In my memory of days long gone by, I call to mind the stops strewn around St Michael’s Square – all points east I assume, Stalybridge, Mossley, Micklehurst, Dukinfield, Glossop and beyond.
Prior to 1963, Ashton-under-Lyne’s buses and trolleybuses stopped at a variety of termini throughout the town centre. Manchester Corporation services called at Bow Street and Old Square, by Yates’ Wine Lodge; Ashton-under-Lyne Corporation’s buses opted for Market Street and Wellington Road by the town hall.
Ashton zooms forward into the future, its flat-roofed modern facilities complemented by ranks of low-level shelters and edged to the east by a walled lawn and flower bed – where we all loved to sit of a sunny day.
And the under the cover of the canopy at night, ready for the time of your life, at the Birdcage, pub or pictures.
I remember the kiosk on the corner, a jewellers around the other corner.
I’ll meet you under the clock.
Photo: Ron Stubley
Here we see that the original shelters have been replaced and realigned.
Temporary Queensbury shelters were put in place prior to the addition of GMPTE’s standard shelters, seen in Stockport and Oldham bus stations. By the close of 1983, the recognisable GMPTE ones emerged. The cover at the precinct end was later glazed and became stands A to C.
The second version of Ashton-under-Lyne’s bus station opened on the 18 March 1985. After two and a half years refurbishment work, it was opened at 11.30 by Councillor Geoffrey Brierley.
And that’s the corner where we would deck off the open backed buses, hitting the pavement at speed.
That’s the deep blue and cream Ashton livery later superseded by SELNEC, GMPTE and TFGM – the wonderful full fare, unfair world of Margaret Hilda Thatcher’s privatisation, Arriva, First and Stagecoach first.
Then in the 1995 with the development of the Arcades Shopping centre, the whole site is reconfigured, now seen nestling in the shadow of the Dustbin.
Though as we know, nothing lasts forever and the shelters, passengers and buses get shunted and rebuilt yet again,
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.
Ernest Whiteley opened the shop on Easter Sunday 1901
His first week’s taking were £7 14s 1d.
He thought that he had done very well – says granddaughter Ann Clough.
Grandad lost his sight in 1940, I became his eyes. When he lost his sight and he handed over the till keys to mother, they had a little weep.He handed over to my mother because father had died three months before.
Ann has run the shop for the last sixty years, along with Sue, a full-timer for some thirty years.
The rep isn’t coming any more, ordering is online, that’s no good to us.
This is a cash only low-tech, high stock operation.
If they don’t have it – it probably doesn’t exist.
From the outside little has changed sine the 1930s, wide glass, well arranged windows, displaying a wide array of wondrous haberdashery.
All contained within an arcade with Art Deco detailing.
There are many, many mannequins from another age.
One man from Scotland stayed for hours, he had a fetish for the mannequins, we couldn’t get rid of him.
The side of the shop is largely given over to net curtains of every size, shape and design, labelled Monica, Daisy, Andrea, Vicky or Sarah.
The names were chosen by Sue, it’s a lot easier for people to say, I want Vicky, 36 deep, than the one with the squiggly flowers, or to remember the manufacturer’s number.
Inside is a haven of domesticity, dusters abound, along with all the other attendant cloths and towels to ensure household cleanliness.
Not forgetting the correct clothing for those domestic chores.
The original display units are a delight.
Almost every surface is awash with lady’s unmentionables – winter draws on, wrap up.
There are covers and doilies of every description.
And the finest display of sensibly priced handkerchiefs, fancy and plain.
Every sign and tag hand written with pride.
It was, as ever a privilege and a joy to spend a short time in another world, thanks ever so to Ann and Sue for their time and patience.
If your passing pop in spend a pound or two – I bought three dish cloths.
One customer told me he was going to a party dressed in a white mini-dress, purple wig, thigh boots and black tights, he came to look at nighties and tried one on in the changing cubicle. You’ve got to be broad-minded. It can be very disconcerting when you hear a man zipping up a corset.
I live just around the corner and often walk by, intrigued by this small rectangle of rectangular sheltered homes, I chose to take a closer look.
On adjoining Craig Road there are a group of interwar semi-detached homes, social housing built in 1930, facing on to open ground which leads down to the Mersey.
There is an arc of post war social housing on Hamilton Crescent, which surrounds Russell Gardens.
The homes that constitute Russell Gardens built in 1947 were illustrated in the town’s 1948/49 guide book, considered to be something of value.
Designed as a diminutive Garden Village, smaller in scale to those found in Burnage or Fairfield, but based on the principle of shared green space and community services.
