Davenport Railway Station

Davenport History

Index to History features

The Post Office and Stationery shop at 219 Bramhall Lane has has served the residents of Davenport for well over a century. This feature explores its history, and some of its neighbours, as well as some of the people who lived and worked there.

The map is from 1910, with No. 219, the Post Office, marked in red.

The buildings between 205 and 235 Bramhall Lane, Davenport (or Cale Green some would say) were not built as the shopping area we see today; they were all originally private houses, built in the 1890s on a plot of land which had probably once been owned by the Davenports of Bramall Hall, but by that time part of the estate the  owner was the Earl of Dundonald, heir to the Bamford Hesketh family.

These houses were followed, on the remainder of the plot, by the long streets, Winifred and Countess Streets, named after the wife of the Earl.  after see our feature 'Who was Winifred'.

The houses were built by the firm William Winbolt, who also built for himself, a pair of larger house, No. 205 and  207,  'Edale', separated from no. 209 by the opening of what became Winifred Road.  William Winbolt himself, and his family, were the first residents of No. 207. Another pair of larger houses was constucted at the other end of the row, on the corner of Kennerley Road, nos. 233 and 235.  (235 was the home of William Henry Archbutt, head brewer at Bell's brewery, Hempshaw Lane, who sadly died in 1915, aged 54, while serving in Egypt as a Major in the Territorial Army.)

A 1902 directory shows all the houses in the terrace clearly as family homes, but eventually all became shops or bank branches; initially many of the shopkeepers lived 'above the shop', but in later years the upper floors were mostly let as flats or offices to others, or used for storage, the shopkepers living in houses, mostly not too far away.

All the original buildings survive, but have been changed in verious ways for their new role, such as combining, and/or extensions into available space to the back or side. Not immediately obvious to passers-by is the fact that the frontages of the two terraces have been connected by a brick infill, which can be detected in the brickwork between 221 and 223, and the small gap at roof height.

Early days at No.219

The residents of No. 219 in 1901 were of some interest: they were Stockport-born Phoebe Taylor (aged 84) and her 47-year-old son Albert. Phoebe was the widow of Samuel Taylor, born in Warburton, Cheshire, who was the last farmer of 61-acre Mile End Farm, which after being sold for development in the 1870s by the Davenport family became the Davenport Park private estate, The Crescent and nearby streets.

The census Samuel and Phoebe had tried their hand living  in the United States for a while, as both their children were born there, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1850s. However by 1861 they were back in England, at Orrish Mere Farm in Cheadle, commemorated by the present Orrishmere Road, and by 1871 had taken on Mile End Farm. Samuel died in the 1880s, and by 1891 Phoebe and her daughter were living at 174 Bramhall Lane South. It's likely that they moved to 219 Bramhall Lane when it was new.

Albert Taylor appears to have sought his fortune in South Africa, as when recorded with his mother at 219 Bramhall Lane in 1901 he gives his occupation as 'Transvaal Refugee' - someone who has returned to England to escape the Boer War, possibly having lost his farm to the Boers.

Phoebe died in 1904, and by 1907 no. 219 had become a shop - a draper's shop run (according a street directory) by Edith Jane Stubbs, born Edith Jane Newton in 1881, who in 1903 had married a butcher, George Stubbs. She was one of the nine children of John Newton, who ran a general store converted from three houses in Higher Brinksway, Stockport. Edith had experience of shop work as she had worked as assistant in her father's establishment. She had a child aged 6 by 1911, which makes us wonder if the 1907 directory entry was out-of-date. 

We don't know if their was another occupier before the Cowpes arrived in 1909 (see main article).

All the houses in the 209-221 half of the row had become shops 1909. We conjecture that all were bought by the grocery firm of John Williams and Sons, who had them converted to a row of shops, trading in nos. 209-211 and renting the rest to other shopkeepers, on the basis that other shops nearby selling non-grocery items would help their own trade. Land Registry records  show that postmaster Alfred Victor Cowpe purchased no. 219 from John Williams and Sons in 1920, having run the Post Office there for some years previously.

The 223-235 row remained as houses in 1902, but this was not to last.

The shops over the years

The extracts from Kelly's directories for 1902 - 1934 may not be accurate.

