Wednesday, 21 March 2018

“The best single test of any civilisation is the way in which children are treated” ...... the continuing story*

Understandably, most of those interested in the migration of children to Canada focus on that period when organizations in Britain sent young people across the Atlantic.

The work of the charity in 1971
And while there is a growing interest in the “big story” many still see the history as a context to place their own BHC relative, and there is nothing wrong in that.**

But here in Britain, the care and welfare of young people continued to undergo considerable change brought on by the recognition of the part the State had to play and in new ideas about how children should be looked after.

The old Workhouse as we know it and as many came to hate, went in the 1930s.

Legislation in 1929 allowed local authorities to take over the infirmaries run by the workhouses and transform them into municipal hospitals and abolished the Poor Law Unions in England and Wales along with their Boards of Guardians, transferring their powers to local authorities.

Two decades later the creation of the Welfare State in 1948 further changed the role of the children's charities and effectively created a partnership between them and the State.

Now all of this is reflected in the continuing story of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge which was founded in1870 and is still going strong.***

Their work  in 1972
It did migrate children but stopped before most, having taken the decision in the Great War to keep young people in Britain, and then never reactivated the scheme.

After the war it also took the bold step of relocating many of activities outside the twin cities of Manchester and Salford in what it called the Belmont Children’s Village  in rural Cheadle.

Young people were to be cared for in smaller “family units” and following the Curtis Report in 1946 these were further developed and became smaller more intimate homes.

The recommendations from the Curtis Report were adopted by the Government which placed local authorities at the centre of caring for children without parents, or who had an unsatisfactory home life.

Charities would now work in partnership with local authorities and were guaranteed an income by providing care homes and services.

But the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge continued as a charity which allowed it to move into new areas where there was a perceived need which local authorities were slow to get involved in or were retreating from.

Facing issues, 1985
And this has continued to be the pattern with the charity involved in helping families as well as vulnerable children and changing its name to the Together Trust to reflect its broadening areas of care.

Along the way it has had to adapt to the slow withdrawal of the State in the last decade from certain areas of care provision and the growing reliance on private companies.

Interestingly the creation of an inspection service for schools and children’s services in 1989 showed that when the charity was inspected it was deemed to be at the forefront of good practice.

Everyone deserves an equal chance, 2018
But that retreat by the State which is driven by political ideology and financial considerations has begun to bring us full circle, back to the 1870s when the charity was established.

Local authorities are doing less because they don’t have the money and charities are filling the gap.

Between 1992 and 2010, The Together Trust grew from 100 members of staff, five homes, and one school to over 800 staff and 30 social care, education and community services.

All of which makes the story one without an end

Location; Manchester & Cheadle

Pictures; from annual reports of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’s Refuges, courtesy of the Together Trust,

*Lord Mayor of Manchester

**BHC, British Home Children, refers to the young people migrated to Canada, Australia and other parts of the former British Empire

***A new book on the Together Trust,

Back with Yemmerrawanne from Australia who was buried in Eltham in May 1794

His grave stone, 2011
Yesterday I was in the parish graveyard reflecting on the life of the young Yemmerrawanne from Australia who died here in the May of I794.

His was a short life and one that few people will know much about so I was pleased that Dr Keith Vincent Smith was kind enough to add more to the story.

Dr Smith is a historian and curator specialising in the ethnology and history of the Indigenous people of Sydney. His book on the Aboriginal Australian Bennelong published in 2001.*

Bennelong was a senior member man of the Eora who lived in the Port Jackson area close to the first British settlement in Australia and served as an interlocutor between the Eora and the British.

“Yemmerrawanne and Bennelong belonged to a clan called the Wangal on Sydney's Parramatta River, until they ''came in' peacefully to the British convict settlement at Sydney Cove in November 1790. Yemmerrawanne was initiated in early February 1791 on Sydney's north shore (possibly at Manly), home of the Gamaragal (gal=clan). Bennelong officiated at this ceremony in which boys were made men by knocking out the upper front right tooth and 'raising scars' on the bodies of the initiates.

Then in December 1792 the two Aboriginal Australians boarded the transport ship Atlantic with Governor Arthur Phillip for the six month voyage of 10,000 miles to England.

They passed 'ice islands' (icebergs) in the southern Pacific Ocean, rounded Cape Horn and visited Rio de Janeiro, arriving at Falmouth in Cornwall on 19 May 1793.

