Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hardy Lane Cottages

Hardy Lane Cottages were in a previous post called Slum Clearance Order. Reading this story by fellow Chorlton historian Andrew which I didn't realise was on the web until this week you realise that the cottages were so unfit for modern living. On the other hand there will still be buildings of this type of cheapest construction in Manchester and the other parts of the UK. Let's hope they arn't damp and do have adequate plumbing.

See Annie Gresty and Hardy Cottages

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ladybarn Branch

Old Ladybarn branch of Co-op
Took a detour through Ladybarn in south Manchester. There are some great old buildings in the district and then there is this former M&SE Co-op branch on Ladybarn Lane dating from the 1920's. Until it closed, it held the meetings of Withington Co-operative Party from the 1930's until the store and hall were closed in the 1970's.

Old Marble WorkWithington Constituency Labour Party issued a ‘Year Book’ in March 1968. Year book is a bit of an exaggeration. It is a mere sixteen pages slightly bigger than A5 printed on a Roneo or Gestetner machine. A copy survives in Manchester Central Reference Library. It includes some Withington Divisional Co-operative Party details. The membership was approximately 10. The meetings were held on the 2nd Friday of the month in the Ladybarn Co-op Hall, Ladybarn Lane at 7.45pm. Chair - Mrs. Willoughby 41 Lindleywood Road: Secretary Miss H.F.Messenger 8 Westbourne Road (which is the side street by this Co-op store), and Treasurer Mrs. D.Crivat 245 Manley Road. Cost 1/- per year (shortly to rise to 2/6d). That year seven speakers were booked and there were two social events. Contact with the Labour Party was been maintained through Mr. J. Lilley, a sponsored candidate.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Slum Clearance Order

Hardy Lane cottages were demolished on a Clearance Order dated 1969, although demolition was carried out in December 1972. They were in a poor state both in and outside. Sagging roofs, leaning chimneys, dampness, inequate light and ventilation. The report even refers to insanitary pail closets in defective structures. In 1969 there were 8 cottages, with seven of them inhabited by 20 people. 16 were adults and 4 were children. The properties were owned by Chorlton-cum-Hardy Golf Company.

Thanks to local historian Andrew for sending this information on to me. Back then there was a policy of demolishing old and defective housing rather than spending money on making them inhabitable again. There are lots of old cottages in Chorlton that nearly joined them under the bulldozer before that policy was amended. The photograph is from 1958.

Friday, November 13, 2009

History Talk Packs them in

A Friday afternoon in Chorlton Library, and the back room is packed. A muster of 60 people. Fortunately we got into the place early and managed to get a seat. All to hear Chris Makepeace give an hour to talk about the history of Chorlton. Its too big a subject but it is nicely illustrated with slides. A nice touch, not seen a genuine slide projector for years. The rattle of the mechanical parts, the need to focus the image, and all done by a remote control device.

It's part of Chorlton Book Festival 2009. Just like cookery demonstations there is a audience out there for history. The listeners in the main don't want to get their hands dirty but they are very interested and attentive as long as somebody else is entertaining.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Little Market Garden

"Plans to develop the market garden are already underway. Southway Housing have leased a parcel of land behind the Co-op on Hardy Lane to the project and over the next few months the land will be cleared, designs drawn up and landscaping work done in preparation for the first growing season in 2010. " - Chorlton Civic Society Newsletter November 2009.

Funds are being sought for this work. The market garden is seen as just the beginning of a process which they hope will restore the estate to a place where most residents grew fruit and vegetables in their own gardens.

Full story at

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Not been working on the Hardy Lane Scrapbook having come across information for my other history project which is "The Manchester Football Ground". This is one that has been simmering for a couple of years. The ground was in Whalley Range and was home of Manchester Football Club, which is still playing as Manchester Rugby Club. Back in the 1870's - 1890's there was football and you played either Association or Rugby Union rules, and sometimes your club would field teams in either code.

It's a fascinating story in that all the leading players of the era turned out at a ground that could hold a maximum of 10,000 in a suburb of Manchester. Internationals were staged, teams from Scotland and New Zealand played friendlies, and local sides like Newton Heath FC and Hurst FC met in cup competitions. That later two are better known by other names now...

Normal service resumes next week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Had a trip to Salford Local History Library the other day. It's in the old Art Gallery next to the University. Small, comfortable and a friendly place to visit. One of the advantages of going is that it is never too busy. Another is that there is collection of Kelly's Street Directories that you can just pull of the shelf and browse. A bit battered but they do the job. The job was to see what other shops there were when the Co-op Stores opened in 1929.

Here is the answer:
Barlow Moor Road
343 Draper, Mrs. Margaret Duncan
345 Confectioner, George Smith
347 Florist, Joseph Cusick
349-351 Butchers and Grocers, M&SE Co-op
Here is Hardy Lane
355 Grocers, Brown & Clay
357 Confectioner, P Parker & Sons
359 Newsagent & Post Office, Mrs. Ethel Kelly
361 Draper, Mrs. Julia Fairbrother
363 Hardware, Mrs. Minnie Smith
365 Grocers, Mrs. Annie Forrest

Note there is no number 353. This has remained as an empty plot of land next to the Store and is now a car park for the Store. There was also no number 341, this site was built upon in the 1960's.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back Seat

Posted using
History has taken a bit of a lull at the moment due to other happenings. A trip to Salford Local History Library got cancelled last week. However with the weather going into the autumn phase there will be no distractions to spend time outdoors or on trips. The picture is of some handwritten minutes from the M&SE Co-op Grocery Committee back in 1929. I think for future generations the ability to read hand writing will be a skill that will be very uncommon. It's becoming a struggle for me - you need to get used to it again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Use of piano

There used to be two pianos upstairs in the Hardy Lane rooms. They've gone now and it must have required some effort to move them both upstairs and downstairs on the steep narrow stairs.

