Recent Events

Members Meeting

Monday, March 27th 2017

Mr David Tomlinson “Staff of Life”

This evening we welcomed our guest speaker Mr. David Tomlinson “Staff of Life” the members meeting was well attended and everyone was in for a real treat.

David started the proceedings with an introduction to the “Warburton family bakers” and had set out a magnificent display adorning two six foot tables of the bread and morning goods products from the Warburton’s range. This was quite a display.

At this point in time I under David`s instruction furnished all present with a raffle ticket to be explained later on in the proceedings.

We were then taken on a journey as we watched a film show introducing the family and co-workers loyal to the brand that we are all familiar with today. Duly introduced to a journey which took us through the factory and distribution centre which was run like clockwork, which is tantamount to the company’s success.

David had requested access to a kitchen and proceeded to mix for his demonstration yeasts and flour to effectively demonstrate to the group members the properties of ingredients and how they react under certain circumstances. This proved very popular with everyone as we all fired a few questions especially about “Gluten free” products.

Unfortunately the evening was over all too soon, however, not before we were all asked to “get out your raffle tickets”, where upon the said numbers were drawn out one by one. So, one after another we all with due diligence in turn went up to the tables adorned with the “Staff of Life” products and helped oneself to a reward.

There was quite an array, thick toasty loaves, medium sliced white, brown wholemeal, seeded loaves, buns, batch bakes, cobs, milk rolls, seeded bread, crumpets and so on….

We all went home loaded up with some lovely “raffle prizes” that night!

January Meeting 2015

26th February 2015 - AGM

Our guest speaker was Mr Stephen Fisher:

Members talk on January 26th 2015:


For our first members meeting of the New Year our Events Officer Stephen Fisher took the floor with a splendid presentation

“On the home front”.

Stephen began with explaining what the film we were about to see was all about, which we had purchased from North West film Archives on behalf of the Society after it premiered at the Plazza in Stockport last autumn.  Depicting the other Great War victims the people who were left behind to keep the “home fires burning”


 From Industrial toil in the years leading up to the outbreak of War, to key events during the hostilities – the film drew on rare archive footage it featured amongst others the Accrington Pals, the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Cheshire Regiment, as they prepared for active service on the Western Front.  We discovered the early days of aviation, and German Prisoners of War being marched through the streets of Lancashire.  From troop inspections in Preston and Blackpool, to the subsequent victory parades in Whalley and Haslingden and the unveiling of war memorials from Egremont to Altrincham.  The presentation of previously unseen footage filmed across the North West a century ago really  was something not to be missed a special opportunity to experience how we lived our lives during one of the darkest periods of our history!..





June Meeting 2014

th June 2014 - AGM

Our guest speaker was Mr Stephen Fisher:

Tonight was our AGM, and Julie Fisher our Chairman opened the meeting, welcoming everyone and reported on the past 12 months.  At the election of officers, the current  Committee was unopposed and agreed to serve for the next 2 years, with the addition of Michelle Lusk as Society Secretary - we welcome Michelle who very kindly accepted our invitation in April.

Stephen Fisher took the floor following the AGM formalities to present a film show, the main feature being a video found in the BBC archives showing one of a series of previously unseen interviews with WW1 veterans.

The interviews were originally recorded in the 1960s for the landmark BBC series "The Great War", but had been archived as the programme-makers then were concentrating on the history of the conflict. The programme eventually aired in March 2014 was called "I was there - The Great War Interviews" and features an interview with Katie Morter which Stephen showed us tonight:

Katie was happily married to husband Percy Morter when he was recruited by music hall star, Vesta Tilley. In 1915 he was posted to France with the 9th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. It would be six months before Percy got leave at Christmas - and had only six days with Katie. Percy returned to the Western Front, and Katie found out she was pregnant. In July 1916, not long before the baby was due, Katie received a letter from Percy's Sergeant, regretfully informing her that Percy had been killed in action at the Somme. Katie lost a husband who never got the chance to meet his son.

 Katie Morter, a civilian in Manchester, recalls a letter that broke her heart
(Use the link to view the video via BBC iPlayer)

Stephen continued by showing us three more videos of interest.

