People's memories were collected as part of the Worsley New Hall project, in order to research and preserve the history of the Hall for future generations. Here you can listen to extracts from the recordings. Full versions are available on the University of Salford's online Archive Repository

Joy Openshaw

USIR Archive Ref: WNH Oral History 1

Born: 15 November 1931

Date recorded: 10 May 2012

Location: Walkden Gateway

Summary: Joy’s connections to Worsley New Hall go back to the 1880s, when her ancestors came to work in the pits and in service in the local area. She recalls visiting the Hall during WW2 whilst attending elocution lessons at the Lodge, given by Anne Martins (nee Alcock). After the war, Joy worked as a junior shorthand typist preparing documents about the anti-aircraft guns in Middlewood. Her sons also spent time in Middlewood as members of the Scouts.

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Arthur Gordon

USIR Archive Ref: WNH Oral History 2

Born: 19 May 1933

Date recorded: 25 June 2012

Location: Worsley Library

Summary: Arthur played in the Hall grounds as a young boy. He was a relation of Ted Marsh, a resident of one of the lodge houses during WW2. Arthur recalls American troops being stationed at the Hall and went inside the building after they had left. He also remembers crossing over Leigh Road Bridge and dropping blackberries on the trolley buses which passed underneath.

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Ruth Campbell

USIR Archive Ref: WNH Oral History 3

Born: 4 December 1921

Date recorded: 26 June 2012

Location: Her home

Summary: Born Ruth Roscoe, the granddaughter of William Barber Upjohn, long-term Head Gardener at the New Hall gardens. At the age of 6, Ruth, her parents and her brother went to live with her grandparents at the Gardener’s Cottage. She recalls riding her bicycle through the grounds and playing and skating on the lake. Ruth recalls how her grandfather came from Scotland to work at the New Hall. She remembers riding with Lady Rochdale in her chauffeur driven car on the day of her confirmation. Ruth mentions Dick Edge, the Odd Man; collecting post from the fire-engine house and her grandfather’s taste for burnt food. She also recalls her ‘Aunty Meelo’ who lived in the Bothy, and the family’s departure from the Gardener’s Cottage following the death of her grandfather.

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Anne Martins and Herbert Kidd

USIR Archive Ref: WNH Oral History 4

Born: Anne 23 July 1922; Bert 6 January 1930.

Date recorded: 3 July 2012

Location: Anne Martins’ home

Summary: Anne Martins, born Alcock lived at the Bothy with her parents who ran the market garden during WW2. She helped out in the gardens Herbert Kidd ('Bert') was a gardener during the same period and came to work in the gardens in 1943. He met Anne when she was teaching at a local school. At the request of the headmaster Anne found Bert employment with her father at the gardens. Both Anne and Bert describe the gardens during the 1940s. They mention some of the fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers that were grown and the water from Blackleach reservoir. They recall fishing, swimming and skating on the lake and the frames and brackets used for planting flowers on the terrace beds. Bert remembers climbing up the chimney in the Bothy and Annie recalls some of the jobs she did with the land girl.

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Terence Flaherty

USIR Archive Ref: WNH Oral History 5

Born: 1935

Date recorded: 4 July 2012

Location: His home

Summary: Terence was stationed at the bunker when undertaking National Service. Although he lived in the Worsley area, he had initially been unaware of the existence of the building. He describes the interior of the structure and his role in carrying out various tests and checks of the equipment.

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Glen Atkinson

USIR Archive Ref: WNH Oral History 6

Born: 1945

Date recorded: 3 August 2012

Location: University of Salford

Summary: Glen grew up in the Worsley and Walkden area and recalls Middlewood as his playground. Glen was a member of Middlewood Scout Camp. He remembers the development of the site from the 1950s to the 1980s. He describes the boundaries of the camp, the terraces, the lake and caves and how they were used in scouting activities. Glen remembers riding motorbikes and holding barbeques on the frozen lake during cold winters and how the draining of the lake the 1980s revealed bottles and a boat on the lake bed. Glen describes the complex drainage system on the New Hall site and mentions the icehouse, bunker and radar instillation. He describes how the old stone balustrading was used by the Scouts to construct a chapel and talks about the variety of tree and plants species in the area.

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Ted Loder

A E Loder 'Ted' (1903-1995) was a brickmaker employed by Bridgewater Estates, based at Ellenbrook. He was born at 58 Moss Lane Road, Swinton. A photocopied transcript of his memories, ‘Life As it Was’, was donated by his daughter, Brenda Preston. Original written in an exercise book, 29pp.

