I’ve written much about the radical history of Cropper Street, Collyhurst.
The BBC 2 documentaryManctopia, is a detailed investigation into property development in Manchester.
Episode 2, shown 25 August 2020, features an interview with a resident of Osborne Street, which Cropper Street became, who is facing eviction and a compulsory purchase order for redevelopment as part of the Northern Gateway scheme.
I wish I’d known they were making this documentary before. I would love to give the local residents more information about the long history of their street.
There is something special about such an unremarkable place, and I wasn’t that surprised that it was the very street that is set for redevelopment, that features in the documentary, and such a strong character like Anne who moved here after the slum clearances of the 60s. She says stridently in the programme: ‘This is a 70s housing estate and I don’t think they’re bad housing.’
A must watch programme for seeing the tensions created by property speculation, ownership and ideas of place. There’s lots of discussion of the word ‘gentrification’, notably by the Collyhurst residents, and by the people running a homeless charity on Dantzig Street, Angel Meadow, who are acutely aware of the long history of their area, citing Engels’ role in observing the area in the 1840s. And there is discussion of incomers and outcomers, based not on ethnicity or anything prejudiced, but in terms of wealth and class.
Doing some map surfing and came across the Wells estate on Epsom Common, Surrey. It’s a 1930s housing estate in the middle of the eastern edge of the common.
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1871 OS Map shows the farm at the centre of the circle:
Thanks to some asking around on Twitter by Municipal Dreams, and some basic information on local history websites, the site is based around the ancient Epsom Salt well but this had long gone. There was an 18th century farm there that made the rectangular encroachment, but I’m still looking for information on the rest of it. (http://www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/EpsomCommonShort.html: states, “The obvious feature is the circular area whose origin is the “Epsom Wells”. By the time of the late 18th century and early 19th century these days were long gone and the area was a farm with farm buildings and a windmill. The rectangular area to the south was removed from the Common to enlarge the area of Wells Farm and as such was never an encroachment, more of an eventual occupation but it seems that the farm struggled to survive and by the 1850s was no longer a complete working farm and became a residence for a wealthy tenant. The 1851 Census return shows John Richard (Landed proprietor) in residence at the Old Wells. It was probably during this time that occupancy of the rectangular area took place, with many small individual plots (the 19th century version of allotments) combining and overtime, the first cottages started to appear about 1858.” But notably the website doesn’t then say anything about the 1930s estate.
Here’s a picture of the well, apparently dressed by the church, on 8 July, taken by Simon Webster:
I’m hoping a trip to Surrey History Centre will provide more information on the landownership and development of the estate. As always, I’m interested in how the residents conceived of public space, especially in being in such an unusual position on the common.
Any information or further reading welcome before I go and find out. Comment below.