Kennet House – Manchester

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I’ve been up to my ears in seawater recently, researching and visiting modernity on the coast – when the question was posed, is this particular marine typology to be found inland?

Well, yes it was – in thrall to the work of Bruno Taut’s work at Britz, amongst others, and motivated by a desire for newer, cleaner forms of architecture, often instigated by forward thinking socialist local authorities, the future was built.

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As directed by the British Broadcasting Corporation in October 1937.

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The future was subsequently knocked down and put back in its box.

However for a short while it looked like this:

– Kennet House on Smedley Lane, Cheetham Hill.

Many of these photographs were taken by Norman Newsham – who had the foresight to record the passing of this once great building, many thanks Norman.

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Take a walk down there one day, take time to take a look at where the future was.

Beneath the pavement, the pavement.

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Archival material thanks to:

http://manchestergalore.tumblr.com

http://images.manchester.gov.uk

14 thoughts on “Kennet House – Manchester

    1. My Father had the Butchers Shop in Kennet House from 1939-When it was pulled down in the 70s,I actually worked there myself from 1955 to 1958. Spent hours playing football inside on the macadam spaces, was a nice place then. Colin Ramsbottom.

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  1. It was a hell hole! I worked there as a youth worker for a few months in the late 1970s. Hellish place! Why do architects think the poor want to live on top of one another? Why didn’t they build nice houses like the ones they themselves lived in? Totally inappropriate for the surrounding landscape and architecture. Lovely people lived there but the building and conditions were against them. Grim place.

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  2. I lived in Kennet house in the 40s it was well kept neat and tidy flats . The ship as Kennet house was called had its own community hall, laundry,and office to pay your rent and report any repairs . It was certainly not a hell hole. The grass in the centre was cut regularly and you could have an allotment at the back of the flats . Maybe time took its toll no worse than the multi-storey flats of today

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    1. I lived in Kennet House from the mid 70s till it was demolished around 78 and yes, a hell hole describes it quite accurately.
      It wasn’t “time” that took its toll. To its shame, Manchester City council blatantly neglected its upkeep and although the majority of the residents were friendly, responsible tenants, the council adopted a policy that was totally unfair to these neighbourly, community spirited residents.
      From the early 70s, as flats in the complex became vacant for whatever reason, families and individuals from all over Manchester that had been evicted from their homes for antisocial, violent or criminal behaviour we’re prioritised as replacement tenants. Gang violence became commonplace, what were once cultivated lawn areas were left to degenerate into dusty wasteland, the outer perimeter became a fly tippers paradise and the rear of the building a dumping ground for stolen, burned out cars.
      With the maintenance it was due and a more responsible approach to occupying the block, Kennet House would without doubt remained a desirable place to live for council tenants.
      But I’m sure the council at the time patted itself on the back for a job well done.

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  3. My mother and father lived in Kennet House when I was born in 1948, I think in no 7. I still have my identity card giving this address. Wish I’d gone back to have a look, didn’t know they’d gone until I opened this page.

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  4. I was born at Kennet House in the late 60’s, and lived there until the early 70’s. According to my older siblings and parents, it was a hell hole at that point; such a pity as it clearly started out as something amazing. I didn’t know it’s cool history until this article (thanks for creating it). When was it torn down? What is in its place?

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  5. Many of these photos are taken from our group, Kennet House and The Woodlands on Facebook. Started about 5 years ago now, the idea was to explore this iconic building and look for reasons why it did not survive. It has turned into a community of neighbours and residents with a few architectural historians thrown in. We are still on the lookout for elusive photographs. Feel free to join us on facebook, particularly those of you who were born in the flats.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Eileen – I am a member of the group which has given permission for the use of the photographs, for which I am extremely grateful. I am interested in the history of housing in Manchester, particularly the experience of those people who lived there! It has received some negative press over time , but the feeling I get form many folks that I chat to is that they were and are happy to live in settled communities. Will keep a look out for new photos – Steve.

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  6. I lived in Kennet House for 4 years until I was 14 in 1965. Great memories some really good people & freinds. Went to Smedley Lane Sec Mod down the road. Great school. It was a good ship with a laundry & shops at the entrance and a world of adventure at the back and down to the river Irk. Happy times

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  7. I lived in kennet house and it was the best place to live every body looked after each other and only had to entry’s if I could go back to the days I was there it would make my day so many lovely people who were warm and friendly and local shops to

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    1. I lived there around 1968 to 1975 as a young kid it was fun. Making dens, playing by the railway, walking to school ( temple primary ) than to (Abraham moss secondary ) .
      It was a community as nobody had anything but everybody now you. We played outside in the centre of the flats down the bottom end as there was grass and at the top end was there the cars parked.
      At the top entry’ there was some shops ( sweet shop and a iron mungers ) and youth club. Frank

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  8. I lived in the flats from 1952 till 1964 at number 21. . There were no allotments at the back then and hardly any grass left in the centre. Most families were friendly but we never went in each other’s houses. We played in the centre or ‘ on the back grass’ as we used to call it, by the river Irk. My mother pushed an old pram up to the wash house above the top entry , every Friday and I had to take her a mug of tea up and help fold the dry sheets and towels. There were 2 corner shops either side of the top entry as you entered it. Smiths was the newspaper and sweet shop on the left and there was a grocer’s shop on the right. I can remember being sent to buy 10 woodbines for my dad for 1 shilling and 2d. My gran lived at the bottom end of the flats on the side closest to the river and she used to throw us ‘ jam butties’ when we were playing out. She wore clogs and a pinney every day even when she retired from the cotton mill. The only family names I remember from that time were…. the Smiths, the Phillips, the Claypoles , the Skeltons and the Mcmurdos. Our family name was Kerr and my gran’s, Waugh. My oldest brother and his mates kept pigeons in a cote on the back grass and we all attended St Malachy’s school. Dad was a coal miner and we moved to the miner’s estate in Moston in 1964.

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