Saturday, 31 December 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 76 ...... the sound of other languages

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.*

A little bit of France in Chorlton, circa 1976
Now it seems odd today that for almost two thirds of the life of our house the only language that would have reverberated through the rooms would have been English.

Of course I might be wrong but I doubt it.

The first “foreign language” would have been French and it will have been occasioned by the visit of three from France in the mid 1970s.

They were friends of John, Lois and Mike, who bought the house on the death of Mary Ann in 1973.

In all I think the French friends visited three times and that was pretty much that until Tina’s family began visiting.

They are originally from Naples but now live north of Milan and this Christmas we had five of them over which was a bit of a squeeze given that all the lads were back as well.

And now we have another of Tina’s brothers here for New Year.

He flies in tomorrow and will be here for a few days.

We had hoped for Saul’s partner who was due to fly in from Warsaw on Boxing Day but sadly work got in the way.

A big bit of Italy, 2013
But she has been here before and so we can count Polish along with Italian and French which may not count as much of a babble of foreign voices but it is a start.

Now there is really nothing unusual all of this, we have become a more cosmopolitan and multi cultural country and despite the few who feel challenged or upset at this I have to say I welcome it.

More so because my maternal grandmother was German, my dad’s family were from the East Highlands and I count as friends people from across the countries of the EU, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.

Added to which we have family in Poland Canada and Australia.

And more of Italy, 2009
Of course Joe and Mary Ann’s generation would also have had relatives who visited or settled abroad and will have known families who could recount similar experiences stretching back into the 19th century.

And on a more parochial level Joes’ parents were from London and moved north in the late 1870s moving in to Chorlton where they were settled by 1881.

John and Mike were from Leeds, Lois from Cambridge and me from south east London.

Moreover the house has also entertained a shed load of people who while they may all speak English were born all over the UK and passed through with their own stories and experiences.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; a little bit of France in Chorlton, circa 1976, courtesy of Lois Elsden and a big bit of Italy, 2014 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of house,

Collecting for the Ancoats Hospital in the summer of 1924

I belong to that generation which was the first to grow up with the National Health Service.

School Daisy Day, date unknown
It over saw my birth in the General Lying In Hospital in Lambeth went on to look after me through the succeeding decades and is all the more a friend as I pass into my 66th year.

And for most of what I have needed it has continued to be free at the point of need offering the best medical care I could ask for.

But of course had I been born just a decade earlier my parents would have been expected to pay for my care not through their taxes but directly out of their pocket and like many would no doubt have been forced to dig deep from the family income.

All of which is a powerful reminder that there was a time when medical care was neither automatic nor a certainty for a large section of the population and that funding for our hospitals was still reliant on charity and big annual events.

Ancoats fancy dress day, date unknown
These ranged from The Alexandra Flag Days to local events and all were geared to raising cash which brings me back to a series of postcards from the collection of David Harrop and The Daisy Day Parade.

This was a regular event which began in June 1913 to raise money for Ancoats Hospital and consisted of selling artificial daisies and a fancy dress parade.*

All of which brings me back to the post cards.

An invitation, July 1924
Now I have no idea when the photograph was taken which means it could date from the 1920s and perhaps even from the events planned at the General Meeting held on July 17th to which Miss Miriam Buckley of 18 Dawns Street was invited.

It was held in the Out-Patients Department of the hospital and was the General Meeting for the Ancoats Daisy Day’s Hospital.

In time I might be able to track down the minutes and discover if she attended.

There is a reference to a Miriam Buckley aged 10 living with her parents at 59 Herbert Street, Ardwick in 1911 but after that the trail goes cold save for a  reference to her death in 1974.

The Manchester Guardian reports, July 21 1924
Either way I think she would have pleased with the events of the day which the Manchester Guardian reported “took the form of a fancy dress parade on the lines of the student’s procession on Shrove Tuesday.

In this case, however the industrial areas rather than the business centre of the city were tapped by the collecting boxes.  

The better to cover as large an area as possible the parade divided forces, one party going through Ancoats and by way of Ashton Old and New Roads to Belle Vue Gardens, the other combining Chorlton-on Medlock, Hulme, and Ardwick.

