The Old Parsonage Stenner Lane Didsbury Manchester M20 2RQ 0161 445 7661

November 2020 Newsletter

Clock Tower drawing courtesy of Alex Ching-Nam Tam Architecture Student

Gift Aid Recovery of Membership fees and Donations

Dear Members,

Further to the Gift Aid article which appeared in the June 2020 Newsletter, could we please remind you that it is vital that you complete a paper copy of our authorisation form to allow us to reclaim any tax rebate allowable against your contributions each year. It is important that we hold a form wherever possible, whether you are either a Life Member or an Annual Member, even to simply cover the possibility of any irregular contribution made. Thank you to those individuals for completing a form.

However, the absence of a form makes the reclaim administration harder for the trustees to maximise our revenue. All extra funds collected are greatly appreciated at this time to finance new projects and equipment. Plans for new projects will be announced in our next Newsletter. In the meantime, Members ideas will be considered by e mailing

Please contact us for the form.

Your sincerely, Mike Corlett Chairman DCS

Didsbury in the Past

Didsbury station in 1959. London for £2.12½ p “Daylight robbery”
1938 the” leafy suburbs” of Hardman Street Didsbury (School Lane), looking west. Any one for the flicks?

The Didsbury Civic Society will shortly have a brand new website. We will be including old postcards for sale of Old Didsbury and also other Merchandise including bags for life! Watch this Space!

Graffiti and Fly Posting

The DCS is concerned at the increased levels of graffiti and flyposting which are visible around Didsbury and its village area. We are not alone in this view with another local ward registering their concern also. Currently it appears to be acceptable even when reported under the MCC CRM process for its removal to not be carried out for long periods of time. It clearly degrades our communal surroundings and we would encourage all our members to report any issues to the council to expedite removal. Recent instances of outbreaks include the Old Parsonage, BT green street furniture, lamp posts, the library area and a derogatory banner at the ex-Limes Nursing Home along with the comings and goings which also took place.

Flyposting is also very prevalent with posters being strongly glued to resist removal and weather degradation allowing their remaining in place for very long periods. Let`s get Didsbury clear of these problems.

Thank you all.

Fabric of our Village Life

Whilst there continues to be focus, and rightly so, on ensuring Covid compliance with traders and businesses and keeping our community safe, we should not neglect unsightly disrepairs.  Why are these still not being addressed? Repairs required at Parrswood Tesco area. Are you reporting these through the City Council website.

We have been successful in removing the huge logs left by tree cutters outside of the Old BT building and now under Open Reach. We are pursuing rigorously Open Reach to at last cut the grass in front of this building. Another Trustee is pursuing the higher echelons to improve the doors Didsbury Post Office (e mail sent late August to the Post Office), to allow better access to non-abled persons and also individuals with prams.

Exciting news, Didsbury Police Station has been sold and the legal process of sale is just going through as we go to print. DCS will be in contact with the new owner to discuss their plans.

Didsbury Women`s Institute

The generally held view of the Women’s Institute is that of cake-baking, jam-making and knitting – and whilst it’s true, some of our Didsbury WI members are very good at that sort of thing, we also enjoy getting together to socialise, get out and about, and learn something new and interesting from the speakers that we have at our monthly meetings.  In the last year we’ve had flamenco, African drumming, talks on foraging, a lovely hearing dog for the deaf and many more.  Like everyone else, due to Covid-19 we’ve had to suspend our physical meetings until better times return, so the magician, soap-making, flower arranging and singing which we had planned, will have to wait. 

During the depths of lockdown our committee made a telephone tree and we called all our members to make sure they were ok and although we’ve missed getting together we’ve continued our monthly meetings by zoom as have our craft group and book group. 

We’ve also started our outings again and have organised a picnic and a trip to Elizabeth Gaskell’s house – slowly and carefully trying to get back to a semblance of ‘normal’ taking into account the continuing situation. Many of our members live alone so the social aspect of our WI is important.

