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B.I. Appleton Ltd.
128 Outwood Road

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By Helen Morgan

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Published on Facebook April 2024
Last Updated 29/06/2024

 

A family orientated business still moving forward in the 21st century

Origins
 

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Phil Evans in January, who with his brother Harry, bought the business off Gerrard Appleton, son of Basil who started the original garage back in 1939. Phil started working there as an apprentice in October 2003 and they bought the business in February 2022. Indeed, it continues as a family business with fathers and sons
working together as well as long standing members of staff. He showed me lots of fantastic old photos that Gerrard had in his possession, to tell the story of the business.

So, let us go back to see what was there in 1839. I love the way that history ties itself up.

The land and buildings were owned by John Walker Knight, the landowner who lived in Heald Green House. There’s a full article on that house already within the museum that has a huge tale to tell on its own.

 

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Fig. 1 Tithe Map, 1839
© Cheshire Tithe Maps Online
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Plot 283 is an orchard and plot 284 a meadow. Plot number 285 shows a house, outbuildings and orchard.

Basil Inman Appleton used the barns to start his business in 1939. This was just before the outbreak of WW11 and not long before he was enlisted into the Royal Navy, even though he suffered from seasickness! 1. His birthday was March 1922, so perhaps he was just 18. The house was never lived in and was demolished around 1954.

On the 1921 census, the year before Basil was born, his parents lived in Didsbury. His father, Arthur Appleton was a motor car salesman working for Tom Garner Ltd on Peter Street in Manchester. He had married Lucy Inman in 1919 in Chorlton.

On the 1939 register Basil listed himself as a motor car mechanic, so had followed his father into the motor trade. His mum was doing unpaid domestic duties but had enlisted to help at Cheadle and Gatley’s first aid station and his dad was now a manager of a stores department, still in the motor business. They all lived at 225 Styal Road. That was opposite the barn that Basil would redevelop.

These wonderful photos from the Appleton family, show how the buildings correspond to the map layout.

 

Barn workshop taken from over the road c1940s Appleton family photo.jpg

Fig. 2 The front of the barn, taken from the field opposite where a bungalow now stands. This
was the original workshop that Basil shared with some pigs! 1940s

© Appleton Family
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Back of buildings c1940s and cedric tree Appletons family photo.jpg

Fig. 4 From the back, the L shape can be seen, along with a small outbuilding on the left. The tree that can be seen was nicknamed Cedric, and still stands today.
© Appleton Family
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Barn side on c.1940s Appleton family photo.jpg

Fig. 6 Nothing behind the cottage but fields
© Appleton Family
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Looking south along Styal Rd showing front and back barns c 1940s Appleton family photo.jp

Fig. 3 Just to the side of the workshop door, can you see the toy car? Love it!
© Appleton Family
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Barn side on c.1940s Appleton family photo.jpg
Barn side on c.1940s Appleton family photo.jpg

Fig. 5 The barn side on with Styal Road on the right.
© Appleton Family
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Barn side on c.1940s Appleton family photo.jpg
Barn side on c.1940s Appleton family photo.jpg

Fig. 5 Here’s the cottage, probably not long before it was demolished, alongside Cedric. It was much nearer to Styal Road than the bungalow that would replace it.
© Appleton Family
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“There was a Victorian detached house, again in large grounds, with a tennis court to one side and a tree-lined drive on the other. It was of a modest size and looked like half a pair of semis. The Bedford family lived here. An elderly man with two single daughters, one of whom kept house and gardens and gave music lessons, while her sister was the Headmistress of a Handforth school”.
- Anne Rushton, Linkline Memories, (various from 2013-2017)

“I remember the big house with a massive orchard at the back. All the kids were in it when they went out. I can also remember on mischief night, we used to prop up a plank to the front door, put the knocker on string and run it to a corner over the road and then knock!!”
- Steven Hough, 2021

“The land at the back used to go right to the bottom of what is now Wilton Avenue. For years we had a bonfire there. Even when the Beech Tree was there, they let us have it on the field at the back. I used to help collect wood. Everyone would take their gates off and hide them, so they didn’t end up on the bonfire!”
- Christine Kinlin, 2021

Beech Tree Pub
In January 1959, Dorothy sold the house and the land to Chesters Brewery. They in turn went on to build the pub. I have not found a definite year for when the pub was built. However, in 1963, the very large triangular shaped piece of land behind the pub was then sold off, as surplus to requirements, to the residents of Wilton Avenue who backed onto it. The deeds for this state that it relates to land at the rear of a Public House known as the Beech Tree, so the pub was built by then.

