Ordsall Hall oral histories
Whilst Ordsall Hall was closed to visitors, staff worked with local people and recorded their memories and stories of Ordsall Hall and the hall itself.
We spoke to people connected to the Hall and the local area. Stories have come from current residents, people who grew up in the surrounding area, as well as people who lived or worked in the Hall itself and we are continuing to record people's stories and memories. We are also very keen to receive written memories, so if you would like to write down or type up your memories please send them to us at the Hall.
We would like to thank all of the kind people who have contributed their stories so far.
If you would like to share your memories or stories, or for more information about any of the projects, please contact Hazel Fenton on 0161 872 0251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a selection of some of the stories that have already been shared with us
Sisters Jennifer and Ann's father worked as a caretaker at Ordsall Hall. He started working there in 1953 and they lived there for nearly ten years. They have fond memories of the Hall which became their playground.
Jennifer recalls moving into the Hall: "Dad was offered the caretakership and with it came a tied house which happened to be the lodge. We moved in in 1953. I think it was the summertime, because I can remember not wearing a coat. Ann wasn't particularly old, perhaps coming up to 12 months, because we moved all the furniture on Ann's pram. I was five. As soon as I saw the place, I thought Ann and I were princesses and we were going to live in a castle!"
The sisters also remember the spookiness of the Hall and its impact on them as young children:
Jenny: "It was very warm, very spooky in places, which was right up our street. We didn't realise it at the time, but Dad was frightened of going in the Hall so we got sent in first. We had friends 'not of this world'. We got told off. Mum said 'If you don't stop it you're going to frighten yourselves', and thats when we realised Mum and Dad were frightened, not us." Ann recalls one particular 'friend', "I used to call her 'Celery' because I couldn't say her name. She used to come and have a chat and I could hear her dress rustling and then she'd be gone!"
Joyce Nelson lived at the Hall with her husband, Matthew Nelson, who was the rector of St Cyprian's Church which adjoined the Hall was demolished in the 1960s. They lived in the east wing of the Hall between 1950 and 1955.
Joyce and Matthew got married the same week as moving to work at St Cyprian's: "We only went away for three days, we had to come back for the St Cyprian's Christmas Fair on the Friday. It was very snowy, but the caretaker on the other end of the Hall, the lady, had been in the house and lit a fire so it wasn't entirely cold when we went in. We lived in the end opposite to the caretaker. We were at the Guy Fawkes Street side. Our sitting room was the Star Chamber."
Joyce remembers the effort that the local community put into the Coronation celebrations of 1953:
"That was beautiful, it was lovely, they must have been saving up for months, I don't know where they got their resources from, but they transformed the little side streets. They closed them off and cars weren't allowed in and they trimmed them up and they were all different, it was beautiful. Some of them actually painted the whole house!"
Husband and wife Cyril and Clare Lawrence grew up in Ordsall and were St Cyprian's congregation members in the 1930s and 1940s. They got married at St Cyprian's during the Second World War.
Cyril: "We got married on the 10 October 1944 and I got leave to travel from Scapa Flow. We'd just come back off a Russian convoy, and I sent a telegram off the ship when I was up at Scapa Flow because I got told I was getting three days leave and to make arrangements. I got one day to travel, one day to get married, one night in bed and travelled back the day after. I never seen her again until 1946!"
"I did ask at the church if I could have the bells, and the vicar smiled. He said 'Well you could', but he said 'I'm afraid you'll bring half of England out." Cyril explains: "During the war if there was an air raid the bells used to ring." Claire: "But I really would have liked the bells, I don't know why but it was the fancy, you know."
Brother and sister, Alan and Agnes Whitaker grew up in Ordsall in the 1940s and 1950s and were St Cyprian's congregation members. They were part of a large family with ten children in all. They used to play in Ordsall Park.
Alan: "Ordsall Park was split into two parts, one contained the bandstand, duck pond, bowling green, there was the recreation area for adults really more than anything else. The other half, the Taylorson Street side, was more or less swings, it had a tennis court on there, swings, roundabouts, things like that... a paddling pool."
Agnes: "I fell into the paddling pool and the children that were older than me, they took me in the toilet and put all my clothes on the doors trying to dry them. Somebody ran home... and my aunt come for me and wrapped me up in a blanket and took me home."