Thursday, 17 March 2016

Number 3 Jersey Street in the heart of Little Italy


I have tried finding a picture of number 3 Jersey Street but with out success

It has gone now, and the site has been developed as one of those swish inner city set of apartments.

But once it’s three rooms were home to a varied mix of families.  It had stood near to the corner with Great Ancoats Street from the beginning of the 19th century and perhaps a decade into the century before.

In 1851 it was occupied by David and Bridget Maxwell who were from Ireland and their five children who had been born here in Manchester.

They lived in two of the rooms leaving the third to Hannah Johnson, her sister Mary Ann and Mary Ann’s five year old daughter.

Such sub division of properties was quite common and walking down Jersey Street much the same was happening at many of the properties here and in the surrounding streets.

Nor were their occupations out of the ordinary.   David Maxwell was a plumber and glazier while Hannah and Mary Ann worked in a local factory.  Others in the neighbourhood earned their living from joinery, and printing and there were a fair number of labourers, as well as those working in the cotton mills. They would have paid something like 2-3 shillings a week which might have accounted for about a sixth of a weekly wage.

But for a while at least in the 1860s along with its neighbour it passed out of residential use and was turned over to making furniture.  I tried tracking Maxwell Bridges the owner but it proved fruitless and for a while the property disappears from recorded history, only to pop up again in 1891 as the home of the Mowbray family whose six members crammed into the three rooms along with their two lodgers.

This was the period when Jersey Street along with its neighbours was becoming the centre of the growing Italian community.*

And so by 1901 our house was occupied by Gatamo Pelsi, his wife and his four children.  Gatamo like his son and neighbours was an organ grinder, who had arrived in Britain sometime during the previous decade.

For the first time in perhaps half a century number 3 was home to just one family and it was a trend which would continue.

In 1911 Carlo and Gearda Visco lived here with their five children.  He made a living from making barrel organs and they had been in Britain for just around six years.  Their children were all born in Manchester and their eldest married Francesco Testa in 1928 in the north of the city.

*Jersey Street, Gun Street, Henry Street, Cotton Street and parts of Great Ancoats Street

Pictures; courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, Jersey Street, by J Jackson,1908 m10154, residents outside Nazaren Bella’s ice cream shop, Jersey Street, 1922, m10086



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