Some Recollections of Cheadle by John M Goodier


I lived in Cheadle from my birth in early 1938 until I was married in 1962.  My father lived there all his life (1910-1988) and his father lived there too for many years after moving from Heaton Mersey.  My mother, Mrs Emily Goodier still lives in Cheadle  at the age of ninety two and has lived there since meeting and marrying my father in the mid 1930s.  Before dealing with my own memories, it is worth mentioning briefly, what I can remember from what my father, Len Goodier, told me about himself and his father, Sgt Joseph Goodier (1869-1937).

Sgt. Joseph Goodier was born in Stretford and lived in Heaton Mersey before his move to Cheadle.  He served in Flanders in the first part of WW1 and then, with 3/5 Cheshire Regiment, he was responsible for training recruits from Cheadle.  He lived in a house behind Cheadle Parish Church, now occupied by Alcocks undertakers.  This presumably was a house which went with the job, as he was based at the Drill Hall nearby (now the Village Hall).  He features on many photographs of parades and the like and after his discharge from the army he rented a house at 3 Holmes Street, Off Cuthbert Road.  He was a joiner by trade and was married to Emily Coldman.  Sgt Goodier was evidently very much part of the local community both during and after his military service.  His reputation as a good shot with a rifle is borne out by the fact that Mr Watts of Abney Hall once requested he deal with a bull in one of his fields.  This particular animal had "gone mad" and was real threat to the employees at the hall.  The bull was despatched with a single shot and Sgt. Goodier was presented with a very handsome clock by Mr Watts for his trouble. 

My father, Leonard Goodier, was born in 1910 in the house on Brook Street behind the church.  He was the youngest of five children.  He sang in the church choir as a boy and attended Cheadle Council School on Ashfield Road.  This was, in those days, an all-age school and Len's teacher was Mr E.I.(Pop)Morgan.  By the time I went to the school myself, then known as Cheadle Primary School, Mr Morgan was headmaster and he remembered my father well.

One of the stories my father liked to tell was of the time the Electra cinema opened in High Street, Cheadle.  An informal race was held, from the White Hart to the cinema, to see who could be first through the door when it opened.  This must have been in the early twenties as my father was still a boy at the time.  My father was third in the race and thus third into the opening screening of the very first film to be shown there.  The film was called "Cigarette" – not a lot of people know that!

When my father left school he went to work at Clay's Mill on Demmings Road, which I think was a cotton mill.  It certainly was a large local employer in those days. 

When WW2 started in 1939 I was only six months old and my father was called up into the RAF.  He served in 617 Squadron as ground crew in the "Dambusters" squadron, and he vividly remembered the terror on the faces of the young aircrew members as they prepared for take-off on each mission.  The risks were high, and they knew it. 

There was a lighter side to service lift too, however, with concerts, radio broadcasts and frequent letters home.  As a young boy I eagerly awaited each letter as it always contained a cartoon, drawn by my father, illustrating some aspect of what he had been "getting up to".  On the occasions my father came home on leave he would spend hours walking me round his favourite boyhood haunts in Cheadle.  They later became my own haunts too – Red Rocks, Higher Mill, Schools Hill and the fields beyond (now John Lewis etc.) and later, the grounds of Abney Hall.  These grounds were strictly private and it was always a game of cat and mouse between myself, my friends and the estate staff.

When the war ended my father entered the refrigeration business, first as a storekeeper and later as a sales representative.  He was a very competent snooker and bowls player at the Conservative Club and later, with my mother, became a very accomplished duplicate bridge player reaching county standard.

During and immediately after the war we lived in the terraced cottage in Holmes Street – outside loo, no hot water, no electricity.  We had lighting by gas mantles – downstairs only.  Upstairs illumination was by candlelight.  It seems that my late grandfather did not wish to have these "new-fangled" things.  We were joined at Holmes Street by my maternal grandmother, Hesther Hotchkiss, and my mother's sister, Veronica, who was still single and training to be a nurse.

I remember being taken on a fairly regular basis to be fitted with a new gas mask as I grew bigger.  In fact, I still have one of them.  Sweets of course were on ration during the war and we would go to spend our allowance at a sweet shop in the village, more or less opposite the end of Massie Street.  The shop was run by a kindly old couple and they always let me take an extra sweet out of the jar as a treat. 

One night at Holmes Street there was an air raid and two incendiary bombs landed on my bed while I was asleep.  One came through the roof and one through the window.  My mother, showing great presence of mind, threw a bucket of sand on the flames and whisked me off down to the cellar before calling for the fire brigade.  Fortunately,  The damage was minimal, which is more than can be said for the second house we lived in – 245 Stockport Road.  When my father returned from the war Holmes Street was far too small and we needed somewhere larger – but with no money to buy, we could only rent.

Numbers 245 and 247 Stockport Road are a pair of substantial semis, and they were, pre-war, occupied by the Bennison brothers and their families.  They ran an undertakers / blacksmiths / coach painting business in land adjoining 247 (now a cycle shop).  On one particular night, during an air raid, the two brothers were standing side by side in the back garden, on fire-watch duty.  Number 245 received a direct hit and all inside were killed.  A piece of shrapnel killed Mr Bennison of 245, leaving his brother from 247 and his family unharmed.  The only survivor of 245 was a daughter, Margaret, who was away at teacher training college.  The house was rebuilt in 1947 and Margaret rented the house to my parents, who she knew through the Congregational Church on Massie Street.  For the first time my immediate family had a home to themselves.  I lived there until I moved away to be married in 1962.  My parents later brought the house from Margaret Bennison and remained there until they "downsized" to a house in Bangor Road during the early seventies.  On my father's death in 1988 my mother moved to Queen's Gardens where she still remains.

In 1950, along with two close friends, Neil Kellett and Stuart Elliott, I moved to Cheadle Hulme School on a Cheshire free place.  This was a new experience for all of us as we came into contact with lots of boys and girls from a completely difference social background.  Around 1954, anxious to earn enough money to go on the many school visits available, I obtained a part time job working for a local photographer, Arthur King of Lynart Photographic Service, 7 Massie Street.  I worked weekends and early evenings.  On Saturdays I helped Mr King at weddings.  At a wedding one Saturday he handed me the 35mm Leica camera and said "can you handle this one today John?"  From this moment I was inspired to have my own camera and this is why I have so many photographs of Cheadle to this day. 

So my direct association with Cheadle finished in 1964, but of course, through my parents I had frequent contact with Cheadle, as I still do to this day.  I sometimes walk round the old haunts – how some of them have changed.  I am not against progress and although I fondly remember some of the landmarks which are no longer there, I am sure the village is, over all, a better place to lived than it was in earlier times.  However, I also feel we should remember times gone by and not lose them because nobody thinks to record them.  This is why I have written these notes and why I am happy to hand over all the photographs of old Cheadle that I can find.