Tuesday, 31 January 2017

That lost picture of the Royal Oak in 1902 with young Thomas Kelsey

This is a picture of the old Royal Oak I have never seen before.

The caption gives a date of 1902 and refers to “the boy Thomas Kelsey, son of the landlord of the inn at the time.”

Now it is very unusual to be able to name a person in a Chorlton photograph from the early 20th century.

Usually we are just presented with a sea of faces whose identities are lost in time.

But this is different.

Thomas was born in 1893 in Salford and his parents ran the Duke of York pub at 186 Regent Road, before moving in 1895 to the Royal Oak here in Chorlton.

The pub trade ran deep in the family, Thomas’s father was working in the Glass House on Regent Road by 1881 when he was 18 years old and his parents had run a beer shop just off Regent Road.

But what makes this picture all the more interesting is the detail which it reveals about the pub.

The Royal Oak was originally a beer shop which dated back to the early 1830s and consisted of little more than four rooms.

But what intrigues me is the building behind which seems to have been added on by the 1890s.

The OS map for 1894 and 1907 show that pub had been enlarged and the 1911 census return records that there were eight rooms.

Nor is that all because George Kelsey appears to have been more than just a publican because the sign to our right announces that he was also in the business of “CABS, HANSOMS” and offered a LIVERY STATION.”

Sadly at present I lose them after 1911 but this is a start and in the fullness of time I shall discover more.

But as ever there is always someone who pushes the story on.  So I was pleased when Andy Robertson  trawled the rate books and fond that 1895 as the first year George Kelsey paid rates in the township.

More will be revealed.

That said there is that finger print just below the sign, now that would be a real detective story.

Picture, the Royal Oak, 1902, m50447, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass


*The Royal Oak, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/The%20Royal%20Oak



Posters from the Past ........... no 7 enjoying a film and a night out at the Grosvvenor

Take a modern image of a building we all love and turn it into the style of poster which was popular in the middle decades of the last century.

It was a bit of fun from Peter which has become the series Posters of the Past.*

And today it is the turn of the Grosvenor which was opened in 1915 to a design by Percy Hothersall and with almost a thousand seats was I think the biggest cinema outside the city centre at the time.

Even now long after its days as a place to see films have ceased it is still a pretty impressive building.

Its green and cream terracotta tiles marked it out on that stretch of Oxford Road which apart from the Town Hall opposite and the old offices of the Poor Law Union on the corner of Cavendish Street was a drab spot.

And I just missed going there.

It closed as a cinema in 1968 and I had to be content with using it as a pub which it had become after unsuccessful stints as a bingo hall and snooker venue.

Still some of the original features still exist including the balcony, vaulted ceiling and much plasterwork although they have not been treated well.

I guess the cinema entrepreneur, H.D. Moorhouse would be less than amused.  Pretty much all his working life was given over to picture houses and the films, having started as an accountant he got drawn in with a parts share on one and later a string of cinemas, across the city.

And now his cinema is a pub.

So instead let’s slide back to a time when the price of admission to a night of dreams, fears and adventure was just 6d.

I think it would have to be the 1930s with that wonderful film Things to Come.  Of course yours will be different but as they say “you can be at my film night if I can be in yours.

Poster; The Grosvenor, © 2016 Peter Topping

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

*Posters from the Past  https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Posters%20from%20the%20Past


Monday, 30 January 2017

Number 73 Shude Hill sometime around 1984 ...... and the start of a story

Now I don’t remember number 73 Withy Grove and a full 33 years after John took this picture I doubt many will.

It comes from his 1980s collection of photographs of Manchester and Salford and is just the thing to start a story.*

In time I will trawl the street directories for the early 20th century and also ask my mate Andy Robertson to look up numbers 73 and 75 on his 1969 directory and then armed with names go off again to see what I can find.

In the meantime I will let you ponder on what replaced these two.

I know as well as John and Andy.

It is less a quiz and more just a bit of historical fun.

There are no prizes of course but just the pleasure in beating everyone else to the answer.

Location; Manchester

Picture; Withy Grove, Manchester circa 1984 from the collection of John Casey

*John Casey https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/John%20Casey

How we lived and what got us cross ............ Eltham in 1977

Nothing dates more quickly than the contemporary TV or film documentary made in the last forty or so years.

