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Volume 3 Spring 2017


THE PRETORIA PIT DISASTER The untold story of widow Annie Austin Plus

Explore the Manchester Guardian Archive We reveal some intriguing insights into the world of private travel in 1914 Learn about the unlikely rel relationship between Manchester and the USSR

Special Message from the Head of the Manchester Centre for Regional History A warm welcome to the Manchester Region History Review, which is available as an e-magazine to view online, and in traditional paper format to Friends of the Manchester Centre for Regional History. The Manchester Region History Review is now in its thirtieth year but, adapting to the times, is now being produced in a new magazine format which we’re excited about and hope will attract a broad readership from across the NorthWest. The Review’s new format is one of several developments which are taking place in the Manchester Centre for Regional History (MCRH). As many of you will know, the MCRH has been researching and publishing on the history of Manchester and its region since 1998. The number of colleagues attached to the Centre has increased in recent years, however, expanding our research expertise into other areas, including public history, heritage and archaeology. In order to reflect these changes, we are consequently planning to re-launch the MCRH later in 2017 with a new title, the Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, although our long-established focus on the histories of Manchester and its region will remain. We’re looking forward to this new era in the Centre’s history and hope you’ll remain involved in our activities, help spread the word about the new e-version of the Manchester Region History Review and send us your own ideas about what you would like us to publish.

Melanie Melanie Tebbutt Head, Manchester Centre for Regional History

JOIN US! Why not join us and become a Friend of the Manchester Centre for Regional History. Membership includes... • A hard-copy of the Manchester Region History Review Magazine • Exclusive invites to events at MMU • Invitation to the free annual excursion • Complementary drinks and nibbles at our monthly talks Membership is priced at £15 and is payable annually. Contact the MCRH for more details. 2

Manchester Region History Review



On 21 December 1910, the North West experienced one of the worst mining disasters in British history, when 344 men and boys were killed at a colliery in Wigan. In this new edition of the Manchester Region History Review, second year undergraduate student Gemma Clarke reveals the untold story of Annie Austin (p15), widow of one of the miners, who struggled to provide for her five children and who battled against society’s notion of a ‘respectable’ female during the first quarter of the 20th century. Also in this issue, Dr Craig Horner throws up some intriguing insights into the world of private travel before the outbreak of the First World War (p9). Sticking with the WWI theme, archivist Heather Roberts reveals the mysteries and nuances of making music in Manchester during WWI (p12). Dr Catherine Danks discusses the unlikely relationship between a Manchester speedway team and the USSR (p14). Archivist Jessica Smith explores the papers of a former Manchester Guardian editor and I go back to Ancoats with Manchester boxer Anthony Crolla to discover his Italian ancestors (p17).


We are now online! The Manchester Region History Review will be available to anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world. Read online or download for later. Simply type the link in your browser https://issuu.com/mcphh FOLLOW US @ MCRH_MMU @ Manchester Centre for Regional History @ Manchester Centre for Public History & Heritage CONTACT US Manchester Centre for Regional History Room 313 Geoffrey Manton Building Manchester Metropolitan University 4 Rosamond Street West Manchester M15 6LL Tel: 0161 247 6793 Email: Michala.Hulme@mmu.ac.uk Website: www.mmu.ac.uk/mcrh

Editor Manchester Centre for Regional History


Dr Catherine Danks

Catherine is a Craig Horner is a Senior Lecturer Senior Lecturer at MMU. Her in history at MMU. In his research interests are in latest article, Craig reveals that ‘while motor cars were the areas of soviet history and contemporary Russian very expensive to buy new, those vehicles were quickly Politics. In this issue sold on, again and again. By Catherine looks at the remarkable story of Clem their, say, sixth ownership, Beckett, member of the the address of the owner Young Communist League, is no longer one in, say, Altrincham, but probably in who in the 1920s became the working-class depths of a rider for the Belle Vue Manchester’s suburbs’. See Aces. See page 14 to read more. page 9 for more.

Heather Roberts

Archivist at the Royal Northern College of Music, Heather Roberts talks about what it was like to make music in Manchester during WWI. She says ‘Between 1919 and 1920 around 90 returning soldiers came back from the war, collected government grants (mainly from the Board of Education) and entered into study at the Royal Northern College of Music’. (p12)

Jessica Smith

Jessica is an archivist at the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library. She is currently cataloguing the correspondence of the former editor of the Manchester Guardian, C.P. Scott. The correspondence contains over 13,000 items, such as letters exchanged with figures of historical importance and eminence in almost every imaginable field. To read more see page 6.

