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Tony Flynn

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About Tony Flynn

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  1. Many myths have grown up about these hulking monsters which admittedly must have put the fear up of God into the enemy as they came out the early morning mist, belching fire and smoke, flattening barbed wire fences in their wake, sadly the reality is that on the battlefield that they didn't have a massive impact on the outcome of the war. They were slow, a top speed of four miles an hour, mechanically unreliable and for the eight-man crew jammed into the tank a living hell, their steel armour could stop small arms fire and fragments from high-explosive artillery shells, however, they were vulnerable to a direct hit from artillery and mortar shells. The environment inside was extremely unpleasant; as ventilation was inadequate the atmosphere was heavy with poisonous carbon monoxide from the engine and firing the weapons, fuel and oil vapours from the engine and cordite fumes from the weapons, temperatures inside could reach 50°C (122°F). entire crews lost consciousness inside the tanks or collapsed when again exposed to fresh air with gas masks and wire mesh masks known as splatter masks worn at all times. However, this story gleaned from the pages of the Eccles and Patricroft Journal from February 1918, paints a far rosier picture of life for the ordinary Tommy serving in the Tank Corps. It tells the story of a 25-year-old man from, Bolton Road, Pendlebury, Sgt. Alfred Whitehead who was serving in the Tank Corps and if is to believed seemed intent on wiping out the entire German army by himself. His parents had received a letter from the War Office informing them that Alfred was to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M.) for bravery whilst serving in France, the DCM was the second highest medal to be awarded for gallantry in action after the Victoria Cross. Alfred was the youngest of three sons, all of whom were serving in the British Army, Ernest was serving with the Kings Own Borderers Regiment, and Herbert was serving with the Labour Corp in France. They received further information when a letter arrived from Alfred, a letter which is an astonishingly, honest depiction of war in France and candidly brutal about life and death. In my book, that means he has just shot and killed 50 Germans, however, his killing spree wasn't over yet! In what must be one of the most classic understatements of the war he said, I should imagine that they would. What an astonishing story, I do wonder if Sgt Whitehead actually did kill over 60 German soldiers or was this just jingoistic talk for the newspapers in a hope to instil morale in the people back home, who were in dire need of some good news from this war that seemed would never end? No matter what it can't be denied that Sgt Alfred Whitehead was a very brave man, if not at times verging on the homicidal who served his King and Country with honour.
  2. It employed over 5,000 local men and imported among other things, timber, grain, cotton, livestock, tea, cheese etc, it even had its own railway system and police force. With WW1 dragging into its fourth year, public morale was low, food rationing was getting tighter and this would not have helped what was a potentially explosive situation, also 1,000's of lives were still being lost in what seemed to be an endless war. This court case from February 1918 gives an insight into what people in Salford were suffering and what a tinderbox situation the country could hopefully avoid. In January 1918, Detective Inspector Carroll of the MSC police received information that pilfering of ham, tea, cheese and other foodstuffs were being carried out on a daily basis by the dockers employed there. He decides to nip this in the bud and in my opinion rather foolishly decided to do mass stop and search of dockers leaving work hoping to find stolen goods. One such search involved William Hopkins a dock labourer who lived in Peel Street, Hulme, he was stopped because his pockets looked, 'bulky' a search revealed loose tea in his pockets, he was arrested and given to P.C. Chadwick to be taken into custody. Events quickly turned nasty as some 50 dock labourers gathered and demanded his release, they began throwing stones, one hitting P.C. Chadwick on the head and drawing blood, Hopkins seized his chance and threw the tea on the floor and made good his escape, only to be arrested on nearby Ordsall lane, shortly afterwards. Back at the docks, the situation escalated and two of the dockers, John Needham, who resided at Arm Street, Hulme and Archibald Cochrane, from Fleetwood Street, Salford were alleged to have caused further trouble for the police. Needham was heard to say, Cochrane was alleged to have said, Police reinforcements arrived before the situation could get worse and the so-called ringleaders were arrested whilst Hopkins was already in custody. William Hopkins appeared at Salford Magistrates Court the next week and was charged with stealing 4 ounces of tea, the value of 1 shilling, the property of the M.S.C. He denied the offence, however, it was revealed that a search by the police found remains of tea in his pockets, it was also revealed that he had 10 previous convictions for theft, hardly a shining example to other employees. He was sentenced to one month's imprisonment with hard labour. Next in the dock were the star attractions of the day, Needham and Cochrane who were charged with inciting persons unknown to assault D.I. Carroll and P.C. Chadwick whilst in the execution of their duties, a fairly serious charge. The case was heard by Stipendary Magistrate, Mr P.W. Atkin, for the prosecution was a Barrister at Law, Mr Gilbert Johnson and for the defence was Mr E. Desquesnes. Mr Desquesnes called P.C. Chadwick into the witness box and asked for his version of events on that day, and asked why he had chosen to search Needham and if he had said to him, "Come here, you - swine" Chadwick denied saying this, strangely enough, Mr Desquesnes then asked him if he had ever been fined for using bad language? again Chadwick denied this, a strange line of questioning unless Mr Desquesnes knew something about him and hoped to blacken his character in the dock, perhaps implying that he was a violent, foul-mouthed man? P.C. Chadwick then came out with quite a damning statement when he said that he heard Needham say that if D.I. Carroll put a hand on him, he would smash his head in, whilst wielding a hammer at him! The evidence against Needham stacked up even higher when a P.C. Donohue said that he had heard Needham say, "Get the coppers and throw the lot of them in the docks", say what you like but those MSC police had truly remarkable powers of hearing. John Needham took the witness box and told the court he was leaving work when he was roughly dragged into a shed by D.I. Carroll who demanded to know what was in his pockets, he explained that it was the remains of his dinner, some bread and cheese, he then alleged that he was sworn at by P.C. Needham and pushed to the floor. He denied trying to incite the dockers to attack the police and said that the MSC police were exceeding their duties and that he was an innocent man. Archibald Cochrane then took the witness box, he too denied inciting the crowd to attack the police but protested at their heavy-handed treatment of the prisoners. The Stipendary then had to decide who was telling the truth, I think we both know who he believed. He sentenced Needham to one month's imprisonment and Cochrane to 14 days imprisonment in Strangeways Gaol. Cochrane shouted out, "Is this the way you treat innocent men?" Mr Desquesnes pleaded for leniency and asked if a fine would be a more fitting punishment? This was refused and both men were taken down. Was this a harsh judgement? to be honest, if the men were guilty were of inciting the mob to attack the police they would have received far lengthier prison sentences than they did. I think that the Stipendary had to make a token show of strength to appease both the MSC police and act as a future deterrent to the dock workers and hopefully please both parties. I wonder what would have happened if the men had actually beaten the police up and thrown them into the icy waters of the Salford Docks, I feel its fairly certain that the armed militia would have been called in straight away and ordered to stamp out this early sign of anarchy. It was only five months earlier in Russia that the workers had risen up and seized control of their country, Heaven forbid that this should happen in Great Britain!
  3. In February 1918, Private Thomas Tierney aged 27 was about to let the Salford Magistrates Court know exactly what his feelings were in gaining this slight respite from the madness of the war. Tierney had been arrested on Cross Lane, Salford by P.C. Lamb and was charged with being drunk and disorderly, and was bailed to appear at the Magistrates Court at Bexley Square. Cross Lane at this time was a hub of activity and a magnet for anybody looking for a proverbial good time, it could boast of having 18 pubs, two music halls, a cattle market, army barracks and a no doubt very busy police station. On the day Tierney was due to appear at the Magistrates Court, there was no sign of him, had he skipped bail and gone back to his unit in France? Detective Inspector Clark told the Court that Tierney who had been bailed by the Salford police force had gone straight to Manchester, were true to form he was again arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Mr Foyster the Magistrates Clerk suggested that the police should contact Minshull Police Court and ask for this charge to be taken into consideration there, and decided to mark the court records, "No evidence given" Suddenly, Tierney walked into the court and proudly introduced himself to the Stipendary Magistrate with no apology or explanation for his absence. Detective Clarke took the initiative and asked him how he had got on at Minshull Street Court. He breezily replied, "Oh it was a total washout, a waste of everybody's time, chucked the case out" Hardly the explanation the court or the police were expecting. The case against him was allowed to continue and as it progressed I have to admit that I found it quite funny and took a shine to Private Tierney. P.C. Lamb took the stand and told the court that he was on duty on Cross Lane, when his attention was drawn to a group of women and men, cheering and laughing loudly. Further inspection found Private Tierney to be dressed in women's clothing, dancing about whilst wielding a Claymore sword over his head, which you must admit is quite an interesting spectacle. Private Tierney went into the witness box and seemed quite aggrieved at what he had just heard and told his version of the events. "I was doing no harm to anybody, yes I did have a woman's dress and bonnet on, doing the 'sword exercise' but I was only acting the goat" Now in full swing, he carried on, "I had only 14 days leave from France and I wanted to enjoy myself without losing a Saturday night in the police cells" "They take no notice of this kind of behaviour in France, but in England, they 'wheel you in' which I think is shameful, I was only having a bit of fun and didn't harm anybody" This explanation must have taken the court by surprise, no doubt expecting a grovelling apology from the hapless Private Tierney. The Stipendary using the wisdom of Solomon told Tierney, "You brave fellows don't seem to understand how seriously we take things here, you may go and fight for your King and Country but please don't play the fool here" Tierney was discharged without a blemish on his character and left the court a free man, he should have been given ten bobs to buy a pint in the nearest pub in my opinion. I do hope that he survived the bloodshed of the Western Front and came home to a hero's welcome were he could let his hair down in peace and no doubt indulges in a bit of Highland Dancing!
