Genealogy, history and memories of Blackley, Manchester, UK

Memories of Blackley by Joan Mary Cuffwright

I was born on the 16th June 1919 at Myrtle Cottage, Hill Lane, Blackley and christened Joan Mary Cuffwright.

Myrtle Cottage was on the right hand side of Hill Lane approaching it from the village - near Kerr Street. Our neighbours were the Blomeleys (see the Blomeley family history). Ann Amelia Blomeley, Auntie Blomeley, as I called her, and I kept in touch with her all through her long life. The building on the left hand side I always thought was a barn. Next door to the barn was a house called Dahaim owned by the Jacksons. They were the Jacksons of Jackson's Febrifuge. They had a works in Harpurhey. I remember old Grandma Jackson who sat like a Queen in the front room. In fact have some ornaments that belonged to her. One being a Sardine dish! I also remember travelling in their posh Daimler car. They had a holiday home at Old Colwyn, and when the younger Mr and Mrs Jackson went on holiday, I stayed with Auntie Blomeley at Dahaim.  She was housekeeping for them at the time. The old lady had died by then.

On the right hand side was the home of the Kerslake family. They had a son Peter who had a joinery business.

The Cuffwright family lived in Crumpsall, so both sides of the family were local. I well remember staying at Grandma's and hearing the mill workers going to work, when I was still in bed, and the clatter of their clogs on the pavement. The sound of the clogs on the pavement was loud, as there was no traffic at that time. I can still hear it in my mind.

My Grandma Beetson had a greengrocers and florist opposite the Fox inn in Blackley Village. Also opposite was Maynard's Cycle Shop and a tripe shop. Next door to Grandma’s was an old fashioned drapers and on the corner of School Lane was a corn merchants. On the opposite side of the street was a sweet shop, Mrs Holden’s. Then came the large drapers, Butterworth’s. The family had been undertakers in a previous generation. I believe Auntie’s father worked for them as a joiner. Next came Horrocks, a greengrocer, friendly rivals of Grandma. Now the Post Office. All the last three were opposite the Methodist Chapel where my Mother and Father, Thomas Cuffwright and Alice Beetson, were married in 1918.

The shop had stone flags on the floor and Grandma and Auntie Blomeley wore black clogs with a broad strap and a shiny buckle. I never remember anyone complaining of foot problems. My first recollection of being able to serve in the shop was nuts and raisins - 2ozs a penny. Then I was promoted to potatoes!

I clearly remember the poor souls from the workhouse, walking in a crocodile, two abreast, stopping outside the shop. They were only allowed in 2 or 3 at a time, coming in to spend their few coppers, watched over by a nurse. The women and men were in separate lines, now I realise how pitiful they were and they way they were dressed in rough tweed. One particular young lady I remember was said to have been a wonderful pianist who had suffered a nervous breakdown. Oh! Why should she have been there?

The shop was three storeys high and the kitchen and dining room were on street level with higher ground at the back. From there you went into the back yard where there was a flush toilet. This came level with the timber yard. There were steps at the side which took you into the yard. The second floor seemed quite high and the only windows were at the front - I don't remember any at the back. In a corner behind a heavy door were places for coal. The kitchen leading from the shop had a sink by the window and a large black grate with an oven. Grandma’s oven bottom muffins were lovely, so were her potato cakes done on the oven bottom. The stairs led from the shop to the first floor, where funnily enough there was another sink and a large wash boiler. This was used to boil the beetroot. They were later put on a large meat plate on the counter, and people brought their dishes in to buy a portion. They also purchased pickles kept in large storage jars with brown paper lids. They were kept under the counter on the cold slate floor. From the kitchen you went into the living room. A large ornate fireplace with large ornaments on the mantelpiece and a big sideboard with a mirror and a beautiful mahogany table inlaid with mother of pearl. There was no cloth on it, just large enamel vases with flowers ready for weddings and funerals. The table top turned over like a fire screen. It eventually came to me and it still had a magnificent polish. I sold it for £1 when we moved house - silly me! On the second floor were two bedrooms, and where I slept there was a fireplace in the room - such happy Blackley memories.