|The station and staiton master's house|
We are on Liverpool Road just a little under twenty years after the opening of the Manchester terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
The station and its warehouse had been opened in 1830 and so successful had the venture been that two new warehouses were added very quickly followed by a second platform to accommodate the increased number of trains, and just fourteen years after its grand start all passengers operations were moved to a bigger and grander station at Hunts Bank.
There had been high hopes in the last decades of the 18th century that the area could be developed into an estate of fine houses like those on St John’s Street but the proposed plans to bring a railway into Manchester had pretty much scuppered that idea.
Instead the land from the Duke’s Canal at Castlefield, north to St John’s Church and east towards Deansgate was filled with more modest houses which were the homes of craftsmen, textile workers, warehouseman and a whole range of lesser occupations.
|The station master's house|
Many of which were dependant on the collection of warehouses, timber yards, and coal sites which served the network of canals and now the railways.
The Duke's Canal which had come into the city in the 1760s was but the first of more canals, while our rail terminus was soon joined by the viaducts of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway which cut through the southern edge of the city.
So in 1849 this spot at the bottom of Liverpool Road may not have offered green fields and scenic views, but it was a place that many visitors would have flocked to because here like the cotton mills was what was making Manchester a new and different type of city. As the German Johann George Kohl wrote
“I know of no town in Great Britain, except London, which makes so deep an impression upon the stranger as Manchester. London is alone of its kind and so is Manchester. Never since the world began, was there a town like it, its outward appearance, it’s wonderful activity its mercantile and manufacturing prosperity, and its remarkable moral and political phenomena......”*
|The entrance of the first class booking hall|
And had he stood at the bottom of Liverpool Road looking up towards Deansgate this frenetic industrial landscape is what he would have seen. Almost directly behind him was a dye works and just over the river the Regent Bridge Mill while just out of site behind the viaduct was the Elm Street Paper Mill and in all directions were those timber yards, warehouses and coal yards.
So we shall accompany our visitor up Liverpool Road past what had once been the station entrance for first and second class passengers and was now the company’s offices. And with a bit of luck we could get a glimpse at the three warehouses of which the first held corn, groceries and butter and the remaining two are given over to cotton.
Here there is that smell of locomotives which is a mix of steam and oil along with the distinctive clunk of railway wagons being uncoupled and manually pushed into the warehouse on turntables.
|The station and warehouse complex, 1842|
Each wagon can be unloaded beside the warehouse but the company had copied the design of the canal warehouse which allowed a boat to go into the building.
Now this presented a problem because a railway track is not a canal and so getting the wagon into the warehouse involves uncoupling each wagon and turning it at right angles and pushing it in.
But enough of such industrial detail for just beyond this spot was the Oxnoble Inn so named after a type of potato landed at Potato Wharf and a reminder of the amount of agricultural produce that came in the Duke’s Canal.
But if you didn’t fancy the Oxnoble there are three others to chose from, starting with the Queens, Arms, the Railway and Quay Tavern and finishing with the White Lion. And if that was not enough you can throw in seven beer shops which means that a quarter of the shops along our route are given over to alcohol.
That does still leave plenty of grocers, a butcher’s, a druggist, a baker and a large number of furniture shops. Less welcome are the fish stalls at the top of the road where it joins Deansgate. The smell is pretty intolerable and has led to the residents’ complaining to the authorities who accept there is a problem but are not prepared to clear them away and lose the revenue that come from the stalls.**
|St Matthew's 1850 from the front|
On a more pleasant note there is the fine looking Sunday School sandwiched between Wellington Place and Duke Street.
The entrance is on Liverpool Road but I rather like the rear with its rounded wall. It was built with money voted by the Government to celebrate the victory at Waterloo and is the Sunday school for St Matthews Church which a little further up the road.
It is built in the modern Gothic style of architecture and according to one guide book “when viewed from the large open space in front has a very elegant appearance.
The height from the ground to the top spire is 132 feet [and] the west gallery contains a fine organ by Nicholson of Rochdale and the choral service is performed here on Sundays, at half past ten and half past six.”****
All of which is fine but does not hide the fact that just beyond the church in the area known as the Haymarket was what one report described “as a great nuisance [which] at certain times bears all the appearances of a public privy rendering access to the Church yard & Vestry from the quarter altogether impossible.
|Looking up Tonman Street with the shambles ahead|
Filth seems to have a magnetic attraction hence the whole eastern boundary of the Churchyard as well as the yard itself as far as practicable is the depot of all sorts of refuse from dead rats to decayed cabbage leaves.”
Which “in the course of years, this open space having never been paved, its level has risen to the top of the stone parapet on which the iron palisading of St. Matthew’s church yard is fixed some 18’’ or more perhaps above the original level.
To secure access to the Churchyard and through this east gate a sufficient space has been kept clear by propping up the surrounding accumulations with wood.”
Now that I suspect is not the sort of attraction Mr Kohl would have reported with enthusiasm, and I think it a good place to stop the walk.
|The church, hay market, shambles and pubs|
If we did walk on past the church and the Haymarket along Tonman Street ahead of us would have been the Alport Shambles which was also known as the Butcher's Market.
It is there just behind St Matthews and the tall chimney may well be part of it.
I suspect our residents would have been no happier about that place.
Not that Ebenezer Heap of the Saint Matthew's Tavern or his fellow landlord, James Crowther of the Haymarket Inn would complain over much for long hours in the shambles meant thirtsty customers in their repective pubs.
Something which may have also been why Mary Morrell opened her beer shop next to to the Haymarket at number one Tonman Street.
So I rather think we shall retrace our steps and look again at St Matthews Sunday school, which was opened in 1827, with its fine entrance facing Liverpool Road and the elegant mock battlements running down each side.
Next; on to Camp Street and its mean secrets, St John Street with its posh houses, and the search for the home of Cholera victims
Pictures; The former station on Liverpool Road, S. Langton, 1860, m62891, St Matthews’s Church, 1850, m71038, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, Liverpool Road from the OS map of Manchester and Salford, 1842-49, courtesy of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/
*Johann George Kohl, “Journeys Through England & Wales 1844, quoted from Visitors to Manchester, complied by L.D. Bradshaw, 1987, Neil Richardson
** Manchester and Salford Sanitary Association, Deansgate District, Report of the Visiting Committee 1853, Appendix A.
***The Strangers Guide to Manchester, H.G.Duffield, 1858
****ibid Manchester and Salford Sanitary Association,