Sunday, 27 March 2011
Thursday, 17 March 2011
My cousin Alan (grandson of Ethel Armstrong) who is an expert on this family history stuff and to whom I owe a lot for his generous sharing of information about the family, has contributed this to the comments on Ancoats;
- small world and all that - the Hampsons made the same move from "Ancoats" to Salford at around the same time. The "mystery" man (whose name, on an 1876 grave paper, we didn't recognize, and therefore started my family history trail back in 1991) turned out to be Robert Hampson, brother of my g-g-grandfather, John. Born in 1812, from 1838 to his death in 1876, Robert ran a beerhouse at 4 Cornwall St, later known as the Three Pigeons. John lived at Primrose St, which originally ran from Cornwall St to Bengal St (one end of it still exists, but with no property on it now) - most of it was obliterated when they built Victoria Square, Sanitary St and the "model" cottages on George Leigh St. He also lived at Wigby's Court and Blossom St for a while before moving to Chorlton-on-Medlock. Meanwhile, my mum's g-grandad, William Payne, came north from Newbury in the 1870s and setlled first at 72 George Leigh St, then later at Gun St (partly still there), Jersey St then Fawcett St, off Great Ancoats St. He was a chair-maker with a workshop in Jersey Mill (still standing, now offices) and then Brownsfield Mill (also still standing). So they could all have bumped into each other, for all we know!
Coming to more recent times, when I worked for the Gas Board in the mid-1970s, quite a lot of the old industry in the area was still going and I remember a small metal foundry called Pressbar Products who had a ramshackle works in a courtyard on Portugal St - this street, which was originally a continuation of Primrose St, also still exists, but just looks like a back-alley behind the few remaining old shops on Oldham Road, nowadays. One old street sign still exists on Butler Lane. People pass these without a second glance, but the rear walls of these shops pre-date Engels, being 18th century, but much rebuilt.
If you have ever seen the film "A Taste of Honey" (Rita Tushingham, Dora Byran, etc), the higgledy-piggledy flat where Jo (Rita T) lives, towards the end of the film, was filmed in this area, and I'm convinced the courtyard is the Pressbar Products one (the firm is still going, but off Ducie St, Piccadilly, now). The canal scenes are also in Ancoats (plus one in Salford) and parts of Oldham and Manchester also appear. As you've no doubt seen, they are putting a lot of effort into modernising what is being promoted as "Ancoats" but, being a pedantic Mancunian (!) this area is NOT Ancoats, it was always called the Oldham Road district. Ancoats proper was a separate town at the far end of Great Ancoats St, which LEADS to Ancoats, hence the name. The border would be about Redhill St and, for convenience, the boundary was generally regarded as the canal.
Incidentally, Cornwall St was renamed Cornell St in 1954, part of a move by Manchester Council and Royal Mail to clear up duplicated street names. There were two Cornwall Streets (one in Gorton, still extant) so one had to go! It was understandable, really, because there were TWELVE John Streets, for example, and before postcodes it led to a lot of misdelivered letters. I remember Sanitary St having a wooden name sign, from which the first and last letters had been chopped, so although it said " Anita St" the spacing was weird. I think the council just gave up (or didn't notice) and called it Anita St when they made new metal-plate signs in the 1970s.
Your comments about Engels are interesting, because I have read the Condition of the Working Classes myself and, although some of what he said was undoubtedly true, it must be remembered that he was making a political point and so picking all the worst features he could find. I don't know if you've read what might be regarded as the counter to this, "Manchester and the Textile Districts 1849" by Angus Bethune Reach - if not, try and borrow a copy, it's worth a read. He was commissioned to write a series of reports by the Morning Chronicle, who were anxious to allay people's fears after Engels' book, so you could say it is biased the opposite way, but then the truth may be somewhere in between. Don't go off internet quotes from this compilation, because they tend to extract snippets that sound exactly like Engels (he didn't disagree with him on everything). What makes it worth reading is that Reach, an early form of investigative reporter, actually went into people's homes, places of work, pubs, clubs, etc and noted down, not only details and impressions of the surroundings, but what people actually told him in interviews. A lot of it rings true, for instance, he describes one house in Ancoats as very sparse, one single room downstairs and one up, with bare flag floors and whitewashed walls - but - there is a square of matting near the door, home-made rug by the fireplace, a geranium or two in pots by the window and a couple of pictures above the mantelpiece. This sounds so like my grandad's house that I can easily believe that this is more typical - ordinary people, not having much, but making the most of what they do have. There are other snippets that were news to me, for instance, most people drank coffee, not tea, as the latter was five times the price! Barrows on street corners sold coffee and hot bacon sandwiches for mill workers who had to start early (origins of the bacon barm). People mostly ate potato hash during the week, with a piece of meat at weekends (Sunday joint). It's full of fascinating insights that are believable because, in modified form, many of the traditions are still with us. But, as I say, it also has its political agenda, so is perhaps painting a rosier picture than was actually the case.
