Sports, leisure and the Arts Wilbraham Road / Edge Lane Conservation Area

Origins and development

As in many of what are now Manchester's suburbs Chorlton-cum-Hardy was a rural area in the mid 19th century, with only one or two properties and the lanes of Edge Lane and Manchester Road in evidence.

Both are thought to have existed since the 15th century. The arrival of the railway at Stretford in 1849, allowing ready access to the city centre and the creation of the commuter, brought forward the development of the area for residential and associated uses.

The second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century saw a transformation in the character of the area, changing it from open fields to a built up suburban area, although many of the trees were retained and others planted.

It was during this time (1860) that the arterial route of Wilbraham Road was constructed across the area in an east-west alignment to a greater width and much higher specification than previously existing roads.

The 'single plot' development of houses progressed initially along Edge Lane and, by the 1860s had extended as far as St Clements Road.

Individual houses on their own plots were later supplemented by mainly semi-detached houses on Edge Lane, St Clements Road and Whitelow Road in addition to others at the junction of Wilbraham Road and Manchester Road, close to the new Lloyd and Platt Hotel (1870).

Most of the area was either developed or included in gardens of the developed areas by 1894. However, the frontage of Wilbraham Road had not, by then, been as well developed as Edge Lane, but much of the frontage was filled in by 1905.

A large area, now occupied by numbers 619 to 645 Wilbraham Road and a row of shops opposite the Lloyd and Platt Hotel was developed between 1894 and 1905. The primary school on St Clements Road was also built between these dates, although much altered later.

The last two areas to be developed, after 1923, was a site on the north side of Wilbraham Road, later to be numbered 540 and 550, and a site on Manchester Road next to the Methodist Church.

The southern extremity of the area is noticeably different in the character of its built form than the majority of the area. Here narrow-fronted terrace properties, separated from each other by a natural stone surfaced narrow alley, face St Clements Road and Whitelow Road.

These houses display clear architectural details from the Georgian period (probably 1800 to 1830), with ornate fanlights over what would have been six-panelled doors, dentils, diamond patterned square topped chimney pots, and subdivided vertical sliding sash windows.

The original dished stone surfaced alley connecting St Clements Road with Whitelow Road and located behind the Horse and Jockey Public House is a remarkably rare and intact survival from an earlier age.

This small area is probably more appropriately related to the previously designated Chorlton Green conservation area.

Prevailing and former uses within the area
Rural lanes and farmland dominated the area until the mid 19th century. Residential uses and supporting facilities such as shops, places of worship, hotels and schools were established in the latter half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century.

Although still residential in use, the construction of apartment blocks and the conversion of existing buildings to apartments in the late 20th century, have contributed to a change in the character of the area.

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