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READER MESSAGES December 2001, January 2002


Name: Michael Frain
From or connections with: St George (Whitley Street)
Present Location: Kingston upon Thames. Surrey
Subject: Tracing the birthplace of my Wife's Father.
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I would appreciate any help that you may be able to provide for my Wife to have a greater knowledge of her Father's place of birth, family history and the reason they moved to Ireland around 1913.
Her Father (James Lowe)was born on the 25 November 1901 in 64 Whitley Street. UD. In the Sub-district of St George Manchester.
His Father was Patrick Lowe (Shoemaker) and his Mother was Mary Ellen Lowe formerly McDermott.
Last friday my wife and I spent 4 or 5 hours searching arround Manchester for his root's with little success. We could only find a Whitley Road and that was in Collyhurst.
Are there any publications or photographs that I could purchase? they would make a nice Christmas present for my Wife if they showed the area etc.
Any help would be much appreciated.
Best wishes
Michael Frain
When you were in Manchester, did you go to the Local Studies Unit at Manchester Central Library? That should be your first port of call if you are looking for the location of streets which have now been demolished. St Georges is the area around St Georges Church, around half a mile south west out of the city centre. This area has been almost completely rebuilt in the post war years - the church, incidentally is being converted into luxury apartments. In the Local Studies Unit, they have old maps of all the districts of Manchester. This is the only place you will find evidence of streets which were swept away by slum clearance. I have referred to these maps many times, in fact, I find them addictive! At the Local Studies Unit, they also have a huge collection of prints, viewable on computer terminals. You can buy copies of the prints there too. You can find information on the Local Studies Unit on the Manchester City Council website

Name: kevin burke
From or connections with: Ancoats,Newton Heath & Oldham.
Present Location: Melbourne,Australia.
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan, Can anyone help me find information on an English comedian "Freddy Frinton" although tea total in real life he always acted out the part of a drunk in top hat and tails.
Anyone know anything about him or where I can obtain photo's,videos or taped copies of him on T.V.
Need info asap thanks.
I don't know him, sorry. Can anyone out there help?


Name: Dorothy Messer
From or connections with: Prestwich and Cheetham Hill
Present Location: Prestwich, Manchester
Subject: Xaverian College
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I was just browsing through some of the past pages of EWM and came across a photograph of Xaverian College. What a coincidence that was. I belong to Prestwich Heritage Society and fairly recently we had a Saturday devoted to taping people‚s memories of times past in Prestwich. Anyway I volunteered to transcribe these tapes for the Society and have been transcribing one tape by a man called Charles Richie who went to the college in the 20‚s. It was lovely to see a picture of the college he was speaking about, so I‚ve taken the liberty of printing the picture out and including it with the transcription of his tape. I am really enjoying typing out memories of his school days which are very humorous. He even went to Victoria Baths on High Street which I went to when I attended Ducie Avenue School in Denmark Road.! I‚ve printed those pictures too!!
Once again Aidan, thanks very much for your fascinating website.
Dot Messer
Thanks very much indeed, that's brilliant. I'm always glad when my photos are used in publications such as this. By way of payment, I hope you will tell all your friends to come and have a look at Eyewitness in Manchester!

From or connections with: DROYLSDEN
Present Location: New Port Richey. Florida. USA
Subject: Would love to see something on Droylsden.
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan.What a great web site. Lived on Shrewsbury Road, Droylsden. Attended St. Stephens R.C. School.Is it still there. Left England 1948. Have only been back once. Worked at Metal Box,Clayton.Loved Daisy Nook. Anyone remember the Big Fair there especially Good Friday. Was evacuated to Colne from St. Joseph,s school for girls.Would love to hear from any schoolmates. My Name was Winifred Gerrity. Thank you for letting us all get a glimpse of home.
Glad to hear from you. St Stephen's School? Does anyone know if it's still there? Hope you catch up with some of your schoolmates!

Name: Cliff Ditchfield
From or connections with: Manchester University
Present Location: Bradenton, Florida, USA.
Subject: Enjoy
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
For the first time I delved deeper in the data available about my alumnus home. I used Manchester online to get information about the Reds but have recently decided to seek other inf. I graduated from The Institute of Technology, Man. U. in 1946 and have very fond memories of Manchester during the W.W.2, the Rag Balls, struggles with Medicine and the occasion when we stole a tram to hijack money for a charitable cause. Once one of our undergrads. stole a policeman's horse and rode it up the marble steps at Tech. The damage caused a general subscription from all to clean up the mess.
That's all for now Cliff.
It's truly amazing to hear about some of the things that went on! I just assumed that all students in those days were well-behaved and well-dressed, not like the scruffy individuals you see hanging around the campus today!