Here is a report of one of them being used. There might only have been one in the room at that time. It's Saturday 16th March 1946, just after WWII and rationing is still in operation. There was a pooling of goods collected from members and over 60 members and friends sat down to a "splendid tea and were serviced by the Committee".

Later "under the efficient direction of Mr.Dean, with Mrs.Horton at the piano, the dancing commenced."

Before then there was Mr. Best of the Guild Committee "performing clever conjuring tricks" which put "everyone in good spirits". After the tea and before the entertainment there were several speeches. Mr. Rutter, President does the cordial welcome and introductions. Mr.Dale of the Education Committee, Mrs. Ashton from the District Council, Mr.Hill of the Co-operative Party, Mr.S.Coombs of the Publicity Dept tendered congratulations and best wishes.

The evening continues with Miss Gilman demonstrating the art of elocution with some monologues "which received great applause". Refreshments and ices served during the interval, plus singing "Auld Land Syne" at the end of the evening.

Report, M&SE Co-op Herald Pg 91 April 1946.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trip to Archives

Hardy Lane to the right
An afternoon looking at old archive material in Central Reference Library, Manchester. The good part was I found what I wanted in two hours. The bad part was it was a warm sunny day and the last place you want to be is indoors. There are so few great summer days you don't want to squinting over old handwriting and old typewritten reports.

What I did discover was the timetable for building the Hardy Lane store which was originally for two shops with flats above - not a co-op hall. Also the costs for construction and fitting out. The shops - grocer's and butchers were opened before all the work was complete because of competition being built nearby.

Now feel I can get the story written in booklet form which was the original intention.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Pitches

The Hardy Farm Playing fields haven't been used for years but they might get a new lease of life. They want levelling out first

West Didsbury & Chorlton FC have agreed to join with Oswald Road Junior FC to form a new Charter Standard Community Club to be based at Hardy Lane on the former playing fields adjoining their Brookburn Road ground.

Proposals for new junior and adult pitches with a full size 3g pitch and related changing facilities are being finalised and will be submitted to the City Council in the coming weeks. Interesting devlopements, might be ready for the 2010-11 season if all the approvals take place.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gramophone Records

I recently was shown a box of old gramophone records, the 78rpm shellac variety that were allegedly played at the Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms in years gone by the Co-op Guild. Most are dance band records by people such as Jack Hyland, or Joe Loss. I made an inventory of the contents. However unable to play them as I've no player that does 78rpm speed so never checked their condition.
The M&SE Co-op used to hire out gramophones in the 1920's and 1930's to organisations that wished to use them for a social, and there were such gramophone concerts held in co-op halls. The most intriguing were a couple of discs by Billy Williams. He was a famous music hall artist who recorded cylinders and gramophone records - one of his most famous tunes was "When Father Papered The Parlour" which was still being played on BBC radio into the 1960's. The video on You Tube is "Old Grey Coat" which was one of the titles on my list. If you like such old tunes you should go to Archive.Org because they have lots of his material.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In the Archives

A hectic Wednesday but managed to make my appointment to look at the archived minute books of the M&SE Co-op Society. It is more an arrangement. They are in Central Reference library, Manchester but not held on site. So you have set a date when you want them available at the desk to peruse. Then it's handed over one item at a time.

Managed to find a few nuggets in between reading about the price of eggs, literally the monthly price of eggs in 1930 as the market was competitive with falling prices.

Found information about the stables at the back which cost £1,000 to build along with a yard. However not completed until after February 1930 after they had to complain to the builder to finish the work. By which time they had advertised internally for a charge-hand to run milk & egg deliveries. A weekly wage of 70/- (that's £3.50).

Now I know what they look like - ledgers with ink pen writing, and if you're very lucky typed sheets - I can find the answers to the questions. The problem with history is that answers only beget more questions.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hidden Stream

Hidden Stream
Chorlton has lots of hidden streams running through it. They didn't fill them in they just got a culvert over the top. A lot of these were built around 1905-1910 by the City Engineers and later they built roads and houses over the the culverts. This is one that runs from Barlow Hall then through Barlow Wood, Chorlton Golf Club, back of the old Hardy Farm site and eventually to the River Mersey.

The other Friday, my old mate Andrew who does all this old history milarky like myself did some exploring on the Meadows and stumbled across it. It's even got a bridge over it with an overgrown path that leads to a fence surrounding the golf greens. Perhaps in the past it might have been used by farms carts. But you have to ask the question. Why cart all these bricks down here to build something that nobody now has a use for? It must have been of some significance at the time to cross the stream without getting wet wheels or feet.

