Coffee Morning Talk about Charlie Peace

Thursday 23rd November 2017 saw 86 people gather at the normal coffee morning – our coffee mornings are very popular!. They were there to hear dramatist Nakib Narat tell the story of notorious victorian criminal Charlie Peace.

Charlie Peace himself made a guest appearance where he was suitably booed by the crowd! (see

Children’s Books – CGN talk with Chorlton High students

As part of Chorlton’s Book Festival, 7 CGN members went up to Chorlton High school on Tuesday 21st November to meet with some year 8 pupils to discuss children’s books and fairy tales and how they have changed over the years. Several CGN people even took books they had kept from their childhood, and MCC brought a selection of very old books including one which had the Manchester bee depicted in it.

Everyone gained a lot from the session, and conversation flowed easily amongst the generations. We have agreed to meet with the school’s marketing and community office to try and find further ways to bring young and old, and even older, together on a regular basis Lots of students there but no photos (permission problems)

Mickie Mitchell’s 100th birthday

Last Thursday. the 9th November. we all celebrated Mickie Mitchell’s 100th birthday, the third CGN member in two years to reach a century.Cards, flowers  balloons and two cakes meant all 70 people in the Hall could join in celebrating with such an inspiring and wonderful lady.

To read about Mickie’s amazing WW2 exploits, read this post on the website from 5 years ago:
Mickie Mitchell in WW2

At the same time Jo from the Body shop was down selling Christmas gifts and raising money for the Care Group. Thanks to everyone who supported that.

Talk on the History of Chocolate- including an Aztec drink

The thursday 2nd November History talk saw 40 people come to listen to Diana Leitch talking about the science of chocolate, including being able to sample the drink according to the recipe that was prepared by the Aztecs 2,000 years ago..

Everyone thought the talk was fascinating and really appreciated Diana’s knowledge and delivery. We hope she may come back to talk about the history of Pyrex next year..

Films celebrating 50 years of Chorlton Good Neighbours

Films celebrating 50 years of Chorlton Good Neighbours can be seen at:

Impact Film


Volunteering Film


Sustainability Film

All films have been funded through a Celebrate Lottery Grant , and been produced by Hannah Powell from MACC community reporters, with input and support from volunteers and members of Chorlton Good Neighbours, and staff and pupils of Chorlton High School.

Helen Hibberd, Co ordinator
0161 881 2925

June 2017

Welcome to new worker – Philip Barrett

Welcome to new worker – Philip Barrett


From November 1st 2016 we have a new older men’s visiting and development worker, Phil Barrett, who will be taking over from Wayne Marr.

Phil will be visiting older men in their own homes and finding new local activities and interests for them.

Wayne has now retired but is continuing to oversee the Tuesday afternoon snooker, darts and bowling session for the men down at South West Manchester cricket club 1-3pm.

If you know any older man who might like a visit from Phil or to come and join us at the snooker session please get in touch.


The Paralympics: From Manchester to Rio – Mark Todd

“Progression of Inclusive Design & Accessibility:  |
From Manchester to Rio Via London & Sochi”
A talk by  Mark Todd,   Nov 3rd 2016

Mark Todd has had  over 30 years experience in the field of disabled people’s access. Having played a key role in the disability movement, Mark became the first Access Officer at Manchester City Council overseeing the City Council access programme. and played a key copy in the 1988 campaign to make “Manchester – the Access City” – see the video at

This important contribution to the regeneration of the City was recognised in 1995 when he received The Mancunian of the Year Award from civic leaders.

Mark Todd

In 2001 he launched his own consultancy access all areas” and now specialises in Sporting Mega Events for clients such as the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Games. He is currently working for the Tokyo Paralympics organising committee for the games planned for 2020



Mark giving his talk at Chorlton Good Neighbours history group on Nov 3rd 2016.

