- 1950s -
This area between Stockport Road in the west and Hyde Road in the east with Grey Street defining the northern bounday and Kirkmanshulme Lane the south, is today part of Ardwick. However, prior to the slum clearance of the 1960s and 1970s it was still Longsight. This almost triangular area was arguably the poorest and most run-down area of Longsight in the 1950s. Slum clearance started in the 1960s and resulted in the demolition of almost all of the houses, shops, pubs, churches and schools within this area. Prior to this it was really two communities on opposite sides of the railway.
To the west, between the railway and Stockport Road, was a warren of terraced houses. At the beginning of the 50s most of the streets were cobbled but during that decade tarmac covered the cobbles. The exception to this was Morton Street, a long stretch of concrete.
I grew up on Holt
Street which, apart from being the center of my world,
was in the heart of this closely knit community of
streets with their corner shops, chippies, and pubs,
their churches and missions and back street bookies.
Photograph donated by Terry Mellor
Above: Holt Street looking west - The shop on the left was Emmett's groceries and off-license.
It was a world in which every one knew everyone else's business but where everyone took care of their neighbours. A world where the biggest worry you had was that someone would break in and "do" your gas meter while you were out. A place where kids played all day in the streets, warned only that they must not play on the grids in case they caught the fever. A place where "tick" preceded credit cards and a trip to "Pops" on a Monday kept the rent man or the clubman happy for another week.
It is true that there was variety in these terraced houses. In Florence, Holt, Cobden, Ernest and Edlin Streets, they were typical two-up two-down houses. The front door opened into the living room and the back kitchen opened onto a flagged back yard which also housed the outside flush toilet.
Beneath the stairs was a cubbyhole that was often used to store coal for the fireplace in the front room. Upstairs were two bedrooms, the front one larger than the back. There was no hot water and in the 50's the one cold water tap often sat above a shallow brown sink known as a slopston. Our kitchen featured a wooden rack used for drying clothes. This wooden frame could be hoisted up on a pulley taking it close to the ceiling and out of the way.
On New Bank Street and Morton Street some of the houses had bay windows and up on Earl Street and Richmond Grove some even had postage stamp sized front gardens with walls and gates.
Looking along Morton Street from Lime Grove circa: 1952
Picture generously donated by Trevor and Pat Little
Above: Richmond Grove with a cobbled surface.
Further south on Park Avenue and Lime Grove and on towards Kirkhamshulme Lane were bigger houses. One that I remember had a wall that was too high to see over and as kids we believed that there was a pond with ducks in there, something not common in the gray streets around us.
Ash Cottage on Lime Grove the home from 1937 until 1962 of the Butterworth Family.
Picture generously donated by Trevor and Pat Little
Above, New Bank Street looking south towards Kirkmanshulme Lane. Longsight Station would have been off to the left. The trees mark the end of what was Lime Grove.
Above, New Bank Street looking north. The grass berm sits where the houses on New Bank Street were located.
Longsight Station was located just before the bridge which carries the railway over Kirkmanshulme Lane.
A gradual ramp ran up to the station from Kirkmanshulme Lane close to the junction with New Bank Street.
The ramp ran from left to right in the picture above rising up to the station at the top of the hill. As you can see, it is overgrown with weeds and shrubs today. Pedestrians could also access the station by way of a set of steps which angled up to the ramp. The steps started close to the bridge in the area when the bricks in the wall are a different colour. You could also access the station from New Bank Street by way of another ramp which still remains today but goes nowhere (see below).
Between the terraces ran narrow back entries which my Auntie called "ginnels".
Picture above donated by Les Cotton
These were great places for games of hide-and-seek with little bodies pressed hard into back yard gates making them difficult to detect at the end of a long day away from the dim light of the street lamps. The streets that ran perpendicular to New Bank Street formed rectangular blocks and in the middle were small crofts of land which actually had scrubby grass but were often littered with discarded items. In WWII these "backs" housed air-raid shelters but they were long gone when my generation used them as a playground.
Holt Street also had a croft on the corner with New Bank Street where a pub had been demolished. It was also our playground, soccer pitch, cricket ground, bonfire location and on occasion dirt track for cycle races. The doors from the pub were "salvaged" and used to create wardrobes in the alcoves next to the chimney in the front bedrooms of Holt Street.
A dominant feature of this part of Longsight was Pownall's Daisy Mill. The mill still sits on Stockport Road and looks much as it did in the 50s with the exception of the fact that its mill chimney is gone.
Behind the Daisy Mill, South Street ran almost the full length of the area.
South Street 1999 - picture taken by Bill Bullock
At its mid point was the South Street Wash House ....
... and just beyond it, the famous Dutton's Chippy. At the northern end was the Sand Park sitting between Earl Street and South Street with Grey Street not only marking its northern boundary but the northern boundary of Longsight. Cross Grey Street and you were in Ardwick.
Go underneath the railway at the end of Grey Street and you reached Hyde Road and beyond was Gorton.
The second half of Northeast Longsight lay beyond the railway and here was Belle Vue Zoo and Amusement Park and some housing.
Belle Vue is shown within the red line on the aerial photograph below.
To the left of it, near the number 12 on the image above, is a triangle of terraced housing. This had once been home to Belle Vue Prison.
When the prison was demolished, the houses were built on the site and it was here that John Thaw grew up.
There was also a row of railway houses, aptly called Tank Row, that was located close to the railway reservoir.
When Belle Vue was closed, a Wimpy estate was built on part of the site. Three of the streets were named after local personalities. Lockhart Close was named after George Lockhart, the ringmaster at Belle Vue International Circus for many years. Hoskins Close was named in honour of Johnnie Hoskins who brought speedway and stockcar racing to Belle Vue. Finally, Ellen Wilkinson Crescent was named after Ellen Wilkinson, also known as Red Nellie Wilkinson, former student of what became known as Ardwick Technical High School, Member of Parliament for Jarrow, a leader of the Jarrow March and at one time Minister of Education.
The picture below shows
the entrance to Ellen Wilkinson Crescent
from Kirkmanshulme Lane. Beyond, on the
right, you can see the Belle Vue greyhound
Among the other features of this area in the 1950s, were:
the brewery that became Sarson's Vinegar Works on Stockport Road, indicated by the red dot on the aerial image below.
Yates' Shirt Factory on Grey Street.
A number of churches including the Wesleyan Methodist (1) and Longsight Presbyterian (2), both seen in the aerial photograph below.
Longsight Post Office beside the Presbyterian Church on Stockport Road.
The corn mill on New Bank Street beside the railway indicated by the number 1 on the image below.
A tiny fragment of it remains in the form of a bricked-up entrance door.