Sunday, 26 March 2017

Rare pictures of the Horse and Jockey and a mysterious historian of Chorlton

This is one of three photographs that I doubt very few people have seen.

It is the Horse and Jockey in 1933 and appears in a Short History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy published privately in that year.

There are plenty of pictures of the pub from the very early years of the 20th century and lots from the 1950s onwards but so far I have only come across a couple which date to the 30s and 40s.

So this is an interesting one and shows the original before it expanded into the cottages on the left of the front door.

To our right beyond the fence had been the home of the Wilton family who lived there for most of the 19th century.  It was Samuel Wilton who around 1818 enclosed the green for his own personal garden with tall hedges and an allotment.  The space only returned to public use with the death of his daughter.

The remaining two photographs are of the parish church and Hough End Hall and all three were taken by F. Blyth who also printed the book at the College of Technology in Manchester while on his second year course.

But the text is by a J.D. Blythe and is as far as I know the first new account of Chorlton’s history since the twenty-six articles written by Thomas Ellwood during 1885-86.

Mr Blyth drew heavily on those articles and in places follows the earlier history word for word.  Not that this is to rubbish the book, particularly as I doubt it was meant as a serious rival to Ellwood’s work.  It may have just been a vehicle for F Blyth to complete a course at the college demonstrating his skill at photography and printing.

Now there is very little on either man.  J.D. Blythe was here on Claude Road between 1922 and 1929 and  is listed in the telephone directory but without trawling the street directories for the period we have no knowing when he went to live in Chorltonville and when he left.

There is a record of a J.D Blyth leaving for South Africa in 1919 with the stated purpose of settling in the Natal, but he returns just four months later in February 1920, and so far that is about it.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Picture; the Horse & Jockey in 1933, F Blyth from A Short History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, by J.D.Blyth, 1933

On Whitworth Street in May 2007

One from the archive.

It is a scene you won’t see for much longer.

And as I haven’t been down this way with a camera for a while it my already have changed.

It was May 2007 and I was on Whitworth Street, standing on a partially demolished bit of wall.

Location; Whitworth Street, Manchester

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Why did the Derby Poor Law Guardians lose grandad's place of birth?

Beware what you wish for is one of those warnings I have never really understood.

William Henry Hall, circa 1930
But then I have never really made that many wishes and likewise have never really been one for planning out my life.

For me it’s about bumping along which some would suggest betokens a lack of ambition but on the other hand means I am rarely disappointed.

And in the same way I have not got over upset about the discoveries I have made about our family history.

There have been the usual ups and downs, from unemployment, sudden and early deaths to some surprising achievements and along the way a few born out of wedlock,  a couple of rogues and a lot of ordinary people who lived out their lives against the great events of the last three centuries.

But just occasionally I have been brought up sharp, like the time I discovered a relative who had committed suicide.  It had been one of those fairly routine exercises in tracking him down and sending for his death certificate only to be confronted with the evidence of a horrible death and a sense that I was somehow intruding into someone’s private life.

And today has been another of those moments.

I knew that my grandfather and his siblings had been brought up in care and that eventually one would be dispatched to a naval training camp, another to Canada as a British Home Child, the eldest apprenticed to a blacksmith and great aunt Dolly into domestic service.

Laura Isadora Pember nee Hall, 1968 
What I was not prepared for and what has saddened me is that the entry in the census returns for all three while in foster homes listing their places of birth "as unknown."

And yet the documentary evidence is all there.

Great uncle Jack was born in Bedford my grandfather and great uncle Roger in different parts of Birmingham and great aunt Dolly in the Derby Workhouse.

Which leaves me with that simple question of why were their places of birth unknown?

It might have been the policy of the Guardians to omit such information which looks to be the case given that none of the youngsters in either foster home has a place of birth beside their name.

And I certainly don’t think it was because the information was not out there.  My great uncle Roger was 13 in 1911 and must have known where he had been born and likewise it beggars belief that the authorities didn’t know where great aunt Dolly had been born given that it was in their own hospital.

Now I know that their mother way well have been unable to help. I had long suspected that her grip on reality was light.

After a brief spell of looking after them in 1913 she was judged  to be “unfit to have control” and the younger three were taken back into care, and later in 1939 she was in the Borough Mental Hospital where she died in 1963.

But I still find it hard that the children were listed as such.

Great aunt Dolly was well aware of where all of them had been born and said so in a letter she wrote in the 1970s and I suspect so did the others.

It is true that later great uncle Roger would tell the Canadian army that he was born in Derby but he also listed as his next of kin his aunt rather than his mother which would suggest a deliberate decision to muddy the waters which given that he was running would fit with him also lying about his age and changing his name.

It is all a long time ago and all of the children are now dead but I am more than a little angry that such a vital piece if information as their place of birth was never recorded.

Location; Derby

Pictures; William Henry Hall, born 1899,  Laura Isadora Pember nee Hall born 1902, and John Nelson, Montague Hall, born 1896,  from the Pember and Simpson collections.

Passing the time ............... early evening on the beach

An occasional series of pictures of people and places.

Location; Alghero, Sardinia, Italy

Pictures; People & Places Alghero, Sardinia, Italy, 2012 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 6 ............ Gravel Lane

Now I know that strictly speaking Gravel Lane is neither lost nor forgotten.

Gravel Lane, 2016
It runs from Blackfriars Road up to Greengate, but that first chunk is hidden underneath the railway viaducts which make it a tad foreboding.

But if you do wander into that dark cavern you will be rewarded by some fine cast iron pillars on the corner of Viaduct Street.

These support the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway’s track which was constructed in 1844 and while it was a substantial structure carrying four railway lines it was not yet the structure we know today.

Back in the late 1840s looking out from the north side of Trinity Church there was still a wide expanse of space beyond which were a  Rope Walk, a series of mills and foundries and a timber yard.

Gravel Lane, 1849
And a walk up Gravel Lane in 1849 would have taken you past the Methodist Chapel, a whole shed load of houses with access to some closed courts and Christ Church which stood between King Street and Queen Street.

