Churchill and Manchester

This January marked fifty years since the death of Sir Winston Churchill and the grand state funeral which was held in his honour on 30th January 1965. Searching through the archives held at the Central library, I came across a great deal of material which sheds light on the early political life of this remarkable British figure. Most famous for his role as Prime Minister during the turbulent years of the Second World War, Churchill began his political career forty years earlier. In 1900 a young Winston stood in the General Election and became a Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency of Oldham, having been defeated in a by-election there the previous year. No sooner was Churchill in Parliament than he quickly became an outspoken opponent of his party’s leadership stance on certain issues, particularly over free trade and tariff reform. In 1904 these disagreements led him to switch Party becoming a Liberal, and in 1906 he campaigned and won the Manchester Northwest constituency in the landslide election that brought the Liberal Party to power.

Winston Churchill at a Liberal garden party in 1907.

Winston Churchill at a Liberal garden party in 1907

Within the Central library archives there are a collection of personal correspondents between Churchill and William Royle of Rusholme, Chairman of Executive Committee of the Manchester Liberal Federation. These fascinating letters cover this period of his life and provide a real insight on his private feelings on a variety of topics. One noticeable feature that can be ascertained by these letters is Churchill’s impressive rise to prominence following the shift in allegiance to the Liberals. This is evident with the changing government ministry letter headings each successive year, from Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to Home Secretary in space of five years.

Churchill addressing a meeting in Manchester 1910

Churchill addressing a meeting in Manchester 1910

Delving further into the archives provides a glimpse of a more familiar Churchill, the defiant war leader. Following the Manchester Blitz in December 1940, the Prime Minister visited Manchester in a show of solidarity and to counter Nazi propaganda which claimed to have completely destroyed the city.

Churchill visiting Manchester in 1941 to inspect the damage caused by Christmas Blitz

Churchill visiting Manchester in 1941 to inspect the damage caused by the Christmas Blitz

A few years later with the war still raging, a meeting was held by the Manchester City Council in July 1943. Chaired by the Lord Mayor J.S. Hill, the committee was convened to decide to symbolically reward the Prime Minister. The draft of the resolution can be found within the Central Library Archives.

It stated:

That this council hereby record that the powers accorded to them by the law of recognising persons of distinction and eminent services would be fittingly exercised by conferring the Freedom of the city upon the right honourable Winston Spencer Churchill.

It also stated:

Mr Churchill over a long period, has served his king and country with consistency, courage, ability and perspicacity in a variety of roles extending through the reigns of five sovereigns.

He is truly a person of distinction.

These and other documents relating to Churchill’s relationship with the City of Manchester are available through gmlives.org.uk

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

The Prestwich Asylum

Aerial view of Prestwich Mental Hospital

Prestwich Asylum was opened in January 1851, and had become one of the largest of it’s kind in Europe by 1900. It was extended in order to increase the capacity: ‘The Annex’ created space for an extra 1,100 patients, meaning that by 1903 around 3,135 patients could be housed there. Eventually, the asylum closed in the 1990s having run for over 150 years. I decided to investigate the records held at the Central Library to get more of an idea about the Asylum and some of the patients that were admitted.

I found many interesting (and often sad) passages from the records that I was looking at, which were mainly between the years of 1900-1901. What was very noticeable was the language used and the strange treatments often prescribed for the patients- very different from today! A regular term was ‘Phthisis’, used to check the medical background of the patient. Phthisis is an archaic term for Tuberculosis.

The reason for admission was often ‘melancholia’, another example of the older language used. This is a term for depression, but for us it sounds like quite an odd diagnosis.

Here are some of the records that stood out to me as being particularly sad. The treatment and diagnoses of the patients in particular are interesting to look at, especially when you compare them against more modern perceptions of mental health. The doctors are quite blunt and insensitive with their language, and describe their health in ways that I don’t think we would see today.

A.PRES.ADMF2.13RegNo12151A.PRES.ADMM2.11RegNo10512

A common theme for the cause of illness for many of the male patients was ‘worry at work’, or ‘money troubles’. This was much more common in the male patients, and was hardly seen in the female records. The role of the male in the family around this period was to provide and earn, and these records show how much working and earning was a vital part of people’s lives.

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A.PRES.ADMM2.1RegNo8006

A lot of patients were clearly concerned about the workhouse, which tells us a lot about the horrible conditions many of these people lived and worked in before staying at Prestwich Asylum.

A.PRES.ADMF2.13RegNo12174

Another interesting feature of many of the records was the treatment given. This was often ‘moral’ or ‘employment’. After some research, it seems that ‘moral’ was a method of psychiatric treatment founded on religious motivations. It was seen as a positive move from the often brutal treatments used previously and often described as a cornerstone for psychiatric treatment. However, the practise was still criticised by some, who argued that it made the patient increasingly dependant on the doctor. Employment was a form of daily structure given to the patient in order to create a routine for them, and thus hopefully act as a sort of distraction from their illness.

