READER MESSAGES Feb-Apr 2003 Page 2


St Peters Suqre and trams 1997Subject: M.C.T.D. Trams
From: Arnold

Dear Aidan.
I was wondering about the old MCTD trams, and whether they ran in or around St Peters Square.

am from Manchester, and left 42 years ago, the worst move I ever made!

I worked on the old MCTD buses at Princess Rd Depot for 3 and a half years around 1958, so I suppose i should know the answer to the question myself. Those 3 years I worked at Princess Rd were and always will be the best working years of my entire life.

I made a very big mistake coming to and staying in Australia, but that's lifeA At the moment I am creating a working model of Manchester Piccadilly the old gardens and the old trams. It's HO scale and all electric, hence my question.

I have got replica models of the Manchester Metroink trams which will run around the perimeter of the set up and Manchester's old trams will run as I remember them (the old trams made by myself.) My answer to my own question is: I don't think the old trams did run in St Peters Square. I know that the Metrolink trams run in the said square. But the old trams?

Many thanks Aidan for your help;
Sincerley yours

A quick look at a 1930's map of St Peters Square in the Mancheter Cetnral Library Archives and Local Studies Unit (where else?) confirms that Manchester Corporation Transport Department trams DID run through St Peters Square. By the way, your model of the old Piccadilly Gardens sounds wonderful. Can you send a photograph of it, I'm sure we would all like to see it!

Subject: Prestwich Clough Viaduct.
From: Phil Blinkhorn
Hi Aidan,

Re Charles Pottins' letter on the viaduct on Prestwich Clough, I've been doing a bit of research - without coming to a positive conclusion but finding some possibilities along the way, none of which match the reported facts.

The Irwell Valley in this area was a major thoroughfare for centuries (certainly from Roman times and probably for centuries before that). The motorway cuts across the valley and, since its inception in the early 1970s, has probably seen more people pass across the valley than the total number of people who have traversed the valley along its length in this area (the more "natural" use of a valley) since time began.

With the coming of the industrial revolution, the canal builders realised that the path of the un-navigable Irwell had, over time, provided a wide enough valley bottom to allow a roughly parallel canal and the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal was "navigated".

The railway builders also realised the potential of the valley and the main Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway line from Manchester to Bolton follows the valley bottom. A line to Bury was built by the East Lancashire Railway, diverging from the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway's line at Clifton Junction in the valley bottom and it crosses the river and canal on the thirteen arches of the viaduct you depicted in response to Charles' original email.

This is evidently not the viaduct he remembers as the line was active until the mid 1960s (after Beeching) and has too many arches. There are other contenders however. I'm at a slight disadvantage as here in Kerry, reference works on Prestwich are not in abundance but, some digging on the Web and the use of a mid 1960s A-Z has yielded some possibilities which may help towards further research.

Clifton Aqueduct seems like a prime contender. This crosses the Irwell some yards to the West South West of the railway viaduct you depicted. However, the aqueduct is shown as being "in water" on the pages of the Canal website (, though reading the "stoppages" information seems to indicate that the aqueduct itself is dry. Reading the "Towpath Guide" pages of the site leads to a page on the aqueduct and a photo that shows it is, indeed dry. A prime contender? Well no. As a photo shows no more than three arches and, being adjacent to the thirteen arch viaduct, is some distance from Prestwich Clough.

A look at my 1960s A-Z shows another aqueduct linking the river and the canal adjacent to Carr Clough on the Prestwich side and Lumn's Lane on the Clifton Junction side. The map shows an aqueduct just over a quarter of a mile long, so seven reasonable sized arches might fit the bill. Reference back to the "Towpath Guide" only leads to confusion, however. The photos and the Guide only refer to two brick arches, so this seems to rule this out, and the accompanying photo doesn't give the impression of anything wider than a narrow pipe over the track of the canal, so what about the rest of the distance? Then the penny dropped. The aqueduct is actually part of the Thirlmere water pipeline which whilst often depicted as an aqueduct on maps, is completely enclosed and crosses the canal at this point.

