W he re we liv e
ilwain Road, where we live,â€™ my toddler says as we turn onto the top of the street that has been his home for his whole life, and ours for the last eight years. It is a street that welcomed us from the moment we arrived, a street that feels like an extension of our home. I have done many place-specific projects, collecting and creating stories and memories of specific areas. When lockdown started in March 2020 and we were all confined to our homes and local streets, I decided that it was the perfect time to make some new work about Milwain Road itself. I asked residents to send me stories and thoughts about their relationship with the street and was moved and delighted by the responses.
I have made a series of handmade books with themed extracts from the collected stories, which you can view on www.urbanwords.org.uk. I have also created this digital book to bring all of the texts together in one space. Together they build a picture of a warm, friendly community of people who share this place called Milwain Road, perhaps made even stronger by the experience of lockdown.
Sarah Butler, June 2020
tanding at the bottom of the road, looking up, whilst juggling my school bag and books, Milwain seemed to go on forever; the end of it lost somewhere in the grey, yet tree lined distance. As a child, I’d always wondered what I would find if I’d ever climbed all of the way to the top. I’d heard there was a school and a park somewhere way up there…. Then, as a teenager, I explored and found hidden streets, a secret lake, charming homes, vibrant families, and a multi- cultural mini city, all on my doorstep. But, now, as an adult, as I eagerly turn onto the peak of Milwain, after a long day’s work, and see the road gently unfold before me, the trees waving their welcome and beckoning me forward, I feel like a child again as I follow the “yellow brick road” and realise that there really is no place like (the road that gave me a) home.
ligh always says he loves the trees. When we walk or cycle up our road he always says that. He likes the smooth road, how wide it is and how there aren’t too many cars. He likes the neighbours and how people talk to one another. Milwain to me signifies an important chapter In our family life. It’s about our growth. It’s a wonderful home that’s evolved with us. Gareth and I have created and ‘grown’ this home. We’ve changed pretty much everything inside and the garden. Eligh has grown within it and with it. Granny now lives with us- in her own Granny pad in the garden which Gareth created for her. I love the road for all the same reasons as Eligh- I like that he loves it too. I love walking down Or up the road with his hand in mine.
n the early days of living here, I would walk past the sign at the end of the road and ponder the name of the street we’d just moved to. Milwain Road: would it become so normal and familiar that I didn’t even think about it? There were many things I liked about Milwain Road when we moved overseas 18 months later. And when we returned over 5 years later again, I was pleased that I still felt like it was a good place to be. One of the great things about staying local over these last weeks is that I feel more than I did before that I really live here, in this neighbourhood, on this road. And it has been a great encouragement to smile at and chat with neighbours as we all go through this strange time.
hen we moved in here this was very much an Irish street. It’s changed now. What I do is I do the bins, for our neighbours. I do four of them. We moved here in 1968. I went to work for Fairey Engineering. 3,000 people worked there when I started. They did wings for planes, then they went onto nuclear reactors. There was a bandstand in the park. One of the most famous brass bands in the country was Fairey Engineering Brass Band. They won loads of awards. When I started work they’d play in the bandstand in the park.
ur daughter and son-in-law moved into Milwain Road 25 years ago and we all liked the house right away. It was solid, it was cheerful. Finding the garden at the back was a revelation, reaching right down to the stream, Cringle Brook. It was only after the early ‘busyness’ had passed – moving in, first baby arriving – that we became properly aware of the road. Milwain running just between rather grand Erwood at the top down to Burnage Lane. It is a bit of rat-run now, but at night, mostly quiet. Leaving through the front gate in the evening, after we’ve said ‘Goodnight’, something always makes me pause, look up and down, listen to the quiet. Nobody’s about, windows are lit, some stained glass panels in a few doors glowing. Maybe there is the last of a sunset down at Burnage Lane end. Safe inside there are children sleeping, families with a few hours to themselves watching TV, talking, sharing a meal, laughing, sad. Ordinary people, with hopes and plans and extra-ordinary memories. All different and all the same.