 

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Fig. 6 Deeds, 1963
© Anne Fleet

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Anne Fleet's back garden 2021.jpg

Anne and most of her neighbours on Wilton Avenue bought the extra land for their back gardens. Her original garden stopped at the end of this patio.

Fig. 7 Anne Fleet's garden, 2021
© Helen Morgan
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The large Manchester overspill housing estate, on Outwood Road, had been built in the mid to late 1950s. This meant that a large number of residents were well within walking distance of the pub on the other side of Outwood Road. Chesters Brewery had a little goldmine on their books!!

Perhaps the landlady remembered the most would be Lily Stockton. She had been the landlady of the
Heald Green Pub and moved to the Beech Tree around 1973/74 until she retired in 1982.

 

“All the windows were etched with squirrels running across them. There was a massive tree at the front. To the left of the pub as you looked at it was an off-licence. When Lily took over this became a kitchen.”
- Christine Kinlin, 2021

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Fig. 8 Carl's photo of Lily
© Carl Roe

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Carl Roe, her grandson, told me about his time at the pub with his nana.

"The windows were still etched with squirrels and the off-licence was still trading, but not for much longer after she took over. That was turned into a makeshift kitchen as she’d feed anybody. “I’d see nobody without a jam butty” was something she would always say. She’d knock up a plate or bowl of chips or a chip butty. They had one of those displays for pies on the bar, so you could go real gourmet and have pie, chips and gravy! It wasn’t a money maker, but it kept your regulars happy.

"The living quarters upstairs were four bedrooms. One was massive, two were a good size and my box room. There was a small kitchen, an okay-sized lounge and the toilet and bathroom were separate. There were different serving hours to the all-day hours now and from memory were as follows. On Sundays it opened from 12 to 2.30pm and then opened again at 7pm, until last orders at 10.30pm. Monday to Friday the pub opened at 11am until 3pm and then opened again at 5.30pm until 11pm. Saturday was different again. By law you had to apply for a 30-minute extension to your opening hours.

Of course, it took ages to clear the pub. It was rammed seven days a week in the evenings. Characters galore with great nicknames. Usual faces at usual tables. Very rarely was there any trouble. There was, as there is in every pub, but on the whole, she kept a good pub. It was not the sort of place you’d come to if you weren’t local to cause trouble. There used to be pictures of football players in the vault, but they got taken down, as it only provoked opposition supporters, especially on a Saturday night. I used to go to Mr Tibbet’s newsagent at the shops next door to collect the football pinks. In the vault there would be a card school and the lads would play for a couple of bob. As a pub doesn’t have a gambling licence, my Nan would endeavour to keep the tables cash free. Any kitty would be in a clean ashtray under the table!”

 

“Nice to see Lily the landlady, I worked for her when she had the Heald Green, great woman."
- Graham Sue Thompson, 2021

 “I remember Pam Day working at the Beech, lovely lady.”
- Steven Hough, 2021

“Dad used to do the tote and sea fishing trips.”
- Graham Hampson, 2021

 “A metal fish was put on your line when not looking. Our kid used to make them out of steel plate, so heavy. A great laugh when seeing someone thinking they have got a big one on!- Steven Stephen Hough, 2021

“My mum was lunchtime barmaid there in the late 1970s, her name was Agnes Rose"
- Sid Rose, 2021

