From Heap to Heath

If you ask people to name a Newton Heath brew, they would probably say Wilson’s, but there was another, perhaps less well-known local brewery, close to the Failsworth boundary.William Thomas Rothwell was born at the curiously named Spout Bank in Heap, near Bury, in 1844, the son of farmer John and his wife Martha. It seems William did not wish to follow his father into farming, because by 1870 he is listed as secretary of the Bury Brewery Company, founded in 1861 on George Street. The 1871 Census gives his occupation as ‘innkeeper and brewer’ living at 96 Georgiana Street, round the corner from the brewery.

A couple of years later, he had moved to Heath House, 800 Oldham Road, Newton Heath, at the corner of Droylsden Road, and had opened the adjacent Heath Brewery, first listed in 1873. The access road into the yard was later named Rothwell Street, as the brewery expanded.William’s brother Frederick joined him in the business, living across the road on Dob Lane, Failsworth, but suffered a fatal accident on 10 July 1886, when a wort pan boiled over, badly scalding him from the neck down. He was taken to William’s house but despite being attended by doctors, died 3 days later; he was only 33.

William became a Conservative councillor and alderman for Newton Ward (even years after his death the brewery and its products were known by locals as Alderman Rothwell’s). He was on the committee of the ‘Bimetallic League’ and published a booklet on the subject in 1890. This was an organisation whose aim was to create a fixed international ratio between gold and silver for currency stability.

Long a campaigner for free education and trustee of the Mechanics’ Institute, in 1891 he attended the official opening of Newton Heath library next to the town hall on Oldham Road (roughly where the Gateway is now), having contributed to its creation.

He raised funds for a scholarship in Economics at the university, and to an archaeological dig (in 1907) in Reifi, where Sir William Flinders had excavated the tombs of two Egyptian brothers, dating from around 1900-1700 B.C. They were said to be the finest non-royal burials ever found in the area and the mummies were brought to Manchester Museum in 1908.

William died in Harrogate in 1921. The brewery continued under his son, Herbert, who in the 1890s and early 1900s had also been an amateur footballer. He played full-back for Newton Heath Athletic, was captain of the Glossop North End team and later played both for Lincoln and (after 1902), Manchester United. Herbert retired from the brewery in the 1930’s and died in 1955.Rival brewers Wilson’s had far more tied houses than Rothwells, who had only 40 or 50; mostly around Newton Heath and Failsworth with a handful in places such as Ashton, Oldham or Stalybridge. A few of these disappeared early in the 20th century, such as the Farmyard Tavern (which it was, literally) on Ten Acres Lane, which closed in 1917. However, quite a few former Rothwells pubs have survived, although you would be forgiven for not recognising them as such.

In 1961, the Heath Brewery was bought by Marston, Thompson and Evershed, who continued brewing Rothwell’s beers but began re-signing the pubs as Marston houses: this gave the Burton brewery its first ‘foot in the door’ in the Manchester area. Brewing ceased in 1968 and the main buildings were demolished soon afterwards, although part of the site was used as a depot for Marston’s, until the mid-1970s. Rothwell Street still exists, with a scrapyard (opened in the 1980s) now on the brewery site, but retaining a wall of one of the buildings.Despite the takeover, many of the pubs still sported Rothwell signage, in tilework, over doorways, or in etched glass windows, for many years. Although refurbishment has removed all traces of their previous ownership nowadays, surviving pubs include the New Crown (Newton Heath), Fox Inn (Stalybridge) and the Wheatsheaf, Pack Horse, Bay Horse, Mare & Foal, Cotton Tree and Dutch Birds (all in Failsworth).The Black Horse in 2009

Most of these are now Marston’s or free houses and most have been extended or rebuilt – etched glass windows have long gone, replaced by double glazing. The last pub to retain the Rothwell signage, as far as I can ascertain, was the Black Horse on Oldham Road, Failsworth, which sadly was demolished in 2009. Though painted over in black, the ‘Rothwell’s Ales & Stout’, in tiled relief above the windows, could just be made out.

Pint of the Alderman’s Ale, anyone?

Reflexology? What’s all that about?

My friend, Theresa Thompson, has moved to a new treatment room above hair@bespoke on Foxdenton Lane, Chadderton and I’ve booked in for a reflexology treatment.

She meets me just inside the door and leads the way upstairs. It’s the first time I’ve been here and I like it already. The room has a nice aroma, plenty of natural light and a warm cosy feeling.

Before long I’m nestled under a fleecy blanket in a comfy chair, feet wrapped in a soft towel ready for some much needed ‘me time’. I don’t often get the chance to chill out and we chat a little, while she gets organised.After cleansing, Theresa starts to work through a routine that involves applying pressure to my feet, ultimately concentrating on the areas that will bring me the most benefit.

As I settle down, my mind turns to the sounds outside and floating up from the salon below. They seem distant. There’s some background music playing; barely a whisper.

“Is it my feet that are cold or are your hands warm?” I ask her. “No” she says, “I’ve got naturally warm hands. Don’t know why, they just are.”

Before long my mind drifts off again. Now and then I can feel when she’s concentrating on a key pressure point but it’s oddly relaxing. The hour passes in a half dream and before long my feet are wrapped up again in a warm towel and I sit there while she tidies up.

As I slip my shoes on she tell me she’s done “a sweep of your lymphatic system, so drink plenty of water.” I’m baffled but promise to anyway.