Fancy Dree, 1924
Numerous prizes were awarded for figures in the processions and there were prizes for those who collected the largest amounts.”**

I doubt that I will ever be able to confirm a date fo those young people in their Daisy Day fancy dress, but if I were to slip into speculation and fastened on July 1924, then some of those staring back at me may well have become proud parents in an NHS hospital in the years after its creation in 1948.

Now that would round the story off nicely.

Pictures; School Daisy Day, date unknown and invitation to Miss Miram Buckley, July 14 1924 from the collection of David Harrop, and Manchester Guardian, 1924, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

* A Daisy for Daisy Day, A History of Ancoats Dispensary in 100 Objects,

**Fancy Dress Parade for the Hospitals, Manchester Guardian, July 21 1924

Tony Goulding's .......... CHORLTON-CUM-HARDY HISTORY QUIZ - CHRISTMAS 2016 ......

Now here is a festive treat ...... Tony's Chorlton-cum-Hardy Christmas Quiz, answers tomorrow.  

Barlow Moor Road, 1908
1) What was the surname of the 2 brothers charged with the murder of P.C. Cock in 1876?

2) Which football league club was the young footballer, Peter Mee playing for at the time of his tragic drowning in the river Mersey near Jackson’s Boat in, November, 1923?

3) Whilst on the subject of football who was George Best’s landlady, while he was living in the area in the l960’s /early 1970’s?

4) Which curate at St. Clement’s church committed suicide at his lodgings on Stockton Road? Ans. Roland Joseph Blain –he took an overdose of Laudanum

5) What year did McDonalds restaurant on Barlow Moor Road open?

6) Which family was virtually wiped out by the bomb that also destroyed the old Chorlton-cum-Hardy Post Office in the “Christmas Blitz” of, 1940?

7) Which surname links the history of Chorlton Good Neighbours with the old off-license on St Anne’s Road?

8) Who was the parish priest of “Our Lady and Saint John’s” during the Second World War who had been awarded an M. C. in the First?

9) Which saint was the original Roman Catholic Church on the High Lane/Chequers (ex-Church) Road corner dedicated to?

10) Which soldier on the Manchester Road Methodist’s War Memorial has a double entry?

11) Which member of the Royal Family visited Cundiff Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy on the 24th October, 1969?

12) Many sons of Chorlton-cum-Hardy and Whalley range were killed on 20th July, 1916 whilst serving on the Somme as part of a “Public Schools and University’s “battalion attached to which regiment?

© Tony Goulding 2016

Lccation; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; Barlow Moor Road, At corner of Cranbourne Road, 1908, J Jackson, m17443, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Off with the Alexandra Brass Band at the Coronation Festivities in 1911

“The great glory of the Coronation festivities of 1911 was the procession.  

Everybody in Didsbury was expected to take some part in it, either in work or money or both and both were freely given.

There were nearly a score of emblematic cars, that is wagons laden with villagers dressed in fancy costumes...”*

The coronation of King George V in 1911 was one of those opportunities when across the country there were festivals, processions, and all manner of activities to both celebrate the event and show off local patriotism.

Didsbury set to work with a Festivities Committee and the local historian Fletcher Moss recorded the day.

A few copies of his book with the accompanying photographs have survived and seem to have been plundered by almost all the historians of the township since it was published in 1911.

And not to be out done I shall do so too, starting with this one, showing the Alexandra Brass Band of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company passing behind the Didsbury Amateur Gardening Society.

Now I have yet to identify the exact spot but that will come in time, and later I rather think I shall also tell the story of the Didsbury Amateur Gardening Society, but in the mean time I want to resurrect my fascination for the brass band.

Contrary to popular belief they were not just a northern thing but could be found all over the country.

Some were works based others arose from a local chapel or church and others still had either a military connection or were entirely independent financing themselves through subscriptions and hence being called subscription bands.

The Alexandra Brass Band of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company was based at the Carriage Works on Newton Heath and I think they are ripe for a story.

But at this stage there is little to go on.

They are listed as defunct by the IBEW, played at the Didsbury festivities and in St Anne’s to celebrate the end of the Great War and there are two other references to them playing at Glossop in 1891 and Winsford in 1902.

