The old home town and although the card is ‘dated’ 1942 when it was posted this shows a pre-WW2 scene of the then prosperous Lancashire manufacturing town and of Drake St, one of the borough’s principal shopping streets. I’d say mid-1930s as although the word ‘Tramways" appears on the illuminated sign on the lamppost, the overhead and a lot of tram track has gone and they had been scrapped in 1932. Halfway down is what I’m sure is a Rochdale Corporation bus – several other operators vehicles could have been seen here on joint services but the blind layout looks Rochdale. Equally there’s no sign of wartime bands painted on curbs or posts to aid in the blackout that was to come. The street lighting are mostly early examples of Wardle’s sodium street lighting that the council were very enthusiastic about from the 1930s onwards. On the right is one of the cast iron road number repeater signs that were common in the town – this being for the A627 that used to run north – south through east Lancashire. I think this one has gone but at Sudden, in the town, one for the A58 still survives.
There’s a lot of shops I remember from my childhood in the 1960s – Orrell’s furniture shop on the left, a further up, the ‘Savoy Cafe’. The dome on the left, on the corner of Water St, marks the site of the Co-op’s "Fashion Corner". Two other tower/domes appear – the larger is that of the Champness Hall, the Methodist Mission in the town, and lower can be seen the marvellous upper story of the well-known store Iveson’s. Sadly, in the decades long decline of Drake St, this building when derelict collapsed and so the street lost another feature. The store seen here as Butterworth’s the jewellers survived ib business until a few years ago and indeed is still standing although vacant. The row of shops on the lower section of Drake St included the "UCP Restaurant" – otherwise known as the United Cattle Products tripe shop; one of a large Manchester based chain who yes, produced parts from cattle! Lea-Scott opticians were another chain – but opposite and dominating this section of the street was the Wellington Hotel. The fortunes of the Wellington have risen and fallen over the last 80 years but the building is currently back in use. The story of this street is very typical of many UK retail streets over the years and very topical. Drake St now with tram track back in use, is virtually derelict and a sorry sight. The local authority is trialling a national Heritage Action Zone approach, amongst other schemes, to try to breathe some life back into this approach to the town and we can only wish them good luck.
Tagged: , Rochdale , postcard , c1935 , Drake St , Mike Ashworth Collection , old signs , Wellington Hotel , Orrell’s furnishings , Savoy Cafe , Champness Hall , Iveson’s shop , Fashion Corner , Water St , UCP tripe shop , Lea-Scott opticians , Rochdale Corporation Transport bus , Wardle street lights , Butterworth’s Jewellers , old cars , pedestrians , United Cattle Products , cyclist , motor cyclist , A627 , road signs , old street lighting , Bass Beer advertising