READER MESSAGES - Sept to Nov 02

Jerry Caesar

More of this?
And less of this?

your site
Hi Aidan , I hope you're well sir .
Aidan ; I 've followed your work for a couple of years now , and I must say I 'm impressed of your love of our city . But I cannot escape the feeling that your work is maudlin in the extreme.

Aidan ; I know that history is very important to give context to ones life . And of course a knowledge of history helps so that one may not repeat the mistakes of the past. I also respect the fact that you are trying to give objective criticism of current decisions so that our city make progress .
I 've lived away from Manchester for many years now and I 'm planning to return to live in the near future and I 've really enjoyed your work in photographing the city and environs ; thanks for that sir .

But for goodness sake Aidan lighten up a little ! I want to see more people in the streets in your work, ( I get the feeling you take a lot of these shots at 5 am on a Sunday . ) You're not being positive enough Aidan. Manchester in the past was in so many ways bloody miserable sir ! I 'll bet you wouldn't want to go back to live in those days when you and I were kids . I want to see more vigorous critique and also less looking at the past , but I still love ya kiddo !
regards , Jerry

Thank you very much for the constructive feedback. It's true, many of my pictures are devoid of people but that's because I want to focus on the city we see around us. I prefer to photograph people in a different context. I'm presenting an individual view which isn't destined to go into a photo library or on the front page of a newspaper. You might have used the word 'maudlin' to describe LS Lowry's paintings, but their great value is that they represent an individual's point of view. However I take your point - To counterbalance the dreary depressing scenes I love to photograph, I will focus a bit more on the contemporary city.

Bill Hayes
dear aidan,
just a few lines to set the record straight re 'the good old days'article by Christian Mckie.
My Dear Christian, I do not know whereabouts in the UK you live and I doubt whether your experiences of Manchester are valid.You moan because the 'ex pats' from Manchester decry the changes that are taking place today in a city that played a huge part in making the world what it is now.Yes Manchester did have smog in the 1950s but that has all gone now thanks to the first clean air act in the world,but take a look at Tokyo in 2002,or Athens,or Rio de Janero,or any other major conurbation in the world, how clean is their air 50 years on?.As far as infant mortality rates are concerned Manchester has never figured very high on a world scale,even in the early twentieth century the infant mortality rate in Manchester was nothing compared to Cairo or Peking or even New York.Until the advances in obstetrics made during the 1930s/40s all parts of the globe suffered from this scourge and even now in the twenty first century in some parts of the world infant mortality is higher than it ever was in Manchester at any time.
This endless grind that you refer to is a reference that I take great exception to,you seem to have formed the idea that the workers in this city were mindless zombies forced to work under conditions reminiscent of the film 'Metropolis',well I am sorry to disillusion you but the workers in these 'dirty hazardous factories' took great pride in their work and if conditions were bad then they were only as bad as any other industrial city anywhere in the world,but and this is a major but,these ground down workers are the same ones who fought tooth and nail to improve the working conditions of all people without resorting to the terrors inflicted by so called socialist governments in other parts of the world.
You even seem to have got the daily diet of Mancunians completely wrong,if we did have chips (mainly on Fridays as I remember or sometimes on Saturday) it was never with 'gravy'.Fish yes,peas yes,even pie sometimes,but gravy! the way.Gravy,curry,rice etc came at a later (1970s) date.If you would have said tatter hash or tripe and onions or even black pudding you might have been nearer the mark,but to put our 50s diet down to just chips (and gravy?) smacks of complete ignorance at worse or reading and believing the London Evening Standard which is worse still.
Ah, Whit Walks - those were the days!Filthy conditions????.you have obviously never experienced or witnessed such delights as the weekly trip to the council run wash houses,nor seen the mothers donkey stoning the front steps,and as for the dolly tubs to get those whites clean!,come on Christian read your social history again.Don't forget these were the days before washing machines and launderettes when the only cleaning agents were a block of fairy soap a wash board and muscles that would put Arnold Schwarzenegger to shame.Yes it was hard work and yes it could be grimy, but filth.........don't tell your gran that.
Kingston (Jamaica),Cape Town,Chicago,Delhi,Hong Kong all have higher annual rainfall than Manchester as do thousands of other towns and cities across the world,but you choose to believe the rubbish put out by the (mainly London based) press.During the first few days of the Commonwealth Games it was hotter and drier in Manchester than it was in Barcelona.It was only a few years ago that we had a hosepipe ban in Manchester and this past couple of months it has hardly rained at all,and the temperature is still way above average.This is not unusual for Manchester.
It is a very naive and somewhat dangerous view to take when thinking that people who prefer to emigrate are likened to rats deserting a sinking ship.This country and this city especially is a diverse and multi cultural one that has been brought about by the migration of different peoples from across the world.So to say that Mancunians who have nothing to offer the world other than an escape from poverty is to belittle those who have the same spirit of adventure that has made Manchester one of the most respected cities in the world.
When people talk of the good old days they are talking about respect and security,those good old days are the days when women could walk the streets at night without some teenage junkie beating them up for a few pennies or when a quiet pint in the pub didn't mean a glass smashed in your face just for the fun of it.It also meant going to the local shop when there was no fear that it would be forced to close down because some giant supermarket chain willed it so.The good old days meant that farm animals ate what they should eat and not other dead animals just so the supermarkets can make more profit.More people are dying in road accidents nowadays than were killed by the smogs of the fifties,the good old days were when you knew you could rely on your neighbours and they could rely on you,nowadays you are lucky indeed if you know the names let alone trust the neighbours in your area.So next time you mock the idea of the good old days just look at the world of the twenty first century and ask yourself is it really that much better than the world of our days.
Manchester is not and never will be Shangri-La and yes all Mancunians will readily admit that serious mistakes have been made over the years,it is for this very reason that the people who care about our city (including ex pats) are right to bemoan changes that they see taking place if those changes benefit only the few at the expense of the many.

