Friday, 29 July 2016

On Bennett Street in Ardwick, at St Benedict's sometime around 1900

Now I am intrigued by this picture post postcard not least because it was one of six showing the church from various angles.

We are on Bennett Street which ran off from Hyde Road and was a mix of houses shops and factories.  It was not unlike plenty of other streets in this part of the city.

At one end the street was crossed by the large railway viaduct of the London and North West Railway whose Manchester terminus was London Road, and a large part of the eastern side of the street was dominated by the engineering works of Galloway Ltd which made boilers and Atkinson and Co, mechanical engineers and the Garland Company which made forgings.

So during the day there would have been the noise of heavy industry coupled with the passing of countless trains and at night the clunk of goods wagons being shunted around the marshalling yards just a few minute’s walk away.

And into this place “in the midst of a dense artisan population” according to the Manchester Guardian, St Benedict’s was opened in 1880.*

It had been entirely funded by Mr. Alderman Bennett of whom more at a later date.

Now again at another date I think I shall explore the church in more detail but for today I shall just reflect on what was going on in our picture.

According to the reverse of the postcard, we are watching “A Parochial Procession.  

The Patronal Festival is observed on July 11, The Feast of the Translation of St Benedict.  

On the Sunday afternoon within the octave of the feast it is customary for the Congregation to make a procession of Witness and thanksgiving round the parish.”

And that is what our photographer captured sometime I guess around the beginning of the last century.

But as dense as the population had been in the 1880s a century later the clearance policy of the council and the demise of heavy industry meant that there were few left to worship in the place it finally closed in 2002, only to reopen three years later as the Manchester Climbing Centre.

*Manchester Guardian, March 22nd 1880.

Picture; A PAROCHIAL PROCESSIION from the series CHURCH OF ST. BENEDICT, ARDWICK, MANCHESTER, back ST. BENEDICT'S, MANCHESTER, marketed by Tuck & Sons, date unknown, courtesy of Tuck DB, http://tuckdb.org/

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