Archive | February, 2014

mancheter superstore cheetham hill

25 Feb

Wonderfully vibrant painting Stephen. Love the colours and great to see some of Cheetham Hill rich architectural heritage gems being captured. Be nice to see them fully restored. Some amazing gems in the area.

Studio Diary

MANCHESTER SUPERSTORE

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Municipal Housing in Manchester before 1914: tackling ‘the Unwholesome Dwellings and Surroundings of the People’

23 Feb

Loved the Municipal Housing in Manchester post. I know many of these buildings very well and it made for a great read.

Municipal Dreams

Manchester has been described as the ‘shock city’ of the Industrial Revolution and if you lived in Ancoats it was, indeed, pretty shocking.  Ancoats was the world’s first industrial suburb – factories and workshops cheek by jowl with mean terraces of back-to-back working-class housing and courts.

Ancoats in 1895 Ancoats in the 1870s

In 1889, a report by Dr John Thresh on 36 acres lying off Oldham Rd detailed 25 streets, many less than 17ft wide, and housing, mostly over 70 years old.  The area contained over 50 courts; one third of houses were back-to-back.   A death rate of over 80 per 1000 led to his dry statistical conclusion that ‘3000 to 4000 people [were] dying annually here in Manchester from remediable causes. (1)

The City Council declared it an ‘Unhealthy Area’ and determined to clear and rebuild.  A total of 1250 people were displaced and 239 dwellings demolished.

Manchester City Council had…

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Uncovering fashionable Georgian London in Vauxhall

23 Feb

What a charming building. Love the windows.

Past In The Present

Tucked away in Vauxhall down a poky alley behind the Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners – London’s German pub – there are two small cottages that have stood the test of time. While much of Georgian heritage in the area has been swept away during the rapid urbanisation of the 19th century, these properties have survived. One is just a room deep and the lady who lives there pops her head out the door to tell us that is was built in 1710 or 1715. It was once one of a row of four cottages, but now just two survive – the other being larger and dating from the 1770s.

IMG_1017 Hidden 18th century cottages

Given that the area changed so much during Victorian times, with the construction of back-to-back terrace houses, factories, workhouses, ragged schools and other public buildings, it’s amazing the quirky properties survive. They hark back to before…

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Culcheth Rose Queen of 1950

22 Feb
Culcheth Rose Queen Day 1950. Courtesy Margaret Cowan-Young.

Culcheth Rose Queen Day 1950. Image courtesy Margaret Young (Cowan).

Culcheth Rose Queen Day 1950. Courtesy Margaret Cowan-Young.

Culcheth Rose Queen Day 1950. Image courtesy Margaret Young (Cowan) .

This is a photograph of the Culcheth Rose Queen Day in 1950, taken in Culcheth Hall.

Culcheth Hall in the background and its boundary wall in the foreground in 1909.

Culcheth Hall in the background and its boundary wall in the foreground in 1909. Image courtesy D. Dillon.

Culcheth Hall stood to the east of Culcheth Lane, alongside the River Medlock in township of Newton (later Newton Heath) and was owned by the Byron family (of which the major Romantic poet Lord Byron was a member).

The Byron family owned among other properties, the nearby 15th century moated Clayton Hall, currently owned by Manchester City Council. The Grade II* building is maintained by the voluntary group, Friends of Clayton Park

15th century Clayton Hall.

15th century Clayton Hall. Image courtesy P. Stanley.

Little Sisters of the Poor (aka Little Sisters), originally a Roman Catholic religious institute for women, ran a Home for the Aged from Culcheth Hall, known as St. Mary’s. It closed in 1972 and was demolished (do you know the date?) some time after.

The Little Sisters had been at Culcheth Hall since at least the 4th May 1897, when they obtained certification for Culcheth Hall as a place of worship. Culcheth Hall ceased to be a place of worship on 8th October 1976 under the Places of Religious Worship Certifying Act 1852 and Places of Worship Registration Act 1855.

There is still one house of the order remaining in Manchester called St Joseph’s Nursing Home on Plymouth Grove West in Longsight. It was at St Joseph’s that the Little Sisters first started in Manchester.

Keeley Close. Image courtesy of J. Shaw.

Keeley Close in Newton Heath. Image courtesy J. Shaw.

Today, the functional modernist units of Keeley Close sit on the site of Culcheth Hall, with only part of the boundary wall to the south side remaining.

If you would like to add any further information, memories, pictures or stories regarding the post, HistoryME would love to hear from you.

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Gangs of Manchester

6 Feb

Britain’s First Gangs – The Manchester Scuttlers

by Evelyn Little

Scuttler gangsters (from left) , James Brown, William Henry Brooks

Scuttler gangsters (from left) , James Brown, William Henry Brooks

It’s a dubious distinction, but Manchester claims it nonetheless. The earliest teenage gangs in Britain formed in the sooty back alleys of Victorian Manchester. In a movement which appalled the niceties of refined society and terrified the middle classes, teenagers of the Industrial Revolution began forming ‘Scuttler’ gangs, and heading out to wreak havoc upon the streets of Manchester.