They reached London by coach on 21 May 1793 and were outfitted that day with clothing suitable to wear in London society at the London tailors Knox & Wilson, including long frock-coats with plated buttons, striped waistbands, breeches, underwear and spotted 'pepper-and-salt' waistcoats and buckled shoes. They later received gloves, hats from Busbys and canes.

Yemmerrawanne, date and artist unknown
They stayed at the home of William Waterhouse, a music page to the Duke of Cumberland, in Mount Street, Mayfair, where they had servants to attend them, wash and mend their clothes and repair their shoes. Coaches were provided for them to go sight-seeing to the Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral and they often went to the theatre.

Both Bennelong and Yemmerrawanne became ill at different times and were treated by navy surgeon Dr. Gilbert Blane. Bennelong recovered, but Yemmerrawanne suffered from the lingering lung infection that eventually killed him.

On 15 October 1793 they were taken by coach to Eltham after Yemmerrawanne injured his leg."

We know that he and Bennelong stayed in the house of Edward Kent who may have lived at South End and it was here that he was nursed by a John Briggs at Kent's house for no payment.

The parish church just sixty or so years after his burial in the graveyard
Sadly Yemmerrawanne died and was buried in the parish churchyard.

All of which has added a little bit more to the story of a young man from Australia who until now has only been a footnote in the guide books along with a name on a gravestone and an entry in the parish records.

The story of Yemmerrawanne was researched by Dr Keith Vincent Smith who gave permission to reproduce his work

**Bennelong: The Coming in of the Eora, Syndney Cove 1788-1792, Keith Vincent Smith
Kangaroo Press, 2001 - Aboriginal Australians - 182 pages

Pictures; Yemmerrawanne, Silhouette on paper, Artist unknown, no date, B10 f.14, Dixson Galleries, State Library of NSW, gravestone of Yemmerrawanne,  Irene Smith May 2011, and the parish church from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers,

Down Edge Lane at Alderfield and Rye Bank in 1845 ............ avoiding Mrs White and Mr Gresty

Edge Lane 1845
Now that stretch of Edge Lane which runs out of the old township up to Longford Park is somewhere I don’t often visit.

And that is a shame because it was one of those parts of Chorlton which had some fine houses built during the last quarter of the 19th century with stories which have yet to be discovered.

But today I am drawn to what I might have seen in the 1840s had I walked the road out from the village and up to Longford House which had been the home of Thomas Walker, one time pillar of Manchester society but also a radical politician who campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade, supported the French Revolution and was indicted for treason in 1794.*

The family lived at Barlow Hall from the late 18th century spending the summer there before moving back for the winter to their town house on South Parade which faces what is now Parsonage Gardens.  And it was there that a mob attacked Walker who was forced to drive them off by discharging a pistol in the December of 1792.

Walker survived both the attacks and was acquitted of treason, after which he retired to the new family home at Longford House where he died in February 1817 and was buried in the parish church on the green.

Edge Lane in 1893
Now had I walked along Edge Lane in the summer of 1845 Longford House would not have been visible from the road and I would have to content myself with gazing at the row of trees that bordered the lane and which ran out on all sides surrounding the estate from the prying eyes of people like me.

I suppose I might have wandered across the fields which lay to the east of the estate.

These were Alder Field farmed by Mary White and Rye Bank farmed by James Gresty and on to Reap Bank.

But I would have had to be careful, the first two were arable fields probably growing barley and William Chessyre’s Reap Bank was Meadow land and no farmers now or then is happy at people wandering over their crops.

That said I wonder just when those fields were given over to development.  By 1893 there were two grand houses on the site of Alderfield and what is now Alderfield Road had been cut, pretty much ending where it does today.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to track the history of those two houses using the rate books, directories and census records and from that begin to plot the development of this small area which was home also to one of our oldest Bowling clubs.**

And with that I rather think there will be more stories to add to those that have already been told on this little bit of Chorlton.***

Pictures; detail of the area from the 1845 OS map for Lancashire, and the OS map of South Lancashire, 1893, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

Next; creeping development along Edge Lane and a few interesting people.

*Thomas Walker,

**That old bowling green and tennis club on Edge Lane and a mystery,


Treasures from Back Piccadilly ...... the bits that get passed over ....No.2

Now I am fascinated by those small bits of buildings which most of us don’t give a second glance to.

And so is Andy who took this picture in Back Piccadilly on Monday.

I don’t know if it is still in use, but once it would have been an important part of the building.

