Thursday, 10 August 2017

Looking for the lost 32 cottages and 15 cellars, home to 208 people

Looking down Commercial Street, 2015
Now I first wandered down Commercial Street sometime in the 1980s looking for Omega Street, and its neighbours Alpha Street and Fogg’s Place.

And I must have missed them by just a few years.

That said I don’t think they would have featured in any glossy guide to comfortable inner city living.

In 1853 they had formed a complex of back to back housing consisting of 32 cottages and fifteen cellars inhabited by 208 people.*

Commercial  Omega Street, 1849
Directly opposite was the Egerton Mill, while behind them there were two more and the surrounding area was dominated by more textile mills, a handful of iron works and the Hulme Brewery.

And I doubt even the most optimistic estate agent could gloss over the noise from the nearby railway or the smell from the river Medlock which flowed in a curve close by.

Back in the 1980s you could still see the outline of the house walls in what at the time was a temporary car park but when I returned some 20 years later these had vanished under new tarmac and there was nothing left to show what had once been there.

Looking across to Omega Street from Commercial Street, 2002
Now another thirteen years on and the surrounding buildings had either been demolished or made genteel and the worst I suspect in the form of pollution comes from the noise of loud music in the flats opposite or the conversation of the office workers making their way home.

And even that car park is now boarded up which may soon mean even space inhabited by those three streets and 32 cottages will be lost for ever.

Location, Manchester

Pictures; Commercial Street, 2014 courtesy of Andy Robertson, Omega Street, 2003 from the collection of Andrew Simpson and area in 1849 from the OS for Manchester & Salford, 1842-49, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

* Report of the Manchester and Salford Sanitary Association 1853

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