Archive | April, 2012

Smiths Arms – Brick by Brick – A Step Too Far

25 Apr

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Hello HistoryME

Colliery Inn, The

Thank you very much for this and for considering the museum in this matter. I am afraid that the North West is really outside our collecting area as a regional museum of the North East. We are actually considering rebuilding another pub, but already have the remains of the sadly demolished Colliery Inn from about three miles away in store here.

As you obviously appreciate, moving a building is very much a last option. I read recently that an open air museum in the Chilterns had apparently collected a mill from Cumbria, and the Welsh National Folk Museum at St Fagans obviously collect from all over Wales, but to move buildings this sort of distance is pretty exceptional, not only because it naturally massively increases the costs of staff and travelling time and accomodation, but because one is moving a structure completely out of any cultural setting. For me this pub is magnificent, but even for its date, it is subtly unlike similar buildings on Tyneside for example.

The costs of such a project are rather a ‘how long is a piece of string’ matter I am afraid the short answer being that this entirely depends on the quality of the job. It also depends hugely on whether it is being done by your own, experienced staff, or by contractors who may have been appointed on grounds of cost only. We have moved whole buildings or, at times, just the facades. We are currently in the last stages of rebuilding the medieval and later St Helens Church from Eston, Middlesborough, and I am confident that we will have well over 90% of all the external blocks in their original position and relationships. The internals however we could not afford to manage so closely, it was random rubble, so only the right stones have gone back into the right walls, as it were. This was due to time and money constraints at the time we rescued it 15 years ago.

The last building we collected was by contract, a bit of a risk for us but actually the firm proved to be careful and thoughtful beyond our expectations. Some museums, such as the Black Country at Dudley have always made a great effort to number every brick and replace them exactly. If I was doing a Roman building, I would do that too, but my own belief is that the more one knows and understands about the time and culture that produced the building, the more one can relax about this. For your pub, then obviously every shaped brick and all the ornamental brickwork, stone work and mullions should be recorded as a minimum. Beyond that it is a matter of ethics and preference as to how far the frontage is treated and recorded, following architectural drawings and regularised photography. Would you intend to move the whole building (I do not know to what level the interiors survive), including side and rear walls? The cellars? Another issue is whether you would reconstruct the building to ‘end of working life’, as William Morris might have preferred (as do I), or to ‘as built’?

The first question to ask is actually ‘will it come apart?’ As you will appreciate, modern cements were only coming in towards the end of the Victorian period, but lime mortars can vary wildly – they are by no means always the loose white lime of the 18th and early 19th centuries used in so many rural buildings. Our Church had some C 15th mud mortar which was surprisingly hard, 1822 white lime which was very poor indeed and a pinky coal fired lime from the C 17th which was some of the hardest stuff I have dealt with: if the stones had been smaller and softer, we could have had a real problem there. Across the North East we had, in the C 19th, a lot of black ‘pug lime’ mortar. Frighteningly hard if kept dry, but in a wet derelict building it soon de-natures. The best thing to do is to make several careful holes in the building before committing to practicality, timescale or cost.

Hetton Silver Band Hall shortly before being carefully taken down - 2012

There is no doubt that it is absolutely always cheaper to restore and repair in situ; moving is always the most expensive. The small brick Hetton Silver Band Hall building which we recently collected costed £47,000 before asbestos stripping to dismantle and transport to store. I would imagine your pub might cost four times that as an absolute minimum? For more pictures on the Hetton Silver Band Hall deconstruction please click LINK.

I hope these thoughts are of some help and I wish you the best for your project.

Jim Rees
Curator
Beamish Living Museum of the North

Pictures and further details regarding the Smiths Arms can be found at this LINK


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History of Manchester More Valuable Than Ancient Rome

20 Apr

McConnel & Company’s mills in 1820s. Scanned from A Century of fine Cotton Spinning, 1790-1913. McConnel & Co. Ltd. Frontispiece. 1913. Copyright expired.

RECOVERING THE LOST URBAN POOR

October 21, 2009 | ArcheologyCitiesManchesterSlums

By: David A. Smith © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE

Statistics are not stories – but then again, stories are not statistics, and statistics represent the totality of real life.

We choose to remember our highlights and lowlights, our moments of intensity – and we choose to forget anything that is drab, commonplace, routine, or redolent of the profane. So, for instance, even though we spend an average of fifteen minutes a day communing with our inner selves – roughly 1% of our lives, day in and day out – and via these moments of Zen delivering roughly two pounds of dump per day, one will find nary a mention thereof in our fiction, our journalism. We all know it, but we all overlook it, and our future selves will have no knowledge of it.