So, where do we go from here? There are no other references to viaducts/aqueducts in the immediate area that I can find. The thirteen arch viaduct is not the one because the time frame is wrong and why would Charles' mother refer to seven arches?

My guess is that the Clifton aqueduct is favourite, but why "seven arches"? Is this one of those peculiar local or family namings which, once in common parlance, when retold years later, only serves to mislead and frustrate?

Best wishes,


The case of the mysterious viaduct. Interesting, very interesting. I must go for a walk up that way some time soon and investigate further.

View north west from below Winter HillSubject: Eyewitness in Manchester
From: Patricia Farrell

I've just been looking through your website and really enjoyed it. It brought back some memories since I was brought up in Salford, but have been living in Scotland for 20 years now.

I'm replying about the photo with the Irish sea visible in the distance. Is it taken from near Rivington Pike and is the area of water nearby the Anglezark Resevoir?



It's taken from near Rivington Pike, a bit further south, and the stretch of water is Rivington Reservoir. Thanks for your kind words.

Subject: Thanks
From: Eileen

Hi Aidan Thankyou for your mail, wish I could visit your presentations at the different venues. Never mind I will be able to view some of your pictures of Ardwick district hopefully via the internet.

Greetings from very warm Launching Place Victoria Australia

Eileen Robbins

Thanks, the presentation at the Portico Library went very well indeed and I will be doing more soon. Please e-mail me for more details.

Subject: Re. Ardwick
From: George Greatbanks

Hi Aidan,
It's been a while since I wrote to you, but that doesn't mean I haven't kept up-to-date by visiting your web site constantly. As always, your coverage of Ardwick caused my 'Little Gray Cells,' as Poirot would say, to perk up, hence this note.

My connection with Ardwick goes right back to the earliest memories I have, those of a 3 year old at his Grandma and Granddad's for Christmas. They used to live on Spire St., in Ardwick, on the other side of Ashton Old Road, midway between it and Ashton New Road and on this day I got a clockwork train set and set it up on the kitchen floor. For some strange reason my Grandparents never embraced electricity using gas for lighting and for a two ring cooking plate. The bulk of Grandma's cooking, including the most delicious fresh bread I have ever eaten, was done in the over of the black leaded wrought iron kitchen fireplace with a fire-under extension under the oven. She would stoke the fire under the oven as required and using her arm into the oven as a thermometer, produced the most scrumptious meals.

Anyhow, I digress but necessarily so. As I lay on the kitchen floor I remember admiring the huge Christmas tree in the corner of the kitchen, huge I should add by a 3-year-olds standards, which was covered in lights. Having no electricity, these lights were real candles, oodles of them. By the time my Grandmother left her home to come and live with us in the mid 50's, as a person bedridden by rheumatoid arthritis, gas only was still the order of the day in Spire Street.

Every Saturday, after returning from 3 years evacuation in Briarfield, I used to go to their house for fresh bread and my Grandfather, who was an employee of a wholesale grocers, always brought me a 1lb block of palm toffee, over and above the rationing. Then we would top off the day by going to the pictures, usually the Queens on Ashton Old Road.

My dad went to Ardwick Lads Club and captained their football team, as a young boy I too attended that club fleetingly, but being a little weakling at that time, I was a late bloomer on the football field, I never made the team. I still remember looking enviously at the medals my dad won with them. I had to wait until I came to Canada and coached football to win anything of significance.

Another tie to Ardwick was my mother, who was born and raised in a small terraced house just off Devonshire St. Although after her mother died in the early 20's, leaving her as an orphan, she went to live in one of the old Gatehouses at the entrance to an estate that began at the Trough in Audenshaw, living there until she was married.

I also attended Ardwick Central School for a year before going to Grammar School, I had to pass the 11 plus twice to get there. My sister also was a graduate of Ardwick Central. As a schoolboy attending Manchester Central Grammar School on Whitworth Street, now a women's college, I used to spend my bus fare and walk home to Openshaw down Fairfield Street, stopping usually to go in and pet the LMS horses which were stabled under the viaduct. They used to parade these horses in a May Day celebration on Ancoats Lane, all decked out in oiled trappings with brightly polished brasses and ribbons, their tails plaited and beribboned, it was quite a sight.