I guess it is partly the style of delivery, the antiquated technology used to make it and the scenes themselves which are often still recognisable but just look a tad odd.

And the most bizarre thing is that it will be the material made say in the 1960s, 70s and 80s which look the most dated.

That said the documentary currently going round the Eltham sites is a fascinating insight into what the area was like back then, and the growing problems of traffic congestion, and the impact of new ways of shopping.

“Part of a 1986 ILEA series called House And Home, this episode looks at the suburban town of Eltham, examining residents with sympathy but almost anthropological fascination while also looking at traffic, transport and domestic architecture. 

Talking us through Eltham life are the White family, including Mr White, who works as a policeman in Westminster: 'It’s not uncommon to be asked the time when standing under Big Ben. As a kindness we try not to look up at it.'”

It has been issued by the B.F.I. and some people may have seen an earlier short posted showing soldiers passing through Eltham during the Great War.



Picture; Eltham High Street, courtesy of Jean Gammons

* Semi-detached Suburban http://player.bfi.org.uk/film/watch-semi-detached-suburban-1977/

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Gasholders I have known and loved

Now I grant you they may not seem the most compelling things to write about or indeed to asdmire.

But if you are of a certain age and lived close to a city or town centre they will have been part of the landscape.

I grew up near one and lived close to another when we occupied a flat in east Manchester.

Most of us will have taken them for granted and yet in their way they were a marvel of the 19th century and as much an symbol of that period as the steam engine or the dark satanic mills.

Until recently I have no idea there had been one on King Street West near the House of Fraser although I do have a fine picture of the coking room of the one on Rochdale Road.

Once the manufacture and storage of “town gas” was an essential part of each town and city and were just taken for granted.

So here in a new series are two pictures of the one in east Manchester from the camera of John Casey dating from the 1980s.

Be warned ............ more will follow.

Location; East Manchester

Pictures; the gasholder in east Manchester, 1980s from the collection of John Casey

*Gasholders, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Gasholders

Down on Auburn Street by the canal ......... around the corner from Aytoun Street

Now the old brick building on Aytoun Street which in my day was the Unemployment Exhange has gone.

I passed pretty much every day during the week in the early 1970s.

It was planned in the late 30s, held up by the war and completed in 1951 taking three years to build.

At the time I rather thought it ugly and would have agreed with  Pevsner who described it as “brick, thin and cheap.”

Near the end of its life it was run down and not very nice to look at, but casting an eye over old pictures of the place I have to say it had something.

And for those who want to do just that I recommend that thoughtful and always interesting site on Manchester by Skyliner.*

For now I shall close with images taken by my old friend Andy Robertson who was there in 2015 when construction begun after the Labour Exchange had been cleared and was back yesterday to record the new structure.

Location; Auburn Street, Manchester

Pictures; Auburn Street, 2015 and 2017 from the collection of Andy Robertson

*AYTOUN STREET EMPLOYMENT EXCHANGEhttp://www.theskyliner.org/aytoun-street-employment-exchange/





On a January day in Woolwich ................. from Theresa Simpson-lee

Now there is a lot of truth in that simple observation that you should never go back to where you grew up.

Usually it just leads to disappointment as favourite shops, special places and even the atmosphere have undergone vast changes.

Despite what some say Eltham is pretty much as I left it in 1973 and while there are bitts which I mourn the passing of it is pretty much as I remember it.

But not so Woolwich and here I have my sister Theresa to thank who spent an afternoon wandering around the town.

And so I just leave you with the first of a series of pictures taken this month.

Location; Woolwich

Pictures; Woolwich 2017 from the collection of Theresa Simpson-lee

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Posters from the Past ........... no 6 a capital choice of destination

Now the brief was simple.

Take a modern image of a building we all love and turn it into the style of poster which was popular in the middle decades of the last century.

It was a bit of fun from Peter which has become the series Posters of the Past.*

And having made the poster my contribution was to place it in a time before now.

So given Peter’s slogan I suggest a promotional poster from the late 1940s before the age of cheap jet travel, when if you had a month to spare and fancied something luxurious you might well be tempted by the poster in the offices of a well known shipping company in downtown New York.