There will also be references to them in the local papers of the period and perhaps even in the records of the railway company, all of which I will hunt down.

So in the meantime I shall leave you with them playing their hearts out in the June of 1911.

And with the promise of more pictures from that day along with a few of the words of Mr Fletcher Moss.

Picture; from the Souvenir of the Coronation Festivities Held at Didsbury, June 22nd 1911, Fletcher Moss

*Fletcher Moss, Souvenir of the Coronation Festivities Held at Didsbury, June 22nd 1911

Memories of Furness Vale by Mabel Townend. ....... one for the new year

The next meeting of Furness Vale History Society is on Tuesday 3rd January at 7.30pm. 

The meeting is at Furness Vale Community Centre, Yeardsley Lane.

Admission is £2 including refreshments. Mabel Townend, a former village schoolteacher, tells a fascinating story of life in Furness Vale over the past 80 years.

The poster features Rheuben Bennet the village yeast dealer and Mabel Townend's grandfather.

Rheuben sold yeast door to door in neighbouring villages and also ran a nursery business growing tomatoes and flowers.

Location; Furnes Vale

Picture; courtesy of Furnes Vale History Society

*Furness Vale Local History Society,

Always look for the story behind the badge

Now the thing about badges is that they are easy to make offer up an instant message and with the passage of time tell a story.

I have been collecting them for over five decades although these days  I am less willing to actually wear them.

Once and it was a long time ago I would happily and proudly wear the latest campaign badge, until overtaken by a new one.

Today I don’t, which has nothing to do with the validity of the particular campaign or the issue but just because I am a grumpy old man.

That said they still fascinate me, and I still write about them.*

Added to which I now also collect other people’s as well and it was Mikky  posted recently by Stephen Marland that set me off.

I vaguely remember it but I cannot put a date to it and would be hard pressed to say whether it arose from a national campaign or a local one.

But that underlines that simple observation that anyone with a badge making machine can turn out a badge for any occasion and for all seasons.

Elections, birthday’s sales promotions and even books are fair game.

And here I own up to a series of personal badges.

The first was from my friend Susan from Canada who spent six weeks in Britain researching her family roots and made a special trio to Manchester.

We are both related to British Home Children who were those young people migrated to Canada, Australia and other visits of the old Empire from the 1870s onwards.  Theirs is still a story which is unfamiliar to many on both sides of the Atlantic.

And yet something like 100,000 children were sent to Canada and the practice continued into the 1970s in the case of Australia.

So I was pleased when as part of the swapping of gifts Susan gave me the Canadian badge along with some very nice sweet things.

In return she now has a Glad to be in Chorlton T shirt featuring the lych gate and a copy of the book on Hough End Hall written by me and Peter Topping.

And soon I will be sending for my own British Home Child Badge produced in Canada which will take pride of place in the collection.

But for now I shall close with the latest to roll off Peter’s badge machine which will be instantly recogniseable to many as part of the research for our new book on the Pubs of Manchester.**

And as ever there was a story in that badge, because yesterday as the sun shone we visited the first of the six pubs.

Starting at Knott Mill and moving on via the Rochdale Canal up to Liverpool Road and Deansgate, we met the landladies and managers and listened to some of the odd stories of the lives behind the doors.

You can order the book from 

Location; pretty much everywhere

Pictures; Milky, date unknown, from the collection of Stephen Maryland, Canada, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, Home Children Canada, 2015, courtesy of Judy Neville and Manchester Pubs 2016, from Peter Topping


**A new book on Manchester Pubs,

Friday, 30 December 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 75 ...... the houses Joe built

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.*

Now Joe built good houses as many of his tenants testified and that of course extended to this house but it is his others that I want to reflect on.

His own was built in 1915 but already he had been building properties on Provis, Higson, Neale and Beech Roads and would on to build more on Beaumont and Belwood.

His earlier properties were the classic two up two down which can be found all over the country. My grandparents lived in one in Hope Street in Derby, and the first house I bought in Ashton-under-Lyne was a two up two down and at home in Woolwich there are still plenty of them.