My wife and I first became friends as 9 year olds, before going our separate ways around 15. But Ardwick once again came into my life. I believe I have told you this story before, but it bears repeating in this reminiscing about Ardwick. We had both recently broken up with our dates and I was walking down Ashton Old Road past the Metropole. June's father worked at the Metropole part-time and she was looking what was on and planning to go in. I happened by and seeing her, walked over and said hello. 'Where are you going tonight?' I asked to which she replied, 'I was going to go to the pictures here.' I replied, 'Well, I'm going to the Queens, want to come along?' She did and 4 years later we were married and still are 45 years later.

Yes, Ardwick holds a lot of memories for me as I am sure it does for many other ex-pats and people moved out due to the slum clearance programmes that were carried out after WW2. I would love to hear from any old Ardwick folk and people who attended Manchester Central Grammar between 1947 and 1951.


Another fascinating journey into a world that now seems as alien as another planet. It's amazing how tastes and smells stay with you, and can magically conjure up a place and a time. One of the smells of today's Manchester is the aroma of curry along the 'Curry Mile' in Rusholme.Subject: Ardwick

From: Lynda Jones
Dear Aidan,

Thanks for the terrific article and photographs on Ardwick.

It is great to have photos of St. Thomas Church and Nicholls Hospital Boy's school as the church is where my husband was baptised, also where his parents married. He also went to Nicholls school in the 1950's.
I can now use these on my family history programme so my children can see where their father grew up.

Also thanks for the photo of the Apollo which reminds me of the many times my parents took me there to see movies when I was a child. We lived in Longsight and even though we had three cinemas on Stockport Road, the Apollo was the special cinema to go to in those days.

You mentioned Dark Lane, as one of the old streets in Ardwick. My hubby's great grandparents lived in Dark Lane for many years.

I must say Ardwick Green looks so different now from when we lived in Manchester in the 1960's and reading your article was like a trip down memory lane for myself and my husband. Thank you so much.

Any chance of maybe doing an article around the Wythenshawe area, in particular Woodhouse Park, including Cornishway, Portway and even a photo of St. Mark's Presbyterian Church?
Would love to see how the area is these day.

Kind regards
Lynda Jones
Adelaide, South Australia
Thanks - Glad you enjoyed the Ardwick feature and that the pictures are useful.

Subject: EWM Ardwick
From: Bob COOK
I have just been sent the above photographic tour via Manchesteronline and had to drop you a line to congratulate you on an excellent and informative piece of work.

Than kyou very much for drawing my attention to this much overlooked area of the city. Next time I am in the vicinity, I will definitely stop off for a closer look instead of driving on through as I must have done many, many thousands of times in the past.


Bob Cook,

Thanks very much! I'm glad that locals too can discover new things about the remarkable city we live in!

Subject: Ardwick
From: Edna Cullis
Hi Aidan,
Just want to thank you for the wonderful feature that you recently did on Ardwick, it was great and brought back so many memories for me.
My Grandparents lived off Ashton Old Road (Helsby St) and when I used to visit them from school (Ducie Avenue) every Friday, I used to walk back up to Hyde Road via Chancery Lane and Devonshire St to catch the bus outside the Bus Depot back home to West Gorton. I grew up on Ashmore Street (does anybody remember Edmunds Bakery famous for their Eccles Cakes?).

My Gran's family all grew up in the Ancoats/Ardwick area, in fact her Grandparents were theatricals. Apparently John (Enoch) Simpson and his wife Elizabeth ran what I understand was called "Simmie's Shows" at what was probably fairs. I have an article called "Mainly about Ardwick" by Les Sutton that mentions them. I have found all this very fascinating and would love to hear more about these wonderful people. If any of this rings a bell with anybody I would love to hear from them.

