Down Memory Lane

A selection of your memories of days-gone-by in Wythenshawe

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Wythenshawe - The 'Garden Suburb'

Surfing the web with nothing better to do I decided to type in words from my past, Wythenshawe had played a big part in my early life and when I read of today’s entries containing the name I could not believe it was the same place.

I wonder if present day residents would be interested in the memories I have of the beautiful place it was?

I first moved to Wythenshawe as a four year old in 1935, with my parents, we moved to a new house in Renton Road, Brownley Green, an absolute gem of a home after a little terraced house in Gorton. Our new house had three bedrooms, a bathroom and inside lavatory and a garden! I can still remember how proud my parents were to have this house all to themselves and as a child, all the trees, hedges, green spaces were too much to take in all at once. There had been nothing like this in my old street in Gorton.

I’m sure all the “first timers” who had moved out of Gorton, Hulme, Ancoats and Collyhurst to start up in Wythenshawe must have thought they were in heaven in comparison with their old slum like dwellings. No longer in ranks of “two up two down” with outside lavvies and yards if you were lucky, here in Wythenshawe there were “Bay windowed houses”, “Back to Back” houses, semi-detached usually and set in avenues, closes, crescents, roads and not a street anywhere.

There was “special housing” too, Mitchell   Gardens with its goldfish pond for the pensioners, Chamberlain House flats for spinsterly ladies. That was posh; it even had a lift and views across broad lawns to the school playing fields

There were lots of brand new schools opening up, Benchill, Haveley Hey, Brownley Green and Sharston. Plus a Roman Catholic school in Woodhouse Lane. Further afield were Yew Tree, Royal Oak and Baguley all catering for kids who thrived in all the new light classrooms and large playing fields. There was keen competition between the schools at Cricket, Football and Netball.

I started at Haveley   Hey   Junior   School for a few weeks until they opened Brownley Green juniors. The new B.G. didn’t have any heating when we first moved in; it was wintertime and our Mums brought hot drinks for us at playtimes. We used to get free milk in those days, third of a pint, but the school was so cold the milk would freeze before playtime. The school was attached to the senior school and we shared the same playground where Mr. Atack the seniors headmaster would walk around with Mr Wells the caretaker and “Woe betide” anyone who dared to bespoil their school. We had to behave because teachers were allowed to chastise children. We were lucky we had some great teachers but some we lived in fear of, a namesake Miss Lomax, who taught us arithmetic, she had a way of rapping your knuckles with a wooden ruler if you didn’t remember your times tables, which were recited every morning. I have fond memories of a Miss Younghusband who taught us as eleven year olds, Geography with a difference, not only the wider world but the geography of our own locality. We all had to draw a map of the local roads; we learnt the names of all the roads, where the water came from, the Gas works etc. I certainly found it interesting enough to be able nearly seventy years later to remember most of those roads and bus routes and draw a mental map of our part of Wythenshawe.

The estates were well served by the buses, from Piccadilly there was to 43 to Sale Moor, the 44 to Baguley, the 45 to Benchill and the 46 to Brownley Green and Crossacres. It was a frequent service too, it was 8d for an adult return and 4d for children, and you could buy all day tickets around Manchester for 1 shilling adults 6d children. There was even an all-night service on the hour at twice the price. The No. 70 took the workers to Trafford   Park and back.

People didn’t leave the estates very often except for work, we were pretty much self contained, we had our shops at Hollyedge Road starting with clockwise, John’s the Ironmongers, then the barbers, ladies and gents, then the Shoe shop

Followed next by the Maypole grocers, across the access path a Ladies shop, then Seymour Meads grocers and Pillings, greengrocers. Another access path and it was the Post Office joining onto Yates the grocers plus a Chemist.

Across the road started with the Coop grocers and Butchers then Atkinsons the bakers, next Walkers, greengrocers and fishmongers across an entry it was Olivers the Butchers next to the Chip shop and another ladies shop. Another entry and it was Threadgolds the Bike shop, then Johnsons the Newsagents, finally Pegrams another grocers. (It even hid behind the shops and highly but much used “Bookies”). Later more wooden shops were built further up Hollyedge across the Benchill roundabout. Much later more wooden shops were erected at Crossacres. Even with all these “modern shops” the was still business further up Crossacres across from the Cedars, a dairy and farm shop and a Smithy where they still shod horses for the local farmers. All in all they catered well for the thousands of families who descended on them even during the war, when there were long queues and rationing they still coped.

