John Owen aka Old Mortality travelled throughout much of the Cheshire and Lancashire on his horse for more than fifty years collecting  genealogical and historical material  such as monumental inscriptions, parish registers, architecture and archaeology, genealogical memoranda and miscellaneous historical notes and letters. Besides Lancashire and Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Welsh and Manx churches are also described. He was probably one of the most important antiquarians of this region. The manuscripts consist of thousands of pages and fill 89 separate volumes including illustrations of houses, churches, tombstones, memorial inscriptions and many other subjects.  Some examples of Owen's transcriptions from Flixton, Gorton and Newton can be see on The Manchester Collection.

It is a bit of an art form learning how to navigate these films from the index created by Ernest Axon, but it well worth the effort, when you eventually succeed. Axon  said of the work, “Unlike many collections, it is not confined to the great families and great churches and mansions, but deals with the ordinary families and the domestic dwellings. No local historian or genealogist can afford to neglect it.”

The Manuscripts  were sold to Manchester Free Reference Library for £200. The fee was agreed in October 1897,  but Owen tried to get £300 for them, but was refused additional payment in letter from Charles Sutton, the Chief Librarian on July 20th 1899. John Owen died  on January 18th 1902 in the Stockport Union Infirmary. He had been there for 45 weeks and Stockport Union claimed 7/- a week maintenance for the period March 11th 1901 to 20th January 1902 from the estate of John Owen...a total of £15 15s. John Owen was buried in the Manchester General Cemetery on 23rd January 1902, in  the  Non Conformist Section of the cemetery, grave number 4682. Owen's Memorial Inscription can be seen here as transcribed by the MGCTP.

The Probate Index states that he left an estate of £539  9s  1d, the executors being Charles William Sutton, Chief Librarian and James Dalton Andrew. The 1901 Census (RG 13/3296 f 144) lists him  in the Stockport Union as a pauper widower,  aged 85, a retired general labourer and an imbecile. What a sad end to such an illustrious life.  His last known abode was 450 Hempshaw Lane, Stockport. In 1881  He was living  in Kennerley Grove, Davenport aged 65, as a retired Corn Dealer, with his wife Mary.  For many years he lived in Stretford Road, Hulme  with his wife and children, Sarah Ann, Malvina, Mary Ellen and George. The will shows the purchase of the manuscripts was agreed not to take place  until after John Owen's death. The  total residue of the estate was left to his son George Francis Owen, who had for some time been living in Guildford near Sydney, NSW. At the time the will was made (November 1892) Owen was living at 16 Buckingham St, Heaviley, Stockport.

I think one of the finest parts  of the collection are the illustrations. They have a certain quirky attraction due  to Owen's style of drawing and also on the microfilm the illustrations are negatives prints i.e white on black, which add an eerie atmosphere to them. Several years ago I had the privilege of seeing the original illustrations in their massive bindings. I was fascinated to  discover that they were not simply ordinary pencil drawings. I was so taken by them that I tried to capture these images digitally. This was quite difficult because of the frayed condition of some of the works and also the humps and ridges which form when you turn over folios in such large books. However after three attempts I manage to get some reasonable images. These have now been published by Manchester Archives and can be seen here and you will be able to find more information about the Owen Manuscripts if you follow the link on that  particular page.

Find My Past


The Manchester Borough Council Watch Committee was first formed in January 1839. The Committee at first was only responsible for the setting up and control of the Manchester Borough Police Force. As the years went by it began to be responsible for other activities and by below are listed the areas that it covered by November 1868.

That the following twenty one members of the Council, the Mayor, ten Aldermen and ten Councillors who have been duly elected such members, now part of the body of the said Council, be and they are hereby elected a Committee to be called the “Watch Committee”, for the ensuing year (any three of whom to form a quorum), with all the powers given by law to such Committee, together also with full power and authority to transact such business as has been committed by the Council to the Watch Committee for the past year.

Also to manage and transact such and so many of the matters and purposes relating to the City Fire Engine establishment, which the said Council, by an Act passed in the eighth year of the reign her present Majesty, intituled (sic) “An Act for the Good Government and Police Regulation of the Borough of Manchester,” are directed and authorised to do and perform , as herein mentioned, that is to say – all the several matters, purposes, and things required to be so managed, transacted, done, or performed by the 116th and following sections up to and inclusive of 122nd section of the said Act.

To manage and transact all business connected with the City Gaol which may from time to time arise, and which would necessarily devolve upon or require the attention of the said Council; and that such Committee be and they hereby are authorised and empowered to attend to any matters which may hereafter arise with reference to any alteration in or further extension of the said Gaol.

That the said Committee be and they hereby are also authorised and empowered from time to time give, as and for and on behalf of the Council , the require sanction to all orders upon the City Treasurer, made by the City Justices, for the payment of money expended in connection with the said Gaol.

Also the several other matters and purposes having reference to the licensing and regulation of brokers and dealers in second-hand goods and marine stores, required to be so managed , transacted, done or performed by the 182nd and following sections up to and inclusive of the 190th section of the last-named Act.

Also to execute and carry out the “Common Lodging House Act, 1851” and the powers given by the 35th section of the “Sanitary Act, 1866” in relation to houses occupied by members of one than one family.

Also to carry out and enforce within the city various provisions contained in the “Act to Amend the Law concerning the Making, Keeping and Carriage of Gunpowder and Compositions of Explosive Nature, and concerning the Manufacture and Sale and use of Fireworks”(23rd and 24th Vic. c.139), and in the 24th and 25th Vic. Cap. 130, and the 25th and 26th Vic. Cap. 98, for the alteration and amendment of the provisions of such mentioned Act.

Also to carry out and enforce within the city the various contained in the “Petroleum Acts, 1862,1868”.

And that the said Committee shall have . And the said Council hereby delegate to the said Committee, all and every the powers, authorities and discretion relating to the matters and purposes aforesaid which have been given to or our now reposed by the said last-mentioned Act in the said Council.


