Mention of the local elections last week drew memories of Norman COCKER who followed in the long line of radical politicians from the Ashton area. He died on 28 April 1934 and was described as ‘a fierce socialist and disciple of Karl Marx’ and was one of the first Labour councillors of Ashton.

He was regarded as ‘one of the most forceful speakers in the Socialist movement’. He sat on Ashton Town Council for Portland Ward (now West End) and was called the ‘Stormy Petrel’ for his strong opinions.

According to his son Norman who lives in Denton, his dad always described himself as a democratic socialist. "He never claimed to be a communist even though the socialist party had fused to form the Communist Party in 1920. As his obituary said he was regarded as a wild man and a visionary. He devoted his life to uplifting his fellow man.

Clearly yet another in Ashton’s tradition of radical politics

St Mark's Infants School

Bill BAYLEY has sent in a photograph of his class at St Mark’s CofE Infants School on Wharf Street in Dukinfield, taken during the First World War. He recognises a few people — Fred HOLLAND, Tom FITZGERALD, Oswald BARNES and his ‘fancy’, Irene JACKSON. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

18 May 1900

Going to hell on a handcart? This could have been the case in Hyde a hundred years ago. The only ambulance was hand-drawn and one Cllr FILDES proposed that the Watch Committee might think about speeding things up if a horse was attached.

"Serious accidents were occurring and it had been requested by a number of working men to bring the matter forward. There was such a horse-drawn ambulance at the Ashton Moss Colliery at a cost of 57. Cllr SHAW seconded.

"Cllr SHERRY said he made enquiries as to what horse ambulances were much in use or not and in one Lancashire town of 100,000 inhabitants, the police, through their own exertions had bought one and it had been used only once in four years.

"It would be exceedingly seldom such a thing would be required in Hyde. They have an excellent hand ambulance which answered all purposes. It would be a needless expenditure. Only two people voted in favour.

Political radicalism of the parsimonious tradition! :o))

Surely to be of interest to some of you out there was the opening of a new Unitarian Chapel in Ashton this week in 1900. "The Unitarians of Ashton have long been without a sanctuary of their own, but the consummation of their hopes and desires was brought about on Sunday in the opening of a new temporary school chapel in Richmond Street." Said the Reporter.

"Whatever their ultimate hopes and aspirations may be, the present structure is one that the Unitarian body might well be proud of. The new structure with its galvanised iron, lagged with stained and varnished wood is capable of holding 350 persons and was demonstrated at Sunday’s special services when there was a crowded attendance.

"The interior of the building was decorated with flowers while the walls were adorned with two costly pictures of the late Dr James MARTINEAU and the Rev W M GASKELL, the well-known novelist."

The fifth Mossley Agricultural Show was held this week a hundred years ago and was "a distinct advance on anything previously achieved by the society. Not only were the entries twice as numerous, but the stock exhibited was not in a few cases good enough to show anywhere.

"Without doubt however, the future of the show was a fine exhibition of dogs. Some of the winners were among the best animals in their class in the country. There was also an excellent exhibition of poultry equal to the exhibition already commented on and also pigeons, rabbits and other of the live appendages of a show."

The circus was in town this week in 1900 and very popular it was too. "Hyde appears to be a profitable field for enterprising circus owners judging by the large crowds that have flocked to the structure near the fire station since the opening last Saturday.

"The visit to the town of Mr TRANSFIELD two years ago and the up-to-date shows he then provided gave every satisfaction and in planning a return visit, he has done so fully confident that he will be well patronised. His stay on this occasion will not be so long as his first visit, but he is determined to spend neither time nor expense in providing a nightly bill of fare that should suit all tastes."

18 May 1950

The shock result of the local elections 50 years ago was the shock defeat of Hyde’s first woman mayor, Mrs Marjorie BAYES in the Werneth Ward. She was knocked into third place behind Dr D LIVINGSTONE for the Conservatives with 2794 votes and Mr I HARWOOD with 2492. Mayor HAYES got a mere 1845.

"Moving a vote of thanks, Cllr D I LIVINGSTONE said: ‘To say I am pleased at the result is putting it mildly. But at the same time, what has been still more pleasing is that the result has been a good one’. The Mayor interviews by the Reporter in the counting room after the declaration of the Werneth Ward results, declined to comment.

"Labour gained three seats and the Conservatives two," said the Reporter. "The only independent member of the council, Cllr Mrs M BARTON was retained in Newton Ward.

The glitz of Hollywood was replaced by more culturally cerebral fare at the new Scala Cinema in Hyde which showed the first foreign film in the town, ‘Les Enfants du Paradis’ this week in 1950. "It is planned to show regularly films other than British or American. This will give discriminating filmgoers a chance to decide for themselves whether these films are among the best as critics saying that they are."
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