The Adults were well catered for too; huge Public Houses appeared at strategic junctions, The Benchill at the Hollyedge roundabout, The Sharston at the junction of Brownley and Altringham roads. The Royal Thorn at the top of Princess Parkway and there was the Royal Oak and Yew Tree. They were enormous establishments when compared with the corner “local” in Manchester, they had numerous bars, even one for Ladies only, most had a large bowling green attached, some even had small car parks but there were few cars on the estates. Even deliveries to the pubs were still by horse drawn drays, as were lots of other trades delivering to homes, coalmen, bakers, I can only remember the Ice cream man “Granelli” having a motor van. There were other benefits of these horse drawn deliveries too, keen gardeners would rush out in the roads with their shovels to collect “manure” for their roses and the kids could play in the streets safely. We only lacked a cinema on site, but we could walk to “The Tatton” in Gatley or down Langley lane to the “Coronation” or newly built “Forum” in Northenden.

We had new churches built, St Lukes, St Aidans, St John and Thomas’s and all the churches had large congregations in those days too, the “Free Churches” built their smaller places of worship and each church or chapel Hall served as other community roles, Scouts, Guides, Cubs and “The Woodcraft Folk” , meeting places for all.

We only had to my knowledge two doctors surgeries both in “Private houses” in Woodhouse Lane, each had about three or four doctors who were able to cope with all the aches, pains and trauma of the estate and that included all the home calls which they made at no matter what time of day they were needed, they did “stitching and broken bone setting “in-house” and delivered many of the new babies being born in their homes. One had to be in a really bad way to call on the services of the cottage hospital in Baguley or Withington hospital on Princess Road.

In the space of about 5 years a thriving and I’m sure a happy community had been created and its residents were proud to say they lived in Wythenshawe.

Sadly 1939 and the war seemed to be the turning point in Wythenshawe’s recent history. Herr. Hitler has a lot of things to answer for, one of them being the start of Wythenshawe’s downslide to today’s sad plight.

Before the war started each proud road, where it joined another had “Greens” either side, a small plot between the two adjoining houses that was a public place yet fenced off with a low iron fence, two or three generally flowering trees and the grass was cut regularly by the corporation. As children we could play on it but you wouldn’t dare damage it or you got the wrath of the neighbours and a good hiding from your parents. This facility besides “beautifying” the neighbourhood also gave all its residents a sense of pride in their immediate vicinity. The war and the departure of the Dads to fight in it, the metal fences being taken down to be melted into munitions, the kids playing on them. These spaces soon deteriorated and the corporation having no man-power to maintain them decided to split them in half, giving pieces to each of the houses alongside, suggesting “they grow vegetables to supplement the rations”. Some were dug up and Anderson Air Raid shelters put on them to house the families during the air raids. The school playing fields became spaces for school shelters and any large open space become a forest of up-turned old railway sleepers to deter any glider borne invasion the Nazis had in mind. It meant football was out of the question but the sleepers served well as oversized wickets for cricket games. Later the sleepers were removed but the “greens” were never re-established so the area lost one of its great charms and assets.

The estates suffered very little “actual war damage”, lots of scattered incendiaries and shrapnel damage to windows and roofs and the only high explosive bombs I can recall falling were on houses at the junction of Nuffield and Solway roads. This didn’t stop all the boys acquiring vast collections of shrapnel; an incendiary bomb fin was worth at least three A.A shell fuseheads!!! In the school playground the next morning, that plus spending nights in the shelters counting explosions and listening for the throb of German aircraft which always sounded different to our planes. That and collecting regimental cap badges were my main interests in the war, thousands of soldiers English and others from all sorts of regiments came to Ringway to train as Parachutists and as soon as they qualified they collected the Parachute Regiment Cap Badge and were willing to part with their old badges in exchange for some favour like cleaning muddy boots in their tented camps at the top of Woodhouse Lane, as scouts we would run errands for them to the little shop to gain some badge we wanted. In that same little shop at the top of Woodhouse Lane we would encounter people speaking with foreign accents who were billeted in the cottages on Ringway road, we were sure they were spies but little did we know they were foreign agents doing their parachute training before being dropped into occupied Europe . Come D-Day all the soldiers disappeared to be replaced by Americans in transit to Europe . The Cedars which had served as a canteen in the evenings for local troops soon became a place where new fangled Nylons were exchanged for local girls favours.

