Thursday, 11 May 2017

Looking for the lost ...... one street over time in Ancoats ..... no 8 a Rose Queen

The story of one street in Ancoats, and the people who lived and worked there.*

Now I am learning more about this small bit of Ancoats which was bounded by St Andrew’s Church to the north, Fairfield Street in the south and sandwiched between the railway viaduct of London Road Railway Station and the Ancoats Goods Station.

Once and it had been a long time ago the area was fields and attractive enough for some fine houses to have been built bordering the river.

And as late as 1831 when St Andrew’s Church was built there was still plenty of open land through which the water of the river was "pure and sweet and the home of beautiful trout.” **

Within two decades all that had changed and the area was full of busy, industry and rows of terraced houses.

One of those streets was Homer Street which I have become interested in and at the end of the road was Homer Street school which had begun as a Sunday School in 1837 and became a day school nine years later.

I have written about the school already and in the course of researching it came across both a series of newspaper accounts and a number of photographs dating from 1910 through to the  early 1930s.

And now I have two more which Kath Kelly Hughes has kindly shared with me.

This one is 1921/22 and the first shows the St Andrew’s Church float which won first prize.

Kath told me that she "was told but cannot prove that float was part of an Empire day parade which is May 24th, around 1920/1. Just found the notebook I recorded it in."

Judging by the expressions on the faces of those staring back at us all was not well.  But then they may just have been tired.

It is a wonderful picture and as ever it is the detail that draws you in like the old woman in background.

Her pursed lips suggest she is missing some teeth and is a powerful reminder that it would be another two decades before the introduction of the National Health Service which guaranteed free medical care at the point of need.

She and many of her contemporaries would have had to put up with poor health and little in the way of medical care, save the odd patented medicine some of which were marketed as the answer to all sorts of diseases and ailments.

It is an interesting thought that on many of these old photographs you rarely see women smiling and even less with open mouths for to do so  would reveal just how bad their teeth were.

For many ill health was something to be borne stoically with the hope that serious illness or injury would
pass them.

All of which is rather grim so I shall conclude by returning to the picture.  I can’t be sure where it was taken but I am guessing it must be close to the school or the church.

Looking at the maps of the period it might just be Travis Street close to Sheffield Street but aware as I am that this may set off a debate I will close.

Location; Ancoats

Pictures; St Andrew’s Rose Queen float, 1921-22, courtesy of Kath Kelly Hughes

*Homer Street,  https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Homer%20Street

**Commemorative Booklet, St Andrews Church Ancoats, 1831-1931

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