I was born in Openshaw in 1936 and lived there until I left for good in 1960. My father was born in Stoke on Trent, my mother in Clayton, Manchester, and I have always regretted that I never learned about their early years. Their occasional comments made me understand in a very vague way that their lives had been very different from mine, but I didn’t have the interest then to ask for more information. So what this site is about is putting down details of my growing up years so that, long after I’m gone, there will be a record of them.
My children’s adolescence was spent in the Home Counties, which is about as different an environment to Openhaw as one can imagine, and at a time when standards of living had dramatically improved. Without a written record of life in those days, it would be difficult for them to relate to how we lived then.
I had always regarded my life in Openshaw as merely different from what came after, and if I’m honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy living there, and was glad to leave. In recent years, though, I’ve realised that it was a special place in many ways.
It was a homogeneous society, just about entirely working class. It was densely populated, with streets and rows of similar houses. It was very industrialised, the most industrialised suburb in Europe, I read somewhere, and I can believe it. Because of these things, it was very self contained, and had a very strong community spirit. Disastrously, that community spirit was destroyed in the 1960s and 1970s when Manchester Corporation decided to redevelop Openshaw, and scattered the population, in some cases many miles away. And the redevelopment means that there remains little or nothing of the physical environment that I knew.
Industry has also moved on; the goods that were made in Openshaw are now made more cheaply in China and Japan, so the factories closed as the competition grew too fierce.
This project, to record my childhood, had been on my to-do list for many years, always being considered, never getting done. It lacked a trigger, and I found that in a Facebook page called, appropriately, “Openshaw”. I discovered this page about a year ago, and have been very impressed with the lively nature of the site, and also by the fact that a lot of the community spirit that I used to know still exists, even if we are separated and widely spread, sometimes living on different continents.
There is a collective folk memory that I hope to tap into, looking at the photos that are posted, and the comments they generate has brought back more memories than I could have possibly managed by myself. I hope that whatever follows on this site will produce the same quantity and quality of response that the Facebook page has.
How the site will grow and develop is difficult to predict. I know some aspects of our lives that I want to capture, but the ultimate direction and destination will depend on the response from other Openshaw ex-residents.
Hi all. I recently came across this site. My name is David Isaacs. Dr. Isaacs, my Dad, was the local GP at 1455 Ashton Old Road for about 30 years through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I lived there from 1952 to 1965 when we moved out to Mottram in Longdendale. The surgery was at the back of the house via a side entrance at the top end of Cheeryble St. It’s all demolished now and it took me a while on a recent visit to find where the house had been. I remember Mrs Hatton’s corner shop on Cheeryble Street – “open all hours”. There’s a sad picture of it boarded up just before demolition. The other local doctors I remember were Dr “Barney” O,Reilly, Dr. Lurie and Dr. O, Driscoll. It would be nice to know if any of you were my Dad’s patients. It was a very cohesive community which sadly did not survive redevelopment. However, public health has much improved since then. I can remember in the 1950s kids going to school in the smog with masks.
Our family doctor was Dr O’Donnell, who had a surgery much further down the Old Road, on the south side, probably between Bessemer St and Grey Mare Lane. I remember Dr Lurie’s name; perhaps he shared a surgery with Dr O’Donnell. I don’t remember the other names you mention.
I left Openshaw for good in 1960, so our times there overlapped.
You’re right, it was a very cohesive and supportive community, which was torn apart by totally unsympathetic redevelopment.
I’ll post a link to your comment on the Openshaw Facebook page, which has some good posts and comments on the old Openshaw.
Thanks for your comments.
Hi. My family were patients of your father’s in the 1960’s. We lived off Toxteth Street at the back of St Clements Church. We left the area early 70.’s.
This is a comment which came directly to my email address rather than via the website.