Name: Steve Robinson
From or connections with: Ancoats, Failsworth,Royton
Present Location: Niagara Park NSW Central Coast Australia
Subject: Leyland Buses
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I have just seen the photos of the 2 Leyland PD1s (I think) on your page. Thanks for briging back some good memories. I worked for Greater Manchester Buses from 1977 until 1987, when we moved to Australia. Do you have any good shots of Queens Rd Depot? as this is where I was based ( Driver Robinson 2302 SIR!). When I was last in the UK, I did not get a decent shot DUE TO THE CONSTANT RAIN!
Thanks for the excellent page
Steve Robinson

I will include a photograph of Queen's Road Depot in my upcoming feature on Cheetham. Thanks for your kind comments and glad you liked the photos of the buses. I love those old buses, they are a part of my childhood.

Name: Alison Abbott
From or connections with: salford & Kearsley,near Bolton
Present Location: Ann Arbor Michigan(near Detroit)
Subject: cross lane
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan,
What a wonderful website,I haven't been home for 16 years and you have given me a lot of memories! I would love to see old pictures of the Cross Lane area of Salford.My earliest memories are of our house on Shah St and going to Cross Lane market with Mum(and my Gran's on Lord Duncan St for a bath as we didn't have one)!I seem to remember a bloke who always dressed in drag barking out about his wares,although I don't remember what he was selling-does anyone remember him?
I was also touched by your photo of Manchester town hall with the US flag at half mast,I moved to Michigan 6 years ago after living in downtown Manhattan for 10 years.My old apartment building was covered in flyers of people being searched for by thier loved ones,and the view I loved from my roof will of course never be the same again.
I worked as a bar maid at Seftons for a while in the early 80's I believe this was pretty much groud zero for a bombing,is this correct?
Thanks so much for the site,Alison.
PS I'd also love to see old pictures of Salford docks,especially as they appeared in the early-mid 70's.
Cross Lane Salford - I'm sure you will be disappointed with pictures of what's there today. I have seen old photos of the area and it looks fascinating. At the Salford Quays heritage project you'll find lots of interesting documentary materials, including photographs. It's housed in a temporary building on the left as you go towards the Lowry from Trafford Road.

Name: Yue Ding
From or connections with: manchester university
Present Location: Shanghai, PR China
Subject: unforgetable memory
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I am so glad to view these pictures about Manchester. I was a student during 1999-2000, and I had a wonderful memory there, both the people and the city itself. I am sooo missing Manchester City, which I wish I will come over to visit again. Anyway, thanks for providing these pictures, that have reminded me of this beloved city!!!

I am very glad to year from you, and thank you very much for your kind comments about our city - and because you lived here for a year, it's your city too, and I hope you'll come back to visit again many times. I spent my university year abroad in Berlin, and I like to return there whenever I can. I can't say I miss Berlin as much as you appear to miss Manchester!


Name: Marjorie Gibson
From or connections with: Lancaster Road area of Salford
Present Location: Sunshine Coast Queensland. Australia
Subject: The Cathedral is all I recognize after 50 years
EWM Photo: Cathedral and Brittanic Building
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Thanks for the memories,much appreciated.
Regards Marjorie Gibson.

Manchester is changing at an amazing, I might say alarming rate. In the Cathedral area as in other areas, we see a juxtaposition of old and new. If you visit Buxton, Derbyshire, you'll find it mostly the same as it was 50 years ago. Manchester isn't like this - but then even in the 19th century, it was known as 'shock city'. Thanks for your message.

Name: Dorothy Messer
From or connections with: Cheetham Hill
Present Location: Prestwich
Subject: Your Book of Photographs?
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Can you give me any information about a book I keep seeing mentioned on your Manchesteronline page? I'd love to have a copy but don't know what it is called. I assume it is a book of photographs you have compiled. Please let me know if it is still available. Love the website - keep up the good work. Regards Dot Messer

I'm planning a whole series of books of my photographs and articles - I would love to have the first one ready during this year. I'll keep you informed of developments via my personal mailing list, which people can sign up to via my home page