In the 1970s the land to the south, now occupied by the Craig Close development, was yet to be built upon.
And the Cadbury Works still stood close by on the Brighton Road Industrial Estate:
Built in the late 1800s this was originally Silver Spoon (Pan) Fruit Processing Works, then in the 1920s was Faulders’ Cocoa and Chocolate Works. By the 1930s it was Squirrel Chocolate Works and in 1960s became a distribution depot for Cadbury’s. A friend remembers playing among the pallets of the ‘chocolate factory’ in the 1950s. Later it was occupied by small businesses. The works comprises a large rectangular block with sawtooth roof, and central entrance house with tall chimney. The adjacent rail line, built in 1880, branched into the site.
Though many of the surrounding homes were sold off during the Right to Buy era:
After the election of May 1979 a new Conservative government drafted legislation to provide a Right to Buy but, because this would not become law until October 1980, also revised the general consent (May 1979) to enable sales with higher discounts matching those proposed in the new legislation. The numbers of sales completed under this general consent exceeded previous levels. Between 1952 and 1980 over 370,000 public sector dwellings were sold in England and Wales. Almost a third of these were in 1979 and 1980 and it is evident that higher discounts generated and would have continued to generate higher sales without the Right to Buy being in place.
Russell Gardens remains the estate of Stockport Homes managed as sheltered housing for the over 60s.
33 one bedroom flats built in 1947
Non-resident part time management staff and Careline alarm service
Lounge, Laundry, Garden
The houses are now some fifty years old and in good order, the residents with whom I spoke, seemed more than happy with their homes.
Would that more and more affordable homes for folks of all ages could be built.
The post-war consensus and political will that created this upsurge in construction, has been swept away by market forces.
Let’s take a look at the vestiges of more enlightened times.
This is a short history of a park, a short history of my family and me.
The movement of earth and people, a tale until now untold now told.
West End Park is a public park, opened in 1893. The site is bounded by Stockport Road, Manchester Road and William Lane. It was developed on land associated with St Peter’s Church.
St Peter’s was built between 1821 and 1824, and was designed by Francis Goodwin. A grant of £13,191 was given towards its construction by the Church Building Commission. The land for the church was given by the patronage of George 6th Earl of Stamford and Warrington, whose cousin, Revd Sir George Booth, had been Rector of Ashton from 1758 until 1797
The benevolent Victorian landowners thought it politic to provide parks for the working folk, fresh air, exercise and perambulation being preferable to the demon drink.
The area around the park was a dense warren of housing and industry.
The parks provided a welcome relief from the tarmac, brick and concrete – very, very few homes having had access to a garden.
During the 1930s local councillors simply can’t resist the charms of the rocking horse.
And a burst of colour in the summertime.
The West End was transformed in the 60’s, through slum clearance, the subsequent building of high rise and the introduction of light industry.
My Grandfather Samuel Jones lived in the area – at one time next door to George Formby Senior.
There’s a plaque for George – there isn’t one for Sam.
During the Great Depression men were required to work for the Dole – Sam was required to dig out a sunken garden in the park – he was a collier by trade, a good man with a shovel, built for back breaking work on Ashton Moss.
Thirty yards wide, forty yards long and three yards deep, shifted by hand.
Three thousand six hundred cubic yards of earth.
One cubic yard of topsoil weighs about two thousand pounds on average.
Seven million two hundred thousand pounds of earth.
I worked there in the 1970s along with Alec and Danny bedding out the sunken garden, maintaining the bowling green, tennis courts and playground.
There were two permanent gardeners in the park, and a keeper in the summer – plus Danny Byrne and me brought in to help at busy times.
Throughout the 70s and onwards, economic decline hit the area hard, the closure of the cotton mills and little hope for the future. Rising unemployment and severe cuts to public spending did little to assure a rosy future for West End Park, or anything or anyone else for that matter.
Help was at hand – one of many public projects funded by our old friends the EU. Changes in the way that parks were used and further spending cuts sounded the death knell for the flowers and bowling. Large open grassed areas were cheaper and easier to maintain.
And so the sunken garden was filled in, this time by mechanical means – all in a days work for a bloke with a JCB.
So I sit and reflect on the labour and conditions that created this and many of our public parks, our legacy is a much impoverished version of the original vision.
I think of my grandad Sam and his comrades, the sweat of their collective brows buried forever.
Our legacy the small state, a bring and buy your own world economy.
