www.Poundswick .org.uk

Poundswick - the hamlet



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Above:
Poundswick Cottages - 1895

Opposite:
"The Old House" by Ann Shrehane,
Form 1C, ARGO, March 1966.

 
The Old House
There was a poor old house
That once was full of folk
But now is sad and empty,
And to me it spoke.
It said "They all have fled,
My rooms are cold and bare
The front door's locked and bolted
And all the windows stare
No smoke comes from my chimneys
No rose grows up my wall
But only ivy shrouds me
In green and shining shawl.
No postman brings me letters
No name is on my gate,
I once was called "The Ivys"
But now I'm out of date.
The garden's poor and weedy
The trees won't leaf again,
But though I fall to ruin
The ivy will remain."
There has undoubtedly been a settlement called Poundswick close to the school site for many hundreds of years. Prior to 1931 this area of what is now Wythenshawe was a very rural part of north Cheshire and the small settlements of Poundswick, Brownley Green, Crossacres, Heyhead, Moss Nook, Royal Thorn and Sharston (all of which are familiar names today) were collectively known as Northen Etchells.

Northen Etchells was itself part of the parish of Northenden, which is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. At this time the land south of Sharston was heavily wooded and rather boggy and as a result, clearance for settlements did not start until the late thirteenth century. Hence Poundswick (formerly Pundesok) is first recorded as a settlement in 1280.

It is a great tribute to the original Wythenshawe town planners that they took the trouble to incorporate the names of local settlements wherever they could. Names such as Benchill, Haveley Hey, Woodhouse Park and even Wythenshawe itself can be traced back to the thirteenth century. Regrettably, the planners of today appear to see no crime in turning their backs on history by inventing unnecessary new names such as "Parklands".

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Poundswick comprised two small farms known as North (or Upper) and South (or Lower) Poundswick Farms. They could be reached by heading west from Crossacres and Brownley Green along the narrow, tree-lined Poundswick Lane. To give an idea of where the farms were situated in relation to the current geography of the place, the north farm was located in the area between the eastern end of the current school building and the Simonsway / Poundswick Lane roundabout. The south farm (also known at the time as Lower Kinsey's Farm, after its owner, William Kinsey) was situated at the eastern end of the small enclosed park between Simonsway and Longhope Road, almost directly opposite the school site.


South Poundswick farmhouse - 1903
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The site of South Poundswick Farm today
(note the school buildings on the right)

South Poundswick farmhouse had the inscription "H.G. 1636" above its door and a pen-and-ink sketch of it drawn in 1875 shows it much as in the photograph above but with a thatched roof. In later years, South Poundswick Farm was known as Poundswick Hall Farm and maps drawn in the 1950s before it was demolished often show it with this name

Having served the two farms, Poundswick Lane turned south and eventually forked, the right-hand fork becoming Bailey Lane, which still exists today. Several small un-named cottages along this road were also part of the Poundswick hamlet.


Poundswick - Crabtree Cottages - 1902
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The left-hand fork, known as Dark Lane, joined the old Woodhouse Lane approximately mid-way between Brownley Green and Heyhead at a point which roughly coincides today with the junction of Tayfield Road and Portway. Where the road forked there stood an attractive terrace of farm buildings known as Crabtree Cottages.
When Poundswick school was built in the mid-1950s, Poundswick Lane was still the narrow, tree-lined country lane of fifty years before, and the area now covered by Wythenshawe Town Centre comprised open fields which were known locally as Top Fields. Immediately opposite the school, on the southern side of Simonsway (then called Civic Centre Road), South Poundswick farmhouse still stood, defiant and inhabited, with its garden, yard and duck pond unchanged from a bygone era. Hideous blocks of flats on Longhope Road (now mercifully demolished) provided an incongruous backdrop to this nineteenth century scene.

For readers interested in how Poundswick hamlet was progressively obliterated by the inexorable southwards spread of Wythenshawe, I have included four maps of 1910, 1936, 1954 and 1960. Click here to see the maps.

One of the North Poundswick Farm cottages was fortunate enough to find itself within the school boundary, indeed it stood within a few yards of the eastern end of the school building. Known as Kinsey's Cottage, it was renovated when the school was built and used as a store room for football nets and hurdles etc. The photograph below was taken in the mid-60s from Leybrook Road and the cottage can be seen on the left, behind the goal post.