(page. 23) ‘On to something a little more pleasant, the year 1909 King Edward and Queen Alexandra came on a visit to Worsley New Hall. My father took me by tram from Swinton, the trams had only been running three years. We went on some stands erected for the occasion & saw the royal couple ride by in their carriage drawn by four horses that was behind the Bridgewater Hotel the motorway now runs over that field.'

(page. 26) ‘The summer of 1928 was one of the most wonderful I ever spent. The start of this was rather remarkable. Along with another man I was sent to Worsley. The order being to clear the generating station which had been built to generate electricity for Worsley Old Hall. This was a wonderful building, what year it was built I never found out. We took out motion switchboards generators and a large girder which was used for lifting & ran the full length of the building. The plan was to convert it to a bungalow & this is what they did. The extension has not be altered in any way apart from the entrance doors which were very stout wooden doors now glass. While working at the generating station I had to go over to the New Hall to see Mr Edge the care taker who lived alone in a room in the Hall. He told me that he had been the head butler to the Ellesmere family & was allowed to live in his old butler’s room as compensation for his long & loyal services. Although so many years apart in age we seemed to form a very warm friendship. Most Saturday evenings I would go down to his room & talk over the or mostly listen to his life in this wonderful hall. Some evenings we would go down to the lake at the far end of grounds. It was a very large lake with an island in the centre, you could go over to the island over a rustic hump back bridge & on the island was a lovely summer house. Many times we sat in the summer house & I never tired of listening to his account of life in those days. His room contained bed table & two chairs, & in one corner was his shot gun, the grounds were full of game, & many times he would have a couple of rabbits or a pheasant (page. 27) hung up ready for tomorrows dinner. Sometimes we would have a tour of the Hall. A horse & cart could have travelled along the main corridors below as they were so wide. The kitchen was the largest I have ever seen & the fire place had to be seen to be believed. Each side of the corridor below ground the rooms were all marked off tea & sugar, flour, game & poultry, ham & bacon, eggs & cheese. Coming up on the ground floor the library, the dance floor entertaining rooms the more you travelled around the more breath taking it was. And my friend was a master at describing how these rooms were furnished & the terrific parties that took place. To name some of the people who stayed at this great hall, Queen Victoria & Prince Albert, King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra, the Crown Prince of Germany & the Duke of Wellington & many titled people from all parts of the country. The grounds were beautiful you seemed to be in another world in these grounds.

The ex butlers father was the foreman stonemason when the Hall was built in 1846 & his pay was 17/- per week. The staff were drawn from around Worsley & the pay for a girl was 4/- per week & her food but as my friend often said that which was left over from there great parties fed the staff. He would always go down to the Bridgewater Hotel for a few drinks & many times return to his room, until midnight or even later. He described Queen Victoria as a very hard woman, the staff being very reluctant to come into contact with her. King Edward he said was a real boy, drink and women came before anything else. When younger I had been told many times by older people that King Edward was ordered away from the New Hall by Lord Ellesmere, so now came the chance to ask a person who was there, if this was true (page. 28).

He said this was true, Lady Ellesmere was concerned in an incident with the King & Lord Ellesmere ordered him away. This he said was the “death” of Worsley. This incident happened in 1909 when King Edward & Queen Alexandra came to Worsley to a military review which was held behind the Bridgewater Hotel. This same period that I had met Mr Edge I was working with a man who had moved into the lodge at the Old Hall & he held the key for this building, at this time it was not occupied so we had a wonderful time going all through at our leisure. It is no doubt a wonderful building & well worth a visit. The grounds bear no comparison with those days, they were just a mass of flowers. From the Old Hall you could cross over Leigh Road by a bridge into the New Hall. I have crossed the bridge many times, this was pulled down some years ago but you can still see the butments of the bridge on each side of the road. In crossing the bridge you came down a flight of steps opposite the New Hall entrance. Mr Edge had the room on the right hand side of the entrance, his window just coming above ground level, this was so that he could see any carriage pulling up & could be up a short flight of stairs & into the Hall to receive any visitors. The Hall was a wonderful building in every way, the stonework was perfection in every way nothing had been spared, the interior was like a dream more so than Mr Edge could paint such a wonderful picture of those days. In the wine cellar he would describe wines & which kind & year for a certain function. He would even describe each item on the menu & go though the task of serving food & wine (page. 29) just as if the guests were sat at the table.’