Tower Bridge is of course one of those iconic structures which is instantly recognizable as London and of course leaves me to offer him a challenge which is to produce in quick succession one of Eltham where I grew up and Rome and Naples which will always be my two favourite cities.

So that is it, leaving me only to say if you have an image of a place which is dear to you and want it included in Posters from the Past send it over and we will rise to the occasion.

There is no prize and the picture must be yours, otherwise Colin Copyright might be after us.
Location London

Poster; Tower Bridge, © 2016 Peter Topping
Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

*Posters from the Past  https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Posters%20from%20the%20Past

Stepping back in time in Southport with John Casey

Now history comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and we should never turn away from even the most trivial bits of our past.

So I was pleased when John Casey sent over three photographs from a trip to Southport.

To the casual observer they are just three pictures of the gents in a shop.

But to John and to me and I suspect many others the three images take you back in time.

Today modern design would dictate that the sinks should be part of a continuous unit with electronic sensors to tell the water when to flow and might even have their own drier fixed above the taps.

Likewise the doors to the lavatory  will be made of a material which is lightweight with a universal catch making it easy to operate.

But here in Southport they do things differentlty.

I have never visited the shop so I can’t say whether you still have to insert a coin into the lock but I can be pretty sure that the hand drier will be relatively new and before it the lavatory used one of those old fashioned cotton towels.

And I can still remember a time before the modern metal box and towel were installed when instead there was a wooden bar from which hung a looped towel, which on very busy days would be all be wet.

Which in turn reminded me of the days in winter before central heating when towels always seemed to be damp.

Location; Southport

Pictures; Southport, 2017 from the collection of John Casey

Around Manchester ......... my sort of history book

Now Around Manchester is my sort of history book.*

According to the notes on the back “it begins with the Romans and finishes with graphene, taking in everything in between from religion, politics, cotton, industrial power, railways and canals, to decline and regeneration ........”

And so all the familiar places and people are here but what I like about the book is its concentration on the bits that most historians gloss over.

So here are sections on Harpurhey, Monsall, Newton Heath and Beswick.

And while it is a book on Manchester it does our twin city proud with fascinating insights into Salford's history.

The book is written in an accessible style where the scholarship is detailed but not overpowering.

 What I particularly like is the way Mr Barlow starts with a subject and effortlessly moves around it drawing in related topics and themes.

So chapter 29 starts with Valette the artist and by degree moves on to Albert Square and the Town Hall encompassing Manchester’s bold 1945 plan for the city and takes in “a Spaniard in a Green hat dreaming of Andalusia a New Yorker who hated crowds and a Squadron of Indians each with a blue and white hat, grouped around Mr Gladstone.”

It is a style which reminds me very much of how I first came to know and love the city.
Back in the 1960s with a few hours to spend between lectures at the College of Knowledge on Aytoun Street I would take off on adventures and it is adventures that we get in the book.

One of my favourites is Motorway in the Sky which is the story of the Mancunian Way which when it was built was hailed as exciting and a mark of the new Manchester.

It comes in at just over 400 pages with a mix of colour pictures and is a snip at £14.99.

My only criticism and it is a minor one is that it lacks an index.

But then that will just encourage me to read it all over again.

King Street ...... featured in the book
Now I met Mr Barlow at a recent festival in GMex and decided I wanted the book which I bought today.*

And here is the rub because standing in Chorlton Bookshop I decided that this would be a perfect present for my old friend Gerry who is 70 this week.

But that would mean handing it over before I had fully read it.

On the other hand that would also make public that I had spent the morning reading Gerry’s present.

All of which leaves me no choice but to order a second copy.

Location; Manchester

Picture; cover of Around Manchester, by Wesley Harding

*Around Manchester, Nigel P Barlow, 2016, Manchester Publishing, www.aboutmanchester.co.uk

**Nigel Barlow, http://history.aboutmanchester.co.uk/

Friday, 27 January 2017

The 27 Steps a mystery no more

The Twenty-seven steps, 1959
Just when you think you have pretty much nailed knowing some of the history of Chorlton, up pops an obscure reference which sets you off.