You walked in from the street into the front room, the stairs were at the back in the kitchen and the lavatory was in the yard.

There were of course variations.

In the case of Nana’s the yard had once been a common one which contained three lavatories which were shared with an entry into the yard through a passageway from the street and in Ashton the variations stretched to a small vestibule behind the front door offering a little privacy.

But the variations were more to do with the individual builders, so in the case of Joe’s properties the staircase was at the front. That said there are only so many different ways of building a two up two down.

Like most of these properties Joe’s were built for rent and only in the 1960s did he begin to sell off some of the stock.

The great strength of the basic model is the way that it can be adapted.

As Andy Lever’s picture’s show many have over the years have had extensions.

Some were constructed of wood and glass, others of brick and in some cases the extension has included a second floor.

Internally rooms have been knocked together and lavatories and bathrooms added.

Now I am not sure whether Joe’s original design included a bathroom or inside lavatory and for that I shall have to ask Ida whose family have occupied the same house on Neale for over fifty years.

In the meantime I shall just reflect that people always spoke highly of Joe as a landlord, commenting that he always got repairs done quickly and offered a good deal when the houses were sold.

And given that he lived just round the corner he was pretty much instantly available in his office which was directly behind his house.

But like so many landlords he did economise on some things and according to Ian who lived on Higson all the doors were painted green.

There will be many who remember that office and yard which later became a TV repair place, later still a builder’s yard again and eventually became a house.

Not that Joe I think would have approved of the office’s final transformation given that it overlooks his old garden and lacks much of the charm of his properties.

Pictures; looking out on Joe’s old houses, 2016 from the collection of Andy Lever and Beaumont Road showing Joe Scott’s workshop, 1958, R E Stanley, m17662, a courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, 

*The story of house,

A day in December on our High Street ................. nu 5 the Eltham Grill

Now if you still live where you grew up the chances are that you take it all for granted.

For those of us who long ago moved away from Eltham that is something we can’t do.

So here is the last of the short series of Eltham High Street on a December day just before Christmas.

They were taken by Ryan and are not in any order but take me back to the High Street I remember, and just off the main road is the Eltham Grill.

Picture; the Eltham Grill, 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn

Of adventures and pub visits .............. the Millstone on Thomas Street

Now adventures should never be confined to anyone under the age of ten. 

Thinking about it they are best kept for those in receipt of a free travel bus, and pension who can remember listening to the Goon’s on the wireless and know that Wagon Wheels were bigger back in their youth.

All of which carries the added bonus that you aren’t going to be asked to show ID to prove that you are entitled to walk into a pub.

And with those qualifications out of the way Peter and I were set to wander the streets of Manchester in search of a shed load of historic pubs.

It was day two of the hands on side of researching the history of 79 ”hero” pubs stretching from the University up through the city centre and on out to the Northern Quarter which for those of us old enough to remember included places like New Cross, a street full of pet shops and the wholesale food markets.

Now as research goes it ticked lots of boxes, of which the most important was that we got to meet the landlord or manager, uncovered some fascinating stories about each place and spoke to the customers.

But at the Millstone on Thomas Street we got just that bit more.  The landlord Ged who over the years has run successful pubs across the city and into Salford was made up that we were interested in his place.  So much so that we ended up having our picture taken together, and we shared some of the history of his pub

By the mid 1790s Thomas Street was busy and open for business, and just sixty year later it offered the discerning resident a choice between the Millstone, then spelt Mill Stone and the White Lion at number 15, the Bay Horse at number 35 and the Wagon Horses across the road at number 16.

And he was keen to join us on the next trip, .......... not bad for one days adventure.

The book can be ordered from

Picture; Ged and me, in the Millstone, 2016 from the collection of Peter Topping

Painting, the Millstone  © 2014, Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,


Watching the coronation procession in Didsbury on June 22 1911

It is June 22nd 1911 and we are in Didsbury watching the coronation festivities for King George V and Queen Mary.

Along with countless other communities across the country Didsbury celebrated the event with a procession, and a series of events at the local park.

The day was captured on a camera and later reproduced in a slim volume by the local historian Fletcher Moss.