It was a really excellent talk about access and other facilities for disabled people had improved since his first involvement in planning for the Paralympics and other big sporting events. The crowning glory to date were the 2012 London Paralympics, whilst there were big improvements at Sochi and Rio, but not to the extent of Londonmark-todd-audience

Members of the audiencehistory-01

Next step Tokyo!


Bob Cowan and the Arctic Convoys – a memory

Bob Cowan

Bob Cowan, was born on July 5th 1919 and grew up in Moss Side. He died on 25th Sep 2016.  Together with his wife Joyce he was an active member of Chorlton Good Neighbours for many years. He was a veteran of the World War 2 Arctic convoys and we have featured many stories about our successful attempts to ensure that Bob got the Ushakov medal from the Russian government to acknowledge the bravery of those sailors who kept the Russians supplied with armaments to enable them to fight the Nazis in the darkest period of WW2


Bob Cowan

Bob was in the navy from 1940 to 1946, starting as an ordinary seamen and then climbing through the ranks – able seaman, leading seaman and ending up as a petty officer

Bob was aboard the tribal class destroyer, Mashona when she took part in operations resulting in the sinking of the Bismarck on 27 May 1941. She came under heavy air attack from the Luftwaffe while returning to port the following day, and was bombed and sunk off the coast of Galway with the loss of 48 men. It seems it was a sitting duck as it was proceeding very slowly due to lack of fuel. Bob was swimming around in the water for 30 mins or so before he was picked up by HMS Tartar which took the survivors to Greenock

The Arctic Convoys

“The Arctic convoys, described by Winston Churchill as the most dangerous of the entire war, transported four million tons of crucial supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945, supporting the Red Army in the conflict. As Germany occupied Norway, the British ships had to take a treacherous northerly route, often skirting the Arctic ice floes, before dropping south into Russian ports including Murmansk and Archangel. In bitter cold, the merchant seamen and their Royal Navy escorts endured repeated attacks from both U-boats and Luftwaffe bombers, often sustaining heavy losses.

Just under 3,000 British seamen were killed during the convoys, the majority never recovered from the icy waters. More than 100 British ships were sunk during the campaign” Bob Cowan was on two of these convoys PQ16 and PQ18, In each a third of the ships in each convoy were sunk

Bob  was eventually discharged from the navy on Jan 1st 1946 exactly 6 years after he had joined the navy. He later trained as a company accountant and worked as a manager at Procter and Gamble in Trafford Park until his retirement

Here are links to some of the stories and videos about Bob and the fight for recognistion of the Arctic Convoy sailors

bob Cowan

Bob Cowan   Chorlton’s Arctic Convoy veterans on Granada TV    Video of WW2 Event at Chorlton Good Neighbours    Arctic Convoy medal presentation at Manchester Town Hall   Bob to get Arctic Convoy Medal     Bob Cowan and the Arctic Convoy medal    Bob Cowan  WW2 Arctic Convoys   Another Russian medal for Bob Cowan

Bernard Leach


Visit to Chorlton High School



A group of us from Chorlton Good Neighbours visited Chorlton High School on Tuesday Nov 14th for an event which was part of Chorlton Book Week . It was an inter-generational event organised by Chorlton Library staff in which members met with year 7 & 8 students from Chorlton High to discuss our own experiences of being at school – with some people’s memories going back to the 1930’s

One thing that was clear as we entered the imposing entrance to this large school which has 1,500 students, was how important security had become. Schools are now required to have sophisticated security systems which are impressive but somewhat daunting. We each had to sign into a large console where we typed our name, who we were coming to visit, what organisation we represented and our car registration number. Then a photograph was taken and a label printed that we then stuck on our coats or jumpers (see below). Swipe cards were needed to get through doors and access the lift


chorlton high ID

How different to even a few years ago when entry into school was much more informal. I am sure it is necessary but it did feel a bit intimidating. It certainly doesn’t help in making the school feel part of the community

The school is very impressive and the students and staff were wonderfully welcoming. For the activity there were a range of photos and school log books dating back to Victorian times and brought there by a representative from Manchester Archives. On each table there were Good Neighbours members and students. We discussed what school life was like from our own experiences and we compared things like discipline, our favourite subjects, school uniforms, teachers and dinner hours (though we were told that students only have 30 mins for lunch nowadays)

chorlton high

Students and older visitors discussing topics about school days
whilst a member of the Chorlton High News team looks on

Altogether an enjoyable experience all round and I hope we can do it again in next year’s book week.

