P h o t o B l o g

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Henrietta Street

Looking down Henrietta Street from the junction of Smallshaw Lane and Broadoak Road. This photo was taken from almost the same spot as the previous photo of the Old Ball public house. It shows the shop on the opposite corner to the pub.

This photos is already out of date, as the junction layout is being altered.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Old Ball

The Old Ball public house stands on the corner of Broadoak Road and Smallshaw Lane, Ashton. It opened in 1835 and, at that time, was surrounded by fields. It may not have a car park but it originally boasted of stables for two horses!

Monday, 28 January 2008

More Al Fresco

Further evidence of global warming with yet another photo of pavement-café-style eating and drinking in Ashton.

This picture shows Bow Street, at the side of the Open Market, with the Market Hall being re-built in the background. Iceland occupies what was previously a Tesco store.

Anyone fancy an egg, bacon and sausage barm?

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Drinking Out

The fashion for continental-style pavement cafés has even reached as far as Ashton!

Even in January, hardy Ashtonians are to be found supping their coffees outside the new "Coffee and Juice Bar" in the Ladysmith Centre, Ashton.

Saturday, 26 January 2008


Lyndhurst is a large Victorian house on Broadoak Road, Ashton, between the Old Ball and the Broadoak Hotel.

Built in 1883, this once imposing mansion is now sadly becoming derelict.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Penny Meadow

Looking up Penny Meadow from Ashton under Lyne Town Hall steps. The Bowling Green pub can be seen on the right, with the former Albion Sunday School in the distance and the Pennine hills in the background.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Ashton Market

Looking across Ashton under Lyne's Open Market from the steps of the Town Hall.

In the background to the left are Marks and Spencer and the entrance to the Ladysmith Centre. To the right of that, where previously stood the former Woolworth store, is the Arcades shopping centre. The new Wooolworth store is inside the Arcades.

On a plinth beside the steps, one of a pair of ceremonial canons stands guard.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Henry Square (again)

A second view of Henry Square, looking westwards towards Chester Square and St Peter's Church. The old swimming baths (now know as Hugh Mason House) can be seen on the left. The new Magistrates' Court is out of sight to the right. I'll post a photo of that soon.

At the other end of the square, offices are to be built on the left (behind the silver car) and apartments on the right (behind the grass area).

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Henry Square

Anyone who has not been to Ashton for a few years will have difficulty in recognising this as Henry Square. It is in the centre of the "St Petersfield" development.

The right hand side of the photo is looking eastwards along Stamford Street. At some point in the future I will post some photos of this area before the old buildings were demolished. Out of shot to the right is the familiar bulk of the old swimming baths, still awaiting a new purpose.

Monday, 21 January 2008

River Tame Untamed

The River Tame was around 4 feet above its usual level today as the weekend's heavy rain made its way down from the moors.

The above image shows the swollen river surging through Mossley (just over the hill from Ashton), with an appropriate sign at the ready.

The photo below shows the water swirling under Waggon Road Bridge, Bottom Mossley.

Market Avenue (again)

Just to show that there are still plenty of shoppers around this part of Ashton, this is a photo of the other end of Market Avenue, where Old Street crosses it. It gets even busier when the sun is shining!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Market Avenue

A few days ago I mentioned "The Avenue" as being Ashton's original traffic-free zone. So today's photo shows a damp January view of this thoroughfare, properly called "Market Avenue" but commonly known as "The Avenue".

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Bowing out?

The Advertiser this week reports that a shadow is hanging over the future of Tameside Hippodrome. [see report]

The 1200-seat theatre, on Oldham Road, Ashton, belongs to Tameside Council but has been managed for them by Live Nation since 1993. Live Nation. which also runs the Palace, Apollo and Opera House in Manchester, is not renewing its contract.

The future of the theatre depends on whether the council is able to attract another agency to manage it.

The theatre opened in 1904 as the Empire Theatre. These days many people's idea of an entertaining afternoon out seems to be a visit to IKEA just along the road!

