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In this update of the Reader Messages page I have selected fifteen messages written in response to photos and features which have appeared in Eyewitness in Manchester. I apologise but at present I am unable to include all messages received due to the volume of material. I am planning a new format for the Reader Messages section and hope to be able to publish lots more soon. Due to issues surrounding spam, I no longer include the e-mail addresses of contributors. If you'd like to get in contact with any of the people whose messages appear here, please e-mail me.

From: Lynda Jones
Subject: Sacred Sites

Dear Aidan, Loved your article with all the photos of churches in and around Manchester, quite a few significant to my family history.

The Holy Name Catholic Church on Oxford Road, was where my father's family attended services many years ago, also St. Francis Monastery on Gorton Lane. If possible could I request a photo of St. Ann's Catholic Church on Ashton Old Road, Manchester where my parents married in 1938. They never had a photo taken when they married as it was cold and gloomy - 23rd December.

Also if possible on your travels St. Aidan's Presbyterian Church on Palatine Road, Didsbury and St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, Cnr.Oakland's Road and Portway, Woodhouse Park, Wythenshawe. I've probably made too many requests, and if I can only choose one church it would be St. Ann's. Thank you so much for giving readers overseas this chance to make these requests.

Kind regards Lynda Jones Adelaide, South Australia

Glad you liked the feature. Churches and other places of worship are a fascinating subject. I definitely should photograph St Aidan's in Didsbury for obvious reasons! I would like to receive more requests for churches, temples, mosques, as well as cemeteries and other sacred sites, so please contact! Here's a preview of a church which will appear in Sacred Sites 2. It's Stand Unitarian Chapel, which looks like a piece of New England transplanted into Lancashire. It replaced the older chapel which was destroyed in World War 2, and will in 2005 be 50 years old.

From: Patricia O'Driscoll
Subject: Chorlton Pictures

Oh Aidan, how can I thank you for the Chorlton pictures? The memories came flooding back of times and years gone by as if in a second. Thanks particularly for the one of Ivygreen Road. I used to live there and walked most of the roads and streets in that part of my home town. I must show them to my son, who only visited there in 1974 when he was three and 1989 when he was 18. As the song says "those were the days my friend".Thanks, Thanks and Thanks again.

Patricia O'Driscoll

I enjoyed doing this feature very much. It was fun exploring Chorlton, and I was very lucky with the weather. Chorlton really is a great place, though I'm happy to remain in Victoria Park, mainly due to the proximity of the curry houses in Rusholme!

Subject: Postcard from Tasmania!
From: Michael Clark

G'day Aidan,

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed my walk around Chorlton on the Eyewitness page. Thanks again for your fantastic photos and interesting comments. I know south Manchester very well [or did], from Ardwick in the east to Chorlton in the West, and south as far as Parrs Wood and Stockport. As a kid my friends and I roamed all over the place and knew every apple and pear tree that may have stood in anyone's garden. We knew the best conker trees too!

I'll be visiting my dad [in Fallowfield] in March next year [05] and hope to revisit some of my old haunts. If you fancy a pint and a packet of smoky bacon or cheese and onion in the Red Lion, Withington, let me know and I'll gladly stand you one.

I have some very fond memories from the 1970's going to see Sam and Dave [American soul singers] at the Chorlton club on Barlow Moor Road. Also, the bands Mud, and Sweet. But we'll say no more about that shall we :)

All the best,

It would be great to meet you, and indeed any Eyewitness in Manchester readers. I've had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of quite a few Mancunian expats, both here and abroad. And I'll never say no to a glass of Vimto, or something stronger!

From: Roy Buck
Subject: Photo tour of Chorlton

Dear Aidan,

I have just browsed through your photo tour of Chorlton in the Mancunian section of Manchester Online as I sit here in my office in Lima Peru where I have been teaching and living for the last fifteen years. It was a very enjoyable experience and made me feel very homesick!

I grew up in Chorlton in the Sixties (after being born in the Ordsall part of Salford in the 50's) and still own a house on Ivygreen Road (one of the Dutch style semis near the top) and get back to Chorlton as often as I can (my mother lives on Beech Road) but I haven't had a spring there since 1988 and I've forgotten how beautiful it is in springtime! There is something special about living in Chorlton as you so brilliantly illustrated and it can become something of an obsession-it has with me anyway!

Just to correct a little of your Chorlton history.Chorltonville was actually constructed as one of the first 'garden cities' BEFORE the First World War so the houses were all built around 1910 and not the 1930's hence their uniqueness (all are individually different too).

The modern row of unattractive '1960's' style shops on Wilbraham Road were built to replace Victorian buildings destroyed by German bombing raids in World War Two as was the modern Chorlton Post Office. I agree with you entirely when you say that this architecture doesn't really fit in with the Victorian/Edwardian character of Chorlton.