  4. Ironically the weather today seemed to echo the events of that fateful day as snow started to fall on the approach to Old Trafford. Many supporters gathered outside the Munich Memorial Plaque to lay wreaths, scarves, photographs, football shirts and even an old-style football in memory of their fallen heroes. United had opened the East Stand which I still call the Scoreboard End for fans to attend the service which was led by club’s chaplain, the Rev John Boyers. .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; } The Manchester United Foundation Choir, sang, "I watch The Sunrise" as the players past and present were warmly welcomed by the crowd as they made their way to their seats. Executive director Michael Edelson and Ferguson gave short readings before the Roll of Honour were solemnly read out by John Boyers, followed by a minutes silence which was impeccably held. An exceptionally poignant moment, was looking across at the crash survivors, Harry Gregg and Sir Bobby Charlton it was sad to see the sorrow on their faces, whilst around me, grown men openly wept. Salford's own Pete Martin sang the Manchester United anthem, The Flowers of Manchester and you could have heard a pin drop such was the silence around the stadium. Wreaths were laid by Michael Carrick and Jose Mourhino as the brass band played, Abide With Me, however, my gaze was drawn to Gregg and Charlton, both very dignified men and great servants to the club' God knows how they held it together under the circumstances. The players left the ground to rapturous applause with players waving their appreciation to the crowd, the highlight for me was seeing Sir Alex Ferguson punching the air with clenched fists. All in all a sad day but a journey each United fan should try and make, it really is an emotional day which shows the love that people still have for the beautiful boys who perished 60 years ago. God BlessThe Busby Babes.
  5. On the evening of February 2nd, 1918, an unnamed P.C. from the Manchester Police force was making his way along Blackfriars Road, Salford, in no doubt an orderly and sober fashion, when he was stopped in his tracks by the screams of a woman being assaulted. He saw a man punching a woman in the face and screaming at her, he chased after the culprit who soon took to his heels, however a 19-year-old youth who was also passing joined in the chase and they both managed to apprehend the man and took him to the nearby Chapel Street police station - still standing across the road from Trinity Church - where he was charged with being drunk and disorderly, no mention of assault though. He appeared at Salford Magistrates Court the following morning at Bexley Square and was named as William Fallows who resided at Dawson Street, Salford. A rather strange case unfolded before the Stipendary which is worth repeating and I must add is not meant to cause any offence to our readers from Scotland... The off-duty P.C. told the court that he saw Fallows punching the woman, but sadly he did not know her and would not recognise her if she appeared in the court, not very helpful considering. The unnamed 19-year-old youth who also gave chase was next in the witness box and was asked by the Clerk of Court, Mr Foyster to read the oath, to which he replied, "I can't I'm from Scotland". Mr Foyster obviously amazed said, "You come from Scotland and you can't read? I find that most astonishing" The poor lad went from bad to worse when he said that he too would not be able to recognise the woman who was being assaulted, but added helpfully that he recognised, Mr Fallows. Mr Foyster told him to sit down. Next in the dock was Mrs Fallows who was described in the paper as being 'badly marked around the face and eyes' no doubt a polite way of saying she had a pair of shiners, I assume. She told the court a rather pitiful tale of how she had nine small children to Mr Fallows but he was a 'brute' who kept on punishing and beating her, things were that bad that she was often too frightened to go home in the evening and would stay at 'friends' for her own safety, hardly a happy marriage is it? The 'brute' William Fallows was then called to give evidence who naturally put a different spin on the accounts of the evening and his matrimonial troubles. No doubt angling for mercy he told the court that he had been recently discharged from the Army having served with the R.A.M.C. (the Royal Army Medical Corps) and left with £15 and what he described as a 'silver badge' - hopefully a medal - and with the money had bought all of his children, new boots and with the remaining £12 gave it his eldest daughter to hide from his wife in her stocking, because he said that she was often out of the house and drinking with 'bad women'. Furthermore, he wasn't drunk he had only consumed a small glass of whisky and was looking for his errant wife. With a final roll of the dice, he told the Stipendary that he was a man who had fought for his King and Country and that he was the innocent party! he then saluted the Bench and left the dock, no doubt expecting a round of applause from the crowded courtroom. However, his case of sobriety and heroism came crashing down around his ears when the Stipendary asked Detective Inspector Clarke what was known about Mr Fallows. This paragon of justice was found to have no less than 77 previous convictions for theft, assault and drunkenness to name but three. As for his glowing army war record? the D.C. told the court that Fallows had been in court five times for absenteeism from the army and putting the proverbial boot firmly in added that that the Military Authorities were no doubt glad to see the back of him as he had kept two soldiers travelling backwards and forwards from Blackpool to act as his escort back to barracks. The Stipendary weighed up all the evidence in front of him and said, "The time has come to when I am not going to stand any of this any longer, you will go to prison for a month with hard labour" And so the 'army hero' was carted off to Strangeways prison for a diet of bread and water and a side portion of hard labour for good measure, which to be fair wasn't a bad result considering his previous form. Hopefully, Mrs Fallows was able to live a quieter, more peaceful life with the 'brute behind bars unless of course, she found the £12 hidden in her daughter's sock and went out with her 'bad friends' for a drink or two, and who can blame her?
