Christmas Day at the Chorlton Union Workhouse

‘The adults received on this day a breakfast of tea and bread and butter and dinner of roast beef and potatoes followed by plum pudding. Men above thirsty years of age received a small allowance of beer and half an ounce of tobacco. Women above the same age received each a half pint of beer and a packet of dry tea and some sugar.

Alms Houses at Chorlton Union Workhouse Alms Houses, Chorlton Union Workhouse, Image courtesy of Manchester Local Images, M53434.

For the children, there were apples, oranges and sweets. At supper, the fare for all the inmates was the same as for breakfast. On New Years Day five Christmas trees will be stripped and the toys given to the children.

Children and nurse at Crumpsall Workhouse, c.1897
Children and a nurse at a Manchester Workhouse, image courtesy of flickr,

‘On Christmas Day, carols were sung by the children who, after morning service, had a grand day at their own games.’

Excerpt from The Manchester Examiner and Times, Thursday December 26th 1889.

Manchester and the struggle for African independence

Looking through the photographs held at the Central Library I came across a truly interesting image. From the 15th to the 21st October 1945 Manchester played host to an event, largely ignored at the time, which would have huge significance for the future of an entire continent. It was at Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall that 90 delegates from across Africa, Europe and North America came together to hold the Fifth Pan-African Congress to discuss the future of Africa.

1945 was a momentous year in world history, the Second World War had ended the previous month and many of Europes’ colonies looked towards the prospect of finally gaining independence as a reward for their immense sacrifices. Pan Africanism was a political ideology developed by African intellectuals to challenge the artificial division of the African continent by the Colonial powers when they had scrambled for territory. Its ultimate goal was to unite Africa and gain complete independence.

Originally planned to take place in Paris the conference was switched to Manchester because of travel problems. The Congress was organised by leading Pan African figures, George Padmore, a Trinidadian activist, and Kwame Nkrumah, future president of an independent Ghana. Also in attendance was Jomo Kenyatta an independence activist who would go onto to become the first president of Kenya. Special honour was reserved for the 77 year old American civil rights campaigner W. E. B. Du Bois who had organised the First Congress meeting in 1919. Searching through the libraries archives, particularly the documents held by the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relation Resource Centre, I came across a copy of the actual manifesto that was written by the Congress. In it were calls of “colonial and subject peoples of the world unite” and a declaration that “we are determined to be free”.

pan african congress_cover

During the conference many resolutions were passed on a variety of different issues. Politically, the Congress opposed the political oppression of Africa’s peoples and the denial of a say in their countries futures. Economically, the Congress demanded an end to the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources which made European powers rich at the expense of Africa. The Congress also railed against the discriminatory practices that were enforced in the colonies such as Kipande in Kenya, where Kenyans were forced to wear identification boxes around their necks and had their movement restricted. The meeting also included discussions on the movement for civil rights by African-Americans and an open letter was drawn up, addressed to the recently elected Labour Prime minister Clement Atlee congratulating him on the victory of the Labour party and calling on his government to take a stand against imperialism.

It stated;

“To condemn the imperialism of Germany, Japan and Italy while condoning that of Britain would be more than dishonest, it would be a betrayal of the sacrifices and sufferings and the toil and sweat of the common people of this country. All imperialism is evil”. 

Although the importance of the conference was not understood by politicians and the media of the time, in a few short years many of its participants would go on to put into practice what they had first declared at the meeting. In the twenty years that followed, most of Africa had achieved its goal of becoming independent however the dream of a unified continent ultimately failed to be realised.

This blog post was written for Archives+ by one of our volunteers as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project.

Blueprints of a city – Manchester’s architectural plans

Are you a fan of Modernist, Art Deco, Edwardian or Victorian architecture? Have you ever wondered about Manchester’s architecture and wanted to get your hands on original building plans? We’ve got good news for you.

Refuge Assurance Buildings, Oxford Street, 12 Mar 1891

The Building Control department at Manchester City Council has been granting building approvals since the 1860s. Since then the archives of architectural plans have grown – from one box to over a thousand. Some are for buildings still in existence, some give us a glimpse into the the city’s lost built heritage. Most come in a file with sections, elevations and floor plans.

Manchester Reform Synagogue, Jackson's Row

Electric Theatre, Whitworth Street West, 1909

While the Town Hall Extension was being renovated, the Building Control department had to move their archives to a warehouse in Openshaw. Soon after this move we got a call. There’s this collection, they said. It’s amazing, they said. But it’s big. Really big.