So for about a year now I have been pondering on a caption on a photograph by the local historian John Lloyd where he referred to the 27 steps.

It crops up in a number of pictures and I thought it referred to somewhere along the bank of the Mersey.

I can’t say I had been over energetic in hunting down the spot, consoling myself with the thought that the location had been radically altered and that it had long since passed out of popular knowledge.

Not that I asked anyone.

And like so many other little mysteries it just dropped off the list of things to find out about.

But then Peter Blunn posted this picture on a facebook site which he had come across on the digital archive of Manchester Libraries.

According to the caption this was the “Twenty--seven steps, a noted local landmark on Mauldeth Road West, Manchester 21, railway bridge over BLM Region Main Line to London (St Pancras)”

The railway line and bridge, 1893
The photograph was taken by Mr R.E. Stanley in the September of 1959 and clearly back then the steps were well known.

So one bit of the mystery solved only to lead to another, because the obvious next question is when were the steps constructed?

The line was in place by 1880 and the bridge carrying what is now Mauldeth Road West is there on the OS map for 1893, so still some digging to go.

But I bet there is someone out there who knows.

Picture; Twenty--seven steps, a noted local landmark on Mauldeth Road West, 1959, R.E. Stanley, M18106 courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass and detail of railway line in 1893 from the OS map of South Lancashire, 1888-93, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

Posters from the Past ........... no 5 Pullman Dining Pickering to Grosmont

Now here is a poster for my friend Marion Jackson who wrote on Tuesday that  she was enjoying the new series Posters from the Past and "loved the posters you used to see in train carriages." 

And asked if we were going to include "some of the old advertising that was so amusing,  like the ones for wool."

So for Marion and for all those who have never lost their fascination for steam locomotives here is another of our pastiche posters in the style of another time.

"Grosmont developed mainly as a centre of ironstone mining, which flourished during the nineteenth century. 

From here the rock was taken to the Teesside blast furnaces. Grosmont also produced the 'Grosmont brick' from 1870 until 1957, a particularly dense brick which defies being drilled.

Today, the village is dominated by the heritage steam and diesel services operated by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway which runs from Pickering to Grosmont, with an extra service along the Esk Valley Railway line from Grosmont to Whitby on some days during the summer season."**

Now that is about all there is to say, other than just before Christmas we treated Ron to a birthday trip on the East Lancs Railway.

But that is as they say another story, so I shall just finish by asking Marion to tell us more about those wool adverts.

Location; Yorkshire

Poster; Travel By Train, © 2016 Peter Topping
Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/paintingsfrompictures

*Posters from the Past  https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Posters%20from%20the%20Past

**Route of the Esk Valley Railway, http://www.eskvalleyrailway.co.uk/stations/grosmont.html

Revisiting Marshall Street and the entrance to Marsden Harcombe & Company

Now it’s been a long time since I was down on Marshall Street and so I have no idea if the entrance to the former Marsden Harcombe & Company factory still exists.

Marshall Street, 2015
I knew the building as the Greater Manchester County Records Office which is now in Central Ref and since they moved the place has been empty.

A full year ago I reflected on its future and then as you do forgot about it but Phil Portus has set me off thinking about both the building and Marsden Harcombe & Company again.*

I don’t as yet know when they set up in Marshall Street or when they closed down, but in 1911 James Harcombe, mattress & manufacturer (Marsden, Harcombe & Co) were listed at 19 Highfield Drive Monton” which is a residential property.

So their manufacturing business will have been elsewhere but there is no listing for them on Marshall Street although my eye was caught by The Cosy Workmen’s Home on the corner with Chadderton Street but that will have to wait for another time.

Soap Street, circa 1900
Eventually I tracked the firm to Soap Street which is off Thomas Street and is one of those narrow little places that would not be out of place in a novel by Charles Dickens.

And at some point after 1911 they made that move to Marshall Street but to fasten on the exact date will mean trawling through a pile of directories but I do know that much of the street was still terraced housing at the beginning of the 20th century.