All a little different today.

Location; Salford

Pictures; Gravel Lane, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the area in 1849, from the OS for Manchester and Salford, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

The case of Mrs Crowfoot's plum pudding ......... dark deeds at Well Hall in January 1870

I don’t often go looking at the Proceedings of the Old Bailey which are now online and cover the period 1674-1913 which is my loss.*

Well Hall Cottages, 1909
They are “a fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.”*

So I am indebted to Colin Benford who drew my attention to the case of George Pritchett who broke into the home of Robert and Ann Crowfoot in January 1870.

Mr and Mrs Crowfoot lived in one of the cottages in Well Hall.

Now I have long been fascinated by these houses and have  written about them, and so was intrigued when Colin wrote that the Crowfoot’s were residents in 1851 and were still there in 1870 when George Pritchett broke in.

And that seems an appropriate point to quote from the records.

232. GEORGE PRITCHETT (27) , Burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Robert Crawfoot and stealing therein 4 lbs. of beef and a plum pudding, his property.

MR. PATER conducted the Prosecution.

ANN CRAWFOOT . I am the wife of Robert Crawfoot, of Well Hall Cottages, Eltham—on 3rd January, at 8 a.m., I went down stairs and found the pantry window open, which was shut and fastened when I went to bed at 9 o'clock—I missed from the larder a piece of beef and a very large plum pudding with a little piece cut out of it—I found the pudding in the shed, and saw a portion of the beef taken out of the prisoner's pocket.

ROBERT FAIRWEATHER (Policeman R 320). On Sunday night, 2nd January, about 10 o'clock, I saw the prisoner going down a path at the back of some houses, within 200 yards of Mr. Grawfoot's—I saw him again about 11.15 or 11.30 in a shed, covered up with horse litter—I searched him and found a piece of plum pudding, some suet pudding, and a quantity of beef—I asked what he had been doing; he gave no answer—I asked where he got the beef and pudding—he said, "From a servant girl"—I asked him who she was—he declined to tell me.

The original records 1870
JAMES PIPER (Policeman R 37). On the morning of 3rd January I went to the prosecutor's house, and saw footmarks there, which I compared with the prisoner's left boot and the impression was the exact model of the sole—half the heel was worn off, and half on top was left, and there was every nail, nail for nail—I did not make an impression by the side, I was satisfied without.

Prisoner. How can you swear to the footmarks when there had been three hour's rain? Witness. 

There was no rain from the time you were in custody till 10.30 or 11 o'clock.

GUILTY — Three Months' Imprisonment.***

In the great sweep of history it may not even count as a full stop but it offers up one of those opportunities to touch the past and bring you closer to the people who lived in Well Hall.
And as you do I went looking for the three of them.  Not unsurprisingly George Pritchett pretty much drew a blank.  The records are full of George Pritchett’s but none offered up a clue as to which might have been our man.

Robert and Ann Crowfoot were easier to trace. They were living in the cottage at Well Hall in 1851 and were from Suffolk, at the time of the burglary he was fifty eight and Ann a year younger and given that he was an agricultural labourer and she a laundress the loss of that food must have been serious.

In time I shall find out more if only to sort out the misspelling of their name which appears on the census record as Crowfoot and in the court documents as Crawfoot.

Pictures; Well Hall from the OS map of Kent, showing Eltham, 1858-73, Well Hall Cottages from The story of Royal Eltham,  R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, and the original court document from The Proceedings of the Old Bailey

A thank you to Colin Benford who researched the story

Location; Well Hall, Eltham, London

* The Proceedings of the Old Bailey,

** A map a photograph and some old records, Well Hall cottages in the spring of 1844,

*** GEORGE PRITCHETT, Theft > burglary, 31st January 1870.

War Baby ......... stories by Eddy Newport no 26 ....

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby.

Ted went to war, in the same way, as his dad David went to war in 1914. This was to set up a line of defence with trenches to stop the enemy advancing.

The history of the war is well documented and I am no historian. Ted’s involvement was that his regiment got as far as Belgium before it was realised that the foe was far better equipped that the British forces were.  Ted did get to dig his field hospital.

As he was getting ready for action and his platoon were doing their stuff, when the order came down to abandon everything and get back to the coast and head for Dunkirk as soon as possible.

He and his men were responsible for some wounded and they had to be stretchered back over a canal bridge as quickly as they can, as they were going to blow it up.

Dad said in later life that an officer was decorated with a gallantry medal as being the last soldier to defend this bridge and being the last one back over it. Dad always maintained he and his group were, in fact, the last ones over that bridge.

So the rush back to the coast began and the army was in disarray with many units breaking up. Ted and his men were on their own. His wounded were taken off by trucks or ambulances but the poor old foot soldier had to make do with what he could find.

It was at this time that Ted fired a gun in anger. The story goes that an officer commandeered Ted and his men. He gave him the order to use an anti-tank rifle and to take up a position at a corner of a street and then wait for a German tank to poke its nose round the corner.

Ted’s job was to fire around at it to make it stop and hold it up for a few minutes to delay the advance. The effect on the tank with this weapon was like firing a pea shooter at a brick wall but it seemed to work. I asked dad what he did next. He said he took out the bolt, through away the gun and ran like bloody hell.

Another incident happened on the way back to Dunkirk. He and his men were running across a field and he came under mortar fire. Ted’s running for cover managed to lose his glasses and he stopped to try and find them. His mate Geoff Burchill asked what the hell are you doing and told him in no uncertain way to get a move on.

Ted had a spare pair in his pack, but it did not occur to him at the time.  On another occasion, he was approached by a French man who having seen Ted’s medical badges on his uniform asked to go to his farm house and his wife was in the late stages of childbirth. Ted did not have any experience of this but got things going with hot water and was about to do his best when a medical officer arrived and took over and told

Ted to get back with his men and keep going back to the coast. He always wanted to know what the lady had but never found out.

Ducking and diving into ditches to avoid the German air force that were doing their best to destroy them.

They managed to find Dunkirk beaches at last. He then joined the queues to the boats that were waiting to take them back to England.