“The whole of this built-up area is commonly called Manchester, and contains about 400,000 people. This is probably an underestimate rather than an exaggeration. Owing to the curious lay-out of the town it is quite possible for someone to live for years in Manchester and to travel daily to and from his work without ever seeing a working-class quarter or coming into contact with an artisan. He who visits Manchester simply on business or for pleasure need never see the slums, mainly because the working-class districts and the middle-class districts are quite distinct.”

The nuclear family. © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

Indeed, if an alien species were to reconstruct our lives based solely on what we report, rather than what weexperience, their view would be skewed indeed.

And its nucleus? © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

The more distant our histories, the more they are made up of tales about kings and emperors, slaughters and famines, and the less they actually capture ordinary life. So we are left with fables and epics, and propaganda repurposed as factual reference – until, that is, somebody actually excavates the slums, as explored in this story from The Guardian, UK:

Scanned from The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 (Dodo Press). ©2012 The Book Depository Ltd.

“This is our archaeological handbook,” says Chris Wild, brandishing The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844, a muddy, thumbed paperback. “Engels.”

We take our narratives wherever we find our primary sources, and the closer they are to actual grit, the better.

This, though, is far from being the only contemporary account of late 19th-century living conditions in this part of inner-city Manchester. In 1870, the Manchester Guardian – as this paper was then known – published a series of articles on the city’s slums, opening with a scene of 18 adults and several babies squeezed round a single fireplace.

A find from the archaeological dig of the area that housed Manchester’s poor in the 19th century. Photograph: Mike Pitts. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited.

Only 140 years ago, and yet we are limited to a handful of texts of unverifiable reliability.

Along with Engels’ account, the newspaper’s arhive reports proved influential in the decision to investigate this site.

Every now and then, I’ve teased about archeological digs in mundane urban sites. I’ve since changed my mind – those infill locations are the only record we are likely to find of the life ordinary people actually lived, as opposed to the prismatic records of fiction or journalism yellow or otherwise. Bryan Ward-Perkins’ The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization has a truly mind-altering appendix on Roman pots.

The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins. © 2012Oxford University Press.

Everything you always wanted to deduce from pots …

In particular, Ward-Perkins uses pots’ very ubiquity – their cheapness, utility in many forms, and durability as shards – to show just how much powerful evidence can be extracted from the statistics surrounding their prevalence, distribution, and condition. Though tabulations tell tales different from masterpieces, they are no less valid for doing so.

Not one to leave an investigation unfinished, the Guardian has today returned to the same streets (Miller, Dantzic and Angel) near the city’s Victoria Station.

Near the river, near the railway station. Probably 19th century slum.© 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

All that remains of those slums are street patterns, a handful of reconstructed museums, records … and whatever trash we can find in the soil below.

Soon I’m kneeling on the ground in an area where Engels described “cattle-sheds for human beings.”

That slum is long gone – today nothing remains above ground but plaques.

Archaeologists are uncovering some of the worst of these slums, the subdivided cellars where people shared beds or slept in doorways while pigs ate human waste in alleys above. A collection of rubbish – bottles, a woman’s shoe, broken crockery – lies on the dirt before me.

Dantzic Street today. In the post-industrial city, downtown is rich, not poor. © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

Aside from connecting us to their humanity, these quotidian objects can tell stories about household composition, wealth, and consumption. It’s painstaking compilation work, without which we have only anecdotes, not statistics.

Little more than a century ago, this part of Manchester, then the powerhouse of the industrial revolution, was as near to hell on earth as you are likely to get in peacetime. The poor, including thousands who fled the Irish potato famine around 1850, came here for the work. Many of them would have had jobs in a large Arkwright mill on the edge of this site.

Richard Arkwright. © Bridgeman Art Library / Private Collection / Photo © Philip Mould Ltd, London.

History is selective; we know what Arkwright looked like; his workers are for the most part faceless.

We have paintings of Arkwright, but not of his workers

They suffered industrial injury, cholera, TB and typhus; consumed adulterated food and contaminated water; and lived in a maze of wet, filthy, light-deprived rooms and passages.

At the end of Dantzic street was a stone-flagged area that became a playground in the 1880s (LS Lowrypainted it as Britain at Play in 1943).