I found the following extract in the Cowdroy's Manchester Gazette And Weekly Advertiser dated 15th October 1803:

A fellow being lately tried for bigamy on the Irish Southern Circuit, before Councillor Calbeck, who, being a King's Counsel, travelled as one of the Judges; and being convicted of the fact upon the testimony of both his wives, the Judge, when proceeding to pass sentence, after lecturing the fellow pretty severely upon the heinousness of his offence added, " For my part, I have  to regret that the law in this case deprives me of all discretion, and suffers me to go no further than merely to sentence you to transportation for seven years. Instead of which, if I had my own will, I would certainly giver you a more severe fate - I would sentence you to seven years imprisonment in the same house with your two wives, where you would feel, indeed, the just punishment due to you atrocity!"

It made me chuckle anyway.



Resurrectionists or body snatchers were not unknown in Manchester as can be seen from the transcript of the poster below from the Manchester Archives Broadside  Collection..  John Eaton the Sexton of St George's Chapel was convicted of such a crime in May 1827. The Manchester Guardian dated 12th May duly reported the proceedings of The Quarter Sessions held at the New Bailey Salford for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. However when it came to the proceedings of the court for Friday, 11th May 1827 the following was printed: "The cases of to-day were entirely destitute of interest." Obviously the editor thought that the subject was too  delicate for the good people of Manchester. I must try to find the original Indictment which should be at Lancashire Record Office.


Violation of the


On MONDAY next, MAY 14th , will be published,





The Sexton


Convicted of Felony, on Friday the 11th of May, 1827.

At the New Bailey Quarter Sessions:


The Prisoner's Examination


[The whole singularly suppressed by the Manchester Newspapers]

Considerations as to the safest Mode of Interment,

And Cases of



Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham.

Containing a view of the Chapel, & adjoining Premises& Burial Grounds.

I knew that Bodies were continually stolen out of the Yard, which I could not prevent,

and I told the Owners of the Yard so.” -Prisoner, on his Examination.

This offence is connived at: nay, it is rewarded; these men (Body-Stealers,) are

absolutely paid to violate the law; and paid by men of reputation and influence in society.”

Westminster Review

The abhorrence of the peculiar transactions in question, bespeaks a delicacy and propriety

of feeling which will never, we trust, be extinguished in this country.” -

Liverpool Mercury

Printed and Published by J. PRATT, 11, Bridge-St., Manchester;

And will be Sold by all the Booksellers. - Price 4d.



I was recently alerted the fact that the Benchill Hotel was being demolished. Although it has not been a pub for several years it was always remember as the the Benchill Hotel and was one of Wythenshawe's landmarks. By some odd chance a few months ago I came across an article which was published in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday February 6th 1936 which marked the opening of the pub. Reading through the article, I found myself chuckling out loud much to annoyance of other people sitting adjacent to me in the Microfilm Unit at Manchester Central Library. The description of the interior and exterior of building does not exactly remind  me of my memories of the place, which I now view in a new light. See what you think.

The article appeared under the headline "THRELFALL'S PROGRESS" the page contained three pictures of the interior and exterior of the hotel, plus three adverts by companies that had manufactured bits and pieces for the pub.

The opening of the Benchill Hotel will provide a definite requirement in this area. Since the application to the licensing justices about two years ago that particular section of Wythenshawe has grown tremendously. It seems only a very short time the site of the hotel was almost inaccessible, brooks and hollows separating the shopping area in Hollyhedge Road from the fields beyond. And now this has all changed, and it is even possible to visualise what the form the future development will take.

Hollyhedge Road as now formed reveals the 200 feet diameter roundabout which defines the junction of the crossroads. This centre will be particularly interesting in the near future, for upon the four sectors principal buildings of the district are planned for building. A beginning has been made by the erection of the hotel, the church buildings are already taking form, and in the near future the public baths and the library will occupy the two remaining sectors.

Development is rapidly going ahead, housing schemes are being carried out at the front and rear of the new hotel, roads are pegged out, school buildings have been started, and in a comparatively short time what is now green pasture land will become one of the largest section of the Wythenshawe satellite town. Messrs. Threlfall's of Salford, having regard to the importance of the site, have spared no efforts or expense in providing what they claim to be on of the finest modern hotels since the war in this part of the country. The preservation of trees in front of the hotel and the forming of shrubberies adjoining the forecourt add much to the pleasing character of the main frontage. With broad draw-up and a large parking ground for over 100 cars the hotel stands well back from the main road, and the quiet dignity of the building can be more fully appreciated. Hotel planning has gradually come back into its own during the last 20 years. It seems only a short time since licensing magistrates generally viewed with disfavour applications from brewers who desired to erect new or improve and enlarge their existing establishments. All this has changed, and every encouragement is now given to breweries in Manchester and Salford to submit schemes of hotel improvement.

A director of Messrs. Threlfall's discussing this change of policy by the authorities said that the modern hotel plays a big part towards the elimination of drunkenness , and these establishments are greatly appreciated by the people using them. The greater use of the roads has also had considerable bearing upon the type of hotel now erected, facilities for the parking of cars, the provision of meals, and sleeping accommodation all come back to the early purposes of licensed houses. In the early part of the fourteenth century the forerunners of the public houses were provided for the devout who travelled to their various abbey churches, and such a place still remains at Glastonbury. The call for a refreshment house, where accommodation for the traveller is provided, goes back to those early days. At a later period when people travelled by stagecoaches the inns provided suitable liquid refreshment, and so today we can hail with pleasure the modern public house, where even the would be Victorian would not be ashamed to be seen seeking his refreshment.

The Benchill Hotel has been planned to give facilities under good conditions to all classes of customers. The large Central Lounge is entered from the forecourt through glazed revolving doors. Its walls are wainscoted with in Australian walnut of natural shade with horizontal bands of a darker colour and finished with ebonised black capping with lines of brilliant crimson. The floor harmonises in colour and is carried out in rubber. The lounge is lighted and ventilated by a large ceiling lantern, and one end is entirely glazed and has French windows opening out on to an arched loggia near to the flagged terraces which during the summer months will be provided with teak tables and chairs. The whole of this garden vista is framed from within the lounge by luxurious hangings. Chromium electric-candle fittings provide the lighting and the comfortable settees, upholstered oak table and chairs are in keeping with the whole scheme. Then there is the Central Bar service, which is simply screened off and enclosed within bronze finished grille, the glass shelving and display cabinets lit by subdued lighting.