  6. Their target? Not cash, or jewellery, but simply wood for fuel. It was the first winter of the Great War in Salford, and while coal was not officially rationed until 1916, supplies of fuel and light were restricted and many families were suffering. Looking through the record books, the winter temperatures in Salford were not particularly harsh. But the Defence of the Realm Act, passed in August 1914, allowed the government to take charge both of coal production and supply, and there is no doubt that nearly all of the coal that was being produced at this time would have gone to the mills, mines and factories producing weapons and munitions and the war effort in general. Mysterious figures were spotted carrying railway lamps lurking in the shadows of Weaste, ready to pounce and steal timber of any description, even front and back doors were not safe from this unscrupulous bunch of plunderers. The local residents were furious and one told the Salford City Reporter that "this nefarious practice starts at 11.30pm and continues until nearly 6am." We learn that this gang of villians were stealing trees from the estate of Mr Edward Tootal - known as the Weaste Estate - going as far as the railway lines on the Eccles New Road side. It is worth remembering that the Tootal Drive and Meadowgate Estates had yet to be built and early maps show that the area of Tootal Drive spreading up to Buile Hill Park was known as Bluebell Woods, a good indication of the rural nature of Weaste at the time. Trees were spotted stripped of their bark and chopped down awaiting collection which would happen several hours later, the noise of their waggons carrying the timber would be drowned out by the noise of the passing steam trains. It was reported that gas lamps had been tampered with, however, The newspaper then goes on to say that: A favourite time to steal the timber was apparently when there was storm raging, as the noise drowned out the sound of the cart wheels as they shifted their ill gotten goods to nearby houses. One resident complained that dogs which used to bark through the night were suspiciously quiet - no doubt silenced by "mystery biscuits" fed to them. The following week the Salford City Reporter stated that the situation had got much worse, as trees were reported as being stolen near Weaste Hall by gangs using coded whistles and using scouts as look outs in back entries where the sound of wood being sawed up could be clearly heard! The police came in for criticism saying that they "pay little or no attention to the action of the men in the night time", and more damningly that, "they only walked down one side of the thoroughfare - possibly Weaste Lane - and return with extreme quiteness apparently taking no notice of what is going on around them." Some of these thieves were a little more enterprising and would under cover of darkness sneak into the rear of large houses in the area and steal the wood which the owner had stockpiled over the year. Others stated that the money saved by not purchasing wood enabled these men to spend it in other directions, possibly food for their families? I looked through further editions of the newspaper and found no stories of the timber plunderers being hauled up before the local Magistrates Court and the story seemed to fade away. Can we assume that by Christmas 1915 the Great War had started in earnest and that more local men had enlisted in the army? On reflection it seems staggering to read about the moral outrage that the actions of these desperate men had caused. I know full well if I had no money for coal and there were trees close to my house I would be out there chopping a few down to keep warm, and possibly keeping my eye out for a Christmas tree to add to the festive season of goodwill. Image taken from 'Salford 1900-1914' by Roy Bullock Wood you believe it? This article was first sawn on SalfordOnline on the 9th December 2014, it is reproduced here courtesy of a man often described as thick as two short planks, Mr Tony 'Timbbbbbeeeerrrrrr' Flynn.
  7. The boat which was built in 1891 is an exact replica of the boat used by Queen Victoria when she visited Worsley in 1851, alighting at Patricroft train station before transferring to a horse drawn barge to Worsley to visit the Duke of Bridgewater. It is recorded that the said about her canal trip to Worsley, how she, "enjoyed the silent glide through the countryside", as you can imagine at that time Monton was still a fairly rural hamlet. To help recreate that "silent glide", Phil has converted the boat, Victoria R, from a diesel engine to an electric one. This is a 72 volt, 50 amp motor, powered by 36 batteries housed in concealed comparments, giving a running time of 16 hours of cruising time, on one charge. Phil has ambitious plans for the Victoria R, it is 250 years of the opening of the Bridgewater canal and next year will be the 160th anniversary of the visit of Queen Victoria. Plans are afoot to celebrate this event, with Phil hoping to get a member of the Royal family to reenact the canal journey that Queen Victoria made in 1851, this time on the Victoria R. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 22nd of April 2010, it is lovingly reproduced here with the many thanks of noted historian Mr Tony Flynn, a man who we are told is no stranger to cruising.