Now before I close this e-mail, I must just say how much I enjoy your Newsletters. Where we live in Canada - Burlington, Ontario - there are many people from England and when a group of us get together, your site is almost always mentioned.

Thanks once again and hope the little one is doing well.

Edna Cullis (Clulow), Burlington, Ontario, Canada

I notice you use 'Chancery Lane', the original name which was changed... I'm not sure when. It's now Chancellor Lane. The little one is doing fine, thanks.

Subject: Another treat!
From: JeanMcAulay
Thanks once again for a look at Ardwick, I lived in Coalbrook Street from 1946 to 1961, great to see the place once again.
Regards Jean McAulay [now in Scotland]

The place has changed a great deal since you were there, but much of the old Ardwick survives.

Subject: Levenshulme
From: Constable Philip J

I lived on Erwood Road from 1953 until 1963 going to St Mary's School in Clare Road. You are right about the green spaces, we used to wander across Erwood Park, across the Crossley playing fields, round the back of Monarch Laundry and over to the golf course.
Saturdays were ABC Minors, ABC later became a bowling alley, then Levenshulme baths, over the road to the library, and then back home.
The bus routes were the 19, one going down Erwood Road and the other down Burnage Lane.

In the mid to late 50s St Mary's Church moved to a cinema on Stockport Road opposite the junction with Alma Road, all the cinemas were then closing but not many became a RC church.

Philip J Constable,
Formerly of 34 Erwood Road now living in New Delhi

Yes, I remember it as a church - Looking from the 92, later 192 bus. The cinema is currently unoccupied, and there was talk of demolishing it. I hope to do a return visit to Levenshulme in the near future, to catch up with the recent changes.

Subject: Little Italy
Dear Aidan do you or any of your readers know anything on the part of Ancoats called little Italy and the church of St Michael on George Leigh street Ancoats. All information greatly received
regards Gordon Simpson

Yes, Ancoats had a strong Italian connection. Not sure about the church of St Michael. Does anyone have any info?

Subject: Thoughts on a New Manchester
From: John Brooks

Aidan, I'm an Salford lad who moved out to Massachusetts about 4 years ago. Just after Christmas I visited Manchester and was stunned by how American the place has become, so much of Manchester's cultural identity has been lost and a person would be hard pressed to know if they were in Rochdale or Rhode Island. As an ex-pat perhaps I am guilty of having some rose tinted specs about my home town, but it seems to me that Britain could very easily become the 51st and not too many folks would be able to see the join (as Eric Morecambe would have said). The Trafford Centre looks so similar to a hundred malls out here and there is an area in Davyhulme which used to be called Cascade circle, that has nothing but American franchises, Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonalds.

Maybe this could explain the British government's attitude to the impending war in Iraq, maybe Mr. Blair thinks that the UK is already part of the US?

I love my birth nation and I love my new home nation, but I would rather there was more distinction between the two.
Just my ramblings.
John Brooks (ex- Eccles)

It's true that all over the UK - and Europe - there are American-style out of town developments. There's one close to the centre of Manchester, insensitively placed next to the Ancoats heritage site - but on the whole, I think that the UK is still very different to the US, and that the similarities are only superficial. In fact, I think that the US and the UK should try to get to know each other better! I once had an idea for a website called US-UK, aiming to bridge the cultural, and educational gap and promoting mutual understanding.

Subject: mcr_boundaries
From: Martin Simm
Hi Aidan,

I am a big fan of your website! I have been fascinated by boundaries/populations etc, from a very young age, probably why I went on to study geography at degree level. I was born 65 miles North East of Manchester Town Hall and for most of my life lived 45 miles North East of Manchester Town Hall! I'll let you work that one out! However, Manchester, for various reasons has always been very influetial in my life, having always been a relatively 'local city', in terms of the fact that I've always lived in the sphere of influence of the shopping centre.. if nothing else.