An extensive radio installation together with microphone and radiogram has been provided, and concerts held in the hotel can be relayed to all parts of the establishment. The smoke rooms are all in harmony with the Lounge and have comfortable chairs and settees. Special consideration has been given to the panelled wainscot, which is of unusual design. One of these rooms is finished in natural oak with Zebrano and black stripes, and frieze of low relief fibrous plaster in soft colours.

For patrons desiring meals, aside of the business Messrs. Threlfall's are anxious to encourage, special accommodation has been provided in the Gentlemen's Smoke Room. Food is served from the Service Room adjoining from which a lift travels to the kitchen above. There is a separate entrance at the front for the Dining Room, and also to the gardens, and thus there will be no necessity for persons desiring food only to enter the licence section of the premises.

On the parking ground side of the hotel is a luxurious Public B with drinks at minimum prices, for gentlemen only. This is finished with delightful shades of green terrazzo, with floors to match. Flesh tinted mirrors framed into the walls, radiator, radio and architectural features in the terrazzo, all add to what must be one of the finest Public Bars in the country. This entirely a new feature of hotel construction and is extremely handsome. Counters and all fittings are finished in natural polished oak picked out in black. Windows throughout are leaded and made interesting by the introduction of animal and bird life carried out in delicate shades. Pleasing curtains, furniture and electric light fittings, all add to the beauty of this particular part of the premises.

For the patron on the cheaper side of the hotel who desire to take his refreshment in company with his wife, special provisions have been made, too. Messrs. Threlfall's are the pioneers of, and have introduced into their most recent hotels, the “Mixed Bar”, and one of these has been introduced into the Benchill Hotel.

The walls are tiled to dado height in two shades of delicate green, there are comfortable oak seats , and loose furnishings are provided. The service bar matches. A separate entrance is provided for patrons using the large assembly room on the first floor, which is reached by an oak staircase leading to ante rooms and crush landing. The assembly room has a polished oak floor, walls with low oak wainscoting, picked out in colour. Rich carpets and wicker furniture add to the general beauty of the room, which is lofty and well ventilated, has an enrich fibrous plaster ceiling, and emergency staircase at the far end of the room, which is also conveniently arranged for food service. The remainder of this floor and also the second floor is planned for the use of the manager and his staff.

Externally the hotel is reminiscent of many of the larger country houses of England. The brickwork is of narrow gauge sand-faced bricks set in cream tinted cement. The façade is picked out in the centre upper portion with solid oak half-timbered and cement panels, and the principal entrances are emphasised with flat lead-covered hoods carried on oak brackets. Simplicity of design characterises the whole of the building, and a well designed and beautiful hand made tile roof with swept valleys and bonneted hips lends charm to the building. Adjoining the forecourt a flagged terrace runs along the whole of the front , bounded by a low brick parapet wall. Bronze ornamental lamps illuminate the principal entrances, and the parking ground is floodlit. Considerable thought has been given to the lay-out of the garden which is in course of construction. When it is completed it will have a large flagged terrace, herbaceous boarders, shrubberies, bowling and putting greens, and rock gardens.

The hotel has been erected to the designs of Mr Benjamin Waterhouse, L.R.I.B.A. Decorative products, which have done so much to make the hotel a place one will like to visit, have been supplied by Messrs. Donald Macpherson Co. Ltd. Of Manchester and London, and are of their famous “Foochow” brand. There are durable gloss enamels, flat oil paints, water paints and “Synroz” synthetic enamels which make the work of the decorator a real joy. Messrs. Gaskell & Chambers (Lancs) Ltd. Have supplied their patent hygienic “Dalex” beer engines and patent “Hygex-Sillerite” rigid piping and fittings through which beers will be drawn by the most direct route from the cask to the counter. They have supplied also tables, chairs and stools for the lounge and other rooms, and a variety of special appliances for use in the bars. The fireplaces for the hotel have been supplied by the Manchester Trades Supply Co. Ltd., whose showrooms are at Mantresco House, 89 City Road, Manchester, and whose “Tyton” fireplaces are ideal for use in public rooms, as parts around the opening cannot come off and are guaranteed by the company.


Perhaps not the most riveting subject, but Manchester Police Stock Accounts have survived from 1825 until 1835. They contain details of very small items such nails and some quite large items like fire engines. They also give some idea as to what roles were filled by the force. Featured below are the accounts for year ending June 24th 1834.

I am also in the process of compiling a data  bank of the Manchester Borough Police which was formed after the incorporation of the six townships. It will include the names, (in some cases addresses), and rank of all the men who became part of the new force. It will also include promotions, demotions, sackings, disciplinary matters and awards. It will also highlight the work of the Chief of the Police Commissions, Sir Charles Shaw.

To sundry debts owing, including balance in Banker's and cashiers hands, and £5,000 transferred to the Paving Fund

£5,765 19s 6d

1st Lamp Department

To Lamp Pillars, Iron 633 @ 44/-

£1392 12s 0d

To Lamp Pillars, Wooden 189@ 12/-

113  8s 0d

To Lamp Irons,Gas 1462 @ 4/-

292  8s 0d

To Lamp Irons, Oil 12 @ 1/-

12s 0d

To Lamps in Copper Frames 1676 @11/-

921 16s 0d

To Lamps in Tin Frames 626 @ 8/-

250  8s 0d

To Globe Lamps 18 @ 3/- 6d

3  3s 0d

To Service Pipes and Tubing in Streets 2264 Lamps @ 12/- 6d

1415  0s 0d

To Tubing, Ladders, Glass Paint &c...viz:

280 lbs of copper tubing (new) 1/ - 3d

17 10s 0d

10 Brass Tees @ 6d

5s 0d

8 Coupling Joints @ 10d

6s 8d

5 Elbow Joint @ 6d

2s 6d

5 swivels @ 1/-

5s 0d

32 Lamp Frames, Pillar Tops @ 10/-

16  0s 0d

42 Lamp Frames, Pillar Tops (Old) @ 5/-

10 10s 0s

3 lbs Copper Wire @ 1/- 4d

4s 0d

6 Brass Taps @ 8d

4s 0d

6 Bush Tees @ 6d

3s 0d

1 Pair Stocks & Tap

1  0s 0d

3 Gas Pinchers

3s 0d

1 Hand Stock

10s 0d

2 Tiles, Pick, Spade, Monkey Wrench, Screw Keys, trowel,Hammer & Chisel

2  0s 0d

No 1 Sizes Squares 20 Tops @ 8d

13s 4d

No 1 Size Squares 40 sides @ 1/- 3d

2 10s 0d

No 2 Size Squares 90 Tops @ 8d

3  0s 0d

No 2 Size Squares 36 Sides @1/- 2d

2  2s 0d

No 2 Size 30 Doors @ 1/-

1 10s 0d

No 3 Size Squares 100 Tops @ 8d

3  6s 8d

No 3 Size 20 Doors @ 1/-

 1   0s 0d

No 4 Sizes Squares 2 tops @ 8d

1s 4d

No 4 Size Squares 4 Sides @ 1/- 3d

5s 0d

No 4 Sizes 2 Doors @ 1/-

2s 0d

30 lbs Widow Lead @ 4d

10s 0d

14 Lead Bottoms @ 4d

4s 8d

Old Glass ½ Bottoms 80 @ 6d

2  0s 0d

Old Glass ¼ Bottoms 30 @ 3d

7s 6d

Wire Iron 10 lbs @ 3d

2s 6d

Lamp Doors 16 @ 1/-

16s 0d

2 Soldering Irons 2/-, 2 Pairs Shears 10/-

12s 0d

1 Tin Square

3s 0d

Tin Cross Bottoms for Lamps 30 @ 4d

10s 0d

6 Cwt Old Glass

16s 0d

2 Pairs Plyers

2s 0d

3 Boxes, Bench & Shelves

3  0s 0d

1 Vice

1 10s 0d

26 Ladders

6 10s 0d

123 Slates

2   1s 0d

36 Holdfasts

12s 0d

6 Gallons Turpentine

1   0s 0d

9 Gallons Boiled Oil

1   7s 0d

50 lbs Venetian Red

4s 0d

30 lbs Red Lead

10s 0d

96 lbs Litharge

1 12s 0d

40 lbs Black Paint

1  0s 0d

30 Lamplighter Lanterns

2  5s 0d

31 [?] Cans

15s 6d

Tubs &c

1  0s 0d

Time Piece in Lamplighter's Office

5  0s 0d

Brought Forward

10,244 9s 8d

Valuation Last Year + Interest £5276 5s 5d

Deduct wear + tear + old stock sold £797 15s 3d

[ New Valuation]

£4478 10s 2d

2nd Scavenging Department

1 Hand Cart

1  0s 0d

1 Pump

5 0s 0d

1 Crane

5 0s 0d

1 Shed & Gates

10 0s 0d

1 Cupboard

1 10s 0d

1 Desk

2 10s 0d

2 Pillars & Burners

10s 0d

2 Grates

10s 0d

1 Fender

10s 0d

1 Cupboard

1  0s 0d

1 Timepiece

5 0s 0d

2 Desks

3 0s 0d

2 Stools

2s 0d

3 Inkstands

6s 0d

Tubing, Taps & Brackets

10 0s 0d

Weighing Machine

35 0s 0d

Iron water Cistern, Pipes & valves

74 1s 5d

155 9s 5d

3rd Fire Engine Department

7 Fire Engines

785 0s 0d

Fireman's Elevator

70 0s 0d

605 Yards Leather Hose Pipe & joints to ditto

307 19s 0d

22 Junction Pipes & Joints to ditto

71 10s 0d

3 Canvas Pipes & Joints

7 10s 0d

21 Copper Branch ditto

36 0s 0d

Leather Buckets, Water Cart, Harness, Tomahawks, Tools and Apparatus

280 10s 0d

1579 9s 0d

4th Watching Department

Ricks, Desks, Rails and Tubing in Watch Office

88 15s 0d

Watchmen's Coats

250 0s 0d

338 15s 0d

5th Town Hall and Other Property

Town Hall Land

6500 0s 0d


31733 8s 1d

Premises in Cross Street

800 0s 0d

Furniture in Commissioner's Office

448 15s 3d

Constable's Office

81 8s 0d

Ditto Military Guard House

15 10s 0d

39579 1s 0d

Premises in Clarence Street

4885 14s 2d

Land, Wall and Cottages, Camp-field

1010 0s 0d

Ditto St Georges Road

1182 19s 0d

Lockup House Kirby Street

680 17s 0d

7759 10s 2d

£59656 14s 7d



DID you, your parents, your grandparents or great grandparents live in the Manchester area? If so why not check out the Manchester Local Images Collection. It's a MUST see with more than 80,000 images of Manchester and the surrounding area. Images include mainly photographs with some prints, drawings, water-colours and post cards from the 1700s to recent times. And the great thing is that they reflect all aspects of the social and economic history of the area. Included in the collection is the Photographic Survey of 1892 to 1900


This is a brief selection of articles appearing in the above newspaper on 22nd June 1850. This typical of the Courier's style of reporting. It was not known for its liberal views. More extreme examples of The Courier's reporting can be seen here.

SEIZING AN OPPORTUNITY - On Saturday night last, at about half past 11 o'clock, a row took place in Smithfield Market, owing to the misconduct of some drunken men, when a young fellow named Power, taking advantage of the confusion, slipped his hand into the pocket of Elizabeth Cooke, a huckster in the market, and robbed her of 11s 2d, with which he ran away. he was pursued, however, with the cry of "Stop thief !" and was chased into Oldham St by a policeman, who ran him into the shop of Mr. Owen, toy dealer, where he was apprehended with the exact sum of 11s 2d, in his pocket. On Monday the prisoner was brought up before the Borough Court, and was committed for trial at the Sessions.