Talk on Victorian Dress at History Group

Victorian dress of the middle and working classes”
Margo Singer

Margo Singer’s gave a great talk to the Chorlton History Group on 3rd April 2014 in which she looked at the development of fashion and textiles in the mid 19th century, especially with reference to Manchester and the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell

The talk looked at the development of corsets, crinolines and bustles and the changes in fabrics and dress due to both fashion and technical change (eg sewing machines, synthetic dyes).  Margo went on to show how these trends affected the dress of the urban classes in Manchester – from millworkers and seamstresses to the middle & upper classes.

Margo brought along samples items of clothing, textiles and reconstructed dress, for us to have a look at. It was interesting to note that whilst the last two history talks on trains & railways had a majority of men in the audience, for this talk the audience was overwhelmingly women

margot singer (01)

Margo introduction gave a background to Elizabeth Gaskell’s
world in the mid 19th centurymargot singer (02) margot singer (03)

A couple of the bonnets Margo brought along for us to look at. The bright colours of the bonnet on the right were made popular by the new dyes that became available with developments in artificial dyes. Margo suggested the more sober bonnet on the left might have been of the type worn by Elizabeth Gaskell, whilst the fancier one on the right might belong to a more fashionable upper class womanmargot singer (04)

Mary modelling a bonnet, whilst brother Tony admires itmargot singer (05)

Mary shows the bonnet to her mother, Rowenamargot singer (06)

Vicky model the ‘sensible’ bonnet,
whilst Mary tries on the flashier purple bonnetmargot singer (07) margot singer (08)A section of the (mainly female!) audience for the talk

History Group at Manchester Histories Festival

Chorlton History Group at Manchester Histories Festival

Chorlton History Group had a prime spot in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Manchester Town Hall at the Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day 2014 on Sat 29th March 2014. It was an excellent event and we had a very good response from people with 67 signing up to receive regular email updates from us

We also used it as an opportunity to explain to people the transformation planned from June this year to transform the group into the South Manchester U3A History Group. We think this will support the sustainability of the group and out what we do into a clearly educational context of mutual learning

Here are some photos from the day

histories12Andy Simpson & Angela Downing on the stallhistories17Paul Mary and Tony answer querieshistories16

Bill Williams, a frequent speaker at the History Group meets Tom, one of his ex-students from Manchester Universityhistories15

Two local historians – Andy Simpson and Bill Williamshistories13

Pauline, Joyce – two CGN regulars- and Allan Downing, take a break from the very busy History stallhistories11

Angela answers a queryhistories08

Bernard & Joycehistories05

Pauline, Bernard & Joycehistories07

Lots of people dressed up for the eventhistories06histories04 Pauline and Joyce on the stall

The Lost Railways of South Manchester

The Lost Railways of South Manchester 

The March 6th 2014 Chorlton History Group session was on the ‘Lost Railways of South Manchester’, a talk given by Roy Chapman – a lifelong railway enthusiast.  Roy worked for British Rail for over 15 years. Roy has contributed to transport training material, is a co-author of three railway books. Roy is currently Rail Services Planning Officer at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

The talk was very popular with nearly 60 people attending. many of whom were  train enthusiasts or who had worked in the industry

In this video Roy talks about his enthusiasm for the railways and his career in the industry. There are also clips from the talk he gave at Chorlton Good Neighbours

mar14 history (01)

Here are some of the audience for Ray’s talk – nearly 60 people came for the talk. It does seem that railways are an extremely popular topic!mar14 history (02)

Roy preparing to give his talkmar14 history (03)