Leah Savage, 1900

Treatment in Asylum’s before this time was notoriously gruesome, and they were used as prisons rather than places to help people. Practises such as blood-letting and purging were common, with chains often used to control people.

I found looking through these records extremely fascinating, mainly because it is such a huge resource that the library has, and there was so much choice regarding the dates I wanted to look at. I was shocked at the volume of entries from month to month- there seems to have been a huge amount of people who came and went through the asylum’s doors. There were some patients that I came across that would probably not be treated the same if it was today, or even admitted to somewhere like Prestwich Asylum. It says a lot about the way treatment and therapy has changed, but also how we perceive mental health.

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/techniques/moraltreatment.aspx

Safety in Numbers: Life Inside Prestwich Asylum in 1900

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

Archives+ 2014 in Review

2014 was a huge year for the Archives+ team. Central Library reopened to the public after its refurbishment and our Archives+ exhibition was launched. Here are a few of the highlights from our year.

January

We kicked of the year with a visit to Wythenshawe Hall where we made memory boxes in very grand surroundings.
Wythenshawe Hall January 2014

February

We worked with the young people at Ladybarn Community Association to put together an afternoon tea. They researched the history of their area and spent the afternoon chatting to older people about life in the past.

Ladybarn Event Ladybarn intergen event 14 1

March

Central Library reopened after being closed for around 4 years for renovation. Archives+ took part in the opening celebrations and also had several events as part of Manchester Histories Festival including behind the scenes tours, film screenings, talks, living history characters and archive handling session.
Central Library Re-opening 22nd March 2014
April

Our inaugural photography competition took place in 2014 with short-listing in April. Max Bamber was the eventual winner with this shot of the St George’s Day Parade.
St George's Day Parade 2014
May

The wonderful Junkshop ran a Make Do and Mend session where attendees made canvas bags using recycled material and inspired by copies of Vogue from our heritage stack.Make Do and mend Sewing Class

June

We kicked off summer with a bang, pulling double duty at the Mela and the Manchester Day Parade.

Manchester Mega Mela 2014 Manchester Day Parade 22nd June 2014

July

In July we celebrated Central Library’s 80th birthday and also had a visit from Joey the War HorseWar Horse Up Close 26/07/2014

August

In August we took part in the Summer Reading Challenge, sticking to the theme (Mythical Mazes) by imagining what the boggarts in Boggart Hole Clough might look like.

Summer Reading Challenge activity

September

September saw the launch of our community exhibition – Wilfred Owen’s War. This was a Heritage Lottery Young Roots project in partnership with the Wowzone in Wythenshawe. The exhibition was launched with readings from the young people and was attended by the Lord Mayor of Manchester. Visit the project website for more information.

Wilfred Owen's War

October

In October we had Zombies in the archives and took part in Manchester Science Festival for the first time.

Zombies in the Archives 22/10/2014Science@Central

November

To commemorate 100 years since the beginning of the First World War all the Archives+ partners took part in a week of commemorative events. These included WWI themed music, talks, film shows and archive handling sessions. One of the highlights was Corporal Tommy Atkins who explains the life of the WWI Tommy using the original uniform and equipment of a Manchester Regiment soldier. Corporal Tommy Atkins

December

Our Christmas Extravaganza was a huge success in 2014. We had performances from local choirs and music groups, free craft activities, mince pies to give away,festive archives on display and even a visit from the man himself – Father Christmas.Christmas Extravaganza 2014

So that was 2014 for Archives+ in a nutshell. Of course, it goes without saying that we did much more than this post could possibly cover. School visits, free local history talks, film screenings and weekly archive handling sessions, not to mention a variety of events for families and young people in Central Library and a variety of events elsewhere in the City.

Keep your eye on our website, Facebook and Twitter to see what we get up to in 2015.

A new poem for the new year

I’ve been wanting to use the microfilm records of the Manchester Evening News since I started my residency at Archives+. Nothing underlined the difference between Manchester and the town I’d moved from more than the local newspaper headlines: instead of ‘Fury over giant hedge’ and ‘Popular shop reopens’, the yellow MEN newspaper boards screamed ‘TAXI GANG KNIFE HORROR’ and ‘MASS BRAWL AT BABY’S FUNERAL’. My affection for the city began with those headlines. I started writing them down, and found they were even better when I never discovered what the story was actually about. So I decided to buy a copy and compare the headlines from 2014 to those on the same day fifty years earlier, and see what came out of that. All words below are taken from headlines in the Manchester Evening News from 15th December 2014 and 15th December 1964.