SUPPOSED WAREHOUSE ROBBERY. - On Thursday a young man giving the name of John Leary, but who was known to the police by the name of Challender, was brought up before the Borough Court, charged on suspicion of having stolen upwards of 40 pieces of grey calico, supposed to be the produce of some warehouse robbery. The prisoner was apprehended on Wednesday afternoon, for having sold 20 pieces of calico to a fent dealer in the town, of which he refused to give any satisfactory account, and from which the tab ends had been torn; and subsequently Inspector McMullen got information of  20 other pieces, which were also traced to the prisoner. In the absence of an owner for the calico, the prisoner stands remanded until Monday next.

ROBBERY BY A SOLDIER. - A private soldier of 3rd Dragoon Guards, now lying in Manchester, named John Stewart Grant, was on Monday brought up before the Borough Court, and was committed for trial at the Sessions, charged with having stolen 4s 6d in money from the house of Mrs Smethurst, beerseller, Chester Rd, Hulme. The robbery took place about three weeks previously, when the prisoner, who was drinking in the house, was seen to take the money out of a pint pot in the bar, after which he left the place. The man's regimental character (a very bad one) was handed to the bench for inspection by an officer of the regiment in attendance, on seeing which Mr Hodgson said he could not treat the case summarily, and he committed the prisoner for trial.

SERIOUS ROBBERIES BY WORKPEOPLE. - On Monday, an Irish tailor, named Michael Walsh, along with his wife Julia Walsh was brought up at the Borough Court, before Mr Hodgson, charged with having stolen a very large quantity of wearing apparel, the property of Messrs Goodwin & co., tailors, &c., of Oak St, Swan St. For some time past, the female had been in the habit of pledging bundles of clothes, which reached the ears of the Police, and led to the discovery that they were stolen by her husband, who worked for Messrs Goodwin & co. The result was that their house was searched, when a great number of duplicate tickets were found, all relating to articles of new clothing, which was identified by Messrs Goodwin & Co. as their property. The prisoners, who  admitted the charge, were both committed to the Sessions.

BIGAMY PREVENTED. - On Monday morning last, a circumstance occurred in the district of St Philip's, Bradford Rd, which excited considerable interest. A happy couple had presented themselves at the church to be united in the bonds of felicitous wedlock, but alas! how true is the saying "there is many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip." The woman, it appears, was married fourteen years ago; her former husband was still alive, but as they had not lived together for some years, he had no objection that his once loving "better half" should be carried away by his competitor. This fact got whispered abroad, and the consequence was, an immense concourse assembled on all sides of the church, to see, as they said. " what sort of face the old wed woman would put on." The curate, among the rest, had just heard the running secret, which was being so freely bandied around, and, as a matter of course, felt it his duty to investigate the charge. The case was found to be exactly as it had been reported, and the disappointed applicants for matrimony were dismissed from the church. it was very fortunate for these two unfortunate individuals that they were not composed of brittle substance, as they undoubtedly would have been considerably worse for the wars. The shouting and the cheering of the people outside was quite enthusiastic. It is truly gratifying, however, to see so strong a repugnance manifested by the public upon such a disgraceful occurrence.

SERIOUS CHARGE OF WILFUL DAMAGE. - On Friday evening, 14 inst., about 11 o'clock, a number of men visited a brickfield in Rusholme, belonging to a person named James Farr, and deliberately set to and threw down and damaged about £7 worth of soft bricks. A man stationed to watch the bricks fired a gun at the depredators, who fire two shots in return; when Farr and his wife, hearing the noise, got out of bed and went to the place, on which the men at once decamped. They were followed, however, by a large and savage dog of Farr's, which seemed to be recognised by one of the men, as he called out its name, "Boxer," and so escaped him being worried. On hearing the dog being called by its name, Mrs Farr recognised the voice of the man who formerly worked for her husband, and calling out "That's thee, Smelter," was answered by the man, "Yes; we've left you summat to look at." On Thursday, Smelter was brought up at the New Bailey, having been apprehended on the charge by one of the county police.; but the evidence against him being so very slight, he was remanded and suffered to go at large, on bail, until Saturday (today), when the Police expect to further evidence. The affair is supposed to have arisen out of some disputes between Farr and his workmen, as to non-payment of their wages.





THE railway line that most people knew as the Styal Line is 100 hundred years old this year. Perhaps more people today know it as the Airport Line. Of all the villages and districts that this line passes through, possibly the greatest impact has been on Heald Green

To many of us who live in Heald Green, one of the most important things about the village is the railway station. Whether we use it for commuting to and from work, or for pleasure trips to Manchester and beyond, it is a major factor for many of us. It seems that is has been here for ever, however the Styal Line only began to be used for passengers on 1st May 1909. The first trains did not go into Piccadilly Station, they went to and from Mayfield St Station. The shell of the station can be seen from the left hand end of platform 14 at Piccadilly Station. Recently there has been talk of the station being used again, but time will tell if anything develops on that score.

The authority to commence construction of the line came with The London & North Western Railway (New Railways) Act 1899. Initially it was only planned to have one station between Slade Lane and Wilmslow, but that soon became four; Styal, Gatley East Didsbury and Mauldeth Road. The rate payers of Heald Green and surrounding area sent a deputation to the LNR headquarters stating that there would be a steady market in agricultural traffic from Heald Green. Their views were listened to and work began on the Styal line at the Wilmslow end in October 1901. Strangely the station was never used to transport agricultural traffic. The line opened for goods traffic on 8th February 1909, well over budget. Burnage station did not open until 1st July 1910.  A fuller account of these events and details of the engineering involved can be found in the book Manchester to Crewe Part One by EM Johnson.

What was Heald Green like in the 1901 when work began on the line? The 1901 Census which was conducted 31st March/1st April shows that the inhabitants of Heald Green were mainly enumerated amongst the people living in the civil parish of Stockport Etchells. A few people from Heald Green (at the Styal Road end of the village) were enumerated in the Northern Etchells Civil Parish. The number of people recorded as living in Heald Green was about 700. Of these 330 patients and staff were living at Cheadle Royal and St Ann’s. Most of the other people were living in the area Styal Road, Pimgate, Heald Green, Waterford Farm, Finney Lane and Brown Lane.