Bernard introducing Roy to the audience

mar14 history (06)mar14 history (04)

Mary on the desk taking note of who attended the meetingmar14 history (07) mar14 history (08) mar14 history (09) mar14 history (10) mar14 history (11) mar14 history (12)

Longsight Traction depot

Longsight Traction depot &  a Long Lost Photo

Danny Heathcote attended the talk on “the Lost Railways of South Manchester” given by Roy Chapman at Chorlton Good Neighbours History group on 06-03-14. Here is a letter from Danny and an interesting photo to go with it

“Today’s lecture about the Lost Railways of South Manchester was very, very good. Like Roy, I am an ex-railwayman,  who retired over 2 years ago.

I started on the railway, straight from school and became an apprentice fitter at Longsight E.T. Traction Depot <now  Alstom Transport Service Manchester Traincare Centre>. I’m 64 now.

One day, while I was still an apprentice, there were 6 of us, a professional photographer came to the depot to take a photo of a class 82 electric locomotive lifted on the jacks. This was done. We ran out one of the bogies, attached chains to the electric motor, with the intention of lifting it out with a crane.

2 fitters were on the top as though preparing to do this. The photographer said, ”I want one more.” We apprentices all looked at each other, but no one moved. I did eventually and got up with the fitters. I stood there. The photographer said, ‘‘Well look as though though you’re doing something!” I picked up a big spanner. ”Hold it,” he said. Click. Done. I was 17 then.


That’s Danny on the right.
“Well, look as though you’re doing something!
the photographer said, ha, ha,ha!”

The caption on the photo reads:an electric locomotive undergoing treatment in the maintenance shed. If necessary the body is removed from the bogies and a new set of bogies is fitted. This leaves the old pair free to be serviced

For many years I never saw the results until a Longsight train driver brought in a train book he bought on the nearby market for his 5 year old grandson. He came in to the depot and went to show the picture to the yard inspector who he knew. He recognised the layout of the depot. The yard inspector who knew me, saw me in the picture. Both of them sought me out to show it to me. I asked if I could photocopy it. ”No, I’ll cut it out for you” said the driver. He did so and I had it plastisized. It’s in my lounge to this day. In later years, I worked on the Pendelino.

The chap with the beret on<in the photo>  is Stan Greenhalgh (greenhouse we called him) And he’d learned his trade in the R.A.F. We, for devilment, used to get him talking sometimes, especially if he’d crept out for a pint, as we all did, about his time in the R.A.F. He had a habit of leaning against the wall on his elbow. We would engage him in conversation near an emergency button (it tripped out the 25,000v overhead wire in the event of an emergency). Without thinking, he’d do just that and…..all the claxons would howl, the overhead would trip out and he’d call us apprentices all the names under the Sun!!!

The other chap, Charlie Potts, what he didn’t know about electrical work, wasn’t worth knowing. He liked a pint though, in fact a bit more than that. He would, on occasions, take an apprentice out for a haircut to a nearby barbers. No funny business, just a visit to a pub after. Both Stan and Charlie were heavy smokers, it was the norm in those days to smoke, though I never did, but got cancer anyway. When I started on the railway, as the youngest apprentice at the time, it was my job to go to the canteen and get the toast, egg and bacon sandwiches and cigs for the men. Park Drive-2/6d ! There were a lot of people we’d all call friends, both in and out of work. In those days, the railway was a family and no matter what, we’d all work together to get the jobs out, even foreman if need be. It was a pleasure to go to work.It was easy also to get a brother or sister a job on the railway.

I was the only one ever in my family to work for the railway. My dads family were 3 generations of chimney sweeps.  Then John Major, in the dying weeks of the Tory government, privatised the  railway. That was the start of the end of the family. In came consultants, lots of managers and graphs, pie charts and wall charts. Then when Alstom took over, things got even worse.-even MORE managers. I keep in touch with those still working at that place but I’m glad I got out when I did
Daniel Heathcote.