I regularly share your photographic tours of Manchester and thoroughly enjoy them. You make an 'old' Chorltonian and Mancunian a long way from home very happy. You do a magnificent job. Keep up the good work and thanks again.

With very best wishes,

Roy Buck.

Sorry for the misleading comments about Chorltonville. I thought it had a feel of the 1930's but of course, as you say, it was constructed prior to the First World War, and the houses are grander and more individual than the standardised semis built later. I'm very happy to receive your positive appraisal, especially as I am not a 'Chorltonite' - Actually a Chorlton friend of mine said 'Chorltonite' has negative connotations, so I'll just call myself a 'non-resident of Chorlton'

Name: Norman Snowden
Subject: Cross Lane

I love your pics Aidan. I have been away from Salford/Manchester for some 20 years. Every time I return it has changed and I sorely miss the old Manchester of my childhood. If you can direct me to any Victorian photos of Salford, namely the Cross Lane area, I would be grateful. Next time I come home i will visit the Salford Library where I spent many a day in my youth. The new Manchester is fine, sadly my old Manchester has gone. Norm.

The Cross Lane area was transformed out of all recognition by the construction of the M602. The best place to go is the Salford Local History Library which you'll find on the ground floor of Salford Art Gallery and Museum (photo right). More information on the Salford City Council website.

From: Pete Woodall
Subject: EWM

Hi Aidan I think your site is great. I love the photos of the city centre. Do you know of any plans for Castlefield House on Liverpool Road? The building is ugly and empty. I cannot believe they knocked down a stunning church to build it. I think it would make an excellent site for another skyscraper so the Beetham Tower won’t look as out of place in the city skyline.

Also I cannot believe after all the criticism THAT concrete wall has received in Piccadilly Gardens the council still hasn’t done anything with it. I think they should either cover it completely in ivy or clad it in terracotta tiles and put up “WELCOME TO MANCHESTER PICCADILLY GARDENS” in large chunky metal letters and up-light it at night.

It also amazes me that after all the hype about Manchester’s modern architecture and the awards the council has won, the town hall is still most stunning building in the city.

Keep up the good work!

I think if the MEN or Civic Society invited suggestions for what to do with the concrete wall I'm sure they would get lots of replies, though how many of them would be printable is another matter. As for the ugly office building (above left) on Liverpool Rd which replaced the beautiful church, I think it is here to stay. Thanks very much for your comments.

From: Brian Peter Crossley
message: Mancunian Way

I am writing from Hong Kong. You mentioned that the above was named by 'a member of the public' - in fact there was a school competition throughout the north west to name the new road of which five people came up with the same name. I was one of the five [born 11.3.54].

I attended Rackhouse Primary School in Wythenshawe at the time - the prize was a five guinea book token - it was split five ways - we were invited to have tea with the Lord Mayor in the town hall and we were part of the opening ceremony at which Harold Wilson officiated - we all shook hands with him. An article appeared in the MEN with a photo of yours truly.

Hope the above clarifies the naming of the Mancunian Way - all the very best- Brian.

Thanks for putting me right on that. There's nothing like a primary source for providing accurate local history information. I was certain the name was provided by a member of the public and in one sense I was right, but I should have checked it up. Thank you for contacting.

Name: Norman Brierley
Subject: Mancunian Way

Just surfing the net about Manchester. The Mancunian Way was named by a group of schoolchildren. They had a competition to find a name. More than one child choose the name. They were all invited to the opening and got a badge with Manchester Coat of Arms on. One of the children was my brother so I am really certain of the facts. Regards Norm

Aha, more confirmation from a primary source! It illustrates the power of Manchester Online and other websites. Who would have thought that we would have found two of the five people who named the Mancunian Way 38 years ago? Thanks very much for your message.

Name: Michael Garbutt
Subject: Music of the past

Terrific website! I came across it recently and have explored your photo images with pleasure. I also grew up in Manchester, or rather Salford (and later Gatley) and am an almost exact contemporary of yours so well remember the Manchester of the 60s. Haven't visited for many years and felt quite nostalgic looking at the city and the rest of the north-west through your eyes ...

Regarding the music of the past, my own personal sounds of Manchester in that period would be The Four Tops' "Reach Out" and Diana Ross and the Supremes' "Baby Love" which for unknown reasons still strongly evoke memories of the city for me.

Keep up the good work,


Michael Garbutt

Music has an amazing power to unlock memories and evoke past times. And often songs from a certain era are the only artifacts we are familiar with today. We still regularly hear songs by the Beatles and the Hollies, but most other things from that time are forgotten. Photographs too are a powerful aid to memory - one of the reasons I take them. On the subject of music here's one of the shots I took at the recent St Ann's Hospice carol concert in the Bridgewater Hall. Find out more about the work done by St Ann's Hospice on their website

Name: Andrew Theokas
Subject: Piccadilly Gardens

I lived in Manchester in the 70's and fondly recall the old Piccadilly Gardens. I make annual visits there now but it wasn't until my last that I had a close look of what was done to that urban space.