After that we went to Cafe Ark at the Mersey Valley Visitors Centre for coffee and Eccles cake - photo. It's great when you live in the urban but you can dip into the countryside with just a short walk.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Co-op Candidates 1934

A first venture into local politics for the members of the Guild, Co-op Party and local Labour Party was in 1934.

"We are particularly proud of the fact that Barlow Moor Guild has put up a candidate for its own ward, and we have a whole-hearted enthusiasm amongst all the members of the Guild that should go a long way in attaining the result we are aiming for, that for the first time in municipal history the Didsbury Ward will be represented on the City Council by a democratic candidate, who is also of the M&S Co-op Party and a Guild worker."
Barlow Moor Guild Report in the Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald October 1934

An optimistic outlook for an election contest in a safe Tory seat. There were two other candidates nominated by the Co-op Party - Mrs. Clara Bamber in Chorlton; and Mr. William Taylor (then Secretary of Withington Constituency Labour Party) in St. Luke's ward. A grant of £3 3s. (£3.15) was made to the Manchester Labour Party towards the expenses of a poster campaign. Also the Directors of the Co-op Society designated three cars to be placed at the disposal of the three candidates to be available from noon on polling day.
M&S Co-op Party Report in the Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald December 1934.

Thursday 1st November 1934 - Manchester Municipal Elections
Didsbury ward
S.P.Dawson (C) 3027
W.Ingham (Lab) 1355

An unsuprising result against the sitting Conservative, Councillor Lt-Col S.P.Dawson MM who was first elected for Didsbury in 1928. As of yet I've been unable to find a picture of Mr.Ingham, his name crops up a number of times in Labour and Co-operative reports in this period.

The other results were :
Chorlton ward -
W.Somerville (C) 4,580
Clara Bamber (Lab) 1,664

St. Luke's
T.R.Ackroyd (L) 1873
W.Taylor (Lab) 1341

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hardy Lane 100 years ago

Taken from Slater's Street Directory of Manchester & Salford published 1909. As you will observe - no house numbers, two farmers (Hardy Farm with James Brundrett, and Hardy House Farm with James Richardson), a pub (that's at Jackson's Boat). A cricket club founded in 1885 - the ground is still there but the cricket stopped a few years ago. Chorlton Golf Club carries on but the club house moved down the road to Barlow Hall at sometime in the 20th Century. Everybody else resides in a a block of cottages called Hardy Cottages or The Block House.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bridge at the end of the Lane

Jackson's Boat Bridge
Hardy Lane is a no through road for traffic but it carries on as a footpath to Jackson's Boat. It deviates from its original course in places. At the end is an iron footbridge over the River Mersey to the pub and Rifle Road.

The bridge was opened on Friday 14th October 1881 and you had to pay a toll to cross it until sometime in the 1940's. The name of the iron manufacturer was E.T. Bellhouse who had the Eagle Foundry off Oxford Street in Manchester. I only recently found out that this was no ordinary foundry but a remarkable one. Edward Taylor Bellhouse (b. 1816) was the leading manufacturer of iron portable buildings, and did constructions for Balmoral Castle, in Peru, Argentina, Melbourne, some railway bridges, hydraulic presses, the list goes on...

This was one of his last constructions, though the firm carried on until around 1893. E.T. Bellhouse died on Thursday 13th October 1881 - the day before the bridge opened.

Lots of information in Chapter 4 E.T. BELLHOUSE AND CO. ENGINEERS AND IRON FOUNDERS - all 38 pages (PDF)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Time for Tea

There is a small kitchen that goes with the meeting rooms, and you know where this leads. Meetings and a cup of tea, possibly a biscuit or two. It would possibly have been Co-op 99 Tea. Always described as an iconic brand, and it has an interesting history.

"Many inter-war tea advertisements made health claims for their products, Brooke Bond launching their popular 'Digestive Tea' at 2/6d a pound in 1932, which echoed the claims of Ty-phoo. Brooke Bond was, however, overtaken by the Co-operative Wholesale Society which promoted its 'No.99' blend, implying 'just what the doctor ordered'. In the 1930's the CWS held 30 per cent of the tea market, the largest share of all."
from Liquid pleasures: a social history of drinks in modern Britain by John Burnett - 1999.

In 1929 when this Co-op store opened Britons were consuming 10 lbs of tea per person in a year. That's 4.55 kilos of mostly loose tea, though tea bags were invented in 1903. The '99' health connection is that doctors in assessing vocal fremitus ask the patient to repeat the phrase 'ninety-nine' whilst placing the palm of the hand on the patient's chest. They probably still do.

'99 Tea' used to be blended and packaged at a CWS tea and coffee works in Crewe, Cheshire until the 1980's. Don't know where it is assembled now, but it is fairtrade these days.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Home delivery

Home delivery
Originally uploaded by co-ophistorian
A great source of co-op photos is co-ophistoran on Flickr. Mostly views from the Midlands. This delivery bike scene is from 1979 and the bike is a lot older than that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Buildings Near The River

Still intrigued by the two buildings that were on Hardy Lane, west of Hardy Farm half way to the River Mersey. They also appear on Hennet's Map of Lancashire. This map was surveyed in 1828 and 1829 and published in 1830 by Henry Teesdale to a scale is 7½ ins to 10 miles.