Friday, 18 January 2008

The Colliers Arms

On 2nd January I wrote about my New Year's walk around Hartshead, and this brought back memories for Jan of visits to the nearby Colliers Arms in Broadcarr Lane.

Ian, who calls himself "Ashtonian" (gettit? Ashton Ian?) has very kindly let me use these two photos of the Colliers taken in 2002. They are from his Ashton photo collection, which is well worth a visit! I didn't photograph it myself on my walk because the Colliers Arms is no more! Well, the building is still there but it is now a private dwelling.

There is a record of a licence being held by the Colliers Arms in 1857, but it is thought that it was licensed much earlier than that. At one time the pub belonged to the Earl of Stamford. The name is a reference to the small coal pits that were dotted around the Broadcarr area at one time. Presumably the miners used to call in to quench their thirst after a day's work. In more recent times the pub was popular with walkers who had been to Hartshead Pike.

The pub was essentially the small front room of the cottage, with drinks being served through the doorway from the back room. Outside was a stable and a gentlemen's toilet. Charlie Mills was the licensee here for over 45 years. Is this something of a record?

I'm afraid I didn't notice exactly when the cottage stopped being the Colliers Arms. Perhaps someone reading can tell me? I wonder whether Charlie Mills was licensee right up until the time the pub closed?

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

The Canal at Night

This dramatic photo shows the Ashton Canal at Portland Basin in the middle of the night. (Click here for larger version, then use Back button to return.)

Who, at one time, would have thought that any photo of the Ashton Canal would have made you want to say "Wow!"?

The canal environment has been much improved over the last 30 years, since the time that the canal here was overgrown, litter-filled and virtually derelict. The crumbling empty Junction Mill has been replaced by modern apartments overlooking the water. Only the chimney remains of the old mill. Portland Basin Museum is out of sight to the right of the photo.

Before anyone congratulates me on the photo, I'd better tell you that it was taken by Andrew Denny, whose boat, Granny Buttons, is in the photo. Andrew writes about his travels on the canals in his blog.

Andrew is a far more patient photographer than I am, and will take time to get just the right image. This striking photo was taken on a long exposure at 2 o'clock in the morning, when all sensible folk were in bed!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Ladysmith Centre

The Ladysmith Centre? If you haven't been to Ashton for a few years you might wonder what it is. It started life in the 60s and was commonly known as "The Precinct". At the time, it was Ashton's stride into the future with a traffic-free shopping area. Mind you - Ashton already had a much earlier traffic-free shopping street in the form of The Avenue, between the Market Hall and Stamford Street!

These days much of the town centre is traffic-free, but when the Precinct opened, cars and buses were still going along Warrington Street, past the Post Office and the Market to the Prince of Orange pub. There was even a car parking area along the side of the market (opposite where Marks and Spencer now is). So the Precinct would probably have been a welcome refuge from the motor car for Ashton's shoppers.

It was less welcome for some of Ashton's traders, though, and was blamed for the decline in Stamford Street as a shopping area. But this is not entirely fair - if Ashton had not "moved with the times", some shoppers would have gone elsewhere. Oldham and Stockport had also opened traffic-free shopping precincts. Also, stores like Woolworths were finding their Stamford Street premises too small for their needs and might have pulled out of the town if there had not been new space available for them.

With the arrival of the adjoining "Arcades" shopping mall in the 90s, the Precinct was re-invented as the "Ladysmith Centre", with a major facelift giving it a modern look, helping it to keep up with its new neighbour. The photos show that it is still popular with shoppers today.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Ashton Market Trader

At the junction of Bow Street and Market Street, a few yards from Ashton's Market Hall, stands a piece of street sculpture.

The almost life-sized bronze statute is entitled "The Ashton Market Trader" and depicts "Uncle John the Pieman".

A plaque goes on to explain that John Harrison was well-known throughout Ashton for his generosity to the poor in the late 1800s.