I found this page very interesting. I get fed up of explaining to people why Manchester (or city of Manchester if you prefer) has a lower population than its neighbouring cities of Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield. I even bought an OS Landranger map and drew around the city of Manchester boundary in bold black marker pen, to highlight the fact that Manchester is long and thin, only covering a relatively small part of the full conurbation. I like your analogy to a fried fish by the way! It's like my Leeds 'T-shirt'.

I find it interesting the way you refer to 'Manchester' as being something very different from the 'City of Manchester'. It's crazy. From where I live in Manchester, I often walk to the hypermarket in the City of Salford. If I have undeliverable mail to collect I walk to the 'local' sorting office, in the borough of Trafford. I pass through Tameside everyday on the train everyday and regularly hear people on mobile phones saying "I'm in Manchester now", as far out as Audenshaw/Droylsden and Ashton under Lyne.

I prefer to either use the traditional county names and boundaries (Lancashire, WR Yorkshire, Cheshire etc of course) or the contemporary individual authority names. I had bad experiences in younger life due to the existence of the former metropolitan counties in Yorkshire and the Humber, in fact I was glad to see the back of them - I will explain sometime.

I am either living in the city of Manchester, or Lancashire, or the North West. If I lived in Stalybridge, then I'd say... Tameside or Cheshire. What I don't like about the 'Greater Manchester County' area... well, let me explain. Draw a straight line from Wigan's Leigh to Trafford's Altrincham, this to me illustrates the fact that there is a big chunk missing from the south west of the 'Greater Manchester' area, namely Warrington. It's like taking 'Oldham' out, then drawing a diagnolly parallel line from Rochdale to Stalybridge.

I have my own ideas as to why Warrington was left out in the planning for '74. Perhaps they thought that turning a traditional Lancashire town into 'Cheshire' rather than 'Greater Manchester' would do more for the 'New Town' development at the time? I was glad to see Warrington gain independence in the late 1990s, now I see it in just the same way as Tameside, mix of traditional Lancashire/Cheshire, now independent local authrority... it winds me up, when I speak to Lancashire Warringtonians my age that think they are from 'Cheshire'... oblivious of the fact that the town is no longer 'Cheshire' and was only covered by 'Cheshire County Council' for 22 years, acknowledging of course, the fact that some of South Warrington is legitimately, historic Cheshire. Although, I acknowledge that Tameside and Warrington are different in Terms of their make up and centres and historic development.

Warrington is in my personal 'Greater Manchester area'. It's covered by Key103, has "Th'evenin' news" and is so close by train. I'd really like to see Warrington covered by GMPTA/GMPTE one day.

Anyway, sorry to rant on. To summarise, to me, Manchester is most definately the 'City of Manchester'. Greater Manchester is far more than the GMPTE / GM Police area. I would not refer to Bradford or Wakefield as 'Greater Leeds' I truly recognise their statuses as seperate cities, which just happen to share a police force, PTA/E etc.

It's great reading, look forward to more on Eyewitness Manchester. Cheers Aidan.


PS Would be great to see something on Risley/Birchwood. I find the history of that area fascinating... and it's less than 15 miles from Manchester Town Hall :-).

One lone photographer-writer in a car, on foot or occasionally on a bike, trying to cover an area of about 200 square miles of conurbation and countryside. It's not easy! That's why I tend to concentrate on the city centre and areas close by, including Salford. I've touched on the question of local boundaries and local identities before. In a nutshell, I think our true local identity is not well represented by the current local government structure. And what effect the regional parliament will have remains to be seen! Eventually I will get out as far as Birchwood and Warrington!

Subject: Manchester
From: discohamburguesa

Aidan - Who are some of the major employers in Manchester? I've continued to study the city and I'm wondering, now that so much industry is long gone, which companies help the local economy.

