Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Old Stretford - Chapter II - Means of Conveyance


Means of Conveyance.


  In my early days people going from Stret-
ford to Manchester had either to walk or else
to ride in Massey's two-horse omnibuses,
which left the Unicorn at Altrincham every
hour, and arrived at the Angel Inn, Stretford
in three-quarters of an hour.  Passengers
from neighbouring districts made their
way to the comfortable waiting room that
had been provided at the Angel.  Originally
the far from Stretford to Manchester was
one shilling, but when I travelled by this line
it was sixpence outside and ninepence in.
  About 1845 omnibuses began to run from
Flixton; they passed through Stretford, and
made the King's Arms, King-street, their
headquarters.  This line was started by a
man named Thornton.  Shortly afterwards
an opposition line was set up by Emmanuel
Birkbeck, another coach proprietor.  Though
these omnibuses only ran morning and even-
ing they were much used by Stretford people.
  When the Altrincham line was made
Massey's 'buses ceased to run.  After an
interregnum, John Brundrit, a farmer, and
Thomas Higson, who kept the Old Cock Inn,
became partners, and started a new line.
They had their stables near the Old Cock, and
notwithstanding subsequent opposition they
were successful.  Their charges were four-
pence inside and threepence out.  They also
issued contract tickets at reduced rates.  Old
inhabitants will remember the popular
Brothers Cookson: Bob, who drove an omni-
bus, and Dan and little Johnnie, who acted
as guards.  They were nephews of Mr.
Brundrit, and always did their best to please
their passengers.
  Another well-known driver was John
Seddon, who now keeps the Angel Hotel.  For
a time Mr. James Standring, of Brooks's
Bar, and Mr. William Wild, of Salford, ran
in opposition, but the native-owned line was
the favourite.  After running many years
Messrs. Brundrit and Higson sold their con-
cern to Messrs. Bannister, O'Brien, Walsh and
others, who formed a limited company under
the title of the Stretford Omnibus and Con-
veyancing Company, and built waiting rooms
neat the Bishop Blaize.  The encountered
some competition from Stephen Shawcross,
of Urmston, and Frank Worrall, of Stret-
ford, who jointly started a line that for a
time carried on a bitter fight for business,
sometimes at the risk of life and limb, as
there were several accidents through the rival
omnibuses racing one another.  Some years
after, the Manchester Carriage Company,
who had previously only run to Old Trafford,
started an opposition line to Stretford.
Eventually they bought up the old line, ran
well-equipped three-horsed omnibuses, and
successfully competed with the railway com-


  The present generation know nothing of
toll bars.  They have free use of the roads,
the maintenance being paid for out of the
rates, and everyone contributing even if never
driving on a road.  But at the time I am
referring to, those who used roads for vehicu-
liar traffic had t pay for their repair by means
of tolls collected at toll bars.  There were
three of these in three and a half miles —
Crossford Bridge, Longford, and Cornbrook.


I find from an old account-book that each one-
horsed vehicle paid ninepence for passing
through two bars on the Manchester Road,
and that in 1842 the charge became sixpence.
Eventually this was reduced to threepence,
and in 1885 all tolls were abolished.
Under the old Turnpike Act there were
some singular exemptions from tolls.
None could be charged to the Royal
Family, to persons attending their own
church, or going to funerals there, to
clergymen visiting the sick, or to persons
going to vote at an election.  Farmers, too,
were exempt when carting manure or agricul-
tural produce in broad-wheeled carts.  At
the time I refer to, the toll-bar charges were
a great factor in the cost of conveyancing.  At
fixed times the collection of tolls was farmed
out to the highest bidder, and it is no doubt
a great advantage to Mr. John Greenwood,
as an omnibus proprietor, and afterwards
director of the Carriage Company, that he
generally secured the collection of the tolls
on the omnibus routes round Manchester.
  The last toll, before their extinction, was
paid at the Old Trafford Bar by Mr. Salt-
house, the nurseryman, and is in the posses-
sion of the Mellor family, of Stretford, who
for many years were toll collectors.  The Bar
has gone, but the house still remains, and
has been turned into a dwelling-house.  When
the Manchester Corporation bought up the
Carriage Company they put down tramways,
propelled at first by horses and then by elec-
  The result of the various changes wrought
in the last sixty years is that, instead of an
hourly service to Stretford, there is one
every ten minutes.  The fare that used to be
a shilling is now twopence-halfpenny.  The
class of conveyance is wonderfully improved,
and the time occupied has been reduced from
forty-five to twenty minutes.


