Staying local

My Monday walk this week is a very pleasant local one not far from home, a walk which I’ve done many times before over the years and will probably do many more times in the future. Starting from the rear car park of the Last Drop Village a grassy path led across a couple of fields to a gravel path running through a partially wooded area still looking very bare with its leafless trees, then a gap in a stone wall took me through to the quiet traffic-free tarmac lane passing the boundary of the old Cox Green quarry.
Although officially ‘out of bounds’ to the public for several years the place is used by rock climbers so a gate and a path lead from the lane into the heart of the quarry itself, with another path taking a short circular route round a small pond on the upper level. At one time the pond looked quite attractive and in summer would be a nice place to chill out for a while but now it seems to be drying up and looks nowhere near as pretty as it once did.
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Back on the lane I eventually reached the road past a long row of modern houses and bungalows but another path took me away from there and past a field of grazing sheep to the boundary of the nearby golf course. As I walked towards the golf course gate a peacock butterfly flitted past me and landed on the path just a few yards away but before I had chance to focus the camera it flew off again so I kept walking. This happened several times but eventually it landed and stayed just long enough for me to snatch a reasonable photo of it.
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Through the gate onto the golf course and along the path I came to my most favourite part of the course. Set back from the path it may not look much from the photos but it’s so nice that I’ve often thought that if I could ever choose a place to build my own house that would be it, though I don’t suppose the golfers would be happy about losing one of their greens.
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Further along the path I came to the golf course pond, currently looking rather overgrown with reeds. The path split into two there, going right would eventually take me round to the club house so to extend my walk I went left and skirted the gated gardens of Torra Manor, a period detached house sitting in an elevated position overlooking the golf course and countryside. Very little is known about the property but it’s thought to originally date from the 17th century, and though it’s undergone more than one refurbishment over the years it still retains many original interior features including a stone staircase, exposed beams and stone and slate floors.
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Past the house and down the hill I left the golf course behind and the path took me across open grazing land to the lane leading down to Turton Tower’s castellated railway bridge, built in 1847 and commissioned by James Kay, the then owner of Turton Tower. With the advantage of very few bushes currently obstructing the view of the bridge from the railway embankment I was able to get a decent shot of the side of it and I was just about to walk away when I heard a train approaching. Unfortunately I hadn’t time to change the camera setting but I still got a reasonable shot as the train whizzed under the bridge.
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For obvious reasons Turton Tower itself wasn’t open but the grounds were so I had a pleasant wander round the woodlands and the gardens, getting a handful of shots before following the lane down onto the nearby main road. About half a mile of road walking from there took me to a side lane close to a farm and a small enclave of cottages and from there I headed back towards the Last Drop Village.
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The Last Drop Village, with its hotel, pub/restaurant, shops and function rooms is always a popular place and I can never usually take any photos without other people getting in my line of vision and spoiling the shot but this time it was different – the place was completely deserted and actually felt quite strange with no-one around.
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Had I been able to I would have had coffee and cake at the Last Drop but of course I couldn’t, so with the final shot of the flower bed I headed for home to chill out and have my own coffee and cake there instead.

