The group recently spent the afternoon mapping the shops on Burnage Lane. The recall of some of the members was truly remarkable and, between us, we managed to locate most of the shops and other commercial buildings from the later 1940s onwards. This led to much reminiscing about the the variety of shops and what was available in Burnage. There were different blocks of shops (i.e. the crossroads at Mauldeth Road, the crossroads at Grangethorpe Road, Green End roundabout etc), but each one had a grocer, a greengrocer and a newsagents. This meant that people didn’t have far to go to buy their basic necessities. Locals could also buy children’s clothes, shoes, medicines, hardware and many other things in Burnage, although Alison noted that there was no fishmonger. It was also interesting that people’s shopping was confined to a very narrow locality – no one was able to remember the shops on Lane End even though it borders Burnage/Didsbury.
On a very cold January afternoon, after a morning flurry of snow, the group braved the elements for visit to the old heart of Stockport. We began our visit to St Mary’s Church, located on the edge of the market place of the old medieval town. The large parish church was originally medieval, but only the original chancel survives, and the rest of the church dates from 1813. Apparently the locals were ringing the bells with such enthusiasm after the victory at Trafalgar that the tower and church were in danger of collapsing and had to be demolished.
We spent a fascinating hour at the church and, in particular, the heritage centre in the vestry. This contains a remarkable collection of local photos and exhibits and can be recommended to anyone with an interest in the history of the area. The volunteers at the centre were very helpful and well informed.
After fortifying ourselves with hot drinks we continued our trip with a tour of Staircase House, a rare survival of a merchant’s house that spans the centuries from the later middle ages to the Victorian period. The house is a warren of rooms, each dressed for the different eras with period furniture and fittings. It provides an illuminating insight into the evolution of a domestic building, its building materials and functions, and you feel as if you are stepping back in time as you pass through the rooms. Some of the group found the uneven floors and the audio guide tricky to navigate (particularly the audio guide set to German!), but overall it was an excellent trip and can be heartily recommended! Many hadn’t visited before and are planning a return trip.
One of the members of our group, Ann, recently brought a milk bottle to a meeting that was dug up in her garden. The bottle dates from around the mid-C20 and has the name of the dairy embossed on the glass – Norris & Sons, Dahlia Farm, Burnage. Here are Ann’s memories of Mr Norris…
Henry Norris , son of J. Norris and Sons
I was born in 1941 at 9, Enfield Avenue, Eastern Circle, Burnage. Mr Norris live in Rose Cottage, Burnage Lane in front the Paragon Laundry, later Smart’s.
He had a lovely brown horse and a well painted cart in cream with brown writing with I think his name. Mr Norris was a lovely man, tubby build, very rosy cheeks and a gravely voice. He wore a brown old trilby hat and brown corduroy trousers.
Each Saturday morning with my friend Rose Slack who lived next door, we would wait for Mr Norris and help deliver the milk in the Circle. Of course, we had a motive!It was so we could have ride on the cart. We loved it.
In “Carry on Burnage” by Dennis Lloyd Nadin, a Peter Lakin recalls his father worked as a milkman for Norris Dairy on Burnage Lane.
We will be going on a trip to Stockport on Tuesday 28th January – visiting St Mary’s Church and Staircase House. We will be leaving from Burnage Library at approximately 1.00 pm and returning by about 5.00 pm. If anyone would like to join us please make contact through the blog and we will try to arrange transport.
We are delighted to be welcoming Dr Ali Ronan back to group on Tuesday February 4th, to present the new documentary she has been recently working on. Ali will be introducing the documentary and taking questions at the end.
This documentary tells the story of the women who met to protest the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty in 1919. Drawing activists from the international campaign to get the vote, the women wanted to prevent all future wars. They became the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF) which is still working today.
“Versailles 1919: Return of the Dangerous Women” is a short documentary (20 minutes) directed by Charlotte Bill and made by Clapham Film Unit, a collective of filmmakers working with communities to tell stories not told elsewhere. It was researched by and features volunteers from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
All our meetings are free and everyone is welcome to attend. We will be meeting at 14.00 at Burnage Library. Come and join us for lively discussion, tea and biscuits!
On 12th November one of our group, Toni, gave a fascinating talk about the Ambulance Service in the region and the Red Cross Hospitals during the wars. Toni had delved through picture archives and had found a lot of very interesting information about the emergence of the Ambulance Service, from when it was run by the local police, to a system we are more familiar with. She then went on to tell us about the Red Cross hospitals, many of which were in large private houses or even schools. Alma Park, which had 1000 pupils in World War II, became a military hospital and the children had to go to Chapel Street, alternating their lessons with the existing pupils!
Our final trip of 2019 was to Clayton Hall, another remarkable survival from the later middle ages in what was, until recently, a heavily industrialised area. We were very lucky with the weather – cold and fresh, but dry – and had a great turn out from the group. Finding the hall proved a bit tricky. It’s well hidden from view by mature trees and to reach it we had to cross the empty moat by a narrow C17 stone bridge. Once across you feel like you have stepped back in time.
When we arrived we roamed freely around the house, with the volunteers answering any questions we had. The interior is a Victorian living history museum, and it was dressed for Christmas, making us all feel suitably festive. Much time was spent in the kitchen and dairy, with group members reminiscing about the kitchen equipment they remembered from their childhoods.
The actual date of the hall is uncertain, but there has been a building on the site since the C12 and the earliest part of the building, a timbered framed structure, probably dates from the 1400s. At one point it was lived in by Humphrey Chetham, the founder of Chetham’s School. At this point the building was much more extensive, with four wings and a courtyard in the centre. Only one of the wings still survives.
It is owned by the council, and until recently was lived in as a council house, but the management and fundraising is entirely in the hands of volunteers from the Friends and Trustees of Clayton Park. We were all very impressed by their energy, initiative and the welcome they gave us. At the end of our tour we were given an illustrated talk in the cafe. Inevitably, as with all old houses, access to the upper floor is less easy for people with limited mobility. But the volunteers were very good at helping some of the members of the group and everyone managed to look round the whole house. We would certainly recommend it as an excellent site to visit for anyone interested in the history of the area.