With the wars end and those Dads who returned thought they had come back to a better world, but it was not the Wythenshawe they left, it had changed and for the worse and sadly I don’t think it will ever be the same again, but I think it would be nice for those living there today to know what it was like in better times.

As a Wythenshawe lad I was always proud to say where I came from as travelled far and wide, but now I’m not so sure I would feel the same if I lived there now.

Author: Bob Lomax

Brownley Green

Nice letter Bob it brought back lots of memories, we moved to Wythenshawe from Hulme in 1934 to Gorsey Ave. I went to Benchill then Havely Hey and Brownley Green schools

Posted:  Monday, 17 September 2007

Author: Ron Ireland

Wythenshawe boy

Hi Bob, having just returned home to Oxford after a memory-lane trip to Wythenshawe, I must say it was a depressing experience. I left there in 1963, my last home being in Solway Road and the change was dramatic. A neighbour next door to where we lived in Solway said she wouldn't dare walk in the area after dark ! Of course, some houses had been well kept, but, the Benchill area seemed pretty run down. And my old church, St John and Thomas's in Woodhouse Lanewas locked, with even a padlocked gate - there never used to be a gate ! My wish is that the people of Wythenshawe might see better times and have as fond memories of the place as I do. Hughie Flint

Posted:  Thursday, 20 September 2007 

Author: Hughie Flint (Ex-‘John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers’ & ‘McGuiness Flint’)

RE: The missing missive

Have lived in Brownley Green myself for 15 years, so interested in contributing to the thread. But wot's this mysterious 'Bob's Brownley Green letter', with two replies, ABOUT? 
Wonder if it'll mention 'keeping enough recreational spaces'!! [Wythit insiders' joke] 

Posted:  Thursday, 20 September 2007   19:37

Author: Tom

RE: The missing missive

Tom - you'll find the 'missing missive' on the 'Wythenshawe's Remarkable History' Page, under the heading 'Wythenshawe - The 'Garden Suburb': Recollections of a former Wythenshawe resident, Bob Lomax.' 
Direct link >>

Posted:  Friday, 21 September 2007   13:14

Author: Wythit History Webmaster

Sharing memories, like Bob

(Attention Bob Lomax) 
Hi Bob. 
My name is Jack McMahon. I was born in 1942 (at Nell Lane hospital) and brought up in Littlewood Road Benchill. 
Like you I attended Haveley Hey before going on to Yew Tree then during the change and reconfiguration of schools moved to Wythenshawe Tech in Moor Rd. 

Like you I had nothing better to do, but planning a trip in the near future decided to search the web to see if Wythenshawe still existed and fell upon your article, it was great reading 

Your Name is familiar to me but I cannot place you and given our age difference I can’t see that we would have been close friends or at school at the same time however you mentioned the “Woodcraft Folk” as a one off, were you a member? 
I have lots of memories of the area and the shops in Hollyhedge Road
Firstly Johns the iron monger, my job every Saturday morning (do the errands) at a very young age was to carry two glass jars with handles, to Johns and have them filled with Sulphuric acid (I think) they were called accumulators again I think! They were an early form of battery. 

They used to sit under the sink in the kitchen, they had terminals on top but I don’t know what they connected to except that at some time my older brother made a crystal radio at school and connected it the accumulators to try to make it work. 

The vacant land next to Peagrams shop heading down to St Luke’s church (where I was married) When the snow came we used to slide down the embankment on pieces of cardboard or if we were lucky a piece of corrugated tin.
The tennis courts further along Hollyhedge Road at the Park. 
Being chased by the local bobby, for riding my bike without lights and trying to outride him, being caught and taken home to good hiding. 
Fun days. 
Putting ha’pennies on the railway track under the bridge behind the Royal Oak , to try to make them into pennies. 
Collecting rags, for the rag and bone, man so we could get a ball. 
The fish and chip van on Friday night on the corner of Broadoak Road. Opposite Haveley Hey 
Pinching apples and pears from the orchards opposite the smithy, consequential stomach ache hiring a hand cart to get bonfire wood, leaving a jug out at night for the farmer from the smithy to deliver milk. my parents were friends of the farmer and we would go there sometimes on a sunday. probably stale bread for the horses.

