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.