The book, along with the event and some of the photographs from the day have featured on the blog already but today I decided to focus on two pictures which I guess were taken fairly close together.*

The captions on the two images record that the procession was on the way back and was heading towards the Playing Fields.

And so we have them as they have reached the point just past the old Methodist College hard by the green in front of the old Cock and Didsbury Hotel.

Now this was obliviously a central point for people to gather and so amongst the crowd are two photographers and a mix of people who in the time lapse between the two pictures are more to watch different parts of the procession.

Our woman in white watches as the Didsbury Lad's Club wagon prepares to swing round past the lamp post and as it moves out of sight back up Wilmslow Road begins a conversation with her companion dressed in black.

The woman in the shawl having finished talking to the man beside her turns also to watch as the procession moves on, leaving the smartly dressed young lady by the lamp post to turn her back on the events and stare off into the distance her attention caught by something off camera.

And my attention in turn has been caught by that Didsbury Lad’s Club wagon.

The movement began in the later 19th century and was part of the attempt to keep young boys off the street and channel their energies and interests into activities which could be fun, character building and help them later in life.

It may well be that the movement had a strong part to play in eroding the dominance of the gang culture of the twin cities of Manchester and Salford.

The Scuttlers as they were popularly known had a brief but terrifying hold on young men in our inner city areas lasting from roughly 1870 till the end of the century.

Not unsurprisingly then the Lads’ Clubs tended to be in the poorer areas which raises fascinating questions about the presence of a club here in Didsbury.

Now so far all I know is that it later became a scout group but as to who set it up and when it made the transition is as yet unclear.

But there will be someone who does and if they get to me before I do the research I shall let you know.

Pictures;  from Didsbury Coronation Festivities, Fletcher Moss, 1911

* The 1911 Coronation Festivities in Didsbury,

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Looking for lost forgotten local Chorlton artists ................ Mr Bert Woodcock and J Montgomery

It's what you don't know about people that makes for fascinating history.

Beaumont Road, 1958
I knew Bert and Doris Woodcock but only to nod to and pass the odd comment.

They lived on Beaumont Road directly behind us.

Bert was a tall man who was always very polite and gave you a smile while Doris was equally tall but rarely let on and in later years often looked through you.

I must confess to my shame I made little effort to get to know them and I cannot quite remember when they died.

I think Bert went first but these were the years when the children were growing up and with a busy day job lots rather passed me by.

And so it was a chance conversation with Alan which made me think of them again and the revelation that Bert was an artist who exhibited locally.

I have gone looking for a reference to his work but so far have drawn a blank, but given that he was also a commercial artist I suspect in time I will find at least one picture.

Added to which there may be someone out there who bought or was given one of Bert’s paintings.

If so I would like to see it and perhaps show it on the blog.

All of which reminds me of J M Montgomery who also painted Chorlton and Whalley Range.

His work spans the first half of the 20th century and embraced everything from buildings to farm scenes and the meadows in full flood.

Chorlton Skating Ring, Oswald Road, 1906 from a painting 1964
Despite there being hundreds of his paintings in the local image collection, Central Ref they have no record of Mr Montgomery or how they paintings came into their possession.*

Most seem to have been painted from photographs or picture postcards which make them remarkable given that the originals have now been lost and so offer scenes that have now long since vanished.

He was active from the late 1940s through to the mid 60s and that should mean that someone will remember him, but sadly not so far.

If he was a member of a local church group or propped up the bar of one of our pubs no one has come
forward with memories of the man.

That said there was one tantalizing conversation back in 2011 with someone who thought the paintings were familiar and half remembered being told about an artist who had been recovering from wounds sustained during the last world war.

But she never got back to me and as these things often work I never took it any further.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; Beaumont Road with Mrs and Mrs Woodcock’s house behind Joe Scott’s workshop, 1958, R E Stanley, m17662, and Chorlton Skating Ring later the Picturedrome from a postcard dated, 1906, J Montgomery, 1964, m 80132, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, *

A day in December on our High Street ................. nu 4 the parish church

Now if you still live where you grew up the chances are that you take it all for granted.

For those of us who long ago moved away from Eltham that is something we can’t do.