Hi My name is Chris Holland and I lived on Cheeryble Street with my grandad Eric Holland till 1984. Eric lived there till he passed away in 1995. The street was virtually all empty by then. Very sad he’d lived there all his life and his parents had too. I went to St Clements primary and Wright Robinson secondary. My great grandad was the parkie at Delamare Park and Eric worked at Ferguson Palin all his working days. My memories of Cheeryble Street are of great community spirit and kindness. People really did look out for each other. Great days. If Margaret, Catherine or William Harrop are out there. I hope you’re doing well and would love to hear from you.
I had the names wrong it was Mr Stathem who took us on the hostel cycle trip along with Mr Brealy assistant to Mr Robinson woodwork at Wheler St about 1956-7,
Sea Scouts Cornwall St, methadist church next door, left Wheeler 1957, my brother still lives in our family home Eastern By Pass where we moved to from Beswick 1948, Webb, Robinson science, Robinson!!! Wood work, Mr Chadwick with Mr Brearley who took us on a hostel cycle holiday, great , and not forgetting Miss Rigby student teacher,
Hi Joe Molloy.thanks to your dad getting me my first job in 1957 at Jacksons Brick in the garage, it gave me a good start in working life , my brother still lives in our house on Eastern By Pass which we moved to from Beswck in 1947-we’ve lived in France for about 6 years, l live in Gee Coss now I’ve got piles of skool photos, a good one is of me and Gail White as Joseph and Mary in the Christmas nativity play, can you still do your strong butterfly type swim?, all the best Ray Brown,
My parents lived at 16 gill st openshaw, at around late 1940s. I was born their 1949.
I lived in Ferris St, just off Louisa Street between 1957 and 1975. My father Brian worked at Joseph Stubbs iron foundry, Crossleys and also Electromotors. My mum Peggy used to work at Atora Suet factory and also ElectroMotors.
I remember, Tan Yard Brow, Grey Mare Lane, the Alhambra cinema and my dad’s local The Wrexham Inn.
I attended Clayton Brook Primary School and then Levenshulme High School.
Hi everyone, I was born at 16 Thornton Street in Openshaw in 1960. My parents were John and Terese Bohan. We left there in 1965 to return to Ireland. I have no memories of Openshaw but would love to get any information about Thornton Street, what it was like , what part of Openshaw it was in etc. Also, as I was born at home, does anyone have information about where my birth would have been registered ? Looking forward to any replies. Thanks Breda McMahon (Bohan)
There are a couple of Facebook pages you might want to look at, one called “Openshaw” another is “Memories of Openshaw and Surrounding areas” and also another one “Clayton Droylesden and Openshaw”. I did a quick search through the Manchester council image collection and didn’t find Thornton St, so it might take a bit of finding. Good luck.
Hello everyone. My dad (Frank Hawkins) was born in 1928 and lived on Clayton Lane with his two older brothers (Jim and Eric) and their sister, Ada and their dad. He went to St Barnabas school but was evacuated during the war to Blackpool. He worked at English Steel for many years and moved to Droylsden when he married my mum. Both are now long-since dead but I’d love to hear from anyone who knew him or his family. Also, my auntie Ada and her husband had a newsagents on Ashton Old Road when I was a child in the late 60’s, early 70’s if anyone remembers them.
I had a paper route at Eccles on Ashton old rd. Left for USA 1969. My name is Oliver McGrath.
I am trying to contact anyone who knew Alan Blinkho, he lived in Beswick and played for Openshaw Boys FC. He sadly passed away on Thursday night and I wanted to try and reach out to people who would like to attend funeral
I lived at boscastle St.off Louise St.moved to cheeryble St.went to Clayton brook and wheeler St worked at g.e.c.
Hi, I’m Mike Murphy I was born in 1947 in Wesley Street, off Grey Mare Lane. I went to Ashton Old Road Infant and Junior Schools.