Lowry was born in 1887 and began painting seriously in 1905. We can see his pictures as depicting the panoply of the vernacular, much like Brueghel.

Britain at Play, 1943. © the estate of L. S. Lowry. All rights reserved, DACS 2012
photo credit: The Collection: Art & Archaeology in Lincolnshire (Usher Gallery).

The hunters in snow, 1565, by Pieter Brueghel The Elder (1525-1569), oil on panel / De Agostini Picture Library / The Bridgeman Art Library.

By combining near-contemporaneous images with carefully catalogued descriptions of the finds, we can build a picture of the unknown:

“Victorian squalor” © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

The stone flags were to stop illegal excavation and sale of the soil for fertiliser: it contained the mass graves of some 40,000 paupers.

Aside from the mute testimony of forty thousand dead, that is a mine of information. Nutrition, hygiene, disease, living conditions, affordable technology – all can be gleaned by painstaking excavation, documentation, and extrapolation.

By the 1950s the houses had gone, through a combination of slum clearance and wartime bombing. Today, it’s a car park.

Curiously, that preserves it for later investigation.

English slum children, 1912. © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

Meanwhile, in 1863 the newly founded Co-operative Society opened its offices a couple of blocks away. It stayed put, so now a collection of listed buildings, one of them as recent as 1962, fills 20 acres. It is, says the Co-op, the largest regeneration site in Manchester. In 2012 its huge new HQ will rise over the Angel Meadow car park.

When the urban tomb is opened, knowledge can be gained; and if not captured then, it will be irrecoverably. It’s worth spending a few bucks – preferably the public’s bucks, not imposing this as an unfunded mandate on the unlucky developer – to take the time and fine what can be found.

It is now August, and day three of a nine-week excavation. Even within the profession, industrial archaeology remains a controversial area; some academics, especially, perhaps, historians, still question the need for digging the remains of such recent times.

“They say we’ve got all the information,” says Wild.

Maybe we have the narrative. We lack the detail – and the detail reshapes the narrative. New technology is uncovering new insights into the Roman Empire, particularly about its economy and hence about the structure of its whole society.

“But we’re testing the texts.”

Alfred Korzybski: “These aren’t merely semantic distinctions.” © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

The slums of Manchester are much more relevant today than Rome is, because what they were can show us how they formalized, knowledge that is directly, immediately relevant to the challenges of formalizing slums in today’s global south.

The historic maps, for example, are proving inconsistent.

The map is not the territory. The story is not the history.

Wild hopes they will be able to show the actual house plans, and he is convinced his work will reveal details overlooked by contemporary accounts.

The “filthy pan closet” – 1887. © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

Details like population density. Details like frequency of indoor plumbing. Location of water sources. The vitals of a city’s functioning.

Information that could be of immense value in demonstrating to the global south that their problems are not a universe apart from those faced by the global north – and, for that matter, in reminding the north that we too had these festering dens.

We stop at the foot of a ceramic toilet, dating from the late 19th century and cemented into a small, square floor.

Beneath, explains Wild, lies the earth of an earlier pail closet – just a bucket under a plank.

Pail closet. Even this is much cleaner than was the reality.  © 2012 AFFORDABLE HOUSING INSTITUTE.

Map that against mortality rates and you can find something astonishing – like the cause of cholera – and use that for something revolutionary – like eliminating urban cholera. Or something more prosaic – like the tempo and sequence of private capital improvement – and maybe a road map to improving informal settlements in the global south.

Broken drains protrude from the side of the trench, and cellar walls made from poor-quality bricks bow under pressure. These were once homes.

From such pipes we can reconstruct the evolution of Manchester’s municipal infrastructure, and how long it took public infrastructure to catch up to catch up with private investment and exploitation. By dating the joins, we can reconstruct the sequence. We can retroactively map slum upgrading, nineteenth-century style.Properly interpreted and expressed, this could be hugely valuable information right now, for in slums are revolutions and terrorists born.

Honoré Daumier – The Uprising, depicting 1848 and the overthrow of King Louis-Philippe. Wikimedia Commons, July 9, 2011 at 06:54 UTC. Available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Honoré_Daumier_-_The_Uprising_-_WGA05963.jpg

Plenty of archeological raw material is there for the learning.

Just one cubic meter of inner-city Manchester would be expected to generate more artifacts than found in a century of excavation at Stonehenge.