So here for the next few days are a selection of Eltham High street on a December day just before Christmas.

They were taken by Ryan and are not in any order but take me back to the High Street I remember and given that we are close to Christmas it is fitting that there should be one of the church which I am regularly drawn back to.*

And before any one says anything, I too have just spotted the trees are in full leaf, which is either another sign of global warning or this is is a summer picture which I have picked up from Ryan by mistake.

Either way it will feature in June in a walk down the High Street in summer ........... can't be bad.

Picture; St John’s, 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn

*Eltham Church,

On Wilmslow Road celebrating the coronation of King George V in 1911

The coronation of King George V on June 22 1911 was celebrated in Didsbury as it was all over the country.

The Principal of the Wesleyan College in Didsbury read a passage from the scriptures at the service in the Cathedral, in West Didsbury there was a procession from the Cavendish Road Recreation Ground to Barlow Hall Field where there were sports, maypole and Morris dancing, and passing near the station was a military march past.

Didsbury had set to work preparing for the event with a Festivities Committee and the local historian Fletcher Moss recorded the day.

A few copies of his book with the accompanying photographs have survived and seem to have been plundered by almost all the historians of the township since it was published in 1911.

“The great glory of the Coronation festivities of 1911 was the procession.
Everybody in Didsbury was expected to take some pat in it, either in work or money or both and both were freely given.

There were nearly a score of emblematic cars that is wagons laden with villagers dressed in fancy costumes...”*

And so to the pictures both were taken as the procession passed the Wellington Inn at the junction of Wilmslow and Barlow Moor Roads and both offer up something of Manchester as well as Didsbury in 1911.

Directly opposite the Wellington was the Nelson Inn run by Samuel Robert Cheetham who no doubt was on hand to welcome anyone who later wanted a drink.

And clear to see in the picture was the sign of A.E. & Co Ltd, fishmongers.

But I am more interested in the second picture with the Gymnasium Car and the Italian Dancing Girls.

Manchester’s Little Italy was off Great Ancoats Street and back in 1911 was a thriving community.

And here the photographer has caught that moment with the dancers in full action.

Pictures; from the Souvenir of the Coronation Festivities Held at Didsbury, June 22nd 1911, Fletcher Moss

*Fletcher Moss, Souvenir of the Coronation Festivities Held at Didsbury, June 22nd 1911

**Little Italy,

The Band on the Wall ............ magic memories, a venue with a long history and a trailer for the new book on Manchester Pubs

Now the book on Manchester pubs is available.*

A new book on Manchester Pubs
Unlike other pub books we want to tell the stories of the people, the building and the area they are situated in.

All of which has revealed some fascinating stories like this one from the Manchester composer Paul Mitchell-Davidson about the Band on the Wall on Swan Street.

So here is his tale of the pub which comes as an extract from the book.

This is a pub I have fond memories of but by the time I washed up there in the late 70s it had become the Band on the Wall which had pretty much been its unofficial name for decades having become popular in the 1930s and 40s as a place to hear jazz bands and Italian performers.

In its time the place has seen performers as varied as Art Blakey, Bill Bruford, John Cooper Clarke and the Fall and along the way many local musicians.

I can’t remember who I heard on the many nights I ended up there it was just enough to get that heady mix of live music, beer and an informal atmosphere which was all about just having fun.

Band on the Wall, 2016
I rather think this would have appealed to the Mckenna family who had acquired the old George and Dragon in 1854 and expanded the premise into the adjoining properties on Swan Street and Oak Street.

Having opened in 1975 as Band on the Wall it closed briefly in 2005 but reopened and continues that long tradition of music and good beer.

My only regret was that I missed its birthday party on August 4 2000 when the Manchester composer Paul Mitchell-Davidson performed a special birthday piece in big band style.

Reflecting back he remembers, “I have many happy memories of the Band. I was there from the very start and remember along with other Manchester musos helping Steve Morris move in.

Of course in those days it still had the 24 hour license left over from the market trading days
which I imagine made the process of getting a late drinking license easier, later.

All the local musicians used to meet at the Band before and after gigs.

