Who put the ‘New’ in New Moston?

In two words: Elijah Dixon.

The Manchester Bridgewater Freehold Land Society was formed in 1850 by Elijah and his colleagues, with the aim of allowing ordinary workers a chance to acquire land, for housing or allotments, away from the smoke and pollution of overcrowded industrial Manchester.

Despite the parliamentary Reform Act of 1832, most ordinary workers (and all women) were denied the vote unless they owned land, so having your name on one of the society’s plots also gave you this right.

In March 1851, six holdings covering 57 acres at the “top end of Moston”, farmed by tenants of the Hilton family, of the medieval Great Nuthurst Hall, were purchased for £2,900 by the society, the aim being to divide the land into 230 plots. A plot could be bought through a loan, paid off by a subscription of a few pence or shillings a week. Land schemes such as this were early versions of what became building societies.The top end of Moston in 1848, showing the original area purchased by the Society shaded pink. Moston Brook is highlighted in green.

A further £5,000 was invested by the society in laying out new streets to serve the plots. An access road was formed from Hale Lane in Failsworth to replace a footpath, known as Morris Lane, across the Moston Brook, which formed the boundary (and still does). Morris Lane ran into Moston Lane (now ‘East’). The new road, connecting with Oldham Road, gave an easier route to Manchester, Oldham or beyond.

The brook was culverted and the hollow filled in to permit a road wide, level and firm enough to take carts and carriages into the estate at ‘New Moston’. The name chosen reflected Robert Owen’s model housing schemes such as New Lanark and New Harmony.

The access road was opened in 1853 and was soon followed by the laying-out of five streets: Dixon, Ricketts, Potts, Jones and Frost Streets. These were later renamed Belgrave, Parkfield, Northfield, Eastwood and – combined with the existing Scholes Lane, past Pitt’s Farm – Hawthorn Roads respectively.

By 1854, houses had begun to be built, some of the earliest surviving ones being Rose and Moss Cottages, Ivy Cottage and by 1863, a pair of cottages on Dixon Street, one of which was used as a beerhouse. By 1871 this was already named the New Moston Inn; in the twentieth century the two cottages were rebuilt and merged together as one.The New Moston Inn, originally two cottages dating from 1863 or earlier, seen here in 1905.

Around 1870, Elijah Dixon himself moved to a house on Ricketts St (Vine House) from Newton Heath, where he had lived for many years, next to his match works and timber yard. He died at Vine House in 1876, but his daughter and grand-daughter continued the line right up to 1940.

There was little change after Elijah’s death, until Moston and New Moston became part of Manchester in 1890. Many little-used plots began to be sold to developers, and the next twenty years or so saw a massive expansion of housing, both within the original area, with the addition of side-streets and avenues, and beyond, as neighbouring farms were gradually sold off.

Schools were built on what had been Brown’s Farm, Slater Fold Farm gave way to Nuthurst Road, the park and the avenues around Hazeldene Road, and Crimbles Farm, the last to go, enabled further expansion along Moston Lane, extending right up to the Chadderton boundary.

From the 1920s onwards, the building of Broadway spurred further expansion, such as the estates around West Avenue and Chatwood Road: New Moston is now much bigger than the original “top end of Moston”.

Elijah Dixon’s story, of lifelong social justice campaigning and his parallel industrial success, has just been published by Pen and Sword Books of Barnsley (details on the link below):-

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Beyond-Peterloo-Paperback/p/15101

The authors will be giving a talk to the Newton Heath History Society on Tuesday, 24 July 2018 at 1:30pm, at the Heathfield Resource Centre, off Mitchell St, Newton Heath.

 

Something’s going on in Failsworth

I’d hoped my local Tesco would be quiet on Saturday but the car park was rammed – how dare all these people shop when I want to!

There were droves of them – as in families with children. Children! Outside on a sunny Saturday! Milling about in all directions and curiously jolly, carrying bright balloons, multi coloured ice-creams and bags of stuff. And there was music in the distance.

“Something going on” I thought “and I’m missing it.”

Shopping plans on hold, I followed my nose around the corner to Lord Lane Playing Fields. Banners announced the event as ‘Failsworth Carnival’. It was only a quid to get in, so in I went. Can’t resist an ice-cream you see.

