Maine Road’s Name

On this day (25 August) in 1923 Manchester City’s Maine Road Stadium opened. In 2003 I wrote “Farewell To Maine Road” and at that time I revealed that the actual street Maine Road had originally been known as Dog Kennel Lane.  The name ‘Maine Road’ did not appear on maps until the 1870s.  At that time I questioned why the new name had been selected and how.  I outlined a few theories – one focused on Mancunian soldiers who, together with members of the prominent Lloyd family, had volunteered for war in America and could possibly have fought in Maine – but I admitted:  “all of this is pure conjecture, but it is known that Lloyd Street was named after the family, and it is clear the renaming of a road during this period was a very deliberate act and there must have been a reason.  It would be entertaining to discover where the original ‘Dog Kennel Lane’ got its name.”

I also claimed to have found the earliest reference to Maine Road in a newspaper – November 1904, the Manchester Guardian

Since that time, after much detailed research I have the answer to both the questions:  How did Maine Road get its name & Where did the name Dog Kennel Lane come from?  I have also tracked down earlier references to Maine Road in newsprint.

So, here’s the truth…

The Maine Road name was indirectly named after the US State of Maine but that this was, in itself, a compromise.  The road was almost to be called ‘Demesne Road’ (pronounced Demain) after a farm positioned slightly south of where the Maine Road Stadium would eventually be built.  The local authority did not want that, so in the end Maine Road was agreed.  It ultimately had more significance as the following newspaper article shows:

“Dog Kennel Lane took its name from the kennel where hounds were kept.  It stood on the right hand side at the bend about a thousand yards from Moss Lane, opposite to the road which tracked off to the left and led to Demesne Farm.  The common name of this lane is so ‘common’ and unattractive that when the Temperance Company bought the Trafford land they asked the local board to change the name to Demesne Road, and the subject was compromised by calling it Maine Road out of compliment to the Temperance principles of the petitioners.”

It’s important to explain this.  The Temperance movement had been growing since the 1850s and, as with so many other areas, Manchester played a lead role.  The idea of the movement was to discourage people from drinking alcohol.  After a series of campaigns of voluntary abstinence failed in the States the Temperance movement changed its approach.   

On 2nd June 1851 the State of Maine passed the first recognised prohibition law, and two years later the United Kingdom Alliance was founded in Manchester, calling itself a legitimate political party and pledging to badger Parliament to outlaw liquor in England.

The ‘Temperance Company’ mentioned in the article was actually part of the movement and had bought some land at the top of Dog Kennel Lane – this area is covered today by the buildings on the western side of Maine Road, close to the junction with Moss Lane East, and stretching to Princess Road.  They wanted to create a better standard of living and within that area they erected buildings in keeping with their approach to life, such as the Temperance Billiard Hall.  However, the ‘Dog Kennel Lane’ name was clearly an issue and so the selection of the name ‘Maine Road’ was made.  Maine, due to the State’s role in the Temperance movement, was a significant name.

So the name Maine Road does not refer to the American War of Independence but it does refer to the US State and the part that Maine played in the Temperance movement.

Initially, only the top section of the road was renamed but gradually as housing was developed southwards the new name replaced Dog Kennel Lane.  

My research has also managed to identify earlier information on the land that ultimately became City’s ground.  The land was owned by the Chadwick family, sometimes they were referred to as the Chaddock family.  In 1760 all of the Maine Road ground site, plus most of the area east of Dog Kennel Lane/Maine Road down to Demesne Farm and across to Heald Place was part of ‘Chadwick’s Tenement’ – described as 49.5 Lancashire acres of farm land.

The family were believed to have owned this land from around 1500 to the early 1800s.  By 1857 the land was owned by someone called Mr Broadie but within the following few years areas were sold off until by 1903 all that was left was a farm house, Moss Grove Farm, on the corner of Moss Lane East and Maine Road.  That was demolished shortly afterwards and by 1910 terraced housing covered the site.

The earliest media reference to Maine Road identified to date is 3rd January 1903 in the Manchester City News, but the road was marked on maps before this time.

Film of Maine Road’s Opening

On this day (25 August) in 1923 Manchester City’s Maine Road Stadium staged its first game. Here is film of that landmark day in Manchester’s sporting history…

Olympic Blues

Today I’m taking a look at links between City and Olympic gold winning medallists, in particular I’m focusing on City star Max Woosnam and Manuel Estiarte, a member of Pep’s staff.

This article is available to subscribers to my site. Subscribing costs £20 a year and subscribers have full access to everything posted on the site, including audio interviews with John Bond, Malcolm Allison, George Graham and others, plus the entire text of Manchester A Football History and a PDF of my first book From Maine Men to Banana Citizens. You can always try it out by subscribing £3 per month and cancel at any time. No matter whether you sign up for a year or a month at a time you get full access to everything for as long as you are a subscriber.