I recall seeing a "sexy graphic" of the master plan of the proposed design in Landscape Design magazine and was somewhat optimistic as to how the design would 'feel' on the ground.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I have a graduate design degree from Harvard, have written a book on urban design and have taught urban design studios and lecture courses. I say this not to brag but to perhaps give a little more weight to my comments.

There is no way that anyone can claim this change was a step in the right direction. The current space is made claustrophobic by the hulking new structure at one end that is itself plain bad architecture. People who await the tram on the side were the old bus depot stood are now walled of from the space by a concrete structure evocative of a bunker on Hitler's Atlantic Wall.

The computer controlled fountains may be clever but only seem to encourage loud loutish behaviour. At least that is what I witnessed while I was there. Also, they only really appeal on warm, sunny days in short supply here- and are a poor choice for such a dominant design element.

The old space, created courtesy of the Luftwaffe and its later transformation into a mature gardens was, in its own way, a celebration of Manchester's durability and the sacrifices made by its inhabitants. Its final destruction erases the memory of an important period in Mancunian life.

But worse of all is the change in the demographic of the users. The old Piccadilly Gardens was a sunken oasis for OAPs and the homeless who must now be hard pressed to find any replacement respite in the city centre. The current users are younger and bereft of civic spirit. but that's another issue.

Yes, Manchester has seen many positive changes in the past twenty years. When I lived there in the 70s it was unthinkable to make the City Centre a Sunday destination. Today on a Sunday you can hardly find a place to park. Central Manchester has become livelier, yes but those who are responsible for this shambles at Piccadilly put their foot quite wrong.

I predict that in the not too distant future that the space will be redesigned once again- there are precedents for this sort of thing. If only that office building could be torn down as well

I've said as much as I want to say about Piccadilly Gardens, but your comments seem to bear out my opinions and those of many others. The best illustration of whether a new building or development has 'made it' or not is to look at the racks of post cards in the newsagents and stationers. I see no photos of the Piccadilly office block or concrete wall, though my photo of the fountains was chosen to appear in the current Manchester Calendar.

Name: Kirk Northrop
Subject: Piccadilly Gardens

As someone who is new to Manchester (I'm in the second year of a degree), I quite like Piccadilly Gardens as it is now, and it seems a nice space to have in the middle of the city. But I never saw it before, so that's possibly why.

However, on this page you say: "The light coloured stones will inevitably become stained with chewing gum and grime."Well, actually they clean them every week with high pressure water hoses. Well, they have recently anyway :)

It's always interesting to hear the point of view of people who don't know how it was before. However I'm certain that if you could go back in time to the 1960's and see it how it was, you would agree that Piccadilly without the office block and the concrete walls was much better. After I received your message I noticed workers cleaning Market St with high power jets, see photo above. Maybe we should do as in Singapore and ban chewing gum! Thanks very much for contacting.

From: Tom King
Subject: Crumpsall

Aidan Is there any chance of you updating your report on Crumpsall? Its 5 years old and dwells on negatives that are long forgotten, or rather would be if your web page allowed us all to. There have been changes since your report; Lansdowne Rd shops have been fully refurbished, and North Mcr Hospital is a fantastic example of a community service triumph over underfunding. House prices are catching up with trendy South Manchester suburbs (believe it!) making Crumpsall a great place for young families to get quality built, period homes before everyone is priced out of the housing market altogether. Heaton Park is also borders the area, and deserves a mention I think. Hope you can make it to Crumpsall soon, and if not, why not just remove the old outdated web page until you can pay us a visit?
Tom King

I'm sorry that the feature gives an unrepresentative view of present day Crumpsall. I've removed the link from the home page, but I've kept the feature in the archive as it's important also to remember how things were before the recent wave of regeneration. I'm planning 'Revisited' features on Crumpsall and Levenshulme which I aim to complete during 2005.

From: Barbara Johnson
Subject: Kingsway Pictures
I lived at 188 Brailsford Road in Fallowfield as a very young child during the war and used to play wag from Birchfields school to go to the Kingsway Pictures, ( I saw "Bambi" more times than you can shake a stick at ) I loved that place it was magical, it was like white marble outside, inside had a special smell and the "Girl With the Tray" was very smart in her uniform . The first time I remember going there Mum took me one night as a special treat and I saw my Dad on Pathe News on a troop train coming back from North Africa and I was mortified because everyone clapped when I shouted to him. I was four years old then, we left when I was seven and I`ve never been back in sixty years. I would love you to tell me it`s still there but I think I know better. I love your Manchester pictures.
Barbara Johnson
Coupeville WA

The building which was once the Kingsway cinema was damaged in a fire and later demolished. It had served as a Kwik Save supermarket for quite a few years. Currently a new Aldi supermarket is under construction, see pictures above right. In the upper half we see how the new building extends out into the pavement from the original frontage of the cinema. Compare with the opposite facade on the other side of Green End Road below. The buildings date from 1928.