Please find links below embedded from 'YouTube'

"Britains Best Whippets - Audenshaw

"Look at Life - Driving Test" - 1959

"Look at Life - Talking of Coaches" - 1959





May Meeting 2014

th May 2014

Our guest speaker was Mr Ralph Hart:

We were very pleased to welcome back Mr Hart who once again entertained our members with a very interesting talk, a real insight into the past of child labour in the past – Quarry Bank Mill.
He described harsh mean sparse conditions, under which the children were kept, although this was one of the “better” places.
Dormitories – girls and boys were kept separate, they used tallow candles made of animal fat with reeds in the middle.
Ralph then proceeded with a slide show of the buildings and out buildings including interior shots of the room which is now the present day museum, and the “Superintendants quarters” Mr Shawcross.
Peter Holland was employed in 1796 to look after the “apprentices” who was a relative of “Mrs Gaskell”. They were “humane employers”.
In the Apprentice house the workforce were fed on a diet of porridge and water, boys learnt the 3 R`s girls were just taught to read way before it was made law, Samuel Gregg was the factory owner at this time.
Samuel Gregg – rode in everyday from King Street Manchester about 8 miles away.
In 1830 life expectancy was on average 26-27 years of Manchester Mill workers.
As the evening came to a close Ralph announced that he was retiring from public speaking and informed us of his charitable works for the Christie Hospital in Manchester and the many thousands of pounds he had donated from his talks over the years.
I initiated a vote of thanks and wished him well in his retirement.

March Meeting 2014
st March 2014

Manchester in the Great War Chris Makepeace

An interesting talk on an aspect of the great War which often gets forgotten about in all the talk about the trenches etc. on t5he front line, what was happening back here in the U.K.?

Chris Makepeace gave a chorological survey of what was happening in Manchester in the run up to, and during the war. Several quite amusing things were mentioned, such as an article, in August 1914, in the local press discussing where to go to in the Rhine valley for ones holiday. He also discussed the recruiting of the Pals Brigades at the commencement of the war – a large number of men some 50% of whom were killed or injured during the war, not only in the Western front battles but also further afield, one battalion serving in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. Many Germans lived in the Manchester area and although a large number were naturalised citizens they suffered both form authority and from the local populace.

There were a number of hospitals in the Manchester area, many set up especially to cater for the wounded returning from the front. There were also PoW camps in the area, Withington workhouse and at Handforth. Many of the industries in the area were turned to war work, A.V.Roe producing planes in large numbers and many engineering firms produced munitions. Much of the labour in the factories was female and this lead to some problems at the end of the war as many employers, especially councils, had undertaken to reemploy returning ex-employees who had volunteered to join the forces.

Chris Makepeace covered the war in Manchester in detail with some amusing anecdotes, for example the difference in attitude between the various local authorities on what to do in the case of an air raid- it seemed to vary from do nothing to shut everything down. A very interesting evening












February Meeting 2014

Life in a Cigarette Factory

By Mary Owen

On Monday 24th February our guest speaker this evening was Mary Owen; her talk was accompanied by a book signing as Mary had written a book on her subject.

Mary`s narration was accompanied by a dvd which ran as a visual aid throughout the evening depicting the marches the news reports employees, and their family members. As the speaker progressed she started from her own experiences of life in a local factory which covered decades of her career, she had many fascinating tales to tell the assembled listeners.

Mary started with an introduction to the tobacco industry with Joseph Alan Pattreiouex who at the age of 14 began a career in the industry. J A Pattreioux Limited was an established family tobacco business in 1879 when joseph bought a small manufacturing business in Shudehill Manchester. His two sons took over the business after his death in 1925. In 1936 Belfast based Gallaher Ltd acquired J A Pattreioux, expanding the business and promoting the Senior Service brand nationally. Demand for cigarettes meant that several cotton mills were purchased and converted for factory work. The Hyde site was purchased and production was begun in 1960. In June 1967 the name was changed from J A Pattreioux to Senior Service Limited.

Mary continued her story by telling us that Senior Service was a great place to work, they looked after the workforce, pay was good, working conditions were second to none. This resulted in a long serving loyal and happy group of employees.

On the 19th December 1996 all employees were called to a meeting, and were told that the factory was to close in three years. All production was going to Northern Ireland with the loss of over nine hundred jobs”.