Now Christian, put that in your pipe and smoke it! Thanks to Christian for raising some important issues and to Bill for responding to them- I'll stay quiet for now!

Stephanie Breen Steph The Old Jewish Hospital

Hi Aidan, I am hoping either yourself or other readers can tell me more about the old Jewish hospital which was on Elizabeth Street in Cheetham Hill. The reason for my interest is that I own a flat in St Davids Court which was built on the site in 1995. All I can find on the internet is a photograph of an interior waiting room - early 1900s judging by the nurses' uniforms - and a pencil drawing of the exterior. I know the hospital was opened in 1904 but nothing more. I would love to see some more old photographs or a plan of the site so that I can match the layout to the current development. Another reason for my curiosity is that the site is said to be haunted and despite no experience of this myself I have heard several stories about strange happenings in the new flats.... Keep up the good work and I hope to hear from you soon. Steph

Another place that's haunted - in addition to St Luke's churchyard and the Stockport Crossley in the Transport Museum that's a lot of ghosts on a short stretch of Cheetham Hill Road! Can anyone out there shed more light on the Jewish Hospital?

Restored warehouse buildings Cambridge Streetgordon d simpson your website

Dear╩ Aidan╩ a╩ reader queries╩ the╩ origins╩ of╩ the╩ name╩ besses o╩ the╩ barn╩ an╩ area╩ of╩ Whitefield╩ I used╩ to╩ live╩ near╩ this╩ locality╩ and╩ although╩ I am╩ not╩ 100%╩ certain╩╩╩ I have╩ heard╩ on╩ more╩ thane╩ one╩ occaision╩ that╩ on╩ route╩ to╩ york╩ the╩ Highwayman╩ Dick╩ Turpin╩╩╩ stabled╩ his╩ horse╩ black╩ bess╩ in a╩ nearby╩ barn╩ hence╩ the╩ derivation╩ of╩ the╩ name. best╩ wishes╩ Gordon╩ Simpson

Dear╩ Aidan╩ first╩ let╩ me╩ congratulate╩ you╩ on╩ your╩ edition╩ of╩ eyewitness╩ as╩ ever╩ it╩ was╩ first╩ class╩ and╩ most╩ interesting this╩ month╩ I liked╩ your╩ Hulme╩ feature╩ and╩ your╩ Salford╩ feature╩ having╩ connections╩ with╩ both╩ places. It╩ was╩ also╩ a╩ nice portrait╩ of╩ yourself╩ it╩ was╩ nice╩ to╩ put a╩ face╩ to╩ the╩ name.╩