At last, he managed to get on board a navy ship. Stripping himself of all his packs and making himself comfortable on the deck, he prepared for the journey home. When a German bomber came over and dropped a bomb straight down the funnel and exploded. The next thing Ted knew was he was in the water and trying to swim for his life. Ted was not a good swimmer and the fact he was not weighted down with his packs saved his life.

Dad said he did not know how long he was in the water but a French man grabbed him and got him to the beach. I ask dad about this incident and questioned him what he did next. Can you imagine, Ted was soaking wet with no pack or equipment.

He said he looked around and found a lorry with some uniforms in and put on a dry uniform. He later found a helmet and rifle from a dead soldier. Having kitted himself out, he once more joined the queue back to the boats. Queuing was a dangerous business as German planes were bombing and shooting up the beaches. On one occasion instead of running to the sand dunes for cover he just lay down where he was and a bomb exploded close to him.

Unharmed he got up and looked about him and realised he was on his own, so he ran as fast as he could and gained some extra yards on the queue. Eventually, he got on a smaller boat and finally got back to Dover absolutely knackered, he got onto a train going to London and once on board he fell asleep. Later he awoke to find the train had passed through London and was well on its way Cardiff. Finding himself alone he later found that the train had stopped at the Elephant and Castle and all the London soldiers got off.

No one woke Ted up and he was very upset that the train had stopped only a stones through from his home.

He could have gone home to his own bed and family.
 Eddy Newport ages one year 1941.

© Eddy Newport 2017

Pictures; from the collection of Eddy Newport

Leaving for Canada in 1849 .... a momentous step

I think you would have to be really poor of imagination not to feel something at seeing the marriage certificate of an ancestor.

I am staring at the marriage certificate of James Hampson and Sarah Tildsley who were married on December 9th 1838 in the parish church of Eccles.

Now strictly speaking they are not family, but belong to my cousins in, Ontario, but Pendleton where they were both born and lived is just five miles away from Chorlton and they began their married life during the time I been writing about our own township.

And sometime just a decade after their marriage they took the momentous step and left for Canada with their five children the eldest of whom must have been no more than eleven and the youngest just about two years old.

James Hampson was born in 1816 and Sarah a year later and they reflected something of the changes that were happening to Pendleton.  Both came from families which were connected with the new Pendleton which was a place of cotton mills, dye works and coal mines.  Sarah’s father was an engineer and both James and his father were cotton dyers. By the 1840s this part of the northwest had become a centre for the manufacture of cotton.  In 1842 there were 412 cotton mills employing thousands of workers in what is now the Greater Manchester area while Manchester alone had 41 factories.

And cotton dyeing is an essential part of the cotton process.  Many of the dye works were situated along the banks of the River Irwell utilising the steady flow of water.  Before the 1850s the process still relied on natural dyes using the flowers, berries, leaves, barks and roots of plants and herbs.  As such the work would not have been as dangerous as it was to become with the introduction of chemical dyes.

But it must still have been very uncomfortable.  James would have constantly been exposed to hot and cold water and dyes which left his hands stained different colours.  He would also have worked longer hours than other cotton workers.  Long after the government had begun to regulate working hours in the cotton industry a Royal Commission in 1855 found that many bleaching, dyeing and printing workers  regularly put in fifteen or sixteen hours a day and often continued for several days and nights without stopping.

The family lived on Ashton Street within a few minute’s walk from cotton mills, a dye works and a coal mine with the newly built railway and the slightly older canal close by.

Looking out from their home the Hampson’s would have been faced with a row of one up one down back to back houses which backed on to Miners Row.  Theirs might have been a slightly bigger house but the detailed 1848 OS map shows that their nearest water pump was some distance away.

And while there are was sill dotted with plenty of open land it must have been obvious that in the next few decades all of it would be developed for more industrial and residential use.

The rural appearance of where they lived should not blind us to the fact that it must have been a hard life.
Hours were long and wages were low. Engels quotes from the Factory Inspector, Leonard Horner in October 1844

“The state of things in the matter of wages is greatly perverted in certain branches of  cotton manufacture in Lancashire; there are hundreds of young men, between twenty and thirty, employed as piecers and other wise who do not get more than eight or nine shillings a week, while children under thirteen years, working under the same roof, earn five shillings, and young girls from sixteen to twenty years, ten to 12 shillings per week” *

Wages fluctuated with the trade cycle.**  In 1833 the highest wages were paid to men between the ages of 31 to 36, with huge disparities recorded for women and children. Their wages could also be docked for minor misdemeanours ranging from lateness to leaving a window open.***

Now trying to make sense of wages one hundred and sixty-years later is always fraught with difficulty. However Engels living in 1845 was in no doubt that the above wage levels were not good.  And this had a direct impact on the standard of living.  Their food was basic and monotonous. The staples were bread, oatcakes, watery porridge, potatoes, and a little bacon. Sometimes the porridge was flavoured with onions. Porridge was also made in thick lumps so it could be eaten with the hands at work. Tripe (sheep stomach lining), slink (calf born too early), and broxy (diseased sheep) were regarded as treats by the poorest.

Many workers were still paid on a Saturday evening and by then the quality of food at the markets was poor.
“The potatoes which the workers buy are usually poor, the vegetables wilted and the cheese old and poor quality, the bacon rancid, the meat lean, tough, taken from old , often diseased cattle”****
An observation Engels followed up the report that on January 6th 1844 eleven meat sellers had been fined for selling tainted meat.   Added to this there was the adulteration of food as this report from The Liverpool Mercury shows
Salt butter is moulded into the form of pounds of fresh butter, and cased over with fresh. In other instances a pound of fresh is conspicuously placed to be tasted; but that pound is not sold; and in other instances salt butter, washed is moulded and sold as fresh...pounded rice and other cheap materials are mixed in sugar, and sold at full monopoly price. A chemical substance...the refuse of the soap also mixed with other substances and sold as sugar...chicory is mixed in good coffee. Chicory, or some similarly cheap substance, is skilfully moulded into the form of the coffee berry, and it is mixed with the bulk very liberally...cocoa is extensively adulterated with fine brown earth, wrought up with mutton fat; so as to amalgamate with portions of the real article...the leaves of tea are mingled with sloe levies and other abominations. Used leaves are also re-dried, and re-coloured on hot copper plates, and sold as tea. Pepper is adulterated with dust from husks etc; port wine is altogether manufactured (from spirits, dyes etc.), it being notorious that more port wine is drunk in this country than is made in Portugal. Nasty things of all sorts are mixed with weed tobacco in all its manufactured forms.” *****