Honoré Daumier – Burden. Wikimedia Commons, June 3, 2011 at 06:10 UTC. Available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Honoré_Daumier_-_Burden_-_WGA5953.jpg

Think of that – think of the incredible richness of information that could be found.

“There were more people living in this part of Manchester than in the whole of Britain in the Bronze Age,” he says. “This is the archaeology of the masses.”

The ones forgotten.

The thimbles and toys, the bits of clothes and china, have a poignant association with known events, and, potentially, named individuals. With such objects Jackson anticipates links with Manchester’s People’s History Museum, due to re-open soon with a new extension – and with the Co-op’s own archive.

We are all children of slumdwellers.

“I want the younger generation to see this,” says Wild, looking across a row of Victorian lodging-house cellars. “We should help the rest of the world not to make the mistakes we made.”

Honoré Daumier – Laundress. Wikimedia Commons, August 1, 2010 at 14:52 UTC. Available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Honoré_Daumier_-_The_Laundress.jpg

Or fix them faster.

Ever tried.
Ever failed.
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better.
Samuel Beckett

Smiths Arms – Brick by Brick

18 Apr

Brick by Brick

To HistoryME

Have you got some contact details I can have?

I have spoke with Mr Holland and Mr Walden regarding this matter. We would like to discuss your requirements and possibly make a site visit to view the Smiths Arm Pub.

Mr Walden has spent many years in the museum industry and is considered by many to be the best consultant with regards to historical building relocation in Europe.

Regards

Mr S Holland
Holland Contracting


							

Smiths Arms – Brick by Brick

14 Apr

To Steve Holland

I write a website called HistoryME about the social history of the people of Manchester and have been running a campaign backed by the local community and associations like the Victorian Society to try and save the oldest public house in the historic Ancoats area of Manchester and save it from the developers wrecking ball.

Unfortunately English Heritage who acknowledged the importance of the building, refused an application for listing, although we will be taking it to the Secretary of State, to try and over turn it.

However, I saw a program on BBC the other day called Brick by Brick: Rebuilding Our Past, presented by historian Dan Cruickshank and architect Charlie Luxton where they basically take down, move and rebuild historic Victorian buildings.

This program led me to think about looking at the  possibility of moving and rebuilding the historic Smiths Arms Public House. This has been done before in Manchester with two public houses: Sam Smiths owned Sinclairs Oyster Bar and the Nicholason’s owned Old Wellington, both of which have been moved twice before.

Hall St, Dudley and rebuilt at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley in 2009. Courtesy of Holland Contracting.

So it is to this respect that I have contacted you and having found your fantastic website, in particular your page entitled Brick by Brick Historical Building Relocation in which you took a building on Hall Street, Dudley and rebuilt it at Black Country Living Museum. Could this be done to the Smiths Arms I wondered, obviously if planning, funds were available.

I fully appreciate you cannot give a full estimate on the information I have given to you, but it would be amazingly helpful if you could give myself and the group of campaigners a rough idea of the costs involved and if you could a ball park figure how much the building would be to take down and rebuilt. It’s just so I can put forward this proposal as a possibility at the next campaign meeting.

Pictures and further details regarding the Smiths Arms can be found at this
LINK

Your sincerely

HistoryME

The Blue Bell is Still a Shining Light in Moston

12 Apr

The Ye Old BLue Bell Pub, Moston Lane taken between 1900 – 1910. Courtesy D. Boothman.

This is a picture of the Ye Old Blue Bell Inn on Moston Lane in its original incarnation around the late 19th – early 20th century.

It is unclear when the original Ye Old Blue Bell was built, but by the design which is similar to the traditional 2-storey plan, grade II listed stone-brick  Pack Horse Inn  3 miles away in Failsworth, which has parts of the building dating from as the early 1700s, we can estimate it was around the same period.

The Pack Horse Inn, Failsworth in 2011. Courtesy D. Boothman.

The Pack Horse was originally a coaching inn, located just off one of  the main trading routes, Oldham Road, between Manchester and Oldham and although much altered inside, externally it retains much of its original design including the horse mounting steps, which if legend be true, infamous Essex-born highwayman Dick Turpin would have dismounted his trusty steed, Black Bess as he lodged at the inn.

It is also unclear when the Ye Old Blue Bell was demolished and what the circumstances were surrounding its move into the later building (c1890) pictured at the back and when it dropped the Ye Old to simply become the Blue Bell.  It was possibly due to road expansion or perhaps due to the state that the original building found itself in. If anyone as any further information or photos on this please get in touch below, we would love to hear from you.