In 1910 there were ten passenger trains per weekday to Manchester and seven trains from Manchester to Heald Green. The First Class fare to Manchester was 1 shilling and 6 pence (2s 6d return); Second Class 11d (1s 9d return) and Third Class 8 ½ d (1s 4d return). For those of you who are too young to remember 2s 6d is equivalent to 12½ pence into today’s coinage. The land at the side of the present station occupied by the building that was used as a dairy was part of the old coal sidings and as such merited the presence of the Heald Green Signal Box.

Recently rail traffic on the line has increased dramatically with the opening of the Airport Station. That meant that two new junctions had to created .One called Heald Green North and the other Heald Green South. Stockport Central Library has several pictures of Heald Green Station from earlier times, and they are certainly worth looking at. They can be viewed in the Local Heritage Library on the first floor.

The 2001 Census showed that 12,640 people were living in Heald Green in some 5,189 dwellings. In the year 2005/06 approximately 264,000 passenger journeys were made through Heald Green station. I suspect that by now all these figures have now increased. I wonder if Heald Green will continue to grow in the next 100 years?



SCOTTISH chemist, Charles Macintosh and English engineer Thomas Hancock experimented with the rubber manufacture process in the later and early part of the first two decades of the nineteenth century. At that time the solvents used to prepare the gum, normally turpentine and camphene, were expensive and imperfect, only allowing the dissolved rubber to be added to the cloth without the use of machinery.

In about 1820 Macintosh discovered, or more accurately re-discovered the use of coal tar oil as a cheap and effective solvent. This enabled him to place the solution between two fabrics. Also in the 1820's Hancock invented the "pickle" or rubber kneading machine which aided the process of rubber manufacture.

The double texture cloth which Macintosh produced in his factory at Glasgow was used to make water-proof cloaks. These cloaks were erroneously called Mackintoshes, however the name and spelling stuck. Besides being a boost to the rubber cloth industry, it was also useful employment for coal tar, a troublesome by-product of coal gas production.

Macintosh wanted to get his factory in a location closer to the centre of production of the fabric needed in the manufacture process so he came to Manchester. He was introduced to two cotton manufacturers, Hugh Hornby Birley and his brother Joseph. They owned premises on the east side of Cambridge St, all of which were employed in spinning and weaving of cotton. These three men together with a Mr Barton, formed the firm of Chas. Macintosh & Co in 1824. They built a factory on the west side of Cambridge St, with the thought in mind that if their venture failed, they could convert it to cotton production. However, as a result of the success of their products and the cotton famine, by the end of the 1860's both the east and west plants were employed in the manufacture of rubber products. It is worth noting here that Goodyear was also responsible for certain new innovations in rubber production, but this is not the place to discuss them.

Although at first Hancock and Macintosh kept their business ventures separate, Hancock became a partner in the business in 1831. In 1843 when Charles died, his son George Macintosh joined the Board, but he left after a couple years and was the last family member to be associated with the company. So it was that in 1845 that when George Macintosh and Henry Birley both retired, Richard Birley, Thomas Hornby Birley, Herbert Birley, Thomas Hancock and William Brockedon continued the partnership.

The company remained in business until 1923 when it was taken over by Dunlop. Between 1939 and 1945 the Dunlop factory was at full production. They manufactured the very large barrage balloons that were a feature of the skyline during that period. More bizarrely they produced inflatable Sherman tanks and anti-aircraft guns. They were of pneumatic construction and were used in many theatres of war. This type of dummy was blown up in  a similar fashion to the barrage balloons. When deflated they could fit into a case the size of a cricket bag. Pictures of these articles can be seen in The Archives at Manchester Central Library. The collection includes one photograph of a Sherman tank sitting on a small hill, but all is not what it seems. Production at the factory ceased in 2000. Fortunately the area was designated as part of the Southern Gateway Regeneration Programme. Many of the buildings have been refurbished whilst keeping their original facades. Run down, soot covered mills have become sort after dwellings and fine student accommodation.



It seems hard to believe but Wythenshawe, the place of my birth, only became incorporated in the City of Manchester in the early 1930's (see here). Traditionally is was part of the old county of Cheshire. The first national census co-ordinated by the Government was in 1841. The majority of what we know as Wythenshawe today was in the ancient parish of Northenden . For the purposes of the 1841 Census the parish was split into four enumeration districts. What follows are the descriptions of those four districts and it is interesting to note some of the place names. I have transcribed the details from the first district in full and used the exact spellings in the schedules and given the approximate population figures (within 10). It is not possible for me to show images of the Census returns as they are subject to Crown copyright. All libraries in the area covered by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) have free access to a version of where these returns can be viewed. The references for each  Enumeration District are listed below.



Ref: HO 107/103/1  folio 4

County of Cheshire. Hundred of Macclesfield.

Parish of Northenden.

Township of Northern Etchells (part of)

Superintendent Registrar's District: Altrincham.

Registrar's District: Wilmslow.

Number of Enumeration District: 14

Description of Ditto: All that part of Northern Etchells comprising Thomas Adshead's farm, Woodhouse Lane, Hey-Head, Joshua Bayley's house near Styall, Peter Smith's farm, Shadow Moss, [Moss] Nook and Chamber Hall.

Included in the above were areas known as Balshaw Outwood and Heald Green. There were only about 340 people living in this sizeable area.

Township of Northern Etchells (part of)

District 15 (Ref: HO 107/103/2 folio 4)

All that part of the township of Northern Etchells extending from Royle Thorn to Mr Baxter's at Gatley, thence by Wiggins Hill to Peel Hall, Cross Acres and Brownlow Green to Sharston Green and by John Royle's house to Halfley Hey to Thomas Dickins' house.

Other place names used include Poundswick, Holly Hedge, Benchill, Sharston, Sharston Hall, Sharston Mount, Peel Lane and Stone Pale. About 380 people were living in this area.

Township of Northenden (part of)

District 16 (Ref: HO 107/103/3 folio 4)

All that part of the township of Northenden from the Boat House to Kennedy, thence by the chapel, including all the Houses on  the Northenden side of Gilbert Lane to Mr Wilson's, Royle Green and Mr Wadkin's house.