Paul in 1975 
I played there countless times particularly during the 70's and 80's so I was very honoured to be commissioned to write the 25th anniversary piece 'Shouting On Swan Street'.

The title has obvious musical connotations but also refers to the less than social behaviour of some of us when leaving in the early hours!

Although essentially a jazz piece it is also a sort of tone poem charting the many and various types of music that have been played there from the 19th century onwards. I like to think that the whole fabric of the building is suffused with music.

As well as a 12 piece band of top professional players I also used some students from the Jazz workshop sessions at one point and also a small gospel choir from the vocal workshop sessions.

Paul back at Band on the Wall, 2000
They sang a tribute to my friend Steve Morris ' A small man, with a big heart....'

At the end of the continuous one hour performance there was a sort of stunned silence and then an amazing standing ovation which went on for about 10 minutes.

I have to say that in all my 53 years in the music profession that must count as one of my proudest and happiest moments.”

Now that sounds a good reason to visit Band on Wall.

Painting; The Band on the Wall © 2016 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures,

Pictures; Paul in 1975© Pete Johnson and Paul in the Band on the Wall, 2000, © Paul Mitchell-Davidson,

*Manchester Pubs is the story of our best iconic and most loved pubs.  It aims to tell the stories of the people, the building and the area they are situated in.  So less a pub guide and more a celebration of all things that make these pubs fascinating places to visit.  Manchester Pubs, by Peter Topping and Andrew Simpson can be ordered from 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Vine on Kennedy Street ............ beer sellers, handloom weavers and Mr John Beswick the leach importer

The Vine always stops the causal tourist in their tracks. 

The Vine in 2014
For many it is the long walk along Fountain Street, leading on to Cooper Street and then almost on the corner of Kennedy Street is the Vine.  All green tiles and gold lettering.

It remains one of those pubs you bring friends to who are sniffy about Manchester and it always makes a huge impression.

Now I am sure someone will point to the long windows at the top and make the connection with handloom weaver’s homes which were designed to admit the maximum amount of daylight.

But if the house had been occupied by a handloom weaver he had gone by the 1850s no doubt squeezed out by the growing mechanization of the textile industry.

Instead at number 46 was Martha Dunbar who was selling pints to the residents and passing trade in 1850 but by the following year had been replaced by Mr Edwin Eastwood from Halifax in Yorkshire.

Kennedy Street and the two beer shops, 1849
He and his wife were just 22 and I guess were an enterprising couple.  They shared the house with Mr and Mrs Leach.*

Next door at what is the City Arms was Mr John Turner at 48 who was also in the business of dispensing beer and happiness and both landlord were in direct competition with Alston William at number 36.

And competition might well have been fierce given that there were 24 households along Kennedy Street whose breadwinners were engaged in a variety of trades from bookbinding, box manufacturer and my own personal favourite ......... Mr John Beswick, leech importer who lived at number 9.

But selling beer was for many just a short term measure which helped overcome a short period of unemployment and had been made possible because by then the 1830 Beer Act allowed an individual to brew and sell beer for the price of a license costing two guineas.

Kennedy Street, the two pubs and 4 & Bros, circa 1900
And that is pretty much what seems to have happened on Kennedy Street, for in a space of a year not only had Mrs Duncan moved on but so had John Beswick at 48 whose place had been taken by a Mr William who seems to have fancied selling beer rather than working as a blacksmith.

That said many beer sellers retained their original occupations seeing beer as just a side line.

All of which brings me back to the Vine which extended into the neighbouring building a few years ago and now features a cellar bar
devoted to a range of interesting brands of whiskies.

I doubt very much if this is the building which Martha or the other publicans back in the 1850s would have known.  It post dates them and may date from late the 1870s when it was the offices of a solicitor an accountant and a cloth agent.**

Inside the Vine, 2016
These venerable and sober businessmen might well have shuddered at one story that Mike and Rachelle the current owners told me about a Mary O’ Sullivan who may have run the Vine at sometime in the past and may have been murdered in the little entry which once gave access from Kennedy Street into a courtyard behind the pubs.

A first sweep of the records has not revealed Mary O’Sullivan but Rachelle was told by someone researching his family tree that his ancestor was connected with the Vine so I shall continue to go looking.