Manchester Region History Review


WHATS ON How to Submit your News, Articles and Views. We welcome contributions to the new Manchester Region History Review. We would be delighted to receive your articles, edited dissertation excerpts, reviews, press releases, news, listings of events, exhibitions, projects and more.  If you would like to contribute to the Manchester Region History Review, or you would like to discuss an idea or proposal, please contact the Editor, Michala Hulme. Notes for Contributors: We suggest that features and articles should not exceed 2,000 words. Reviews and news items should not exceed 500 words. We welcome images and photographs to accompany your work (please ensure that you have copyright permission to reproduce any illustration). We welcome the use of hyperlinked signposting (to websites, audio or video content, etc) to enrich your writing and content. We encourage a variety of contributions and we are happy to discuss ideas and draft articles at an early stage.

People’s History Museum

21 January - 2 April 2017 10:00 - 1700 Cost: Free. Suggested donation of £3

Parallel Republic: The Art of Civil Disobedience

The exhibition contains painting, illustration, photography, film, animation, graffiti and music born of the Syrian uprising and the bravery of these citizen journalists and artist-activists.

IWM North

Sat 18 March 2017 11:00 - 16:00 Cost: Adult £10. Concession £8

Mending Our Ways – A day of craftivism against consumption

Meet Sarah Corbett and hear about her journey into gentle activism. Explore Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style with her and discover how clothes have been used as a form of protest. With a nod to the notion of ‘make do and mend’, learn to do your own visible mending as a way to wear your conviction against modern fast fashion and consumption.

Elizabeth Gaskell House Sun 9 April 2017 19:00 - 22:00 Cost: £15

The Utopians perform Gilbert and Sullivan

Come and join us for an evening of classic Gilbert and Sullivan tunes performed by The Utopians. The Utopians specialise in operetta, and this season they are touring with a concert of highlights from various Gilbert and Sullivan works, including popular favourites The Mikado, Lolanthe, The Gondoliers and more. Narrated and accompanied on the piano, this will be an evening of musical fun and delights, with an interval which includes a hot supper.

Central Library, Manchester 31 Jan - 31 Mar 2017 Cost: Free

The Homeless Library

Homeless people in Greater Manchester and Stockport have handmade the first history of British homelessness, which debuted at the Houses of Parliament in May and went on public display at the Southbank Festival of Love in September. The exhibition is on display till the end of March 2017. 4 Manchester Region History Review




06 Manchester Guardian Archivist Jessica Smith explores one of the most significant newspaper archives in the country

09 Driving in Cheshire Dr Craig Horner reveals what car registration plates can tell us about driving prior to WWI

15 Pretoria Pit Tragedy

Student Gemma Clarke tells the plight of the families after the mining disaster

18 Crolla in Ancoats

Boxer Anthony Crolla goes back to Ancoats to discover his Italian ancestors


12 Mysteries and Nuances 04 What’s On Guide Archivist Heather Roberts from the Royal Northern College of Music investigates what it was like to make music during WWI

14 Leningrad Speedway

Dr Catherine Danks talks about an unlikely relationship formed by speedway

A round-up of what’s happening at history organisations throughout the North West

20 Book Reviews

Read reviews of the lastest history and heritage books Manchester Region History Review



Manchester and The Guardian Archive

Archivist Jessica Smith explores one of the most significant newspaper archives in the country Staff at the Manchester Guardian.

Image reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.


he Guardian is one of Britain’s leading newspapers, with a long standing reputation as a platform for liberal opinion, and an international online community of 30.4 million readers. Founded in Manchester in 1821, it was created by John Edward Taylor, a cotton manufacturer. In the wake of the Peterloo massacre, the new paper was intended as a means of expressing liberal opinion and advocating political reform. Over the next 100 years, the paper originally known as the Manchester

6 Manchester Region History Review

Guardian would be

transformed from a small provincial journal into a paper of international relevance and renown. This expansion and success would eventually be reflected in the amendment of its name, and in 1964, the head office of the Guardian was relocated from Manchester to London. As a result of this move, the Guardian donated its archive collection to the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library in 1971. The archive, which is held at the university’s John Ryland’s

consists of two main elements: the records of the newspaper as a business; and a very extensive collection of editorial correspondence and despatches from reporters. In March 2016, I was employed on a project entitled ‘What The Papers Say’, to catalogue C.P. Scott’s editorial correspondence, which contains 13,000 items from over 1,300 correspondents. The correspondence includes letters exchanged with figures of historical importance and eminence in almost every imaginable field, from politics and

Manchester GuardianArchive

Charles Prestwich Scott, 1930. Image reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd.