Bramhall Lane, 1902

205 Burslem, Emma
207 Winbolt, William. Builder
209 Bond, George.  Gardener
211 Owen, John. Bricksetter
213 Barker, Octo. Bookkeeper
215 Hague, C. Arthur. Clerk
217 Lees, William. Drysalter
219 Taylor, Phoebe
221 Unsworth, William
223 Ashurst, Harriet
225 Edge, J. Electrician
227 Page, Ellen Ann
229 Brown, John Fenton
231 Marshall, Eliza
233 Bell, James.
235 Archbutt, William Henry

Bramhall Lane 1907

207 [209?] Williams, John & Sons, Grocers
213 Smith, John E. Butcher
215 Lysons, E. Confectioner
217 Harding & Hall. Fruiterers
219 Stubbs, Edith Jane. Draper
221 Dawson, Richard. Boot Repairer
223 Ashurst, Harriet.
225 Etchells, S. Stonemason
227 Boase, F G. A.R.C.A.
229 Allen, James.
231 Miller, Mrs
233 Moor, William Thomas
235 Archbutt, William Henry. Brewer

Bramhall Lane, 1910

207 [?209-211] Williams, John & Sons, Grocers
213 Smith, John E. Butcher
215 Lysons, E. Confectioner
217 Fielding, Henry. Fruiterer
219 Cowpe, J W [?A V]. Stationer Draper &c.
221 Dawson, Richard. Boot Repairer
223 Lord and Chamberain. Decorators
225 Etchells, S. Stonemason
227 Bohllen and Co.
229 Allen, James.
231 Miller, Mrs
233 Moor, William Thomas
235 Archbutt, William Henry. Brewer

Bramhall Lane 1934

205 Ringham,  Wm. Kenworthy, boot maker
207 Johnson, Edith & Catherine Elizabeth (Misses), drapers
[1938: Wright A. Baker]
209-211 Williams John & Sons Ltd grocers 
213 Fay, Madame, hairdresser.
215 Tynan James. Vincent, cycle agent.
217 Fielding Herbert.  Fruiterer / Greencrocer.
219 Cowpe Albert Victor, stationer & sub-post office,
221 unknown [1938: Gatley, W. Butcher]
223-225 Bayley, H. boot & shoe dealer.
223 Burgess Elsie (Miss), ladies' hairdresser. ['Maison Elma']
227 Pilgrim, A. E. draper
229-231 Williams Deacon's Bank Limited
233 Austin, Albert. Confectioner
235 Burgons Ltd. grocers & provision dealers

Bramhall Lane 1951

(From electoral register, includes residents but not lock-up shops)

205 Ringham, William Kenworthy & family [boot maker]
207 ?
207a Antrobus, Francis H
213 Heywood, Susan and Thomas Heywood [hairdresser]
217 Fielding, Herbert, Any & Reginald [greencrocer]
219 Grimshaw, George & Evelyn [post office]
221 Barnes, Osborne & Alice
223 Bayley, Roland & Thelma
227 Smith, Harry & Enid
229 (flat over) Macdonnell Kenneth & Norah
233 Turner, Clifford & Doris

Bramhall Lane 1965
(from Telephone directories)

205 Fleming, F A. Boot and shoe retailer
207 ?
209-211 Williams, John & Sons, Grocer
213 Freda  (Heywood, Susan). Ladies' Haidresser
215 Judith, Ladies' Wear
217 Uschi (?)
219 Post Office
221 Royle (Butchers) Ltd
223 Richards. Hair Stylists
225 Bayley's boot and shoe retailers
227 Smith H.E & E.W Chemist
229-231 Williams & Glyn's Bank
233 Siddle, Mrs Winifred M. Confectioner
235 Burgons grocers (?)

Bramhall Lane 2016

205 Coral Bookmakers
207 Defra charity shop
209-213 Spar grocery
215 Halo Hairdressing
217 Direct Dry Cleaning
219 Post Office
221 Bowlings Butcher
223-225 Bargain Booze
227 Badged by Davenport, school outfitters
229-231 Royal Bank of Scotland
233 Sun Spot tanning
235 Divine Hair and Beauty

Thanks for help with this feature to the staff of Stockport Local Studies Library, and to Sue Bailey for her father's photographs.