The statue is one of a series of sculptures that have been erected around Tameside. Others include LS Lowry in Mottram, a Mill Girl in Mossley and composer of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", Jack Judge, in Stalybridge.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

End of the Mayne road

For many years, Mayne's buses have been a familiar sight on the roads of Ashton, as well as Droylsden, Stalybridge, Dukinfield and Mossley.

They are about to disappear, however, as the giant national company Stagecoach is about to buy the bus company. The takeover is just waiting for the approval of the Office of Fair Trading. It is thought that, when such approval is given, as seems likely, the buses and staff will transfer to Stagecoach Manchester. [see report]

The Mayne bus garage on Ashton New Road, Clayton, where the company has been based since 1939, has already been sold and the buses are currently sharing the Mayne coach yard at Fairclough Street, Clayton.

Mayne has always been fiercely independent, resisting takeover offers from Manchester Corporation Transport and other companies since. It is reported that the company was finally offered for sale because the next generation of the Mayne family are not interested in running the business.

The coach fleet is not being bought by Stagecoach and will continue to operate as Mayne's Coaches, run from their Warrington depot, presumably retaining the existing Manchester coach yard at Fairclough Street.

Mayne's are the oldest-surviving bus company in the Manchester area. They started operating charabancs in 1923, coaches in 1925 and buses in 1929. For many years the buses were maroon with turquoise bands. From 1978 the buses changed to the red and cream livery of the coaches. In recent years the addition of a turquoise stripe indicated new low-floor buses.

For around 50 years Mayne buses ran from Manchester to Droylsden, Audenshaw and later Littlemoss. In the mid-80s the network expanded to include Waterloo, Hartshead, Smallshaw, Ashton, Tameside Hospital, Mossley, Carrbrook, Stalybridge and Dukinfield.

The familiar colours of Mayne buses have provided a touch of local colour amid a sea of buses that look identical to buses all around the country.

Update on Stagecoach takeover of Mayne

As a lot of people are arriving here after googling for the Stagecoach takeover of A Mayne and Son, I had better add an update about what is happening.

Mayne Coaches is now a separate independent company and will continue to operate as such using the Mayne name and livery.

Mayne Buses now belongs to Stagecoach. The buses have been transfered to Hyde Road depot. The buses will continue to operate along the same routes as before, using the Mayne name and livery for now. They will eventually be re-painted or replaced by other vehicles.

Stagecoach Manchester "Dayrider" and "Megarider" tickets are not yet valid on Mayne's buses. In a few week's time, however, when Mayne's ticket machines have been adjusted, these tickets will be issued and accepted on Mayne's buses, which will be a big benefit to passengers on these routes.

Link to history of the company on Mayne's website.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Old Square

Another photo of Stamford Street.
(Click on image for larger version, then use Back button to return.)

This is the top end of Stamford Street, looking across Old Square towards St Michael's Square. The tower of St Michael's Church can be seen as well.

There is hardly anyone in sight, even though it is mid-afternoon. At one time Stamford Street was the shopping hub of Ashton but, over the last 40 years or so, the shopping hub has moved northwards to the Ladysmith Centre ("The Precinct") and the Arcades Centre.

Stamford Street does come to life in the middle of the night, though, as there are now many night clubs in the area.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Phoenix Market Hall

When Ashton Market Hall was destroyed by fire in 2004, Tameside Council pulled out all stops to build a temporary market hall at the top of Fletcher Street so that the traders could carry on in business.

There have been reports that the temporary market hall has not been doing well and that traders were moving out. These photos show that reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

Although the numbers of customers are not as great as when the prefabricated Phoenix Market Hall first opened its doors, the place is still fairly buzzing. I only saw two or three stalls that were empty, all in the lower section of the hall, furthest away from the main entrance.

The queue at the Pearson's butchers stall must say something about the popularity of the meat on sale!

The Phoenix Market Hall is only here temporarily until the real Market Hall is re-opened, so I am glad to have an opportunity to record a little piece in the jigsaw of Ashton's history.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Ashton Market Hall

Here is a quick look at what is going on with the reconstruction of Ashton Market Hall. (Click on image for larger version, then use Back button to return.)