Manchester Guardian Office by Barker and Ellis, 19 Sep 1881

When we made it to the warehouse, we could see what they meant. It was huge. More than two hundred filing cabinets stuffed full of architectural plans – a pretty complete set of plans of buildings from 1890 to the 1980s, plus some really fragile early plans dating from the 1860s onwards. Our team set up camp in the warehouse and started to work through the collection.

Ground floor plan of Didsbury Library, 1914

It was cold in the warehouse. It was pretty horrible actually. But we kept going. We had tea and we had gloves. This was archiving at the coal face. We have kept all the plans dating from 1948 and before. For more recent plans we have had to select the public buildings, bigger domestic and industrial developments and weed out many of the thousands of smaller developments, garages and sheds. Even so the collection (at around 1000 boxes) still became our biggest archive overnight.

Manchester Town Hall clock tower, c.1874

Parts of the collection have been fully indexed by volunteers (from 1890 to 1902 and from 1948 to 1958). To search for these plans on our online catalogue enter M900 in the Identifier field and the street or architect’s name in the Any Text field. You can then make an appointment to view the plans at Central Library. For plans dating from 1903-1947 and 1959-1980s please email with your enquiry.

Granada TV Studios, Quay Street, Apr 1953

Stay tuned for updates on the collection, calls for volunteers to help us preserve it and make it accessible, and advice on how to navigate the finding aids. And of course some more beautiful plans. You can download large versions of the out-of-copyright plans from our Flickr photostream so you can zoom in and see the detail.

London Road Fire Station Block W ground and first floor plans, 1902

Withington Baths sections and elevations by Henry Price, 1 Mar 1911

Jelly d’Aranyi

 A couple of weeks ago, I sat down at the North West Film Archive pods looking for some inspiration. The first thing I watched was a clip, about a minute and a half long, of a woman called Jelly d’Aranyi playing with a little girl outside Holly Royde House in Withington. This is what I made of it.

Jelly d’Aranyi

Nine and a half.
The film is silent.

November 1928.

Well it’s like I’ve always said you just can’t trust not one of

This child at the window was only visible once they watched the film back, in a stiff white coat and white hood with binoculars covering her eyes.

never would have guessed if she hadn’t said that big house

Jelly d’Aranyi descends the steps with a girl; that fur cape slaps her sides and swallows her hand; a maid runs down the steps behind her and flees past the edge of the frame

 – and that big house as well –

They shouldn’t be out in this weather.



Nine and a half.

The film is silent.

The thing is about those shows is they don’t show you real life do they, hadn’t seen her for 53 years and I could have gone without because you know what she’s a right bitch.

Standing close by she snatches herself away from the child, she waves and she runs a bit, she looks at the camera and I don’t think she knows how to

get rid of you all over again.”

play with a child

Should have had me on.

is this what you want?

I abandoned her for a reason.

If it gets too much, finally, you can always go inside.

You know that, don’t you?

Don’t you?

Nine and a half.
The film is silent.

Bryony Bates is the winner of the Young Enigma Allan Horsfall Prize for LGBT+ Young Writers in Greater Manchester. This is a piece she has written for us.

How to survive a zombie apocalypse

The spread of viruses, microbiology, local history, archives and zombies… Just another day in Archives+. On Wednesday Professor Joanna Verran and Matthew Crossley from Manchester Metropolitan University presented an interactive lecture incorporating all of these themes to a group of students and zombie aficionados.

Zombies in the Archives 22/10/2014

To add to the atmosphere make up artists from Stockport college transformed a group of volunteers (some more willing than others) into victims of unfortunate diseases.

Zombies in the Archives 22/10/2014 Zombies in the Archives 22/10/2014

You might wonder how this ties in with archives…. Well, Victorian Manchester, or Cottonopolis as it was known at the time, was overcrowded with poor sanitation and we have plenty of archives to show how the spread of disease was rife in the city, including sanitation reports, cholera maps and much more. Some of these are included in our exhibition and others were on display for the day.

Sketch of back to back houses (GB124.M126/5/1/17)

Professor Verran also talked about how to prevent the spread of infection, including innoculisation and quarantine. The principles of quarantining people who have or are suspected of having infectious diseases are similar to how we protect our archives from the spread of mould and insect infestations.

More pictures of the event are available on our Flickr page. If you’d like to know more about Professor Verran visit her MMU web page.

If you’re interested in the science of archives, our Conservation Officer will be holding a drop in session on Wednesday the 29th of October as part of our Manchester Science Festival Event Science@Central.

Our trip to Manchester Central Library


Thanks to Crumpsall Lane for this blog post about their visit. We love the photos of everyone enjoying the Archives+ exhibition.