The Wall, along with the low rise dwellings built to its south, replaced Victorian slum terraced housing. There were nearly 1200 houses on the site at Byker. They had been condemned as unfit for human habitation in 1953, and demolition began in 1966.
The new housing block was designed by Ralph Erskine assisted by Vernon Gracie. Design began in 1968 and construction took place between 1969 and 1982. The architects opened an office on site to develop communication and trust between the existing residents. Existing buildings were to be demolished as the new accommodation was built.
The new high-rise block was designed to shield the site from an intended motorway, which eventually was never built. Construction materials for Byker Wall were relatively cheap, concrete, brick and timber. Surfaces were treated with bright colours, while brick bandings were used on the ‘Wall’ to indicate floor levels.
Its Functionalist Romantic styling with textured, complex facades, colourful brick, wood and plastic panels, attention to context, and relatively low-rise construction represented a major break with the Brutalist high-rise architectural orthodoxy of the time.
When Historic England awarded Byker its Grade II* listing in 2007, they praised both its ‘groundbreaking design, influential across Europe and pioneering model of public participation’. The estate’s main element, the Byker Wall, is – like it or loathe it – an outstanding piece of modern architecture. The conception and design of the estate as a whole was shaped by unprecedented community consultation.
I went for a walk around one morning in May 2017, the photographs are in sequence as I explored the estate. It’s hard to do justice to the richness and variety of architecture in such a short time, but I only had a short time.
A Grade II listed country house, now divided into two dwellings. c1812. Ashlar gritstone. Hipped slate roof with leaded ridges. Various ashlar triple stacks with moulded tops. Moulded cornice and low parapet. Two storeys, central block with recessed long wing to east, orangery to west.
This Grade II listed manor house is set within 14 acres of natural grounds, together with the occupied adjoining servants’ wing, and has been sympathetically converted, retaining many original features to provide comfortable accommodation for families wishing to meet up for that special family occasion, and wi-fi is available in the living room.
Then came a pool:
Previously a private pool belonging to a country club in the 1930’s it later opened to members around 1938 who paid a small fee for its use. The pool is fed by a mountain stream and the water is reported to remain cool throughout the year. In the 1940’s/50’s locals recall the pool being open to the public where it cost a ‘shilling for children and half a crown for adults’ entry. During storms in 1947 the pool was badly damaged and reportedly ‘never the same again’ but postcards in circulation in the 1960’s provide evidence that the pool remained open at least until then.
Now it sits abandoned and hidden in the woods.
I went there in my early teens late 60’s the pool was still intact, well used and well cold. I remember chilly changing rooms with duckboards on concrete floors, a small café with pop and crisp if you had the pennies.
Most of all the simple joy of emersion in clear moorland water, on long hot summer days long gone.
Revisiting in April 2014, following a misguided scramble through brambles, it was a poignant reunion. The concrete shells of the pillars and statuary crumbling and moss covered, the waters still and occluded.
It sure it has subsequently been the scene of impromptu fashion shoots and pop promo videos, possibly a little guerrilla swimming. Though sadly it largely sits unused and unloved – let’s take a look around:
Charles Dreyfus was a French emigrant chemist and entrepreneur, who founded the Clayton Aniline Company on 29 May 1876. The company obtained a lease on a parcel of land in Clayton, Manchester, sandwiched between the Manchester and Ashton Canal and Chatham Street – later known as Clipstone Street.
At its peak in the 1970s, the site occupied over 57 acres and employed over 2,000 people. However, due to the gradual demise of the British textile industry, most textile production shifted to countries such as China and India with the textile dye industry following.
In 2002, the company made 70 members of staff redundant and in 2004 the announcement was made that the site would be closing with the loss of over 300 jobs. A small number of staff were retained to assist in the decommissioning of the plant. The last workers left the site in 2007 and the remainder of the buildings were demolished shortly afterwards.
It began on an aimless walk out of Wigan on through Frimley, I found heaven on earth in the warm enfolding arms of the Washeteria. A perfectly preserved fascia, interior and machines, more by diffident neglect than good management. Signature wood effect and patterned Formica panelling, over earnest signs demanding the highest standards of personal conduct, etched in thick discoloured coloured plastic, abound on every surface. Stuttering strip lighting and a stone cold linoleum floor. A dull white ceiling, with a surface texture formed from deep frozen ennui.
Three years later I had visited and snapped several examples, all with their own uniques characteristics though all contributing to a typology.
In the United Kingdom known as launderettes or laundrettes, and in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand as laundromatsor washeterias.
George Edward Penury created the word laundromat for Westinghouse.
