Friday, 29 June 2018

Looking for the lost ...... one street over time in Ancoats ..... no 2 Homer Street and the Ward family

Now I would like to think that one of these young people could be Ethel Ward.

Students at St Andrews School, 1920
She was living with her parents at number 9 Homer Street and it is just possible she attended St Andrew’s School which was at the end of the road.

Homer Street and in particular number 9 has over the last few days drawn me in and I want to know more.

It was just a few minutes away from Fairfield Street and on a quiet night the Ward family would have heard the distinctive clung of railway waggons being shunted in the nearby sidings, caught the smell from the river and the dye works and worried that young Ethel might do something daft beside the canal.

Homer Street, 1894
That said I remember my old friend Norman who had been born close by telling me how he had learnt to swim by being thrown in that same canal.

I last visited number 9 in 1851 when it was home to two families.

At that time I knew little about the property but now know that it consisted of four rooms which given that there were seven of them must have made it a squeeze.

Just exactly what the condition of number 9 was like is unknown, but by 1911 it was at least 74 years old having been built as part of the swift development of the area in the early and mid 19th century.*

The class of 1920, St Andrew's School, 1920
The earliest entry in the rate books is 1837 when the block was owned by a Mr Price who is still the owner in 1851.**.

I suspect Mr and Mrs Ward counted themselves relatively lucky because many of the surrounding properties consisted of just two and three rooms and were home to large families.

He was an electrician for Manchester Corporation and as such was a skilled worker.

They had been married for eleven years and Ethel as their only child.

For Ethel there would have been little that could be said to have offered up exciting places to play.

Just a short walk down Phobe Street was a tree lined Recreational Ground which backed on to the river but it was dominated by a cotton mill off to the east and the Ancoats Goods Yard to the north delivering a fair share of noise, smells and if the wind were in the wrong direction no doubt the old cloud of smoke.

Of course there is a danger in letting your imagination over play the industrial scene and I have also to concede that by the time our school picture was taken Ethel would have been fourteen and already working, perhaps in that very textile factory that overlooked the Rec.

St Andrew's Square, 1966
Her home and the rest of the houses on Homer Street had gone by 1938 although the street and some of the surrounding ones continued to appear on maps, but by the end of the century even their imprint had vanished under a site which had various industrial uses and now is a warehouse for Armato Food Products  and it was the current owners who suggested I might be interested in the site.***

Which is almost the end, but I have to add that in wandering the neighbouring streets I did come across a Mr Simpson living with his wife and two boarders in three rooms at number 17 St Andrew’s Street.  He was no relation but I like the way a random search throws up a Simpson.****

Pictures; St Andrew’s School, Homer Street, 1920, m48646, and St Andrew’s Square from St Andrews Street, facing west, 1966, T Brooks, m10604, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and Homer Street in 1894, from the OS for South Lancashire, 1894 courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

*Homer Street, Enu 12 272, Central, Manchester, 1911

**Manchester Rate Books, 1837- 1851

***Amato Food Products,

****St Andrews Street, Enu 12 188, Central, Manchester, 1911


  1. In a couple of days i will be putting an old photo of the school on a photo website called Alamy. Seach for the name of the school in the search window. Acquired the photo on ebay in January of this year,form someone in Cheshire- so no details except what is written on the back (no names of pupils sadly) These are infant children in the hall. Hope this helps. Regards, Angela

  2. My mother was Ethel Ward she lived in 9 Homer Street Ancoats