Blue Bell. 494 Moston Lane, Moston, Manchester, M40 9PY. Map data ©2012 Google.

The Blue Bell, owned by Manchester family brewer, Joseph Holt is thankfully still standing and very much open for business, unlike many of pubs along Moston Lane, such as the Thatched House just down from the Blue Bell, having been converted into housing in 2011. In the same year the Ben Brierley pub on the corner of Moston Lane/ Kenyon Lane , named after the famous Failsworth born writer and journalist, also had a change of use and became the Citizens Advice Bureau and a centre for the community to get assistance and help.

At least these two pubs and historic buildings are serving the community as they previously did as public houses.

The Blue Bell pub in 2011. Courtesy D. Boothman.

However, further down Moston Lane, other pubs faired far worse. Notably the historic Bricklayers Arms, which sadly was demolished in 2011 and evidence of what happens when weak central councils allow unscrupulous speculators with no interest in serving the community, buy up the very foundations of the community and its heritage, in its buildings and then purposely neglect them to the point where they have to be demolished.

Further evidence of poor and costly decision making by the Council is also sadly all too familiar just a couple of hundred yards down from the where the Bricklayers Arms once served the community, in the the space where the Golden Tavern once stood in nearby Harpurhey.

Bought by the Council for £200,000  in early 2012 from Britain’s biggest pub landlord and pub company (Pubco) Enterprise Inns, only to be demolished shortly after at not only a cost to the local built heritage, the aesthetic street scene and cultural history of the area, but also to the tax payer and the effects the demolition of buildings has on the local environment in terms of pollution.

The pub was originally supposed to wrap around the new Factory Youth Zone, a modern charitable youth club, but was later decided that this was not feasible. However, it was alleged that the Council attempted to buy the Golden Tavern three years prior to its demolition, which if true raises serious questions about how much the Council respects and is concerned about preserving local heritage and culture.

However, with the general but misguided bad reputation of public houses throughout the UK, for which all the ills of  the binge drinking society have over the last 10 years been aimed at and away from the root cause, large multi national supermarkets, the Council in its wisdom, saw a small patch of grass would be better suited to meet it’s none existent policy on the beauty and  aesthetics of our built environment. For evidence of which, just walk anywhere around the “regenerated” City Centre of Manchester, notably the monstrosity that is the imposing, oppressive and formulaic Beetham Tower on Deansgate, built by Ian Simpson Architects in 2006.

What the Council has and will always misunderstand is that communities have deep rooted foundations and they are undermined by what appears to be seemingly constant transitory and unsubtle nature of its policies, notably continual demolition.

You cannot manufacture community, you have to nurture it. You can support it, but it must be organic and  not artificially created because as the brutalistic  post-war architecture that sprang up between 1950 -1970 throughout Manchester and Britain should have shown us, it just doesn’t work. There is no grand Le Corbusier solution, no grand utopian vision.

Build and improve where necessary, but support and listen, understand and give guidance if necessary, but don’t believe ripping up and trampling over the pages of history, whilst throwing huge sums of public money at large publicity driven projects solve anything. History has told us the  that it simply doesn’t work. If you keep one eye on the past, you are blind in one eye. If you ignore the past, you are blind in both eyes as the old Russian saying goes.

The strength of community at the Blue Bell continues to endure and is all too evident in two of the societies that have their roots at the pub. The Blue Bell Golf Society – “one of the longest running golf societies in Manchester”, was founded at the Blue Bell  in 1973, although  it is now based at the Blackley Golf Club. Another example of the strength of community at the Bluebell and Moston in general, is the famous running club the Salford Harriers who have their home at the Blue Bell and are one of the oldest clubs of their kind in the country and with its Olympic pedigree has become one of the most famous.

The Blue Bell  is testament to both the endurance of fine architecture and loyal and strong community ties that exist throughout Moston to this day (Please also see Moston Miners Club). Whilst many pubs have succumb to changing local economies and markets, poor management, crippling pub ties and aggressive Government and Council endorsed and supported supermarket giants, the Blue Bell not only gives us a glimpse into our past, it is window into how the future can be and to use Government and Council rhetoric “social cohesion” is something that has always existed in places like the Blue Bell and Moston, but its not something they feel the need to get on the soapbox about, because they know somethings don’t need to be talked about and are often best left untouched. Speak low if you speak love as Shakesphere said.