  8. Local miscreants faced the wrath of Stipendary Magistrate Mr Leslie Walsh, a man still remembered in Salford by a lot of people, sadly not with a lot of affection from the accused. March 1965 saw James Levins, 50, from Eccles New Road, charged with assaulting Salford Warrant officer PC Emlyn Watkins in a "bersek" attack in which he allegedly struck the Constable in the face with a pineapple, causing his chin to bleed profusely. Mr R Newton, prosecuting, told Salford Magistrates Court that PC Watkins went to Mr Levins' home with a default fine warrant for 10 shillings and waited outside for him. Mr Levins drove up in his car and PC Watkins showed him his warrant card. Mr Levins pushed past him and told him to "---- off" PC Watkins then told him that it was only for ten shillings and that if he didn't pay, he would take him into custody. He then reported that Mr Levins said: "It'll take a better copper than you to take me in" then allegedly hit him in the face with a pineapple causing cuts to his chin. The officer grappled with Levins and managed to drag him across the road to a police box and phoned for assistance. Meanwhile Mrs Levins ran up and started shouting that the officer was killing her husband, a crowd gathered and the situation looked like it might turn nasty. He was taken into custody at the Crescent police station and charged with assault. Mr Haynes, defending, said PC Watkins had a grudge against his client for reporting him for using bad language, which the officer denied. Mrs Bardsley of Brookland Street told the court that she saw Mr Levins hit the officer in the face with a pineapple and strike him repeatedly as he was being taken to the police box. The accused made an impassioned plea to the court stating: He added that when PC Watkins shown him his warrant card he put his hand in his pocket to get the money, but the officer grabbed him and frogmarched him across the road. The Stipendary Magistrate Mr Leslie Walsh weighed up the evidence and gave his verdict. He said: Mr Levins was found guilty of assaulting PC Watkins and fined £40 with 10 guineas costs or three months in jail. Image edited from original by Greater Manchester Police via Flickr This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 3rd of March 2015, it is lovingly reproduced here with the many blessings of my old fruit, Tony Flynn.
  9. The blaze started at around 8.30am when flames erupted from a terraced house on Myrtle Street. An inquest heard how the homeowner Mrs Cotgrave had awoken that morning an hour earlier and put some coal on the fire. She had not used a metal fireguard because the fire was still low. Some of her eight children were awake and others were still in bed at this time. Shortly after 8am, 14-year-old Leo took his four-year-old sister Patricia to Greengate Nursery School, while Anthony, 6, was sent upstairs to get his brother Christoper, 9, and sister Alma, 7. Also upstairs was the oldest Cotgrave child, 16-year-old Veronica. Mrs Cotgrave went into the scullery to make a cup of tea and was distracted by her three-year-old son Billy who was crying on a camp bed, and her three-month-old baby son Paul. When she returned to the living room she found the ceiling a mass of flames with burning pieces of plaster and paper falling onto the floor. She screamed for the children upstairs to come down at once, then grabbed Billy and Paul and took them to a neighbour's for safety. Tragically the flames were so intense and the smoke so thick that by the time she returned she was not able to get into the house, and she was seen crying and screaming in the street. Neighbours rushed in to help, including John Gough, who lived a few doors away. He raced around to the back of the house and put a ladder against the upstairs bedroom window, attempting to catch Veronica as she tried to climb from the smoke-logged room, but she slipped and fell onto the scullery roof. She escaped with her life but suffered burns and cuts to her arms. Another neighbour Robert Gemmell tried climbing up the drainpipe at the front of the house in an attempt to rescue the trapped children but was beaten back by the smoke and flames. Salford fire brigade arrived shortly afterwards and found flames shooting through the front door and windows, because the door was open and windows smashed, the flames spread quickly through the house making it an inferno. They turned water jets onto the staircase and firemen wearing breathing apparatus made their way into the house. They found two children unconscious in the back room and another child in the front bedroom also unconscious Anthony, Christoper and Alma were taken outside where they were given first aid and the kiss of life; their father George Cotgrave rushed home from work when he heard the news, just in time to see the three being brought out of the blazing house. At first there seemed some signs of recovery but sadly all three children were pronounced dead at arrival at the hospital. Mrs Cotgrave was also taken to nearby Salford Royal Hospital for treatment and sedation and later questioned about the cause of the fire. The inquest was held on Wednesday 24 February where the Assistant Coroner Mr L Gorodkin who started by stating that their was no negligence by Mrs Gotgrave and the deaths were due to sheer accident. The coroner recorded accidental death verdicts on all three children, with cause of death being smoke inhalation. He praised the bravery of the neighbours who attempted to rescue the children and mentioned the bravery of Firemen Albert Shaw and Raymond Wilde for entering the smoke filled house. Mr Gorodkin told the inquest that it would be impossible to say how the fire started because of the extensive damage to the house. It was thought that the fire had started when the clothes drying in the kitchen suddenly caught alight, causing this terrible tragedy, but this could never be proved. The house was shortly demolished afterwards as part of the Greengate slum clearance problem, sadly too late for the Cotgrave children who perished in the blaze. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 10th of Feb 2015, it is republished here thanks to an agreement twice as complicated as Brexit and involving free tea bags with Tony Flynn.
