On Friday 28 January the Education and Learning department at John Rylands University Library kindly hosted a joint session on Victorian housing conditions with Manchester Archive+.

Almost sixty primary-aged children in two classes got the chance to handle old maps, books and newspapers depicting the good and the bad sides of life in Victorian Manchester. We also showed the children this set of images relating to housing.

Newgate, Corporation Street, 1908
Newgate, Corporation Street, 1908

The slideshow really engaged the children, who had obviously been studying the issue for the previous few weeks in school. Their comments included:

“I wouldn’t want to live next door to that toilet!”

“There’s no bed!”

“It must have been really smelly!”

“Diseases could be spread by drinking fountains in the street”

“He’s not wearing any shoes!”

The session ended with a slideshow of images of Chorlton from the 1910s to the 1960s.

Oswald Road School, Chorlton cum Hardy, 1958
Oswald Road School, Chorlton cum Hardy, 1958

The children really enjoyed comparing the old photos of children, teachers and their school building with the present day:

“The new buildings aren’t there in the playground!”

“It looks the same”

“There’s the library!”

“Is that where Morrisons is now?”

“There’s me!”