Unfortunately, both Engels and Reach are uncomplimentary (putting it mildly) about the Irish - there was a lot of anti-Irish feeling, especially after the famine, which brought many to England seeking work. Having little choice, they tended to rent the cellars and ramshackle houses that others wouldn't touch and were then castigated for living a lowly life - the sort of petty bigotry that, regrettably, is still with us, except that it's generally the Muslims that are bearing the brunt of it nowadays. Then as now, though, not everyone was as narrow-minded as the press would have us believe, and I'm sure most ordinary people had a "live and let live" attitude. To assume all Victorians were racist is like assuming we all vote BNP now! Personally, I don't think people change that much over time, there are good guys and bastards now, always have been, and probably always will be.
We know precious little about the McNally family. My grandfather Arthur McNally was born in Loughshinny in the Skerries area of Co. Dublin in 1891. I’ve visited Loughshinny a couple of times now and seen the new bungalow on the plot where their house stood, next to the old school which is now a community centre. The house and land was sold by one of my uncles after the death of the younger sisters sometime in the nineteen-eighties.
After contacting the Parish Priest in Rush I’ve been given a contact in Loughshinny and I’m now dying to make another visit out to the area.
I’ve walked down the road from the school to the harbour, the pretty little fishing harbour which seems to have changed little in centuries. It’s a wild, beautiful place, full of history and geography all sea, sky and rocks and changing light and weather.
Arthur McNally is listed on the 1911 census as farmer’s son, living in Ballykea, Loughshinny with his mother and father and four sisters, Mary, Catherine, Margaret, Jane (Jennie). It seems Catherine was the only one to marry. She became a Clifford (or a Colgan?)
There is a bit of an enigma here as the story goes that he ran away to sea at an early age. His sons all remember the wonderful seafaring tales he told them and these in turn were passed on to us. Of course it’s all a bit vague and lost now. I was told he went to New York on sailing ship carrying merchandise. One of the last mercantile sailing ships to cross the Atlantic. I was also told about Arthur working the boats from Cornwall to Manchester, carrying tin and about what a hard life this was.
It therefore seems a bit strange to see him listed on the 1911 census as farmer’s son aged 20. Arthur was married in 1916 in Salford, Manchester so his seafaring days can’t have been that many unless he was home between jobs at the time of the census.
He lived for the rest of his life in Salford and worked on the Manchester and Salford docks. He had six sons to Hannah Keogh who was born in Salford but came from Irish family who had originally come over from Ireland at the time of the famine.
They lived in the streets of terraced houses leading down to the docks, streets of poverty and grime surrounded by the chimneys of the ‘dark satanic mills’ and gas works. The contrast between the sea and the sky of Loughshinny couldn’t be greater and I wonder how Arthur could have felt leaving that beautiful place for work on the docks where the labouring was hard. I can only conclude that the conditions in that part of rural Ireland can’t have been idyllic. The farming may have been growing a few potatoes from hard, rocky ground.
Arthur’s parents were Laurence McNally 1859-1943 and Margaret Hoare (born In Rush)
1863-1943. We have found baptism and marriage records and I now know they are buried at
Baldongan graveyard . They attended the Catholic Church in Rush. There was no church in
Loughshinny and apparently the Catholics were allowed to take a short cut through the demesne
of Kenure Estate to attend mass.
The Victorian church in Rush was replaced by a new church right next door sometime in the seventies. The old church has been converted into a library, which despite winning prestigious architectural prizes, has suffered from the cuts in Irish public service spending and had its opening delayed.
His grandparents were Arthur McNally and Catherine Ryan (born1827) They were married in 1848, presumably in the church at Rush.
The 1901 census provides this fascinating information Catherine McNally aged 74: living at house 27 Loughshinny, occupation shopkeeper and grandson Arthur aged 10. If this is Arthur he’s on the census twice as he’s also clearly listed at the same house next to the community centre with his parents and the figure of Michael Ryan who is the uncle of Arthur’s father, Laurence, and seems to be the owner of the property. The 1901 census also shows James Hoare aged 72, fisherman, living in house 138 Rush town. He is a widower living with daughter Bridget and could be the father of my great-grandmother.
Arthur married Hannah Keogh, daughter of Laurence Nolan who was born in Westmeath, Ireland and his wife Elizabeth Callaghan, also born in Westmeath. They went to the UK in the years that correspond to the Irish potato famine. Sadly, the only clue we have is Westmeath and it’s a pretty big place.
There is a lot more research work to be done here and another trip out to Loughshinny is being planned.