It is bounded by the former Burton’s store, the long gone BHS now home to Poundland, a later extension to the precinct and a Nineteenth century building. Illustrating the mongrel nature of many English towns, the result of world wars, speculative development and town planning.
It’s a self contained world of loading, unloading unloved and overused.
Home to the pirate parker, carelessly avoiding the imposition of the municipal surcharges.
Shops and goods come and go part of the merry retail gavotte.
The trams once clang, clang, clanged along and the Picture House opened 2nd June 1913, later The Palladium, finally closing in 1956 – now occupied by a huge Charity Shop – Highway Hope.
The Merseyway construction is a modern amalgam of mosaic, brick and cast concrete.
The older brick building now almost rendered and coated in off white exterior emulsion.
There are signs of life and former lives.
This is a nether world that never really was a world at all.
The place where the sun almost doesn’t shine.
And the blue sky seems like an unwelcome intrusion.
So as the retail sector contracts and the virus remains viral – wither Serveway Five?
The Council purchased the development at no cost to taxpayers via the current income stream. The rationale for purchase was to create a sustainable future for the centre via a series of targeted redevelopments. Key aspirations for the centre will be to fully integrate it into the town centre. We also want it to complement our exciting ownerships such as Debenhams, Redrock and Market Place and Underbanks.
The investment will seek to change perceptions of not only the retail offer but also Stockport as a whole. It will ultimately create a town centre that will benefit the local business community and Stockport residents.
The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.
Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities
Paul Dobraszczyk posted this Shirley Baker photograph, he was puzzled by its exact location, it puzzled me too.
For nearly all that is depicted here, is now no longer extant, save one hopes, for the group of playmates.
All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
Shirley Baker was a renowned documentary photographer, who worked extensively in Greater Manchester.
I love the immediacy of unposed, spontaneous photographs and the ability of the camera to capture the serious, the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Despite the many wonderful pictures of the great and famous, I feel that less formal, quotidian images can often convey more of the life and spirit of the time.
I am grateful to Stephen Bann who has identified the monument as the Bann Family vault:
Stephen Bann and his younger brother – many thanks for the text and photograph Stephen.
We had people from all parts of the country turn up on our final day,some of them brought their children who wanted to come because they remember the pub so fondly from their childhood. It was really humbling to see that our pub had touched so many lives.
I remember this pub as a Boddingtons house in the 1970’s. Excellent bitter served by handpump from small vault at the front and a larger “best room” behind, both very narrow given the width of the pub. The landlord employed an unusual method of ensuring everyone got a full pint; a half pint glass of beer was kept between the pumps and your pint was topped up from the half which was constantly replenished to keep it fresh. I have not seen this practice in any other pub.
When’s the next tram due?
Millgate Power Station operated until 1976.
At the adjacent gas works – gas holder number three was dismantled in 1988, gas holders one and two were removed in 2019.
The nature of infrastructure, housing and industry has changed radically.
Lancashire Hill flats were built in the 60s, designed by City Architect JS Rank, two seven storey blocks containing 150 dwellings; two six storey blocks containing 120 dwellings.
Replacing tight rows of terraced housing.
They themselves clad and revamped.
The Nicholson’s Arms built to serve the flats closed and currently empty, signs say to let – replaced an earlier pub, sited on the corner of long gone Nicholson Street.
Today from the road there’s simply no trace of the site’s past purpose.
At the centre of what is now a compact civic grassed area – a trough.
Incongruously in memory of Elizabeth Hyde of Tufnell Park Road London.
The dense stand of trees is impenetrable – no longer a view of the non existent power station and beyond.
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.
As a footnote I did meet brothers Stephen, Derek and Peter who appeared in this Shirley Baker photograph 55 years ago – she promised them an ice cream each – they never ever received an ice cream.
They are seen in Sunnyside Street Ordsall – long since demolished.
Ferguson Pailin Electrical Engineering are established in 1913 on Fairfield Road/Edge Lane.
By 1939 the factory is fully formed and the area a dense warren of industry and terraced housing.
Makers of heavy duty electrical switchgear and general electrical engineers, of Higher Openshaw, Manchester.
