As I wrote in my last post, unfortunately I’ve had to prune a few images and interviews from my edit for the forthcoming show at the Astley Cheetham Gallery. I’ve done this on the basis mainly of the images being weaker than the others – though other considerations come into play too like the general mix across the edit of things like age and gender and wanting to get a mix of shop and resident participants into the show. Also, I had too many shots of people on allotments. I don’t want to have wasted people’s time though so want to share them here.
“I live in Glossop, in Hadfield, now but I came to Stalybridge in 1957 from Ireland, aged 15. My father had a massive heart attack at the age of 40 and had his own business but couldn’t carry on. My aunt lived in Millbrook so I came to live with her for 12 months and then when my dad was well enough the family emigrated over here. Back then married women weren’t allowed to work in Ireland, so we had to leave. My mum found a job at the hospital as a nursing auxiliary but my father never worked again, he wasn’t fit enough.
These allotments [Mottram Road] were a lifesaver during Covid. My husband took an allotment here in 2007, he was an organic gardener but unfortunately, I didn’t take it what he told me. Since he died eight years ago, I’ve had to manage. I live alone but during Covid we were allowed to spend time on our allotments, which meant we could talk to people from a safe distance and not feel so isolated.”
“I’m from Runcorn originally, I came here via Leigh and moved here when I was about nine and have been local ever since. My mum and dad bought a fish and chip shop in Stalybridge, it was on the high street. It’s gone a long time ago.
Everywhere used to be a borough – Denton, Stalybridge, Ashton, Hyde, Droylsden. All of a sudden Tameside came in and they all came under that and eventually they all got ruined, all the markets started to go down. Stalybridge indoor market used to be great, the building is still there – a wonderful building. The town hall was knocked down, the dance floor was meant to be one of the best in the North West. Marvellous building, the police station was next door. They shut that down and built another one near Tesco and that wasn’t open for long and then they closed it. Now the windows are broken and there’s graffiti everywhere.”
“I grew up in Denton, lived here for 27 years and now live in Mossley. I’ve had an allotment here for about eight years. When I was in my mid-20s I worked for Tameside Leisure Services. I moved here in part because this place is close to the countryside. I spent a lot of time bouldering and climbing with friends back then and there’s a lot of that about, it’s so close to the Peaks.
Stalybridge itself has gone through a few changes – some for the better and some for the worse. There’s no market these days but there are a few more cafés and craft beer bars now. The Station Buffet Bar is popular with people who do the ale trail and has great character. If you’re in there and hear a train coming, you need to get to the bar quick before the rush!
The people around here are down to earth. It’s only a few miles from Denton, where I grew up, but people here almost speak a different language. When I first moved here I often couldn’t tell what people were saying – there was such a distinct local dialect – but I think that’s fading now.”
Claire Bebbington (with Archie)
“I’m from Ashton but my partner works in Stalybridge so I come to Cheetham Park quite a lot to walk my dog, Archie. I also have a son who has special needs and this park is really accessible and there’s some nice nature trails. I think the buildings are nicer here than in Ashton. I prefer it, there’s more heritage and more independent shops – in Ashton it’s all pound shops and is too commercialised.”