Sunday, 19 March 2017

It happened here in Chorlton and also in Didsbury .............. National Baby Week .... July 1917

Just a century ago a crowd assembled on the Rec opposite our house on Beech Road and listened to Mrs Jane Redford, Mr Peach and Miss Place of the Manchester & Salford Day Nurseries speak in support of National Baby Week.

The week long campaign aimed to rouse “a universal determination to prevent the unnecessary wastage of infant life, [focusing on] all the causes which make for the high rate of infant mortality. 

According to statistics 80,000 babies under a year old die every year in the United Kingdom of which 50,000 might have been saved.”*

Now this is all the more remarkable when you consider that we were by that summer in to year three of the Great War.

A war which had already caused thousands of causalities and although the organisers did not know it was about to deliver even more as the British army launched the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as Passchendaele which would in its three months result in the deaths of 244,897 British and Commonwealth  soldiers.

The celebration began with processions through Chorlton and Didsbury both led by “a band and numbers of green and white banners.”

The Didsbury procession which was "followed by a meeting addressed by Miss Margaret Ashton and Mr C T Needham M P and others included Red Cross nurses and munition workers."

By contrast the Chorlton march was made up entirely of  “small children with a few mothers and big sisters to look after the babies and large crowds turned out to watch.”

Sadly no photographs have come to light and I have no idea what Mrs Jane Redford or the others said in the Rec on that Saturday afternoon.

But Mrs Redford was an important figure both in Chorlton and the City and her personal papers may still be available.

She had been active for over 30 years serving on various public bodies including the Board of Henshaw’s Blind Asylum and as a Poor Law Guardian for the Chorlton Union where she had campaigned for the provision of trained nurses for workhouse hospitals.

And in 1910 after winning a municipal election here in Chorlton, she became not only our first woman councillor but also the second woman elected to Manchester City Council.

And she spoke on the Rec opposite our house which really was a bit of history which happened here.

Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Pictures; the Rec circa 1910 from the Lloyd Collection and Mrs Redford, date unknown courtesy of Lawrence Beedle

*Baby Week Opening of the Campaign in Manchester, Manchester Guardian July 2 1917

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