The ‘fields’ are quite big. There was a fun fair at the far end, an open space in the centre and scattered about were a mishmash of stalls, fast food vans, bouncy castles, a large stage and areas marked out with ticker tape.I wandered about amongst the crowd for a while. Felt like a wally on my own but once I had a ’99’ with strawberry goo in my hand I didn’t care.

There were singers and musicians on the stage, dancers rehearsing for a dance competition, keep fit ladies keeping fit, karate kids doing, wait for it, karate and not just one but several Carnival Queens. Carnival Queens aren’t something you see every day and they were just delightful.When I left about an hour later the lady at the gate said “Did you enjoy the parade?”

“Nope. Missed it.” She looked disappointed and I felt bad, like I’d let her down. “Come back again tomorrow.” She suggested. “There’s lots more going on.” So I did and there was.

Another ’99’ in hand and I settled myself by the stage on the grass. There was a Zumba display and routines by Diva Dance. Then  a group of youngsters performed Ed Sheeran tracks and hits from The Greatest Showman and Annie. The soloists were fabulous and one even sang her own composition. Such talent! Called Footlights if you want to find out more.  It was an absolute joy and all for the grand entrance fee of £1!Before I left I took another walk around the field and checked out displays by New Moston Scouts, Fostering Solutions, Love Food Hate Waste,  Failsworth Community Choir, Army Recruitment and Girlguiding (who are after volunteers), Blood Bikes and more.The start of the Bouncing Baby Competition was announced when I got to the gate but Tesco beckoned and I’d have ended up with no Sunday lunch. I’ll come back next year.

”Manchester’s silent army?”

I look after my Dad. He’s 87 and calls me his PA! He has limited vision and his hearing isn’t great. Easy to be with, he likes music, laughing and trips to seaside. He’s very independent but can’t do everything without some help and when he’s ill or bored it isn’t easy.About a year ago I was asked to say something about myself. Without thinking “I’m a member of Manchester’s silent army” popped out of my mouth. I think I meant to say “I’m a carer, one of many and we just quietly get on with it”.

Since then I’ve joined the Manchester Carers Forum.

The forum facilitates group meetings, day trips, provides information, runs a dementia support service, training workshops, even has a weekly local radio slot. There are several groups across Manchester. The North group is organised by Miriam and Christine and meets monthly at Cheetham Hill Medical Centre.

“We’re not saying that we can change someone’s circumstances” Miriam tells me “but we can bring carers together so that they can share their experiences with each other. Those that attend hold a wealth of knowledge and lived experience which is so valuable.  People leave the group feeling they’ve had a break for a couple of hours. They’ve relaxed, let off some steam or maybe come away with some tips, and are better able to cope with life’s challenges until the next meeting.”

Today we’re helping carer George celebrate his 80th birthday by tucking into a box of wonderful cupcakes. While they’re chomping away I ask the group what they thought about the forum.“Tell me a bit about yourselves and why you come here?”

I thought they might be shy – boy was I wrong! Here’s some of what they said:

Just love meeting here. I get a sense of relief. Would be quite happy if it was once a week never mind once a month”

It recharges your batteries and I go home feeling energised”

Everyone’s in exactly the same position as you and it’s a break from the pressure of looking after someone for a few hours”

Discussing issues with the group gives me confidence to challenge the authorities rather than just accept something”

It’s the information that others share and knowing you’re not alone”

While I’m here, for a brief period someone looks after me – even being served a cup of tea and a cake or biscuit is a welcome feeling”

It makes me feel good and I’ve made some great friends”

If something can be changed we have more chance when we come together in a larger group than we would have as individuals”

“I  come here because I like cakes! They’re my commission for sharing what I know”Birthday boy George the ‘cup-cake king’

They talked about caring for wives, husbands, partners, children and siblings, about how important it was that their ‘cared for’ had quality of life. They raised issues about local council services, housing, disjointed health care, benefits etc. Told astonishing, even shocking stories. Some had fought fierce battles and not always won.

Thinking back to my statement a year ago made me smile – a small army they might be but they’re far from silent!

They were clear about role played by the Manchester Carers Forum and the invaluable support they receive.  If you want to find out more about the work they do in your area visit, their website.  You can follow them on Facebook or e-mail them at info@manchestercarersforum.org.