Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Here is part 2, as promised, from Roger Chadwick.


"Just past Glen Wood House on Mottram Road is a drive leading to Oaklands Hall. There, at around 6-7 years of age I met another “Roger”, whose parents, Wilf and Margaret Hirst were the then stewards of The Oaklands Masonic Hall. Roger became my “buddie” for the next 8 years – we were both “only ones” – regarded in those days as spoilt brats because we did not have to share anything with brothers and sisters. But “only ones” were common enough in a time of war: and we weren’t spoilt! Seeing the pictures of Oaklands in the 1960’s on the Hyde Blog, (remarkably little changed from The Oaklands that I knew), brought memories flooding back. We climbed up the drainpipe near the front door so that we could look in at the Masonic Practice Room from a safe distance. We rifled the empty beer bottles, slid down the rails of that magnificent staircase, marvelled at the size of the Dining Room and the large fires made ready in the room to the right of the front door. We toured the upstairs and made ourselves familiar with every nook and cranny of the place. Saturday nights found us in the kitchen enjoying “scallops” (battered slices of potato) fried by Roger’s Dad over the open grate! Roger kept rabbits in the “stable” quarters and these we bred and sold for 2/6d a time to the local kids.

Masonic nights were important occasions. We would wait by the rear door for Ibbotson’s Van to come with the hot dinners and some nights we managed to get fed or at least scrape the plates coming back from the tables when the waitresses weren’t looking. We peeped with awe at all the local gentlemen in the large hall but never got in their way or interfered with their business. That was strictly forbidden. Roger’s Dad could box and showed us clever moves when he wasn’t rolling fags. Roger’s Mum had a superb “Sun” ladies bike and I learnt to ride on it

We went wild in the woods and paths around the Hall. We built dens, scrambled up trees, had mock battles with other lads who played with us. Is Geoff Warner still around? In high summer, Wilf Hirst would scythe the lawns around the building – not much car parking in the ‘50’s. The we would stook and make hay and mess about in hay dens with flies and midges and God knows what else. Suffice it to say, I was at The Oaklands from dawn ‘till dusk and then suffered a good scrubbing down before bed.

In later years, Oaklands Hall imprinted itself upon me in a strange way. Reading Jane Austen and Bronte novels, I would see the characters in the various rooms of The Hall. Oaklands was the “stage set”, if you see what I mean – for the imagination to run riot!

Beyond The Oaklands was a large bungalow set in a huge garden on the banks of a little stream. The house then belonged to a Mr Wilde but we never spoke to him. We imagined him to be a German spy and would crawl and mess about well hidden in his beautiful garden, collected hundreds of beautifully painted “hairy marys”(caterpillars) from the abundant nasturtium plants.

Exploration forays up Brookfold Lane brought us to the Cheshire Lines Railway Bridge and scrambles up the cinder embankment to beg a ride on a C14 Tank engine which would be simmering away at the outer home signal. The friendly engine driver usually told us to b----- off and the equally friendly fireman sometimes lobbed a lump of coal at us. But could you blame them with two filthy urchins pestering them on their well earned break.

That’s another chapter."
Many Thanks Roger !
Excellent stuff ! 


Anonymous said...

Dave Hamilton......

Proper lads stuff !!

Marjorie said...

Sounds just like "Just William"!

Tom said...

I read this and was totally absorbed in the story.. great memories.

Trish said...

Roger, this is a lovely story about the Oaklands Masonic Hall, sounds an idyllic childhood. I have very fond memories of the Oaklands as we held our lovely wedding reception there in 1966, we had a superb meal, then dancing to a three piece band, it was a great place to have a reception, very cosy and welcoming. Then in 1969 my mum and dad held their Silver Wedding there, my little girl Jill aged 8 months slept in a cot in an upstairs room, all the staff were really nice.

Anonymous said...

Barry in Oz. Great story, loved it. 'Hairy Maries' I haven't heard that term used in over 50 years. Didn't know the Hall, I lived on tother side of Hyde.

John Taylor said...

Roger as you moved out so we moved in!! I lived there from 1959 to 1966. Mum & Dad ran the place. I also have very fond memories of the house and it's extensive grounds. The staircase as you mention and the lodge room, the ladies bar and the cellars. I also ran the bar in the evenings just after starting work at Cable shoes age 14. Regards, John.

John Taylor said...

Roger check out



Trish said...

Message for Roger Taylor, were your mum and dad still running the Oaklands Hall in October 1966.? Because if they were they did a grand job for our Wedding reception on the 22nd Oct.

Trish said...

Correction to last comment, I put Roger Taylor when I actually meant the message for John Taylor, sorry about that!

John Taylor said...

Hi Trish, yes they were yours was one of the last weddings they catered prior to retiring. Great to hear you still remember with fondness the Oaklands. We lost dad in 1991 but mum stayed healthy and fit until 2010 when at 90 she quietly faded away.