So, just what is reflexology? The Association of Reflexology (AOR) define it as:

A complementary therapy based on the theory that different points of the body (not just on the feet but also hands, face and ears) correspond with different areas of the body and …working these points or areas aids relaxation and helps improve wellbeing.Since gaining her initial level 5 diploma, Theresa’s continued to attend further courses to expand her knowledge and expertise.

I’m interested in why she chose this career path. She’s ex-RAF and spent over 20 years in the aviation industry; so it’s very different from anything she’s done before.

“I just started reading about it and was completely fascinated” she tells me. “I like helping people. Getting feedback from clients and realising that I’ve been able to improve someone’s life is the best feeling ever. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.” She’s on a roll

“We concern ourselves so much with looking better on the outside that we don’t attach enough importance to how we are on the inside. Our inner wellbeing needs attention too.”

She’s clear that a good reflexologist will never diagnose or claim to cure. Reflexology is a complementary therapy that works very well alongside conventional medicine and should not be used in place of seeking medical advice. If she can help you though, she’ll try. Take it from me; you’ll be in safe hands.

That’s my foot in the photo. In recent years, she’s helped me personally to ease the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, improve sleep quality and reduce back pain.

Theresa also volunteers at The Christie Hospital in Oldham where she treats patients and their family members to some Hand Therapy to aid relaxation and sometimes, more importantly, provide a listening ear.

To find out more visit Theresa’s website. It lists the different types of reflexology she practises, how much it costs and how to contact her. Or, you can follow her on Facebook.

And, don’t just take my word for it, click here for testimonials from past clients.

Street Life: Izal and OK sauce

In the 1950s it was a child’s lot to run errands. The early years spent with mum or nan was a sort of apprenticeship for shopping alone. Soon you would be in a position to say what number you wanted the bacon sliced on, or whether custard creams were an acceptable substitute when they were out of gingers.Moston had its specialist shops but almost every street corner had an ‘Open All Hours’ type store, selling everything from Butter Puffs to mothballs and face powder. The one we used had formerly been a terraced house. There was no display window and the door was in the blank gable end wall. On entering, it was bundled firewood stacked under the staircase that first attracted the eye.

The former living room had an L-shaped counter, fronting shelves stacked high with goods. But today’s shopper would be confounded by the lack of choice. Two kinds of bacon were available, middle and rody (streaky) and two kinds of cheese – Cheshire that we bought and Cheddar which we didn’t.

In the queuing area, there was a display unit of deep, glass-topped biscuit tins. These had to be passed across the shoulders of customers for the biscuits to be weighed and bagged up. Roast ham was expertly carved with a long bladed knife, but bacon was sliced to the selected thickness on a hand turned bacon slicer. Because we kept chickens in the back garden, I escaped the potential pitfalls of carrying home a paper bag full of eggs.

It was dinned into the young that even when well wrapped in newspaper, firelighters and soap powder must be kept separate from food stuffs.

If there was no (mechanical) cash register, our purchases were tallied up in pencil on a paper bag, and totalled at lightning speed – no mean achievement in pre-decimal days.On Ashley Lane there was a chemist, baker, newsagent, butcher, and green-grocer who also sold wet fish. Vegetables came loose and unwashed, necessitating a dedicated ‘potato bag’. Ours was made of rexine, an artificial leather-cloth produced by a company in Hyde. As a boy, my father once forgot the all-important bag, and was told to hold out his gansey (sweater). He did so, and 5 lbs of King Edwards were unceremoniously tipped into it.

As the bakers only provided paper bags and tissue paper, it was advisable to take a wicker basket or straw shopping bag for pies, hot bread and iced fancies to stay intact. To get your pies, the ritual was to pay an assistant who would then pencil in a series of mysterious symbols on the ubiquitous paper bag, before placing it at the bottom of the pile. Every eye in the queue was fixed on that stack of bags to make sure they remained in strict order.

The bakehouse was on the opposite side of the road, so pies arrived straight from oven to shop, on the head of a man carrying several wooden trays covered in a cloth. When he was spotted, a ripple ran through the queue and I prayed the current batch wouldn’t run out before the bag with our order came to the top of the stack.

Within easy walking distance, we had a chip shop, ironmongers and Post Office. If Mr Barratt was serving, going to the chippie was definitely my favourite errand. He would always wrap a small piece of white paper around a couple of fat chips to be eaten on the way home.Saturday was the day for ‘the lane’. The shops on Moston Lane were there to supply all our needs from cradle to grave. There was the Maypole grocers, shoe shops, drapers, dry cleaners, and yes, even an undertaker.

In 1956 we moved to New Moston and became enthusiastic members of the FIS Co-op. My sister served her shopping apprenticeship at their Broadway stores. The large grocers had various ‘departments’ with separate counters. As each had its own queue, the trick was to send a child to the longest to keep a place for mum while she got served at a shorter one.

If you went an errand alone, the mantra was ‘don’t forget the divvy (dividend) number’. For each transaction, the amount spent along with your number was written on a perforated paper counterfoil. The shop kept a carbon copy, and after a specified time, the total amount spent was added up and a percentage annual dividend paid out. Divvy money often went toward Christmas luxuries, so that all important number needed to be etched on your brain.To my mind, supermarkets will never replace the convenience of nipping round the corner for a bottle of Camp coffee, OK Sauce or a roll of Izal, which when not performing its primary purpose, made excellent tracing paper or a comb kazoo.

 

 

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