Lily M Buchan G Roper mid 70s.jpg

Fig. 9 Comedian George Roper and Manchester United Captain, Martin Buchan, in the pub mid 1970s.
© Carl Roe
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Fig. 10 Beech Tree Car Park, 1974
© Carl Roe
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Fig. 11 Beech Tree staff, c 1975 
© Carl Roe
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 “I met my ex-husband there. You couldn’t hold hands or anything. I worked in the Beech Tree. The beer was slightly cheaper in the vault than the lounge. Lily Stockton was there then. I worked with Gloria and Mrs Clarke. It was a really beautiful atmosphere. They always had a kid’s party. The adults used to go on trips. When they were going, they’d throw a load of money out to the children who were waiting. There were lots of characters at the pub. I can remember one lady bringing in her husband’s Sunday dinner and plonking it down in front of him. He asked her for the salt!"
- Christine Kinlin, 2021

Beech Tree Year tbd.jpg

“What a great pub that was. My mam worked behind the bar there from the 1960s until the 1980s. My dad drank there as did I."
- Norman Clarke, Facebook, 2023

Fig. 12 L-R Gloria, Christine and Margaret Clarke, c 1976
© Christine Kinlin
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“When the grown-ups had the days out and used to throw tanners out of the windows of the coach and us kids used to scramble to pick them up."
- Anthony A Pownall, 2021

“I remember the coach that used to come to the Beech Tree years ago. A lady used to step off the coach with a hat full of money. We all waited with bated breath until she launched it into the carpark. Then it was bedlam, about 40 kids running round the carpark, all after the same money. Few knocks and bruises were had but great memories.” “It was the hub of the community for years and years. Three generations of my family have gone through them doors. Suppose most families in the area can say the same. Great pub, great memories.”
- Colin Wolstenholme, 2021

In the Contact magazine of Autumn 1982 the Ratepayers had managed to get Chester’s Brewery to complete concrete fencing at the back of the gardens on Wilton Avenue, facing onto the Beech Tree’s car park. The lovely big tree that had stood at the front of the pub must have gone by this time, as councillors were asking for the tree to be replaced    .

In Summer 1984 plans to extend the
Beech Tree as part of a refurbishment were refused and noise was being investigated    .

By the Summer of 1985 landscaping of the front and rear of the pub by
Whitbreads was still outstanding    .

Another landlord that residents may know is Steven Hough. A local lad brought up on
Outwood Road, who used the pub as his local, and stepped up to manage it. I spoke to him recently too.

“There were a couple of landlords I can remember before Lily, George Heap and Charlie Saunders. I went in in 2006. In between me and Lily there had been landlords, some good, some not so good. I keep in touch with a few, they are mates of mine. Norman used to have it in the 90s. I think he was one of the last ones of the Brewery type and then it all went to management. It was
Whitbread when Norman had it and before that it was Chesters. It went on to become Cafe Inns and a few other companies still connected to the Whitbread hierarchy. People got together and sold some pubs and kept the more profitable ones. Norman got out of the game and Burt and Marion got it.

They were child friendly and put in a kid’s play area. Once not directly owned by the Brewery, people were buying into it expecting to make a fortune; it was never going to happen. Slowly but surely, it went downhill. When I got it, it was in a right mess. The previous landlord had been disabled and brought his sons in to help there, along with another pub in Rusholme. There was dog dirt in the ball pits and area, and you wouldn’t take your kids there. I ended up spending over £100,000 !

The Area Manager told me not to go daft, but I had to make it nice. One of the stipulations was that I had to live there, for them to charge me rent. I had a house over the road and would be paying them to be their night watchman! I wasn’t going to get it if I didn’t agree, so I had to. In the early days my good friend, John Hempenstall, helped me out. In the cellar the lines were in a shocking state, having not been cleaned for months. As luck would have it, I knew a guy who could help. I knocked out a hole for a chimney to make an open fire and decorated all around with the help of mates. All new carpets and seating went in on a new raised area and the vault had new laminate flooring along with nice blinds and curtains throughout. The ball pit was a mess, so everything came out and was replaced, including new netting, finishing with a full steam clean. All expensive stuff. A smoking area was set up outside. During all this renovation work the pub remained open, as I had to keep paying the rent. I hoped for great days ahead. However, by this time pubs were on the way down. I introduced special nights like look-alike artists to sing, but still did not manage to fill the place.