The surveyor was George Hennet, who is very possibly the chap with the same name who became the noted railway engineer. See Wikipedia entry. Need to find out more about the floods in the 1850's when these buildings were destroyed or abandoned and do not appear on later OS Maps of Chorlton-cum-Hardy. See earlier posts with the label 'maps'.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Other M&S part 2

Marks & Spencer Exhibition
In Leeds the other day, it's one of my favourite cities, and we took ourselves up to the University end of town. Into the Parkinson building, and that is some magnificent architecture, opened in 1951 with no expense spared. Inside there is a Marks & Spencer exhibition celebrating their 125 years. There is also a good Marks & Spencer cafe to go with it if you need to rest you legs and get some quality refreshments.

It doesn't take long to get around the displays but there were lots of facts I discovered, especially about the time M&S had their head office in Manchester and the directors lived in Didsbury and up Bury New Road.

There is an online version here though it doesn't come anywhere near seeing the handwriting of Mr. Marks and Mr. Spencer and the artifacts.

The only similarities between the Manchester & Salford Equitable and Marks & Spencer are in the two letters of the alphabet they shared.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guild Starts in 1931

The Barlow Moor Mixed Guild officially started on Tuesday 9th June 1931. "An exceptionally well attended meeting of members had the priviledge of listening to many fine addresses given by our visitors, representatives from the board of management, the educational committee, and the district committee of the National Guild of Co-operators."

The following Tuesday they held a whist drive, which "proved very successful, both socially and financially, and also brought along a number of new members for the guild".
Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald 1931 page 211

The new guild got off to a good start, and instead of closing for the month of August as would be and still is the norm for voluntary organisations like this they kept holding a Tuesday meeting throughout that month.

Members Group Talk

Gave my talk to the South Manchester Co-op Members Group last evening. A very good muster of about 23 in the room. Not bad at all in the age of Tv and distractions. Well received and plenty of questions. Best though was listening to what others had to say, though at one point it sounded like everyone was speaking at once. Anyway picked up snippets about the meeting rooms. The use of coal fires, 78 rpm gramophone records, two pianos, a floor with splinters, windows on the back wall filled in years ago. Plus a stable block out back. Wonder if the milk cart horse was housed in there?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Other Hardy's As Well

Hardy Avenue
There are four Hardy Lane's in England, none on Scotland or Wales. Two are in rural locations. One in Tideswell near Buxton, a pretty village that still has Well Dressing events - a good old Derbyshire custom. Another is in Tockington, near Bristol. The third is in urban Basingstoke. The 4th is this one in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. So not a common name

As you'd expect lots of Hardy Avenues, Roads, Closes, Drives and places associated with the Thomas Hardy the novelist. Above is a photo of Hardy Avenue in Chorlton. Taken today in the rain. A cul-de-sac off Acres Road, which runs between Beech Road and High Lane. The building behind is on St.Clement's Road.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Aerial View 1933

A view from 1933 and you can make out the Hardy Lane store as the only buildings at the bottom on the west side of Barlow Moor Road. Chorlton Park School opened in 1928 is in the middle, behind which is the unlaid Chorlton Park with a border of trees.

Other aerial views show the Barlow Moor Estate still under construction with plenty of empty plots of land. The building work must have gone on for many years, six to ten years maybe, starting at the Cundiff Road end in the north and finishing at Princess Road in the south.
Aerial view Aerial view 2

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hardy Lane c.1912

hardy lane postcard circa 1912
I'm guessing it is 1912. But cetainly after Chorltonville was built because that looks like South Drive in the background and the recreation pavilion. There are also some goal posts. That's interesting because I thought it was just tennis and bowling for the residents.

The trick now will be to go the same spot and take the same view a hundred or so years later. If it wasn't raining today the camera and tripod would have been set up already. Maybe I'll have to wait until the trees have lost their leaves too. The result would be something like this.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Other websites

Chorlton History Group now has a website. Early days yet but must make a contribution...

Friends of Chorlton Meadows is one of my regular reads. It's a great read about the fauna and flora of the area. Plus it ties in with the seasons. Hardy Lane runs across the Meadows as a footpath to Jackson's Boat so am taking a keen interest.

Three recent articles from the weblog:
Mersey Floods by a local historian
Metrolink will devastate the Mersey Valley
Great Mersey Valley Revolt

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sorting Thru It All

When I started this weblog it was to publish information as it came along or dug out of archives. Then lots of scraps of details emerge. It's a bit like getting a few jigsaw pieces but where to fit them in when you don't have the big picture on the box.

Bits include information about the farms on Hardy Lane, who lived at the cottages at the end of the lane, and what the 19th century farm kitchen looked like. Buildings and people now long gone. Then there are details about the Barlow Moor Mixed Guild activities over the years. Nothing as yet on the Woodcraft Folk who still operate from the hall. Still trawling through old photographs of Chorlton, many not that old as they date from the 1980's and 1990's. Still looking for that snap of the store in the red Late Shop livery or the earlier green and yellow Norwest livery.