Caving at Alderley edge, Trekking to Style Woods, Watching the air planes at Ringwood also the water filtration things.

Jumping the creek in greenwood fields. anything over the otherside was foreign territory, thats where the scary big boys lived. 
The Forum, on a Saturday after the errands, the minors and the singing, the serials and the main movie. Usually a cowboys and Indians.
My father used to deliver Mothers Pride bread for Craig’s Pantry; he had an electric van which he drove down from Old Trafford daily, on busy days the batteries would run out. 

I did a paper round at one stage and I think the newsagent was Flanagan’s he was not in Hollyhedge Road, Can’t quite remember where he was, it was a circular shopping centre.

I left the UK in 1963 to come to Australia and my memory is failing somewhat I need a jolt like your article to spark a memory flash. 

For a while I was a scout at the Cedars, then because I had a sister close to my age my mother made us join the woodcraft folk, later I was an army cadet at Sharston Hall. 

After starting work I bought my first Scooter a DKR from Threadgold the bike shop, my only one, which I used to ride to work sometimes in the snow. 

Somebody in these pages was asking about Castle Mills Swimming pool, I remember it well, open air and being thrown in at the deep end, freezing our butts off but the thing that sticks in my mind was having to walk through a solution of something to clean your feet before swimming, never made sense. We used to walk there whenever we were allowed. 

will add more at a later stage if there is any interest, 

Posted: Thursday, 18 October 2007 22:35

Author: Jack McMahon

RE: Haveley Circle

Hi Jack and everyone. 
I've only lived in Brownley Green for the last 15 years, but I saw the death throes of Haveley Circle (off the north side of Hollyhedge Road) while it was still intact; this is perhaps the 'circular shopping centre' that Jack refers to. Completely demolished about ?1996? and is now a children's play park. Some houses opposite the Circle were made into a shop or two but these have petered out in the last couple of years. 

WHERE was the Castle Mills Lido? Couldn't something like that be resurrected? Painswick Park and Hollyhedge Park both have plenty of spare space for something similar, plus the vast spaces of Wythenshawe Park. It'd be a major visitor draw 'cos there's no other lidos I know of anywhere in Manchester!

Posted: Saturday, 20 October 2007 19:18

Author: Br Grn comparative newbie (Tom)

Castle Mills

Hi Tom 
Subject: Castle Mills 
Go to Google 
Navigate to Ashley Altrincham. 
Below Altrincham you'll see the M56 (blue line running left to right) 
Below Junction 5 and Junction 6 on the M56, you'll see Ashley. 
To the right of Ashley, you'll see a river (blue!) running diagonally towards the A538. 
Enlarge the area around the word 'Ringway' and you'll see Castle Mill Lane 
Where Castle Mill Lane crosses the River Bollin, was; and probably still is Castle Mills. 

Benchill kids, we used to ride there on our bikes, but hated going through the smelly footbath (chlorine/disinfectant?) before we were allowed in the pool. 

Please let me know if it is still there. 

Posted: Monday, 22 October 2007 22:28

Author: Jack

Haveley Hey School

To Whythit history bloke 
Hi Bloke 
I have a class photo of Havely Hey infants school from approx 1946. 
if this is the sort of thing that you want I am happy to post it to the site, please leave instructions. 

Posted: Monday, 22 October 2007 22:51

Author: Jack

RE: Haveley Hey School - FAO Jack

Hi Jack - I'm the 'Bloke' who is (voluntarily) responsible for producing all the Wythenshawe History stuff on 

I used to go to Button Lane Primary School in the 1950s and went to Poundswick Grammar in the 60s (got lots of photos of them myself) and I've often thought of doing a page or few on Wythy's Schools of the Past. 

The photo you speak of would certainly be of local interest - the easiest way of getting it here would be if you could get it scanned (bitmap or jpeg format) and email it, with some background info about it to >>  
Thanks for your message

Posted: Tuesday, 23 October 2007 14:33

Author: Wythit History Webmaster (Bloke)


Hi Ron 
I have joined in these discussions and found them very interesting. The reason for this message is my parents also moved from Hulme as probably did many others, Byron Street to be precise and I had an older brother who attended vine street school. 