Hi….my name Rita Cain and used to live at 19 Wesley Street. I had one brother Thomas
Hello. My gran and dad lived on gill street. Gran was Lillian Eyre, she had two children Maureen and frank. Frank was my dad but sadly he died in 1964 at his mums home in gill street, I was only 9 months old. I have no memories of my dad what so ever. Does anyone have photos of memories of them. Thankyou karen
I WAS BORN IN WHELER ST HR OPENSHAW 1947
I WORKED AT B. AND S. MASSEYS LTD ASHTON OLD RD
AS AN APPRENTIC IN THE 60S MY FATHER WORKED AT GORTON TANK
I USED TO GO TO THE REX CINERMA ON ASHTON OLD RD NEAR TO VICTORIA ST
WHERE MY COUSIN LIVED AND I WALK ACROSS THE BIRD CAGE AT THE SIDE
OF GORTON TANK .
I ALSO WOKED AT ENGLISH STEEL ON SOUTH ST
I OFTEN WENT TO THE ALAMBRA THEATRE AND TO GEORGE STREET PARK
ON SOUTH ST I THINK .
IF ANY ONE WOULD LIKE ANY MORE INFO PLEASE CONTACT ME
Lived on Toxteth street, attended st clements school than on to spurley hey, also in the boys brigade mersey street
I too was born in Openshaw on South street in 1958. I started the OPENSHAW group on Facebook, where you can view thousands of photos, I also paint pictures of 1960s Openshaw, these can be viewed on my openshaw group, or on another group called MY ARTISTIC JOURNEY again on Facebook,
mum had the corner shop on south street my school was st barnabus junior my surname healey now live in wales 74 years of age 07882464129 land 01745887327
I lived at the Jenny Lind pub in Openshaw with my mam and dad Thomas and Ethel Fitzgerald from the late fifties into the sixties. When we left the pub my mam and dad became stewards at the working mens club on Cornwall Street, not the Loco. When we moved into the Jenny Lind, of which i have a photo, there was a men only vault, with spittoons on the floor which my dad soon got rid of. There was a Manchester dartboard, dominos and cribbage. There was a small snug with a piano used by the ladies. Eventually the vault was opened up to ladies as well. The beer was delivered on a cart pulled by two horses and then the barrels were rolled down into the cellar.
Hi was My Dads family was from the home counties Stoke On Trent but he grew up in Openshaw Manchester Rosina Steet and then Toxteth Street Openshaw Manchester he was born in November 1936 and his name is Ralph Bedson if there is anyone that would know of him or be a family member he had several sisters and brothers then please reply to me firstname.lastname@example.org
I grew up in Droylsden but spent a great deal of time in Openshaw as my parents had shops on Ashton Old Rd, just by the traffic lights with the Half Way House on the corner and the pub which unfortunately I cant recall the name of (which is a shame because I seem to recall I became friendly with the daughter of the landlord) on the opposite corner. My parents shops were the off-licence and the tailors just a few doors along. I guess we are talking late 60’s early 70’s.
I think I am right in thinking my Grandad ( David Aitken) worked at the foundry in Openshaw.
We moved from Droylsden to Broadway, Fairfield early 70’s.
I have no contacts from those days. I came across this site by chance and found myself hoping to see a name I recognised.
Hi Derick. I lived at 699 AOR near Clayton Lane facing Swales Fish Shop. I vaguely remember your name and as you mentioned Miss O’Hara Miss Hitchcock it would seem that we where in the same class
Name is Derek Philpott, and I lived in Cornwall St.
I don’t remember your name, but there was a boy who lived near the paper shop about a half mile towards Manchester from Cornwall St who had a Mac name, I think.
Could that be you?
Hi I was born in Openshaw 1936 A.O.R. I read you article “My first School” We would have been in the same class as I started there in 1941to 47 left and went to Wheller Street. what is you last name?
I remember you if your brother was Gordon
The bullocks Roy ,john lived just below you next to the butchers at clayton lane
I am Joe Molloy lived at 1 South street
Other pals the Dimlows Arthur ,Brian Anne jean Ian Mathers
Joe Morgan. Frank Morris and his sister’s Geralfd and Joe Naylor on Clayton lane give me a ring 07754159590 thanks
Keith Ps not to forget your Frank’s dog chunmy