Mellands Playing Fields – Mount Road

Does it all begin here with Frederick Melland?

His zeal for play-grounds and open spaces was always great, and only a few years ago he took part in an agitation for the acquisition of a new park.

Seen here at the centre of the contemporary map – an empty space with no indication of its current use, or past status – drawn a blank.

It’s here in an aerial photograph of 1931.

Photograph – Britain From The Air

Surrounded by newly built social housing.

Melland Road 1965

Levyboy’s website informs us of the fields’ wartime uses:

As a Military Police and POW Camp
The 48th Battalion Manchester Home Guard used the facilities 

Photograph Brian Wood

I remember from the 60’s onwards the fields in use for amateur football – pubs, clubs, schools and works all supplying teams to the plethora of leagues across the city.

Auster Aircraft of Airliners forced to land at Melland Playing Fields whilst towing banner 1961
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Archive photographs – Local Image Collection

The pitches and the sports centre built in 1978 are now closed.

On my previous visit in 2015 the facilities were still open.

New housing has been built on the northern edge.

Gorton has received significant regeneration and investment over recent years as have nearby areas including Levenshulme. This is an aspirational, exciting new development and Arkwright Place has something for everyone – from first time buyers to growing families and downsizers – with a huge range of beautiful homes on offer.

A local campaign was organised to preserve the open space:

At present the fields are fenced and secured – though gaps have been made to allow access for strollers.

The goalposts still stand though currently without crossbars.

Which are stored by the Sports Hall.

The buildings are mothballed – awaiting what?

For me the concrete and brick functionalist changing rooms are a thing of beauty and seem to have been a part of my life for quite some time, as I cycled back and to – on my way to work.

Jetson Street – Abbey Hey

We are travelling backwards and forwards in time – firstly back to 1845 when the street was yet to be built, before the Industrial Revolution created the need for workers’ homes, to house the workers from the newly built workplaces, which also did not yet exist.

It was almost all fields around here.

Old Maps of Gorton

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A little further forward to 1896 when Jetson Street has emerged fully formed from the fields, along with rail, road, amusement and industry.

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Fast forward to today and it’s all almost still there – though most of the work and the majority of the amusement has evaporated into a cloud of post-industrial, Neo-Liberal economic stagflation.

So why am I here – fast forward to the fictional future!

As a kid I watched as the Jet Age emerged before my very square eyes, giving the street a certain cosmic charm – I was curious.

I have searched online – this seems to be the one and only Jetson Street in the whole wide world – I searched online for its origins.

The name Jetson means Son Of Jet and is of American origin.

Which quite frankly seems unreasonably glib.

The name Jetson is from the ancient  Anglo-Saxon culture of the Britain and comes from the names Judd and Jutt, which are pet forms of the  personal name Jordan. These names are derived from Jurd, a common abbreviation of Jordan, and feature the common interchange of voiced and voiceless final consonants.

The surname Jetson was first found in  Hertfordshire where they held a  family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the  Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Which quite frankly seems unreasonably obscure.

Let’s jet back to 1964.

T Brooks wandered these streets taking thousands of photographs for the Manchester Corporation, possibly the housing or highways departments – they all still exist here on the Local Image Collection.

This was a world of corner shops on ever corner, settled communities full-employment, neatly ordered rows of sturdy brick-built homes.

I follow in his hallowed footsteps, what if anything remains of this world – fast forward to 2015 my first fleeting visit.

Now trading as Happy Home
A barber shop no more

The area now has a richer racial mix – having recently become home to many African and Eastern European families. The architectural consistency of the houses has been swamped by render, window frame replacement, addition and extension, and the arrival of a plethora of motor cars. The majority of shops now long gone, as the once pedestrian community spread their retail wings and wheels elsewhere.

Jetson Street – North
Sandown Street
Kings Close
Madison Street
Kenyon Street
Kenyon Street
Sign of the times
Gordon Street
Jetson Street – North
Jetson Street – South
Walter Street
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Claymore Street
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Courier Street
The only remaining front doors and tiled porch every other having been given over to the allure of uPVC and the enclosed doorway
My on street correspondent congratulated the Raja Brothers on the sound service they had provided during these difficult times.
Where the barbers was
Burstead Street
Abbey Hey Lane

Allotments – Abbey Hey Manchester

Located in a residential area in East Manchester, Abbey Hey Allotment site is an award winning and thriving allotment community with over 100 plots.
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I have to admit that not for the first time and certainly not the last, I was slightly lost. On my way to nowhere in particular via somewhere else, I cycled down a dead end track, along the wrong end of Ackroyd Avenue.blank
Allotments have been in existence for hundreds of years, with evidence pointing back to Anglo-Saxon times. But the system we recognise today has its roots in the Nineteenth Century, when land was given over to the labouring poor for the provision of food growing. This measure was desperately needed thanks to the rapid industrialisation of the country and the lack of a welfare state. In 1908 the Small Holdings and Allotments Act came into force, placing a duty on local authorities to provide sufficient allotments, according to demand. However it wasn’t until the end of the First World War that land was made available to all, primarily as a way of assisting returning service men (Land Settlement Facilities Act 1919) instead of just the labouring poor. The rights of allotment holders in England and Wales were strengthened through the Allotments Acts of 1922, but the most important change can be found in the Allotments Act of 1925 which established statutory allotments which local authorities could not sell off or covert without Ministerial consent, known as Section 8 Orders.
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Lets take a look:
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Varna Street – Rogue Studios Manchester

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Once there was a school – from May 16th 1898, there was a school.

