps supply an answer.

Barlow Moor Road, circa 1960s © Mark Flynn
In time I will find out when it was demolished but it was there when Lilywhite Ltd were marketing their picture postcard of Barlow Moor Road sometime in the 1960s.

And it was there by 1893 but I can’t as yet find an occupant until 1909 when Evan and Robert Jones were trading as seed dealers from the building.

The rate books for the late 19th century are unclear as to who might have owned or rented it and the census returns don’t help.

That said it looks like a stables and so might just have been connected to the large house which sat in its own grounds between what are now Barlow Moor Road, Wilbraham Road and Corkland Road.

The lost building, circa 1960s
It was called Oak Bank and was there from the early 19th century if not earlier and was a fine house enough to have had plenty of outhouses including a stables.

But for now the origins of what was once the seed merchant’s business is lost to me.

I have asked my old friend Andy Robertson to go digging in his directories for the late sixties, and if it proves still to be listed then it went just before I arrived in the 1970s.

We shall see.

And that just leaves me again to thank Mark Fynn and point you to his excellent site of picture postcards for sale.*

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Pictures; Barlow Moor Road  circa 1960s courtesy of Mark Fynn

*Manchester Postcards,

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

Today at Southern Cemetery at 1 pm

Emma Fox, of Manchester Guided Tours, and local military historian David Harrop will lead people around the cemetery visiting:

  • Commonwealth War Graves
  • Graves of recipients of the Victoria Cross
  • Civilians who lost their lives in the Blitz
  • First and Second World War memorials
  • Graves of those who fought in other wars including Zulu, Crimean and American Civil War.

The unique display in the Remembrance Lodge of World War memorabilia, curated by David Harrop.

Meet inside the main cemetery gates on Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, M21 7GL.

These are opposite James Hilton Memorials, 245d Barlow Moor Road, M21 7QL.

There will be a charge contact  Emma Fox
on 07500 774 200 or email 

Location Southern Cemetery

Pictures; Southern Cemetery, 2015, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Crossing the Mersey in 1955 to Jackson's Boat

Like many of Derrick A. Lea’s pictures of Chorlton this one was made in the winter.

We are at Jackson’s Boat, that pub across the river and the year is 1955.

Now I have written about Mr Lea already and I keep getting drawn back to his images of Chorlton which were made in the 1950s.

They work for me on a number of different levels.

At its simplest they remind me of the style of pictures I grew up with.

But it is also that you don’t see many drawings, paintings or wood cuts of the township, so these are particularly appealing.

“The pub was built in the 18th century and so might count as the oldest in the township.  It was known variously as the Old Greyhound and the Boat House, before reverting back to the old Greyhound.  Briefly it was called Jackson’s Boat and then the Greyhound from 1834. 

The names may in part be explained by the origins of the site.    At some point a farmer called Jackson farmed the land and kept a boat for ferrying passengers across the river. 

Later still Samuel Wilton built a bridge in 1816 over the river at this point at a cost of £200.  

But the ferry and the right to transport passengers across the Mersey were still in place in 1832 when the pub and the surrounding land were put up for sale. 

The advert throws some light on how the relationship between owner and tenant. The land and pub were owned by John Marsland and tenanted by a George Brownhill who seems to have benefited from the ferry charges.  

The sale in 1832 went to Edmund Howarth who may well have placed Samuel in as tenant.”*

All of which may seem a long way from the picture, but not so.  In 1955 the bridge was free to walk across, but until the late 1940s there had been a toll, which had been there since Sam Wilton’s old bridge in 1816 and was just a continuation of the fee charged to cross the river by the ferry.

The gate was on the south side of the bridge and there are those who can just remember paying the penny to cross over, and one wonderful story of a young girl who chose to chance her luck and crossed by a more dangerous and unconventional way.

She lived in the Block which was a collection of cottages on Hardy Lane, and this seemed a quicker and cheaper alternative to a long walk or the penny payment.

Picture; Derrick A. Lea

The Story of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Andrew Simpson 2012

“Come .... where the sun shines longer” .............. down at the holiday camp

Now we never went to holiday camps which had nothing to do with my parents being sniffy.

It was just that Dad worked in the tourist trade driving people across Europe on sight seeing tours and was away from Easter till September.

