This is a journey through time and space by bicycle, around the rugged, ragged streets of East Manchester.
Undertaken on Sunday September 2nd 2018.
This is type travel – the search for words and their meanings in an ever changing world.
Devonshire Street North
Former Ardwick Cemetery
Great Universal Stores former mail order giant
The River Inn abandoned pub
All Souls Church – listed yet unloved
Pollard Street East
The Bank Of England abandoned pub
Ancoats Works former engineering company
The Lunchbox Café Holt Town
Upper Helena Street
The last remnants of industrial activity
The little that remains of Raffles Mill
Old Mill Street
Ancoats Dispensary loved listed and still awaiting resuscitation
New life New Islington
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth passed by in 1942
Former School the stone plaque applied to a newer building
The last of the few Blossom Motors
Former fruit merchants – refurbished and home to the SLG creative agency
Marshall Street and Goulden Street area
The last remnants of the rag trade
All that’s left of Alexandra Place
Entrance to the former Goods Yard
Back St Georges Road
Where once the CWS loomed large
Each and every time I wandered by, I wondered.
The whys and wherefores of your seemingly unknowable comings and goings.
Standing alone, aloof and unloved on the corner of Rochdale Road and Sudell Street.
Something was missing.
I was missing something.
In 1813 there’s a field
In 1836 something’s there, but not it’s you.
By 1900 the days of the two up, two downs are numbered – sanitary dwellings are the order of the day, plans are drawn up, the local council have decreed that workers dwellings are to be built.
Known as Alexandra Place or The Dwellings.
You must have been home to many too many to recall, then you were gone again.
Save for one old triangle, refusing to jingle jangle to the modern dance.
I do not know what fate awaits you, I only know you must be strong.
A change is gonna come.
Standing stately on the corner of Carruthers and Pollard Street, safe as houses.
As safe as the houses that are no longer there, along with the other public houses, along with the jobs, along with the punters – all long gone, it’s a long story.
Mind that tram, full of the boys and girls in blue, off to shriek at a Sheikh’s shrine.
The Bank of England was one of Ancoats’ first beerhouses, licensed from 1830 and ten years later it was fully licensed with attached brewhouse. The brewery did well, in fact it had another tied house, the Kings Arms near Miles Platting station nearby. The brewery was sold off in the 1860s but continued as a separate business for a few years.
Ancoats, the core of the first industrial city, a dense cornucopia of homes, mills and cholera – its citizens said to find respite from disease, through the consumption of locally brewed beer.
Once home to a plethora of pubs, now something of a dull desert for the thirsty worker, though workers, thirsty or otherwise are something of a rarity in the area.
One worker went missing, some twenty years ago Martin Joyce was last seen on the site, the pub grounds were excavated – nothing was found.
When last open it was far from loved and found little favour amongst the fickle footy fans.
To the north a tidal wave of merchant bankers, to the east redundant industry.
The Bank of England has gone west.
So clean the mills and factories
And give me council houses too
And work that isn’t turning tricks
Like building homes and making bricks.
Eva Brothers of Crabtree Forge, Crabtree Lane, Clayton, Manchester.
1909 The partnership of James Eva, Archibald William Eva, Victor Eva, Arthur Eva, and Frank Eva, carrying on business as Forge-masters, at Crabtree-lane, Clayton, Manchester, under the style or firm of Eva Bothers was ended. All debts due would be settled by Archibald William Eva, Victor Eva, Arthur Eva, and Frank Eva, who continued the business under the same style.
By 1953 The EVA group of companies was the largest edge tool makers in the world, exporting most of their products. The associated companies included: Chillington Tool Co, Edward Elwell Limited of Wednesbury, A. W. Wills and Son Limited of Birmingham, John Yates and Co Limited of Birmingham, and the Phoenix Shovel Co Limited of Cradley Heath.
1958 Acquired T. Williams Drop forgings and Tools of Small Heath, Birmingham
1959 Planned to convert into a holding company; depressed demand for heavy engineering but continued group prosperity were anticipated.
1960 Eva Brothers paid dividends and made scrip issue; changed the name to Eva Industries as the holding company.
1976: Eva Brothers continued to be a part of Eva Industries.
Graces Guide – for further information.
This is where Manchester’s prosperity was created, engineering along with King Cotton, formed the financial foundations of the city. These industries are now all but vanished, along with the communities and skills that created them, work and wealth are elsewhere.
Years of free-market economics, acquisition, asset stripping, amalgamation and monopoly have bequeathed a legacy of loss.
Once bustling and business like sheds and yards, are now forests of buddleia and bramble. The sound of metal on metal, but a dull memory, amidst the wilder side of wildlife and the gentle whisper of peeling paint.
Come with me now to the Kingdom of Rust.
Having traced a lengthy history of the shortish Palmerston Street – I returned to take a snapshot of the current state of affairs.