This was after a long battle with the cigarette giants Gallaher, thousands of local people took to the streets in protests and marches. Unfortunately this was a futile attempt to save their jobs and livelihood`s.

The factory finally closed in 1999.

Afterwards Mary`s answered questions from the audience and indeed many members added to the evening with their own memories.

This was closely followed by Terry the Great Great Great Grandson “Pattreioux” who then began to tell us about his own family history research, this proved to absolutely fascinating adding a rich tapestry to the evening. Culminating in a wonderful round of applause from the assembled listeners who had thoroughly enjoyed their Monday evening on the subject of local history.

Mary then proceeded to sign books for anyone wishing to make a purchase; she had already sold well over three hundred copies.

Life in a Cigarette Factory By Mary Owen copies of which can now be purchased at the Local Studies Library based in Ashton under Lyne.


March Meeting 2013

We opened the evening with an appeal to our society and its members in order to help another local group of volunteers in our community.

Chairman of Audenshaw Community Association made an appeal to the gathered audience for help in ascertaining any information on the Audenshaw Community Centre building on Denton Road, Audenshaw. The group and many local groups who have met there over many years have now lost their venue. As it has recently closed its doors for the final time with a view to the local Council selling off the building/site, the group is most interested to know if the building or the land it occupies was left to “The People of the area”, can you help?. If so contact our Society who will endeavour to pass on any local knowledge you may have, thank you.

Due to illness our guest speaker Mr. Keith Vigurs was unable to attend our members meeting. Thankfully our own Events Officer Mr. Stephen Fisher stepped in the breach with a slide show of local scenes with which to open the evening. This was followed by a DVD from our collection which covered four key areas of the past in our area.

  1. Farms

  2. Churches

  3. Transport

  4. Community Events

This evening promoted a wealth of audience participation from which we all found informative, afterwards the evening culminated in a raffle for an Easter egg, proceeds of which go towards the societies funds.

Thanks go to all who attended.



October Meeting 2012

The Gaskell House - Janet Allan

On Monday 29th October we welcomed Janet Allan from the Gaskell Society, we were treated to a slide show together with a wealth of knowledge on Janet`s specialist subject

The house which still stands on Plymouth Grove, Victoria Park in Manchester is a most important monument to its past, and has undergone vast regeneration with the help of funding from the Heritage Lottery fund. The grant of £1.85m has been long and hard fought for by its trustees and campaigners saving this important building from decay for future generations. It’s still an ongoing project which relies on helpers and volunteers who all share a common interest and goal. Indeed after starring in the television series of “Cranford” Dame Judi Dench agreed to become Patron and offer her support to the society for such a worthy cause.

The house was built in 1850 and was the home of celebrated novelist and biographer Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865), where she wrote many of her famous novels, including North and South, Wives and Daughters. The Villa, number 84 Plymouth Grove over the years welcomed and played host to many famous literary figures and visitors including Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens.

Mrs Gaskell lived here until her death in 1865, the Gaskell Society host open days where members of the public can visit the house which now belongs to Manchester Historic Buildings Trust.

There now is an Elizabeth Gaskell window installed in poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey this was done in order to mark her importance during the bicentenary of Elizabeth’s birth in 2010.

For further information please visit the Gaskell Society website.

September Meeting - 2012

Secret Shopper - Keith Vigurs

A very different subject to that which we normally hear at our monthly meeting. Mr Vigurs is, as the title of his talk suggests, a secret shopper, who checks that all is well, or not, in a variety of situations. As a raconteur he was excellent keeping the audience amused with his anecdotes whilst giving an interesting insight into what keeps shops, especially supermarkets, and other industries who have to deal with the public on their toes. He covered a wide range of subjects, supermarkets, travel agents, vets, railways (sitting on stations noting the arrival time of trains), franchises within stores, restaurants and undertakers being just some of the examples. The techniques used to gain the information vary from job to job and can, from what Mr Vigurs told us, have interesting results on occasion. One of the amusing tales which he told concerned visiting a branch of a pharmacy one day in one town and then going to another branch in a different town the next day only to be faced by the same pharmacist who was obviously working a roster of branches! A very enjoyable and entertaining evening.