1913 Ferranti Ltd sold its switchgear patents and stock to Ferguson, Pailin Ltd. Samuel Ferguson and George Pailin had worked for Ferranti as switchgear engineers. They left in 1913 to set up their own switchgear business at a factory in Higher Openshaw, Manchester.
The company was acquired by Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in 1928. Following the restructuring of AEI in 1960, Ferguson, Pailin & Co ceased to be a separate subsidiary and was merged into AEI switchgear. Following the takeover of AEI by GEC in 1967, the Higher Openshaw works became part of GEC Switchgear. In 1989, GEC merged its electrical engineering interests with those of Alsthom to form GEC Alsthom. The factory was later closed by Alstom in 2003, with most of the employees finishing on 22 November 2002.
The company has a Facebook page which shares former employees memories – from which these archive photographs were taken.
Notably the firm provided extensive leisure facilities for their employees.
The company acquired Mottram Hall to give employees an opportunity to go on affordable holidays during World War II. The company bought three properties in 1939/40 in order to provide holidays for staff and workers during the war. Mottram Hall was bought for the works, a small hotel in Llandudno for the middle level staff and a property in Criccieth for senior staff. Mottram Hall was sold as surplus to requirements by GEC in 1968 and is now a luxury country house hotel.
Sadly the days when benevolent employers thought to take care of their employees in such a manner, are largely a thing of the past.
For business guests, our sleek and sophisticated conference rooms feature the latest technology to get your agenda off to a prompt and professional start. Plus, catering facilities and a plush break out space for comfortable downtime between meetings.
Last time I passed through many of the factory buildings were still extant though underused. A portion of the site lost to the development of the Lime Square Shopping Centre.
Lime Square is a shopping destination which is helping to put the heart back into Openshaw district centre here in east Manchester. Lime Square is home to the stunning Steamhammer sculpture and a host of great High Street names.
By and large replacing the plethora of busy local businesses which once thrived in the area.
Part of the site became the site of a car park for B&M Bargains.
Empty car parking and to let signs in superabundance.
So there we are the end of an era – the decline in manufacturing, the structure ending life as an empty warehouse.
But wait, what’s all this?
Your Housing Group, the Warrington-based affordable housing provider, wants to build a residential scheme on the site of a former warehouse on Edge Lane, with work starting this summer subject to consent.
The project in Openshaw comprises 216 homes available on a mix of tenures, according to a planning application submitted to Manchester City Council. A total of 72 will be for sale as shared ownership schemes, another 72 will be for private rent, and 72 will be for affordable rent.
So there we are another phase of development for one small area of Manchester, should you change to pass, just spare a moment to recall those thousands of souls that laboured their whole working lives – right here on Fairfield Road and Edge Lane.
This is not the first time that I have crossed the threshold of a hair salon – having done so first in Failsworth, keeping company with Sheila Gregory and her chatty clientele.
Both Sheila and Marilyn preserve something of the past, not just in fixtures and fittings, but also in something of an old world charm. A land of shampoos and sets, lacquer and curlers, conviviality and coffee cups.
On the day of our chance encounter here in East Didsbury, we are all experiencing the first week of Covid lockdown – the salon is ostensibly closed, yet Marilyn was kind enough to allow us a few socially distanced moments to stop, snap and chat.
She has been here since 1963, nothing and everything has changed. She had intended to retire some time ago, but on the death of her husband she decided to continue cutting and curling, three days a week, living above the shop, doing just enough.
The interior is largely as was, mirrored, Formica topped and charming – with a delightful reception seating area.
All so lovingly cared for – Marilyn was using the current closure to keep up with the upkeep, washing towels and sweeping up.
I worked as quickly as possible not wishing to compromise anyone’s well-being. As ever on these occasions it is a privilege to be permitted to spend time in someone else’s world, thanks ever so Marilyn.
A social history of Wythenshawe and its Civic Centre can be found here at Archives +.
A general history of the garden city’s development can be found here at Municipal Dreams.
Lest we forget, the story begins with a level of overcrowding and human misery that is – thankfully – almost unimaginable in Britain today. In 1935, Manchester’s Medical Officer of Health condemned 30,000 (of a total of 80,000) inner-city homes as unfit for human habitation; 7000 families were living in single rooms.
The estate was always considered to be, in some sense, the realisation of an ambitious vision.