Contributions are very welcome at at info@davenportstation.org.uk

Davenport Post Office: A century-old business

Albert Victor Cowpe was born in Haslingden, Lancashire on 23 May 1979. Albert was the second son of James Cowpe, also a Haslingden native, who was manager of a cotton mill there. Albert married Sarah Ann Taylor, a cotton weaver, of Haslingden in 1909. Soon after their marriage, they came to Davenport and took on the shop and 219 Bramhall Lane as their home and business. The 1911 census describes Albert as a stationer, but he was also sub-postmaster as a 1910 directory shows:
DAVENPORT is a residential suburb of Stockport, Post & M[oney] O[rder] Ofce. — A. V. Cowpe, sub-postmaster Letter Box. cleared at 8.30 & 11 a.m. & 12.15, 3.15, 5.15, 8 & 8.50 p.m.
We don't know the date of the picture above, or why it was taken, although we might assume that the people are Mrs Cowpe and an assistant. The nameboard seems a little faded, so it may not be at the time of opening. It's noticeable that Drapery and Fancy Goods are part of the range, including 'Hercules Overalls', and an agency for Pullar's of Perth, to whom clothing could be sent for dying or dry cleaning. Pullar's had thousands of agents around the UK who would send clothing by parcels post. 'Capstan' cigarette advertising can also be spotted in the window, and postcards take up much of the display.

Perhaps it was taken around 1920, when Mrs Cowpe would be aged 40. Richard Dawson, Boot Repairer, whose shop can be glimpsed next door at no. 221, was in business from 1907 to 1914 and probably beyond. At No. 217 in 1914 was Herbert Fielding, fruiterer, and the fruit in the shop window seem to confirm that.

This old postcard shows the period scene in peaceful Bramhall Lane,showing the row of shops. The intricate window display of the Post Office, and the pillar box on the pavement outside,can be discerned, as can the large shop of John Williams and Sons at the far end.

This evocative view from a postcard dated 1914 shows John Williams & Sons' ornate frontage on 211-213 to good effect. The 'Pullars of Perth' sign from the heading picture, and the higher nameboard, locate the Post Office. The uniform appearance of the other shops reinforces the idea that that were all converted at the same time an behalf of John Williams & Sons.

The view above, updated to 1989 in one of a series of pictures taken by Philip Bradley, capturing Davenport at a time when few cared about recording local history. No. 213 has been merged with 209-211.

The same view in 2014.

By the early 1930s, the Cowpes were still running the post office, and Fielding's still sold fruit, but 221 had become a butcher's shop, and has remained a butcher's until 2016. By 1939 the Cowpes had retired to the seaside, at 108 Radcliffe Road, Fleetwood, where they are recorded in the National Register; living with them were two schoolgirls, Sheila Cohen and Kathleen Rose, two of the many children who were evacuated from cities at the start of the Sedond World War.   Their comfortable house, nor far from the sea, still exists: along the opposite side of Radcliffe Road runs the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramway.  In 1939 Albert was described as an 'invalid.' He died in 1954 aged 75, and Sarah died in 1958.

A later sub-postmaster we have been able to trace is Arthur Shirley, born in Stockport in 1887; in 1911 he was living in Countess Street, a short walk from the Post Office, and working as a 'Tailor's Cutter'. He married in 1913 Elizabeth Webb, also born in 1887, and by 1934 the Electoral Register lists them living and working at No. 219. Elizabeth's father lived in Wellington Grove, Stockport and was foreman in a felt hat works. She was working as a 'Tailoress'  cutter in 1911, so perhaps they met at work.  Both were natives of Stockport, but where they lived between their marriage and when and how they took on the Post Office has so far eluded our research.

The 1951 Electoral Register for No. 219 shows George and Evelyn Grimshaw, who were still there in 1966. Above is a detail (over-) enlargement from a postcard printed around 1960. The John Williams & Sons grocery at 209 and 211 had seemingly not yet expanded to incorporate no. 213. What was behind that now-lost, rather showy, frontage? A laides' hairdresser, it seems. The Post Office is obscured because it does not have its sun-shade down, but the pillar box with its oval sign on top can be made out. and Williams Deacon's Bank seems to sport a flagpole,  No. 215 was by then a ladies' wear shop called 'Judith' which operated for many years.

This Bullock Brothers postcard from about 1902 shows, on the right, the houses which became John Williams and Sons shop, and in 2016 our Spar supermarket. Beyond is No. 207 'Edale' - the name plaque on the side can still be seen today. These old cards frequently include policemen.

The shop frontage had not changed a great deal when photographed by local photography enthusiast Philip Bradley c.1988, although the nameboard, which must have partially blocked the upstairs windows, had been re-located downwards. The ornate Edwardian window-frames were still in place, and the pillar box was still there, although perhaps in a slightly differerent position.

By the time we took this view in 2014 there had been a major facelift to the frontage, and a cash machine has appeared.  A copy of the Edwardian picture can be spotted in the window to the left.

In 2016 the Post Office re-branded itself as a WH Smith Local' and continues to serve the community on the original site. The picture shows local MP Ann Coffey with sub-postmaster Mandip Athwal celebrating the improvements in March 2016.

Comments welcome at info@davenportstation.org.uk