Scavenger photo hunt – March

Caring for my little dog Sophie and the following emotional devastation of her death meant I didn’t manage to take part in the photo challenge last month, and given the current crisis I wasn’t sure if it would go ahead this time but thanks to Kate it has done. The topics for this month are – birthday, jazzy, flag, three, cushion and as always, my own choice, so here’s what I’ve selected this time.
I always try, if I can, to make sure that I have some time off work in early June so I can celebrate my birthday while on a camping holiday and June 2014 was no exception. Previous to going away I’d been given a few cards by Michael and his extended family, plus a small cake, so I took them all with me and on the day set them out on top of the unit in my tent. Unfortunately the top of the flower on the cake got broken in transit but it didn’t matter, the cake itself was delicious.
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Birthday – in the tent on an Anglesey camp site
The next one proved to be a bit of a challenge as the one item I could have used has already been featured in a previous month, however searching through one of my wardrobes I found the ideal thing. I bought the designer jacket with a colourful jazzy pattern back in 1992 from a very exclusive local boutique – at today’s prices it would be considered reasonable but back then it was quite expensive. Worn with a plain black top and trousers it looked good, still does though I never go anywhere these days to wear it.
Jazzy – my designer jacket
One of the dog walks I occasionally do takes me past a pub set on the corner of a narrow residential road not far from the local countryside. I don’t normally take much notice of the building but the name was appropriate to the next topic so last week I purposely went to photograph the attractive sign on the front wall.
Flag – the Flag Inn sign
The next shot was taken just yesterday while walking Poppie on my one currently permitted period of exercise. Although I live at No. 3 photographing my door number would be too obvious – and it’s too ordinary to photograph anyway – so I decided to search out a possible example and found it in these three daffodils growing together close to a stone wall.
Three – daffodils on a dog walk
The next subject is very special to me and even more so to Michael. The original photo was taken on Michael’s wedding day in 2007; in 2016 the cushion was made as a birthday present for his dad in June that year, then four months later when we accompanied him back to Ireland to spend his last days there it was packed for him to take with him. After he passed away I brought the cushion back here and it’s lived in Michael’s room ever since, though as we have very few photos of him and his dad together it’s kept as a memory rather than something to be used.
Cushion – something very special to both of us
For my own choice it’s hard to select just one out of the thousands of photos I have, but with Easter not far off I decided to choose this one. It was taken on a very sunny Good Friday in 2014, on the riverside walk along the River Dee running through the lovely little town of Llangollen in North Wales.
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My own choice – River Dee, Llangollen
Well that’s just about it for this month. Thanks go to Kate for continuing to host the challenge, as usual I’m linking up with her blog and will hop over there soon to see what everyone else has chosen for this month’s topics.


Lytham/St. Annes – a walk in two parts

My Monday walk this week is split into two halves, visiting two different parts of the same area but on two separate days two weeks apart. First was St. Annes, a place I go to quite often; Michael had a day off from work so he came with me and once I’d parked up near our favourite cafe we went our separate ways, arranging to meet back there for a meal later on. Walking through the promenade gardens, where I discovered that the water in the waterfall was now blue, I made my way to Ashton Gardens just a couple of streets back from the sea front.

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When I got to the side entrance to the park I was surprised to see that since my visit there last July the flowering shrubs and bushes near the pavilion café had all been drastically cut down. It really opened up the whole area but to me it was too open; lined by flowering shrubs the pathways had looked really attractive before, now the whole place just looked bare.
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Past the sunken garden and through the rose garden I came to where the meandering waterway was crossed at various points by stepping stones and a bridge, and set back just off the path I found a large clump of daffodils and some other yellow flowers – not being a gardener I don’t know what they were but they looked pretty.
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Now while I much prefer wandering round parks and gardens when the leaves are on the trees there’s something to be said for the trees in Ashton Gardens currently being bare. The various features of the waterway are completely visible instead of some of them being obscured by overhanging branches and that part of the gardens looks just as attractive now as it does later in the year.

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Leaving Ashton Gardens by the main entrance I made my way back to the sea front, this time walking along the promenade instead of through the gardens. The earlier high tide had retreated and far beyond the end of the pier a lone man and his dog walked out to the ruined landing jetty. In spite of the glorious sunshine there was a very chilly wind blowing so it was good to finally meet Michael back in the welcome warmth of the café for a good meal and a hot milky coffee before driving back home.

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The second part of my walk was done just yesterday in a part of Lytham I’ve often thought of exploring but up to now, for whatever reason, I never have. A few years ago I’d found out that on the southern outskirts, and obscured from the main road by a high bank, was a creek where various yachts and other pleasure craft were moored so being on my own this time it was a good opportunity to take a look.
Leaving the van in a nearby Macdonald’s car park I crossed the main road to a footpath which would take me along the side of the creek however I soon realised I was on the wrong side; the creek itself was separated from the path by a large fenced off boatyard and storage area which extended for quite a distance and there was no way I could get through. The grassy path eventually took me through a pleasant sparsely wooded area to another creek, narrow and very muddy, with just a couple of fishing boats moored at the end of a wooden jetty and a yacht tipped over on its side, presumably the result of the recent storms. To be honest this place wasn’t particularly attractive but maybe it would look better with more water in it.
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I’d climbed down the bank to get closer shots of the boats and as I climbed back up again I saw something which amused me enough to take a photo; sticking up out of the grass was the top of a green welly. The boot itself was firmly wedged several inches down so I can only assume that someone had put their foot into what had once been very soft ground and couldn’t get it out again, meaning they had to leave the welly behind.
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Anyone lost a welly boot?
The path turned inland and took me along the bank of the creek, which narrowed to little more than a muddy channel with a dead end, to a quiet lane which eventually emerged onto the main road a good quarter of a mile from where I started. I still hadn’t found the creek I was originally looking for so I walked all the way back along the road, past the start of the path I’d followed and one of the boatyard buildings to where I found a stile leading to a second path – this was more like it, I was now on the right side of the creek. Just like the first creek it was very muddy at low tide but it was a much more attractive place so I had a very pleasant walk along the bank before retracing my steps back to the van.
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On the outside of a main road pet food suppliers – I rather liked this

