Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Tank Bank and the children’s charity......... stories behind the book nu 17

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War*

The Tank Bank, 1917
Now the war was sustained by a tidal flow of voluntary work and money.

Some of the charities established during the Great War have survived into the 21st century, and they covered everything from the National Fund to relieve hardship, to sending comforts to the troops including cigarettes through the “Fag Days”.

And as the conflict dragged on the Government found a whole range of ways of raising funds including the Tank Bank which was what the title said a tank bank in Albert Square with an office set aside in the Town Hall to take deposits from the general public.

There was an expectation that the total amount collected would out do Liverpool which in its first three days had raised £797,800 and Sheffield’s £113,380 and with a degree of civic pride the Manchester Guardian reported that the city had hit £870444 in just two days.**

But the downside of the outpouring of the public’s money to the war effort was a squeeze on the existing charities.

The Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges set up in 1870 relied heavily on voluntary contributions and during the war there was a profound reduction in what it received.

It made regular appeals highlighting the shortfall.  In the October of 1915 it announced that “there is a deficiency of £10,000 on Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges maintenance account, the institution having been most unfavourably affected by the War. 

At least 4000 boys and girls are helped by it. There are over 350 children continually under its care. About £11,000 a year is needed to meet all the requirements of the work.”***

At the beginning of the war instructions were sent to the masters and matrons of the various homes to exercise the ‘strictest economy in provisions and other purchases,’ and the monthly magazine, the Children’s Haven’ was reduced to four issues a year in a bid to lower costs.

Collection Box for the Charity, date unknown
One unforeseen result of the enlistment of the older apprentices in the charity’s care resulted in the closing of four out of the five workshops with a loss of around £3000 in earnings and proceeds from the work sold.

And yet the number of admissions increased leading the charity to comment in its paper the Children Haven in September 1916 that
 “while they carry on for King and country for justice and liberty we must carry on for the young children who will be the future members and defenders of our great commonwealth.”****

The Refuges did survive, changing its name to the Together Trust and relocating out of the city and continues to work helping young people, vulnerable adults and families.

Others may not and yet there is no definite research on the effects of war on charities in Manchester and it is unknown how many establishments had to close due to the restrictions on resources.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; the Tank Bank 1917, from the collection of David Harrop, and a collection box of the Manchester & Salford, Boys’ & Girls’ Refuges courtesy of the Together Trust

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War,

**The Tanks Second Try, Manchester Climbing to the top, Manchester Guardian, December 19, 1917

*** Manchester Evening News, October 30, 1915

****Tightening the belt, Getting Down and dusty, September 1 2014, the Together Trust,

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