15th December

Girl was ‘dope addict’
Clash over atom plan
Keep Britain for British
MEMBERS LET THEM DOWN

HUMAN LEG BY RIVER
BRITISH SHIP IN COLLISION
Strip-tease ‘indecent’
AMONG the ASHES of WAR

TORTURE MYSTERY PROBED
SEAL MAY GO TO ZOO
Police arrest ‘Elvis’ nuisance
MEMBERS LET THEM DOWN

WHY CAN’T TRAMS BEAT THE FREEZE?
‘VETERAN’ OF 19 SAVED MY LIFE
Conquered peak in Everest region
On the Amateur Stage

£4M plan to remodel village
Tot dropped from window as family flee arson
Takeaway boss is ambushed by thugs
MP’s wife sells scented selfies online
Bouncer is stabbed in the face outside bar
MAN STEPS AWAY AS SHELTER IS WRECKED
FATHER HOLDS THE BABY WHILE MOTHER DANCES
NEW RUSSIAN LEADERS MAY COME TO LONDON
TRIPLE-MURDER CHARGE MAN NAMED IN COURT
WHAT A SWELL PARTY THIS IS

END HANGING? HEAR THE VOTERS FIRST
THE DAY I DROPPED A SCRAP OF PAPER
Strangeways prisoners to remodel village
HEART DONOR GAVE ME THE FREEZE?

TRIPLE-MURDER CHARGE MAN STEPS AWAY
TRIPLE-MURDER CHARGE MAN NAMED IN COLLISION
HEART DONOR GAVE ME THE GIFT OF HELL
Bear with us, it’ll be better

RIDDLE OF MAN TORTURED BY BOY FROM BRAZIL
First- time buyers offered as a thank you to heroes
CRACKDOWN ON A STROLL GONG IS UP FOR SALE
BRITISH SHIP IN COURT

A FLAP A FLAP A FESTIVE CHEER AS PRESENT BUS ROLLS INTO TOWN
When an MP saves half an MP saves half an MP saves half an MP saves half an MP saves half an MP saves half an
SEAL MAY GO TO ZOO MEMBERS LET THEM DOWN MPs NEW RUSSIAN LEADERS MAY GO TO ZOO MEMBERS LET THEM DOWN
END HANGING?
HEAR THE VOTERS FIRST THE VOTERS FIRST THE VOTERS FIRST THE BABY WHILE MOTHER DANCES FIRST THE VOTERS POST EARLY FOR A WHITE CHRISTMAS

Bouncer is stabbed in the wilderness

Just a little girl’s prayer …

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.

New Year, New Website

1965 image of people singing at a New Year's Eve Party

(image from NWFA 6163 [NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY]. Producer: Arthur Laycock, 1965)

 

 Happy New Year from the North West Film Archive!

It’s out with the old and in with the new for the Film Archive’s website: www.nwfa.mmu.ac.uk

We have spruced up the design and improved the reliability of our online catalogues so that it’s now easier than ever to explore our collections.

One of the UK’s largest and longest established public film collections, the NWFA preserves moving images made in or about the North West of England and offers a variety of access services to users in the public, academic and commercial sectors.

Our main Film & Video Catalogue contains text records of over 6,600 titles, from the early days of film in the 1890s through to 21st century video productions. The new catalogue search section now enables you to see if a film can be viewed online, matching text records with our growing presence on the video-sharing site Vimeo, or on one of our Viewing Pods at Archives+ here in Manchester Central Library.  If that’s not the case then you can still contact us to arrange to come in and watch a film by appointment.  There’s no charge to members of the public for this service.

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A similar facelift has been given to the BBC NW Collection catalogues that hold records of regional television news programmes and documentaries from the 1960s to the 1980s.  Again, viewings can be arranged on-site by appointment without charge for enquiries made by individual members of the public.

BBCDocsResultsArchives+

Why the change?  Well, back in the late 1990s the North West Film Archive was one of the first regional film archives to make its catalogue of film and video records available to search online.  The software that ran this served us well for many years but, as is the nature of the ever-changing digital world, it has been looking rather dated in recent years.  Worse still, there were increasing compatibility problems with new versions of internet browsers such as Internet Explorer and the ever-stricter firewall policies of security-conscious major organisations, including Manchester Central Library itself.  In short, users were increasingly finding that “This page cannot be displayed”, “The server returned no data” or (the shame of it!) “Access denied.”  A major project to re-code the site and migrate our records to brand new database software was undertaken in 2014 and our new website went live in December.

We’re hoping that users can now search our collections with ease wherever they are, so do let us know what you think.

NWFA Ribbon for ArchivesPlus recoloured sml

Christmas Memories

Christmas ,1913

‘We had been out on Chrismas Eve to Smithfield market to buy a wreath for Aunty Betsy’s grave. The ‘pot’ man was busy trying to persuade you to believe your Christmas dinner would taste nicer on the row of plates he had lined up on his arm, and the ‘boiled sweet man’ was tempting you with a large humbug he had made just before your eyes. We bought apples for the apple sauce, onions for the stuffing and some nuts and Shrewsbury biscuits for Dad from the biscuit shop on Swan street. These, and a canary which we bought from a pet shop on Tib street as a companion to our other bird, Gaby were to be his Christmas presents.’