Maybe there is some sense of the green fields that were here not so long ago? Maybe a trace of those young Edwardians moving into their brandnew homes, all bright confidence, just before the cataclysm of 1914 turned life upside down. It must have felt so ‘modern’ then, the older villas behind, over the railway line; fields ahead. My daughter has stayed. 3 children grew up; my son moved in lower down. Mostly people come young and stay; make lifelong friends with lovely neighbours. Only recently I discovered that my dad went to Alma Park School when it was brand new, just before Milwain was laid out and built. And then I learned that my grandparents, a young clerk and sewing maid in Burnage, did their courting after chapel, along the field path beside Cringle Brook in the 1880s. Yes, it’s a good place, Milwain Road. Ordinary people getting on with their lives, good lives, continuing through such change. Coronavirus is not going to alter that.
was born and brought up in Levenshulme. I didn’t move very far; I’ve not got much gypsy in my soul! We lived in Wales for a bit but I didn’t like it. When we moved into Milwain Road the house was a wreck. But the street was always very friendly. Everyone in it was very friendly. We’ve never had any problems at all with the neighbours. We used to have the Duchess of York hospital at the end of the street. There was a shop sold baby clothes, so it was handy for people to buy little clothes before they went in. Quite a few of the people who lived round here were nurses. We never got to know their names – they were out at six o’clock in the morning, and I was working as well – I used to work on the garden village in Burnage. There were no trees on the street then. We look at trees at the back but there was none at the front, so I thought, well, maybe we could get some. I just went up and down the street and asked people if they fancied having trees planted in the street. Then
I asked the council and we got them. They’re all different kinds. I don’t see why you have to go and live in the country. I mean, I’m sat here now and all I can see at the back is a few flats one side, a couple of flats the other side, and trees. We’re surrounded by trees. And they help clean the air. Just nearby there’s a red-leaf tree – when the sun shines on it it’s absolutely gorgeous. We’re very lucky. That was twenty years ago. The one outside our house is massive now.
used to talk to Mrs Robinson who lived in the first house on Hilbre road. She was 103 when she died and she bought her house off plan. She remembered my house being built. And the house facing me where Joan lived. She remembered Joan being born. It was fascinating talking to her and learning some of the history of the road. She said there were fields behind and the massive garden of the duchess of York hospital. The outpatients’ clinic which was a beautiful old house was on the corner where the flats are now. The plot the bungalow’s on was a very big house with an orchard. I knew the lady who lived there her parents left it to her and her husband lost it in card game in the 50s.
he lovely family over the road had a cake sale outside their house today and, knowing that we can’t leave the house at the moment, left a little parcel of chocolate chip buns on our door step. A couple of hours later, my husband answered the door to a lady from down the road bringing packages of sweets to celebrate Eid. Every couple of days I’ll get a what’s app from Joan next door asking if we need anything and checking we’re ok. Our daughter gets regular drawings and packages from our 5 year old neighbour on the other side. Our cat went missing early in lockdown and our neighbour over the road was out looking for him. These, plus countless other interactions with the people who live on this road - a smile, a nod, a chat, a what’s app. Not just Milwain Road in the time of Covid-19, but the kindness and loveliness seen on Milwain Road at all times. ‘Forever home’ is a phrase that makes me feel nauseous, but we’ve definitely found ours here.
ur 1st house we were leaving behind about 11 years ago, was not very far. Just the other side of Cringle field. That’s why we decided to hire a van, draft a couple of mates and handle the move ourselves. Bad idea! One of our friends went down with the flu and the other did his back in and was only able to move small objects. Jon’s Mum was called in to look after Karolina, then 2 and a half and Amber who was just 1. We loaded the first van with a couple of sofas and the kids’ toys whilst Grandma with a pushchair and a scooter made her way via the park to Milwain road and the new house. I carried on clearing, loading and tidying until 2am, Jon did the van runs and unloading. I don’t think we could have done it without the peace of mind provided by our lovely new neighbours, Terry and Janet who provided the children with entertainment and ice creams and equally importantly, Gandma with biscuits and cups of tea. When I got up on my Day 1 on Milwain, we all felt truly at home. This has not changed. Terry and Janet have since been a life saver helping with our dogs, looking after our
house during building work and Janet turned out to be one of the people responsible for having trees planted all the way down Milwain road. And they are not the only ones. I love our street, a great mix of ages, backgrounds and cultures where people acknowledge each other and look out for each other.