Above are some pictures of old CWS tins for custard powder and health salts. If you search eBay you come across plenty of co-operative memorabilia, some at unrealistic prices. I recommend all history fans to search about once a week.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

hardy lane postcard

Flickr turned up a great selection of old Chorlton postcards plus some original pictures of old farms... A fantastic find for a Sunday evening. Though I've seen some of these before there are some new views. The postcard age of cheap and three plus postage deliviers a day was before 1914. It did record the everyday and ordinary street scenes as small companies produced views local to you.

The whole set of 21 is here. It's even worth reading the writing of the messages on the reverse side. Keeping well, weather fine...Top tip click the picture for the bigger view.

Friday, May 29, 2009

South Manchester Members Group

BannerAfter the talk to the Chorlton History Group, April 23rd just gone, received an invite to speak to the South Manchester Co-operative Members Group. It's on Wednesday 10th June at Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms - where else? I know England are playing Andorra in a World Cup Qualifier but for once I'll forgo the football.

Looking forward to it as I've spoke at one of their meetings before on some other non-history subject. It's a small but appreciative group who are well informed on co-operative issues. They are also well informed about the Hardy Lane rooms so I might pick up some anecdotes about activities there from the last twenty odd years.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Farm Gate

Farm Gate in Urban Landscape
Just off Hardy Lane on The Meadows is this old steel gate. It stands forlonely in an open green space with its 6 bars and a spot of rust. Is it a relic of Hardy Farm which stood behind that fence in the photograph? Why is it still here? You could think you were deep in the countryside but walk two minutes from here its back to suburbia.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Origins of M/c and Salford Co-op

"Manchester and Salford Society.—Few are aware that there is a Sunrise store in Manchester. The great Co-operative Society of the City and Salford situated in Downing Street is of this class. Mr. Charles Wright calls it the "Acorn" store, which —owing in no mean measure to his services as its secretary—is now an Oak store. The "Acorn" was sown at 169, Great Ancoats Street, in June, 1859. It began more hopefully than most stores. It had 111 members and a capital of £289. Its sales in the first week were £32. The rent of their shop was only £13, yet its receipts for the first complete year were £7,687."
The History of Co-operation by George Jacob Holyoake - taken from Chapter 12 published 1875 and revised 1906.

George Jacob Holyoake (1817–1906), atheist and freethinker, self-proclaimed 'agitator', champion of the working class, and co-operator, was born at Birmingham on 13 April 1817. There is an excellent website of Holyoake's writings.

He classifies Co-ops in the following ways :
"Co-operative Stores may be regarded as divisible into Dark Stores, Twilight Stores, and Sunrise Stores. The "Dark" Stores are those which give no share of profits to those they employ—give credit—which keeps up the habit of indebtedness in their members—and have no education fund in their rules. The "Twilight " stores are those which have some features or others of a "Sunrise" Store, but not all. "Sunrise" Stores are those which have the cardinal features of ready-money dealing, provision for intelligence, and who give the same dividend on the wages of all their employees as they give to the consumer who purchases at their counter, If "Sunrise" Stores increase it will be owing to the Women's Guilds, when they understand what true Co-operation means."

The website starts with the work of the Chartist, poet, author, and free thinker, Gerald Massey and has writings from other contemporaries besides G.J. Holyoake.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Funeral Directors

Barlow Moor Road
Next door to the Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms is a Funeral Directors shop - currently this is a firm called T.Broome though I'm told this is Co-operative Funeral Services trading under another name.

The picture is from the early 1950's when it was a branch of the Manchester & Salford Co-op Funeral department. Previously it is listed in street directories circa 1939 as a fruiterer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Equitable not the Industrial

The word Equitable is not used a lot in Co-operative titles but the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-operative Society had it - probably taking it from the first of the modern consumer co-op societies the Equitable Pioneers. History books refer to the original shop and society in Toad Lane as the Rochdale Pioneers. But they called themselves the Equitable Pioneers in December 1844.

Back to Manchester...
"With the exception of one or two short-lived attempts to form other societies in the 1860s, their only rival was the Manchester & Salford Industrial Co-operative Society, which at one time had eight branches, but ran into difficulties in the later 1860s and went into liquidation in 1870"
- footnote page 13 from "Feeding the Victorian City -the food supply of Manchester 1770 - 1870" by Roger Scola (1992, Manchester).

Just started reading this book, or more like dipping into chapters, and it is very a comprehensive food history more like a massive Phd with all sources acknowledged. Now out of print but the local municipal library lends copies.

Previously I thought the Manchester & Salford Industrial was some short-lived one store society but now I need to know more.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Archive Work

The rainy days drove me to seek a visit to the Co-op Archives in Manchester. Best to make an appointment. Filling in a few gaps and it opens up new avenues of inquiry. Found some more information about the Barlow Moor Mixed Guild. In 1952 they celebrated their 21st anniversary with a party on March 15th of that year.

"The board of directors presented a beautiful birthday cake for the party, which in true Barlow Moor manner was appreciated. During the past three months there have been speakers, including an address by Mr. Jenkins, of the Co-operative Party, a film show, and a discussion with Royal Oak & Baguely Guild."
Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald Pg 136, May 1952.

The discussion with Royal Oak & Baguely Mixed Guild took place in Wythenshawe and the topic was "The Future of the Co-operative Dividend"
Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald Pg 107, April 1952.