From ‘Sunrise to Sunset’ by Mary Bertenshaw

Smithfield Market, 20/08/1907

Christmas, 1930’s

‘My father was one of many unskilled labourers and in the winter of 1931 he became unemployed. We were soon below the poverty line. Being the eldest of four younger brothers I knew how my mother was struggling to make ends meet. About two weeks before Christmas we were told how she was finding it hard to manage, but she would try and get us a little something, we just had to wait and see. We understood the situation, thankful there may be a ‘little something’ for us at Christmas and it helped to take away the gloom.’

From :
A Collection of short stories and poems by the Past & Present group
(based at Harpurhey Library)

Excerpt by Ellen Casey (nee Jones)

Collyhurst, Queens Road and Rochdale Road corner, 1930

A visit to Father Christmas, 1930’s

‘A little later when I was about 4 years old my auntie came to take me into town (Manchester) to see Father Christmas at Lewis’s department store. I remember seeing lots of boxes piled up behind him split into pink tissue paper and blue tissue paper wrappings to make it easier for him I suppose. Father Christmas asked me what I would like for Christmas and I have absolutely no idea what I said but was given a box wrapped in pink paper. I remember hugging it and would not let my auntie take it from me, we reached the top of the staircase where I slipped and rolled down the stairs.

My auntie was running down after me, when she reached me I was still hugging my parcel and appeared to be completely unhurt, from there we went into Woolworths to the sweet counter where I chose some chocolate with nuts in it. In those days the chocolate was in a slab and the assistant would tap it with a little hammer to break it up, it was then put into a little bag and given to the customer.

When I reached home I then opened my parcel with my mother and inside was the sweetest little doll, I treasured it for a long time. On Christmas morning I would find a pillow case at the bottom of my bed with presents delivered overnight by Father Christmas. I remember a doll dressed in pink wearing a bonnet, a Pet Stores which was a little sweet shop, nuts and fruit and usually a selection box of chocolate bars. As I got older I was always given a box of hankies perhaps with my initial in the corner or pretty flowers. I loved everything I received.’

By Alma Royle

Exterior view of Woolworths, Piccadilly 1932

Christmas ,1936

‘It happened to be one of those dark dismal days, as we walked up the Bakers steps to Rochdale Road it was a wonderful sight. Looking down the road towards town it looked like a ‘fairy grotto’, all the shops were lit up, the globe Mantle windows had positioned the display lights on their winter coats and gowns and all the shades were shining out to the road.
The London Paris Modes not to be outdone had done the same, the satins and taffetas and all the glowing colours looked like fairy land to us. May’s jewellery windows shone in the distance. Woods butchers was well lit and decorated with the traditional pig’s head in the centre with an orange in its mouth. Mr Butterworth the cloggers has stuck a sprig of holly in a new pair of clogs in the centre of his window.’

From
‘A Collection of short stories and poems by the Past and Present group (based at Harpurhey Library)’

Excerpt by Edna Bumby (nee Walker)

Albert Square, Christmas Tree, Manchester, 1953

Christmas Gifts for the Poor and Needy

Wood Street Mission, 1902.

‘It is pleasing to know that amid the rejoicing which have marked the advent of the Christmas holidays the children of the poor have not been forgotten. At various charitable institutions in Manchester and Salford the little folk from the slums were regaled with Christmas fare or cheered and delighted with Christmas gifts.

The exterior of Wood Street Mission in 1920

 

Wood Street Mission, image courtesy of Local Image Collection, M68053

More than two thousand small boys and girls – the applications for tickets numbered at least a thousand more – were gathered into the building and one of them was made happy with a pretty toy, to say nothing of a bun, an orange, a slice of cake, and a Christmas card.’

Excerpt from Manchester and Salford street children’s mission Annual Reports 1901-1902.

Children having tea at Wood Street MissionChildren having tea at Wood Street Mission 1905, image courtesy of Local Images Collection, M68047

Christmas at Charter St Ragged School, 1930’s

‘When I think about Charter Street Ragged school and the good and caring people who worked very hard to keep the place going, making it very successful,considering it depended on charity.’

Another memorable event at Charter street was Christmas morning, when Mr Ellam and Mrs Fitzgerald would arrive early to sort out toys for us. When we arrived we would sing a few carols, and then we were given a lovely toy, and a bag that contained an apple, an orange, a mince pie, a Christmas card and to our delight , a new penny;we had looked forward to this all year.

From Collyhurst Recollections
By the ‘Now and Then’ group

By Ellen Casey

Charter Street Ragged School and Working Girls' Home