One of many Manchester School Board schools built in an imposing functional, triple storied style, they often seemed several times too big, for the infants which they contained.

With one thousand five hundred pupils, it was dubbed the largest school in Lancashire.

Nestled in a tight corner formed by the Lanky Cut and the train line below, surrounded by the huddled masses, in their manifold terraced homes.

 

1963

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Once home to cheeky monkey, soon to be Monkee Davy Jones.

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His runaway, overnight fame made his humble Gorton home a mecca for adoring fans.

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The school’s interior was a mix of wide open halls and closeted classrooms.

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Archive photographs from the Manchester Local Image Collection

Eventually the school bell rang for the last time, and a newer brighter home was found for the little learners.

Lights were turned off and the doors of Varna Street were closed.

But not for the last time, a new use was found for this recently listed building.

Having lost their city centre base Rogue Studios were offered the site by the local authority, and in double quick time they have created a home for artists, a community resource and project space, which will continue to prosper for years to come.

Many thanks to Ms. Jenny Steele Rogue artist for my guided tour.

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Taylor Street Gorton – The Pineapple

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To begin at the beginning or thereabouts, Taylor Street was at the heart of Gorton to the east of Manchester city centre.

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A typical street of tightly packed brick terraces, dotted with shops, pubs, people and industry. I worked there as van lad for Mother’s Pride bread back in the 70s and saw those shops, pubs, people and industry slowly disappear.

Beyer Peacock whose immense shed dominated the northern end of the street, simply ceased to be, as steam gave way to diesel.

As full employment gave way to a date with the dole.

Adsega opening on nearby Cross Street heralded the arrival of the super fast, self-service supermarket, and sounded the death knell of the cosy corner cupboard.

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The local pub was The Bessemer – its name forging an unbreakable link with the surrounding steel industry, that eventually broke.

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To the left of the pub is the Bishop Greer High School construction site  – the first of the new build that would later dominate the area, along with wide open spaces where shops, pubs, people and industry once were.

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When the school eventually shut its doors, it became an annex of Openshaw Technical College, and I found myself working there in the 80s at the East Manchester Centre, until its eventual closure.

It’s now sheltered accommodation for the lost and lonely:

Located in a quiet suburb of Manchester with excellent links to the city centre, Gorton Parks has an exceptional range of facilities spread out across five separate houses, each offering a different care option. Melland House offers dementia residential care, Abbey Hey provides nursing dementia care, Debdale is the house for intermediate nursing care and Sunny Brow offers general nursing care.

We sought solace in The Pineapple.

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The streets were trimmed and slimmed, much of the past a mere ghostly presence, almost imprinted on the present.

A brave new world of brand new modern housing, with an Estate Pub to match.

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A busy bustling boozer – lots of live and local action for the lively locals, latterly seeing out time as a house of House – a real bangin’ Bashment, bass-man bargain basement.

Until time is finally called – no more four to the floor, last one out shut the door.

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Nothing lasts forever and a sign of the times is an upended pub sign, lying dormant in the dust.

The Chunky no longer a great big hunk o’funk.

10 Gorton pineapple pub

The big screen TV forever failing to deliver all the action, live or otherwise.

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Latterly transformed into Dribble Drabble.

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And so the beat goes on as successive waves of success and recession, boom and bust free-market economics, wash over the nation and its long suffering folk.

Its enough to drive you to drink.

ICL Tower – Gorton Manchester

Designed by architects Cruikshank and Seward in the Sixties, to house the cutting-edge computing power of the time, the ICT later ICL Tower, towered over Wenlock Way, Gorton in East Manchester.

A landmark for many from bus, train, car, Shanks’s pony or low flying VC10.

A place of work for thousands.

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At a time when modern technology looked a little like this:

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Sadly ending like this:

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Two weeks into the demolition process the east elevation is no more, revealing a concrete honeycomb of torn steel and fresh air.

A few weeks time and it will be little more than so much dust and memories.

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Hyde Road – Manchester

From Ardwick Green in the west to Abbey Hey in the east – runs Hyde Road Manchester.

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It’s a a road I have travelled from my early teens onwards, visiting friends, family, speedway, school sports days, fun and frolics at Belle Vue, tea and toast in Sivori’s, bike parts from Cowans. Working at the former Bishop Greer School, drinking in it’s many pubs, going to the flicks at the Apollo.

It was an area thick with the hustle and bustle of folks going about their business – working, shopping, boozing, waltzing in the Elizabethan, or the waltzers, bobbing up and down on the Bobs. A self contained community, just about prosperous enough in times of full employment –  take just one more walk with me.

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woolworths

All photographs from the Manchester Local Image Collection