Sunday, 28 May 2017

Looking for Corporal Fletcher and his sister in the spring of 1916 ................. stories behind the book nu 3

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War.*

Altrincham Street and arch leading to Britain Street, 1960
Now you won’t find Britain Street any more although there are clues to its previous existence.

It once ran from Granby Row to Brierly Street crossing Altrincham Street close to London Road and was swept away the during the extension of the UMIST campus.**

But it is still possible to follow its line of route and the keen street detective just needs to turn off London Road on to Altrincham Street and there to the right is the railway arch and the remnants of one side of Britain Street while directly opposite and running into the university buildings is the continuation of the street.

Letter to Miss Fletcher, 1921
And that feint echo of what once was there is pretty much replicated in the story of Corporal R Fletcher of the Manchester’s who died on April 12 1916 and is buried at the Amara War Cemetery in Iraq.

His story began with the discovery of a letter to his sister which accompanied his war medals “which would have been conferred upon [him] had he lived.”

I would like to know more but the historical records have as yet offered little more.  I know his sister was living at nu 32 Britain Street in 1921 but a search for her or for anything more on Corporal Fletcher has drawn a blank.

Envelope addressed to 32 Britain Street, 1921
There isn’t even a picture of the house on Britain Street which judging from the maps and the remaining evidence was a narrow street of industrial units and residential properties overlooked by the railway line and flanked by the very busy London Road.

Nor do its residents get a listing in the street directories which is odd because by the beginning of the 20th century most people would be recorded from even the most humble of dwellings.

And the houses were occupied.  In 1898 nu 32 was home to W H Worall who along with his nine neighbours paid a weekly rent of five shillings and six pence to Buckley Shaw their landlords and for this they got a six roomed house which by then may well have been over sixty years old.

Britain Street, 1893
All of which means that there is lots more work to do on the Fletcher’s.

Sadly his military records appear to have been destroyed and his sister stubbornly sits in the shadows.

But I am confident I will find them and they will make their way into the book.

Well, we shall see.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; Altrincham Street, W H Beaumont, 1960,  courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, letter and envelope addressed to Miss M E Fletcher, 1921 from the collection of David Harrop, and Britain Street, 1893  from the OS Lancashire, 1888-1893 courtesy of Digital Archives,

*Manchester and the Great War, Andrew Simpson, due out at the end of 2016,

**University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology

***Manchester Rate Books, 1898

No comments:

Post a Comment