The old Market Hall, so full of character and friendliness, caught fire in 2004 [read more]. It is being rebuilt inside the shell of the outer walls, which remained intact.

You can now see some of the steel girders that will form the structure of the new roof appearing above the walls. These give us a clue about what the finished Market Hall might look like.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Totally tea-total?

This photo shows Molly Malone's bar in George Street, Ashton.

"The Advertiser" reports that the place has just had its licence taken away after alleged rowdy behaviour from some customers. [see report]

Walking around the area I am astonished at the number of bars that are now open until 4 am! To me, Ashton's night-life might as well be something that happens on another planet!

The building that now houses Molly Malone's has another, more sober claim to fame, for it was here that one Arthur Brooke was born. His father had a shop here selling loose tea. Arthur went on to set up the Brooke Bond Tea business to sell packaged tea.

A plaque outside the building celebrates this fact. (Click on image for larger version, then use Back button to return.)

I suppose tea is probably the strongest thing available at Molly Malone's for now?

Friday, 4 January 2008

'S No Snow

So what happened to all the snow? Earlier in the week the weather forecasters were proclaiming that snow would be sweeping across the country by Thursday. Well, I waited patiently but all I noticed were a few brief periods of snow flurries, giving a very light dusting on the ground, which had all vanished again before long.

Okay, so the A1 was closed for a short time in Northumberland, but that doesn't count for much when you are on the Manchester side o' t'Pennines.

Is this winter Global Warming style? What happened to the good old-fashioned snows like we had in the 60s? I remember cars being abandoned overnight and buried under the snow on Lees Road in the late 70s. It just doesn't snow properly any more! There must be a generation of children growing up now who think that snow is a seasonal effect on some web sites at Christmas!

And have you noticed how the weather forecasters now seem to err deliberately on the bleak side with their forecasts? I have noticed a tendency towards this ever since Michael Fish was left with egg on his face in 1987 after saying that no hurricane was on the way the night before the worst storm in 200 years. [see video clip]

It now seems to be the case that if the forecasters warn us of terrible weather with gale force winds, typhoons and blizzards, then we are relieved or even pleased when it turns out to be a day of dull drizzle.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Stamford Street

Looking along Stamford Street on a winter's afternoon. If you know Ashton, this is looking west from the junction with Booth Street. The towers of the Old Baths and St Peters Church are visible in the distance.

It is around 3 o'clock in the afternoon and traffic queues are tailing back from the roundabout.

Winter can be a difficult time for taking photographs, with the low sun casting strong shadows, but sometimes these conditions create their own dramatic atmosphere.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Winter is on the way!

So, the weather forecast seems to be for snow tomorrow. If it is true, then it will be the first snow in the Ashton area this winter.

Having another day at home and feeling decidedly unfit after the Christmas and New Year, I decided to put on my boots and stretch my legs. It seemed to be a bright enough day, with a wintry sun, and I thought that it might be the last chance for a while if the weather turns nasty.

I set out without any real plan of where I would go, and with no map. However, I ended up doing a pleasant circular walk taking in Mossley and Hartshead Pike.

I said it seemed to be a nice day, but heck - it was bloomin' cold! There was a strong and icy wind blowing from the east, making my ears cold, even with a woolly hat on! It made the prospect of snow tomorrow seem more likely! Anyway, it was good to get the fresh air and exercise, along with some enjoyable views, even if it was too cold to linger over them!

New Year, New Blog thing

Well, everyone else seems to be writing blogs so I thought I would join in. Better later than never, I suppose.

It's a bit of a new direction for me, as I am used to creating content for web sites than is factual and impersonal, and generally without passing comment. So this is a chance to be a bit less formal and say what I think occasionally. There is even a chance for you to answer back with your own comments!

I'm not too sure what will be here on the blog just yet - I will have to play it by ear and see what happens.

If you want to write a comment about a post, click the small "Comments" link just below the post.

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