Although born in Bradford, Manchester (now known by the ridiculous name of Eastlands), from the age of 9 to 23 I lived in Droylsden. Droylsden had a nickname of 'The Silly Country'. The reason being that the town's folk supposedly used to bring a pig to the annual carnival and sit it on the wall next to them. Droylsden grew as a cotton town from a population of 1,552 in 1801, 11,087 in 1901 and to 23,172 in 2001. The population peaked at 26,363 in 1951.
As kids we used to be regulars on a Saturday afternoon at The Palace Cinema, known to us all as 'The Bug Hut'. Flash Gordon and William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy were the usual entertainment at the hut. Trips to Ashton Baths during the school holidays were taken, if finances permitted. Sometimes we hopped over the local off-licence wall to 'borrow' and take back beer bottles for the small deposit on them. That is until we were eventually caught by the owner. After the swimming session it was a choice of getting the bus back to Droylsden or buying a meat and potato pie and walking back. The pie always won.
Other swimming venues were the River Medlock at Cinderland Bridge and even the canal at Littlemoss. A day out at these places with a bottle of water and a jam butty was considered normal then. Bike rides to Hartshead Pike and Manor Park in Glossop seemed long expeditions at the time. Lees Park was our preferred location for games of football and cricket. There used to be a small playground with swings, a roundabout and a slide between Oldham Street and the Lees Park end of Luke Road.
I lived in the Moorside area of Droylsden not far from The White Hart pub. This venue was visited regularly by the Police, especially at weekends, when the Chester's Bitter, or fighting beer as it was commonly known, began to take effect. The area often stunk from the pigswill at the nearby Sam's Farm. We often went train spotting at Droylsden Station and use to build rafts on the canal at the aqueduct over the railway line. The Medlock Valley was another adventure playground.
Of course football played a big part of our lives, especially playing for the school team at Moorside. Our opponents in the league were from the Manor Road, Manchester Road, Fairfield Road Junior Schools and Lumb Lane and Poplar Street schools from Audenshaw. We also played against teams from Ashton but I cannot recall the names. We won the league in the 1956-57 season and I was fortunate to be picked for the Ashton Boys team.
I wonder if any TC readers remember any of the following?
The Moorside Trotting Stadium, Riley's Store on Market Street, or the large Co-operative Store at the corner of Market Street and Manchester Road. On Market Street itself, the Quality Shop, the Maypole, Hugh Fays or was it Fay Meadows? The Herbalists shop, Nutts Hardware, Howards Butchers, the chip shop near the traffic lights. Further up Market Street, Bill Williams Woodyard, Shans Drapery and the 'White Shop'. On Fairfield Road, Ruth's Bookshop, where you could view all the Christmas Annuals before the event and hint at what you would like for a present.
The factories, works and offices – Christy's Mill on Manchester Road, the CWS Drug Works on Greenside Lane, Saxon Mill on Medlock Street and Saxon Street, Courtaulds Dyeworks at Greenside Lane, Marchingtons Dye Works at the bottom end of Hart Street, Lintafoam at Saxon Street, Sharna Ware at the old Lumb Mill, GC Pies on Baguley Street, Ridings on Market Street and of course, perhaps the most well known of all, Robertson's Jam Works on Ashton Hill Lane. Remember the tokens on the jam jars, collected in order to obtain a metal golliwog badge? A definite no no in this crazy world of the PC brigade.
The 215 and 216 trolley buses that ran from Ashton to Manchester, the Mayne's limited stop bus, the 'Flying Pig' bus from Droylsden to Ashton via Littlemoss. Droylsden Station was a major line for Manchester commuters until it fell victim to the Beeching axe. The old Council Office buildings at the Toll Bar, during the days when all areas had their own urban district councils, rather than the present TMBC gravy train.
Of course Droylsden has always been well served with pubs and clubs (some now closed) – the Salisbury Conservative Club, Droylsden Labour Club, the British Legion Club, Fitzroy Social Club, John Street WMC and St Stephens Catholic Club.
The pubs I remember are, the 5 Ways Inn, Railway, Butchers Arms, where the elderly Sarah and her sister served the locals. The Beehive where in the mid 60's the landlord Les served the best pint of Wilson's Bitter in Manchester. His hotpot curries went down well on a Saturday night too. The aforementioned White Hart, the Kings Head with Stan on the piano at weekends. The now notorious and closed down Cotton Tree, Church Hotel, Moss Tavern, Astley Arms renamed The Lazy Toad, Buxton, Strawberry Gardens, Bush Inn, Sundial, Gardeners Arms, Yew Tree, Jolly Carter, Half Way House, Hadden Hall, Pig On The Wall named after the silly country carnival story, Commercial and the Royal Oak.
Here is a link to a website with photographs of some of the clubs and pubs mentioned.
This wonderful article was researched and written by Bill from Walks in Tameside. It makes fascinating reading and I would like to thank Bill for taking the time and effort to prepare the article and for sharing it with us.
Although not from Droylsden myself this article brought back many memories. Whereas the kids in Droylsden referred to their local cinemas as 'The Bug Hut' we used to call ours 'The Flea Pit' and when beer bottles were being returned for deposits in Droylsden, we were returning empty Corona bottles for the same reason. Then there were the bogies we used to make from old prams, and what about..........nah, I better stop. This is Bill's article and once again - thanks Bill. Tameside Citizen