Since starting to co-edit this blog, I have spent more time at my computer than a gaming obsessive but, since my interest in gaming is limited to a brief period in the early ‘90s when I had a Sega Megadrive, I do not get into the fantastic virtual cities and realms of “Grand Theft Auto” and “World of Warcraft” that are explored by the alter egos of many of my contemporaries. Rather, I while away periods equivalent to half a working day or more engrossed in sites such as Flickr and satisfy my flights of fancy by tapping search terms into Google, in the hope of obtaining some obscure piece of information that will improve my life beyond measure.
Coupled with this doubtless unhealthy internet addiction is an increasing interest in the past, in an attempt to make sense of who I am and how the things that I know, love and by which I am surrounded, came to be. Having discovered the British Newspaper Archive through Twitter, I spent half an hour on there this morning and another half an hour wondering whether I should fork out for the annual subscription.
The history of Manchester has been one of my interests for some time. Largely a dormant, armchair (or pedestrian, perhaps) kind of interest, it has been confined to activities such as stopping and looking at blue plaques (e.g. Rutherford’s at the University of Manchester and Pankhurst’s on Nelson Street, next to the MRI), pausing outside old, derelict buildings (e.g. the London Road Fire Station, Manchester Mayfield Railway Station) or looking at books in the Local History section of Waterstone’s on Deansgate (although this did extend to buying Andrew Davies’ “The Gangs of Manchester”, one of the few books I have ever read that I could describe as “unputdownable”).
Since living in Levenshulme, my interest in local history has both intensified and narrowed – I have a particular desire to learn more about the bit of Manchester confined to the swathes of streets either side of the A6, immediately north of Stockport’s Heatons. Fortunately, my recent web searches have demonstrated that I am not the only one who wants to know about the Levenshulme of old; a few hours spent at the laptop with a few cups of tea or bottles of ale have yielded myriad riches in both the printed word and photographic form.
George Nixon was born in Levenshulme in the late 1940s and spent his childhood and early twenties here before moving to Stockport in 1973 and, later, to Canada. His website, “Levenshulme History: Then and Now” is packed with interesting stories about Levenshulme and full of photographs – personal snapshots as well as pictures that have been archived by Manchester Libraries. Not content with just the one website, Mr. Nixon – who commented on a previous LoveLevenshulme article in February last year, is spreading the word about historic Levenshulme with “A Levenshulme History Page” on Facebook.
If your era of choice is more Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes than Dixon of Dock Green, then take a look at “Levenshulme Past and Present” put together by Philip, who grew up in Levenshulme in the 1970s and the early 1980s. It’s not all platform shoes and glam-rock, though – it even features this map, showing the rural settlement of Levenshulme in the early part of the 19th Century!
Now for the photographs. Manchester Archives’ Flickr account is regularly updated and they even sort collections of photographs for easy viewing. Have a look at their “Once Upon a Time in Leve” set, although there are a few more Levy-related shots if you search for “Levenshulme” in their photostream. Look at this one of what is now the Nawaab Restaurant on Stockport Road! And what about this one of the same road, taken 102 years ago? Can you imagine if the Metrolink were extended south along the A6 through Levenshulme?
Levenshulme clearly has a vibrant history that is reflected in the diverse 21st Century community into which it has developed. It has developed because of the people, and everyone has their own unique experience of Levenshulme. Have you lived in Levenshulme for a long time? Were you born and raised here? Do you have any pictures or memories of Levenshulme to share with us? Have you got a piece you would like to write about the history of Levenshulme? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to hear from you. Let’s keep Levenshulme’s history alive!