oving to Milwain Road in March 1991, what can I say, other than I didn’t really want to do it. At the time I had 2 small children, Roisin who was 4 and Kate 18/12 and we had been looking for a slightly larger house with a south facing garden. We were already living in Levenshulme, on Berkeley Avenue and loved where we were, and it had just become a conservation area. But we wanted a little more space, but it was just at the time of the house price boom in the early 1990s and every house we went to view we were gazumped, after a while we gave up house hunting and went away for a break in late October. After Christmas we decided we would give searching for a house another go and when we came to view Milwain we liked it but it didn’t tick all the boxes. No south facing garden, a small kitchen again, and for me with 2 small children big steps up to the front door which filled me with dread as I had an old Silver Cross pram which I loved and really didn’t want to give up. But somehow, we ended up putting in an offer for this house and surprisingly this time we were
successful. No other buyers in the waiting line, and more importantly we had a buyer who desperately wanted to move into Berkeley Avenue. It was only ever a stopgap a place to move into because we had sold Berkeley Avenue, also in Levenshulme. We would still move we decided, into the place with the south facing garden, with the large kitchen, and period features. But in April 1993 we had another baby girl, AmyClaire and the girls were happy and settled in local schools, we’d met Sue and Chris across the road so the move was again put on hold. However, 29 happy years later we are still here, we have added an extra room in the attic and a staircase so it’s really a 4 bed roomed house now with 4 big cellars, all the better to fill with water when it floods as it has done twice in the last ten years. Our 2 next door neighbours have been here longer than we have. We have made friends for life in this area, our families intertwined now with so many shared memories of new births, happy holidays, birthdays, celebrations, funerals, weddings and now the next generation of children. The thought of leaving here is not something I even contemplate now.
t is coming up for 13 years since we moved into our home on Milwain Road. Thirteen years......I can’t believe how quickly those years have gone by. We moved from a rural location on the borders of Derbyshire, where we had lived happily for 23 years. The main reason for the move was to be closer to ageing parents who lived local to Levenshulme. It was the best move we ever made. When we first came to view the house, we fell in love with it as soon as we walked through the front door and have continued to love it. This house holds so many happy memories for me........... the grandchildrens’ frequent visits and sleepovers; family gatherings and celebrations; my mum; dogsitting for weeks at a time for our son; friends visiting and meals shared; friends and extended family sleeping over. People make a house a home.
How lucky are we to have gardens to the front and rear of the house (even more so in this time of the coronavirus pandemic). It is nice to look out our kitchen window and see the different beautiful birds (goldfinches. long-tailed tits, blackbirds, etc) feeding from the feeder and/or feeding their young. They usually perch themselves on the lilac tree, where the feeders are, flying off when they spy one of the local cats walking along the ‘cat walk’ (the wall at the back of the garden and behind the lilac tree). I love the Japanese maple tree with its copper coloured leaves. We have several pots waiting to home the red geraniums which will be planted in the next couple of weeks. Geraniums always remind me of France and are one of my favourite plants. Standing in the centre of the garden is a large glazed ornamental ceramic urn coloured different shades of blue, which is the focal point of the garden. We have had it a number of years and love it as much today as the first day we bought it.
The front garden is home to various plants and our olive tree. I am not very good with the names of plants, I leave that to Jim. He is the one who knows more about plants, and it gives us pleasure to see the results of the hard work he has put in to both the front and back gardens.
very accessible from Milwain Road.
Milwain Road......watching the magnificent sun sets giving off a red glow onto the houses on the opposite side of the road. How lucky are we to be able to see trees from any window we look out of! How lucky are we to have Cringle Park at the top of our road! How lucky are we to have Fallowfield Loop at the top of our road, where we can cycle to Chorlton (and beyond) in one direction or Audenshaw (and beyond) in the opposite direction...whichever takes your fancy!
Milwain Road......the best thing about living here is the people, our neighbours. They are all very special, very kind, caring and lovable. Great characters, lovely families and interesting and friendly individuals. We have lived in several places over the years and enjoyed our time in them, but there is something very special about Milwain Road.
Milwain Road.....close to Manchester and everything Manchester has to offer. Sometimes we walk or cycle there. Other times we catch the train or bus, both
Milwain Road......just a short walk to Stockport Road to the shops, cafes, bars, eating places, library, swimming pool, not forgetting Levenshulme Antiques.
