Carers Week 2019

It’s like waiting for a bus. You go ages doing the same old thing, week in week out, then everything happens at once. That’s Carers Week for you. Good fun but I’m half glad it’s over, I’m knackered!

First off, a trip to the Bridgewater Hall for the Halle Orchestra performing The Lark Rising, including a mini tour and buffet. What a treat. What a spectacular building and how lucky are we to have such talented musicians in our city. The ice-cream tubs (I mean it would be rude not to) were divine.Next up, Walking Football at Manchester City Training Stadium. Walking Football, if you didn’t know, is an actual thing that people do. The game has its own set of rules, even its own league and the Man City trainers run these sessions twice a week. It was a brilliant afternoon, the training facility was awesome and the buffet… delicious.The third event on my list was an Italian meal at Dom’s Tavola Calda on Deansgate. I decided to make a day of it and took an early tram into town. Had a rare mooch around the Arndale before meandering through M&S to the restaurant.Tucking in into Italian??

I soon spotted someone I knew, plonked myself down and had great time. Fabulous atmosphere, like being on a works do. Finished with a tiramisu as light as air, washed down with a glass of vino blanco – bellissimo!

Finally, and much needed after all that food, the week rounded up with a brisk walk, courtesy of Manchester and Salford Ramblers, around Salford Quays and Media City. It was easy to get to on the tram and the weather was perfect.

The walk took us past the Imperial War Museum and Ordsall Hall, both of which are free. I had a meander through the Blue Peter Garden and a nosy around the Lowry Shopping Centre. Thoroughly impressed and I’ll definitely go back.Somewhere near Salford Quays

There were lots of other things going on that week that I didn’t get to but a massive thanks to the organisations involved for their time, funding, facilities and hard work.  I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to get out, have some fun and meet new people.My fellow walkers outside Ordsall Hall

Carers Week isn’t a one-off. There are regular meetings, trips out, free training sessions, coffee mornings and activities going on all across Manchester all through the year and you can easily access them as well as get advice, information and support.

Not sure if you’re a carer? This might help…If you are local to Harpurhey/Moston, workshops run by Manchester Carers Network have been held at Broadhurst Community Centre. Manchester Carers Forum hold monthly meetings at The Avenue Library and Learning Centre in Blackley, Age Exchange run an activity club at EachStep on Charlestown Road and there are rumours that Manchester Carers Centre will be running sessions at Harpurhey Wellbeing Centre on Church Lane starting next month.

Further information on other localities and details of future events can be found by clicking on the links below:

Manchester Carers Network, Manchester Carers Forum, Manchester and Salford Ramblers, Manchester City Walking Football, Broadhurst Community Centre (FB)Imperial War Museum North, Ordsall HallAge Exchange, Bridgewater Hall.

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Walking With the Scholars

Unlike the city centre districts, in Moston the event colloquially known as ‘the scholars’ took place on Whit Sunday.

The pre-war slum clearances had re-located families like ours into better houses in the suburbs, where the churches mainly walked on Whit Sunday. But as Whit Monday and Friday were both Bank Holidays, we Moston children were willing spectators when the old district’s churches processed through the town centre.

It was the tradition for former adult residents of Ancoats or Collyhurst to return and walk with their old Sunday schools. This meant we saw plenty of familiar faces as church after church marched behind a variety of bands.The old township districts were rightly proud of their Sunday schools. From 1784, they had been offering free education to poor children and adults. And until child labour was abolished altogether, Sunday school superintendents and teachers were in the forefront of the battle to achieve safer and healthier working conditions for their scholars.

When the walks began, around 1800, the long lines of orderly children ranged behind banners, was a visible symbol of the Sunday school movement’s success. The majority of scholars who took part in those early walks would have worked long hours, six days a week, in mills and factories.

On Sunday they earned prizes for good attendance, while being presented with the opportunity of learning to read books that would provide a glimpse into a world outside the slums. Then, at Whitsun, there was the annual Sunday school outing with a picnic tea – a treat which must have been the highspot of a poor child’s year.

At first it was only the protestant denominations who witnessed their Faith by ‘walking’ on Whit Monday. Later the Roman Catholics chose Whit Friday when they also adopted the custom, and all the processions became larger and more lavish. But whatever the day or the location of their particular ‘walks’, to Manchester children, Whitsuntide was synonymous with new clothes.

C & A’s January sales was the place many mothers bought whit week clothes. But it wasn’t unknown for less well off families to resort to a clothing club to ensure their children were well turned out.The dresses girls walked in were showy, but totally impractical for the often damp and chilly Manchester weather. But even when they became available, it was an indulgent parent who allowed a plastic mac to cover up those swanky new clothes for anything less than a torrential down-pour.

I was one of those unfortunates for whom the night before Whit Sunday was reminiscent of a session with the Spanish Inquisition. On 364 days of the year, I was that skinny girl with the extreme parting and two long, fat plaits. But for some reason known only to my mother, Whit Sunday necessitated ringlets, and that meant a night in what we called ‘sore fingers’.

Before my hair was washed and brushed out, some old cotton material was torn into strips about an inch wide. While the hair was wet it was divided into strands and one of the rags was attached close to the scalp. Next, each strand of hair would be wound into a tight spiral around the rag then the remaining material was wrapped over the hair in the opposite direction to hold it in place. The two ends of the rag were knotted together firmly, leaving my head looking like an inept first aider’s attempt to bandage a badly crushed hand – and was about as painful to sleep with.