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Knowing that my favourite café at St. Annes would now be closed I’d brought my own supplies but a Macdonald’s car park wasn’t the best of places for a picnic so I drove round to the quiet lane I’d walked along earlier and parked up by the high bank of the first creek. With coffee brewed on my camping stove, a sandwich, a couple of slices of cherry pie and a view of some lovely daffodils on the bank in front of me I had a lovely half hour in the van before my next bit of exploration.
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Leaving the van in the lane I went up onto the main road and walked right along to East Beach and the start of Lytham Green before turning onto the coastal path and heading back in the opposite direction. Looking out to sea I could just see the mast of a sunken yacht in one of the estuary channels; I’ve seen a photo of this on another blog and at high tide it’s almost completely covered in water.
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St. John’s church, East Beach
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The path took me down a few steps onto the beach, skirting the rear car park of a large modern office building, then a few more steps took me up onto another very pleasant green backed by large, and probably expensive, balconied houses on a recently built estate. Here was another casualty of February’s storms, a boat stuck in a tiny creek with its stern well and truly buried in the mud and its cabin roof partially smashed by a large tree trunk washed up on top of it.
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At the end of the green I came to the beginning of the first muddy creek I’d seen, actually looking a bit more attractive than it was further along, and across the salt marsh was the ‘golf ball’ radar tower and buildings of the BAE Systems aerodrome at Warton. The path turned inland there and took me round the edge of the housing estate, bringing me out close to the main road and not far from the lane where I’d left the van. Although the sun had earlier been warm enough for me to dispense with my usual jacket and just wear my lightweight tracksuit zip top a chilly breeze was now starting to blow – I’d satisfied my curiosity about the creeks and the boats and had a picnic in the van, now it was time to go back home.
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As I got to within just a few miles from home the sun was getting lower in the sky, casting its late afternoon glow across the moorland so I couldn’t resist pulling into a lay-by and getting my final shot of the day. With very little traffic on what can usually be quite a busy road it was fairly quiet just then so I spent several minutes just sitting in the van and gazing at the view in front of me.
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Late afternoon sun over Belmont moorland
Back home, and with a coffee at hand, I made a start on downloading my photos and choosing which ones to put on here. I may have been on my own for Mother’s Day but I’d had a lovely afternoon out, and the very nature of where I walked meant that I saw hardly anyone which, even without the current crisis, suits me just fine.


A thoughtful gift from a neighbour

Last Sunday evening I was sitting here chatting on the phone to a friend when Michael came in with an envelope in his hand, saying he’d heard a noise at the front door and found the envelope on the floor behind the door. It was a previously used envelope folded over, had my name and a message written on it and contained something solid; the message read “The paint is acrylic so waterproof for the garden – I hope you like it”. ‘It’ was from Fiona, my young next door neighbour, and was a piece of slate with Sophie’s name painted on it in different coloured letters – something simple to mark Sophie’s little corner of the garden but also something very unexpected and so very thoughtful.
Yesterday I popped into my local Asda to get a few bits and pieces and on my way to the book section I noticed a box of very small animal ornaments on sticks for putting in plant pots. There were foxes, squirrels and just one little rabbit – the rabbit was the cutest so I got it to put in the little pot of flowers in Sophie’s corner.
The bricks are only a temporary measure to keep the plant in place, once the soil dries out properly I’ll rake it over, maybe plant some grass seed and hopefully (as I’m not a gardener in any way, shape or form) I can turn Sophie’s little corner into something much nicer.