  10. You may have noticed we are expected to experience some rather windy weather over the next couple of days due to the now Ex-Hurricane Ophelia, but if you lived in Eccles in January 1965 you would have experienced a whole lot more. The Eccles Journal reported that on Friday 5 January, the residents of Eccles had a series of narrow escapes from serious injury as a whirlwind swept across Winton and Ellesmere Park, rippping slates from roofs, demolishing garden fences and causing havoc. The most serious damage was in the Welbeck Road area where a sight screen was torn from Monton Cricket Club and hurled several yards away onto the tennis courts. Mr Gordon Lowe who lived at 6 Welbeck Road returned home from shopping in Manchester to find part of his roof missing, with bricks and roof tiles that had crashed into his front bedroom. Mr Lowe, a chief accountant at Lankro Chemicals in Eccles, told the newspaper: Mrs Boardman of Breck Road had a narrow escape from death when she was taking washing in from the garden and seconds later a chimney pot came crashing down from her roof and shattered on the spot where she had been standing. The trail of destruction carried on in Welbeck Road with one resident Mr Hanlon telling of how the sky suddenly went black, followed by terrific gusts of wind which lasted for up to two minutes and he felt his house shake. Ridge tiles were ripped from his roof and had smashed through his garden fence, demolishing it completely. Mr Stanley Cooke explained: Dozens of homes on Rocky Lane lost roof tiles and television aerials were thrown into the road such was the force of the storm. It appeard to blow itself out shortly after but not before gusting through the council estate at Ellesmere Park where once again it caused damage to roofs, demolishing chimneys and skylights. Does anybody remember this happening? It sounds a pretty severe storm and especially as it happened in the early afternoon when the sky suddenly went black, which in itself would have been quite disturbing I should imagine. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 12th of January 2015, it is reproduced here with the blessing of Tony 'The Tornado' Flynn.
  11. John was born in Hope Hospital and lived in Higher Broughton above Friedman's chemist shop, directly facing the Rialto cinema. His love of the cinema came about through visits to the cinema often accompanied by his dad, who John admits was "not a sitting still sort of guy" but more at home in the pub". When films started with the classic MGM lion roaring, he would walk out, saying "I've seen this one". School for young John was St Thomas's (later to be St Andrews) which he remembers as rather a tough school and his classmates being "teddy boys in training, awful people." Redemption came through a certain teacher, Mr John Malone, who is described as "a rugged outdoor type of man" who could hold the class enthralled with his reading of poetry; in particular 19th century prose but also taking time out to read "chick-friendly" Byron and Shelley for the girls in the class. Mr Malone had another talent, singing in a doo wop band, appearing in a tuxedo on the Carrol Levis Show performing 'At the Hop' by Danny and The Juniors - not your average teacher. Talk then turns to one of John's best known poems, Beasley Street, which was based on Camp Street, an area of big houses converted into flats containing, how shall we say, the lower strata of society. What I found really interesting is how the poem is linked to the film, 42nd Street. Also, how many people know that Beasley Street is named after the jockey Bobby Beasley who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup Cup in 1974? In this second video interview with John Cooper Clarke, we get to hear more stories from the great man including the acceptance of his poem, 'I Want to be Yours' onto the GCSE curriculum and much more. In recent years has John found a new lease of life for his work with the lead singer from The Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner citing him as a major inspiration in interviews. More recently John appeared in the film Ill Manors - written by rapper Plan B - in which he is seen performing a poem entitled, Pity the Plight of Young Fellows. One our readers Meriel Malone, a poet in her own right who appeared supporting The Fall at this years Salford Music Festival asked John a question, you will have to watch the video to see what his answer is and what advice he gives to Meriel. I mentioned the Salford Music Festival to John who said that he had no objections to appearing at next year's show, so let's keep our fingers crossed. The conversation then leapt to the demolition of the flats on Littleton Road, and how John's mum who lived in Hanover Court had a grandstand view of the controlled explosions which brought the blocks of flats down, which resulted in her having a front room full of eager "thrill seekers"! Finally I'll bet that not many people have heard of John Kilty: Mr Kilty who in John's words was a "beatnik alcoholic, a role model" but not your common or garden drunk because he read books and his father worked at Jodrell Bank...cue a great punchline by John. I have to say that I found John to be a really approachable man, possibly because he remembered me from many years ago and our mutual love of Salford and its many characters, football, Tootal scarfs and obscure music. Whatever the reason I am pleased to call him my friend and I'm certain that if you were to spend five minutes in his company you would feel the same. Long live The Bard of Salford. This article is a combination of two which first appeared on SalfordOnline in October 2012, they are reproduced here courtesy of a local leg end himself, Mr Tony Flynn.