Originally posted on CLPS 2MD:

Last week we had so much fun visiting Manchester Central Library! We really enjoyed listening to a story by Roald Dahl called ‘The Twits’ in the lovely children’s library. We then had fun making our own disgusting beards, just like Mr Twits! Next, we were given a grand tour of the magnificent library and were really impressed with all the wonderful things to see and do there. Finally we explored the interactive section of the library and even made our very own book marks! We love reading in year 2 and I am sure that lots of us will be visiting the library again with our friends and families!


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Lancashire World War One Football

When looking through photographs which featured football clubs, matches and players from the early Twentieth Century there was one picture curiously out-of-place next to images of Manchester City, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and other sides from around the North West.

Lancashire Army Football Team

Back row (left to right) Broad, Eccleston, Lees, Sutcliffe, Kellock, Cook, Bullen, Kelly, Swarbrick. Front row (left to right) Barnes, Boyle, Speak, Shepherd, Latheron, Walmsley, Toothill.

The image of soldiers in uniform, stood in front of a stand at a football ground, was a marked change from the action shots and squad photos that surrounded it.  The soldiers pictured were members of the Lancashire army football side, players from regiments in the area who came together to form a team to play in an inter-county match against a Yorkshire side in 1916.

The team featured some of the finest players of the period, one of which was winger Eddie Latheron.  A Blackburn Rovers player and England international, Latheron was lauded at the time as one of, if not the best winger in the English game.  Originally from Middlesbrough, he moved down to Blackburn a few years before the First World War broke out and had established himself as one of the stars of the game in his spell at Rovers, collecting two League titles and two England caps before 1914.  Following the start of the conflict, and the postponement of League football, Latheron joined the Royal Field Artillery.  He unfortunately died during the war on October 14th 1917, aged 28, at the Battle of Passchendale where after pulling a comrade out of the line of fire he was hit with an artillery shot and suffered fatal wounds.

85th Field Battery Beret Badge

Badge of the Royal Field Artillery, image courtesy of

The First World War was punctuated by tragic stories such as that of Eddie Latheron.  Another member of the side, Teddy Bullen, suffered a similar fate to his team-mate.  Bullen was a Bury F.C. player, a fine half back according to those who saw him play and, like Eddie Latheron, he joined up following the temporary end to the Football League programme.  Initially a member of the Royal Horse Artillery and then the Royal Field Artillery Bullen on August 11th 1917, in the commune of Vaulx-Vraucourt in the north of France.  He was the only Bury player to die during the First World War and a number of years ago the club honoured their fallen player with a memorial in the club’s boardroom.

Eddie Latheron

Eddie Latheron, picture from @stevew_chorley on Twitter.

Stories like those of Teddy Bullen and Eddie Latheron were an all too common feature of the First World War.  Young men who were taken in the prime of their lives fighting for the greater good. There were survivors from this team though and its a sad fact that some survivors failed to get the support they deserved following the end of the war.

Thomas Boyle began his footballing career at Barnsley before moving to Burnley.  He was one of the more colourful characters of early 20th century football.  He was suspended by Burnley in 1912 for “breaching training regulations and disobeying doctors orders”, however he put that behind him and went on to captain the side.  He remains, to this day, the only Burnley captain to have lifted the FA Cup following their success in 1914.  At the same time, he became the first captain ever to receive the trophy from a reigning monarch.

Tommy Boyle and his wife Annie


Tommy and his wife Annie. Image courtesy of Mike Smith

Boyle was wounded during his time on the battlefield and told he would struggle to play again, yet he did not let that curtail his footballing career.  He returned to captain Burnley post-war and was captain of Burnley’s first ever league title-winning team in 1921.  Despite his on pitch successes, he was never given the recognition many felt he had earned, achieving just one solitary England cap and three appearances for the Football League representative side.

Tommy Boyle memorial

Headstone erected for Tommy Boyle in 2010, image from

Unfortunately after his playing career had ended, following a brief spell coaching, Boyle succumbed to alcoholism and a gambling addiction which resulted in him losing his house and family.  A Burnley and Barnsley footballing legend and World War One survivor, he spent his final years at Whittingham Mental Hospital where he died on January 2nd 1940, aged 53, his cause of death given as ‘the general paralysis of the insane.’

The Main Entrance, Whittingham Hospital.

Whittingham Mental Hospital, image from Preston Digital Archive

All the young men pictured in the team photograph will have had their own stories and all played their role in the war effort.  We should never forget the sacrifices that an entire generation made to ensure our freedom.  These stories are a tiny fraction of those of so many young men in the First World War, all tragically similar and all should never be forgotten.

This blog post was written for Archives+ by one of our volunteers as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project.

Many thanks to Mike Smith for use of images.  Mike has written well received books about Tommy Boyle and Burnley’s 1914 FA Cup success if you are interested in reading more on the subject.