So for now I will just leave you with Phil’s picture and a map of Soap Street from the 1900s . **

And after this was posted, Pauline Sprague Kielty commented that "my Dad and his cousin worked there.maybe in the 30s they made mattresses. Then when Dad was doing the family history 1999 we went there to look up family records as it turned into the records office . Dad noticed the old clocking off clock still attached to the wall."  Magic

Location; Marshall Street, Soap Street, Manchester

Pictures; Marsden Harcombe & Company, Marshall Street, 2015, from the collection of Phil Portus, and Soap Street, 1900, from Goad’s Fire Insurance maps, courtesy of Digital Archive Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

*Lost Images of our Commercial Past ..... part one ........ down on Marshall Street, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/lost-images-of-our-commercial-past-part.html

**Salford Project, http://www.philportus.co.uk/salford-project/


Looking down on Eltham in the late 1960s

The aerial photograph has got to be one of those powerful ways of capturing a scene.

So here we are flying over Eltham sometime in the late 1960s or early 70s.

Over to our left just below the centre of the image is the parish church and behind it on Well Hall Road and the High Street is Burtons now a fast food restaurant.

Travel up the High Street and on the right at the junction with Passey Place is the old ABC cinema.

Now I could go on but rather think the fun of the picture is about leaving it up to you to wander over the view identifying the landmarks.

Location; Eltham, London

Picture; from Looking At Eltham, Eltham Society, 1970, supplied by the Kentish Times

The amazing David Harrop collection is on its travels ............ be the first to display an item

Now anyone who knows David Harrop, will know about his collection which spans two world wars and the history of the Postal Service.

Many of the items from that collection have appeared over the years as stories on the blog and most of the material featured in my book Manchester Remembering 1914-18 was sourced by him.*

The items range from rare photographs and picture postcards, to letters, theatre posters and a lots of everyday ephemera, much of which would usually be thrown away or destroyed.

And amongst the vast cornucopia of “old and historic things” are the big ones, which include pillar boxes, a “posty” bike, a Victorian mail cart and my own favourite which is the RAF clock.

David tells me they have out grown his current storage units and he is looking for somewhere to store some of them for a short period.

And so here is the appeal ............. if you have a spare garage, large secure shed he would be happy to hear from you.

But more than that David is keen for these items from the collection to be seen which leads me to that second appeal to schools, offices or work places who would like a little bit of history to adorn their space to also get in touch with him.

Presently some of his collection is on permanent display in the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery while in recent years other items have been seen in towns around the North West.

David has various facebook sites where he can be reached or leave a comment on the blog and David will pick it up and be in touch.

Location, pretty much anywhere


Manchester Remembering 1914-18 by Andrew Simpson is published by the History Press on February 2 2017











Order now from the History Press, http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/great-war-britain-manchester-remembering-1914-18/9780750978965/ or Chorlton Book Shop, info@chorltonbookshop.co.uk 0161 881 6374

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Manchester%20and%20the%20Great%20War

Pictures; from the collection of David Harrop

Thursday, 26 January 2017

“No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat, At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street”


I have always liked the idea of getting from Chorlton into town in a matter of minutes. It was what made where we live so attractive to the families of those who lived here in the years after the railway arrived.

For some it was the advantage of being able to travel home from the city centre for lunch and be back in time for the afternoon session. So the tram for me just ticked loads of boxes. Not only is it quick but it recreates a little bit of how we used to live. The new railway was so popular that during its first five years the number of season ticket holders rose from 200 to 600.

And the railway didn’t just mean passengers there was also the goods side. Today on the site of Morrison’s and stretching down along Albany Road down to Buckingham Road were three railway tracks and the businesses which relied on the railway to bring the goods. Of these coal was the most obvious. From here operated the coal merchants like Norman Bailey. More than one old friend remembers being sent down to pay for the order of coal.

And then there was also the livestock. The Bailey’s also had the farm at Park Bridge and brought their pigs from the station down to the farm well into the 1950s.

Now Peter’s painting of the tram brings back the excitement of travelling on the railway.

I always think it has a sleek look which is in contrast to the big powerful engines of steam. And it was while I was thinking about a train story that I came across this 1955 picture of Loco Number 73000 passing through the station. In the background is the station and the marshalling yards and beyond them Albany Road.