Most of the people were living in the village, other places mentioned are Ravenswood, Hill Gate, Northern Moor End, Royle Green, Rose Hill and Bradley Gate. They were 470 residents listed.

Township of Northenden (part of)

District 17 (Ref: HO 107/103/4 folio 4)

All that part of the township of Northenden from Piper Hill to the end of Northern Moor, thence to Lawton Moor and the Royal Oak in Baguley, and by Withinshaw hall to the Rackhouse.

Just under 190 people were living in this area.



NOW here is a question for residents or former residents of Greater Manchester. Where were the first zoological gardens in Manchester located? Belle Vue Gardens I hear you cry. Well they were certainly extensive and in their time acted as a lung to the area, but they were not the first. There was an earlier collection of animals in Lower Broughton.

They opened on May 31st 1838.They were run by a company who ventured a large sum of money in the enterprise. They occupied nearly all the land from Northumberland St to Broom Lane and went back a considerable distance from the road. In addition to the usual attraction of the tea gardens of the day they had a small collection of animals. About the time of Queen Victoria's coronation there was a serious mishap with one of the animals. The various places of amusement were open for free to all the people. At the Zoological Gardens a large crowd attended, as the animals were something of a novelty. Many people gathered around the lion's cage and an unfortunate man was forced towards the bars after a crush in the crowd. Instantly the lion sprang upon the poor soul and mauled him. Sadly amputation of his arm  was necessary. The owners tried to drum up business by advertising in The Manchester Guardian.

Zoological Gardens, Manchester. The Board of Directors of the above establishment, in order to give all classes of society an opportunity of viewing the gardens and splendid collection of animals have concluded to open them during the following week, from the 31st of December 1838 to the 5th of January 1839, at half price. For adults, 6d; Children, under twelve years of age, 3d. Officers will be stationed to prevent the intrusion of improper or disorderly persons.

The adverts did not work. Public interest in the gardens was not forthcoming and after about four years they were closed. The gardens were sold by auction on November 23rd 1842. Most of the animals were purchased by a certain Mr Jennison, who in 1836 had opened his tea gardens in Hyde Road.

However there was an even more humble version before that. In an advertisement in The Manchester Guardian a Mr Joseph Lodge invites one and all to visit his public house and gardens to see his menagerie. It appeared on July 28th 1832 and it gives some idea what that part of Broughton was like at that time.

Broughton Grove Inn Zoological Gardens. The inhabitants of Manchester and its neighbourhood are respectfully informed that these interesting and rural gardens are now opened to the public. The proprietor Mr Joseph Lodge, begs leave to inform gentlemen, subscribers, and others that the bowling-green, billiard room and quoiting-ground are now in complete order, and will be set apart for their exclusive use every Wednesday and Friday; and to the public generally on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The ladies and younger branches of the family will find in these retired gardens everything that can contribute to their health and amusement. Tea, coffee, salad, fruit etc, will be provided on the most reasonable terms. J. Lodge hopes by unremitting attention to the comfort of his visitors, keeping only the choicest wines and spirits, together with his home brewed ale and London porter etc, to make this the most pleasant lounge in the neighbourhood, being only one mile from town on the Bury New Road.

I do not know as much as I would like about this chap as he had the temerity to die before the 1851 Census. I have him and his family living at The Grove in the 1841 Census which states that he was not born in the county. The public house and gardens are clearly shown on the 1848 Ordnance Survey map. I do have a trip planned to Lancashire Records Office to read his will and this may give some more information about him and his family.

The Grove Hotel and its gardens boarder Bury New Road and on the opposite side of the road was a nursery which can also be seen on the 1848 map. This nursery and another one a short distance away at Singleton Brook were owned by a William Lodge who hailed from Uley in Gloucestershire. It may be pure coincidence that these two men having the same surname, lived in properties only separated by the width of a road. I know that in 1841 William had a brother called Charles, also a nurseryman, who lived very close by.

The area was quite popular with people who wanted to get away from the grimy, smoke filled air of Manchester as illustrated in this next extract from Reminiscences of Manchester by Louis M Hayes.

In  Manchester, about the year 1840 and onwards, the middle classes began to realise that town life was not very desirable, and families began migrating and settling in the various suburbs. In the summer of 1845 we removed from Faulkner St to Teneriffe St, Broughton, and it was very pleasant to get away from town with all its dingy and uninviting surroundings, and to breathe the pure, fresh country air. The country began at that time around Sherbourne St, fields being on both sides of the road, and as you walked along and turned down Broughton Lane it was sweet and nice, and you realised that you had said good-bye to the town. The lane had its hedgerows thick with and wild flowers peeping out from beneath with gay profusion whilst the gardens about were gay with bloom. A few yards down the lane you came to Lodge’s Nursery Gardens, approached by a long, wide pathway, bordered by, a small running brook. Inside the Nurseries there was an extensive orchard of pear, apple and plum trees. Scattered about were summerhouses and arbours, where people could sit and have their tea, with water-cress. In the spring time it was quite a sight to stand on the higher ground on Bury New Road, and look across to Lodge's Gardens, at the wide expanse of fruit trees laden with bloom.


TO SOME people trawling through Parish Registers is akin to the ancient art of watching paint dry. True it can very tedious and also very time consuming, but there are times when you can find some gems of information, whether it be footnotes in the margins, corrections or just unusual entries. Beside baptisms, marriages and burials there are many other records available.

The following is taken from the baptisms from Wynbury Parish Church, and little to do with the birth of a child. It dates from the early part of the seventeenth century.

Madam Mary Delves Ladie and weif of Sir Thomas Delves Knigte and Baronet describing to me Morice Gwyn vicar of the Parishe, by her often experience, the qualitie of her information to be such that when she eateth some fishe, cheese and such like it putteth her to extreme  pain, in respect of which [pains] I could no lesse in ????? and equitie according to the statute in that behalf but allow lycence and dispence with the said Lady Delves for neccesitie sake to eat of fleshe at or in the tymes prohibited. And this allowance and lycence after eighte daies to be recorded in the Register Booke of the Parish of Winbury with the privitie of one of the churchwardens, my allowance and lycence I have confimed with the subscription of my name, the fourth of May 1632.

