Monday, 18 April 2016

Looking for the invisibles .................. life in a Manchester Court in 1896

Now it is pretty much one of those dismal observations that “the poor are always with us” by which I simply mean that poverty today is still very much an issue.

Some will of course argue all things are relative, but for many their share of the economic cake remains slim and with that comes a shedload of blighted life chances.

But what is also apparent from this picture of Sale Court in Hulme in 1896 is that the poor were also invisible.

Try as I may I have not found a listing in the street directories on either side of 1896 for either Sale Court or its companion across the way which was called Rose Court.

And so in the fullness of time I guess I will have to comb the Rate Books, and it will have to be the old fashioned way of going down to Central Ref, and going through the microfilms.

The books are online but the search engine of the particular genealogical platform does not allow you to go looking by location only by name.

And of course a name is something I do not have.

If I did I would then be able to locate the place and turn up the rent that was paid, as well as the rates and the names of both the tenant and the landlord.

And with the name of landlord we could begin to assemble his or her whole portfolio of properties.

Nor is that all because once we had located Sale Court it would be possible to find it on a map and back track that map to earlier maps and along with the hard copies of the Rate Books begin to work out when it was built.

Finally a location would help in finding out just what the place was like inside because the 1911 census also offers up the number of rooms.

Like Bill Sumner who found the image and posted it I think we are looking at some one up one down cottages.

Manchester had banned their construction by the mid 19th century but there were still plenty around and some authorities elsewhere in the country had continued permitting their construction for another few decades.

Now I have a link with Sale Court which I grant you is slightly tenuous but my great grandmother grew up in one just like this.  It was slightly bigger, was called Whiteman’s Yard after the entrepreneur who built it and it was in Derby, but it was a court just like this one.

The sunlight rarely penetrated down, there was a total lack of privacy and the properties would have been equally long past their shelf life.

Oh and for those not quite sure the three little structures at the end are the privies, which would have emptied by the night soil man and the contents sold on to farmers.

This I know because in the collection I have a receipt dated 1857 for pile of the stuff sold to Mr Bailey the farmer and spread on the field directly opposite our house.

For those wanting more these houses were built as back to backs, the ground floor rested directly on the soil and the internal walls were just half a brick thick.

Such were the homes of the invisibles although perhaps not quite invisible because there with just a little of her skirt and shoes is one of our residents, but not enough to count.

Location; Hulme

Picture; Sale Court from Rose Court in Hulme, H. Entwistle, 1896, m26773, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

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