Salford Museum and Peel Park

Salford Museum & Art Gallery started life as Lark Hill Mansion, built in 1809 by Colonel James Ackers and situated in extensive grounds. After 40 years as a private house Salford City Council purchased the building to be used as an educational site, planning to turn it into a public museum and library, and in 1849 Mr John Plant was appointed museum curator and librarian. The building opened as the Royal Museum and Public Library in April 1850, the first free public library in England, and after less than five months was attracting an average of 1,240 visitors per day; extensive refreshment rooms were then opened on the basement floor and two adjoining rooms were added to the library, allowing it to accommodate nearly 12,000 books.
In 1851 three of the East rooms in the museum were knocked into one with proposals to turn the space into an art gallery, then in 1852 a large extension was added to the back of the building, creating a reading room on the ground floor and a museum room above. Between 1854 and 1856 the North and South galleries were opened along with a lending library of 2,500 books, and by 1857 visitor numbers had risen to an average of 3,508 per day. On his death in 1874 Edward Langworthy, a local business man, former Mayor of Salford and an early supporter of the museum, left a £10,000 bequest to the museum and library and this was used to build the Langworthy wing which connected the north and south wings; it was finished in 1878 and officially opened in August that year.
Fast forward almost sixty years and by 1936 the fabric of the original building, the former Lark Hill Mansion, was found to be structurally unstable so it was demolished and replaced by a new wing to match the Langworthy wing. It took two years to complete and was opened in 1938, then in 1957 part of the ground floor of the new wing was turned into Lark Hill Place, a reconstructed Victorian street named after the original Lark Hill Mansion. Although the museum originally had a wide remit when it came to collecting artefacts from different parts of the world it now focuses on social history with a Victorian gallery and hundreds of Victorian objects on display in Lark Hill Place.
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The main entrance to the museum took me through a foyer and into a large and bright reception space with a shop area and a pleasant café beyond it, and on the right was the local history library and a magnificent staircase leading up to the galleries above. After looking round Lark Hill Place, which was my main reason for going to the museum, I went to have a look upstairs; unfortunately a couple of the galleries were closed while the various collections and displays were updated but I had a pleasant wander round the Victorian Gallery, and though I’ve never really liked Victorian paintings I did like the sculptures and the various objects on display.

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In an octagonal glass cabinet was the orrery, a mechanical model of the solar system named after the fourth Earl of Orrery, and though the first one was made for him around 1713 the one on display dates from the early 20th century. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any really clear shots of it as there were reflections and things in the background on all sides, also I was careful to obey the instruction of ”please do not lean on the glass”
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A section of the fabulous ceiling
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In another gallery was the Superlative Artistry of Japan exhibition, a range of works including paintings and ceramics and several contemporary pieces representing food samples. In the middle of the floor was a wire mesh waste basket crammed full of empty cans – it seemed a strange place for visitors to discard their rubbish but it was actually part of the exhibition.

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Sashimi Boat food sample in vinyl chloride resin, courtesy of Maiduru Co. Ltd

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By the wall in a partially closed gallery was a glass case exhibiting a huge fish, a tarpon caught in the West Indies. There was no date on it, possibly due to some of the exhibits being moved and updated, but the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company operated between 1839 and 1932 so the fish would have been caught sometime during those 93 years.
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The museum building is situated on the edge of Peel Park which was once the extensive grounds of Lark Hill Mansion, so after coffee and cake in the very pleasant café I went to look round the park itself. Following a 7-year campaign by Sir Robert Peel and Mark Phillips MP for a public park it was agreed that part of the Lark Hill estate should be used, and after winning a design competition in 1845 Joshua Major & Son laid out the park. Paid for by public subscription it was the first of three Manchester and Salford parks to be opened to the public in 1846. In 1851 the park was the main public venue for the royal visit of Queen Victoria to Manchester and Salford, a visit which was attended by 80,000 people; in 1857 a statue of the Queen was erected in the park then in 1861 a statue of the Prince Consort was erected after his death.
The peak of the park’s popularity came in the 1890s; by then there was a lake, a fountain, a bandstand, a bowling green and cricket pitch, a skittle alley, seating areas and pavilions. It was the place to see and be seen but years later, in the aftermath of both world wars, many people moved away from the area and the park was no longer the focal point of a community. In the years between 1954 and 1967 it underwent a major redevelopment and landscaping then in 1981 it became part of The Crescent conservation area. Unfortunately the park fell into disrepair in the last few years of the 20th century but after receiving a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2016 it underwent a second redevelopment and reopened in 2017.