An Inevitable Development

Ancoats c. 1870 (c) Manchester Libraries

Ancoats c. 1870 (c) Manchester Libraries

Industrial Revolution Manchester was, in all fairness, ripe for just such an occurrence. An enormous influx of people seeking work had led to the development of unsanitary but close-knit slum districts in which existed a simmering street culture. These slums were often volatile, their populations fuelled by a booming pub trade and hyper-masculine attitudes which valued violence and viewed ‘otherness’ with suspicion. Fair fights were at that time a perfectly legal way of resolving disputes, and were often undertaken in public to the delight of spectators. The police may become involved should a fight turn foul, but usually the people of the slums were left to their own devices. Furthermore, slum life was often depressingly monotonous, and contained little opportunity for personal betterment. Brought up on violence, hemmed into close quarters with one another, and filled with pent up frustration, it is perhaps little wonder that ‘scuttling’ caught on in the way it did.

From Play-Battles to True Violence

The Battle of Reichshoffeen 1870, by Aimé Nicolas Morot (1850-1913) watercolour of the Franco-Prussian War

The Battle of Reichshoffeen 1870, by Aimé Nicolas Morot (1850-1913) watercolour of the Franco-Prussian War. 

Gang culture broke out with a vengeance in the 1870s, and spread with startling speed through Manchester and the surrounding areas. There are those who believe that the movement had its origin in street recreations of battles in the Franco-Prussian War. These recreational battles gave an outlet in which inherent frustrations and indigenous prejudices (Catholic vs Protestant, My Street vs Your Street and so forth) could be taken out. Although initially ostensibly carried out in play, it did not take long for ‘sides’ to band together along lines based upon personal, geographical, and cultural identity and begin to battle their rivals in earnest. Thus formed the Scuttler gangs – Britain’s original hoodies.

Forming Identities

What Bengal Street looks like today, with the Shamrock Pub an mills amongst modern developments 2013.

What Bengal Street looks like today, with the Shamrock Pub an mills amongst modern developments 2013. Image courtesy D. Boothman. 

Scuttler gangs largely identified themselves along territorial lines. Although complex cultural identities were developed within the gangs, their basic allegiances were geographical. This is reflected in the gang’s names. The ‘Bengal Tigers’, for example, came from the area around Bengal Street in Ancoats, and despised the ironically named ‘Angels’ of Angel Meadows. Much of the scuttle culture may have stemmed from a need for a sense of belonging and peer respect lacking in young people from families struggling with the demands of Victorian slum life. This need for belonging is exemplified by how quickly scuttlers both male and female took on an easily identifiable ‘uniform’ consisting of pointed, brass-tipped clogs, caps turned backwards, a donkey-fringe, bell-bottomed trousers, and neckerchiefs.

The modern day scuttler replacing the belt buckle and smashed for loaded gun.

The modern day scuttler replacing the belt buckle and smashed for loaded gun.

Scuttler gangs also showed curious but significant differences to their modern counterparts. Modern gangs tend to be heavily involved with criminal enterprise, often related to drugs, and are often more interested in money and power than in gaining a sense of intrinsic belonging. Modern gangs not only cause harm to themselves and the members of rival gangs, they cut deep gashes into the very fabric of society through their efforts to push their products by fostering drug addictions, leading addicts to turn to crime in order to fund their habits and places enormous pressure on health and welfare services. Scuttler gangs had far, far less of an impact upon those around them, displaying extremely little criminal enterprise and having nothing more than a cursory interest in robbery, extortion and so forth. Their primary occupation was defending their identities by battling other Scuttler gangs in vast brawls which could encompass as many as 500 people. When not buried within a mass of violently punching and kicking youths, scuttlers spent their time policing their territories and meting out swift, blunt justice to anyone whos face did not fit. Intimidation, beatings, and inter-gang brawling were the order of the day. Drug-pushing to civilians, gun crime, extortion, and the myriad other criminal practices carried out by modern gangs were never on the cards.

The Football Cure

St Marks (West Gorton  Football Club) in 1884

St Marks (West Gorton Football Club) in 1884

The scuttlers therefore seem remarkably tame to modern eyes. Although (much like modern hoodies) they were regularly condemned in the press, and although they undoubtedly terrorised the streets and caused a great many injuries – the scuttlers seem never to have set out with the intention of actual murder. Their weapons of choice were large-buckled belts and small knives with which they would beat and disfigure but not actually kill their rivals. Although they horrified the Victorians, modern readers used to reports of gangland murders, gang-related drug crime and so on will probably be inclined to view the actions of the scuttlers as scaled-up playground fights rather than serious criminal acts. The scuttlers held sway for thirty years, but by the end of that time, people had begun to realise their essential motivations. Scuttler frustrations and energies were fairly easily channelled into less destructive means by those with the foresight to set up such

Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Saturday, August 3, 1889; Issue 1671.

Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Saturday, August 3, 1889; Issue 1671.

initiatives. The Salford Lads Club, for example, offered disaffected teenagers a stimulating alternative to gang culture – the primary attraction being football. Aiming its enterprise at young men of scuttler recruitment age, it was overwhelmed by the response – 700 young men turned up to join on its opening night. Several similar clubs opened with remarkable success. One such club from West Gorton is now known as Manchester City FC (although doubtless some fans would prefer that their club’s hooligan gang origins were kept quiet…). The scuttling days were over – but the seeds had been sown, and the way paved for other gangs and gang trends to rise and fall through the streets of Britain.

If you would like to add any further information, memories, pictures or stories regarding the post, HistoryME would love to hear from you.

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