Kinsey's Cottage, although substantial, was not the largest of the North Poundswick farm buildings. W. H. Shercliff, in his book A History of Wythenshawe, suggests that it was probably built to house yeomen farmers in the sixteenth century. If this be true, the cottage was about four hundred years old when the school was built and so the last 43 years are but a twinkling of an eye in its history. We might reasonably have hoped that the local Education Authority would have been responsible enough to recognise the historical significance and value of the place. Alas not. At some terrible moment in the relatively recent past an anonymous, unthinking and uncaring bureaucrat consigned the last precious vestige of Etchells, Poundswick to the scrapheap of history with the stroke of a pen. Not a stone remains and we are all the poorer as a result.


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I can, however, offer you a photograph of it, taken in 1904. Old Poundswickians with a sharp memory will immediately recognise its distinctive and very substantial wooden framework. This particular view is the one most of us will remember because it was taken from a point only a few yards from the northern end of the bike sheds.
The bike sheds are themselves now as much a part of history as the cottage. (I wonder where current "Parklandians" keep their bikes?)

Gary Boswell (1978-83) tells us that when he started at Poundswick, Kinsey's Cottage still had glass in its windows and its 1950s-vintage wooden doors. These were subsequently vandalised and replaced with steel doors at which point, not to be outdone, the hooligans smashed their way through the back right-hand wall. After that, the cottage was just left to go to rack and ruin. The remarkable thing is that nobody seems to have cared!

There are more photos of Kinsey's Cottage (and even one of the bike sheds!) on the Poundswick Images page.

 
Poundswick hamlet today

The Poundswick resident of 1950 wouldn't recognise much of the place today; Wythenshawe's inexorable expansion has effectively obliterated it. There are, however, still a few signs that a place called Poundswick once existed here, but you have to look hard to find them. Poundswick's boundaries were never precisely defined but it seems to have encompassed most of the area from Brownley Green west to Oldwood Spinney and south to the junction of Bailey Lane and Thorley Lane.


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Moss House still exists, looking rather more glamorous, as the up-market Etrop Grange Country House Hotel. I suspect that you'd have some difficulty persuading the current owners that they should change its name to the Poundswick Country House Hotel but, if the Central Library archives are correct, Etrop Grange constitutes the only remaining outpost of pre-Wythenshawe Poundswick.

The old Moss House stands at this junction and Manchester Central Library's archive includes this photograph of it, taken in 1944. The caption reads Moss House, Poundswick, Wythenshawe; evidence that Poundswick really did extend this far south. 120 years ago Moss House was owned by Frederick Cawley, the First Lord Cawley of Prestwich, who later became the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
 


The Etrop Grange Country House Hotel

So who are today's legitimate Poundswick residents? Most of old Poundswick has been subsumed by Benchill to the north and east and by Woodhouse Park to the south, but there is just one small enclave that was part of Poundswick and is clearly not part of either of these estates. This is the small cluster of old folks houses at Frank Price Court on Henfield and Tenterden Walks. These were built in the late 1970s on land which was once part of North Poundswick Farm and which was known locally in the 50s and 60s as Back Fields. Many of Frank Price Court's residents have lived in this part of Manchester for most of their lives and still quote their address as Poundswick, Manchester 22.

When the school's name changed from Poundswick to Parklands, Poundswick lost its heart. The school was the place that declared "here is Poundswick" but now that it has gone there are not many places where you can actually see the name in use.

Poundswick Lane, of course, still exists, following largely its 19th century route west from Brownley Green. It carries its name at only one point; high on a lamp standard adjacent to the roundabout at its Simonsway end.
 
 

Deep in the undergrowth at the end of Cornfield Drive lies the Poundswick Lane electricity substation . . .

 
. . . and further along the lane, opposite its junction with Rowlandsway, is located the relatively new Poundswick Dental Surgery.
 
Poundswick Children's Centre, on Crossacres Road (the eastwards continuation of Poundswick Lane beyond its junction with Woodhouse Lane) was built in the early 70s and still exists.
The photograph on the right, taken not long after it opened, also shows the last remnants of the old wooden shopping arcade (top left of the photo on the far side of Crossacres Road). This was built in the 1930s as a "temporary" solution to Benchill's lack of shops. They were still very much in use 30 years later but have now been replaced by a children's adventure playground.
 

Manchester Central Library


Reproduced from an area map of Wythenshawe issued
with the Wythenshawe Express Year Book, 1959.

Click Here to see a recent map.