Also, not being from Manchester, I'm really not sure about this, but how safe do Mancunians perceive their city as being? I know there are a lot of areas that are currently being regenerated (New Deal for Communities, North MCR Regeneration Area, etc.), but despite looking at Greater Manchester Police crime statistics and the index of multiple deprivation I'm still curious as to how locals think their city is portrayed, crime and disorder-wise.
Thanks and Take Care,

Interesting questions. Once Manchester was a place of factories, warehouses, cotton spinning mills, heavy industry, coal mining and lots more. But it was also an important place for banking, insurance, finance, culture and education, and these areas are still important in today's Manchester. We also have a strong service sector, with people employed in hotels, bars, night clubs and the leisure industry. As for safety, I think people perceive certain parts of Manchester as being unsafe. I won't mention any districts in particular, but they tend to be close to the city centre. Manchester has received a lot of bad press about gang-related crime, but on the whole, I don't consider Manchester to be a dangerous city - there are some parts where you need to be careful - and take a taxi rather than walk.

Subject: London Road Railway Station.
From: t.clark10

Hi Aidan,
I wonder if you can help me. I am desperate to find old photographs of what used to be London Road Railway Station. If l am not mistaken it was just across the road from my old Fire Station, and is now called Piccadilly Station. If you could point me in the right direction l would be most grateful. Thanks for suggesting l put my letter on "in touch", and l have already had some replies.

Best Regards

Terry Clark

The best place to find old photographs of Manchester is at the Central Library Archives and Local Studies Unit. There are some fascinating pictures of the old London Road station under demolition. Half of it has gone and next to it is the new office building, built around 1960, the time of electrification of the Manchester to London line, when London Road became Piccadilly. You'll have to see the recently rebuilt Piccadilly Station, it's fantastic. Hope to feature it soon. The photo on the right shows how Piccadilly Station looked from 1960 to around 2001.

Subject: Church
From: Philip Hart

Hi Aidan

I don't know if your remember but a few months ago I was desperately trying to get hold of a picture of the Old Weslyan Church in Dickenson Road Manchester that became the old BBC studios.

I was making a web page with the history of Top Of The Pops and wanted a picture so I could show where it first began.

Well! I have come up trumps. I contacted the BBC archives department and they give me a website that has a picture of the church. The site is a George Formby appreciation society and they said I could use the picture on my site.


Phil Hart

Yes, I have vague memories of the old Wesleyan church, which like many other churches has been demolished. Amazing to think that Top of the Pops started out on Dickenson Road. A plaque marks the spot today.

From: Gordon Simpson
Subject: Symbols of the suburbs

Dear Aidan

City of Manchester coat of armsAs recently I told Eyewitness of how Manchester and certain other towns derived their names, I have been doing a little casual observation in my travels around the county .

In your video interview at Urbis you advised us to use our eyes and I have done just that with my observation of certain symbols in the region. When in Manchester I noticed a honey bee adorning various points and this represents industry in the city of Manchester. The bee is the symbol of hard work and industry.

In Oldham the symbol is an owl. This represents the shrewdness and wisdom of the Oldham council, supposedly. In Halifax a sheep symbolises the town's links with the wool trade. In the town of Bolton it is the elephant, symbolic of strength and might.

In the Manchester Anglican diocese the symbol is three 3 gold bands on a red background. The red background is for the blood of martyrs and the three gold bands represent Manchester's 3 rivers Irwell Irk and Medlock. They also represent the three bishops Manchester Hulme and Middleton as symbols of the cathedral they represent.

It is also worth noting that in the inner city there is a lot of development, a sign of change. The old cathedral is mixing with the new, including Urbis all plate glass, contrasting with medieval stone. A sign of the times no doubt, where former traditional materials have given way to glass and chrome.

Aidan do you agree with me that there should be more attention given to the restoration of the existing architecture of the Victorian age and before, or are you of the school who believe Manchester has to go with the times in order to maintain its place on the world stage, and if this means plate glass and chrome, then so be it . What are your views on this one?

Regards from a cold damp windy Oldham Gordon Simpson

Thank you very much for this information, very interesting. As for the question of old and new, I believe in both schools! I believe we should restore, and even rebuild, the architecture of the Victorian age, but I also believe we should have imaginitive, inspiring and and breathtaking modern architecture, side by side with the old. We have this at Cathedral Gardens, but in Piccadilly... I'll save that for an upcoming feature. Thanks for your message.

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