How lucky am I?........I am extremely lucky.
small stream, Cringle Brook, meanders along the bottom of the gardens of the houses on the south side of Milwain Road. It forms the boundary line on the plans, and when you zoom out and look at all the plots in the neighbourhood this boundary is the one where the conveyancing clerk dispensed with his right-angles and ruler and went calligraphic freehand, looping and curlicuing. Homeownersâ€™ fences are costly to curl, so many make a solid rectangle and cut off their little coastlines or use them as a convenient rubbish tip. A line of enormous trees grows along on the steep banks and thrive amongst the detritus, out of the reach of residents.
When I first looked around number 21 Milwain Road, husband, toddler and estate agent in tow, I saw the view from the living room and couldnâ€™t leave. Nose and toes pressed against the big window, I stood immobile well beyond our allotted 15 minutes. The garden was blazing green; long, steeply sloping and angled at the sun. My eye was level with the tops of the huge trees which followed the brook, curving with the gentle arc of it around the house. You canâ€™t see any of this from high up on the street, so it was without warning that I had stumbled across this clearing in a secret jungle, with a cave-woman sense of wonder.
neighbour in the 80s...
A middle-aged couple with three kids, two grown and gone and one a teenager when we moved in. She was much bigger than him with a soviet figure and dank, black hair. He was usually churlish and quick to complain about things in general (and particular). Together they had a sort of grudging stance to the world, as if they’d been put upon or sold short. “Charlie”, as we called him among ourselves, had a keyboard on a stand and on Sunday lunchtimes in summer we could hear him playing through his opened French windows. he favoured the “organ” function. He would play the right notes, but not enough of them and never quite up to speed with the automatic beat of the machine.
He was fond of using his lighter to start random little fires as he nosed around his back garden, burning odd piles of twigs or a few dried leaves. Once when a larger-than-usual pyre was covering our washing with smoke I knocked on their front door to ask if he could put it out. She answered, mournfully, that it was one of his hobbies. Smoking was another, so seriously pursued it cost him his leg. In his wheelchair he continued to smoke at the same rate. About two years later, during a casual chat in the driveway, he told me he was having his other leg amputated. I expressed dismay. “It doesn’t really matter”, he said “I don’t use it much anyway”.
e’ve lived on Milwain Road for nearly 13 years and I remember the very first day we moved in. Our next door neighbour introduced herself and made us feel very welcome. We had been living, for the previous 23 years, in a semi-rural location on the south side of Manchester that wasn’t exactly neighbourly, nor did it have a great sense of community so it was lovely to get a friendly welcome. Anyway, we quickly got to know a good number of our neighbours and loved the fact that the sense of community was tangible. Interesting that people thought we were a bit mad because we were moving from a rural area into an inner city one but it’s a decision we don’t regret. Our road, and area, is very diverse with an interesting mix of people. Since we moved in there has definitely been an increase in the number of young families who have decided to make Levenshulme their home - that can only be good for the future of the area! I sometimes look down the road from our front window and try to imagine what it was like in the early 1900s when it was first built. How things have changed! Also think about the people who have lived in the house before us and try to imagine what their lives would have been like.
The neighbourhood is very green with lots of trees, a really nice park and one of the nicest tree-lined roads in Manchester (Erwood Road). That road looks lovely any time of the year but particularly in Autumn. It’s a great place for good food shops, cafes and eating places, as well as the weekly market. Lots of interesting community projects going on and they seem to be on the increase. Also a great place for transport links. The bike path at the top of the road is great for the community and well-used by walkers, leisure cyclists and cycle commuters. This all sounds very Utopian but the neighbourhood has its problems like anywhere else. I love to sit on the front doorstep when it’s sunny and warm and try to engage in conversation with people passing. I also love to sit at the kitchen table in the morning and watch the birds in the garden. Been feeding the birds through the winter so the garden is never without birdlife, especially at this time of the year. Most of the birds have young ones so it’s great to see them feeding their young. My particular favourite is the Goldfinch and there are lots of them come into the garden at the moment; love its colour scheme; it’s like looking at a bird from the tropics. Think about how the natural world just gets on with it, oblivious to what’s going on with the pandemic.
