Thursday, 23 February 2017

Looking for the family on Mincing Street in 1895

Here  is a bit of a detective story .


Mincing Street, 1895
It is June 1895 and even without checking the newspapers for the week I can tell it was a warm day by the number of people out on the street.

Of course it may have just been  the presence of C.H. Godfrey with a camera that drew an audience.

The family may even have been asked to pose for the shot.

Either way the presence of a photographer in a working class part of the city five full years before the beginning of the last century was bound to pull a crowd.

Posing for the photographer, 1895
The fact that there were not more may have been down to it being a workday.

But this was still a time when a camera was a novelty and as soon as the photographer set up it drew the curious, the vain and more than a few who had just not seen the new art of photography working its magic in front of them.

And for us there is a lot to see, from the family group including the chap with a cup of something in his hand to the woman at the corner house watching both the cameraman and the cat.

What first drew me in was the pub on the extreme right hand side.

This was the Lord Derby which in 1895 was run by Thomas s Harrop and in 1911 by Mrs Edith Williams.

Mr Harrop has yet to show up on official documents but I know from the 1911 census that Mrs Williams was a widow who had been married for 42 years and was assisted by her son in law and daughter.*

The Lord Derby
The Lord Derby was on Dantzic Street and had seven rooms which marked it above many of the properties in the area.

And then as you do I wondered about the eight people in front of us.

It started with their names, because once armed with an identity it is possible to start a search for who they were.

And a  name might lead to an entry in the census returns with their ages, places of birth and occupations.

Added to which it would allow us to access the rate books which in turn would offer up details of the houses, from their rateable value to the rents that were charged.

And finally using the 1911 census it would be possible to discover the number of rooms in three two houses.

But all of that hangs on a name and there we have come unstuck.

If I were in Central Ref I could go through the pages of the Rate Book looking for Mincing Street and there for 1895 would be the names of the tenants and the landowner.

But sitting here at home the alternative in the short term is the directories, but sadly the residents of Mincing Street proved too unimportant to be listed.

So all that is left to say is that our three properties may have been back to back houses and that what appears to be a street corner on the extreme left was the entrance to a closed court comprising of nine properties four of which were back to back.

The Derby Arms and Nelson Street which became Mincing Street, 1893
I say they were back to back because that is what the maps from the 1850s and 1893 suggest, but no research ever goes smoothly, and the 1911 census records the nine houses on Mincing Street as possessing  four rooms.

So there is lots more to do but in the meantime for the really curious I shall leave you with this.

The fencing high up behind the pub was part of the protective wall around the old St Michael’s graveyard.

There will be more but not yet.


Picture; Mincing Street with a family on step, 1899, C.H. Godfrey, m03380, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass and Nelson Street in 1893 from the OS for South Lancashire, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://digitalarchives.co.uk/

*Census, Enu 02 183, St Georges Manchester, Lancashire, 1911

** Census, Enu 02 245-253, St Georges Manchester, Lancashire, 1911


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