And given that there were five of us I rather think mum never fancied taking us all away to a holiday camp.

That said my mate Jimmy always went every year with his mum, dad and brother Fred and always came back sun tanned with heaps of stories about the entertainments, the food and the sheer fun of the place.

They usually went to Butlins, and I think preferred Margate.

The first holiday camps had started up before the Great War but the real growth was during the 1930s and in the years after the Second World War.

The big players were Warner, Butlins and Pontins who played to their strengths offering an all in holiday which was affordable with no hidden charges.

But with the development of cheap foreign packages in the sun the traditional British holiday became less attractive and many were closed.

And last week my friend Andy showed me this brochure from Campers Ltd which family regularly visited

They had three camp sites, one in Kent a second on the Isle of Wight and a third in Norfolk.

I am hoping that this will be the first of a series and that subsequent posts will include memories and descriptions of all the camps.

Location; 1950s and 60s

Pictures pages from “Come .... where the sun shines longer,” Campers Ltd Brochure, circa 1960, from the collection of Andy Robertson

Friday, 25 November 2016

Back with Derrick A. Lea in the Chorlton of 1955

It’s one of those odd things that we have few pictures of Chorlton in the 1950s. 

Now there are a few fine collections in the Local History archive* but nothing compared with the huge range and number from the beginning of both the 20th century and the last decades of the 19th.

So when examples come up it is as well to include them in the story of Chorlton.

And so here we have another from the pen of Derrick A. Lea who drew pictures of the area in the 50s.  As I have said before along with J Montgomery Mr Lea is a bit of a mystery.

I know a little about him including where he lived in Chorlton and that some of his pictures were turned into greetings cards and that is about it.

Now given that pictures as opposed to photographs of where we live do not turn us as regularly his collection are quite unique.

This one is of Wilbraham Road sometime in 1955 and it appears to be a warm day in perhaps March or early April because despite the absence of any leaves on the trees people are walking around without those heavy overcoats everyone seemed to wear during the period.

Of course there may be a bit of poetic license here but there is much that is just as it should.

And it is a scene that has changed.  The Conservative Club and Public Hall was still solid reminder of the fact that Chorlton elected Conservative politicians to the Town Hall  and would do so until 1986.

In much the same way the Lloyd's Hotel has not changed overmuch since it was built in 1870

But with the benefit of hindsight we know that Mr Lea’s picture captured a Chorlton that has now gone forever.  The Conservative Club and Public Hall closed earlier in the year after the Conservative Association had wound itself up and currently the plans are to convert the building into flats.

The Lloyd’s may appear superficially the same, but internally much has been altered.  The small rooms have been knocked through, and the staircase taken down.

I can’t say the changes are for the worse.  I remember it from the late 1970s and early 80s as a place waiting for something to happen.

All of which would have pleased its landlady back in the 1880s.  This was a Mrs Crabtree who by all accounts “improved the place considerably in various particulars” and it may have been her who encouraged the bowling green members to build their own club house which was open on Wednesdays during the season.

She was an enterprising woman with an eye for business and also laid out a lawn tennis court on the open land along side Whitelow Road.

By the time I had washed up in Chorlton the tennis courts had become a drab car park while going inside the pub was like stepping back into the 1950s.

Nor did much seem to improve during the course of the next decade, and sadly the place became somwhere you went to only for a quick dring before eating on Wilbraham Road.

Not until very recently has I been in the Con Club, but both it and the Lloyd's had offered live music on and off so perhaps I was the loser.

In the same way slowly the history of the Public Hall is coming back out into the open including its role as a place of amateur dramatics groups.

Which brings me back to Wilbraham Road in 1955.

Picture;  Wilbraham Road in 1955, Derrick A. Lea


One to do on Sunday ............... Southern Cemetery Remembrance Tour

Now I have no intention to do anything more than quote from Emma and David who will be your guides on the tour.

The original and only authorised tours of the cemetery!

Let us remember the lives of sailors, soldiers, airmen and civilians who have taken part in conflict.

Emma Fox, of Manchester Guided Tours, and local military historian David Harrop will lead people around the cemetery visiting:

  • Commonwealth War Graves
  • Graves of recipients of the Victoria Cross
  • Civilians who lost their lives in the Blitz
  • First and Second World War memorials
  • Graves of those who fought in other wars including Zulu, Crimean and American Civil War.