I read╩ of╩ things╩ now╩ which I find disturbing╩ in╩ the╩ news╩ such atrocities╩ as╩ the╩ USA╩╩ sniper╩ the╩ kidnap╩ and╩ murders╩ of╩ young╩ girls and╩ the biggest╩ and╩ although in╩ comparison╩ to╩ murder╩ insignificant╩ a╩ social crime╩ most╩ are╩ guilty╩ of╩ ---ignoring╩ our╩ heritage.╩ Do you╩ think that╩ we╩ are╩ guilty╩ of ignoring the╩ country╩╩ and╩ Manchester's╩ heritage╩ in╩ the╩ name╩ of╩ commercialism and╩ progress╩ et╩ al?╩

for╩ instance╩ a╩ lot╩ of╩ churches╩ including╩ Salford cathedral remain closed╩ for the╩ bulk of╩ the╩ day╩ as hey╩ don't get╩ money╩ to fund╩ as they╩ have to╩ close via╩ threats╩ of╩ vandalism╩ and theft╩ another╩ 21╩ century╩ curse╩╩ and╩ this╩ in the╩ long╩ run╩ may like╩ Gorton╩ monastery╩ enforce╩ closures leading╩ to╩ loss╩ of rich╩ local╩ heritage also╩ St╩ George's Hulme╩ in╩ the╩ name of╩ progress╩ lost╩ to╩ an housing╩ developer all╩ traces╩ of╩ god╩ long gone╩ along╩ with╩ rich local╩ heritage╩ the╩ history of╩ the╩ building╩ quickly reeling╩ into╩ oblivion╩ as the╩ new╩ Hulme╩ takes shape.╩

Similar╩ effects╩ take place in╩ the╩ so╩ called slum╩ areas╩ rich╩ architectural╩ Victorian╩ masterpieces╩ in╩ the╩ Ancoats╩ and╩ similar╩ areas╩ left╩ to╩ decay╩ as╩ no╩ use can╩ be╩ found╩ no╩ money╩ found╩ or╩ no╩ interest╩ exists anymore╩ as╩ people╩ live╩ superficially╩ and╩ see╩ history╩ as╩ hampering╩ progress this╩ is╩ more╩ common╩ than╩ murder╩╩ and╩ although╩ no╩ human╩ life is╩ lost╩ we╩ stand╩ in my╩ opinion╩ a╩ rapid╩ slide╩ into╩ murdering╩ our╩ proud╩ heritage╩ and╩ our╩ pride and╩ joy╩ of old╩ buildings╩ and╩ culture╩ donated╩ by╩ our forefathers╩ what╩ we╩ we╩ leave╩ our╩ children╩ the╩ urban╩ decay╩ of╩ Ancoats╩ or╩ modern╩ faceless╩ plate glass╩ structures╩ which I don't╩ hope╩ are╩ earthquake╩ friendly.╩

The╩ Urbis╩ centre╩ for╩ instance.╩ Or╩ the╩ new╩ look╩ Arndale╩ centre╩ / .╩ What╩ are╩ your╩ views of╩ this╩ and╩ are╩ you of╩ the╩ opinion progress╩ is╩ necessary╩╩ or╩ are╩ you╩ prepared to╩ see╩ old╩ buildings╩ rejuvenated╩ and reused╩ instead╩ of╩ the╩ 21╩╩ century╩ plate glass .╩ what╩ do╩ you╩ think?

Phew, you've touched on many issues here. I have two opposing views! On the one hand I think people don't appreciate the value and potential of older buildings. Ideally no older building should be demolished without a very good reason. On the other hand it can be incredibly difficult and costly to refurbish older buildings - and many of them are unsuitable for new uses. Often demolition is the only options. There are often innovative solutions however. Take St George's Church in Hulme for instance - I find the idea of living in what was intended to be a place of worship a bit strange and somehow disrespectful, but the building has been wonderfully restored and is guaranteed a bright future. There is no easy answer to this question - In upcoming Eyewitness in Manchester features I'll be looking at good examples of refurbishment, as well as a selection of the interesting and inspiring new buildings which have recently appeared - not many!

Photo sent by Gayla Philips Your letter on Eyewitness Manchester
Hi Gayla.
I just read your letter and saw the picture you sent in. I am originally from Manchester. I married an American service man stationed at Burtonwood, this month will be our 53rd wedding anniversary. What I wanted to let you know, is that we belong to a group called 'The Burtonwood Association'. Our members consist of men and women , American & British who served at Burtonwood AFB throughout the years until it closed recently. We wives and families are 'associate members'. We also have many family members of deceased service men.
We have a reunion every year here in the States. We just returned from this year's which was held in Biloxi, Miss. There were approx. 260 members present this time. There is also a reunion held in England every other year, this is usually in or around Warrington where Burtonwood was located.
We have a news paper which we receive 4 times a year. If you were to contact the founder of our group you may find someone who knew your father. Many letters appear in "The Burtonwood Times" from people looking for old friends
etc. I believe that anyone who has an interest in keeping the memory of Burtonwood alive is being invited to join our association here in the United States or in England.
Anyone who may be interested can let me know and I will fwd. a contact e-mail address.
All the Best
Mike &Joan Georgulis
Austin, Texas

That's great - always glad to see people make contact.