You can order the book from 

Location; Manchester

Painting; The Vine Inn Manchester. Painting © 2014 Peter Topping, Paintings from Pictures

Picture; detail of Kennedy Street in 1849 from the 1849 OS of Manchester & Salford, 1842-49 and in 1900 from Goad's Fire Insurance Maps, by kind permission of Digital Archives Association,

*Kennedy Street, Enu 1aa 34, Market Street, Manchester, 1851

**Slater's Directories, 1850, 1863, 1876, 1911

A day in December on our High Street ................. nu 3 the Park Tavern

Now if you still live where you grew up the chances are that you take it all for granted.

For those of us who long ago moved away from Eltham that is something we can’t do.

So here for the next few days are a selection of Eltham High street on a December day just before Christmas.

They were taken by Ryan and are not in any order but take me back to the High Street I remember.

Not that I ever went in the Park Tavern but I have written about it and what I like about Ryan’s picture is the way he has caught the detail of the pubs name picked out half way up.*

Picture; The Park Tavern, 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn

*Painting Well Hall and Eltham ....... nu 6 outside the Park Tavern,

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A day in December on our High Street ................. nu 1 the Library

Now if you still live where you grew up the chances are that you take it all for granted.

For those of us who long ago moved away from Eltham that is something we can’t do.

So here for the next few days are a selection of Eltham High street on a December day just before Christmas.

They were taken by Ryan and are not in any order but take me back to the High Street I remember.

And here to start off the series is the Library.

It was built “with funds from the Carnegie Trust to a design by Maurice Adams.  The classical frontispiece is recessed and on either side are oriel windows and tile hung gables flanked by urns.”*

Next door at nos 183-5 “is the old electricity showroom which was built in the early 1930s by the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich; upstairs at that time was the office of the Council’s Registrar [and] behind it was a building used from the early 1900s as the electricity works, Woolwich being the electricity supply authority at the time.”*

Picture, Eltham Library, 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn

*Spurgeoon, Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000

Monday, 26 December 2016

A little bit of gentle humour in 1903

Now I thought about digging out a Victorian Christmas card given the date, but I have done those already in the past and anyway Christmas is pretty much covered where ever you look, so instead here is a gentle bit of fun.

It dates from around 1903 and was sold not only here in Britain but also in the U.S.A, and Canada.

And before I upset Karl who delievers our mail I shall just reiterate that the Post Office has never let us down.

Picture;  URGENT, BY SPECIAL MESSENGER from the series, comic sketches, marketed by Tuck and sons, 1903, courtesy of Tuck DB,

Sunday, 25 December 2016

On Christmas Day with presents from the 1950s

Dinky toy, circa 1955
Now I doubt that any one will be beating their way to a computer today and the readership of the blog will take a dip.

Nevertheless as you are sitting back amongst the discarded wrapping paper, with a day of indulgence ahead I thought that I would just be more than a little selfish and share a few of the Christmas presents that came my way when I was a child.

A book I still read, 1954
Most have long since vanished like the wooden toy forts my dad made, complete with battlements, towers, drawbridges and even one year a portcullis.

This was also the year he made four identical rocking cribs for each of my four sisters for their Christmas dolls.

They were massive affairs and each painted a different colour.

But for me throughout the 1950s and into the early 60 presents were dominated by the train set and the Eagle comic.

So there would be an addition to the big train set which stood on a converted ping pong table and took up all of a big room with its track lay out, marshalling yards stations, signals and model village.  Usually this might be a new locomotive or a few freight wagons.

Alongside these there was always an Eagle annual and the odd Dan Dare toy.*

Dan Dare from Eagle Annual nu Six, Christmas 1956
The toys had usually broken by February but the annuals have lasted the test of time and can still fascinate me over 50 years after I opened them under the tree infront of an open fire.

And as you do I continue to collect a whole range of the books put out for children during the 1950s.

Some I wish I had been given, others are totally new to me, and others still were ones that at the time I would not have gone near but now are as interesting as the Eagle.

Of these it is the Girl  which was the companion to the Eagle annual that I return to.

And that I think is enough of nostalgia for another year.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The Eagle,