The unique display in the Remembrance Lodge of World War memorabilia, curated by David Harrop.

Opened in 1879 Southern Cemetery is the largest municipal cemetery in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe.

Read about Emma's other cemetery tour in the Manchester Evening News

NB £1 from each ticket sold will be donated to the The Royal British Legion

Where do we meet?

Meet inside the main cemetery gates on Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, M21 7GL.

These are opposite James Hilton Memorials, 245d Barlow Moor Road, M21 7QL.

NB do not meet at the crematorium. Please arrive a few minutes early.

Is there an age limit to enter the event?

No, the tour is suitable for anyone able to walk and stand for two hours on paths and grass.

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

The cemetery gates will be locked, as it is a Sunday, but there is plenty of parking available on Barlow Moor Road, in the side roads opposite the cemetery.

Are there any toilet facilities at the event?

Yes, but bring your own loo roll!

Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Contact Emma Fox
on 07500 774 200 or email 

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?


What if it's raining, snowing or 40 degrees C?

Tours take place whatever the weather. Please dress appropriately!

Who are Manchester Guided Tours ?

We are the largest group of qualified, insured, professional Manchester Green Badge and North West Blue Badge tourist guides working in Manchester.

Location Southern Cemetery

Pictures; Southern Cemetery 2012-14 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Down in the parish churchyard by Chorlton green in 1976

Well having almost exhausted the collection of images on Chorlton in the 1980s, I think it’s time to wander back another decade.

We are in the parish graveyard in 1976 and I have to say despite walking through the place many times I have no recollection of it looking like this.

And I pretend to be a historian.

Still looking back through the back catalogue the place was like in the 1970s and as you would expect plenty more from before.

So I shall leave you with Lois’s picture of the graveyard just before it was cleared and landscaped, but if you want more follow the link.*

Picture St Clement’s churchyard in 1976, from the collection of Lois Elsden

*St Clement's Church

Looking across from Lambeth Bridge in 1938

This is another one of those buildings which just passed me by, although my old school friend Jimmy must have visited it when he embarked on a creer with the London Fire Brigade back in 1966.

It was opened in July 1937 and rather than steal other people’s research I shall just direct you to that excellent site, Different Architecture for Different Times,* and in particular the entry for the building, Fire Brigade Headquarters, Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London,** which has an impressive set of pictures and a fine description of the place.

And I have to say looking at a recent picture of the building despite it change of use and uncertain future it looks pretty much the same.

Picture; LONDON FIRE BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS - VIEW FROM LAMBETH BRIDGE, 1938, from the set London, by Tuck and Sons, courtesy of Tuck DB,

* Different Architecture for Different Times,, 

** Fire Brigade Headquarters, Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London,

Historians of Chorlton ............ Thomas Ellwood

There have been many who have written about the history of Chorlton.

Almost all of them draw on twenty-five articles written in the winter and spring of 1885-86 by Thomas Ellwood.

These were published in weekly instalments in the South Manchester Gazette and reappear as articles in the Wesleyan and Parish magazines throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Ellwood in turn drew on an earlier work on the histories of the churches and chapels of south and east Manchester written thirty years earlier as well as contemporary documents.

 But the real strength of his account is that much of it is based on the oral testimonies of some of the oldest inhabitants of the township, people who had had been born at the very beginning of Ellwood’s century and who confidently recorded the customs and people of an even earlier time.

Picture;  from The Manchester City News, Saturday March 4th 1922

“I think he must have been uneducated, he had a northern accent”

Now I wish I could report that this was the product of some gormless over privileged member of a TV reality show from deepest Surrey which would at least pander to my opinion of such shows.

Union Street near Traffic Street, circa late  1940
But no it was a carefully created piece of dialogue from an episode of Scotland Yard which ran through the 1950s.

The episodes were produced as short cinema features supporting the main film and lasted for 30 minutes.

They were based on “real life cases from the vaults of London’s Metropolitan Police headquarters” and were introduced by “Edgar Lustgarten the famous Criminologist.”

I have to confess I am a sucker for all these old 1950s and 60s dramas which form a large chunk of my Christmas requests and this year the wish list was fulfilled, so along with Scotland Yard and The Blue Lamp were a few Ealing Comedies and The League of Gentlemen.

