Sunday, 1 July 2018

Looking for the lost ...... one street over time in Ancoats ..... no 4 the school by Homer Street

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

Homer Street was located just south of St Andrew’s Church and was bordered by the canal to the north, the river to the south and London Road Railway Station to the east.

The houses date from 1837 and just six years after the church was built.

Back in 1831 St Andrew's  Church was in “the midst of fields [when] the waters of the River Medlock which are  close by ran pure and sweet and were the home of beautiful trout.” **

At the time “the congregation of St Andrew’s was in its early years a fairly comfortable middle-class body, [with] most of the pews in the church being privately rented by people of substance. But by the middle of the century it was surrounded by rising Lancashire industry and black slums filled the parish.***

Five years later the church opened a Sunday school on the corner of Homer Street and Arundel Street which in 1846 became a day school.

The school records show that teaching there was to use that modern description “challenging.”

In 1850 there was an average attendance at the day school of about 200 and four of five hundred boys and girls attended irregularly at the Sunday school.

And in 1866 the authorities went looking for forty boys who were absent one morning  concluding  that “the parents are sadly to blame for keeping their children at home” and on another occasion observed that “130 present at a time and the teacher ill, make it rather hard work to keep things straight.”

Given all of that I can sympathise with the comment made in 1864 that the school master was “glad that the week has closed so that one might have a little rest.”

But even by the 1860s the population of St Andrew’s parish was in decline and in 1891 the school reported that "the number of children on the books was gradually diminishing owing to properties being condemned as uninhabitable", although the final clearances  only got  underway in the late 1930s.

So that by 1936 the population had fallen from 16,000 a century earlier about to 3,000 with many families having been moved out to Gorton and Clayton.

That said the school still had about 230 students on roll and their attendance was very good winning them the Entwistle Memorial Shield for the best school attendance in the city’s elementary schools which seems a nice positive point to close on.

The site is now part of the warehouse of Amato Food Products.****

Location; Ancoats

Pictures; St Andrew’s School, Homer Street, 1920, m48646, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

*Homer Street

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

***A Centenary in Ancoats, St Andrew’s School, Manchester Guardian, June 13 1936

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