I have two photographs, the 1932 and 1934 Vine street school class photos, the kids were maybe 5 / 6 Y.O in the first one, if they are of interest let me know and I will forward them to the webmaster. 
As you will see by my previous notes I also attended Haveley Hey but not starting until about 1946. 
regards Jack

Posted: Wednesday, 24 October 2007 23:27

Author: Jack

carrick gardens

Thanks for the memories Bob. I too remember the wythenshaw of old. Born at nell lane in 1944 I grew up at grandma's house in carrick gardens and after moving to Wales returneded every summer to stay with grandma. My Great gandma was one of the estates first residents, lived on havely road, and as I recall kept chickens in the back garden. She always kept a chamber pot in her bedroom. I don't think she ever fully accepted that the toilet was inside the house. 
By the way are you the same Lomax who showed me around manchester airport about 5 years ago? 

mike guetta, canada

Posted: Saturday, 24 November 2007 19:25

Author: mike guetta

Renton Road

Hi Bob 

Wow, I loved reading your account of Wythenshawe. I lived in Renton Road from 1948 to 1977 and have the fondest memories. I remember your brother Keith taking a cine camera film of all us kids sliding down the icy slide from outside your house and piling up in the circle. I often wondered if he still has that movie. Those days were magical for me and my friend Christine Goring who lived next door to you. Bonfire nights were particularly brilliant. 

I remember Carney, who lived opposite to you, following the rag and bone man to collect the manure, and inviting all the kids in to her home to watch the first TV in Renton Road. We sat crosslegged on the floor and drank tea out of jam jars - what a character she was. Then she would round up all the mothers with kids and dogs and we'd go for a day out to Gatley Hill House, to the jumble sale, or to Castle Mills in the summer. 

I went back to Wythenshawe earlier this year and found that most of Renton Road has been demolished, but my house, 59, was still standing. Workmen showed me round and it looked so tiny. 

Thank you for this brilliant trip down memory lane. I now live in Australia but I still keep in touch with friends from Renton Road. Even then we knew how lucky we were to have such a brilliant childhood and we never wanted it to end.

Posted: Thursday, 06 December 2007 10:03

Author: Marjorie Bartley

Wythenshawe Memories

Many thanks for your W. memories site. 
I have great memories of W. of the 40s & 50s. although hard times. 
I moved to W. in Oct 1939 - Moat Rd. Benchill, from Openshawe. 
I will get my memories together and post to you. 
Many thanks.

Posted: Tuesday, 29 April 2008 17:38

Author: Bernard Hood.

Early Days in Wythenshawe

niels.s tea rooms, shentons pond, sharston hall, great time for a kid from longsight who moved 2 brownley road in 51, there was a tramp who had a big black dog we had a nickname for him,dirty dick, as he was 2 us kids then really scruffy, scared tht crap out v us, lol my neighbour mrs kinsey, told me of a stream on brownley rd, opposite side of the houses, i lived at no 60, i remember the summers growing up there, sharston school fields, played 1st game v footy ever on there my other neighbour was the caretaker of the school mr marsh. ty geoff male

Posted: Thursday, 10 July 2008 15:17

Author: Geoffry Male

Castle Mills

Yes I remember Castle Mills, going there in the summer holiday's spent many a happy day there strolling down country lanes, with a bottle of water and a few butties, gone for most of the day, but in those days kids were safe and we all loved our summer holidays from school, St. Peter's Firbank Road

Posted: Friday, 22 August 2008 02:01

Author: Mike Birrell

Re Wythenshawe Boy

Hi Bob, having just returned home to Oxford after a memory-lane trip to Wythenshawe, I must say it was a depressing experience. I left there in 1963, my last home being in Solway Road and the change was dramatic. A neighbour next door to where we lived in Solway said she wouldn't dare walk in the area after dark ! Of course, some houses had been well kept, but, the Benchill area seemed pretty run down. And my old church, St John and Thomas's in Woodhouse Lane was locked, with even a padlocked gate - there never used to be a gate ! My wish is that the people of Wythenshawe might see better times and have as fond memories of the place as I do. Hughie Flint

Posted: Thursday, 20 September 2007 10:16

Author: Hughie Flint

Hughie Flint

I have only recently found this site and I am still exploring the site. I have just found the above message from Hughie Flint. I have to admit that I have known of Hughie and his family from the late 1950's. I went to school with his late brother, Hughie was also the best man at my sister's wedding and I understand that he was recently in contact via email with my brother in Australia . I think that Hughie richly deserves to be included in the list of famous people from Wythenshawe. Why??? Just enter his name into a search engine and you will know why.