Hard work, long hour’s poor housing and a poor diet left its mark on the health of people.  In 1842 the average life expectancy of the working class in Manchester was just 17 years of age.  There is no reason to suppose it was any better in Salford.  Indeed infant mortality in Salford in 1850 was much higher than the national average.******

All this took its toll as this description of mill workers by a medical worker in 1833 is horrifyingly unflattering:
'...their complexion is sallow and pallid--with a peculiar flatness of feature, ...their stature low--the average height of four hundred men, measured at different times, and different places, being five feet six inches...their limbs slender, and playing badly and ungracefully...a very general bowing of the legs...great numbers of girls and women walking lamely or awkwardly, with raised chests and spinal flexures...nearly all have flat feet, accompanied with a down-tread, differing very widely from the elasticity of action in the foot and ankle, attendant upon perfect thin and straight--many of the men having but little beard, and that in patches of a few hairs...' *******

Given all this it is easy to see why a family might choose an alternative and the 1840s were a  hard time for all but the rich and there were schemes to resettle working families across the Empire. This was a policy that was actively pursued by the Poor Law Commissioners with parochial aid or assistance from local landlords.   The Commissioners reported that over 2, 000 had gone to Canada in 1841 which was an increase on the year before, and that assistance was also being given to move to Australia and New Zealand.

Location; Salford, Greater Manchester

*Horner Leonard Factory Inspector quoted by Engels Frederick The Conditions of the Working Class in England 1845 page 170

**Frow, Edmund & Ruth, Radical Salford 1984 page 34

***Frow, page 4

****Engels page 101

*****Liverpool Mercury quoted in Engels, Friedrick page 102

******In 1850 infant mortality was 175 per thousand compared to 150 nationally

*******Gaskell P, The Manufacturing Population of England, London, 1833

Pictures; Marriage certificate from the collection of Jacquie Pember-Barnum, 1848 OS map for Lancashire and Union Street Mill,Ancoats, Austin and Gahey, 1835, m52534, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

In the Piazza Monte Grappa

The Piazza Monte Grappa would not be my first choice of a place to sit and watch the world go by.

It is a rather drab place surrounded by unremarkable tall buildings and dominated by a fountain with concrete seats.

Even the bars are less than enticing.  The two of them face each other across the square but the tables are arranged under a series of arches which while they give you protection from the rain do little to give a sense of cafe life.   So on those days when the sun shines down and you want to feel it on your back you sit instead in a cavernous arch way and endure the gloom.

Occasionally there will be a concession to the sun and the tables and chairs on the eastern side will be pulled out from building but still you are in the shadow of those arches.
And so it was when we wandered through on our way to somewhere more interesting and I stopped to take a photograph.

And maybe on a bright early summer's morning with that freshness in the air, the fountain playing out, and the the huge tree to the south of the piazza it's not such a bad place.  So with this in mind perhaps I will inflict you with more from Varese.

Picture; from the collection of Andrew Simpson


Of Naples in 1961 and Little Italy in Ancoats in 1901

Rosa in Naples 1961
This is one of my favourite pictures of Rosa.

It was taken in Naples when she was just 21 during the summer of 1961 just after she had collected her passport.

Later that year she left Italy with Simone her husband and moved to Cambridge.*

They were two of those economic migrants much derided by some who sought a new life in a new country.

In the same way and just sixty years earlier my father’s parents crossed the border from Scotland and settled in Gateshead while just a little later my maternal grandfather  came home to Derby with his German war bride.

And it carried on.  Dad and mum finally made their way to London where I was born and over the course of twenty years moved around south east London, and just under a decade later I left for Manchester.

All of which reinforces that simple idea that people move around, make new homes in new places and along the way add to the communities they have joined.

Nor is it all one way.  My great uncle left for Canada in 1914 followed by his sister eleven years later. One of my uncles carved out a career in India and east Africa before settling down in South Africa and to close the Italian connection Rosa and Simone finally left Cambridge for Italy returning not to Naples but Varese in the north.  Only for one of their daughters to return to Cambridge, relocate to Manchester and in the fullness of time to set up home with me.

13-15 Blossom Street, 1903
All of which is an introduction to the many who found a home here in Manchester in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ours was the shock city of the Industrial Revolution and the mills, engineering plants, chemical works and collieries drew in the rural poor from the surrounding countryside, which were added to by those fleeing the famine in Ireland and later still those escaping the persecution in eastern Europe and the grinding poverty of southern Europe.

For some this was the eventual destination while for others it was the half way stage before crossing the Atlantic.

And their presence can still be found in the synagogues and Torah School of the Jewish community of Strangeways and Redbank and in names like Little Ireland and Little Italy.

Most have had their historians who have recorded their presence, ** which is all to the good because these communities have by and large vanished.  Little Ireland which had become one of our worst slums fell victim not to the sweep of town planners but to the railway, which cut through the area.

Not for the first time did a  railway company act as a means for slum clearance.  Much the same happened to sections of Angel Meadow in the north of the city and to parts of London’s slums.

In the case of the Jewish communities of Strangways and Redbank it was that other familiar social development which saw the better off moving out along Cheetham Hill Road to leafy more pleasant places.

Jersey Street, 2011
And so finally to Little Italy in Ancoats which became home to those from Italy who were seeking a better life.

They came from the great cities of the north like Milan, Turin and Genoa from the rural hinterland as well Naples, Sorrento, and Palermo.

It was a small close knit community inhabiting the area behind Great Ancoats Street and primarily located around Jersey Street, Blossom Street, and Henry Street.