Cringle Fields Burnage on Manchester/Stockport boundaryphil
Toast Rack and other topics
Hi Aidan,
The structure on the eastern boundary of Cringle Fields in your photo in the Burnage feature is a tower erected by Fairey Engineering in the 1960s. Fairey Aviation built aircraft on the site during and after WW2 and test flew them from Ringway - their last remaining hangar, demolished to make way for the Cargo Village, being not too far from the Aviation Park .
After various amalgamations in the UK aviation industry in the late 1950s and 1960s, Fairey ceased building aircraft and their last major aviation venture was the assembly and testing of Australian designed and fabricated Jindivik target drones in the aforementioned hangar before they were flown from Llanbedr in Wales.
Back to the structure. Fairey Aviation transformed itself into Fairey Engineering building parts aircraft sub assemblies for Hawker Siddeley, Woodford and also developed a nuclear division.
It was that division which built the structure to assemble reactor sub assemblies for accuracy testing prior to shipment to various nuclear power stations for final assembly. If I recall correctly, the tower is 90 feet high. I am not aware of its current use,
Best wishes,
Phil Blinkhorn

Thanks very much for the information, very well-researched and informed as usual.

Site of St Mark's School Levenshulme Levenshulme
Dear Aiden
I have just got round to looking at your Levenshulme - Both my wife and myself have not been well, and have been forced to move, to get rid of our mortgage. I was so grateful when you took the photos of St Mark's Church, and St. Mark's Street for me. Although my School has gone, I can still see the house were my auntie and uncle lived. The picture od Nelstrop Rd / Barlow Rd, is just off where I lived. It was the 2nd house on the left, just passed the allotments. My Auntie and Uncle lived in the 1st.; and auntie just opposite, and another uncle and auntie. It was known as Tally Ran. As the block was originally called Tally Rand Row. I wish I had been with you on your outing. We often played on the bridge Nelstrop Rd. Also taking that route to my Gran's in Reddish. 2 of my Schools where on Mount Rd; and I would walk along the Nico Ditch to another auntie's.
If you have any other pictures I would love to see them.
Kindest regards
Les (Wilson)

Well, you were with me when I went on my walk round Levenshulme - Every picture I take for Eyewitness in Manchester, I know a lot of people are going to look at it, so I don't really feel alone when I go out on a shoot. Very glad the photos brought back childhood memories.

Re: Reader Messages Requests & Sept 11th
HI just got back from a three weeks holiday(?) with the family in Miles ╩Platting , all very nice and clean almost , but one thing did get me as strange , the old mill ( which I believe prince Charles thought was worth saving) has been turn into a "condo complex" for out of town workers complete with cameras and high wire fence, while round about the people who actually worked there and have for the most part stayed in the area (mostly because the have no choice ) cannot afford to pay anywhere near the amounts ask for in rent.

From╩quite a lot of the old people I spoke to (and believe me that's quite a few ) they see this as an insult to there years of hard labour and deprivation during the 30s 40s and 50s , I just wondered what you think.

Keep up the good work James PS have you read "Have your say" (a free newsletter for the central Manchester area )

I will look out for 'Have your say'. You're talking about the Victoria Mill, next to the canal in Miles Platting. Yes, it's true, there is a great disparity between the professional people who can afford to live in these converted apartments and the local residents many of whom have suffered through economic decline and lack of opportunity. It's not an easy question to find a solution for. Sadly, Manchester has many social and economic problems - caused by decline in earlier decades and other factors. Progress is being made, but in many parts of Man-hater it seems like there are more haves cots than haves.

Sudell Street
Dear Sir I came across you picture which illustrates Sudell Street as it is today. While looking at the old maps for the area in 1855 on I notice that a Jewish Cemetery is shown at the end of Sudell Street. Have you found any material on this Cemetery during your researches, I would appreciate any information that you could let me have. Regards

I wasn't aware that there was a Jewish cemetery near there, but it doesn't surprise me as there is a very strong Jewish presence in north Manchester. Can anyone out there help?

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