So much has gone an Art Museum, Lads Club, churches, homes, schools, industry and pubs – much of this now indistinct scrubland, fenced and walled, neither use nor ornament, save as an unofficial wildlife garden for feather, fowl and flower.
There are small groups of more recent housing developments with the promise of more on the way, though this as ever is contentious – the story of conflicted interests betwixt and between developer, local authority and the would be affordable homes and their occupants.
The council says – Manchester’s Affordable Housing Programme will ensure more than 2,200 homes by March 2021 through a £250m programme funded through a variety of sources including Homes England grant funding, Council borrowing and land or property sales and Registered Providers. The Council is also backing the programme through the release of suitable council-owned land.
Which seems barely adequate to meet the needs of those on lower incomes.
The Guardian says – Of the 61 big residential developments granted planning permission by Manchester city council’s planning committee in 2016 and 2017, not one of the 14,667 planned flats or houses met the government’s definition of affordable, being neither for social rent nor offered at 80% of the market rate.
Manchester has changed, constantly changed – often overlooking the needs of its citizens to the north and east of the city. The areas crippled by recession, deindustrialisation and demolition have yet to see the benefits of the city’s recent regeneration.
What was once a community overflowing with rough and tumble, hustle and bustle, now seems to have become a contested area for match day parking and non-existent urban renewal.
Let’s take a look down Palmerston Street.
To begin at the beginning – some years ago I traced the route of the River Medlock, I chanced upon a forlorn pub called The River, all alone, desolate and boarded up, presiding over an area that I assumed, would once have supplied ample trade to a busy boozer.
I returned last week in search of some rhyme or reason, for such a seemingly sad and untimely decline.
So here we are back at in Manchester 1813, the seeds of the Industrial Revolution sewn in adjacent Ancoats, the fields of Beswick still sewn with seeds, the trace of Palmerston Street nought but a rural track.
Sited on land between Great Ancoats Street and Every Street was Ancoats Hall, a post-medieval country house built in 1609 by Oswald Mosley, a member of the family who were Lords of the Manor of Manchester. The old timber-framed hall, built in the early 17th century, and demolished in the 1820s was replaced replaced by a brick building in the early neo-Gothic style.
This would become the Manchester Art Museum, and here the worst excesses Victorian Capitalism were moderated by philanthropy and social reform.
When the Art Museum opened, its rooms, variously dedicated to painting, sculpture, architecture and domestic arts, together attempted to provide a chronological narrative of art, with detailed notes, labels and accompanying pamphlets and, not infrequently, personal guidance, all underlining a sense of historical development.
Housing and industry in the area begins to expand, railways, tramways, homes and roads are clearly defined around the winds of the river.
In 1918 the museum was taken over by the city, it closed in 1953 and its contents were absorbed into the collection of Manchester City Art Gallery, as the State increasingly took responsibility for the cultural well being of the common folk.
The building was finally demolished in the 1960’s – just as the area, by now a dense warren of back to back terraces, was to see further change.
Along the way was the the River Inn, seen here with a fine Groves and Whitnall’s faience tiled frontage.
The street also offered rest, relaxation and refreshment through the Church, Pineapple and Palmerston pubs, as recored here on the Pubs of Manchester blog.
The River seen here in the 1970’s struggled on until 2007.
Further along we find the Ardwick Lads Club, further evidence of the forces of social reform, that sadly failed to survive the forces of the free market and the consequent Tory cuts in public spending and wilful Council land-banking.
The Ardwick Lads’ and Mens’ Club, now the Ardwick Youth Centre, opened in 1897 and is believed to be Britain’s oldest purpose-built youth club still in use [and was until earlier in 2012]. Designed by architects W & G Higginbottom, the club, when opened, featured a large gymnasium with viewing gallery – where the 1933 All England Amateur Gymnastics Championships were held – three fives courts, a billiard room and two skittle alleys (later converted to shooting galleries). Boxing, cycling, cricket, swimming and badminton were also organised. At its peak between the two world wars, Ardwick was the Manchester area’s largest club, with 2,000 members.
On the 10th September 2012 an application for prior notification of proposed demolition was submitted on behalf of Manchester City Council to Manchester Planning, for the demolition of Ardwick Lads’ Club of 100 Palmerston Street , citing that there was “no use” for the building in respect to its historic place within the community as providing a refuge and sporting provision to the young of Ancoats.
At the top turn of the street stood St Mary’s – the so called Lowry church.
Used as a location for the film adaptation of Stan Barstow’s A Kind Of Loving
The homes and industry attendant schools and pubs were soon to become history, all that you see here is more or less gone. Slum clearance, the post-war will to move communities away from the dense factory smoke, poor housing stock and towards a bright shiny future elsewhere.
Whole histories have subsequently been subsumed beneath the encroachment of buddleia, bramble, birch and willow.
The land now stands largely unused and overgrown, awaiting who knows what, but that’s another tale for another day.
Archive images from the Manchester Local Image Collection.