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Tom's Story

Editors Note:
The following address was given by Tom Sharp and his daughter Kate Gould on the occasion of the visit to St. Mary’s in May 2006 by Bishop Nigel as part of his Pilgrimage around all 386 parishes in the Manchester Diocese.
I believe that Tom and Kate’s address completely captures the fact that, although being part of ‘Suburbia’, Davyhulme is really a big village where generations have lived together, going to school together, going away to University and then returning to the village of Davyhulme to work, marry and raise their children there. This sense of continuity and belonging is one of the great strengths of the wonderful parish of St. Mary the Virgin, Davyhulme, in which we live.

Our Story - God’s Story

‘Recalling the Salvation History of God in our Parish’

The whole area of Davyhulme has a rich history dating back to the time when the Romans occupied Manchester, close to the River Irwell, at Castlefield.

The Romans also had an outpost on the River Irwell at Davyhulme. The brook, which can be seen behind the Brookedge Nursery on Woodhouse Road, was dug by the Romans to drain the Davyhulme district into the River Irwell.

In 1152, in the reign of Henry II, an area of land from what is now Cornhill Road to Gleneagles Road, bordered by Moorside Road in the south and Davyhulme Road in the north was given by Gilbert de Barton to John de Hulme. In this same area of land are situated today Trafford General Hospital, Davyhulme, Park Golf Course, our Parish Church and Vicarage and St. Mary’s Primary School.

Davyhulme is named after John de Hulme, whose family built Davyhulme Hall and who resided there for over six centuries from 1162 to 1765. The land and hall then passed briefly into the ownership of the Allen family from 1765 to 1788 when it was purchased by the Norreys’ family who resided at Davyhulme Hall until 1887. It is to the Norreys’ family that we at St. Mary’s owe so much and, in particular to Squire Bob Norreys who was born in 1813 and died in 1887.

The Norreys’ family established the first village school in Davyhulme in 1833. The original school building still stands on Davyhulme Road, the cream painted house opposite Knowsley Ave. This first village school was superseded in 1880 by the present St. Mary’s Day School on Cornhill Road, which for 10 years from 1880 to 1890 was used both s a school and as a Mission Church. Early baptisms are recorded as having taken place “in the parish of St. Catherine’s Barton, in the Mission Church at Davyhulme.”

The need for a permanent parish church in Davyhulme was becoming obvious and, in 1883, Squire Bob - that is Mr. Robert Henry Norreys, promised funds towards the endowment of a living. The Norreys’ family also gave 3,000 square yards of land for the site of the Church. Mrs. Isabella Bowers, the sister of Squire Bob, gave £2,000 in her will towards the church building fund. The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Davyhulme, was consecrated on 23rd June 1890.

Everything we at St. Mary’s are privileged to enjoy today has been passed down to us, by previous generations, over a very long period of time. Much has depended upon the commitment and generosity of those who have given so much and have now entrusted their bequest to us as good stewards. We are given the baton with responsibility to receive it, care for it and to pass it on o future generations.

When the Church was consecrated in 1890, the population of Davyhulme was only 1,326 and the village was consecrated on Davyhulme Lane the present Davyhulme Road. Today, the population the St. Mary’s parish along is nearly 10,000 and in the 1960’s our daughter church of Christ Church, on Lostock Road, at the eastern end of Davyhulme, was established to help cope with the spiritual needs of the people in that area.

In our parish, as in our country, our strength lies in the bonds of the family unit and a major responsibility we all have is in the maintenance of high educational and moral standards and promoting the family connections of St. Mary’s Church and Day School.

The building of the Church Hall, which is attached to the church and was opened in 1990 the churches centenary year, provided a major asset encouraging the pursuit of secular activities within the environs of the Church and making everybody feel welcome as part of the family of the Church.

Pre and post World War 2, many of the residents of Davyhulme worked in Trafford Park, at the time when it was the largest industrial complex in Europe. With the decline in manufacturing in the UK, the emphasis in Trafford Park has moved towards Warehousing and Distribution Services and Financial businesses and we now have the Trafford Centre on our doorstep.

Before television became a dominant influence in people’s lives, the Church was often the centre of social activities. The Mother’s Union and the Churchwomen’s Fellowship were actively supported by the ladies, whilst the Church Men’s Society enjoyed a large membership, organising pantomimes and entertainment. For the Youth of the parish, Eric Saxton (later to become Canon Eric Saxon and the Vicar of St. Ann’s in the Centre of Manchester), while curate at Davyhulme, formed COGS - Christians on God’s Service - which became a thriving youth club. Today, our local scouts, cubs, guides and brownies are all great influences for good.

The Sunday School, which for over 100 years met at Cornhill Road School, had well over 100 children attending regularly, being taught in several classes of about 10 children each, by a devoted band of Sunday School teachers, with a Sunday School Superintendent in charge. Today we have the Sunbeam’s, Footprint’s and Lazer’s who go into Church with their parents at the start of the 10.30 Sunday service before processing out to assorted ‘musical accompaniment’ to their teaching in the Church Hall.

My early memories are of walking to school in Cornhill Road and playing in the playground. On the day that war was declared in September 1939 we marched in lines around the playground, practicing to fight against the Germans.

I remember playing games with my cousin Donald McAlpine, who many of you may remember as a churchwarden, sidesman, PCC member and prominent performer in Church pantomimes, Don was quite a comedian.

The whole area around Woodhouse Road, Bent Lanes and Broadway was farmland and meadows. I recall many happy hours spent fishing in the brook and playing football and cricket. Davyhulme Road was still an unmade road beyond Barlow’s farm and we would pitch our stumps in the dirt of the unmade portion, whilst using the made-up road as the pitch, removing our stumps when the occasional motorist came past.

Progress and change are a continuing process and it is our responsibility to meet the challenges, going forward to pass on the baton into the hands of future generations.

Tom Sharp - May 2006


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