Jersey Street, 1908, with No 2 Jackson Court to the left
Now as I often maintain if someone has done the research I have no intention of stealing their thunder, so for those who want to know more about Little Italy there is not only Anthony Rea’s book Little Italy, which was first published in 1988 but his equally fine site where you can find a wealth of information, stories and pictures.***

Added to this there are links to a whole range of other sites which give a comprehensive picture of he life they left and the contribution they made to their adopted city.

Pictures; Rosa in Naples, 1961 from the collection of the Balzano family, 13-15 Blossom Street,  A, Bradburn, 1903, m11033, and Jersey Street, 1908 m10153, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and Blossom Street from Great Ancoats Street with Gun Street and Henry Street beyond, 2010 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Messy history .......... Part One Migration,

** Bill Williams, The Making of Manchester Jewry, Manchester University Press 1976, Jewish Manchester: An Illustrated History, DB Publishing, 2008, and a new book on Manchester’s Pre Black History 1750-1926, Anthony Rea, Little Italy, Neil Richardson, 1988, and of course Little Ireland in Conditions of the Working Classes in England , Friedrich Engels, 1844

***Manchester's Ancoats, Little Italy,

Reflecting on Mr Amato’s Italian deli and Del’s cakes ...... changing Chorlton no 3

Now when they come to write the history of Beech Road, and they will, there will be a debate on what caused its regeneration.

Buonissimo, 2000
In the mid 1980s many of the shops were closing and it was unclear what the future held.

Just a decade before the road had boasted everything from an iron monger’s two bakeries, three butcher’s and a couple of grocers along with Richard and Murial’s fruit and vegetables business.

And slip back another ten years and you could add a fresh fish outlet, a television shop and much more.

But the onward sweep of supermarkets put an end to these traditional shops and for a while there were more than a few empty ones.

And then along came Primavera followed by the Lead Station and it was clear Beech Road might just be going in a new direction.

I don’t doubt the importance of these two establishments, but for me the tipping point might well have been the opening of the Italian deli in what had once been an off license.

Bob Amato opened it in 1993 and from the beginning Buonissimo was a success, offering a range of fresh food from pasta, to bread, to cakes and all things Italian.

No 56 Beech Road, 1985
Added to which he and his partner Del would order up stuff which were not available from Hanbury’s.

And the importance of Buonissimo was that it was bringing people onto Beech Road during the day, and from there they popped next door to Richard and Murial’s crossing the road to Joy Seal’s the Chemist and the Post Office and wandering up to Richardson’s for a pie or pasty.

Now I am fully prepared to admit that with Richardson’s, Sunflowers and the two butcher’s shops run by David and by Mr Henderson food hadn’t completely vanished from Beech Road.

Nor would I make an exaggerated claim for the role of the deli in regenerating where I live but it helped and what followed were the gift shops, and the bars.

Beech Road, 1975
There will be those who argue that the gift and bar economy has gone too far so that while it is perfectly easy to get some imitation Victorian soap there is no chance of picking up 4lbs of potatoes a bag of grapes and two melons.

On the other hand we still do have a pet shop, along with a new deli, and of course a paper shop.

Looking back Beech Road was the first, and has been followed by similar developments on Wilbraham Road and Barlow Moor Road, although we were beaten to it by Burton Road in West Didsbury which offers up that same mix of shopping experiences.

Beech Road, 2008
Bob and Del are still in the food business and continue to operate their wholesale business from a new building in St Andrew’s Square in town, and I still visit their old deli but now order a selection of tapas and white wine.

Location Beech Road

Pictures; Number 56 Beech Road, 1985, courtesy of Tom McGrath, Beech Road in 1975 from the collection of Tomy Walker, and Buonissimo two decades later and relaxing on Beech Road, 2008, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Amato Food Products,

William & Julia Relph of the Rising Sun a promise fulfilled

This is William Relph who ran the Rising Sun on the High Street from sometime in the 1880s till his death in 1909.

Now you can never be certain but it is more than likely that when a photographer turned up in the High Street in the summer of 1890 it will have been the landlord of the Rising Sun who came to the door to see what all the fuss was about.

And so this is William Relph and I have to own up to a mix of quiet satisfaction and fascination that I have tracked him down.

It was a promise I made in earlier stories and have now completed that promise.*

He was born in Greenwich in 1847 and came from a family that ran public houses.

What marks him out as a little special is that William saw his time out in both the old Rising Sun and the new one which still stands on the High Street.

The old pub according to our historian R.R.C Gregory was about 200 years old when it was demolished and replaced by the present pub in 1904.

Nor is that the only thing that intrigues me about William.

I had almost given up hope of finding him and then as you do I came across his widow Julia who was still in charge in 1911, and it was Julia who caught my imagination.

She was born in Cadiz, Spain and of course that raises all sorts of intriguing speculation.

But before I could go off on a flight of fancy I discovered her maiden name was West and like William her father was a publican.

That said her parents were in Spain between the birth of her brother in 1852 and when she was born two years later which may explain why they are missing from the census returns for the middle decades of the 19th century.

So there is more to find out but finding William and Julia of the Rising Sun is enough for now.

Pictures; from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers,  and Chrissie Rose February 2014

*Eltham’s Rising Sun,

Me, a camera and bits of the City I like ..............Nu 6 Knott Mill

Now all these pictures have already appeared but that has never stopped me wanting to use them all over again to explore my City.

Location, Castlefield, Manchester

Picture; Knott Mill, 2003, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Lost and forgotten streets of Salford nu 5 ............ what you find on Blackfriars Road

I am always fascinated by those narrow little passageways which hold the promise of all sorts of dark stories.

Passageway, 2016
Now this one has no name, and leads to Harding Street which today just gives access to a car park under the railway arches from Salford Approach.

So our little passageway seems hardly worth a second glance, but not so.

Go back to 1849 and it led to a closed court called Nightingale Square which in turn took you on to Harding’s Buildings which was the original Harding Street.