It must have been successful because in 1953 they announced similar activities.."programme for the month will be a whist drive, a discussion with Royal Oak & Baguely, a C.W.S. film show, and a social evening."
Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald Pg 106, April 1953.

The picture above is a 1930 advert in the M&S Herald. You are allowed to take photos without flash in the archives, and photocopying isn't allowed on old publications as it fades them...

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Seven of 1929

1929 is written in history books as the year of the Wall Street Crash. It was in late October. It was also the year when the Manchester & Salford Co-op opened a seven new stores. A new record for them. Here is a list of them, it includes Hardy Lane, and over the next few months I'll go and seek them out to see how they have fared over the last 80 years...

Ayres Road, Old Trafford - January 9th
Green End, Burnage - April 15th
Parrs Wood Road North, Burnage - June 15th (75th branch)
Warwick Road South, Firswood - June 22nd (77th branch)
Park Estate, West Timperley - September 21st (78th branch)
Hardy Lane, Chorlton - November 23rd (80th branch)
School Road, Sale - December 5th

Since found out the main Didsbury store on Wilmslow opened on Saturday 9th November - replacing the very small older store originally opened by the Didsbury & Barlow Moor Co-op Society (amalgamated with M&S Co-op 1901).

The numbering of the branches is taken from the story in the monthly M&S Co-op Herald and doesn't follow on correctly....mmmm.

The 1920's was a time of expansion for this co-op society. Year (new stores opened)
1920 (1), 1924 (4), 1925 (4), 1926 (4), 1927 (4), and 1928 (4). There were also some store closures which are harder to track.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trams to come to Hardy Lane

"Two new Metrolink lines are to be created in south Manchester. The tracks, which will link Chorlton with Didsbury and Withington as well as Manchester Airport, are part of a £1.4 billion transport bonanza across Greater Manchester."
Two tram lines : No congestion charge in the South Manchester Reporter 14th May 2009

It's the old metro plan from about 17 years ago revived. One of the lines will go down Hardy Lane to the airport. A metro stop is planned for somewhere on Hardy Lane. The local freesheet used its old artist impression of the metro crossing Barlow Moor Road into Hardy Lane.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Original Line

Hardy Lane Looking West
Took a little time out today to photograph what I believe is the original section of Hardy Lane. It is marked by the gully covers set into the pavement. This would have been on the north side of the road. The photograph is looking westwards.
Gully Cover
Gully covers are a clue to the age of a street and these were made by J & S Eyres, an iron works in Lord Street, Miles Platting, Manchester and date from around the 1920's. It all reads a bit nerdy. The gaps are also parallel to the road which was the way then. It was and still is a hazard for cyclists, that's why more modern ones are at right angles or 45 degrees to the curb. The point is that iron street wear rarely changes. For example I've been to places in Italy that still have Mussolini era covers as part of a 1920's water distribution scheme in Puglia. Closer to home there are plenty of examples from Victorian and Edwardian times.Fountain Street, and Police Street in the city centre have some very early pre-Manchester Corporation gully covers.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

When M&S didn't mean M&S

Grainger Market
Only in recent times has M&S become synonymous with Marks & Spencer but up until the 1970's, in Manchester it stood for Manchester & Salford. On the high street besides the M&S Co-op there was the M&S Trustee Savings Bank. Not that people would say 'Manchester & Salford' as there was no need. There were numerous charitable and religious institutions with M&S in their title. For example the Manchester & Salford Playing Fields Association or the M&S Street Missions. So when you see old buildings in Manchester with a stone carved with M&S it won't mean the famous UK retailer.

Recently in Newcastle, the big one on the River Tyne and spotted an original Marks & Spencer Penny Bazaar. It still operates as the smallest branch of the retail giant and it's in the fascinating Grainger Market. Worth a visit, a pleasant shopping experience.

Footnote :
Manchester was designated a city in 1853, whilst Salford was not given that status until 1926

Further reading :
Mentions the origins of the M&S Playing Fields Society (PDF)
M&S Street Missions at Wood Street Mission
List of Bank mergers (it doesn't mention M&S Trustee Savings Bank though but does record the M&S Permanent Benefit Building Society)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Before the widening

This old plan dates from around 1927 and shows the proposed Barlow Moor Estate. Marked in red, not on the original are..
1. site of Hardy Lane co-operative store
2. the original route of Hardy Lane coming off Barlow Moor Road
3. the drive up to Hough End Hall, the only other road off Barlow Moor Road here. Part of this drive still exists as a path in Chorlton Park behind the school.

What I find interesting is that roads and drives rarely come off at right angles. Note the drive up to Hardy Farm coming off the north side of Hardy Lane. There might be a good reason for this. I could guess it was easier to steer a horse and cart at a lesser angle than 90 degrees but I don't know.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Artist at work Once you start looking you start seeing. I've been to the Local Studies Centre at Manchester Central Reference Library hundreds of times but have yet to look for Manchester & Salford Co-op material. I've always been researching other matters. Checked the excellent National Archives website and it appears there are 142 boxes of material hidden away in that wonderful round building.