’d say it’s an ordinary street, but there is something lovely about its ordinariness. It feels safe and comfortable. The houses are solid, not too big, nor too small, still brightened by some of the old coloured glass windows, flower filled front gardens and cheerful front doors. The top half of the street is on one of Manchester’s few slopes, you couldn’t call it a hill. It slopes down both to the south and west. The south side drop is steepest and can only be seen behind the odd numbered houses where gardens slope steeply to a stream and so your line of vision from the house leads straight into the canopy of the trees. The view down the long street at dusk is lovely, because of the gradient we see lots of sky and so great sunsets, and during this April month of lockdown a super bright Venus hangs there each night fixing us and giving some sense of hope for the future.
The even numbered houses are slightly higher on the southward slope and that is the sunny side of the street. The sun shines on the south facing fronts, the gardens bloom and people often sit out on their step. The odd numbers are darker and less lively somehow. But their secret is the long gardens and tree filled views they hide behind them. About 10 years ago the council agreed to plant trees on the street and it’s made a huge difference. They soften the red brick and concrete and give us more birds and birdsong, spring blossom and summer shade. It’s a settled street, most people stay here, houses often passed on through generations. When we moved in, most near neighbours were retired and had lived here most of their lives. I had never lived anywhere for more than 5 years and I thought how boring and a bit sad to get stuck somewhere. But then we found we too couldn’t move ! We almost
went to Chorlton 17 years ago but we felt awful when it came to it, we realised not so much that Chorlton wasn’t for us, but more accurately Milwain road and Levenshulme were just right for us. The main reason for our feeling so rooted here has been the friendly supportive neighbours, the brilliant local community we have become a part of, our great friendship group and especially our very close friendship with the family across the road ! We met Moira and Dave soon after we moved in and soon became firm friends. Our children grew up together, we have shared many holidays but most significantly we have had Sunday dinner together most Sundays for the last 20 years. Sunday evenings on Milwain Road will invariably see one or other household running across the street carrying hot Yorkshire puds maybe, or dessert, the non makers weekly contributions and always a couple of bottles of wine. Then you will see us wander home happier a couple of hours later. It’s
our brilliant way to end the weekend and soften the blow of the impending Monday morning ! Our lovely childminder lived two doors down, the perfect set up for a slightly chaotic last minute family like us ! And it also meant that when they left we got advance notice and so my brother was able to buy their house. Living so close to my brother Michael , popping in and out and sharing family visitors has been just brilliant and seems to have rooted our whole extended family in this street. It has been very sad for us to see our older neighbours move on, but also so lovely to meet the new, mostly young families moving in. It’s been great to meet our newest neighbours opposite during this lockdown period, albeit at a distance. I think we will always think of that house as ‘Pats” though. Pat had lived there for 60 years. She had been quite a character and shared her stories with us of the street and her life working at the Manchester Guardian and how it was to be a female union rep in the 1960’s. Pat was almost
blind for the last 5 years or so but she still had a better idea of what was happening at this end of the street than anyone else ! What is really weird is to realize that we are now the almost retired older residents of the street ! But it feels great to have spent our happy years here, and we appreciate living here more every year. Lockdown has brought this even more into focus for us. Under lockdown I feel that, although life has shrunk in many ways, I can’t travel far or do many of the things I normally would, yet it has also expanded and become much richer in lots of ways too. That richness of experience has been in getting to know our physical environment and our non- human neighbours so much better. Spring this year for me, as for many, has been a real eye opener – did birds always sing so clearly and beautifully, and were the trees and plant life so green and varied and
fascinating !? What have we been missing all these years !? This made me think I should include some non human neighbours in my thoughts on the street we all share… Our most amazing animal story happened when the boys were small. Their grandparents had bought them a set of play equipment; slide, swing and climbing frame. One summer morning at dawn we’d been woken by one child and looking out of the bedroom window, we saw a fox and two cubs playing in the garden, the cubs were sliding down the slide as their mum looked on! Fewer foxes visit since the culvert was reinforced in the park upstream, but one did call the other week, came right up onto the deck and stared in through the window. More recently, a tiny squirrel was in my path as I walked to the shop. I stopped and it kept trying to
climb up my leg. I was worried a cat might get it so picked it up. It was soft and still, with big eyes and a tiny bushy tail. I then spent half an hour calling on neighbours for advice on what to do. In the end as it fell asleep ( or was it dying ?) and I stood under the tree where it found me, I saw an adult squirrel look down at us. I put the baby down inside the garden and ran to the shop for a box. Back 3 minutes later it had gone. I’ve had to make up my own ending to its story. I’m sure it was tended to by its own street community and I’ve found I watch the squirrels scampering in the trees with a new interest now. The many Milwain birds and their songs are just incredible. I’m ashamed by my lack of bird knowledge, but we do recognize the blackbird that sits on the same ariel of no 12 each dusk and sings its heart out. We always get excited when a heron swoops through the trees in the garden and we have spent years now getting to know the lovely wood pigeon couple who regularly mate and canoodle on the same exposed branch in next door’s garden.