And for that I reckon it deserves to be recorded

Location; Manchester

Picture; Back Piccadilly, 2018 from the collection of Andy Robertson

Naples .... where the houses rise like cliffs and look down on narrow and busy places

Over a century and a bit ago a group of Neapolitan photographers set out to capture something of the vibrancy of their city.

And because then as now much of that vibrancy was conducted on the streets they photographed families eating off battered old tables, and women having their hair done in the streets while conversing with water carriers shop keepers and anyone who wandered into the street.

Nor has much changed.

Location; Naples

Picture; Naples in 2017 from the collection of Saul Simpson and Emilka Cholewicka

When Tuck & Sons confused Salford for Manchester

Now here is one of those picture postcards guaranteed to upset someone.

It was produced by Tuck & Sons and marketed around 1905, although the actual image maybe older.

It is entitled the Technical School and was part of the series of twelve cards issued as YE ETCHED MANCHESTER.

And if that were not enough the description on the front of the card runs, Manchester, Technical School, Salford, with the added insult that the designer incorporated the coat of arms of Manchester rather than Salford.

This may I suppose  make it a collector’s curiosity and one that seems to have been corrected on later cards.

Picture; Manchester, Technical School Salford, Tuck & Sons, 1905, courtesy of Tuck DB,

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

On a day in 1910 at Kemp's Corner

Kemp's Corner, 1910
I am in Chorlton on a sunny day in the summer of 1910 and today I just want to reflect on what you could have done on that day.

So we shall start with the picture which is the junction of Barlow Moor Road and Wilbraham Road.

And in the company of the photographer we are looking up Wilbraham Road towards the Lloyds Hotel with the fire hut in the distance.

Today officially the junction is Chorlton Cross but most people refer to it as the Four Banks, which echoes its earlier name of Bank Corner.

Harry Kemp's Chemist
But for most of the 20th century it was Kemp’s Corner after Harry Kemp’s chemist shop which is to the left of us, and is now the HSBC bank.

Well into the 1960s it was an accepted place to meet up, not least because the shop displayed an enormous clock outside and so was a landmark.

Harry Kemp had opened his shop in the early years of the 20th century and it was still there on the corner long after he had died.

Oliver Bailey remembers the shop in the 1950s with its huge jars of coloured water which was also the place he bought the ingredients to make his own fireworks.

While Ida used it as the place to meet her friends.

Directly opposite is Sunwick now another bank but then a large private residence, and stretching out down Wilbraham Road are more stately houses all with their front gardens which have  yet to become the shops we know today.

But the buildings beside it along with the magnificent advert for Shaw’s motor garage were demolished to make way for the shopping precinct.

And soon after our picture was taken Mr Shaw had opened his new garage on Barlow Moor Road in that prime set of new shops which ran from High Lane to the tram terminus.

Always a head of his commercial rivals the premise had the first kerb side petrol pump in Chorlton.

Road mending
Looking directly at us are the men mending the road, or I should say the man mending the road because there is only one in shirt sleeves standing a little back while in front appear to be the supervisors and possibly someone from the Corporation.

And as ever in work scenes from the period there are the hand carts which would have carried his tools and the materials needed to do the job.

There is of course lots more going on and we are spoilt for choice.  There are the women out shopping some with parasols, the man on the cycle and away in the distance tradesmen with their horse and carts doing the delivery rounds.

Post Offices, pillar boxes & posting times, from the Almanack
Now I want to leave aside the scene for a minute and instead reflect on what you might want to do on that sunny day, which is pretty much drawn from Harry Kemp’s Almanack  & Handbook which he published in the January of 1910 and provided you with all you might want to know about Chorlton.

Here were the addresses of the local post offices, the pillar boxes and posting times as well as our first public library houses in a converted house on Oswald Road.

It remains a surprise just how many collections and deliveries there were at the time, all of which enabled people to send a postcard in the morning confident that it would arrive in time to alert a friend to a proposed meeting in the afternoon.

Trams, trains & a Penny Savings Bank, from the Almanack
Likewise our first public library was a fulfilment of a promise made when we voted to join the city in 1904.

And then there were the tram times along with our railway stations which offered a regular service into the heart of Manchester.

But my own favourite in the Penny Savings Bank which operated from the school on the green once a week, and is a reminder of the social divide in Chorlton, for while this part of the township had the banks the old village had only a sub post office.

Books, fire engines and policeman, from the Almanack
Pictures; Kemps Corner in 1910 from the Lloyd collection, details from The Chorlton-cm-Hardy District Almanack & Handbook For 1910, published by Harry Kemp from the collection of Andrew Simpson