National Archive : List of boxes
This picture was taken in 2005 of an artist painting the library. It was shirt sleeve weather.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Merseybank Co-op

Merseybank Co-op
Then and now photos invite scrutiny. The co-op store on Merseybank Avenue opened in 1931. Confusingly it was the 80th grocery branch of the M&S Co-op and so was Hardy Lane branch. Two stores must have closed between 1929 and 1931. In the older photograph the store is a stand alone building and the rest of the parade would have been added on later in matching materials. This was then the fourth co-op store in Chorlton. Was there a meeting room above the shop with an entrance through the narrow door on the left?

The modern picture was taken in 2007 by John Hacking. Another visit required to see what's happened since.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Co-op Stamps

Bit of nostalgia for older people. Now, this shows that something that existed in their millions but can no longer to be found. Ephemera becomes the rarity in your own lifetime. Everytime I've shown this book to people the reaction has been - where did you get that from? Somewhere in my archives there is a book of Green Shield stamps, and an even more obscure blue stamps from some other company.

Dividend Stamps were introduced in 1965. It was an alternative to the traditional methods of paying the 'divi', and as a response to the adoption of trading stamps by other food retailers (Tesco adopted the Green Shield stamps scheme). Some individual societies operated their own stamp schemes but the CWS National scheme was in use from 1969. Don't know when they ceased.

Further reading : Trading Stamps - Wikipedia

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mystery Buildings

A little intrigued by some buildings that marked on some old maps. Above is Johnson's map of 1819 and if you look at Hardy Lane there are two buildings at the westerly end before it disappears into a footpath that's not shown. They also appear on the 1848 Ordnance Survey map, but not in their 1884 map. Lots of speculation can be made - another farm maybe? I love a good mystery if I had a metal detector I'd be over there scanning around.
Seriously thinking about making some diving rods out of metal coat hangers and doing a bit of dowsing the site, marked red on the aerial view. I've done it before just for fun but I don't think they can taken as a serious archaeological tool.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Exploring Hardy Lane

The weather was beautiful bright spring sunshine and still cool enough for a light jacket. Got the old mountain bike out to explore the original route of Hardy Lane. It still runs as footpath from Jackson's Boat to the abandoned UMIST sports building though the route wanders in places from the original way . I was using a copy of the 1905 Ordnance Survey map as a guide. Wish I had taken my compass so as make more accurate alignments instead of guessing.
Hardy Lane at Jackson's Boat
There is a steep bank near the sports building and a fair amount of stones and bricks been chucked into the low ground below. Beyond that is the metal fence that surrounds Chorlton Golf Club. At the junction of Hardy Lane and Barlow Moor Road you can still make out some old Manchester Corporation gully covers set in the pavement on the north side. That's opposite side to the Co-op. This is probably the original start of Hardy Lane before it was re-aligned to face Mauldeth Road.
Relic of something
Certainly more exploring to be done, especially down the embankment. Might find some old farm relics from Hardy Farm which stood nearby.

Pictures are of the end of Hardy Lane at Jackson's Boat, and something I spotted down the said embankment.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

First Co-op Store in Chorlton

The Manchester & Salford Co-op opened its first store in Chorlton on Friday 24th March 1896 at 41 Wilbraham Road. "It is not the largest shop in the district, but it is quite equal in appearance to the best shop in Chorlton."
Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-op Society's Monthly Herald April 1896 Pg 1

The whole road was later re-numbered, so unsure where it was. That's until my old mate Andy sorted it all out with some old street directories. This is the building in a later guise as a Maypole Dairy store in 1959, and in 2009 as a betting shop. The M&S Co-op built a new store in 1900 just around the corner next to the Royal Oak public house. Now I always presumed this branch would have closed when the new store opened. But it is still listed in street directories until the 1909 editions. Which is a bit strange having two branches about 500 metres apart. A little more investigation needed to check this....The Hardy Lane store was the third store opened in the district.

Further reading : Maypole Dairies by David Clare

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Soap Bar

History is an item on e-Bay and this is what the pitch reads...."Wonderful antique unused Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited primrose soap bar, which is not packaged like later examples, as was cut to size at the merchants from larger bars. The soap has been later wrapped in cellophane to protect it."
AGE : Circa 1910
SIZE : The soap measures 5cm (2") high, 14cm (5½") wide and 5cm (2") deep.
CONDITION : The soap is in a very good condition for age and delicate nature, although there are areas of damage. Please refer to the above photographs for details of condition.
Asking price £4.99 plus the P&P...
Postage and packing to the UK will be £2.50 (via 1st class recorded), to Europe will be £3.00 (via Airmail), and to the US, Canada, Australia will be £4.00 (via Airmail), anywhere else please e-mail for postage costs.

Youth Section

The British Federation of Co-operative Youth was a organisation for persons aged 15-24. It's long been defunct. Back in the 1940's and early 1950's there was a branch at Hardy Lane. There were at least two others in south Manchester at Didsbury and Wythenshawe. A notable local co-operator Walter Frost - later a Labour Councillor, and a Director of M&S Co-op started his co-operative career as a leader of these organisations.

It was never a major British youth movement with a large membership. It's timeline looks briefly like this :
1922 various local co-operative youth groups in existence across Britain were termed 'Comrades' Circles'. There was such a group at Barlow Moor around 1934.

1924 - the British Federation of Co-operative Youth (BFCY) was founded by young members as a national body with the purpose of organising and co-ordinating Circle activity.