The Milwain cat community is thriving too. We are flanked by two wild gardens, a perfect play space for them to hunt and chase, when not sunning themselves and chilling out front on the street. Lockdown has refocused us on the streets plantlife too. Sarah’s beautiful magnolia, Jim’s Jarman esque front garden, a favourite tree at no 30 that flowers rich yellow for a few weeks, the clematis that climbs through a blossom tree further down, Moira’s alium and now yellow iris and pink foxgloves. There’s always something new to notice and this new slow lockdown pace of life reminds me so much of the best times, when the children were really small, and newly walking slowly up the street on the school run or down to the shop and always stopping to look and marvel at the flowers, cats, insects. It’s like seeing the world afresh all over again.
love these pictures of a winters day as I look out of my window. The sky crispy clear and snow fallen during the night and covered all of milwain road. Snow brings the normal morning hustle and bustle to a standstill and brings people together. There is a eerily but also reassuring silence. There is no speedy cars, no constant flow of morning school traffic. No one seems to be in a rush anymore. Children playing in the snow on their way to school. Snowfalls seem to happen few and far between these days in south manchester, a far cry from my early days growing up in a small town in Lancashire.
hen my second child was born we arrived home late in the evening. My mum was here, looking after our eldest. ‘Make sure you look out of your window,’ she said as she left. I took our tiny baby daughter up to the bedroom and lifted back the curtains. Our opposite neighbours had written ‘Welcome Amber’ in their window, cutout letters curved around a golden sun.
alking down Milwain road on a warm spring evening I remembered the first time we came here. Itâ€™s hard to believe that it was 10 years ago. We came to view a room to rent in a shared house. We did not move into the house then. We later lived in 5 rented properties, bought a house and made it our home. Then had no option but to sell it to keep our sanity and family together, which was down to a bitter neighbour who could not bear a young family next door. And as I walked down Milwain road today, quiet, colourful with spring flowers in peopleâ€™s gardens, rainbows in their windows I am so grateful to be here. 10 years on from that first walk down this road we moved to Milwain road. This time not only the 2 of us, but with our amazing kids and a few van loads of our belongings.
It felt like finally getting a rest, coming to a safe harbour after a turbulent time on stormy waters. Milwain Road and the lovely Edwardian house, with its high ceilings, gave us so much needed head space to think, compose and start to live a happy life again. After living here for a few weeks we knew that Milwain Road was the place we so wanted to be. It instantly felt like home, home we felt we had lost not that long ago. The new neighbours have been showering us with their lovely smiles and made us feel that it is OK for kids to be happy, noisy and cheerful. Throughout the turbulent times I always felt things would be OK. And they are, here. Coincidence? God? The good Karma? Whatever it was, it brought us here, to Milwain, and I am grateful to live here every single day.
