Ali Ronan (MMU)- “The Women who said yes” (7th May)

Last week we welcomed Dr Ali Ronan from MMU, a favourite of the group who has spoken to us in the past about Burnage Garden Village. This time Ali was talking about her most recent research, a fascinating presentation about the first 17 women to stand for Parliament in December 1918. Coming from very different backgrounds, and representing different political ideas, they were certainaly brave pioneers, trying to break into the exclusively male House of Commons. Interestingly the only one who succeeded was Countess Markievicz, but as she was a Sinn Fein representative (and in prison!) she didn’t take her seat. There were also many local connections – in particular Emmeline Pethick Lawrence (the former treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union) who stood for Labour in Rusholme, and the militant suffragette, Christabel Pankhurst from Chorlton on Medlock, stood for the Women’s Party.

We had a full house and there was a lively discussion at the end of the session about the issues raised. We are looking forward to seeing Ali again at some point during the year, hopefully in the autumn.

In the meantime Ali has lent us the exhibition “The Women who said Yes!”. This is now on display at Burnage Library until the beginning of June, so feel free to come down and take a look.


Milwain Road in the Nineteenth Century – A Rural Idyll?

One of the members of the group brought the deeds of his house to a session.  Amongst the deeds was an interesting map of the Milwain Road area prior to its development for housing.   The map provides a fascinating snapshot of the rural nature of the area bordering Levenshulme and Burnage in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Cringle Brook is clearly marked on the left hand side of the map (the top of the map is roughly west), and the names of the fields give us clues about the landscape at the time – Gorse Field was presumably named after gorse bushes.  The other fields have less original names – Far Pasture, Far Meadow, Long Pasture.  But the curiously named Widow Hole needs further research – it was probably owned by a widow at some point, but who and when is a mystery.  The neighbouring landowners are also shown on the map, James Bibby and Edward Rushton on one side, the trustees of the late Thomas Bibby on the other side.  The Bibbys were presumably the owners of Hyde Fold, but it is not entirely clear from which generation.  There was also a pond in Far Meadow, perhaps a horse pond to keep the farmers’ horses watered.

Motoring in the Edwardian North West – Dr Craig Horner (MMU)

On 2nd April we welcomed Dr Craig Horner to the group.  Craig is one of the experts on the history of motoring, and gave a fascinating talk about appearance of the first cars in the region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The very first car in the city (in 1896) had the same design as a horse drawn carriage, with driver and passengers facing eachother – the driver had to look round the passengers to get a view of the road!   In 1900 there were only 20 cars in the city, a number that grew to 1,200 in 1905, although there were only two places to buy petrol.  Petrol was purchased from chemists who sold it as a cleaning product. 

The first drivers were wealthy enthusiasts, living in the leafy suburbs of the city, and Lord Egerton, the owner of much of Burnage at the time, owned one of the first cars.  Craig has also been able to trace the spread of motoring to less affluent parts of the city.   In the early 1900s a new car could cost as much as £400, perhaps four times the income of a labourer.  But when they were resold the cost had often depreciated to as little as £50 – a car originally registered in Hale could be found in Levenshulme a few years later.

There was also a lot of suspicion of the new technology represented by cars – they would have been seen as noisy and dangerous intruders on the roads where children played and horses were the main form of transport.  It is incredible how far things have changed in a century.  We hope get Craig back at some point in the future for part 2 of his talk.

Tuesday 2nd April – Dr Craig Horner (Manchester Metropolitan University)”Motoring in the Edwardian North West”

For our next meeting we are happy to welcome Dr Craig Horner, a senior lecturer in history at Manchester Metropolitan University, who will be talking to the group about motoring in the Edwardian North West of England. As always, the meeting is held at Burnage Library between 14.00 and 16.00. Craig will be giving his talk in the first part of the session, so be sure to be on time!

Visit to St Elisabeth’s Church and Houldsworth’s Model Village, Reddish – 19th March 2019

Thanks to Dave McLoughlin for the blogpost

On the afternoon of Tuesday 19 March 2019, 14 members of Burnage Local History visited St Elisabeth’s church in Reddish. The church was commissioned by local industrialist William Henry Houldsworth in 1870 and consecrated in 1883. It was designed by the famous Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse whose other works include Manchester Town Hall, the University of Manchester buildings on Oxford Road and the Natural History Museum in London.

St Elisabeth’s is listed as Grade 1 by Historic England which means that it is of outstanding architectural interest and is one of only 7 grade 1 buildings in Stockport.
The building features different architectural styles including a Norman door in the tower, Italian interior and gothic influences in the chancel and the Lady Chapel.
We arrived on a breezy chilly afternoon and were greeted by a warm welcome from Ken, our guide who was baptised in the church in 1958 and has been involved in the choir and supporting the church ever since. 

After a brief introduction we were able to explore the church at our leisure. Notable features include the marble and alabaster screen which was based on that of St Mark’s in Venice, the brass angel lectern, dedicated to 50 local men who gave their lives in the First World War and the Houldsworth memorial chapel which was added in 1919 as a memorial to the first patron of the parish, Sir William Houldsworth and his wife Elisabeth.

Our tour of the church concluded with tea and refreshments and we then left to have a look at other buildings in the model village created by Sir William Houldsworth for his community of workers in the nineteenth century. These included Houldsworth Mill, which at one time was the biggest cotton mill in the world and is now a multi- purpose building including shops, accommodation, a gym and meeting rooms.

Next to the church is St Elisabeth’s primary school and close by is Reddish Working Men’s club which was originally designed as a Library and Mechanic’s Institite for the use of the mill-workers. Both of these buildings were designed by Alfred Waterhouse and many elements reflect and complement the design of the church.

Another interesting feature of the model village is the terrace of fine Victorian houses facing the mill which housed the managers from the mill. Behind these were smaller houses for the mill- workers and families, most of which have been replaced by more modern housing.

Our visit to the area concluded around 4.15. and we were fascinated to find that much of the fabric of Houldsworth’s model village has survived to the present day.

Celebrating Burnage Garden Village: Building Manchester’s Pioneering Houseing – Exhibition Launch (2nd March)

Three members of the Burnage Local History Group (Toni, Warren and Alison) attended the launch of the exhibition focusing on Burnage Garden Village at Manchester Central Library on 2nd March. The exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the ideas behind the Garden Village, its planning and history. Entrance is free and the exhibition runs until the end of March.