  About 1847 power was obtained by a combi-
nation of railways to make a line from Man-
chester to Altrincham, which should provide
two stations for Stretford, one at the village
end and the other at Old Trafford.  It was to
be called the Manchester South Junction and
Altrincham Railway, and by the portion that
ran from Ordsall Lane to London Road it
practically connected the north and south
lines of the London and North-Western Rail-
way Company.  Lord Ellesmere originally
opposed the Bill on the ground that it would
interfere with the passenger and goods traffic
on the Bridgewater Canal, but eventually he
agreed to give up his passenger service, and


associated himself with the Manchester and
Birmingham (now the London and North-
Western Railway Company) and the Man-
chester and Sheffield Railway Company (now
the Great Central Railway Company) in
making and providing money for the new line.
  This was under construction whilst I and
my companions were going to school, and as
it offered a shorter route than the circuitous
road by nearly a mile we often used to try
and run the gauntlet of watchmen who
were on the look-out for trespassers.  We
could outrun the old men, but sometimes we
were caught and cuffed, or else sent back.
The new line was opened in 1849, and I
travelled on it the first week it started.
There were two opening ceremonies: the first
a private one a few days before the public
opening.  This was for the directors, con-
tractors, and their friends, who went over the
line accompanied by the Stretford Teetotal
Band, who had a new outfit for the occasion
consisting of a blue jacket and cap, with
white trousers.  There were many demonstra-
tions of joy by the workmen and others, who
were assembled at different points of the
route.  The carriages then used were cer-
mainly not luxurious; the third class were
very dismal with longitudinal seats, and the
second class had bare wooden seats, and were
very inferior to the thirds of to-day.  As a
feeder to the line, a 'bus was run by John
Greenwood from the Greyhound, Flixton, to
Stretford Station, to bring up the Flixton,
Davyhulme, and Croft's Bank passengers,
the fares being: outside 6d., inside 8d.  This
was given up when the Cheshire Lines opened
to Flixton.
  The first stationmaster at Stretford was
Mr. W. H. Bowers, a fussy little man, very
fond of music and good company.  The first
porter was named Thomas Massey.  He re-
gained in his situation for many years, and
then, I believe, took to cab driving.  Mr.
John Swarbrick was the first stationmaster at
Old Trafford: he was a little, precise, quiet
man, and remained at his post for nearly
forty years.  When the line was opened the only
entrance to the Trafford station was at the
bottom of the incline, with a level crossing to
the opposite platform.  This was very danger-
ous, and in one instance a lady fell and had
a narrow escape, some of her fingers being
cut off.  After this the crossing was done
away with, and both here and at Stretford
the booking-office was placed on the top of
the bridge.
  Mr. James Kirkman became the first secre-
tary of the line.  He was an enthusiastic
musician, and attended St. peter's Church.
He was succeeded by Mr. R. Haig-Brown, who
ably conducted the company's business for
about thirty years.  During his tenure of
office there was general satisfaction, and the
railway was at high-water mark.  It is to be
hoped his successors will restore it to that
condition.  One of the earliest porters at Stret-
ford Station was R. Wardleworth, then a fine-
looking young fellow.  Even railway stations
have their romances, and he found favour in
the eyes of a young lady of good family from
Ashton-on-Mersey, and notwithstanding the
objections of her friends she married him.
He afterwards became stationmaster at Sale,
and eventually was pensioned.  He is since
  When the Queen came to Manchester in
1851, Stretford Station was besieged with
passengers anxious to see the procession.
Train after train that ought to have stopped
passed by, being previously packed with
passengers from Bowdon and other stations.
It seemed hopeless to reach Manchester in
time.  At length a train did stop, but it
could not find accommodation for a fourth of
the passengers.  An inspiration struck Mr.
John Taylor, an Urmston gentleman.  He-spied
a painter's ladder, and before he could be pre-
vented, reared it against a carriage, and so
got his whole party (chiefly ladies) on the
top.  The officials stopped the train and insisted
that those on top should come down.  But
while they were parleying at this carriage the
rest of the people scrambled on the other
carriages, and the station was cleared.
  As the officials were powerless, and as there
was no help, the train moved slowly on with
passengers hanging on as best they could.
people were warned to keep their heads down
in passing under the bridges, and, fortunately,
everyone got safely to his journey's end,
and all were enabled to see the Queen which,
at one time, seemed hopeless.


  Another means of conveyance to Manchester
was by the Bridgewater Canal.  It consisted
of slow packets drawn by horses.  These
called at Edge lane, Longford Bridge, and
the Watermeetings, and picked up produce
and passengers, landing them at Duke's
Dock, Knott Mill.  A swift packet also ran
once a day for passengers only.  It was drawn
by horses kept on the trip, and ridden by
liveried postillions, who roused the country by
blowing their horns.  The fare to Manchester
was sixpence.  A similar swift packet con-
vexed the late Queen when she visited Worsley
at the time of the 1851 exhibition.



  1. I have really enjoyed reading your blog! Such great information and so very detailed that it is making the community come to life! I love it! By the way, I am a Hampson and directly related to the Hampson's who lived in the great stone cottages. I am searching for information about them and about the cottages, if there is any in the book you are transcribing. And if not, that is okay, because I am still enjoying reading about the daily life of the community. Thank you, again for continuing to transcribe the book. You are doing a good deed!

    1. Once I get fully back to speed I hope to continue transcribing the book. The name Hampson doesn't jump out at me, but I know there is a chapter about "local celebrities" and another on tradespeople, so you might get lucky there/ ;^)