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Joan Leach was a local historian, a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, a founder of The Gaskell Society, and much more besides.


Aerial Photos of Knutsford

Joan Leach

Buildings seem to be going up on every vacant plot around Knutsford but looking at this aerial photo of about 1930 it is clear that buildings always had been crammed into spaces, here we see houses, shops and workshops clustered around Canute Place and Princess Street.

Canute Place Knutsford 1930's

Many streets were only named and numbered after town councils took over administration in the mid 1890's, until then Canute Place was known vaguely as Heathside. The row of cottages with porches, curving from Manchester Road (also called Heathside in earlier days) to The Lord Eldon pub were all Egerton property. For many years this area served as a bus station and residents must have resented having their porches being used as shelters from wind and rain by waiting passengers. The last building on that side had been a smithy, though many will remember an off licence there: I recently discovered that Tatton Street had once been called Chapel Street after the baptist chapel which is now The Tatton Club

Canute Place Knutsford 1930's

The bowling green belonged to the one-time Bowling Green Inn and remained as a bowling club after the houses went when that side on the square was developed in the 1950's after the last Lord Egerton's death. Recently new housing has replaced them.

On Manchester Road , opposite the Conservative Club stood the Drill Hall which had been built as cold air stores. Fred Buckley in his memoirs* recalls

"...surplus game from Lord Egerton's estate was made into soup for his tenants. We queued with our basins for the soup and on occasions a large loaf made in Tatton Hall kitchens. If we were lucky we might also receive a pair of rabbits or a piece of venison'.

A welcome subsidy for low wages. Notice the houses beyond the White Bear which were removed when the King Edward Road was made. The gardens behind them belonged to the large house, with a gable, fronting Princess Street, which was a doctor's house for at least a hundred years: Doctor Fennell was the last resident there before it was demolished a few years after this photo was taken. I like to think that the false acacia tree on the corner, just before the roundabout, was part of the garden.

Canute Place Knutsford 1930's

I would like to see an aerial picture taken now to compare with the jumble of buildings behind Princess Street (The lower side of King Street had a similar mixture, with remnants of earlier gardens with trees. At the right foreground of this photo the open land belonged to Hollingford House, then known as Church House from its closeness to the church, where Mrs Gaskell's uncle Doctor Peter Holland had lived.)


* From Top to Bottom , by Free Buckley costs £4 from Heritage Centre