Morice Gwyn and Thomas Cooper

Below this was an entry noting that Lady Delve had paid into the Poor Fund the sum of eighteen shillings and four pence, which seems a vast amount of money for the time. Were the two things connected? Well it was only a small price to pay if you wanted to eat meat on Fridays and other days of abstinence, at least for the Lady of the Manor

I found this entry in the Parish records of Wallasey, St Hilda.

Memorandum that on the 23rd of December in the year of our Lord 1630, we George Snell the parson, Henry Birde and Richard Hill Churchwardens of the Parish of Wallasey being assembled in the church with 10 or 12  more sufficient parishioners and examining the christening register in the year 1606 did find Hellen Younge mistaken and entered in stead of John Younge on the 20th November which was verily judged to be so, because none of the parish can remember any such Hellen; and because the parents and neighbour[s] certainly affirm that John Younge omitted in the book was christened on that month and about that day: so far as in us [       ] with full consent agreed that the said John Younge son [of]  Henry Younge of Seacomb: shall be registered at the foot of the leafe in 1606: to have been christened on the 20th day of November.

This was taken from the baptismal records for Budworth, St Mary and All Saints.

March 21st 1861. Esther dau of Sarah Jeffs. (Abode) Crossley. Illegitimate.

N. B. The Mother Sarah Jeffs was illegally married to Daniel Percival, farmer of Crossley-who was the daughter of the sister of his first wife.



MANCHESTER Parish Church was one of only a very few selected churches that had the privilege of Sanctuary. In fact it was one of only eight that were bestowed by Henry VIII. This questionable distinction drew into the area many villains and thieves, which to a town with a growing trade, was not an ideal scenario. In early times yarns were exposed to the air to be bleached. Woollen cloths were also dried in the same way. This meant that valuable items were left out in the open day and night and therefore very tempting to light fingered people. In 1541 Manchester Parish Church "lost" this privilege to Chester after only a year.


OVER recent times there has been controversy concerning the removal of headstones from cemeteries and their relocation. This is not something new and in the past the headstones have not always been treated with the reverence or respect they deserved. This is letter printed in one of the local newspapers at the latter end of the 19th century.

Manchester City News May 5th 1883. To the Editor

Sir, - In reflagging Rumford St, Chorlton on Medlock, a flag was turned over Tuesday morning May 1st bearing the following inscription:- "Here resteth the bodies of Ellen daughter of William and Mary Gerrard who departed this life June 17th 1787 aged 5 weeks; also their son William, who departed this life Dec 24th 1792, aged 2 years; also John their son who departed this life 27th June 1808 aged 14 years". This may be interesting to some of your readers. How came the stone to be claimed by the Corporation? Is it to be laid in the same place in front of the Welsh Chapel house, Rumford St? No one has ever been buried there.

S. ROBERTS, Lorne St, Moss Side


ARE you a Roman Catholic and do you have family members who prior to the early 1900s did not marry in the church? I have come upon this on several occasions and some people have been upset by this. However not many people are aware of the fact that until Easter 1908, to get married outside of the Catholic church did not go against the teachings of the church in this country. It was only after the decree Ne Temere was proposed in 1907 that it became a condition of having a valid marriage in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

For the details, take a look at a search engine, but before 1908 a (Catholic) marriage between a couple did not have to have any ceremony to be valid in the eyes of the Church. All they needed to do was to consent to the marriage themselves. I have no idea how many people were aware of this prior to 1908. One thing for certain is that the clergy would possibly have not wanted this to be common knowledge as it would have had some affect on their earnings from marriage fees.

Over the years many people, including close relatives have challenged my "take"  on Ne Temere. Some have stated that I did not fully understand the decree. That may be true or not, but the opinion of one Catholic priest can be found here .

Even today under the present Catholic Marriage Legislation the blessing of a union by a priest, in certain circumstances, is not essential to the marriage sacrament. If a Catholic couple wish to marry in a place where, for a month, there will be no priest qualified to join them in marriage, they may simply express their mutual consent before a couple of witnesses, and thereby they are validly married in the eyes of the Church. If a couple is in danger of death, they can also marry even when there is no delay in the arrival of a priest.

If you happen to look for some of your relatives marriages on one of the county BMD sites you may see an entry for the location of the marriages as "Registrar Office or Registrar Attended". This means that the wedding took place at the Register Office or at an unlicensed church or chapel where the Registrar had to attend to make the marriage legal in the eyes of the law. The chapel would more than likely have been Catholic or non-conformist.


In the course of my research I have to often wade through old newspapers. I often get side tracked by the adverts which, especially those dealing with medical remedies, make incredible claims about the virtues of the particular product being advertised. The following extracts appeared in the Britannia published on Saturday 21st March 1835. The advert was a full column advert almost the full length of the page and was backed up by recommendations from satisfied customers.

Lamb's Vegetable Compound the only effectual cure for all descriptions of wombs, indigestion, bilious and liver complaints, early stages of consumption, and delicate constitutions, whether arising from worms or not. The Vegetable Compound may be taken at any season of the year, without any hindrance of business, or change in the diet, and warranted free of any preparation of Mercury or Turpentine. - To be had at 22 Bridge-street, Manchester.

There followed many examples of cures, the most exorbitant one is below.

Extraordinary Case

December 14th 1834

Martin Middleton, butcher of 53 Lower Brook-street, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, while taking Lamb's Vegetable Compound, passed a tape worm thirty yards and a quarter long, weighs twelve ounces, and has 2,494 joints. The principal symptoms that effected him for several years were as follows: bad taste in mouth in a morning, giddiness, heaviness over the eyes, drowsiness, lowness of spirits, loss of appetite, particularly in the morning; violent gnawings, pain in the stomach and bowels, pain in the small of the back, feebleness and listlessness of the limbs, very nervous, griping pains in the bowel, and much troubled with wind. this surprising worm may be seen in Mr Lamb's shop window, 22 Bridge-street, Manchester.






Copyright: Gerard Lodge ( 2007-2017

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Last update: 14th February 2017