Girls’ dresses ranged from white through all the pastel shades. On reaching the assembly point, each colour was sorted and allotted a banner or flower basket with long ribbons attached. The Sunday school teachers clucked about, placing girls at strategic intervals along the ribbons.Boys were grouped into uniformed, grey-shorted or even sailor-suited lines. They mostly walked in single file, sometimes holding on to a fancy cord; woe betide any scholar who didn’t maintain the required distance between themselves and the next child.

Pre-school age children walked holding the hand of an adult who might be called on to carry them if they got too tired to complete the whole distance. At the designated time, one of the local Silver or Brass bands struck up a hymn tune, and we followed, accompanied by our parents who kept pace with the procession on the pavement.

Then, suddenly, the music stopped and it was the end of walks and ringlets for another year.

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Moston ‘Diggy’

I once heard that children around the Church Lane area referred to themselves as ‘doggies’ or ‘diggies’, depending whether they lived at the end nearest the dogs’ home, or towards the Lightbowne end, close to former clay pits. By 1951, these had been worked out and infilled with shale, or used as a tip by the corporation, but the local name, the ‘diggy’, persisted. However, clay was still being dug out near Ashley Lane and north of Lily Lane to supply a huge, but now largely forgotten, local industry: brick-making.Map showing Kenyon Lane in 1933 with the brickworks on the left and Lily Lane school at the bottom

Moston, besides the peat mosses which gave it its name, also has extensive areas of clay, as many a gardener knows, and for centuries local potters had availed themselves of this resource. As the industrial revolution spawned a demand for workshops and housing, firms were established to produce bricks, tiles, chimney-pots and earthenware pipes. One such, the Moston Pottery, Tile and Brick Co, had been established by 1863 at the south end of St. Mary’s Rd, near the present-day Dean Brook pub.

Collieries such as Moston and Bradford also had brickworks: they were digging through clay to reach the coal, so why not use it, rather than dumping it? Other early names such as J H Charles and S & J Higham, came and went in the Victorian period, but by the end of the century, major players had arrived in the area.

Amos Reid Bullivant, a builder and joiner from Burgh-le-Marsh, Lincolnshire, came first to Blackley, then to Moston Lane, about 1873, and by 1900 his sons William, Amos and John had joined him in the business. Amos issued shares in 1903 to acquire land and establish a brickworks in an area roughly bounded by Moston Lane, Kenyon Lane, Lily Lane and Ashley Lane. In 1908, with an extended share issue by his son, John, it became the Moston Brick and Building Company Limited.Silton Street, towards Ashley Lane. Originally a cul-de-sac, the near end now connects with Minster Road, part of a 1996-2000 development, on former clay pits

As the name suggested, the firm not only produced bricks, but could undertake whole building contracts, from design (if required) to construction. An early example was the erection in 1909 of terraced houses on Silton St, Birchenall St, Hartley St and Penn St, on land close to the works and purchased by John’s brother, William. Some of these have recently been demolished, but quite a few remain.

In 1913 the Company purchased three 5-ton tipper lorries, demonstrating their expansion and modernisation, and by 1939 there were around seven clay pits in operation, some connected by narrow-gauge tramways to the works.

After World War II, they played a major part in the rehousing programme, all around Greater Manchester, such as 64 of the houses in the Greaves Estate at Rochdale. The scale of their business is revealed in a reply to a query about brick requirements, published in the Liverpool Echo in November 1945:-

“We have erected many thousands of houses, both for municipalities and private schemes. The total number of bricks for a five-roomed house is 15,000 to 18,000 and for a six-roomed house 20,000 – J.Bullivant, Director.”

As well as houses and flats, Moston Brick built many other commercial, educational and religious buildings. A few examples may give an idea of their range:-

Telephone exchanges at Collyhurst and Moss Side (1926), cinemas in Prestwich and Clayton (1928-9), Tuberculosis Dispensary (now the Sickle Cell unit), Oxford Rd (1931), Appleby Lodge, Fallowfield (1936), St.Patrick’s RC Church, Collyhurst (1937), Lansdowne House (shops and offices), Didsbury (1938), Woodthorpe flats, Victoria Park (1940), Regent Rd flats, Salford (1946), Higher Lane primary school, Whitefield (1953), the Central Synagogue, Jackson’s Row (1953), Moston Labour Club, Chain Bar (1955) and St.Clare’s Church, Blackley (1958).

Aside from the cinemas, most of these are still standing.

The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1931, during a depression in the building trade, but managed to revive and carry on until 1973 under John Norman Bullivant (John’s son), being finally wound up in 1976. I haven’t discovered whether brick production ceased during this period, or earlier, but the works was demolished in 1977 and replaced by light industrial units the following year.

There is now no trace of this once-important concern, but their legacy is still all around us. Collyhurst Exchange, Ryder St, built for Post Office Telephones in 1926 and still used by BTSt.Patrick’s RC Church, Livesey St, opened in 1937 as a replacement for the original (1832) building Manchester’s Central Synagogue, completed in November 1953. Moston Brick’s price for this was just over £63,400