The Development ofStrangeways, 1768-1868


The Awakening of the Industrial revolution, 1768-1816.

Early industrial development in Strangeways.

The Ladies' Jubilee Charity School.


Climacterics in local history can rarly be pinpointed, but we canpoint with confidence to the year 1768 as being the turning point inthe history of Strangeways, for on the second day of February of thatyear Francis Reynolds recorded in his letter book that:

"One Robert Norton, a Silk Dyer, has applied about the corner ofland in Strangeways lane, where the water comes from the largefishpond at the top of the Park, to build a House and Dyehouse uponit; it is about 250 square yards. He the steward told him he mighthave it at 1 1/2d per yard for three lives, but he must build withbrick, lime and mortar, and cover with slate. The waste water fromthe fishpond he will make use of as it comes to this plot of land."(8) The lease was granted on 31st October, 1768 at a twice yearlyrent of £1.11.3, and Strangeways thus entered the period of itsmetamorphosis by thee Industrial Revolution.


Manchester from the Cliff, Higher Broughton[detail] (William Wyld)

The following February someone else had been attracted by thelatent energy of the water in the pond, and made application. It wasagreed that Messrs Thorpe and Co. should "... have Stringer's houseand buildings at £40 per annum and keep in repair. They alsowant the waste water from the Canal, and will be told to take nonebut what runs over the fender. For they will build near where the oldmill stood, and erect a wheel for grinding indigo for their own use,by this waste water." (9)


By March 13th the agent had come to some agreement with them, andwas to draft a lease for Renolds' perusal, but this was arrested byThorpe and Co. because

"... they desired I would delay it till they had set out all thebuildings they intend to erect. They have already built a good brickbuilding at the end of Stringer's house, covered with slate, and haveunderwalled with brick a good part of the old building towards thePidgeon House ..."(10)

These were by no mean "all the buildings" for by the followingDecember they had bullt "another house four stories high, ten yardslong and five wide whichch will be covered vith slate." (11) Jut twomonths later they had "added to it anothor part of five yards and adye house for the silk business." (12) and in May they continuedtheir expansion having "... agreed with Philip Meyers to let him fixa snuff mill upon their water wheel so that it may do their businesand grind snuff also." (13) In addition, one Grimshaw desired "leaveto fix a waterwheel to work a pair of fulling stocks in wet seasonwhen there is plenty of water. He does it now by horses, whlch isvery expensive." (14)

Thorpe and Co. continued to expand; in October 1770 they"bargained with John Hulme, fustian dyer, (if I shall apprvoe of it),who is to build a new additional dye house ten yards long by threestories high. They are also now building at the side of the river, inthe Dutch Barn meadow." (15)


Expansion continued apace; in December 1770 Thorpe and Co. laid "alead pipe from the brook at the ntrance of the gardon to the newdyehouse at the side of the river in the Dutch Barn meadow to supplytheir new dye pans with water." (16)

The growth of industries in Strangeways clearly fits the maxim of"development when the customer appeared"; devolopment during thisperiod lacked any real control from the landowner, whose soleinterest was the revenue that accrued, and the nature and effects ofthis piecemeal development are made clear by Greenwood's excellentlarge scale map of 1794. (17) The industrial premises then inexistence consisted of Mr Lomax's Printing Works, near the Hall andthe river, two dye works opposite the Hall, Mr Smith's Prnting Worksbelow the canal, the nearby brewery, and the dye works near the newBowling Green. They form a disorderly medley scattered about theestate, and must have detracted considerably from its appearance.

We may contrast with these functional edifices the plain butimposing Strangeways Hall, (18) "with its well-grown trees whosebranches spread far across the road and were almost met by others asfine growing in a large garden on the opposite side." (19)

Strangeways Hall

"Opposite to the park gates the road opened out into an almostsemi-circular shape from which an avenue of trees provided a shadywalk to the bank of the river Irwell. Close by the avenue and near tothe river was a well-known bowling green, much frequented by businessmen a century ago." (20) The Park must have formed a very attractivefeature with the tree-lined avenues and the lakes, the maze, shootingbutts and bowlin green. The new bowling green was set amidst smallallotments down towards the river, and formed a popular resort forManchester businessmen.