According to NALI – the National Association of the Launderette industry, numbers peaked at12,500 in the early 80s but have since dwindled to just 3,000.
The first UK launderette – alternative spelling: laundrette. was opened on May 9th 1949 in Queensway London.
Come with me now and relive those warm damp languorous moments as we visit eight laundrettes.
All the books sold out in three hours – so here’s your chance to flick through the virtual pages as the prewash finishes.
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.
The River Irwell bisects Salford and Manchester, joining the rivers Irk and Medlock, and then turns west toward Irlam, as part of the Manchester Ship Canal. Its course ends just east of Irlam, where it empties into the Mersey.
Urban development is ever so often dependent upon rivers – for sustenance, commerce and amusement. The Irwell and latterly the developments of the canal system has provided all of these in superabundance.
By 1870 the Pomona Gardens is thriving , boasting a concert hall and banqueting suite – further details here from Skyliner.
In the summer of 1887, a nearby chemicals factory exploded, damaging the palace – the area was under threat and destined to rot away to obscurity: the following year the gardens closed forever.
By 1900 the Ship Canal, docks and railways had arrived – Manchester and Salford are at the centre of an unprecedented growth in manufacture and trade.
During the 1970’s the docks began a rapid decline, largely due to containerisation. The increasing size of freight-carrying ships meant they could no longer navigate the ship canal and this, combined with increased trading with Europe and the east, saw use of Manchester Docks decrease. In 1982 the remaining docks closed and the area became derelict. Recognising the need to redevelop the area, Salford City Council purchased the docks in 1984 using a derelict land grant. The Salford Quays Development Plan was adopted in May 1985, proposing complete reclamation and development of the area for commercial, residential and leisure use.
Manchester and Salford begin the long haul from post industrial decline to service centred cities – there were even seeds sewn for the development of a luxury marina. When I first visited Pomona the area was seriously overgrown and the underground wiring stripped out.
Remnant of the initial scheme – pedestrian access, balustrade and lighting.
What would poor old Pomona make of all this?
There was a failed attempt to prevent further development and return the area to nature. Peel Holdings prevailed and pressed on relentlessly with their programme of urbanisation.
In 1898 Manchester Liners Ltd was launched, four second hand ships were purchased and the company naming policy of applying the prefix Manchester was established.
The company began to operate services to Canada and the USA. Manchester Liners started WW1 with 15 ships in its fleet. During the war 10 ships were lost to enemy action, but because of the purchase of replacements the fleet was at 12 in 1918.At the outbreak of WW2, Manchester Liners had 10 ships in service. War losses were 7 ships, but the delivery of war-standard ships maintained the fleet at 8, which was sufficient to resume a weekly service to Canada.
The Manchester dockworkers strike record became so bad, that in 1973 the company decided to move half of its container services to Felixstowe. Furthermore, to obtain lower costs per unit, container ships were becoming bigger than the Canal limits.
This was a history of economic growth and prosperity, for some. Tangible commerce, the wealth of a nation built on making things, moving things. Cranes, ships, stevedores and sailors, the world and his wife converging at the base of the Manchester Ship Canal.
All this is long gone, containerisation, recession and state engineered shifts in global manufacture and trade.
They took away the cranes.
The area is now awash with intangible activity – what goes on behind the smoked and mirrored glass?
Just who is moving what around, how, where and why?
But hidden away between here and there is a tiled underpass.
A permissive path.
Where once there was a bridge – before the Manchester Ship Canal was built, the course of the River Irwell was approx. 50-100 yards further north of where the Ship Canal now passes under Trafford Road. This plaque is next to a pedestrian tunnel under Trafford Road, roughly on the line of the old navigation.
Where once productive and fulfilling lives were lived, buddleia now blooms, whilst thin grass entwines around forlorn fencing and betwixt ever widening cracks in the uneven paving.
Development in South Collyhurst will take the form of residential-led, family-focused neighbourhoods. We’ll be providing a variety of housing types and tenures to encourage diversity, along with a mix of social and community infrastructure that supports a family lifestyle in close proximity to the city centre.
There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.
William Jennings Bryan 1896
Indeed, You have turned the city into a heap of rubble, a fortified town into ruins; the fortress of strangers is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.
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.
The putative William Mitchell cast concrete block stares stolidly at its surroundings, overseeing a slow and painful decline.
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.
There’s no business like no business – it’s no better out the back.
This is an unprecedented opportunity to deliver a significant residential-led development connecting the north to the centre of Manchester. Working with our partners we’re re-imagining the essential neighbourhoods of our city.