On Wednesday 2 February Manchester Archive+ visited the West Gorton Youth Group at the Manchester Climbing Centre in Gorton.

The group started by looking at historical photos of Piccadilly Gardens, which looked quite different from today, but easy to recognise because of the Lewis’s/Primark building in the corner. Tib Street was slightly more difficult – and most of the young people thought that the street and the people in it looked smarter in 1959 than it does in 2011. More difficult still was Gorton, which has changed radically over the years.

iPad Explorers
iPad Explorers

We used maps from the 1920s, 1940s and 2000 to identify where the Gorton photos had been taken, and to look at how the area has changed over the years. We would like to come along another time (when the weather’s a bit better!) and help the young people take some then-and-now photos and do some interviews with local residents on the street.

Ordnace Survey map of Gorton, 1920s
Ordnace Survey map of Gorton, 1920s
Bennet Street from Rostron Street, 1964
Bennet Street from Rostron Street, 1964

Here are some of the young people’s comments:

“Why would you want to take pictures of your own street?”

“Piccadilly looks a lot better back then!”

“The fashions are so tight and it’s so busy in the street!”

“Debenhams looks exactly the same, only in colour.”

“Rostron Close isn’t there on the 1964 map but you can see it here on the 2000 map.”

The group visited the Manchester Room @ City Library on Wednesday 16 February to look at sources on the Gorton area. We researched the Gorton Reporter on microfilm, looked up our family trees on the computers, and consulted maps and photographic local history books. A few members of the group signed up for a library card and took away lending books.

Manchester Room
Manchester Room

The session was a fun way to introduce the group to study skills and the variety of sources available to learn about a local area.

“That’s me – I’ve found my birth entry!”

“It’s all adverts in the old newspaper, and there are no pictures.”

“Can I take this book home? How much does it cost?”

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