At the southern end of the spur, below the park, lay the newManchester workhouse, the mortar of which had scarcely set whenGreenwood drew his map in 1794. It must have been an awesome sight,th massively built "Poor Law Bastille" overlooking the town. It'shistory belongs not to Strangeways but to Manchester itself, but itmust have cast a sombre shadow over its surroundings. For the sitethe Overseers pald Lord Ducie an annual chief rent of £100.(21)

Development continued at a slow pace throughout the rest of thecentury and the period of the Napoleonic wars, but it is during thelatter period that we can begin to detect signs of impending change,of the realizatlon of the full potential of the site for development.Amongst the Ducie muniments is an unfortunately incomplete document,entitled "Observations and Cursory Remarks upon the Property of LordDucie in the County of Lancaster." (22) Most of what survives dealswith the properties within Manchester itself, only the end portion,or what remains of it, dealing with Strangeways. Internal evidencesugsests that it was made in the first few years of the nineteenthcentury by Lord Ducie's steward, assisted by one Joseph Holland, anold tenant and overlooker. One of the most recent developmentsdescribed is Messrs Caister and Fray's new brewery, built at a costof almost £5,000, and including a new brew house, stablegranary, cooperage, counting house, yard and reservoir, on a sitejust below the canal. Realizing the attraction of the water, thesteward recommended increasing the supply as much as possible by themaintenance of the ditches and enlargement of the ponds, "by takingall the clay that may be requisite for bricks from out of theshallowest parts of them, and by removing the brick earth from thatpart called the island of the lower pond; as many thousand cubicyards of clay will be wanted for the making of bricks whenever thecurrent of building is turned to Strangeways." (23)

The writing was by now clearly on the wall for the old Strangways;the future expansion of Manchester was already clearly recognized andanticipated, and steps were now being taken to actively encourage it.Furthermore, amongst the cursory remarks is a suggestion that a newroad be laid from Strangeways Stile, at Hunts Bank Bridge, to tbeHall gates, thus bypassing the narrow and inconvenient old road. In1814 Harrison, the then steward, was responsible for the demolitionof buildings at Walkers Croft for the trustees of the new road whichwas to be made through Strangeways from Hunts Bank. The improvementwas in fact completed by 1816, though traces of the old alignmentsurvive to this day in what was afterwards named Brewery Street.(24)

By this time enlargements and extensions had already been made tothe Work house, to cope with the increasing numbers of paupers, butthere was also erected on the same bank below the park a publicbuilding of more overtly philanthropic aspect. This, the Ladies'Jubilee Charity School, had its origins in 1806, when a plan waspublished with the aim of setting up a foundation for the educationof poor girls, particularly destitute orphans, to prepare them fordomestic service - domestic servitude, in the words of a contemporarywriter, with revealing innocence - but the realization of which wasdeferred till 1809, when a house was purchased in Broughton Lane,just to the north of Strangeways, as temporary premises for thecharity. In the November of that year the rules and regulat1ons drawnup by Dr Bardesley were approved, and on the last day of the year theLadies' and Gentlemen's Committees met at the Mosleyy Arms tofinalize arrangements for the opening of the school. At the schoolthe girls were "decently and neatly clothed in blue stuff frocks,blue stockings, and straw bonnets, and on Sundays wear white apronsand tippers", and received instruction in reading and writing,knitting and sewing, and in the general duties of domestic service.(25) The same writer sums up admirably the philosophy of thefoundation.