The world of the future – a world where men and women workers shall be decently housed and served, where the health and safety of little children are of paramount importance, and where work and leisure may be enjoyed to the full.
Cooperative Women’s Guild
Work began in the interwar years, and continued following the hiatus of 1939-45. The shopping centre named the Civic Centre was open in 1963, the actual Civic Centre containing a swimming pool, theatre, public hall and library in 1971.
A triumph for Municipal Modernism conceived by the City Architects and realised by Direct Works. This post war development owed more to the spirit of Festival of Britain optimism, new construction methods and materials, rather than the grandiose functionalist classicism of the original scheme.
The Co-operative Superstore was a key element in the provision of provisions.
There still is – The Forum is a bright and modern hub for co-located services used by community and business.
The original Forum opened in 1971. One of Manchester’s largest public buildings, it had a leisure centre, library, theatre, main hall and meeting rooms. By the mid 1990’s it was under used, had deteriorated internally and externally and needed substantial investment.
The new Forum, along with a new police sub-divisional headquarters and improved transport link was designed to help strengthen the town centre, and provide a landmark project to raise Wythenshawe’s profile within Manchester and beyond.
In the 1980’s they put on a superb array of shows including Roll on 4 O’Clock which starred John Jardine, Jack Smethurst and Glynn Owen. Oh What a lovely War; What the Butler Saw and Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett. Bury’s own Victoria Wood starred in Talent which she wrote. Another Manchester icon Frank Foo Foo Lammar, famous as the top drag queen of the North-West whose club was re-known for its great party nights appeared in The Rocky horror Show.
A land of elegant covered walkways and raised beds.
This building formed part of the later phasing of the proposed Garden Suburb of Wythenshawe. It was intended to house up to 100 double-decker buses but was put to use as a factory for components for Lancaster bombers during the war. It is included here for the functionalist qualities of the building and the acknowledgement of the daring of the City Architects Department. Academic papers, as late as 1952, cited this simple structure as exemplar of its type; Elaine Harwood notes, ‘this was the pioneering example of the means of construction, and the model for larger shells at Bournemouth and Stockwell’. The arches that support the shell have a span of over fifty metres and are spaced at twelve metre intervals. The concrete shell roof is of the short-barrel type commonly used on single span buildings such as hangars, it is uniformly around seventy millimetres thick. The only single span structure larger than this was indeed an aircraft hangar, at Doncaster Airport, demolished around 1990. This building is now in the ownership of an airport parking company that utilise it as vehicle storage; close to its original function.
I recalled the 2016 season Sky Football promotional film, it had featured a street in Ashton under Lyne, it had featured Hamilton Street.
A street spanning the West End and the Ryecroft areas of the town, the town where I had lived for most of my teenage years. The town where my Mam was born and raised in nearby Hill Street, nearby West End Park where my Grandad I had worked, nearby Ashton Moss and Guide Bridge.
This is an area familiar to me, which became the convergent point of a variety of ideas and images, mediated in part by the mighty Murdoch Empire.
Here was the coming together of coal and cotton, an influx of population leaving the fields for pastures new.
In the film, Leytonstone London born David Beckham is seen running down the snow covered northern street.
A credit to our emergent mechanical snow generation industry.
According to snowmakers.com, it takes 74,600 gallons of water to cover a 200 by 200-foot plot with 6 inches of snow.Climate change is cutting snow seasons short, we make snow to compensate, more energy is spent making snow, more coal is burned, more CO2 is released.
It is to be noted that locally there has been a marked decline in snowfall in recent years, the Frozen North possibly a thing of the past.
The temperatures around the UK and Europe have actually got warmer over the last few decades, although when you are out de-icing your car it may not actually feel as though it has. Whilst this can not be directly link to climate change, it is fair to assume that climate change is playing a part.
It is also to be noted that Sky Supremo Rupert Murdoch has described himself as a climate change “sceptic”.
Appearing arms raised outside of the home of a family clustered around the television, in their front room.
Filming the ad was great and the finished piece is a really clever way of showing that you never know what might happen in football, I always enjoy working with Sky Sports and I’m proud to be associated with their football coverage.
Illustrative of a time when sport and local industry went hand in glove.