Name: George Greatbanks
From or connections with: Openshaw, Bradford
Present Location: Abbotsford, BC., Canada
Subject: Please keep my EWM coming
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I must say a couple of letters on the latest Reader Messages page were
really interesting. The one from Nadia Howarth-Najjar about her Gran,
Maggie was intriguing as I probably passed her pitch on many
occaisions, maybe even buying a paper off her, as I used to work on
the corner of Shudehill and Corporation St., right across from the old
Evening News/Chronicle office. I used to park my old '39 Vauxhall 10
on a backstreet that joined Shudehill near the old Shambles style
building that claimed to be the oldest in Manchester, I often wonder
if it is still there. I parked there because my starter was shot and
I could coast downhill and kickstart the engine.
Alan Crump's missive also got my juices going as he mentions a lot of
stuff that was familiar to me, like the Speedway at Belle Vue and the
Rugby team that used to play in the same stadium. One really funny
memory I have of the speedway track was going there to watch the
Chinese table-tennis team in exhibition play. They placed the table
in the centre circle and the spectators were in the stands, needless
to say the wind played havoc with the ball and I'm sure most fans
had no idea where the ball was most of the time, reacting more to
the swing of the paddle. I never was very good at table-tennis but
an old school mate of mine, Jeff Ingber, played table-tennis for
England and was often away from school taking part in games.
Alan also mentioned he went to Whitworth Street school, I'm assuming
he meant Manchester Central Grammar, my old school, but by the sound
of it he is a little older than I am. He also mentioned the Ardwick
Empire, which became the Hippodrome did it not? When I was courting
my wife, we used to go to the Hippodrome every week to see the variety
programmes as my uncle was the commissionaire of the ramp leading to
the 'Gods' and let us in free. Cheap night out. I intend to write
to Alan to see what generation he falls into.
Well, that's enough rambling from me for now. Talk to you again soon.
George Greatbanks
Thanks for your message - When we had our 1963 camper van, we used to have to park on a slope - not many of those in south Manchester! You can see my campervan update and pictures at


Name: Susan Jaleel
From or connections with: Hyde
Present Location: Darlington, Co Durham
EWM Photo:
Reader Message:
Dear Aidan
I was interested to read about the various shopping memories in your November messages page. I remember the underground tunnel which ran from Kendals to the other side of Deansgate. In those days the store was located on both sides of the street [the opposite side being where Waterstones is now]. You could go into the basement on one side and virtually cross the street from beneath the roadway. In the building on the opposite side of Deansgate was located the men's department and the place where they sold luggage. I also remember, in the late 60s/early 70s, a special corner of the main building [the one which remains] on one of the upper floors, where they sold very up to date clothing for young people and there was a special cafe located in the department called the Way-In - a favourite meeting place at lunch-times for those working in the city centre.
Pauldens was originally located at the All Saints end of Stretford Road, but was destroyed by a massive fire and was subsequently relocated to the Rylands building in Piccadilly. But does anyone remember Affleck & Brown which was formerly in that building and with an entrance in Oldham Street next to C&A?
By chance I was in Manchester last February on the day that Lewis's was closing [I had not known this prior to the visit]. I felt that a part of my childhood was about to disappear! I remember Lewis's as a magical store, with its huge dome in the centre of the floorspace [later removed], which was so beautifully decorated at Christmas-time. And Father Christmas was always there to hand out gifts and have a photo taken with you [I still have mine 50-odd years on]. On the floor where the children's clothes were sold there was a play place for bored kids called the Jollydrome, but unaccompanied children were never allowed to play there I seem to remember! And Lewis's sold wonderful ice lollies which were two sides ice and ice cream in the middle.
Who remembers Henry's store in Market Street where all manner of cheap merchandise could be found?
Thanks again Aiden for your wonderful photographs - a real tonic for those away from home.

I was looking at photos of the burnt out Rylands building in the Central Library Local Studies Unit. It was on the corner of Stretford Rd and Cambridge Street. The site is now occupied by Manchester Metropolitan University halls of residence. I also remember Lewis's with affection, particularly the large food hall which later shrank to a rear corner of the store at the Spring Gardens end. I shopped there until it closed. Imagine if London's Selfridges closed! It would be unthinkable. Primark occupies the Lewis's building now - good quality at a cheap price, but it will never replace the allure of Manchester's wonderful Lewis's store. I bought my first LP, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album, in the records department down in the basement. That was 1972 and it cost £2.35. I still have the album today and remember my excitement as I sat in Lewis's basement coffee bar examining the cover photos and sleeve notes and looking forward to putting it on the Dansette record player.

Name: Susan Jaleel
From or connections with: Hyde
Present Location: Darlington, Co Durham
EWM Photo:
Reader Message:
Dear AidanThanks for publishing my message about the Kendals tunnel and other recollections of shopping in the city centre. Since then something reminded me of the one place I don't think anyone has mentioned so far [could be wrong of course] and that is the Dolls' Hospital in London Road. If you were coming up towards Piccadilly it stood on the left hand side past the end of the station approach. It was a magical place where not only dolls could be transformed but also teddy bears, golliwogs [we were allowed to have them then] and all manner of much loved cuddlies could be 'made well again.' I'm sure countless folk of my generation will remember this place with great affection.

Another shop I remember was Brissendens, the jewellers. This was in Deansgate almost opposite the entrance to the Barton Arcade. It had a wonderful selection of new and secondhand pieces, but I remember it most of all because it was there that, on an impulse one lunch-time in 1970, I had my ears pierced. I can still remember the pain of it!

