Full Circle

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By Helen Morgan

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First Published 14/7/2021
Last Updated 11/1/2022

 

From Smithy Croft field to Smithy Croft apartments and everything in-between…

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As our little village began to expand at such a rate during the late 1950s and early 1960s, our Ratepayers had a balancing act on their hands, to please as many of the new residents as possible. With a growing population came the need for infrastructure like primary schools, shops, a clinic, a library and a public hall. These were all delivered as promised. More babies meant clinics and services for their welfare and the growing teenage population needed somewhere to keep them entertained in the evenings after school. The adults in the village were enticed with new and innovative clubs and societies, many of which were started and encouraged by the Ratepayers. House building continued at pace.

However, for the elderly residents in the village there was no purpose-built residential complex. Something needed to be done, and as quickly as possible.

It was the council’s aim to provide accommodation for elderly people in dwellings near to their homes. They had done this in Smithy Green and planning was going through in Gatley. However the sticking point in our village was the site. Nothing was available near enough to shops and services. Manchester Corporation was approached for permission to build on the corner of Brown Lane and Styal Road but they were not prepared to sell   . In 1964 the Urban District Council continued to look for a suitable site to provide retirements flats   . It was not until 1966 that the council managed to buy from the Air Ministry seven and a half acres of land off Outwood Road for old people’s flats. This was part of the site of R.A.F. Maintenance Unit 61. Land was to be levelled, cleared and planning would begin in what was called “the greatest housing need in the district”  .

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Fig. 1 RAF Maintenance Unit 61, entrance off Outwood Road. In the 1960s, the units began to be demolished
© Ratepayers' Association
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Fig. 2 RAF Maintenance Units on 1957 Map v 2020 Map
© ARCHI Information Systems Ltd
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The Ratepayers continued to monitor the Urban District Council for plans to build flats and hoped that they would be able to find other sites as the need was there   . By June 1967 it had been decided that the Outwood Road site would be a mixed development of 400 houses with 2,3, and 4 bedrooms and elderly persons' dwellings. It would also accommodate both the council’s waiting list and Manchester’s too   . Hathaway Close was built, plus more flats at the back of Avon Road near the garages and Baslow Drive.

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Fig. 3 Flats at back of Avon Road near Baslow Drive 2021
© Helen Morgan
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Fig. 4 Hathaway Close off Outwood Road 2021
© Helen Morgan
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Fig. 5 Flats at back of Avon Road near Baslow Drive 2021
© Helen Morgan
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In 1969, applications had been received by the council to build flats on 107/113 Finney Lane from the Manchester and District Housing Association; also for some one-bedroom properties on land, fronting Finney Lane by Hanover Housing Association   . This was where two pairs of large semi detached houses were, each with a different design, and these would have to be demolished to make way for a new development   . Residents overlooking this area raised objections to the proposals   . They went on to hand over a petition to the Ratepayers and Councillor Bob Crook. He tried to iron out all their issues raised with the developers and council    . By Christmas 1970, Cheadle and Gatley Council, after considering all the objections, agreed to the planning application with some alterations. It would remain a two-storey building but with improved fencing, landscaping, tree preservation and the brick colour was changed   .

 

Building began in 1971 by Manchester District Housing Association, Slade Hall, Slade Lane, Manchester.   . By Autumn 1973 it was reported that all the flats had been taken and the fencing and landscaping were still to be done, as per the planning. The name Mallard Court was given   . Growing up in Heald Green I always thought of ducks when I walked past the building. Of course the area was full of ponds when the village was still countryside. In fact the field it was built on, Smithy Croft, was next to a field called Water Field and it definitely had a large pond in it   .

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Fig. 6a Water Field location 1841
© F. & T. Mitchell / St. James Church
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Fig. 6b Mallard Court 2009
© Google Maps
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Yes it was a duck pond. When I was a child we used to catch sticklebacks in it. It never dried up and was supposed to be fed by an underground stream"
- Jacqueline Garnett, 2021

“I grew up on Queensway at that end and the pond was originally behind houses a few doors up from us. My parents left the house 20 years ago and the back garden floods terribly in bad weather. The underground stream is probably partly responsible for this. If I remember it was just up from where Mallard Court used to be now."
- Louise Adams, 2021

More buildings were still required for the elderly in our village and the Ratepayers were always on the lookout for preferable sites. In 1979 they asked that the corner of St Ann’s Road South and Finney Lane be considered   . It was not until 1988 that another project came along. A local builder put in a planning application to build 24 Old Age Pensioner’s flats on the back of gardens of bungalows on the A34. One bungalow would be demolished for an access road. East Avenue residents overlooking the gardens protested and the Ratepayers did all they could to reduce the impact.    . This development was Bamford Close. [Ed. We hope to bring you more details on this soon, in an interview with Ann Park - her brother was the developer.]