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Some very early blooms in a sunny corner
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The River Irwell and some of its residents
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Unfortunately I didn’t get to explore the park as much as I would have liked; although the sun was still shining the blue sky of earlier had been replaced by clouds which were getting darker by the minute so not wanting to get caught in a downpour I cut my visit short and made my way back to the station a couple of minutes walk away. It proved to be a good move as I was just crossing the road near the station entrance when I was hit by a heavy shower of hailstones. I didn’t mind too much though, I’d had my few hours out and got plenty of photos, and now having recently seen photos of the park in full bloom I’ll certainly be going back later in the year when the leaves are on the trees and the weather’s good.


Wonky crumpets and pale ale

Most of my regular readers will know that my son Michael works at a local well-known family-owned bakers, a firm which has recently produced the UK’s first ever crumpet beer. In an effort to reduce food waste the company has teamed up with Toast Brewery to create a light session IPA made from crumpets classed as too ‘wonky’ to go on sale.
Made by replacing some of the malted barley in the beer with crumpets, sugars and starches are extracted and broken down into fermentable sugars meaning the crumpets do more than just flavour the beer. At 4.2% The Toasted Crumpet is Warburtons first non-baked product in the company’s 140-year history.


Photos from Warburtons website
Initially only available from the Warburtons website as a limited edition the beer could be produced on a larger scale if there’s enough demand; it only went on sale two weeks ago but Michael has told me that it’s already sold out although he hasn’t had any as it’s not his thing. I don’t drink anyway but to be honest, as much as I like Warburtons crumpets, I wouldn’t want to drink crumpet flavoured beer – a bit of an acquired taste I think.


Lark Hill Place, Salford

Lark Hill Place, set within Salford Museum, is a reconstruction of a typical late 19th century street and takes its name from Lark Hill Mansion which once occupied the museum’s site. The street was created in 1957 by the then curator of the museum at a time when slum clearances in Salford saw many areas changed to make way for more modern housing. He decided to salvage and restore several original shop and house fronts and their contents, and with the help of members of the public who donated various objects, and a group of local children who would raid skips for period items and beg or borrow them from their grandparents, he developed Lark Hill Place, with the theme being set on an early winter’s evening in 1897.
From the light and airy museum reception area and café double doors led to a corridor with information boards on the walls, then another set of doors took me into Lark Hill Place itself and I was instantly transported back to the late Victorian era; even at first glance I could see that this place was very unique and extremely interesting.
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Lark Hill Place from the entrance
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Looking left
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Looking right
The street ran left and right from a central ‘square’ and working my way round clockwise from there the corner shop on my immediate left was James Critchley’s clogger’s shop. It originally stood in Whit Lane, Pendleton, until it was demolished, and it supplied clogs and boots to many millworkers and those who worked at the nearby coal mines. Next door was Louisa Greenhalgh’s haberdashery; Louisa’s name first appeared in local directories in the 1840s, listed as a dressmaker, milliner and haberdasher of Bedford Street, Salford. The mahogany door of the shop dates from about 1750 and originally came from Hope Hall, a brick-built house once set in pleasure grounds on Eccles Old Road, Salford, though those have long since been lost to redevelopment.
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Next to the haberdasher’s was William Bracegirdle’s forge which once stood in Salford’s Ordsall Lane. In the late 19th century blacksmiths and wheelwrights were higher up the social standings than other manual workers as they were considered to be the backbone of transport, however when automobiles took over and trade diminished blacksmiths became the first generation of automobile workers, though after 1901 the Bracegirdle family became general labourers.
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Next was the Georgian House, showing what a room in the original Lark Hill Mansion would have looked like in the late 18th century. Much of the furniture is in the Chippendale style and on the right of the room was a square piano made by Christopher Ganer of London in 1789.