ydia and I came to live on Milwain Road in May 1999. We were both still working; the proximity to Levenshulme station was great for me, as I had to commute to Liverpool for our first few years here. I remember walking up the road to Levenshulme village and being hugely impressed by the diversity of the shops and the people. Our neighbours were Mr and Mrs Chowdhry and Donna and Geoff. Mr and Mrs Chowdhry had a grandson Adil, who – as a five-year-old - used to chat to us over the garden fence. Now little Adil is a grown man. His nephew Zaviya chats over the fence in exactly the same way. On the opposite side of the road lived Joan. She had been born there, and lived there all her life apart from a period when she was evacuated to Clitheroe during the war and another period when she was away for her teacher training. Joan’s parents had
bought the house when it was still more or less rural. Joan talked of how, at one time, she and her mum had known the names of every family on the Road. Joan was a retired head teacher, having taught and run schools in Wythenshawe. One of the great privileges of living here has been that we were able to give Joan a hand as she became elderly and disabled. Now we welcome Rayna and Kinza and their mum and dad. Next door to Joan was Wynne Bradbury, who at the time ran Neighbourhood Watch. She was our first visitor, with our neighbourhood watch introductory pack. Wynne was a real character, tiny and a bundle of energy. She was committed to children and young people. She tried to get what are now known as Rodney Fields – the rough parkland outside the Acorn Close allotments – converted from being a dog-walking area into a place where children might play. At the time, she met with opposition from the
residents of Acorn Close. She would be pleased to see the Fields well used now. Wynne also got a plaque installed in the grounds of what is now the Cooperative Funeral parlour on Errwood Road. The plaque commemorates the Duchess of York’s Babies Hospital which was at the end of Milwain Road/Burnage Lane. Nesta Wells who was the UK’s first female Police Surgeon, worked there as a consultant for many years, dealing with cases of abused children, domestic violence and trafficked women a century ago. As 21 years have rolled by, we have retired from paid work and begun to grow old. Milwain Road is a friendly community, and a beautiful road. We have been involved in establishing a telephone tree, predecessor of the wonderful WhatsApp group set up by Donna. We have held occasional socials here and got to know people whom we might otherwise not have met. We love the way in which
this community of families has banded together in the current crisis. Milwain Road has Acorn Close allotments and Rodney Fields at the bottom end, Cringle Park at the top, with the Fallowfield Loop more or less at the back. We are surrounded by open space and trees. The road has come into its own as a beautiful street on which to live. It’s also a community of families who weigh in to help each other, swop apples and cuttings, jokes and wellbeing tips. It’s a community of talents, sharing and working our way through the current pandemic crisis. We’re really glad we live here.
’ve felt at home here from the first time I cycled down the road, admiring the different mix of houses, wondering who lived in them.
We had some shops round the corner here that were quite nice. There was a grocery/deli on the end, and there was a hairdressers, and Victoria Wines on the corner, then it was the newsagents next to that.
After we bought our house we redecorated every room, so for a while we had the kitchen table in the front room. I loved sitting there eating cereal watching everyone start their days; de-icing cars, stuffing children into coats and getting them off to school.
’ve lived here for 40 years. We came here in March 1980. It’s always been a nice street. I always feel safe here. And it’s handy for Stockport and Manchester.
There were quite a lot of children round and they all played out. When my son comes now he says it’s like when we first moved in. He says, now you’re the old ones, and there’s younger families coming in now.
We replanted our front garden over the course of a weekend and have watched it grow and mature over the years, adding more and more geraniums as I find pots to plant them in. And the best bit of all is sitting on the front steps on a sunny day with a cup of tea talking to the neighbours as they walk by.
love this street. It’s quiet. I’ve got good neighbours either side.
I moved here in the mid 50s when I was 7 or 8. I remember when we came here, this house, it was just all brown, dark brown woodwork. It was horrible. We ripped it all out. My dad, he was dead handy. Alderman Thomas used to live at the top of the street. He was the Lord Mayor of Manchester in the 70s. He was a good bloke. He did a good job. His next door neighbour was Mrs Jones. She used to have this beautiful Berberis Darwinii that came out in a mass of orange in the Spring. One day I knocked on her door and said ‘what is this’, and she invited me in. I’ve gardened all my life. Until the late 70s my dad was the head gardener, he was in charge of the garden. I learnt as I went along with him.
Other than people extending their houses it’s virtually the same. The main difference is that Cringle Hall’s gone, and the shops in the bottom – they were entirely different when we moved in. The one on the corner was a wine shop, Victoria Wines. Then a newsagents. Way back, next to that was a chemist, called Morris’ chemists if I remember rightly. There used to be a paint shop called Hartles. There was a hairdresser more recently. There was also a green grocer called Tommy Sumner. Next to that there was a cake shop. At the far corner there was a general grocer. It was a smashing row of shops. But in those days, in the 50s and 60s, this was a big residential area, there was the hospital opposite, the nurses’ home, those shops served all them. It was thriving.
hank you to all the residents of Milwain Road who contributed to this book: Alf, Amna, Annah, Donna, Hannah, Janet, Jill, Jim, Joan, Joy, Justyna, Kate, Matt, Moira, Nina, Pam, Sarah, Sue, Sylvia, Terry and Trevor.
A collection of stories about one Manchester street, collected during lockdown 2020