Here could be found 23 properties some of which were back to back and a whole warren of alleys on either side.

All were lost with the construction of the new railway viaduct and Exchange Station in 1884.

All of which just leaves me to go looking for the two buildings that stood on either side of our passage.

These were the Salford Library and Mechanic’s Institution to the left and The Royal Archer Public House to the right.

Now I am pretty sure there will be someone who can point me towards pictures of the Library and offer up rich stories of its contribution to Salford life.

In the same way I am also confident that The Royal Archer will reveal something of its past/

This I suspect will start with the names of some of the landords and if we are lucky a date for its opening.

It was there by 1849 and may well be much older than that.  In 1851 it was run by Margaret Horton and with a name we may be able to find out more.

Sadly Harding's Buildiings and Nightingale Square were not considered important enough for inclusion in the directories.

But Margaret Horton should be on the 1851 census and by following the streets from her pub it might be possible to come across both Harding's Buildings and Nightingale Square and in turn uncover the people who lived there.

We shall see.

Location; Salford

Pictures; passageway on Blackfriars Road, 2016 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the area in 1849, from the OS for Manchester and Salford, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Making a new start, Canada in 1851, an introduction to a story of immigration

James Hampson was born in 1816 and married Sarah Tildesley in December 1838 at the Parish Church of Eccles.

In 1841 he described himself as a cotton dyer and in that year was living in Pendleton.  Sometime after 1849, James, Sarah and their children left for Canada which was a popular destination for emigrants.  Now I can be fairly certain of this because their last child was born in  England in 1849 and the Canadian census of 1851 records them as there.

Thousands of people, many of them from Ireland left these shores in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Most hoped that a new country would mean a fresh start with new opportunities and a better life.

The 1840s were a hard time for all but the rich and there were schemes to resettle working families across the Empire. This was a policy that was actively pursued by the Poor Law Commissioners with parochial aid or assistance from local landlords.   The Commissioners reported that over 2, 000 had gone to Canada in 1841 which was an increase on the year before, and that assistance was also being given to move to Australia and New Zealand.

The main sea port for their departure was Liverpool.  In the hundred years from 1830 to 1930 over nine million emigrants sailed from to the US, Canada and Australia.  I don’t think we will ever know exactly why the Hampson's left and there is no record of when they went but they were part of a steadily rising number of people which  reached a high point in 1849.

Even today the decision to emigrate cannot be an easy one to take, but a hundred and sixty years ago the cost, the problems and the very real dangers must have weighed heavily.  A ticket for just one person travelling on the cheapest passage might be three to five times James’s weekly wage, and of course there were four of them.**

Then there were the ever present threats from unscrupulous dealers, ship owners and the crew who might cheat the passengers at every turn of the journey. Lastly there was the sea passage itself, a trip of a month in a sailing ship at the mercy of an unpredictable weather on the open sea, crammed together with people some of whom were ill with disease.

So, taking that decision was as much an act of faith as it was a rational choice with a secure conclusion.
The ships might hold up wards of four hundred passengers although some like the Isaac Wright could carry 900 people. The Hampson's could expect a fairly basic diet on the journey.  Each passenger was given a weekly ration of bread, rice, tea, sugar as well as oatmeal flour, molasses and vinegar and one pound of pork.   Passengers could however supplement this with their own provisions but there was an upper limit.  There are contemporary stories of passengers being cheated of their rightful ration either because it was delivered late or just not at all.

Conditions on board were not ideal.  Packed together there was the ever present threat of disease and death.  All the passengers were by law inspected by a doctor before they embarked but this did not always prevent the outbreak of illnesses.  In one month in 1847 twelve ships making landfall at Grosse Island reported a total of 198 dead passengers out of just over 3,000.  Some ships arrived safely with no deaths others like Bark Larch from Sligo lost 108 of its 440 passengers with another 150 reported ill.  The highest death rates seemed to be ships bound from Ireland escaping the effects of the famine some years earlier.***

Location; Salford, Greater Manchester

*The Eighth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners, HMSO 1842, Page 37 Google edition page 58

** In 1847 a ticket might cost between £3.10/- and £5. From a newspaper article The tide of emigration in the Illustrated London  News July 1850

***Immigrants to Canada, 

Picture; detail of Pendleton from OS Lancashire 1841 courtesy of Digital Archives Association

War Baby ......... stories by Eddy Newport no 25 ....

Another in the series by Eddy Newport taken from his book, History of a War Baby.

Edie and Ted
What was I doing when all this was going, well I getting myself ready to make an entry into a war-torn world of uncertainty and confusion? Edie was expecting her first child.

Later, Hitler’s  planes started bombing London and things became very unhealthy indeed. Ted had by now moved with his regiment to Yorkshire so the army could get ready for the expected invasion of England.

Summer 1940 turned to autumn and then winter, and by this time the bombs were dropping on London in a greater intensity.

The evacuation of children and expectant mothers was underway. Grandmother Sara and her son Jim stayed in London as he was doing important factory work for the war effort.

It was decided to send Edie to Yorkshire for her confinement and to be closer to Ted.

It was November 1940. Edie 21 years old, and on her own travelled to Doncaster, hopefully, to meet Ted who would deliver her to a house in Rossington to stay with a friend’s dad he had made since he had been posted there. Ted in the meantime was out with the army on a training excise and he ask his C.O. if he could get away to meet his wife.

Unfortunately, he could not get permission, and poor Edie just had to wait at Doncaster station for over three hours before she was picked up.  She, at last, got to her destination and Ted got a telling off from the host family for not letting them know that he was unable to pick her up, as they could have made some arrangements of their own.

Eddy aged 1
On the 15th December 1940, a London boy was born a Yorkshire lad at 60 Holmes Carr Road New Rossington in the parish of Bawtry and Tickhill. I have no memory of this place. I did go back and had a look at the house many years later.

 Rossington is a mining village and just about everybody who lived there worked at the mine. Outside the village stands a beautiful church St Michaels. There I was christened Edward James Newport. Edie had a traumatic time with me. I would not stop crying and drove everybody mad. I was told I was nearly smothered to shut me up.

