Fairfield Road – Edge Lane

In 1802 there’s mostly nothing here, nothing to speak of.

A few buildings on Ashton Old Road and fields, lots of fields.

Then along comes the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing is in the ascendancy, mostly.

Vision of Britain

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.

Graces Guide

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.

Wikipedia

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.

Place North West

The development, to be known as Edgefield Green

Your Housing Group

As of Friday 13th November 2020 – the site has been cleared, little or no signs of its former occupants save for a dilapidated fence or gate.

This land is your land.

Our hearts beat as one as we had our fun but time changes everything.

Tommy Duncan of the Texas Playboys

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.

Varna Street – Rogue Studios Manchester

webmedia-1.php

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

webmedia-1.php copy

webmedia-2.php

webmedia.php copy

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

davy-jones

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

fans-congregate-outside-the-home-of-singer-davy-jones-in-clumber-road-gorton-manchester-davy-jones-died-29-2-2012-1673475a-1500

fans-congregate-outside-the-home-of-singer-davy-jones-in-clumber-road-gorton-manchester-davy-jones-died-29-2-2012-1673476a-1500

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

webmedia.php

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.

P1260603

P1260607

P1260609

P1260598

P1260611

P1260612

P1260613

P1260615

P1260616

P1260617

P1260618

P1260619

P1260620

P1260624

P1260625

P1260627

P1260629

P1260633

P1260636

P1260637

P1260638

P1260640

P1260642

P1260645

 

St Barnabas – Manchester

barnabas

There has been a church here since 1837, there is still a church here.

Almost.

webmedia-1.php

Openshaw in the 60s was still a busy community of terraced homes and their occupants, tumbling cheek by jowl with industry, both heavy and light.

webmedia.php copy

A tightly wrapped world of corner shops and sun-canopied Silver Cross prams.

webmedia-1.php copy

The original imposing, imperious St Barnabas’s was demolished, to be replaced by a sharper space age architecture, embodying a new age of optimism.

webmedia-2.php

webmedia-3.php

webmedia-6.php

webmedia-5.php

Photographs from the Manchester Image Archive

At the same time the soot-blackened Victorian terraces, are in part replaced by newer brick and block homes, the future seemed bright.

The industry however, once so invincible, both light and heavy, begins to disappear, becomes weightless, invisible.

Slowly the assured social cohesion of that new age comes unstuck.

When the doors of one St Barnabas’s close, likewise eventually another closes.

P1050899 copy

P1050900 copy

P1050901 copy

P1050904 copy

P1050905 copy

P1050907 copy

P1050910 copy

P1050911 copy

P1050912 copy

P1050914 copy

P1050915 copy

P1050916 copy

P1150211 copy

P1150212 copy

P1150218 copy

Manchester – Openshaw Indoor Market

It’s dark inside, you can feel the thin light at war with the murky interior.

Stall holders scurry between stalls, in and out of alcoves, cupboards, hidey holes and plywood worlds.

They made me welcome, chatted as they went about their business of simply getting by.

This is the land beyond time and at times motion and emotion.

Entering seems transgressive, there is nothing in here I want or need, I just had a compulsion to record this flickering fight against the distinct possibility of extinction.

Come in.

DSC_0337 copy

DSC_0356 copy

DSC_0354 copy

DSC_0353 copy

DSC_0352 copy

DSC_0346 copy

DSC_0339 copy

DSC_0335 copy

DSC_0331 copy

DSC_0328 copy

DSC_0325 copy

DSC_0324 copy

DSC_0319 copy

DSC_0318 copy

Manchester – Openshaw Market Signs

There have been covered markets to the east of Manchester for many years, those on Grey Mare Lane have now gone, in fact Grey Mare Lane has almost gone, absorbed into a very different and very privatised urban redevelopment. That area of the city is now largely owned by Mansoor bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan,  commonly known as Sheikh Mansou.

He also owns City.

Openshaw Market survives, home to a rag bag of honest hard working and friendly traders, getting by.

They have their own unique brand of branding and signage – the downright, down home, home made.

I’d like to share it with you – come and look.