From: Geoff Kerr
Subject: Metrolink

I agree with your sentiments on the fate of the "Metrolink" extensions and comparison with European transport systems.

The success of European public transport cannot of course be replicated in Britain under current policy; if the best features of these are to cross the Channel, there will have to be not only major changes in policy, funding and legislation but also a review of the uniquely unhelpful British financial and regulatory framework, with its expectation that the private sector, with its emphasis on short-termism and high shareholder returns, will take much of the risk.

In ITV's "Tonight" (16th August), we were told that the Big Five UK banks make over £40m profit a day. The programme concentrated on the individual account-holder rather than the effect on large-scale capital investment and, being sandwiched between two episodes of "Coronation Street", was guaranteed a big audience!

In mainland Europe, many banks take a long-term view of their activities in the community and do not necessarily put maximising shareholder value above all other objectives. A German or Austrian bank investing in regional transport or other infrastructure projects which have a "public service" element would be looking at a payback period of 15 to 20 years. In the UK, investors look at maximising returns over the shortest possible period - typically three to five years. This is partly explained by the need to finance massive reconstruction in Europe after 1945, for which many regional banks were set up. Of course, it's not just the banks who want short-term payback - for HSBC and NatWest, we could substitute First, Stagecoach, or any other Stock Exchange-quoted company.

Also, the model of privatisation in Europe is often different from that in the UK. In Europe, many undertakings (e.g. Swiss or Danish "private" railways) have shares owned by the local or regional authority, so that a measure of public ownership and control is maintained. In France, operator TRANSDEV participates in some thirty joint venture companies with Local Authorities to run integrated urban public transport networks.

And that's before considering other factors like higher-density urban living.

Writers like Will Hutton are more qualified than I am to comment on the culture of the City of London and the emphasis on short-termism in the UK, but it must strongly influence a whole range of transport issues, from capital investment to quality and fare levels, and ultimately the affordability of new projects. The National Audit Office has recently made a valuable contribution to the transport debate and perhaps it now should turn its attention to the banks. The present Government is unlikely to do so, as it has so far avoided challenging established interests, from hunting to US foreign policy.

Geoff Kerr

An interesting aside is that DVLA sells approximately 20,000 registration marks a month with an average price of around £330. They also sell 6,000 marks at auctions each year with an average price of £4,500. Since the sales scheme started in 1989 they have sold over 1.7 million registrations raising a revenue total of over £850 million. Yet a few pence on a litre of petrol sends UK motorists and the media into a frenzy!

At the time of writing it has been announced that the government has approved money for Metrolink, but with strings attached. I can't really follow your very knowledgeable appraisal, only to say I hope we will be hearing the 'toot toot' of Metrolink trams in Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton and possibly Didsbury in the not too distant future.

From: John Dowdall
Subject: Magic of Manchester.

Just to let you know how much I enjoyed your article "The Magic of Manchester". Reading it brought back vivid memories of my early years in the '50's - I was born in Withington Hospital in Jan 1952.

One of my earliest memories is of going to the Dental Hospital with my mum and as a treat, afterwards she would take me to the old Paulden's store nearby. I remember walking past the WW 2 bomb sites (of which there were still many) on our way there. I grew up in Baguley, then Cheadle Hulme (on what was then known as the "overspill" council estate). Another memory is of going to the "Sports Depot" on Princess Road in Moss Side on Saturdays with my dad, to buy engines and rolling stock for my burgeoning train set.

I went to secondary school at St. Bede's College in Moss Side and then to teacher training at Mather College by Sackville Square. I became a professional musician - I can remember doing a gig at the Mather College student's union on Sackville Street.

I am now in Australia - have been here 20 years. Have been back 3 times with my twin boys - got to sit in the MUFC family area for a few matches, as our Geoff is a mate of Paul Scholes. I really do miss the place - Manchester at Christmas is the best place in the world. Will be coming over for the first time in the summer (July) in 2005.

Anyway, thanks once again for a trip down memory lane.

John Dowdall

PS. Did you ever find out what planet was next to the moon on the winter 2000 photo?

A professional musician? I'm impressed. At Xaverian College I studied music with Mr Sellers, whom many Xaverian boys will never forget, and later Mr Challinger, but I wasn't cut out for a career in music. As for the planet next to the moon I believe it was Venus. Manchester retains a certain magic at Christmas - at least when it's not too crowded with shoppers and gridlocked with traffic - and I'm glad to announce that the traditional Christmas nativity scene is alive and well and on display in St Ann's Square. Merry Christmas 2004 to all EWM readers!


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