Posted:  Friday, 19 December 2008   16:24

Author: Gerard Lodge

mary mclaren

i had all my childhood in wythenshaw born mentone crescent crossacres went to crossacres school then brownley green born in 1944 oldher brother and sister mclarens

Posted: Sunday, 15 February 2009 19:09

Author: mary mclaren

Most Missed in Wythenshawe

What's not in Wythenshawe anymore that you miss the most? Is it the Golden Garter, Sharston Swimming Baths, the old outdoor market (which was huge and busy), Manor Bakeries (Mr Kipling's Cake Factory), Ozzies or something else. Enquiring minds would like to know

Posted:  Tuesday, 12 June 2007   18:58

Author: Les

RE: Most Missed in Wythenshawe

Wow, for me its got to be the old market where McDonalds/Choices are now located! I remember 15 years ago or so walking round the market with me Nan buying some balls of wool or something like that, stopping every couple of yards while chatting to friends, neighbours. It was such a social place! 
Now what have we got? An empty market with about 6 rubbish stalls!!! I say bring back the old market!

Posted:  Wednesday, 13 June 2007   15:57

Author: Vicki

The 'Corra'

The Coronation and ABC Forum Cinemas - happy days !! Plus - mis-spent youth and a good old-fashioned clip round the ear by the local bobby!

Posted:  Wednesday, 13 June 2007   16:33

Author: Curmudgeon

RE: The 'Corra'

Anybody remember Stax Disco at Civic. I worked in Granada Retail early 70's - when TV in Colour (!) and BBC2 were a wonder to behold! Had to 'repo' many a set locally - still warm!

Posted:  Thursday, 14 June 2007   01:26

Author: Late lamented locations

RE: most missed

shaws at minsterley parade for the meat and potatoe pies with gravy in, woolworths at civic for pic n mix and 10 penorth of broken biscuits, the walk to castle mills {no motorway or cargo centre} stopping at the cottage at the side of the romper to ask for a bottle of water, pinching a bottle of orange off the milk float, raiding the pear tree at the side of the fire station, sitting on the wall at the cedars, playing follow the arrows and rallyvo, making bogeys out of old prams, playing wembley on cedars green or brownley green school fields, trying to drink a party four all to myself, doing harry worth at cantors the furniture shop at civic, catching sticklebacks at ma miggies {pond at the side of fire station} the army coming to the big field every summer{where the forum is now} getting a luminous badge at the abc minors when it was your birthday, getting ice cream on tick till friday off marco reas, could go on forever, political correctness we didn:t give a s**t

Posted:  Thursday, 14 June 2007   19:12

Author: platty

The ghosts of wivvy past........... (Part 1)

I miss ......................... 
All the school fields that were sold off without our consent, + all the schools that united the generations in Wythenshawe.............. 
Waking up in the morning WITHOUT the constant drone of the motorway............... 
The pitch and putt at Hollyhedge   Park .............. 
The Tatton Cinema ......... ( and the chips and meat pie on the way home )............. 
The shops in civic centre ... pre 1985 ........... 
The shops at Hollyhedge ...... pre 1980.......... 
The old style 'open back' buses ... pre 1975 ....... 
Buying the football pink from the hut where the old 'addy' was ............... 
Watching all the parents going to local pubs on a warm saturday summers evening ( the Benchill, Peel hall, the Sharston ) .... then all kids would pile in each others homes........ 
Being able to cycle behind Manchester airport ........ 
Visiting Pymgates shop on styal road ... it was the only place open on a sunday............... 
The van that came round the estate selling groceries ... inc. proper size wagon wheels......... 
The coalman/dustbinman/ that used to walk past the bay window to the backgarden ............... 
to be continued..........

Posted:  Thursday, 14 June 2007   21:06

Author: Andy