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Next door to the Georgian house, and at the end of the street, was the Victorian parlour, richly decorated and furnished and containing two pianos. Above the pianos and against the back wall were several glass domes containing decorative arrangements of stuffed birds, flowers and plants, reflecting the Victorian fascination with natural history and for bringing exotic birds into the home. Although the darkness meant I couldn’t get a clear photo of it, high on the wall outside the room was a fire plate decorated with a liver bird; this came from a property in Salford’s Broughton Street and shows that the house owner had an insurance policy with the Royal Insurance Company which was established in 1845.
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Set back in the far corner was a door with an undertaker’s sign indicating that funeral orders could be taken there even though the undertaker’s premises were elsewhere. Victorian funerals could be lucrative affairs, reflecting the increasing wealth of the industrial classes, but in spite of the potential for undertakers to become wealthy themselves through their work the association with death seems to have prevented them from being seen as truly ‘respectable’; the discreet unassuming sign at Lark Hill represents the careful tone which undertakers used in all their advertising and paperwork, from business cards and catalogues to invoice paper.
On the corner to the right of the undertakers was a Victorian post box and Adolf Renk’s pawnbrokers shop, although the Renk family were never true pawnbrokers; they traded mainly as jewellers and watchmakers. Established in 1836 by brothers August and Charles Renk, originally from Germany, the shop was situated at 144 Chapel Street in Salford. Charles’ son Adolph took over the business in 1903 and it remained in the family until the shop was taken down in 1956, with the main components of it being saved to become part of Lark Hill Place.
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Next door to the pawnbroker’s was the Bracegirdle’s cottage, a simple one-up, one-down affair. William Bracegirdle learned his trade from his father who was also a wheelwright, and he and his wife Elizabeth had four children, Elizabeth, Ellen, Albert and Joseph. Elizabeth worked as a cart hirer while Albert and Joseph became joiners; it’s assumed that Ellen worked away as a housemaid. Their simple home was more sparsely furnished than others, with the one downstairs room being used for cooking, eating, washing and general living, while attached to the wall near the back door was a vertical wooden ‘ladder’ which went through a hole in the ceiling to the bedroom above.
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Next was Mrs Driver’s house with a self-explanatory sign outside the door. Mrs Driver practiced leeching at her home in Bury Street, Salford; she became known as the ‘plaster woman’ as her secret ointment recipe was very popular among the locals. The red and white pole outside the house came from a local barber’s shop; in former times barbers were allowed to carry out bloodletting and minor operations and the poles became symbols of this as the stripes represent blood and bandages.
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Next door to Mrs Driver’s and on the corner of the square was John Hamer’s shop which was originally situated on Salford’s Broad Street. John Hamer was a chemist and druggist and lived with his wife Emma and their three children, Edward, Arthur and Mary; they also had a domestic servant called Elizabeth. In the days long before the National Health Service many people couldn’t afford to see a doctor so would seek the advice of a chemist; John Hamer sold his own remedies, made up in the back room of the shop, and many drugs which are now illegal including opium.
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Across the corner from the chemist was the Blue Lion Tavern which had been a corner-site public house on Cook Street and originally called the White Lion. It was run by Emma Jane Twyford who, in spite of being married, was listed on census records as being the head of her household. Emma was the last proprietor of the Blue Lion as it was demolished in 1892 to make way for a Threlfall’s brewery – the reconstruction at Lark Hill Place was made up from three different pubs demolished during Salford’s 1950s rebuilding works.
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Next door to the Blue Lion was the William and Mary house. Before the Industrial Revolution timber framed houses were common across Salford and one such house dated back to 1306. It was originally built as a manor house for the Wythin Grave family, eventually becoming Ye Olde Rovers Return Inn during the 18th century. It traded as a pub until 1924 then later became a working mens’ café and finally the Rovers Return Trinket Shop before being demolished in the late 1950s.
The William and Mary house at Lark Hill Place was reconstructed with timbers from that building, with wooden panelling from Kenyon Peel Hall, Little Hulton, and a staircase from a house in Gravel Lane, Salford. Representative of a property from the late 17th century it contains objects from the same period, including a high-backed walnut chair, a gate-leg table and a cabinet with marquetry decoration, while on the wall are portraits of Sir Robert Honeywood and Frances Vane who were married in 1631 – Sir Robert was a Commonwealth ambassador to Sweden in 1659.
Set back in the corner to the right of the William and Mary house was the tobacconist’s shop. Eugene Morand, originally from Italy, was a cigar merchant of Chapel Street in Salford; he had a wife, Louisa, and a son, James, and must have been quite a wealthy tobacconist as he also had a domestic servant. According to the trade directories of the time, E Morand Tobacconist’s traded from 1861 to 1893 in Salford, Hulme, and Whalley Range. On the wall to the right of the shop is a Muratti mirror advertisement; it came from a tobacconist’s in Broad Street, Pendleton, and is said to show the actress Lily Langtry who became known as the ‘Jersey Lily’.
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At the end of the street, and facing towards the square, was Henry Radcliffe’s toy shop with its window displaying many different types of toys from the era, including a model ark with a collection of animal pairs, several books and a Victorian rocking horse.
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To the right of the toy shop was the printshop, part of a booming industry in the mass production of text. Salford had its own newspapers, the Salford Chronicle founded in 1868 and the Reporter, founded in 1879. The Reporter changed its name frequently and in later years became the Salford City Reporter, continuing production until 1997 when it merged with the Advertiser. On display in the printshop were a two-handed printing press, several printing tools and a variety of printing blocks.
Next door to the printshop was the music shop containing a wide range of musical instruments and products. Although the commercial potential of musical instruments and recordings developed greatly during the 19th century dedicated music shops were rare in Victorian Salford, with piano tuners being more common. Since more and more people owned their own pianos at home and earlier instruments were becoming harder to maintain the demand for tuning services became too much for the piano makers, so independent businesses and tradesmen were able to flourish, with tuners being well respected.
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On the corner next to the music shop, and the last shop in Lark Hill Place, was Matthew Tomlinson’s general store which originally stood in Fairfield Street, Manchester. It sold a diverse range of products from sweets and chocolate to groceries, fabric dyes, soap and herbal remedies, and several brands on display in the Lark Hill window were still around when I was a child.
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Away from the light and airy main part of the museum, once I’d been in Lark Hill Place for a few minutes I really began to feel as though I’d stepped back in time. Getting photos looking through windows wasn’t easy as there was quite a lot of light reflection but I got enough shots to show what the individual rooms and shops were like. Looking round and getting an insight into Victorian times had been a fascinating experience, and as the museum is only a 10-minute train ride from my local main station it’s a place I may very well revisit in the not-too-distant future.


