Monday, 10 July 2017

Walking the city of Manchester in 1841 .......... courtesy of Mr B Love

Now I bet the Handbook of Manchester would have caused a stir amongst the elegant tea rooms and learned libraries of London back in 1842 when it was published.* 

After all our city was as Asa Briggs said “the shock city of the Industrial Revolution" and as such was on the itinerary of both British and foreign commentators keen to know what was going in the North.

And it is worth giving the full title of the bookbecause it lays out just what it is about  The Handbook of Manchester, containing statistical general information on the trade, social condition, and institutions of the Metropolis of Manufactures: was published in 1842.

It was according the Preface a “new and it is presumed, a greatly improved edition of ‘Manchester As It Is,’ – published in 1839.  

Considerable pains have been taken to render this volume one of the most complete of its kind.”

And here are chapters on all the major manufacturing industries, descriptions of the population of the city and surrounding towns and townships and much on the conditions of those who lived here.

It is in short a wonderful bit of history and sits alongside those others by Dr Kay, Mr Engels and many more.

It praises the beauty of many of the new buildings and the industrious nature of its residents but has a keen social eye, commenting that the river Medlock and the river Irk “are made extensively available for manufacturing purposes; hence their waters are thick, black and filthy.”

And for me it will be when Mr Love explores the lives of the cotton workers, along with chapters on the charities, the social scene and crime when the book becomes fascinating.

So there you have it and I am thinking there will be plenty more to come.  The Female Penitentiary and the information on aspects of the city's population were drawn from random and just caught my eye.

Location; Manchester 1841

Picture; Female Penitentiary Emdben–place, Greenheys, 1841, and data from the 1841 Census represented in The Manchester, Handbook, 1842 

*The Handbook of Manchester containing statistical general information on the trade, social condition, and institutions of the Metropolis of Manufactures: being a second edition of Manchester as it is, by B. Love, member of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, 1842   And is available as a download from Goggle Books

*Victorian Cities, Asa Briggs, 1963

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