Anyway, here’s the article…

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Historic Name That Ground – Today’s Answer

Earlier today I asked ‘Can you name the ground featured in the image above?’ Well, the answer is…

Manchester City’s Maine Rd stadium being built in 1922. This end was the Scoreboard End/later North Stand original terracing being constructed, looking towards Maine Road itself. Note the church in the top right corner – that was replaced by the MCFC Social club and shop in 1966.

Starting Monday for the next few weeks I’ll be posting one image of a football ground taken in the past each week. Some will be easy (believe it or not there are some grounds that have not changed much in all those decades!), others not so. You’ll be able to post your view in comments at the bottom of each page.

The following Friday I’ll post the answer.

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Billy Meredith’s Last Game: 1924 FA Cup Semi

On this day (29th March) in 1924 Manchester City faced Newcastle United in the FA Cup semi-final. Not only that but the game was to be the last competitive game played by City’s legendary winger Billy Meredith. Meredith’s Manchester career began in 1894 when he joined City.

Here for subscribers is the story of that game, plus a contemporary match report and links to a film of Meredith’s last game. Enjoy!

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A National Crowd Record Set in 1924

Manchester City had moved to their new Maine Road stadium in August 1923. The capacity of the venue was estimated at around 90,000 but was actually around about 83,000 when the stadium opened (it was enlarged in 1931 and 1935). The move had been anticipated for almost 25 years as the club’s old 40,000 capacity ground at Hyde Road was always viewed as being too small and cramped.

In the new stadium’s first season a decent FA Cup run allowed Maine Road to prove its value as the Blues sought to reach Wembley for the first time (Wembley had been built by the same people as Maine Road, but the London stadium had been criticised extensively at this time for poor crowd management and other issues).

The quarter-final tie was to be played at home to First Division high flyers Cardiff City.  The prospect of the match excited everyone.  Cardiff “The Pride Of Wales” against Billy Meredith “The Footballing Prince Of Wales” was how one journalist described it – Meredith was 49 and had returned to City’s first team (meaning he was the only man to play home games at Hyde Road, Bank Street, Old Trafford and Maine Road).

The prospect of Meredith taking City to Wembley excited Manchester, while thousands of Welsh supporters were also eager to see the game. This was a game that was expected to test the capacity of the new venue – the Cardiff fans paid rail fare of 21s 2d day return.  Some had travelled through the night, with a long wait at Shrewsbury, while others had stayed at Manchester’s best hotels.  According to one report a few Cardiff supporters had booked rooms at the Midland, the Queen’s, and at least fifty rooms at the Grand Hotel.

Many of these Welsh fans arrived at Maine Road and started queuing a full five hours before kick-off.  By 12.30 the club decided to open the turnstiles thirty minutes earlier than normal to avoid crowd control problems later.  There were also around 150 policemen in the ground, persuading supporters to move from the most congested areas of the popular side (later known as the Kippax).  

One report concentrated on the size of the crowd and the prospect of whether capacity would be reached.  It stated that early indications suggested that the crowd would be huge, but that Maine Road would not be full.  It’s reporter also witnessed an activity that many people say occurred at many grounds, but few can prove:  “Room was made for the foolish late-comers, and in a little while the congestion was so great that boys were extricated from the mass and rolled over the heads of the spectators in order that they might find sanctuary inside the concrete wall.”

The official attendance was in fact 76,166, with receipts of £4,909, proving the value of City’s new stadium.  This was an English national record for any game on a club ground (and for any game played outside of Glasgow and London) and was beaten in 1934 when City once again enjoyed a record breaking crowd at Maine Road. This means that City have held this record since 1924!

The game ended goalless – despite City’s superstitious wearing of scarlet (yes – scarlet!) as at Brighton in an earlier round – with Meredith unable to keep up with the speed of the game at times.  Even so, he was still one of the better players on the pitch and his tactical awareness was much needed.

City won the replay but were defeated in the semi final. Two years later they did however become the first of the Manchester sides to play at Wembley Stadium.

You can read about the attendance that brought this record (again by City at Maine Road) here:

Other record crowd articles can be seen here:

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Manchester City V Brighton – The Story And Film Of The First Ever Meeting

Tomorrow (13th January 2021) Manchester City and Brighton meet in the Premier League. So far there have only been 24 games between the two clubs with the first coming in 1924. This game was a newsworthy FA Cup tie due to the return of a legend to the City team. In fact it was so newsworthy that a movie company sent their camera (you’ll see from the footage it never moved!) to Brighton’s Goldstone Ground to capture the return of a true Blue hero.

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