  12. Stories of this match have reached almost mythical proportions; stories of the crowd ranging from 10,000 to 20,000, the Mayor of Salford greeting the teams on the pitch, open top bus tours of Salford by the winning team, (The Grove incidentally), even stories of the match winner and the final score. However, SalfordOnline were delighted to hear from 98-year-old Charlie Oldham, who was not only at the game as as spectator but was one of the founder members of the Salford Sunday League Committee which was formed in 1947/48. Charlie has a remarkable memory, and was able to set the record straight once and for all. Charlie told us that the match had attracted attention throughout Salford and the initial print run of 10,000 tickets for the final sold out so quickly that another 5,000 had to be printed to cope with demand. Charlie approached the manager of Salford Rugby Club, a Mr Jim Douglas, and asked if the game could be played there, with the money being split 50/50 between Salford Sunday League Committee and Salford Rugby Club. The tickets cost 1 shilling and Charlie told us the fascinating detail that with their gate money Salford Rugby Club were able to purchase Tom Danby in August 1949 from the Harlequins, the first England Rugby union International player signed by Salford. On the day of the match George saw the size of the crowd and urged Salford to open a paying gate to deal with the large number of fans with no tickets, he reckons that were well over 16,000 in attendance, I'm certain that many must have climbed over and saw the match for free! As for the match, sadly the Mayor of Salford did not meet the teams, instead the pub landlord's shook the hands of the players along with committee members of the Salford Sunday League. The final score was 1-0 for the Grove with the goal a header being scored by Billy Hanlon in the Weaste Cricket Club end. As for the open-top bus tour of Salford by the Grove team - sadly not true - however a double-decker was used to take the triumphant team back to the pub on Eccles New Road, for a celebratory pint or two. Charlie also told us that he knew the bookie George Lowther who had betting shops in Weaste, and asked him if he would purchase a shield for the game and it would be named in his honour, this he duly did and paid £20 for it. The First Division Champion Cup which was also won by the Grove that year, holds a fascinating story in itself. Charlie and fellow committee members decided that a new cup would be in order for the start of the first season of 1947/48, they contacted a woman in Chorlton-cum-Hardy who was selling a silver cup for £100, they visited the lady and found that it was a bowling cup complete with a crown green bowler on the lid. The cup was purchased and Charlie took the lid to a jewellers shop on Trafford Road, Salford called Spinks, and for the sum of £5 they transformed the bowler into a footballer, and if you look at photographs of the cup you can see the man on the lid has been turned into a footballer! Charlie who was a painter and decorator lived on Bridson Street for many years, know lives in Warrington and will be celebrating his 99th birthday soon, it was a pleasure talking to him, and listening to the many tales of old Salford that he could tell, he really should write a book. So from everybody at SalfordOnline.com we thank Charlie for his time and trouble and helping to set the record straight on that momentous day in Salford in May 1949. This story first appeared on SalfordOnline, in March 2013, it is reproduced here with the permission of Salford International Winger, Tony Flynn. Video by Joe McCarty.
  13. The naming of Monks Hall could go back as far as the 1200's. It is known as a Tudor residence with modern additions, which would make Monks Hall almost as old as Ordsall Hall if not quite as grand a residence. From the 1230s the monks of Whalley Abbey owned much of the land in Eccles, which could haven given the hall its name. Alternatively, in 1394 there was living in the town a Henry de Monks; it could be that his family may have given their name to the house or taken their name from it. Situated on Wellington Road, this once-famous museum stands empty and has been sadly neglected for the last ten years as legal wranglings over planning permission to build flats on the site drag on. This building has not only an amazing history attached to it but it still has a place in the hearts of many people of Salford and Eccles, who have memories of visiting the attractively laid out gardens and special exhibitions. After the Reformation in 1660 the hall became a place of worship for the Nonconformist congregation established by the Rev Edmund Jones who in 1662 was expelled from being the Vicar of Eccles and when the congregation moved out a family named Willis took up residence. In 1836 Monks Hall was a farmhouse and it was further modernised in the 19th century. No mention of Monks Hall is complete without the story of the Monks Hall Hoard; when a new road was being constructed in 1864 a hoard of 6,000 medieval coins were discovered close to the boundary wall, money probably buried by the owners of Monks Hall when the country was torn with civil strife. In the latter half of the 19th century the building became a doctor's residence and for 50 years was the home of a Dr George Sidley and subsequently his son Dr I. M. Ridley. Dr Ridley was also the Doctor in charge of children at St Joseph's Home in Patricroft and often children would be invited along to the house for a look around. Eccles council purchased the house from him in 1959 after he had retired from practice, the house, land and furnishings cost £7,155. The opening ceremony was carried out on Thursday 6 July 1961 by Lord Derby, assisted by the Mayor of Eccles, Ald R. Benson, Cllr G. Edwards, Cllr Dow and Dr Owen, Director of the Manchester Museum. Interestingly enough the first exhibition was a collection of memorabilia loaned to Monks Hall by Manchester United, it contained such items as gold medals, trophies, team