As lockdown has eased, some of our ladies have been meeting at Fletcher Moss park for a weekly alfresco, socially-distanced coffee and chat, and it’s been great to see each other ‘in the flesh’ despite some damp mornings. It`s been a turbulent year for all, but we’re looking forward, planning to resume our meetings when we can, even if we have to limit numbers and keeping the friendship, fun and support going for all our ladies to enjoy!

For an active social life and way of Meeting people why not join Didsbury WI Contact.

Future Didsbury – What are we up to?

My last contribution was mainly about Covid-19, how the restrictions impacted on everyone, especially those shielding. Now we have local lockdowns which could be interpreted as communities not functioning well together although I believe South Manchester has been generally well-behaved in the big scheme of things.

Previously, I referenced the Infrastructure Commissions’ four key words ‘climate, people, places and values’. Quite clearly our climate is an issue riddled with nuances but the more we can do to reduce pollution and create more green spaces, the better our quality of life will be.

Although ‘climate’ predominates, people, places and values are more relevant at a local level and will be the focus of our attention. We want Didsbury people to support Future Didsbury from all four corners of Didsbury and beyond, we want to consider our options for developing more and better spaces in and around the village and we want to ‘drill down’ with our thinking to ensure we arrive at a solution that covers ‘the values of our local population’ and the ways in which future developments can be easily expanded precisely because forethought was introduced in the earliest stages of the Future Didsbury Project, e.g., the Manchester School of Architecture students and the work they have produced.

Most people who comment on Future Didsbury are quite positive about the project however they often ask about ‘the money’ and where it will come from. Back in 2018, the Government budget introduced a Future High Streets Fund recognising that high streets were in dire trouble due to the trend of online shopping. £675 million was made available at the time and since £325 million has been added to the pot making it a lovely round £GBP 1 billion. Our intention is to seek the advice of the Minister in bidding for this money but to do that we need everyone behind us, including our elected representatives, planners and influencers. We understand that is possible that MCC are considering building Mayfield Park at a cool £1.4 billion, part of which is going to be taken from the government’s ‘Getting Building’ initiative to introduce more open spaces… obviously that needs to be another target for Future Didsbury as well. So, until next time, stay safe and keep well!

Phil Downs MBE

“La Choquette” arrives in Didsbury

Welcome to Maread and Florent our new Didsbury bakers. Maread`s passion for baking was started from a very early age when she would help her mum bake and decorate the family home. She loved baking homemade Christmas cakes & desserts for family functions.

“It became a hobby for me that I found relaxing and a love of baking that I share to this day with my mum, even now we are still swapping recipes!  It was always my dream to open my own bakery one day.” Maread says it was through baking that she met her partner Florent who also shared a love of baking from childhood; Flo actually started an apprenticeship at the age of 16 in his home town in France (Lille), eventually coming over to Manchester in 2015 for a baker position. Over the past 5 years we have learnt our trade together and now after all the hard work we have managed to create an opportunity to open our new shop in Didsbury which after the re-brand (Oct 2020) will be known as La Chouquette currently called Cidsin.   

Didsbury Village has a real village-like community feel to it.  We’ve always enjoyed the Didsbury vibe, a friendly and uplifting place to work with a mix of charming independent shops and more established premises.

We hope to embed our shop into the heart of the community and gain a reputation to keep people coming back for more delightful tastes from our homemade selection of French Patisserie cakes, baguettes & bread specialities all baked on the premises.  We will have an open kitchen view arrangement so the customers can enjoy seeing all our lovely products being handmade.

Clearly we are both excited by this new life venture and new beginning in Didsbury, we’ve already had such a warm welcome and we will be so proud once our re-brand is complete. With ‘la chouquette’ our dream journey will truly begin. 

Margaret Ashton –  A Woman to Celebrate

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It is always important to remind ourselves of the great works of pioneers who may not be household names but lived and worked in our community in the past. Margaret Ashton, as I am sure many people know in Didsbury, was a pioneer with achievements that matched many women such as Olive Shapley, Elizabeth Gaskell and Emmeline Pankhurst. It was probably her pacifism that kept her from the acknowledgement she deserved.