Edie was in a strange house with people she did not know. She had never been away from her mum and brother in all her life before and with a new baby.

It’s no wonder she was in a stressful state. The baby was reflecting his mother stress. However the bombing subsided in London and Sara was missing her daughter and grandson and wanted them to come back to London.

Eddie at 16
It worked out fine as dad was posted to Dartford and they found a maisonette in Burnham Close Dartford and moved there.  Dad was stationed there with access to his married quarters.

 Edie and Ted made friends with a man called Sid Goff and he had a son and daughter Wally and Celia.

Celia would push me around in my pram.

Wally was 14 and lodged with Ted and Edie until he was 16 then he went into the merchant navy.

The sergeant’s mess in Dartford had many social occasions and at times, he would get on the piano and play for the evening.

One night a soldier came over and said he could play the saxophone and he sent him home on leave to get it.

Also, a drummer and trumpet player joined the embryo band.  Very soon they were booked to play at functions making music for dances. I asked dad if he was earning any money doing this he said they did it for fun; and free drinks.

Ted, as I have said before was never a reader of music and his limitations were felt by the band in reading arrangements and introducing new tunes.

Then one night after new recruits arrived. A private said to Ted could he have a go at the piano. Ted said, “If you can play it better than me you can have the job”.

It turned out that the private was a professional musician and played with a named London big band.  The relief from the rest of the other musicians must have been fantastic. From then on Ted just fronted the band singing songs announcing the dances and managing the bookings. His star performances of “Old Farther Thames” and “The Fishermen of England” were a hit.

© Eddy Newport 2017

Pictures; from the collection of Eddy Newport

Another story from Tony Goulding .... Brownhills Buildings and “Brownhills the Saddlers” ------ linked? You decide!

For much of my childhood I lived on Ansdell Avenue and have vivid memories of playing in this back entry, which ran alongside Brownhills Buildings. I first became aware of “ Brownhills the Saddlers” during the 1970’s my family  having moved to Cundiff Road  and I recall purchasing asset of tungsten darts (which I still possess) from the shop around the end of that decade. 

Brownhill's Buildings, 1973
What follows is an attempt to assuage my curiosity concerning a link between these two places.
The history of Brownhills Buildings is already extremely well documented on this blog. For my purposes it is suffice to reiterate that they were built in the middle part of the 19th century by Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s wheelwright William Brownhill (1) and remained a feature of the Sandy Lane area until being condemned as unfit and demolished by the city council in 1972.
As with most such research the starting point for this enquiry was the 1881 census which shows a William Brownhill, born in 1839 in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, with a saddler’s business on Chester Road, Stretford.

Brownhill's shop, 2017
A look into earlier censuses (2) shows that this William was the son of the William Brownhill the builder of the Buildings which bear his name. Later records show that William Jnr’s  son Arnold(3) took over the business and up until at least the time of the 1954 street directory a shop was still trading under the name of “William Brownhill and Sons the Saddlers” on Chester Road (4) (5)

However, there is some doubt how, if at all, that business in Stretford is linked with these old premises on Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Directories of the 70’s and 80’s combined with a certain amount of local knowledge tell us that the proprietors of this shop from that time until it ceased trading in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century were Frederick  Allen and his wife Jean W.(née Parker).

As yet I have been unable to trace a familial connection. It is possible that the name “Brownhills the Saddlers” merely continued to be used as by that time it had become such a well established trading enterprise.  What is known: is that Arnold Brownhill married late in life, to Hilda (née Cookson) at All Saints Church, Stretford on the 28th August, 1909. Arnold and Hilda had no children and both passed away during the early 1940’s.
Of Arnold’s siblings only his youngest sister, Hilda appears to have a further connection to Chorlton-cum-Hardy. She married Lionel Nixon at St. Clement’s (Old Church) on the 11th October, 1906.
Lionel, the son of Samuel Edward Nixon the deceased Post Master, was residing at 18, Church (now Chequers) Road at that time. The 1911 census shows the couple running a stationer/tobacconist business together at 44, Beech Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Beech Road, 1968 from a photograph, 1947
No children are recorded but Lionel and Hilda appear to be “care givers” to Hilda’s 34 years old brother Leonard William who is described, rather unkindly, on the census as “feeble minded”. Interestingly, also, Lionel’s occupation on his wedding certificate differs from the 1911 census entry; it shows him as a “cha(i)rliner”
                    PICTURE 3

Finally this picture discovered in the Manchester Local Images Collection really “queers the pitch” as it purports to show two shops on Beech Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy. The full caption states that this is an “oil painting taken from a 1947 photograph.”
After spending some time looking through census returns, street directories and rate books this picture remains a bit of an enigma. I’ve found no evidence of any “Brownhills” on Beech Road. There was however a smithy operated by the Clarke family (John and his sons Charles and Bould) from 1860 until the mid 1930’s.

The smithy was located on Beech Road adjacent the Methodist church building now functioning as a restaurant under various guises. However the date of 1947 is misleading as by that date the “smithy” was long gone , the 1939 register records that both it at no.127 and adjoining 129, Beech Road were both void properties.

© Tony Goulding, 2017

Pictures; Brownhill's Buildings, H.Milligan, 1973, 17696, and  Beech Road,  J.Montgomery Oil Painting of Beech Road, 1968 (from 1947 photograph) m80148  courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,
and Brownhill's shop, 2017 from the collection of Tony Goulding
1) William’s house and workshop were at the Barlow Moor Road end of Sandy Lane an area then known as “Lane End”
2) Especially the 1861 census which records the 22 year old William still living at “Lane End” with his father but already working as a saddler.
3) Not to be confused with his nephew and namesake Arnold the son of his brother James who had taken over his father’s wheelwright business. Young Arnold died tragically, aged just 4, after he was bitten by a rabid dog on 28th July, 1882. A report in “The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser” dated 15th describes how the lad developed symptoms of rabies on Monday 11th and despite the ministrations of the young Doctor Arthur A. Pownall of Derwent House, High Lane he  died of Hydrophobia on Wednesday 13th September, 1882.
4) Originally at no.1154 later moved a little way to no. 1194.
5) William Jnr. was baptised in St. Clements, Chorlton-cum-Hardy on the 7thof April, 1839. He married Maria Langford in Manchester Cathedral during the September quarter of 1861.  Several of the couples children continued to be christened at St. Clement’s but, on 5th November, 1871, Arnold was baptised in St. Matthew’s Church, Stretford

See also One family trading on Beech Road from 1841,

Clyne House in the Royal Botanical Gardens ............. another forgotten hospital from the Great War

Patients and staff, Cyne House, 1917
Now there will be some who know of Clyne House and can instantly point to where it was, but I am not one of them.