It is good that the tram has reawakened the old line and put to rest Slow Train that old Flanders and Swann song lamenting the loss of so many branch lines during the Beeching cuts. Written in 1963 it is as much a comment on the end of these railway lines as the passing of a way of life.
“No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat,
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street”


Chorlton survived the cuts in 1963 only to close 4 years later and 44 years later it’s possible ride the line again. Not a bad way to close the story on Peter's painting.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Pictures; ©Peter Topping 2011 www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk & Loco Number 73000 passing through Chorlton Station, 1955, the Lloyd collection
comment on the end of these railway lines as the passing of a way of life.

Posters from the Past ........... no 3 Manchester Central and an adventure

“What if” Peter said “we take an iconic Manchester building and make it a bit more special by turning it into a period poster ...... the sort we grew up with.”

Now that I thought just had to be a brilliant project combining my love of old steam railways with that sense of magic and adventure that came with taking a train journey and of course Peter’s talents as an artist.

So here we are at Manchester Central Railway Station in the style of the sort of poster which was popular from the 1920s.

And all that was left was for me to write a story, and here I cheated falling back on one I wrote three years ago and revisited in 2016.

For this I feel no shame and would just point to the avalanche of repeats on the telly and the wireless, and if it is good enough for Morecombe and Wise and the Two Ronnie’s that will do for me.

So sit back in the Wetting room of Chorlton Railway station for the 9.45 from Central.

It is Sunday April 7th 1957 and I am on Chorlton railway station waiting for the train from Central which left at 9.45 am and is due here just twelve minutes later.

The weather according to the forecast is promising, for “after frost at first, areas will have a fine, mainly sunny day, with normal or slightly higher temperature”* which will gives us about 8⁰C or a little bit more.

And that I reckon is just right for a ramble in the countryside which is what we would have been planning to do on that April morning back in 1957.

This I know from a delightful poster which British Railways published in that year**  advertising Special Excursions to Chinley, Edale, Hope, Bamford and Hathersage.

It is of course a journey that can no longer be made by rail, but back in 1957 our station still had another ten years before it was closed and there are quite a few people who remember making the trip into the Hope valley by train from Chorlton.

All of which makes the advert by British Railways a valuable piece of history, for not only do we have the journey times for this long vanished service but also the cost.  So from Chorlton it cost 4/3d for a return ticket to Hope and took just 19 minutes.

These were “organised rambles, with leaders provided, details of the routes to be taken and walks for both individuals and parties.”

So having done the ramble the train back would have left Hope at two minutes past seven arriving back in Chorlton at about 8.10 in the evening.

It is a journey I would have loved to have made, not least because it was while in Hope recently that we decided to take up serious walking.  But sadly back in 1957 I was just eight years old and living in London.

Location; Manchester





Poster; Manchester Central, © 2016 Peter Topping

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

Pictures; from Manchester Railway Termini, E.M.Johnson, Foxline Publishing,  1987

*The Observer April 7th 1957

**Special Excursions to Chinley, Edale, Hope, Bamford and Hathersage, from Manchester Railway Termini, E.M.Johnson, Foxline Publishing,  1987

Half a century of looking up the High Street

This is one of those scenes of the High Street which at first glance seems to have changed very little from the first time I wandered up from Well Hall Road in the spring of 1964.

Of course like loads of other people I can reel off a few of the smaller changes ranging from the disappearance of Burton's, Harry Fenton’s, and Payne’s along with the ABC and the Wimpy bar.

All of them very personal to me while for other people we could throw in Hind’s, the Co-op, the Castle and David Grieg’s.

Not that there is anything odd in that, all places change over time and for me at least the passage of fifty-one years is a big chunk of my life.

But go back a century and a bit and the differences between then and now would be more dramatic.

The High Street would have been narrower and there would have been a succession of grand houses  sitting behind their high walls, along with a fair few smaller and meaner cottages tucked away off the main road.

Now all of these I have written about in the past so instead I shall just reflect on the changes to come which will start with that proposed cinema and may also see the reappearance of a few more pubs again.

After all the demise of the Castle and the Man of Kent left a hole and the bar culture and micro pub are fast taking over many High Streets.





Picture; Looking up the High Street, 2015, from the collection of Elizabeth and Colin Fitzpatrick

Memories of the Swan in Collyhurst ................ lost Manchester pubs and a set of questions

Now I say lost but I am not quite sure and I am prepared to offer up a humble apology to the landlord/landlady and clientele of the Swan on  Hamerton Road.