1937 - Membership figures are available. Comrades' Circles possessed 8,000 members. Britain's largest youth organisations, the Boy Scouts had 448,396, the Girl Guides 581,000, and the Boys' Brigade 111,442, the Woodcraft Folk had 5,000.

1941 British Federation of Young Co-operators (BFYC) formed when the BFCY was wound up by the Co-operative Union.

Further reading :
Pleasure, Politics and Co-operative Youth: the interwar Co-operative Comrades' Circles
by Selina Todd in Journal of Co-operative Studies, September 1999, No.32.2

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mergers Part 1.

Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-operative Society merged with other co-ops to form the Norwest Co-op in 1970, later to become the Norwest's all part of The Co-operative now.
United Norwest Mergers

Sunday, April 19, 2009

When Whist was big!

The card game whist was a popular activity in Britain. Many an hour of social activity was spent at whist drives. It was an important source of fund raising for associations, local Labour Parties and other voluntary groups. It also had a competitive element with prizes for participants and cups for teams.

Barlow Moor Guild - 15th April 1938
Annual meeting. Mr. Forrester , captain of the Whist Team, reported that Barlow Moor had won the shield, and we are all proud that our whist players have secured this honour, especially as we shall be the second Mixed Guild to have its name engraved on the trophy.

The new Guild officials are :
President, Mr. Frank Spires ; vice-president, Mr. A. B. Miles ; secretary, Mrs. Ada Dean ; assistant secretary, Mrs. Doherty ; treasurer, Mrs. Forrester.

Committee :
Mrs. Oultram, Mrs. Oriel, Mrs. Turner, Mr. S. Coombes, Mr. A. Dean, Mr. Morris.
Whist captain, Mr. Forrester ; vice-captain, Mrs. Hinchey. Sick visitors, Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Wallwork.
from Manchester & Salford Co-operative Herald May 1938.

Frank Spires was a long time active co-operator, one of the original members who founded Withington Co-operative Party back in 1918. Mrs. Oultram on the Committee was Secretary of the Guild after WWII.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Hardy Lane MakeoverAfter being closed for weeks the new enlarged Hardy Lane store opened on Saturday 15th November 2008. Now it has extended out the back the square footage of the sales area has doubled and consequently so did the sales. The meeting room is still be same size, and still features one of the steepest staircases in Manchester.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Warwick Road South

Former Co-op Firswood Manchester
Opened on June 22nd, 1929 - three months before the Hardy Lane store was opened. It's in a similar style, or at least with similar brick and roof tiles. This is how it looks today - literally took the photo today. The store and its hall closed long ago, and some of the windows have been replaced. Situated at 90-92 Warwick Road South, Firswood, Manchester.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Withington Road Revealed

It took me a while to notice that 100 Withington Road, Whalley Range has had it's former co-op store signage revealed. It's above the windows in black and silver and has been hidden for nigh on 50 years. A typical 1920's Manchester & Salford Co-op building in Ravenshead Rustic brick with a green tile finish. A grocery store and a seperate butchers. The former co-op hall is above with a door on the left hand side.

More photograhs needed but in the meantime why not use Google Streetview to track down a few more. Let's hope that Streetview images will be archived because they will give a fairly comprehensive picture of a moment in time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

50th Anniversary Plate

Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-operative Society Limited 50th Anniversary plate. It depicts the Central Stores & Head Office on Downing Street, Ardwick. The chaps with whiskers are left side John C. Edwards - the first president 1859 - July 1860; on the right is William Stansfield who was president from July 1905 thru 1909.
Indebted to a fellow "amateur historian" Michael Walker for this - check Hayes Peoples History weblog for gems of the past.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chorlton History Group #2

Tilley'sThursday 23rd April 2009 at 1500h
Tilley's Coffee Shop, Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton
It's official I've seen the poster that I'll be speaking about "The history of the Co-Op Meeting Rooms on Hardy lane, a work in progress" and other things that come into my head

Chorlton History Group at Tilley's Coffee Shop (opposite Southern Cemetery, Chorlton) now has a Facebook Group. That's the way things are done these days - though I think you'll find there are supporters of it who don't bother with any of this web based milarky.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chorlton History Group

The informal inaugral meeting was Thursday 19th March in the relaxed Tilley's Cafe on Barlow Moor Road. Everyone there has little projects on the go, and everyone knows people who couldn't make it who have an interest in the history of the area.

The Hardy Lane Co-op history project chimed in well. So well I've been invited to give a presentation at the next meeting on Thursday 23rd April at the same venue at 1500h. Just have to brush up on the dates and dig out some old photographs and it'll be sorted. Somebody is up for webcasting it - wow that would be good if it comes off. Well for novelty value but it's not prime time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Post

The Hardy Lane Co-op is 80 years old in 2009. Situated in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, England. That's nothing special but the meeting rooms above the shop are one of the last Co-op Rooms in the UK. There used to be hundreds of meeting rooms above Co-op stores but the world has moved on and we don't go to meetings like it used to. This is going to be the story.

Picture is from 1959. Although it is called the Hardy Lane Co-op stores the address is 349-351 Barlow Moor Road.
You can email : coop AT with any information that will help in the making of this history.