You mentioned buying your first LP at Lewis's. This reminded me of where I bought mine, much earlier than you did, of course. It was in 1963 at Nield & Hardy's store in Stockport. It was Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, and I have it still, though the sleeve is long past its sell-by date!

Someone asked you about Freddie Frinton and you said you didn't know who he was. That's because you aren't old enough! He was a popular comedian in the 50s & 60s, who gave the greatest impression of being drunk that I've ever seen. He often appeared at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, and was in a TV comedy series with Thora Hird called "Meet the Wife" in which he played a henpecked husband!

Thanks again for the lovely photographs. I hope your book of them won't be long in coming.


Susan Jaleel

My goodness! I think I have vague memories of the Dolls Hospital, now that you mention it. That's amazing, to think that it was tucked away in my memory somewhere. I also recognise the name Brissenden's, though I don't remember the shop. You've also mentioned another long lost name, Nield and Hardy's, very familiar from my childhood in Stockport. As for Freddie Frinton, well, I like to think that my knowledge of local history and popular culture extends well before my birth, but I have missed out on him. Nowadays we hardly ever hear about the artists and comedians prior to the 1960's. By the way, I am making efforts to move forward the book plan, however the reaction from publishers is often 'Oh no not another book of photos of Manchester'. I hope to overcome these hurdles and bring out the first of many Aidan O'Rourke photobooks some time later this year. Thanks for your message, which I'll add to the present page now, along with this reply. All the best, Aidan

Name: Sue Shorrock
From or connections with: Blackley, Wythenshawe, Chorlton-c-Hardy
Present Location: Manchester
Subject: Reader's queries
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I hope I can provide answers to a couple of queries.
1. The names of the three pubs that stood on the corners of Rochdale Road and Moston Lane/Factory Lane were The Top Derby, The Golden Tavern and The New Inn. On the fourth corner (where Asda garage and shop now stand) was a Bank. The New Inn was demolished in the late 60's/early 70's when there was a lot of 'clearance' of houses, shops etc in Harpurhey, Blackley and Moston. In my opinion they ripped the very heart out of the community. The Top Derby has been closed for some time but it looks as though work is being done to bring it back to use.
2. There was a convent in Blackley - I believe it was called Mount Carmel and stood just back from the corner of Lewis Avenue and Rochdale Road, next to Blackley Library. Both buildings have long been demolished, for reasons known only to the planners. In place of the convent is a small estate of box like, characterless houses - which I'm sure are the pride and joy of their inhabitants but which cannot take the place of an architecturally beautiful building.
3. Someone was asking about Houldsworth Mill in Reddish. I used to work there in the early 1970's, when it was owned by John Myers - a catalogue company which I think may have been 'swallowed' up by one of the larger companies. I lived in Wythenshawe and each day the company would pick us up in a coach from outside the Golden Garter on Rowlandsway and take us to work in Stockport. There were about four or five 'pick up's on the way. We did the journey in reverse each night. It was certainly a good way to wake up in the morning - the driver would have his radio blaring and we would all sing along! There was, though, many a time especially in winter for some reason, the coach was late, or didn't turn up at all and we would all be stood outside the Garter freezing our butts off.
The Mill itself was a massive place. I worked in the Post Room and we were responsible for telexing details of new applications for catalogues to debt agencies to check people's credit history and, if they were OK, we would send them starter packs for their catalogues. We used to have sacks and sacks of mail each day which my colleague and I would take down in the lift, on a trolley, to the basement where the order packing was carried out - it always seemed to be very damp down there - and leave the mail sacks for collection.
I remember lunchtimes in the Mill. We had two canteens. The 'workers' had to go to, what was called, the second canteen - which was furthest away from the offices!, whilst the management had their lunch in the first canteen on tables which were draped with cloths and had little vases with flowers on and, I think, they were served with their food. Our canteen was formica tables and help yourself style. I was paid £7.00 per week and worked from 8.45 to 4.30 with 45 mins lunch. It seemed such a long day because I left my house at 7.45 for the coach and didn't get home until about 5.30, but I had some good times and made some good friends.
Anyway, that's enough rambling. I really love visiting EWM. Keep up the good work, it's really appreciated.
When I worked in the United Arab Emirates we were picked up every morning at 6.05 for the hour long bus ride to the base, which was in the middle of the desert. Luckily we were back by 3.30. I used to dream of being back home in Manchester as looked out the window of the bus and dozed off! Thanks for your message, very interesting.

Name: Tineke van der Goot
From or connections with: Prestwich and Fallowfield
Present Location: Zoetermeer (close to The Hague) in the Netherland
Subject: xmas and new year
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I want to wish you your family all readers and all my dear friends back in Manchester a very merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!

The same to you too over in the Netherlands, which in ease of travel is very close to Manchester due to the frequent and cheap air services between Amsterdam Schiphol and Manchester Ringway. I have flown on that route many times.

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