If Those Walls Could Talk

Hidden histories beyond bricks and mortar



Thank you for visiting my website. Here you will find some of the untold stories and hidden histories relating to some wonderful old buildings, some still standing and others are long gone.

I am currently a PhD candidate and Associate Lecturer in the history department at Manchester Metropolitan University. I have often walked around, gazing up at historic buildings and wondered the usual ‘who lived here?’ or ‘what did this used to be?’. Fortunately, my academic background as a social historian means I have the skills to research these buildings and in 2015 I started this website to share my findings with everyone else who has ever pondered these same questions.

My research largely focuses on the Manchester and Greater Manchester region, although this is always expanding. A particular feature of this website and of my academic research concerns houses (or former houses). The house and everything tied up within it has always fascinated me. The quote by Daphne du Maurier at the bottom of this page sums this up nicely.

Getting In Touch

Should you wish to get in touch with me, please use the contact form in the menu bar or leave a comment. This feature then sends me an email, which I can follow up.

Should you wish to share your own comments or memories of a particular building then please leave a comment too! It is always lovely to hear from people who have a personal connection to a building or site.



Thomas McGrath


“Who can ever affirm, or deny that the houses which have sheltered us as children, or as adults, and our predecessors too, do not have embedded in their walls, one with the dust and cobwebs, one with the overlay of fresh wallpaper and paint, the imprint of what-has-been, the suffering, the joy?

 Daphne du Maurier, Myself When Young (1977)

31 thoughts on “About

  1. In your article on Princess St Manchester you comment that there was a timber yard nearby. This could be the yard of J&J Sutton as Joseph Sutton lived I believe in Princess St at the time of the Peterloo massacres. I would be interested in researching the archival records you mention as Joseph Sutton is in my family tree.


  2. Hi Thomas –

    Not sure why I didn’t find your blog sooner, but glad I am seeing it now. I’m one of your Mulvany cousins, and we’ve been in touch over Ancestry. My mom was a Mulvaney, and William Mulvany and Judith Waters are my 4x great grandparents.

    Anyway, I was researching Curragh House and came across your images and information. I need to share this with my Mulvany aunts and uncle – they would love this.

    Well, just wanted to say hello and send my best.

    Patti Juric


    1. Hi Patti,
      Glad to hear from you again! It’s good to know you’re still researching the family tree. Thanks for your kind comments about the Curragh House post, it’s such a beautiful building and our ancestral connection meant I had to write about it!
      All the best


  3. Hi Tom
    I read your article about Damhouse in the Manchester Regional History Review. I’ve been interested in the story of Elizabeth Durie for some time – mainly because of the mental health treatment at the time, private mental asylums, attitudes to mental health etc.
    I’d like to read your thesis ‘Damhouse, A History’. Is it possible to get hold of a copy?
    Best wishes


  4. Tom I need some help regarding a specific property on King Street and hope you might be able to help! Pls can you contact me. thx


  5. An excellent site and I say this as one of Manchester’s leading historians, the city’s most prolific tour guide, author of Penguin’s Manchester Compendium and compiler of the forthcoming Manchester Encyclopaedia. Have you been on any of our walks by the way (New Manchester Walks)? Ed Glinert


    1. Hi Ed, thank you for your kind comments I appreciate them! I’ve not had the opportunity to go on a walk yet, hopefully one day soon.


  6. Hi

    I can add to your history of Shakerley Old Hall … specifically tenant farmers unrtil 1947!

    I am also interested in your story of Paddy’s Hump … I see Marion Thomason regularly in church.

    do you have a connection to Tyldesley?? 2/3 of us produced a town trail around some of the historic township buildings for this year’s ‘Heritage Open Days’ … I can let you have a copy. We have a website and I’d like to link your articles if that is possible. we are also looking to relaunch a Tyldesley Historical (Hysterical?? ) society!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Thomas, I have loved reading your blog, I myself am Atherton born & bred & love to read about the history you have portrayed about our town. I also think I was at the same school as your Dad if he went to St Richards. It is great to know that someone is preserving our heritage in both the written & photographic form. Keep going & well done. Regards Angela

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Angela, thank you so much for your kind comments! It is lovely to hear feedback and to know my work is appreciated. My Dad thinks he remembers you too, he’s not sure if you’re also the same Angela who lived on Weston Street?
      Thanks again!


  8. Fascinated to read your accounts of familiar places in the town I left forty years ago. As a product of the area’s collieries and cotton mills and the old St George’s School, I look forward to reading much, much more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sandra, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog and hopefully its stirring up some memories of bygone times!