"In a manufacturlng ditrict, where the temptations to poor parentsto avail themselves of the earnings of even infancy, in cottonfactories etc., and where their own parental duties are so oftenneglected while they labour for bread; where the personal labour ofhearty young women is so much wanted in manufacturies, it is scarcelyto be wondered at that good servants are become scarce. The Ladies'Jubilee, by its provision for regularity of conduct and economy oftime, promises to find an antidote for the evil by producing sampleof what good female servants ought to be, and to secure the objectsof its care from the dangers of ignorance and vice which areunhappily the almost oonstant attendants on unprotected poverty."(26)

Having received a sufficient grounding, the girls were put out toservice under the aegis of the Ladies' Committee, and upon theirdeparture were provided with

"... one stuff gown and petticoat, one do flannel, two shifts, twopair of shoes (one of them good ones), two bedgowns (printed orgingham), two check aprons, two coarse brats, two calico night caps,two do day caps, two pocket handkerchiefs, one double shawl, one docut for handkerchiefs, two pairs of black stockings, two pockets.Wages expected to be given to the chlldren are £3.10. 0 perannum." (27)

In 1810 work began on the erection of a permanent building in NewBridge Street (its later name) and was completed within a few months,the removal being completed for the new year.

"The building is neat, of brick intermixed with just as much stoneas to take off the air of heaviness which a building entirely formedof brick always exhibits. On the top, over the centre of the door, isplaced a stone tablet on which is the following inscription: "JubileeFemale Charity School. Erected 1810 by Public Subscription inCommemoration of the Fiftieth year of His Majesty George III.'"(28)

The building, and the life led by the girls, were certainlyspartan, and many found themselves unable to continue. Girls wereinitially admitted between the ages of nine and eleven, but in 1814this was raised to from eleven to thirteen. The Ladies' Committeekept a maternal eye over the institution, making their three weeklyvisitation, reprimanding or even expelling the renegades, presentingsilver thimbles and books as prizes. Mrs Boutflower, wife of theMedical Officer, procured three dozen noggins and a dozen trenchersfrom Wrexham, presumably treen, and Miss Whitlow provided prayerbooks. The girls were ept busy with pins and needles by theacceptance of work from subscribers and others.

"Mrs Hacker's pattern for stays was approved. The price ofknitting worsted socks was fixed at 6d each pair, and stockings suchas the children wear to be knit for 1s per pair ... making sheets 8dper pair, a woman's coarde shift 4d, and running stockings 2d, andmarking 2d for a dozen letters. Men's coarse shirts (dowlas) 8d, acoarse Irish do 1s each ... gentlemen's cravats to be made for 2d thelarge size and 1/2 d the smaller size." (29)


Admissions to the Ladies' Jubilee Charity School, 1810-1850(30)


Year Number admitted Expelled Failed to return returned to familyDied

1810 16 1 1 1

1811 8 1 2 1

1812 4

1813 4 2

1814 9 2 2

1815 7 2

1816 11 1 2 1


1818 6 1

1819 12

1820 9 2

1821 8 4

1822 8 1 1

1823 6 2

1824 8 1 1

1825 7 1

1826 4

1827 10 1 2

1828 6 1

1829 9

1830 6

1831 9 1

1832 7 3

1833 13 3 2 1

1834 12 5 2

1835 14 7 3 1 1

1836 2 1

1837 14 1 1 1 2

1838 9 2 2 1

1839 11 3 1


1841 13 4 2 3

1842 12 1 1 1

1843 8 3 3 2 1

1844 13 5 2

1845 8 2

1846 8 2 1 2

1847 12 4 5

1848 2

1849 6 3

1850 8 2 2 2



Mrs Hacker was also "desired to apply to Mr Terry at Cheetham'sHospital for knitting and sewing to employ the girls." (31) In lateryears it was to be this school that caused no little bother to thegood ladie, for in l836 "At this meeting it was determined thefollowing eleven children should be expelled from the school forcontinued disgraceful conduct ln allowing and encouraging the boysfrom the Bluecoat School to visit them etc., etc." (32) When feelingshad cooled, only three girls were in fact expelled, and when theproblem recurred three years later, offenders were subjectod tosolitary confinement in the evening. (33)

The Ladies' Jubilee Charity School flourished for many yeare withthe help of its wealthy patronage. Lord Ducie had given the site inStrangeways, and never ¢ollected rent for the site, which was onpermanent lease. The school continued to produce subjects for manyyears who were suitable for domestic service, but changing socialconditions made it redundant, and the one thousand and ninth and lastpupil was admitted in January, 1855.

 1Introduction 2Industrial Revolution 3The New Strangeways 4The New Suburb 5The Mature Suburb 6Decline ReferencesMaps