Old Hyde

Old Hyde
Pole Bank 1910 ----------------------------------------------------------Town Hall 1937 --------------------------------------------- Cenotaph 1990

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Burley Key's Sundial

In March 2010 I published a photograph of Haughton Green Post Office at the top of Gibraltar Lane.

The post generated much comment regarding Burley Key who lived down the lane.

One commentator wrote
"I remember that post office in the late 1960s and 1970s when it had wooden doors, and roll-down security shutters were nearly unheard of. I bought National Savings stamps in there when I was 10 to save up for a play tent that I couldn't put up at home on the council estate because we had no garden but I played with it in Haughton Dale. Gibraltar Lane dipped steeply down and went to dirt after only a couple of hundred yards. On the left as the lane drops away out of sight was a house occupied by a local identity called Burley Key. His house had a high thick hedge round it and a wooden bench he'd made sat in a cutout of the hedge facing the lane. Carved in the back of the bench was 'Coom sit tha down and rest thy sen, it winna cost thee owt'. An invitation to people walking back up the steep hill, it was a written version of the broad local dialect Mr Key still spoke. As a child I could barely understand a word he said though my mother would stop and have conversations with him on our walks up and down 'Gib' Lane. Oh - it meant 'come sit down and rest yourself, it won't cost you anything'. Thanks again for the memories!"
Another wrote
"Burley Key was my great uncle. I used to love visiting his house with my mum. It was full of such interesting things for a youngster like me. Mum told me that Uncle Burley built his house using second hand bricks from the blitzed areas or Manchester. He and his wife (May?) cleaned all the bricks by hand for ages before work could start. Haven't been down Gibraltar lane for years. Must pop down sometime. I still have a handmade bird table he gave my mum, with hand cut miniature tiles on the roof. Very precious to me."
Paul Key wrote to say
"I'm Burleys great grandson and have a picture hung in my house of that very bird house and him and my dad looking at it. I have also heard the story of his house from my dad but I thought that it was made from the bricks from the mill at the bottom of gib lane"
Paul has now sent me a copy of the photograph. He wrote
"The sundial was made for a raffle at the church and this picture was in the newspaper in an article about the raffle. The sundial was made from salvaged bricks from gib lane mill. The older man is Burley Key, the child that is the closest to the bottom of the picture is my dad, John Key and the other child I have asked my dad about many times before and he has no idea who he is. I'm not too sure when it was taken but at a guess, around 1971. Also I'm not sure which house on gib lane it was but I think it's about half way up the lane."
I was by the top of Gibraltar Lane recently and took a new view of Haughton Green Village Post Office which can be seen on Hyde Daily Photo.


  1. Margaret Smethurst6 June 2013 at 00:31

    Manchester evening news Oct 26th 1967 tells that the sundial which was auctioned on Halloween at St Mary's School was made from fragments of glass from the banks of the river Tame at Mill Lane, at Glasshouse Fold, the site Burley discovered of the Flemish Glassworkers

  2. Margaret Smethurst6 June 2013 at 21:35

    have just read Paul Keys comments and the other child is Johns playmate Peter Latham aged 6 also of Gibraltar Lane.

  3. does anyone know what the school was called that used to be on gib lane, all I know is that it was there in the 1920`s. it is now number 29, my daughter has recently moved in and is curious to find out about it.


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