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Fig. 7 Bamford Close 2021
© Helen Morgan
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Fig. 8 Bamford Close 2021
© Helen Morgan
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In the same year, a planning application was also received to build homes for the elderly or handicapped on land that had previously been earmarked for a permanent youth centre in Heald Green. This was next to Outwood Road School. Negotiations were taking place on the most suitable plan for construction   . By Autumn 1990 final planning permission had been given to Johnnie Johnson Housing Association for the construction of flats and bungalows for elderly people   . This became Deanwater Court and Close on land between the school and Viscount Drive.

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Fig. 9 Deanwater Close 2021
© Helen Morgan
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Fig. 10 Deanwater Court 2021
© Helen Morgan
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So back to the main residential complex in the village for our elderly residents, Mallard Court. It was now dated, having been built in 1971. In 2012 it was demolished to make way for a new development by Your Housing Group that was boasting state of the art facilities for residents over 55. The integral theme was for extra care. So once you could not look after yourself there, you could remain and be looked after. 55 flats were to be built in a part two and three storey building. Communal facilities inside would be available to non-residents too   . I would highly recommend their bistro, Cuppaccino for anything from breakfast, lunch to afternoon teas. Smithy Croft opened in 2014, built on the field called Smithy Croft, clever these developers!!   .

[Ed. Unfortunately two trees which were the subject of Tree Preservations Orders made in 1970 and discussed in the article had to be felled for safety reasons, as they were poorly.] 

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Fig. 11 Smithy Croft, with a tree 2021
© Helen Morgan
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Fig. 12 Felling the tree 2021
© Colin Barnsley
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Fig. 13 Smithy Croft 2021
© Colin Barnsley
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Bibliography

  1. The Editor, June 1964, Flats for Elderly People, Contact magazine, 2(2),pp.4

  2. The Editor, September 1964, Heald Green Jottings, Contact magazine, 2(3),pp.20

  3. The Editor, March 1966, Old Peoples' flats, Contact magazine, 4(1),pp.18

  4. The Editor, Annual General Meeting 1967, Senior Residents, Contact Magazine, pp.3

  5. The Editor, June 1967, Council Building Bradshaw Hall & Outwood Road, Contact magazine, 16, pp.4

  6. The Editor, Winter 1969, Old Peoples' flats, Contact magazine,26,pp.7

  7. Rushton, A, May-July 2014, Linkline The Parish Magazine of St Catherine, Heald Green,pp17-19

  8. The Editor, Spring 1970, Heald Green and Long Lane Jottings/Finney Lane Developments, Contact Magazine,27,pp.5

  9. The Editor, Autumn 1970, Heald Green and Long Lane Jottings/Proposed Old People’s Flats, Finney Lane, Contact magazine,29,pp.7

  10. The Editor,Christmas 1970, Heald Green and Long Lane Jottings/Old People’s Flats 107/113 Finney Lane, Contact magazine,30,pp.7

  11. The Editor, Christmas 1971, Heald Green and Long Lane Jottings/Flats for the Elderly, Contact magazine,34,pp.8

  12. The Editor, Autumn 1973, The Jottings/Mallard Court Flats for the Elderly, Contact magazine,41 pp.8         

  13. Mitchell,Frank & Teretta(c1976), Tithe Map 1841

  14. The Editor, Christmas 1979, Councillor’s Report, Contact magazine,66,pp.3

  15. The Editor, Autumn 1988, Jottings, Contact magazine,99,pp.5

  16. The Editor, Winter 1988, Councillor’s Report, Contact magazine, 100,pp.3

  17. The Editor, Autumn 1990, Councillor’s report, Contact magazine, 106,pp.5

  18. The Editor, Autumn 2013, Heald Green Landmarks/Smithy Croft, Contact magazine, pp.1

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