Born in Withington in 1856, her list of achievements and firsts is very impressive. In 1888 she helped to set up the Manchester Women’s Guardian Association, an organisation which encouraged women to become poor-law guardians and to take a more active role in local politics. In 1895 Margaret joined the Women’s Liberal Foundation, and the following year became a founder member of the Women’s Trade Union League. She was also a member of the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

Her political career seemed to start in 1900 when she was elected to the Withington Urban Council and in 1908, she became the first woman on Manchester City Council. According to many historians she devoted her time as a councillor to women’s health and education and campaigned to improve the conditions of employment for women. She supported new legislation to improve the wages and conditions of factory girls, to raise the age of employment of children.

Ashton was a very active member and Chair of the North of England Society for Women’s Suffrage and in 1906 resigned from the Liberal party when it was clear that the government would not find time to allow legislation to be passed concerning women’s suffrage. She financially supported the NUWSS’s newspaper, The Common Cause. She remained committed to constitutional methods to gain votes for women as against the more militant actions of the Women’s Social; Political Union (WSPU). She did admire the courage of the suffragettes who were imprisoned.

The NUWSS argued that everything possible should be done to avoid a European war. However, there was split within the NUWSS on the stance taken in its support for the war. Several women who campaigned for peace resigned from the organisation. Ashton and some other women were blocked from attending an international Women’s Peace Congress in The Hague where the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom was formed. Ashton immediately joined this organisation.

Margaret Ashton’s pacifism made her unpopular during the first World War. She was branded “pro-German” and ousted from Manchester City Council in 1921. In addition, the council refused to hang her portrait commissioned by CP Scott, editor of the Guardian, to celebrate her 70th birthday.

In later life she joined the National Council of Women and helped to establish the Manchester Women’s Citizens Association. Apart from her political and women’s rights work, she worked hard to raise funds for educational institutions and schools and did a range of voluntary roles across the City.

Mary Ashton died at her home in Kingston Road, Didsbury, in October 1937. A principled woman, peace campaigner and political pioneer. It is very fitting that her portrait now hangs in the Council Chambers. We should celebrate her achievements.                     

Pam Venning, DCS Trustee

The Didsbury Civic Society Sub Planning Group

Didsbury Civic Society Planning Group Meets Monthly to discuss local planning issues. At the same time the Trustees are updating The Didsbury Plan. 2017.  This 2017 Plan, was initially drawn up by the Civic Society and involved 3 months’ consultation with Members and local residents Associations is being updated to include much more information and making our concerns s being updated to include City Council and National references to how our communities should be made “fit for the future.”

DCS General Meetings are resuming

Since March, the Trustees and Sub Planning Group has been meeting monthly. However, we have agreed to start up again the monthly meetings. These will be by zoom and should the current regulations permit we may explore a face to face business meeting in a Covid Secure environment.

Heritage Open Days 11th September to 20th September 2020

Every year, Heritage Open Days ( HOD ) occurs  across the Country and will be happening in some areas as a virtual tour of Historic Buildings. Owing to Covid restrictions like most events, HOD is suspended this year and this has focused the DCS on looking at features for inclusion in a programme for 2021. Is there an opportunity for futher plaques in Didsbury or surrounding areas or indeed further stories from members about their memories of growing up in Didsbury which may be featured in a future DCS Newsletter. We would love to hear about your stories and ideas to celebrate the history of the Didbury Centre  and beyond.

Certainly over 120 years ago English Heritage started the blue plaque scheme and there are a plethora of blue plaques across London and lots in Bloomsbury. Mary has been making some  enquiries about Blue Plaques. Cost is a factor and also meeting the criteria set by English Heritage, for example, the person must have been deceased for 20 years at the time of application.  School buildings and churches are exempt. The English Heritage panel sits 3 times per annum and the  applicant will have had to have completed extensive research. English Heritage are looking for more female representation. Pictures below show a plaque of an interesting woman with a story of great heroism, also two blue plaques on the Didsbury Library building. Do you know that there is a plaque of Mitzi Cunliffe on Fog Lane?