pennants, international caps and football jerseys worn by such stars as Billy Meredith and George Wall. Such was the interest in the new Monks Hall museum that it attracted a 1,000 visitors in just three days after the opening, obviously many of them had come to gaze at the Manchester United display! Over the years the museum held some fascinating exhibitions including artwork by LS Lowry, Harold Riley, and Geoffrey Key, also local schools and painting and photographic societies held regular exhibitions there. Many people still fondly recall the bee hive which you could observe through glass panels as they built their honeycombs, and the prehistoric dug out canoe on display in the magnificent gardens, which was found in the bed of the River Irwell when the Manchester Ship Canal was being excavated. I can recall a room at the museum that displayed children's toys from over the years, including dinky toys, dolls and games. There were also a couple of large grandfather clocks including one made in Eccles by a certain James Collier, again, where have they gone? As you went into the garden there was a replica of Nasymth's hammer and other items relating to the industry of Eccles. Sadly and for reasons unknown to us the museum closed its doors for the last time in the late 1980s. It remained empty and neglected for over a decade until a local business man, Grant Chapman purchased the museum and turned it into Monks Hall Restaurant in April 1997, this too closed in 2002. Property developer Mark Hammond then purchased the land with plans to turn the museum building into four luxury flats with a further 24 flats at the rear. No work has ever started on this development and the building looks as if it is ready to collapse following years of neglect and vandalism. So the future of Monks Hall looks bleak and I fear that once again another of our fine buildings will disappear and we will be left with just our memories. The above article first appeared on SalfordOnline and is lovingly reproduced here with the permission of a man with a few habits, Mr Tony Flynn.
  14. Based on Newton Street in central Manchester, this unassuming building holds some incredible material for serious researchers, as well as an awesome array of guns, knives, bats and even a mace confiscated from enthusiastic criminals. Librarian Duncan Brodie tells us about the Salford Aliens records - a world-class collection of discovered in the bowels of a Salford police station in 1999. The original Victorian cells would have held up to 12 men each as they awaited their fate - and all are open to visitors to pore over and enjoy. Just don't forget to ask for the key before you enter... This first video only scratches the surface of the treasures you can find within, and we'll be going back to the museum to uncover more fine detail in the near future. The Greater Manchester Police Museum is open to the public every Tuesday from 10.30am � 3.30pm as well as Thursdays at the same times during the school holidays. Archive appointments can be made on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (during term-time) and Fridays. Find out more at the Greater Manchester Police Museum website. This article appeared on SalfordOnline on the 9th of April 2014, it is republished here with the permission of Officer of the Lore, Mr Tony Flynn.
  15. Salford, as with many big cities in the North West of England was to endure heavy German bombing in the Second World War and it is recorded that 215 people were killed, 900 injured and 8,000 homes damaged or destroyed in the city. There were many personal tragedies but this incident is particularly poignant. In the early hours of 2 June, Manchester and Salford came under heavy bombardment from German bomber crews raining death and destruction from above. As the air raid sirens went off the Salford Royal nurses, most of them trainees, took shelter in the basement of the hospital hoping for safety. Sadly the hospital took a direct hit from an enemy bomb which tore through the building. A rescue party was set up to try and rescue the people still trapped in the rubble, led by surgeon Dr Robert Wyse. Despite the imminent danger from severed power cables, escaping gas and 30 tonnes of falling masonry they managed to claw their way into the basement which was pitch black and ankle deep in water. Incredibly the team managed to rescue three nurses who had been trapped under the rubble and who had been missed by an earlier search party. It was reported that Dr Wyse actually amputated a trapped nurses limb in an effort to save her, sadly she was to die from her injuries. The bodies of the 14 nurses were found in the ruins of the basement. Amongst those who perished were three nurses from the Sutton area of St Helens, they were Ellen Sheridan, Rose Moffatt and Margaret Lowery, all aged just 19. These three young girls had all joined the nursing services together and had only just started their basic training. All three were buried in the same grave at St Anne's churchyard in St Helens amidst outpourings of grief from family and friends. In September that year Dr Wyse was awarded the George Medal for his incredible bravery. In February 1944 a memorial was unveiled by the Duchess of Kent listing the names of the nurses who perished on that fateful day. A memorial fund was also set up which raised £14,500 to fund new beds in memory of the nurses. With the formation of the NHS Trust in the mid-1990s this saw the closure of the Salford Royal Hospital on Chapel Street, with the building now turned into The Royal Apartments. The memorial is still in place and is worth looking at the next time you pass by the building - a fitting tribute to these brave young women who died so tragically and so young. This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 2nd of June 2014, it is republished here with the blessing of Leading Salford Historian and part time paper and comb player, Mr Tony Flynn with video editing by Young Tom Rodgers.

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