What they have in common is that they offer up a wonderful slice of how we lived and yes right down to the that assumption about the North.

Long before “Loadsofmoney” poked fun at how we lived north of Watford Gap there were whippets, cloth caps and slag heaps which alternated with cheery Cockneys consuming vast quantities of jellied eels and the odd pie and mash as some of the nation’s stereotypes.

There was a time when I would get quite cross at such lazy portrayals of great sections of Britain, but they do tell us something of what the attitudes of those who made the films at the time far more than they represent an accurate picture.

And there will be someone who can point me to the scholarly paper which explores popular culture and its relation to the class prejudices of those engaged in writing and producing British films, plays and radio broadcasts.

Well I hope so.

And in the meantime  I think everyone should take 30 minutes out and watch an episode of Scotland Yard.

Picture;Union Street near Hope Street, late 1940s, from the collection of Cynthia Wigley

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Deep Pockets and Dirty Faces ......... enaging young people in the story of the past

Now I think a love of history should start young if only because then you have heaps of time to explore the past.

The performances ......... tomorrow and Friday
And that takes me to an exciting project run by the Together Trust who for nearly 150 years have been helping young people.

It started in 1870 as a rescue operation offering destitute boys from Manchester and Salford a bed and a meal for the night.

The charity quickly extended its work to include girls as well as boys,and  provide more permanent homes offering training for future careers along with holiday homes.

It also campaigned against some of the worst cases of child exploitation taking negligent parents to court and arguing against the practise of employing young children to sell matches on the streets of the twin cities.

And now under the direction of their archivist the Trust is involved in bringing the story of the charity to a group of young people who in turn will be performing a slice of that history.

Philip on admission to the charity
“It is now only a few days until our two HLF performances of Deep Pockets and Dirty Faces. The young people involved have been working hard to create a theatrical extravaganza to entertain and educate the local population about the Together Trust’s past.

It’s been an interesting few months for the group as they’ve learnt acting skills and design skills, as well as more about the history of the Together Trust. 

It’s an area that most knew very little about, especially the journey that some children took across the seas to Canada. Part of the project’s aim was to create a sense of empathy from the young people today with the stories of children who had received services from the same charity as themselves. 

Although circumstances surrounding admission to the various Together Trust services has vastly changed, the charity still exists to help young people in the local area.

The project has allowed them to imagine being in the position of the orphans themselves and how they might have felt if they were to leave the country. 

Learning a trade .......... in the Rrinting press department
Through the project we have studied the journeys of a selection of children who travelled to Canada from the Manchester homes. 

From handling unique archives through to experiencing Victorian activities, it has allowed for the past to come to life for the individuals involved.”*

Now that I think is a pretty good way of bringing history alive.

So that just leaves me to suggest you follow the link to the Trusts’ blog where there is lots more about Deep Pockets and Dirty Faces.

Location; Manchester

Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust

* It's performance time... Getting down and dusty,

Forgotten Chorlton ................. nu 1 on Wibraham in the 1930

Now Wilbraham Road and Edge Lane were popular locations for commercial photographers not least because of the many posh properties which stretched out on either side of these two roads all the way up from Stretford into Chorlton.

The canny photographer would not only sell the images to the postcard companies but would also have called in at each house featured in a picture offering up a print for a price.

This one was taken by Harold Clarke who lived in Chorlton in the 1920s and 30s and had a photographic business.

And as you do I have come to be quite fascinated by him and have not only written about his work on the blog but discovered that Tony Goulding who is a regular contributor is related to Mr Clarke.*

So as they say a small world, and for those who know this corner of Wilbraham Road and High Lane/Edge Lane the fun will be trying to spot the changes.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Picture; Wilbraham Road, 1930 from the collection of Mark Fynn

*Harold Clarke,

**Mark Fynn,, 

Piccadilly Gardens ....... the early years nu 2 trenches in Piccadilly

Looking across to the site of the MRI sometime after 1911
Now Piccadilly Gardens continues to excite a wealth of feelings from those who miss the old sunken gardens and have no love for that concrete slab to those who dwell on the seedy last days of the old park and point out that in these cost cutting days the present space is pretty low maintenance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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