Sunday, 16 October 2016

Lost and forgotten streets of Manchester ...... nu 66 Back Canal Street and Mr Thomas Griffiths

Now there are no photographs of Mr Griffiths and there is nothing surprising about that.

Home of Mr Griffiths marked in red on Little Canal Street, 1849
He was born in 1806 worked as a labourer and lived in Back Canal Street, which was a row of one up one down back to back houses facing on to the Rochdale Canal.

So unremarkable or perhaps so dire were the houses that they were swept away sometime in the 1860s to make way for a warehouse.

That said the warehouse still exists and is on Chorlton Street as is Little David Street which ran parallel to Back Canal Street.

History has been no kinder to Little David Street which is now gated off but given that it was the same width as its neighbour it will offer up an idea of what Little Canal Street was like.

Sadly so far the historical record has revealed little more about Mr Griffiths who was living at number 17 Back Canal Street with his five children who ranged in age from fifteen down too four.*

He was a widow and while I can’t yet find a reference to his marriage or the death of his wife, I am guessing that he may have been married sometime around 1826 and she might have died in childbirth giving us a date of 1837.

It’s all very vague and making a second guess of basing her name on that of either of her two daughters has proved a dead end.

Still I know that in 1841 when the Griffiths family were in Back Canal Street they were paying 9d in rent and that they were still there in 1842.  Now trying to make anything of wage rates and the cost of living is fraught with difficulties. But a labourer might be on a £1, a textile worker on a little more and rural workers on a lot less.**

Little Back Canal Street occupied half the same of the warehouse
But after that we lose them and the hunt is made more difficult by the large number of men with the name Thomas Griffiths.

That said there is a Thomas Griffiths who was living nearby in Silver Street in 1839 and another in Major Street a year later and both of these are very close to Back Canal Street.

Added to which the rents are pretty much the same so I think it would be sensible to say this is our man.

So far I can’t find him after 1842 but the census of 1851 reveals a Richard Griffiths who might have been his son.  He was the right age, used the same names for his children as Thomas's dad done and shared the family house with two of his siblings.***

Both siblings carried the same names as children at 17 Little Canal Street and were born at the same time as Thoma's children.

It might all be a little too far fetched but if historical research has taught me anything it is that such clues usually lead to the right conclusion.

Well we shall see.

Location; Manchester

*Census, Enu 10 8, London Road, Manchester 1841

**The History of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Andrew Simpson, 2012

**Census Enu 1k, 46, Ancoats, Manchester 1851

Pictures; the site of Little Canal and Little David Streets, 2016, from the collection of Andrew Simpson and streets in 1849, from the OS map of Manchester & Salford 1844-49 courtesy of Digital Archives Association,  http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

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