Sunday, 13 August 2017

Renshaws Buildings in Martledge

Even I have to admit that this bit of road and kerb stone is not the most exciting picture of Chorlton and yet it is all that is left of Martledge that part of the old township which ran from the four banks down to the library.

All this week I have been writing about the place and today I want to focus on the building which ran along the side of this bit of road.  It was a block of six or maybe 12 dwellings and was variously known as New Buildings or Renshaws Buildings.

It was set at right angles to what is now Barlow Moor Road and in its time must have looked the part. It had a large impressive gable end and despite being farm cottages dominated this part of Martledge.

The block was owned and may have been built by John Renshaw sometime before 1832.  He was a market gardener living in a farm house on the Row* who also owned a number of cottages around the township.  Some at least would have been wattle and daub structures but Renshaws Buildings were made of brick.

Now I can be fairly confident that they predate 1832 because they are listed as part of his property qualification which entitled him to a Parliamentary vote in the newly reformed House of Commons.

And it maybe that they represent the first building boom here in Chorlton in the 1840s and 40s by speculative tradesmen who wanted to cash in on the population increase or maybe just the desire of local people to live in a house made of brick rather than wood, mud and straw.

It is unclear how many units there were but the evidence from the census and the old maps suggests that they were one up one down back to back dwellings.  By the beginning of the 20th century part of the block had been converted into commercial use and just before their demolition this bit was a garage.

They came down sometime in the mid 1920s to make way for the present Royal Oak pub.  I wish we had some written memories of what they were like but sadly we don’t.  On the other hand we do have a few photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries along with details of who lived there from the 1840s and the rents they paid, but for all that it is back to the book where you can see Barris’ reconstruction picture of Renshaws Buildings in more detail.  It is based on a number of the photographs and maps and we are looking at it from the west, as if were heading into the township from Manchester.  The kerb stone and narrow road are hidden on its eastern side.

*Today this is Beech Road and his home was on the site of Ivy Court facing the Rec

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson and Barri Sparshot

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