The National Ground was subsequently taken over by Curzon Ashton who have since moved to the Tameside Stadium.
Ashton & Hyde Village Hotels occupy the front of shirt sponsors spot on our new blue and white home shirt, while Seed of Speed, our official conditioning partners, feature on the arm, and Minuteman Press occupy the back of the shirt. Meanwhile, Regional Steels UK Ltd. are the front of shirt sponsors on our new pink and black away kit.
Illustrative of a time when sport and local industry continue to work hand in glove.
Local lad Gordon Alexander Taylor OBE is a former professional footballer. He has been chief executive of the English footballers’ trades union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, since 1981. He is reputed to be the highest paid union official in the world.
His mobile phone messages were allegedly hacked by a private investigator employed by the News of the World newspaper. The Guardian reported that News International paid Taylor £700,000 in legal costs and damages in exchange for a confidentiality agreement barring him from speaking about the case.
News International is owned by our old pal Rupert Murdoch, the News of the World no longer exists.
The view of Hamilton Street closely mirrors LS Lowry’sStreet Scene Pendlebury – the mill looming large over the fierce perspective of the roadway. The importance of Lowry’s role in constructing a popular image of the North cannot be overestimated.
He finds a grim beauty in his views of red facades, black smoke and figures in white, snowy emptiness. He is a modern primitive, an industrial Rousseau, whose way of seeing is perhaps the only one that could do justice to the way places like Salford looked in the factory age.
For many years cosmopolitan London turned its back on Lowry, finally relenting with a one man show at the Tate in 2013 – I noted on the day of my visit, that the attendant shop stocked flat caps, mufflers and bottled beer, they seemed to have drawn the line at inflatable whippets.
Drawing upon other artists’s work, in a continuous search for ways to depict the unlovely facts of the city’s edges and the landscape made by industrialisation.
But Murdoch’s Hamilton Street is as much a construct as Lowry’s – the snow an expensive technical coating, Mr Beckham a CGI apparition. Our contemporary visual culture is littered with digital detritus, saving time and money, conjuring up cars, kids and footballers at will.
An illusion within an illusion of an illusory North.
Green screen chroma keyed onto the grey tableau.
Mr Beckham himself can also be seen as a media construct, for many years representing that most Northern of institutions Manchester United – itself yet another product of image manipulation, its tragic post-Munich aura encircling the planet, with an expensive Empire Made, red and white scarf of cultural imperialism.
David’s parents were fanatical Manchester United supporters who frequently travelled 200 miles to Old Trafford from London to attend the team’s home matches, he inherited his parents’ love of Manchester United, and his main sporting passion was football.
Mr B’s mentor was of course former Govan convener – Mr A Ferguson, who headed south to find his new Northern home, creating and then destroying the lad’s career, allegedly by means of boot and hairdryer.
Here we have the traditional Northern Alpha Male challenged by the emergent Metrosexual culture, celebrity fragrances, posh partner, tattooed torso, and skin conditioner endorsements.
It is to be noted that the wealth of the region, in part created by the shoemaking and electrical industries, have long since ceased to flourish, though still trading, PIFCO no longer has a local base.
The forces of free market monopoly capitalism have made football and its attendant personalities global commodities, and manufacturing by and large, merely a fanciful folk memory.
Hamilton Street would have provided substantial homes to workers at the Ryecroft Cotton Mills.
Ryecroft Mill, built in 1837,was the second of a series of four mills built on the site, the first was built in 1834. In 1843, over 10,000 people were employed in Ashton’s cotton mills – today there are none.
This industrial growth was far from painless and Ashton along with other Tameside towns, worked long and hard in order to build the Chartist Movement, fighting to establish better working conditions for all.
The tradition of political and religious non-conformity runs wide and deep here, the oft overlooked history of Northern character and culture.
Textile production ceased in the 1970s and the mill is now home to Ryecroft Foods, a subsidiary of Weetabix.
Ashton like many of Manchester’s satellite towns created enormous wealth during the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries. The workers of Ashton saw little of that wealth, the social and economic void left by the rapid exodus of the cotton industry to the Far East, is still waiting to be filled, in these so called left behind towns.
Here is a landscape nestled in the foot of the Pennines, struggling to escape its past and define a future.