Friday, 6 May 2016

On Angel Street with the "common lodging houses" in 1900

On Angel Street in 1900
We are on Angel Street in 1900.

Now I can’t be exactly sure where along Angel Street we are  but I think it will be around the middle and it is just possible we are looking down from St Michael’s Fields  towards Rochdale Road.

The Street still exists today and there is still a pub at what would have been number 6, on the corner with Dyche Street.

Back then it was the Weavers Arms although now it goes under the name of The Angel Pub which  I guess will have been an inspired piece of thinking by someone attempting to re brand the place.

In time I will go looking for how long there has been a pub on this site and when it may have changed its name.

I suspect it may have had some lean years given that until recently there was little in the way of anything on any of the surrounding streets.

But now new build has gone up off Angel Street and a little further down are the new Co-op offices.

That said Angel Street is just a shadow of its former self.

But back in 1900 it was alive with houses, businesses and a cotton mill.

Now I knew I would never be able to identify the woman in the picture sitting on the steps, but I am became curious about her and where she lived.

So as you do I hunted down the street directories and census returns.
I was expecting the usual mix of small terraced properties sandwiched between factories timber yards and engineering works.

What I found were lodging houses, not one but lots of them.

I counted nine on a street which listed only eleven properties but these numbers hid a more interesting discovery that many of these lodging houses were collections of individual house which had become larger units.

So number 9 Angel Street also included numbers 11 and 13, and this was replicated all along.

Here then was one of those places given over to cheap accommodation where the residents were crammed in.

In nu 44 Angel Street, a "common lodging house"
And there was a uniformity here, men and women of all ages mostly at the lower end of the income range and from across the country and over the sea.

At number 44 there were 32 people staying and by one of those odd strokes of luck just four years earlier a Mr Coulthurst had wandered down Angel Street with his camera capturing our woman on the steps and even more remarkably taking a picture of an upstairs room at number 44.

Now four years is a long time in the life of a rundown lodging house just off Angel Meadow but it could just be that some of the 32 men  sleeping there on the night of the census in 1901 might have been in 1897.

Most were either single or widowed but there were some married couples.

Theirs were the jobs that paid little, and were as uncertain as any.  So amongst the 32 were Thomas Reed, 74 from Ireland who gave his occupation as "hawker" and Frederick Mason a labourer from Scotland aged 34.

And there are plenty more which leads me to think that here there is a real opportunity to wander across the census returns and try to track some of these people across the city and across occupations.

Now that should be a fascinating journey.

Pictures; Angel Street, 1900, S.L. Coulthurst m85543 and Angel Street common lodging house, 1897, S.L.Coulthurst, m08365, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

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