Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Guernsey Evacuees

Members will recall the fascinating talk earlier this year by Gillian Mawson on the subject of The Guernsey Evacuees.  Gillian now has a web site on this subject which includes a fascinating diary which is updated daily on the life in 1940 of an evacuee in Stockport.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

264 Buxton Road

Alongside 264 Buxton Road, there was once a narrow lean-to shop.  Before WWII this had been the haberdashers shop of the Birchenall sisters. Also sold were items of clothing such as scarves, gloves and hats.  The premises later became the hairdressing salon of Jean Lomas.  In 1978 it re-opened under the name of "Cutter's Cabin" having been vacant for some time.

This is a computer generated reconstruction.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Wartime Child Evacuees

The May meeting of the Furness Vale History Society was addressed by Gillian Mawson who told the fascinating story of the children evacuated from Guernsey durning the Second World War. Gillian has now written a follow up story.

by Gillian Mawson, History researcher at The University of Manchester

In June 1940, thousands of Channel Island evacuees, mostly school children with their teachers, and mothers with infants, came to Northern England, just prior to the German occupation of their islands.  They left a quiet rural island and settled in the industrial areas of Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire.They owned only what they had in their suitcases, and remained in England for five years. Over 1,000 arrived in Stockport, with hundreds more arriving in Oldham, Bury and Wigan.

A number of the evacuated Guernsey schools re-established themselves in empty buildings in in order to keep the teachers and pupils together for the duration of the war. The attached picture shows the children and teachers of the Guernsey Forest School in their wartime school premises at Cheadle Hulme Parish Hall in Cheshire.

The evacuees had many different experiences, but one thing that many in the Bury area had in common was the memory of a local man, Mr J W Fletcher.  Mr Fletcher was a retired travelling salesman.  He took a keen interest in helping the evacuees, arranging parties and outings for the children and fund raising.  After the war Mr Fletcher travelled to Guernsey to be reunited with the families he had been so close to,  and a party of thanks was held for him.

With funding from the Beacon Trust, which enables university researchers to share their knowledge more widely with the public, I was able to work with Bury Archives Service to create a short documentary film. This captures the memories of three individuals impacted by the Guernsey evacuation in Bury in different ways.  On 28th October this film was launched at Ramsbottom Heritage Gallery and  gave many individuals an opportunity to be reunited after 70 years. The contributions of memories and photographs which we received from evacuees and local people provided a great deal of new information about this period in Guernsey’s and Bury’s history.
I have been interviewing Channel Island evacuees since 2009 and organised a three day event in June 2010, with Stockport Council, which marked the 70th anniversary of the Guernsey evacuation.

I am currently collecting the memories of evacuated Guernsey mothers and teachers in order to write about their experiences. For information on purchasing the film, or to find out more about my research, including public events, workshops for schools, publications etc, please visit my blog and website at:-

or email me at

The following is a news report from Channel Islands Television:

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Yeardsley Players

Do you remember The Yeardsley Players ?  Dudley Garratt has found a programme from the 1981/2 season.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Furness Vale Bank

The Furness Vale Bank

The Manchester and County Bank first opened a branch at 47 Buxton Road, at  the corner of  Station Road in 1908.  This was open daily during full banking hours.  On the 28th April 1930 the branch moved to new premises at 99 Buxton Road but opening times were now limited. 
The bank shortened it's name in 1934 to County Bank and in the following year was taken over by another Manchester company, the District Bank.
The Furness Vale branch closed on 2nd October 1939 for the duration of the War in common with many banks because of staff shortages.  On 22nd October 1946 it re-opened as a sub-branch of Whaley Bridge.
In 1962 District Bank was taken over by National Provincial but retained it's identity. National Provinical and Westminster agreed to merge in 1968 and over the following 18 monthe the operations of the three banks were combined. From 1st January 1970 the Furness Vale branch traded as National Westminster.
The Furness Vale branch closed on 9th August 1974, for many years this branch had been open just three days a week between 10am and 2pm.
47 Buxton Road became a butcher's shop, originally owned by Johnny Jackson, later by Harry Moorcroft.and finally by James Lavin.  This building is now a private residence.   99 Buxton Road which is two doors past the Antique shop going towards Newtown is also now a private residence. The Antique Shop is still of course, in business.    Here is a re-creation using 3D computer modelling software.

With thanks to the Royal Bank of Scotland archives and Willis Ford for much of this information

note: The first bank premises appear to have been in one of the shops opposite the school, perhaps 116 Buxton Road, moving two or three years later to 47 Buxton Road.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bahamas and Furness Brickworks

Jack Hardman has sent the following story of the maintenance of the locomotive "  Bahamas"   at Dinting Railway Centre: 

In the early 1970's, it was decided that 5596 Bahamas (the loco that was the "cause" of the Dinting Railway Centre) needed a new brick or concrete arch in the firebox. The purpose of this is to ensure more complete combustion, which improves efficiency, and reduces smoke. Obviously in the firebox, ordinary bricks or concrete cannot be used, and so refractory materials are used. The proper materials were therefore acquired from R E Knowles at Furness. I can't remember the names of all the stuff, but Ganister was definnitely one, and I think, something called Grog.

My Dad, and a chap called Cliff Barnes put the concrete arch in, and I laboured for them, so I know this to be true. As the refactory material "went off" quickly, and generated lots of heat, it was mixed in small batches, and carried to my Dad & Cliff in the firebox in buckets small enough to fit through the firehole door,  I know I had to run with the buckets, in order to get it to them in a still workable state.

Knowing my Dad, he had probably persuaded the manager at Knowles to sell the stuff to the Loco Society at cost price (or even gratis!) as some sort of goodwill gesture!

I spoke to my dad, he can't remember what the payment arrangements were, but he knows that he got the fire cement, and the grog from Knowles's.
Grog is crushed-up firebricks, used as the aggregate in making refractory concrete, much as limestone chippings are used in normal concrete.