Lost and found

Several days ago I was just setting out to take Poppie for a quick walk when a little dog ran past my front gate. I’m very familiar with all the dogs living in my area and this wasn’t one of them, so unless someone new had recently moved into somewhere close by then I assumed this little one must be lost. Putting Poppie back indoors I went out and called the dog but it ran off back the way it had come. Next thing there was a squeal of brakes from along the street and a car stopped in the middle of the road – the little dog had just missed being hit by it.
The young woman driver shouted me to ask if it was mine and when I said no but I was trying to catch it she said she would help. The dog ran round the corner and down the next street so while I walked down she went down in her car; the dog still wouldn’t come to us but it doubled back up the lane behind the houses which, luckily for us, is a dead end, and we finally caught up with it in the corner of a nearby garden. It was obviously very frightened as when I put my hand out it cowered away growling; neither of us wanted to risk being bitten so I took my jacket off and threw it over the dog so I could pick it up safely. Being wrapped in the jacket seemed to calm it down and it snuggled in quite happily though it was wet through and shivering with cold.
The young woman said she had to get to work – judging by her uniform she was a nurse – so I thanked her for her help and said I would take care of the dog and try to find its owner. By this time I was absolutely soaked through as the fine drizzle of earlier had turned into quite a downpour but at least I was only round the corner from home so could soon get dry. After towelling the little dog down, and discovering that it was a little girl, I wrapped her in a fleece blanket while I got changed and made a brew. She was a sweet little thing and once she was almost dry I gave her a bit of food then she sat quietly at my feet while I drank my coffee.
Next was to try to reunite her with her owner; she had a collar on but no ID disc so I took her down to the nearest vets to get her scanned for a microchip. For some reason they couldn’t get a reading but they said if I left her with them they would contact the local dog warden; I felt a bit sad to give her up as she was so adorable and such a little sweetie but I knew someone somewhere would probably be missing her. I left my contact details with the vet’s receptionist and I’d only been back home about half an hour when she rang me to say they’d managed to trace the owner. I did ask where the little dog had come from but because of data protection she wouldn’t tell me; I’d only asked so if I ever see it running loose again I would know where it belonged.
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The only photo I have – down by my feet in the van before going to the vets
To be honest I think it would have been nice to have got a phone call from the little dog’s owners to say ‘Thank you for finding our dog’ but if the vets wouldn’t give me any details of the owners then maybe they wouldn’t give my details to them. I don’t know how long she had been running loose when I found her but I’m glad to know that she would have been reunited with her family – and if she hadn’t been reunited then I’m sure I could have found room in my heart and my home for another little four-paws.