  9. hi Thomas

    nice one loved reading all about Atherton. things I didn’t even know it was a good Saturday afternoon spent reading it all many thanks for all your hard work
    do you know anything about wood end farm just off platt lane on the edge of hulton park when I was a kid we use to go in the woods there and a farmer fletcher lived there was wandering if he was family to the fletcher and burrows mine industry
    he was a bit of an eccentric
    thanks mick

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for you kind comments Mick. I’ve not done any research yet into the Hulton Estate but it’s on my to-do list. I’ll send a message when I find out more!


  10. Hi Thomas,

    I really enjoyed reading your piece about Paddy’s Hump. I have a question; where did you find the names of Harold and Ruth Bartlett? I was good friends with them back in the ’80s and always wondered what happened to them after they left Paddy’s Hump.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike,

      I found the names of Harold and Ruth Bartlett in the Electoral Registers for the 1980s. They’re held at Leigh Town Hall.


  11. Hi Tom,
    Great article about the bank house. It is myself and my cousin that is currently redeveloping it. We’ve been trying to find out its history for ages. It’s been a real interesting renovation. Coincidentally, yesterday, I sorted out the address issue with Wigan Council. The address for the left most building is now officislly 1 Church Street and the right most building (NatWest) is 1Market Place. We’d love to know if you managed to find pictures of any of those people. We have some amazing features in the building like a huge steel vault like the side of a ship. I can only imagine it was built around the same time as the Titanic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patrick,
      Thank you for your comment! I’m so glad that you’re saving and reusing these old buildings. I’m glad you found this history useful. I’ve not come across any old photographs of the former residents, but there’s plenty of old photographs of Market Place and of Atherton at Wigan Archives, Leigh Town Hall which might be handy. (although it’s temporarily relocated to Leigh Library)


  12. Can I share your piece about Strangeways Hall.love your research and article,love learning more about Manchester and I too love the fantastic old buildings we have,

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Just read this with great interest. My grandparents lived in Tyldesley. My grandfather was born in Cobden street, off Milk Street, now demolished. There was a family of 18 children who survived, more were born who didn’t. Before the second world war he bought Old Farmers, a farm down Common Lane. He was a coal man amongst many things and was well known in the town. He was known as Daffie Greenough and had magnificent cart horses.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I luckily happened across your articles on Little Ireland and another on lost burial grounds when doing research on my family tree. I would like to include excerpts from your article on the lost graveyard of St. John’s in Manchester on my Ancestry.com tree for my ancestor William Hillidge who was buried there in about 1814. I will give a link to your article and full credit for it to you.
    I also found the Little Ireland article very useful and interesting. I suspect my 2nd great grandfather lived there with his family.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dear Tom
    I have just found the very interesting articles you have shared especially Tyldesley and Atherton. I found the article about Dan Lane vey informative as I had no idea it was Tyldesley Road and the big white wall being only the remaining bit to be seen of the former spinning mill.
    The most interesting article which links to my family history research was the German Church on Wright St Chorlton Upon Medlock. My g.g.g.grandfather lived on Ducie Street . I have been researching the house and street where he lived, from the
    the building of his home to its demise under Devas St in the slum clearance.
    The fact was g.g.g.Grandfather was born in Prussia and the the census ‘ in 1871 and 1881 was a naturalized British Subject. His mother was German however his father was Scottish in the militia and 10 of the children were born in Germany.
    Neighbours on Ducie St were German, as other nationalities. M y g.g..g. Grandfather was an engineer as well as being an inventor.
    Thanks Tom

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anne,
      Thank you for your kind comments. I’m glad you found the articles interesting and it is great to hear about the link to your family history!


  16. I was fascinated to read your article on Little Ireland. My family arrived from Ireland to the area in 1850 and lived in and around Billington Street (where John Dalton carpark is now). It is a sad story, with my direct ancestor working as an india rubber worker / waterproofer at the local mill (probably Macintosh) before dying of bronchitus at only 28. They have strong connections with St Wilfrid’s church not far away and I’ve collated quite a lot of interesting info from that.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Have just tried to leave a comment on your article about Polly’s grave, but got the message “this reply could not be posted”. We drove past The Cock this morning, saw it is in the process of being demolished so stopped to take some photos. One of the workmen told us it is in the deeds that Polly’s grave must be left undisturbed. At the moment the headstone can’t be accessed as it is inside the compound, but we are hoping to get a picture of it once the demolition / building work is completed.

    Liked by 1 person

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