About

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.

8 Comments

  1. 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?

  2. Keith,

    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?

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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 kazlove69@gmail.com

  6. 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.

  7. 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,

  8. Lived on Toxteth street, attended st clements school than on to spurley hey, also in the boys brigade mersey street

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>