The bit of luck we had was the syndicate winning the lottery. We won a million and I still have the big cheque! It was a Friday night and Eric from up the road came in and asked for our contributions towards the lottery. It had gone up to £2 which put some people off, others handed over their money to him in his hand and off he went to put the numbers on. On the Saturday morning, early, I was cleaning out the fireplace, ignoring Eric on my phone. He eventually came knocking asking me to double check the numbers, we had all 6!! He went to the shop and was away ages, coming back to tell me to phone
Camelot. We each got £40,000. For me I went to Australia, business class, to see family which was great. Others did great things too. I stayed until 2013/14 and then eventually opened where I am now, Houghies Gin Emporium. I had wanted this before I got the pub, but it wasn’t available. This unit has been an off-licence as well as other things over the years.”

 

Beech Tree Pub Apr 2009 (c) Google.jpg

Fig. 13 Beech Tree Pub, April 2009
© Google Maps
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The pub’s website showed that a young couple bought the pub in 2016. It stated:-

“they invested
heavily to make this a local family-orientated warm place to be, with a brand-new children’s indoor play area and new kitchen serving up great food as well.

A familiar story, but it wasn't to last.


End of an Era

Pubs everywhere were already struggling with far cheaper alcohol readily available in the local shops. Then of course along came Covid-19, perhaps the final nail in the coffin, in March 2020. With everyone only being allowed out for essential shopping and a bit of exercise, new drinking habits were formed. When the lockdown was over, people only tentatively returned to social spaces like pubs and bars. The dye was cast.

In 2021, on the pub’s website it read :-

“Closed with freehold for sale 20/1/21; closed 17/8/20 seeking new tenant. Comfortably appointed estate house. Separate vault to left with large dropdown TV screen, darts area and pool table. A large open fire completes the setting, with wall decor related to football and boxing. The right-hand part is a nicely fitted-out lounge with a small snug area off it and a small stage area too.”

The pub had a skip outside that had been filled, and a for sale sign. By October 2021, metal shutters have been erected over all the windows and doors. A very sad state of affairs. Vandalism was rife, and the empty pub had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

 

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Fig. 14, Closed, 2021
© Helen Morgan
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In August 2022, the property was showing for sale on Rightmove.
 

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Fig. 15, For Sale, 2022
© Rightmove
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Fig. 16, Floor Plan, 2022
© Rightmove
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On June 2nd, 2023, the pub was unfortunately set on fire and was tended to by quite a few fire engines. Afterwards, from the front, the damage did not look too bad, when I went to photograph it on June 4th. However, as you can see from Steven’s photos, around the back of the pub was much worse.
 

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Fig. 17, After the fire, 2023
© Steve Hough
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Behind pub after fire June 2023-12 S Hough.JPG

Fig. 18, After the fire, 2023
© Steve Hough
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Behind pub after fire June 2023-09 H Morgan.JPG

Fig. 19, After the fire, 2023
© Steve Hough
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Sadly, the days of community-based local pubs, have become a thing of the past, remembered fondly looking back into a bygone era.  So, what is to become of 128 Outwood Road? Flats or houses? Your guess is as good as mine.

I asked Carl what he thought.

“Progress suggests a shop or apartments. Apart from the odd one, it’s a trade on its knees. Expensive to drink out and lunatics are rife. Neighbourly values and socialising have been on the decrease for years sadly. I love
Heald Green. When I used to walk to the Green (Heald Green Pub) with my mum from Wythenshawe, I thought I had come to paradise. Wythenshawe wasn’t bad but Heald Green was just a leafy village. Plus, when your nana has the pub, it’s heavenly as a kid”.

 

Beech Tree 2021-02.JPG

Fig. 20 Beech Tree Pub, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
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Many thanks to Anne, Carl and Steven for their time, documents and memories. My thanks also to residents who, via Facebook, gave their memories too.
 

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