John and Ida Todd
John Todd
Born 28th February 1914

My earliest memories of Stanley Grove School are of the Headmaster Mr Bradburn, who is on one of the photographs of Stanley Grove pupils, elsewhere on the website. I remember him being given an armchair as a retirement present when he left to go and live in Southport. Unfortunately, his retirement was short-lived, as he was killed whilst sitting on the promenade at Southport, when a German bomber unloaded its bombs whilst being pursued by a Spitfire.

I remember Buffalo Bill Cody's circus in the early 1920's on the croft opposite the school. It was the first time we had heard the American accent except at the pictures. I recall Yankee roustabouts patrolling the perimeter of the Big Top, wielding sticks to frighten off any local kids that tried to sneak a free look under the canvas sides of the tent.

My other memory of the same croft is of railwaymen holding impromptu football matches during the General Strike.
I went with my older brother Herbert, to the opening night of Belle Vue greyhound track. When speedway riding was first introduced, I went to see the first ever race, that was performed inside the dog track, with tarpaulin sheets laid on the grass of the dog track to protect it. Aussies won all the races, as they had invented the sport, then brought it over here. Later, the Belle Vue stadium was erected, and The Aces became the leading team in the country.

My memories of wartime are of life in the Blackout being much safer than it is today. Singing and whistling in the street was the norm in those days. There was always a popular tune going the rounds.

Post-War, the emergence of Fallowfield Athletic track saw local cyclists bring fame to Manchester. Reg Harris, was the World Professional Sprint Champion. He lived with his mum on Stovell Avenue, near Crowcroft Park and eventually bought Fallowfield track. Pre-War, the Muratti Cup and Vitonica Vase were the highlights of the cycle season. Bert Sibbit and Wilf Higgins spring to mind as the greatest. The Muratti was a ten-mile race, and the Vitonica was a sprint. Cyclists from the continent came over for this "day of all days", and usually did well.

Herbert and I were members post-war of a local cycling club called the Apollo Wheelers. Members came from as far as Macclesfield. We were well known for our arduous and speedy runs. Longsight to Llangollen in just a morning! The Apollo held a fifty-mile time trial once a year in Cheshire that was open to all comers. A hundred riders was the limit. The Squires Cup was the prize, donated by a local wine merchant. The race took some stewarding with the checkpoints. Our President, Fred Pemberton, who made the famous Pemberton Arrow cycles, did all the time keeping. His shop was next to the Midway pub, whilst Bert Sibbit had a shop adjacent to the Kings theatre on Stockport Road.

I ended up as head cutter at James Stewart & Sons in Ardwick Green which is still standing opposite the Apollo, but sadly no longer in use as garment manufacturers. The firm sold clothes "on the weekly", with many people coming to us for their Whit Week outfits. Value for money was what we were famous for. The eventual demise of Stewarts was inevitable due partly to the lack of interest in Whit Walks, and failure to keep up with changes in fashion.

My son Graham and I were members of Longsight Cricket Club, which still flourishes, with Bill Davies as the Club Secretary for over 50 years.

I now live in Selby near the abbey, with my wife Ida who has just celebrated her 79th birthday, but we still miss our "roots", in Longsight; and 38 Santley Street in particular, where we all lived so happily together as a family.

John Todd
7th July 2000