Mary, DCS Trustee, was in London August Bank Holiday and managed to take this photo of a brand new plaque, unveiled that weekend in Tiveton Street, Bloomsbury, London of Senior Operative Agent Noor Inayat Khan. Recognised at last for her undercover work during the Second World War. Sadly, she died in Dachau without every revealing her real name.

Didsbury Library Blue Plaque – marking the place where Prince Rupert encamped on his way to Marston Moor, Yorkshire 1644
Second Blue Plaque at Didsbury Library. Hidden from view!

Warburton Street, Didsbury


This article has been reproduced with kind permission of Linsey Parkinson Editor of Open Up South Manchester and also with permission from Andrew Simpson Please read Andrew`s interesting blog too!  ( not just about Chorlton)!

Historian Andrew Simpson meets the working families that lived along Didsbury’s Warburton Street.

Warburton Street is a tiny, picturesque cobbled lane of independent businesses and bijou cottages.

Right in the heart of Didsbury Village, it’s tucked away behind Wilmslow Road, just a stone’s throw from the junction with Barlow Moor Road and School Lane.

In the January of 1911, number 2 was occupied by John Crompton and Sons and was listed as ‘paint stores’. At number 4 was William Richardson, platelayer; while no.6 was Mrs. Emma Smith, who described herself as ‘Householder’, but I know she was also a laundress.

In April 1911, number 8 was home to the Schofield family, Mr Walter Schofield being a ‘night soil man’. You’d have found the Blomileys at number ten: two labourers and a ‘charwoman’, plus the youngest family member, listed as ‘gardener’s apprentice’.

While Mrs. Smith lived alone in her four-roomed cottage at number 6, the six Schofields had to manage in their two-up, two-down. The Blomileys squeezed themselves into just three small rooms.

The occupations of our residents may seem at variance with the popular image of Didsbury as a well-heeled and comfortably prosperous suburb. but wealthy families had to have ‘help’. Many locals made their living from servicing the ‘better off’, and it suited all concerned if they lived nearby. It’s likely that there would have been lots of ‘Warburton Streets’ in Didsbury.

Mrs. Smith would have washed their linen, while young Jane Blomiley cleaned their houses. Mr Schofield and one of the Blomileys were engaged as night soil men. Their unenviable task was to empty the privies of the rich. ‘Night soil’, as it was euphemistically called, was used as fertiliser.

That leaves our platelayer, Mr Richardson, whose job had nothing to do with ceramics. He had to ensure that the tracks on the stretch from Didsbury Railway Station to Manchester Central were up to scratch.

Across from these families, we find Miss Elizabeth Jane Dean. She was born in Didsbury in 1860 and was living with her mother and sister on Warburton Street by the following year.

However, over the next few years,  the family moved away to Hardman Street, but are then lost to the records after 1866. We find Elizabeth Jane again in 1871, this time living with her grandmother on Lees Street, Ancoats. Just where her mother was, is unclear, and a decade later, Elizabeth Jane is staying with her uncle and aunt, describing herself as a ‘Winder’. She reappears on Warburton Street – with her mother again – in 1891. We find her there still, in the January of 1911, but four months later she had moved to Countess Road, off Hardman Street. With a little more digging, I tracked down Elizabeth Jane’s mother, Mary Dean. Born in 1828 and baptized in St James Parish Church, she gave birth to Elizabeth Jane at the age of 32. Her own father was a handloom weaver, and in 1841 the family lived in Barlow Moor. Ten years later and Mary was a servant at Mersey Bank House in Heaton Norris. Its owner was the illustrious Sir Ralph Pendlebury, a former mayor of Stockport. He proudly recorded on his census return that he was not only a knight, but also a factory owner, employing 170 hands.