The picture is another from that wonderful collection of Manchester and Salford in the 1980s.

They belong to John Casey and are a fabulous record of what the twin cities were like just three decades ago.

John told me that “this was once our local in the 50s/60s, Norman St. off Rochdale Road, Collyhurst. 

Not sure if it's still there but imagine it will be closed if the building is still standing.  The first is is mine, the other two I think are from Central Library.”

All of which presents me with lots of questions.

Does the pub still do the business of selling beer and cheer?  Is the building still standing and does anyone recognise the other two images?  A trawl of the Local Image Collection didn’t offer a match for the two and given that I only post pictures with permission I shall leave them out which is a shame, given that both perfectly record how parts of Manchester and Salford went through those huge house clearance schemes.

Location; Collyhurst

Pictures; the Swan, circa 1980s 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

One very remarkable photograph of Chorlton-cum-Hardy Central School in the August of 1927

Now when my friend Ian Henderson told me about his dad’s school photograph from 1927 I knew we had a fascinating piece of history.

It was taken in the playground of what is now Oswald Road School playground and is a unique record in the form of one of those long pictures which got everyone in from the head teacher down to the youngest student.

It is too big to be shown in its entirety and so over the next few days I want to show it in sections.

There may even be people in Chorlton who can tell a story of one of those in the picture.

I could start with Ian’s dad but I will let him do that.

Suffice to say that the photograph cost 1/6d came in its own stiff cardboard package and has stood the test of 90 years.

But with nearly a century under its belt Ian decided to get a copy made and I am grateful to him for sharing the reproduction.

And that just leaves me to say Ian stalled our burglar alarm  nearly 30 years ago and continues to look after it with care and attention.*

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

*HBAlarms, http://www.hbaalarms.co.uk/


Picture; Chorlton-cum-Hardy Central School in the August of 1927, from the collection of Ian Henderson.

Posters from the Past ........... no 2 Berlin, the Bauhus and an explanation

Now yesterday I introduced the new series, Posters from the Past with Peter’s invitation to Blackpool and here as promised is his explanation for how the project came about.*

“When I go travelling I always carry my camera with me in case I am inspired by that "perfect moment". 

And there I was travelling with my son and his wife on the Berlin U-Bahn when I came across a 1920s Art Deco style poster. It fascinated me to think that before the age of technology these posters were hand painted and 
reproduced by a lithographic process.

Not only were these posters incredible works of art but they were the prime source of advertising.

As we arrived on the platform the underground train was waiting for us. The children walked towards it and I saw "a moment in time". This was not just a photo opportunity but an inspiration to recreate the Art Deco poster technique of the 1920s and 1930s.

I had memories of visits to the Bauhaus, with its style of design based on a minimalist approach, clean lines with bold, simple colours. 

And then my mind turned to British artist Kenneth Hauff with his Whitby... It's Quicker By Rail poster and then to Charles Shepherd from Baynard Press, who studied art under Paul Woodroffe, and produced countless British Rail posters.

But... As Andrew keeps telling me... he tells the stories and I paint the pictures. So this leads me very quickly into describing an idea for a series of posters of Manchester, enhanced by stories from Andrew.”

Well that was last night and by this morning we had decided that the series would go worldwide, so having strayed up the coast to Blackpool, stood in the Berlin U-Bahn the series will return to Manchester before heading off to London and beyond.

Location; pretty much everywhere.

Posters; Berlin U-Bahn, and Blackpool, © 2016 Peter Topping

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

*Posters from the Pasthttps://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Posters%20from%20the%20Past

The Tram Shed in Well Hall Road

A short series looking at the story behind the picture.

They date from when the tram service from Woolwich began and consisted of two toilets and a waiting room.

Now they have always been there and I never took much notice of them but have used them on occasion.