All I had to go on was this picture postcard dated Christmas 1917 and the caption “Clyne House, Military Hospital.”

It appears in a list of wartime hospitals offering no address but somewhere along the way I picked up a reference to the Royal School for the Deaf and Dumb which had been relocated from Salford in 1825 to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Old Trafford.

The school in the Royal Botanical Gardens, 1893
The school remained on the site until 1956 and there are pictures of the building from 1900 and shortly before its demolition in 1962.*

And like many other large buildings it was offered up as a Red Cross Hospital caring for men recovering from wounds and diseases.

In time I think I will go looking for more information on the hospital but I fear it will be an uphill struggle.

Patients and staff, 1917
Despite being staffed and often funded by local contributions the historical foot print of these hospitals is all too vague.

Most were established in schools, church halls and other public buildings with quite a few converted from private residences.

Once the war was over, all the equipment was auctioned off and most of the buildings were returned to their pre war use.

All of which meant that with in a generation they were all but forgotten.

But the clues are there, sometimes in the form of a newspaper report or a letter from a grateful soldier and if you are really lucky there will be a detailed account.

The work of one Red Cross Hospital in Didsbury appeared regularly in the Manchester Guardian while another on Edge Lane in Chorlton was included in a detailed report by the Red Cross of their hospital in south Lancashire and another on Manchester Road in Chorlton was the subject of a letter to the local parish magazine.**

Patients and staff Clyne House, 1917
In time I know I will return to Clyne House and discover more.

But for now I will just finish with a special thank you to David Harrop who has a vast collection of memorabilia from both word wars.

They cover everything from letters and postcards home to medals and souvenirs, all of which bring a wonderful insight in to the lives of people caught up in these huge conflicts.

And some of them form part of a permanent exhibition at the Remembrance Lodge in Southern Cemetery.

Picture; of Clyne House, Military Hospital Xmas 1917 from the collection of David Harrop and detail of the Edge Lane Bowling and Tennis Club, from the OS map of South Lancashire, 1893, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Trafford Lifetimes,*&fKeyword=Clyne+House

**Red Cross Hospitals,

***David Harrop, 

Friday, 24 March 2017

My Manchester, pictures without the words 1 St Ann’s Church, June 2014

Yes some of the pictures have featured before but I like them.

St Ann's Church, June 2014

And yes there is a total absence of a story.

Location; Manchester

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

The old church on the green in 1933

This is one of my favourite pictures of the old parish church.

It was taken by F. Blyth and appeared in A Short History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy written by J. D. Blyth in 1933.

Now at present I don’t know whether J.D. Blyth was the father or brother of the photographer, and both remain shadowy figures.

The text is drawn from the work of the late 19th century historian Thomas Ellwood and pretty much repeats the earlier work word by word.

Not that there is anything wrong in that.

Mr Ellwood’s work had been published as a series of newspaper articles between 1885 and 86 and while some of them reappeared in church magazines during the early 20th century I rather think that that by 1933 they were less well known.

That said it is the three photographs that draw you into the short history, and this is partly because we do not have many floating around from the 1930s.

This one of the church was taken from the south and it shows off some of the detail which is often missing from other pictures.  The side aisles were added in 1837 around the time that two Arnot stoves were installed for heating and the flue and chimney of one of them is just visible behind the spire.

The church had just another seven years of working life because it was closed in 1940 and demolished in 1949.

The grave stones remained in place until the area was landscaped in the early 1980s and many of the headstones taken away.

Picture; the parish church from the south, 1933, by F. Blyth, from A Short history of Chorlton-cum-Hardy by J.D. Blyth, 1933

A little bit of Copenhagen on Oldham Road ........ lost Manchester pubs number 20

I have Andy Robertson to thank for introducing me to the Copenhagen.

That said the invite was too late to allow me to get a drink in the place.

Andy sent these pictures over yesterday and afternoon with the comment that “this is 909 Oldham Road, Newton Heath. 

From what I can gather the pub closed sometime early 2000s. 

When I first came to Manchester in the early 70s I was told about the infamous Oldham Road pub crawl. 

Why they thought I might be interested I do not know! Alas I never ventured.

The Crown & Kettle still exists at number 2, but could this be the only other pub building still existing on Oldham Road all the way from town to Newton Heath.”

Now I leave the answer to that question to hang in the air but I bet Hannah will know and if she doesn’t will set the question going on her Saturday radio programme.*

According to the excellent Manchester Pubs site, the Copenhagen may have still been open as late as 2012.**

All of which makes me wonder whether once Peter and I have finished the Chorlton Pubs book and on the back of the very successful Manchester Pubs book we should entertain the idea of the “Lost Pubs of Manchester.”

But as Eric would point out “what is the fun of a book on lost pubs?  It isn’t as if you can visit them and order up a pint of bitter with a dash of lemonade with a side glass of Creme de Menthe?"

So there you have it, and in the absence of an endorsement from Eric I shall just ask Andy to wander into Oldham and see what pubs he can find to photograph, and in the meantime he could look up Oldham Road in his 1969 durectory and tell me how many pubs there were on that long road.

Location Oldham Road

Pictures; the Copenhagen, 2017, from the collection of Andy Robertson, and in 1961, T Brooks, m36807, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*Listen to Hannah's Bookshelf - every Saturday 2-4pm on North Manchester 106.6FM

** Pubs of Manchester,