Lytham Hall, minus the snowdrops

All through February I was hoping to go to Lytham Hall to see the snowdrops – I went last year and was well impressed – but the continually wet and windy weather has made sure I didn’t get there, however the forecast for that area yesterday promised some sunshine in the afternoon so at lunchtime I took a chance and set off with Poppie for the Fylde coast. It was indeed sunny when I got there, in fact it had been sunny all the way from home, but sadly the snowdrops were all but over. The vast carpets of pretty little white flowers which had so impressed me last year were decidedly threadbare and dull but the grounds are so nice it was still worth having a walk round.
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Since my visit there last year I’d found out that somewhere in the woodland was a small lake with the remains of an old ruined boathouse which was worth a photo so I went in search of it, only to find what had  been the boathouse was looking rather less than photogenic. It seemed to be undergoing some restoration as it was cordoned off from the footpath – although I didn’t let that stop me, I just walked round the open end of the barrier to get the shots I wanted.
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Next came a walk round the fishing lake known as Curtains Pond; no boathouse there but more open and attractive than the first lake. From there I went to the courtyard where there was an attractive corner with plants for sale; I was hoping to buy some snowdrops but there were none in evidence and the only person I could ask was deep in a long conversation with two other ladies. I hung around for a while but there was no sign of an end to their conversation and I didn’t want to interrupt so I photographed some very colourful flowers then took myself off elsewhere.
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It was nice to see that since my visit a year ago the scaffolding which had surrounded a large part of the Hall at the time had gone so I was able to take a photo of the entire front of the building, then after a short wander round the grounds closest to the Hall I retired to the dog friendly cafe for coffee and cake which, incidentally, was very nice.
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Without venturing deeper into the woodland and risking getting muddy wet feet I decided to call it a day and make tracks for home once I came out of the café. Walking back to the car park my eye was caught by a flash of colour just visible among the trees and when I went to check it out I found a large rhododendron, more of a tree than a bush, in the early stages of blooming. The first day of March seems to be very early for something like that, especially with all the recent bad weather – maybe the Fylde coast and the Lytham Hall woodland has a milder climate than here at home.
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A splash of colour among the trees
Driving along the long private road from the Hall I stopped briefly to get a shot of the waterlogged parkland on the other side of the fence then continued past the station and through the town centre to the promenade where I decided to do something I’ve meant to do for a long while but haven’t done.
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This isn’t a pond, it’s waterlogged parkland
Finding a free roadside parking space I left the van and went for a walk along Lytham green to the windmill, first passing the church of St. John the Divine. The church was built in 1848/49 and was paid for by public subscription, with the land having been donated by the Clifton family of Lytham Hall. The windmill was built in 1805 and was designed for grinding wheat and oats to make flour or bran; it was gutted by fire in 1919 but two years later the owner donated it to the town and it was restored, then in 1951 it was given a Grade ll listing.
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Next to the windmill is the old lifeboat house, originally built in 1852. It’s now a museum and on display at the top of the nearby slipway are two anchors which were caught off the Southport coast in the trawl net of a Fleetwood fishing boat in the 1980s; they were restored in 2013 by Fylde Borough Council and various volunteer groups.
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The old lifeboat house
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An unusual decorative memorial bench near the windmill
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Those were to be my last shots of the afternoon. The grounds of Lytham Hall had been quite sheltered but on the green there was a bitterly cold gale force wind blowing; time to head home and stay in the warm indoors for the rest of the day.