Back in the early 1970s there was a suggestion from the Borough planners that they should be demolished, and be “relocated when an opportunity occurs” to allow the creation of “an open space, either by retaining the boundary wall to Wall Hall Road ....or demolish part of the outer wall [of the church] and bring the open space visually right into the heart of the town centre.”*


But as Jean's picture shows that opportunity never occurred

Picture; from the collection of Jean Gammons

*A Future for Eltham Town Centre, Greenwich Borough Council, 1972

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The White Hart in Eltham, drinking back the years

Now today I am being rather lazy and have not dug deep in to our history to find out about the White Hart.

This I shall do, trawling the directories and the census returns but for now I shall just present these two images.

Chrissie took this image of the present pub earlier this year and I like the way she has caught the place just as the light is fading.

I haven’t been in there for a long time which is a shame because I read it has picked up some nice reviews.

That said I would rather like to have visited its predecessor which was still relatively new when it was photographed in 1909.

And for that matter the pub it replaced.  But that is just the romantic in me.

In the meantime you can always read about Elizabeth Jane Hunt who lived close by.*

Pictures; The White Hart today, © Chrissie Rose, 2014 and the White Hart in 1909, from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm

*With Elizabeth Jane Hunt and three children in a two roomed house in Eltham in 1911
http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/with-elizabeth-jane-hunt-and-three.html

When a poster made you happy ....... walking back to the 1920s

Just suppose said Peter “we took a style of poster popular in the 1920s and 30s and used it to advertise places we like today......... now that would be fun”


And I agreed with him which is as good an introduction to Posters from the Past as you get.*

Tomorrow Peter will explain the story behind the new series.

And that until tomorrow is all I have to say.

Location; Blackpool

Poster; Blackpool, © 2016 Peter Topping

Web: www.paintingsfrompictures.co.uk

 *Posters from the Past, https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Posters%20from%20the%20Past

The places I usually don’t photograph ................... nu 2 from behind

It was September 2014 and I was  on my way to meet up.



Location;  St Ann’s Square

Picture; St Ann’s Square, 2014 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Monday, 23 January 2017

The places I usually don’t photograph ...................nu 1 that other entrance

It was September 2014 and I was  on my way to meet up.





Location; Mr Thomas’s St Ann’s Alley

Picture; Mr Thomas’s St Ann’s Alley, 2014 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Mr Greig's superior grocers shop in Eltham High Street

A short series looking at the story behind the picture.

I don’t suppose many people ever look up at the top 132/136 which is a pity given what is there and the history behind it.

The building was “erected for the grocers David Greig in 1905 – the initials are in terracotta in the gables.  Note the fine brickwork, the two balconies, and lots of quirky detail.”*

And not to be out done the building next door at 130 dates back to the mid 19th century

*Spurgeoon, Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000

Picture; from the collection of Jean Gammons

Stories from the Beer Festival .... no 2 hiding from Eric

Now it was day two of the Beer and Cider Festival hosted by CAMRA in GMex and we were well over due a visit from Eric.*

Of all the people who contributed to our book on Manchester Pubs Eric has a special place.

I can’t say it is down to what he added to the book.

His stories, and his memories were at best inaccurate and more often just downright made up, but his presence has been felt in a fair few of the 78 pubs featured in the book.

We only bought him the one pint but there were the hapless punters who made that cardinal mistake of catching his eye and were then doomed to a night of uninterrupted conversation which only paused when Eric made it clear he “needed a wee bit more of the beery stuff” to carry on with his tales of ghosts, abandoned young maidens and disreputable landlord most of which were indeed pure invention.

And given that there were hundreds of different beers and ciders on offer at the Festival we reckoned he might show up and visit us as we sat selling the book.

But he failed to show and by a little after 2 pm on that second day we had sold the entire print run which had amounted to 200 copies.

The 200 had arrived at Peter’s house on December 21st and so in a month they were all gone prompting a reorder which will come in a couple of days.

Leaving aside Eric we met some very interesting people most of whom bought the book and were full of their own stories of Manchester pubs.

Nor was that all for as quite a few we encountered had travelled down from Scotland, across from Yorkshire and up from the south there were plenty of tales of breweries, pubs and other beer festivals which were fascinating.

Manchester Pubs is available from www.pubbooks.co.uk 

Location; Manchester

Pictures, inside GMex at the Beer and Cider Festival, January 19-21 2017f rom the collection of Andrew Simpson

* The Festival began on Wednesday night and finished on Saturday.