Please leave COMMENTS at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to add any FURTHER INFORMATION, memories, pictures or stories regarding this post, HistoryME would love to hear from you.

Please contact us by using the form below:

Image

Holt’s Mill, Ancoats

9 Apr
Holt's Mill,

Workers in Holts Mill. Courtesy of M Burrows.

This is a photo of my great-grandmother Sarah Ellen Burrows (centre right wearing the apron) in Holt’s Mill (built 1760) which I believe was by the River Medlock in Ancoats.

The date would be around the late 1800s. Her husband died at the age of 34 leaving her with six children. She threatened to jump in the canal but saw better of it and became a working mother.

It has been difficult finding any references to Holt’s Mill so this photograph may offer a very unique glimpse and indeed record of working life in the mill.

Man United Business As Usual Over Rangers

8 Apr

Manchester United v QPR Saturday August 27th 1983 programme. Courtesy S. Grogan.


This is a programme from the Division 1 game between  Manchester United and QPR, played at United’s homeground,  Old Trafford on Satuday August 27th 1983. See the GOALS.

One of United’s more colourful managers, Big Ron Atkinson appears on the team photo on the cover.

The match ended in a decisive  3-1 victory for Manchester United, with Dutch midfielder Arnold Muhren scoring two.

The first a penalty for a tackle on full back Mike Duxbury in the 1st half and the third a powerful shot from outside the box coming in the 2nd half.United’s second came from Republic of Ireland international Frank Stapleton, a fine header from Mike Duxbury’s perfect cross in the 1st half to make it 2-0 before the finish of the first half.

Clive Allen scored a fine individual goal for QPR in the 2nd half and came within a whisper of making it two, pushing the ball just wide of the post.

Allen only stayed with QPR for two seasons and despite a impressive tally of 32 goals in 49 games scored whilst he was still a teenager, then struggling QPR had to sell and sadly for QPR he didn’t have the time to cement a career that had promised so much and that started in a team that still included QPR’s greatest player, Stan Bowles. Similarly to Bowles, Allen won just 5 England caps.

United would eventually finish 4th in  the League that season, with Liverpool who dominated the 1980s regaining the title.

Arnold Muhren  only stayed with United for 3 seasons, but he famously delivered the cross for Dutch great, Marco Van Basten to score one of the greatest GOALS in footballing history, for the Dutch European Championship winning team in the 1988 final against the Soviet Union.

If you would like to add any further information, memories, pictures or stories regarding this post, HistoryME would love to hear from you.

Please contact us by using the form below:

Peggin-Out and Piggy-Backing in Miles Platting

4 Apr

Miles Platting comic postcard from around 1910. Courtesy J. Shaw.

This is a pair of postcards dating from around 1910, both with an intriguing and comic design, which can only be assumed to be a nod to Manchester’s famous sense of humour.

In reality, it must have been very hard work getting your washing that clean as seen in the “peggin-out” card, in the early 20th century in Miles Platting and in Manchester in general.

However, the lady must have gained those solid and sturdy arms some way and there can’t have been a better way of doing that, than scrubbing the chimney soot out of your clothes and linens, as there were certainly no Bannatyne Health Clubs to get you in shape!

Miles Platting comic postcard from around 1910. Courtesy J. Shaw.

In the “piggy-backing” card again a sense of humour is apparent and yet there may have been a sense of nostalgia and loss for the days when Miles Platting was green and plentiful with wildlife and not overshadowed by the grim and “dark satanic mills” and such industrialization that inspired such writers as J. R. R.Tolkien who based Mordor, the realm of evil Sauron on the industrialisation of the  Black Country in the West Midlands in the 18th and 19th century.

Blast Furnaces Cradley by Richard Samuel Chattock – 1872. Courtesy J. Shaw.

Miles Platting in the early 20th century was very much still defined by the Industrial Revolution that put it on the map. With trees and fields replaced by mills and chimneys, soot and pollution. Clean air and clean sheets must have came at price and a premium. An environment that would have been very familiar to Tolkien in the Midlands as it was in many towns and cities throughout Britain and directly inspiring such classics as  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

There was  no printing company details and no other writing on the postcards. The both measure 5.5 inches x 3.5 inches.  If anyone remembers or recognises the postcard, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch below.

If you would like to add any further information, memories, pictures or stories regarding this post, HistoryME would love to hear from you.

Please contact us by using the form below:

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