Historian Andrew Simpson takes a trip into town, but you won’t find him hanging round the Arndale. We’re going to Pool Fold.
Now, I always maintain that September and October win out over August in the city. That bright, autumnal sunshine can still offer warmth, allowing plenty of adventures. I’m exploring lost and forgotten streets of Manchester – I say lost, but some are still with us, though for most people they may as well not exist.
Back Pool Fold (off Cross Street) is one of those little thoroughfares which you think must offer up a few stories. It twists and turns, ever narrowing, until it has all the mystery of a dark, medieval alley. Some will know it for Sam’s Chop House, on the corner. But for now it’s the name that provides a clue to how this bit of the city has changed: it all hangs on the word ‘Back’. This suggests there must once have been a Pool Fold and, sure enough, there was.
Pool Fold was the continuation of Cross Street which, in 1793, terminated at the corner with Chapel Walks. It crept up to Market Street, past what was then the New Shambles. It would have been very familiar to the Dissenters who attended Cross Street Chapel (after which Chapel Walks is named). The first chapel opened in1694, only to be destroyed by a Jacobite mob in 1715. Subsequently rebuilt, William Gaskell, (educator, social campaigner and husband of the novelist Elizabeth) was Minister there between 1828 and 1884. The chapel he knew was destroyed during an air raid in December 1940.
The third chapel, built in 1959 survived for four decades until its most recent rebuild in 1997. There will be many who remember walking down Chapel Walks, past the grassed area at the rear of the former chapel: this was the site of the graveyard, now vanished. Nowadays, the area is at the heart of works for Metrolink’s Second City Crossing, delayed significantly by the discovery of burials along the route. These may or may not have been from the Cross Street Chapel: it will be interesting to see what artefacts are found.
I don’t have the exact date when Pool Fold became the continuation of Cross Street, but by 1849, its name had been lost to history. And the Chop House? Despite dating back to 1872 – when a Mr Samuel Studd opened Sam’s London Chop House – it has only occupied its current site since the 1950s. Before then, it could be found in Manchester Chambers, at the corner of Market Street and Pall Mall. That building has long gone, but once – and not so very long ago – it was home to the UCP shop. For those who don’t know, this was the United Cattle Products Company, which had a chain of 146 restaurants. From an entrance on the corner, you headed up a large staircase, probably queued for a table, then feasted on a range of bovine extremities, including cow heel, oxtail and tripe!
All of which may seem a long way from Pool Fold, but then perhaps not, given the connection between the UCP, the Shambles clearly shown on the map and the bill of fayre offered up by Sam. But I am a vegetarian, so that’s where I’ll leave things for now.
Andrew’s website is at chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk.
Picture: Pool Fold 1793 from Laurent’s map of Manchester 1793, courtesy of Digital Archives.