1939 – 1955 by Roger Chadwick
Between 1945 and 1948, the bus fare from Glen Wood to Hyde Market was 1d both for adults and children. It was regarded as a good value ticket but when your pocket money was between 3d and 6d, it was wiser to walk the three stops and save the money for pies!
Readers will gather that food has and always will be important to me. I am fortunate to bear the same weight at 74 that I had at 18! Walking about makes you observant and I knew every part and parcel of that 10 minute amble!
Mottram Road was quite “elegant” even in those post war years with Victorian terraces, huge houses and rows of cottage style dwellings. John Oldham’s, Grocers, was just down the road and between the shop and the Bankfield Hotel were what we called “the dolls houses” as they looked so small and neat. Past Grange Road you came to Sober Row, so remembered because of the stone plaque in the middle terrace house bearing the words “Be sober, be industrious, be economical”. Then I might cross the road to avoid the temptations of Proctors Chip Shop, buy stamps at the sub post office and then hurry past the Co-op at the corner of Lumn Road with its crepe paper window decorations and ginger cat! After a passing the tram shed on Lewis Street and Smith’s The Butchers I would eye all the cars and take in the whiff of unburnt petrol at the garage before Ridling Lane and Clarendon Street.
Co-op on Lumn Road corner
There was a lovely fruit pie outlet just below the road that led to the Hyde Lads Club and The Ritz!
When I was about 7 or 8, Mum took me to meet Mrs Young at the National Savings Shop and to buy Savings Stamps. These bore the portrait of Prince Charles with blonde hair aged about 3! It was the start of saving money for the future. Round the corner was Lever’s, the Gents’ Hairdresser where I would deliberately attend for the short back and sides at the busiest time of the week so as to study the Dandy and Beano comics in detail. In those days, Mr Lever, chain smoking and coughing, would sterilise the shaving heads and briefly use the cut throat razor above the ears and below the hairline. That implement frightened me to death especially when being “stropped” for shaving the older gentlemen
The Reform Club Building reminded me, like many more lads of my age, of the lady dentist from the school dental clinic on the first floor. “Keep still, this is going to hurt…what’s the red tie for… are you a communist?” She brooked no nonsense and was downright rude. Pleasanter moments were spent in Warburton’s Pork Butchers with the huge Kelvinator Fridges and blue tiled images of pigs on the walls, a scrupulously clean environment, smelling of butchers’ mace as the pork and pies were served out to the huge queues. Then perhaps across the road for a saunter round Woolworth’s. The manageress was usually found in one of those glass screened shoulder level offices and had a tremendous hooked nose which fascinated me. Not so the goods on offer as I always thought of them as too cheap and nasty and everything at a penny or a halfpenny short of a round number: I never cared for Woolworths but thousands did!
Woolworths, with Abbey National which was the site of the UCP cafe
The UCP( translated “United Cattle Products” for foreigners..) across Hamnett Street and the Shaw Hall bus stop was a favourite haunt for an “illicit” plate of faggots and peas or a savoury duck. It was always full and smelt wonderful. All those cubicles where people met to eat and chatter and meet friends and family. You would think I never got fed at home!
As I remember it, Hyde Market was held every Tuesday and Saturday. The square was packed jam full of stalls and people and buses were off-loading at every street corner. I am pleased to see that the elegant Tram Stops have been preserved and The Town Hall makes an excellent backdrop even now. What no longer seem to exist are Meschias and Levaggi’s Ice Cream Kiosks where I would squander pocket money, always leaving some for the horehound candy in the Market Hall. The smell of that candy filled the place. Summer months would see me rushing home with dripping bags of wimberries(bilberries) for deep plate pies with custard!
Meschias Van on Hyde Market
Early teenage years would find me in Market Street gawping at the lovely new “rexine” record players at 15 guineas in Callers window – something I desperately wanted but was way beyond my income. No so the suet puddings, gravy and chips at Ibbotsons Café which were always wonderful for a growing lad’s appetite. Thence to Cooke Brothers for cheese off the slab and butter from the barrel and perhaps a swig of sarsaparilla or dandelion and burdock at the Herbalist’s fascinating premises. I never cared for liquorice sticks but loved pink “kalai”(is that how it is spelt?) that came in spills of paper where a wet finger would enable me to lick the glorious taste. When sweets came off ration I didn’t go mad for them. I still don’t!
These days, you can eat or drink anything you want and the huge choice doesn’t excite me at all. The times of shortages after the war made me really appreciate and enjoy absolutely anything that was on offer. Hyde could offer plenty enough even in those hard times. It was a wonderful place for me!
They are a delight to read.