economics, to history, science and the arts. These individuals often contributed articles to the paper, and met with the editor to discuss current events and affairs. The most significant of these editors was Charles Prestwich Scott (1846-1932), who presided over the Guardian for 57 years, was responsible for cementing the liberal editorial philosophy of the Manchester Guardian, and ensuring a consistently high standard of journalism and journalistic integrity. The acclaim accorded to the paper in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries can be largely attributed to Scott’s vision and influence. He championed causes including women’s suffrage, home rule for Ireland, and the establishment of a Jewish homeland. He argued against Britain’s policy in South Africa during the Boer war and conscription during the First World War, supporting the formation of the League of Nations and negotiations for peace in Europe. Through these interests, Scott also

exchanged correspondence with politicians such as Winston Churchill, suffragettes, Irish nationalists, and Zionist Chaim Weizmann. Leading literary figures also feature in the correspondence, such as George Bernard Shaw, and Arthur Ransome. Once a full analysis of his papers has been completed and recorded, a catalogue will be available online to assist in the use of the Guardian archive for research.

Threaded through the Guardian archive, there is a real sense of the influence of the paper’s location in Manchester, and the significance of the Manchester Guardian in the history of the city. It can be seen in the approach to trade and industry, the arts, and to education. Trade and Industry In its first prospectus, the Manchester Guardian committed to

accurate and effective trade reports, for use by the cotton merchants of the city. Under the leadership of Scott, this mercantile focus was continued, and market reports were provided from India, America and Egypt. The primary purpose of these reports is clearly illustrated in correspondence in the archive with Major Lionel T. Buckland, resident in Alexandria, who provided additional cotton reports for the newspaper from Egypt between 1925 and 1927 via telegram. It is explained to Buckland that the main consideration, simply, is information that would be of interest and relevance to manufacturing interests at home. Though it did not support the political tactics of the liberal movement known as the Manchester School, the Manchester Guardian shared its advocacy of free trade. The paper would continue to wholeheartedly support free trade throughout Scott’s tenure as editor. When made a freeman of the city, Scott said ‘We are proud of being traders; the greatness of England has been built up on its trade...’ The centrality of trade and industry in the city meant that these subjects became a focal point of the newspaper, and as it grew in prominence, would lead to the creation of the Manchester Guardian Commercial, ‘a weekly economic review dedicated to providing a survey of trade and industry’. The Arts Scott also believed in the importance of producing high quality articles and reviews on the arts, and ensured coverage in the Manchester Guardian for literature, art, theatre and music. This would Manchester Region History Review



Manchester GuardianArchive

Education Scott used the Manchester Guardian to champion the importance of access to education, particularly for the poor and working classes. This can be seen in the paper’s support for national changes in the law relating to education, examples of which include the Education Act (1918). It can also be seen in his work in Manchester as a trustee of Owens College, which would become the University of Manchester. Scott said of Owens College, ‘Here, for the first time in this For further country, the higher information on the Guardian archive, please education was brought visit: http://www.library. to the doors of an manchester.ac.uk/search-reindustrial population.’ C.P. Scott’s funeral, 1932. Image reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd. sources/guide-to-special-col- He was also chaiman, lections/atoz/guardian-ar- of the board of lead to a close relationship The combination of chive/ Ladybarn House School, between the paper and the city’s this innovation in one of the first coresident symphony orchestra, the approach to regional educational primary schools Hallé. Scott was one of the first theatre, and the policy of in the country, which all of his subscribers to the Hallé Scott to secure the services of Concerts Society and would talented critics, combined to form children would attend. Scott was one of the founders of publicise and promote the a connection which was again Withington Girls School, established orchestra’s endeavours. The mutually beneficial, if perhaps a publicity provided by reviews and little guilty of giving precedence to in 1890, and was chairman of the school’s council from 1891-1932. notices in the paper helped to plays by local dramatists. This was partly to ensure that his ensure the steady increase in the Scott would also become a daughters would receive the same audience for the Hallé’s concerts. supporter of Manchester art In return, this association helped galleries, and of the production of standard of education as his sons. It is also possible to discern a more the music criticism in the paper to Ford Madox Brown’s Manchester personal motivation for this cause. improve and flourish. However, murals. Scott’s wife, Rachel, was also a this did not prevent occasional governor of the school, and one of differences of opinion, as Under the tutelage of the the first graduates of The College for Hamilton Harty, conductor, proves art critic for the Women, which would become in his letter objecting to a review Manchester Guardian, the Girton College, Cambridge. This of a concert given by the Hallé artist L.S. Lowry would belief in the importance of Orchestra in London. The staff of the Guardian would develop his distinctive style. education for women may be seen as his more general perspective on also develop close links with the women’s rights, which would lead to Gaiety Theatre, the first repertory In 1929, the paper published his influential support of the theatre in Britain, which re-opened several of his drawings of in the city in 1912. Manchester. The newspaper would women’s suffrage movement. Under the leadership of Annie later include articles and reviews of Throughout Scott’s tenure and Horniman, the Gaiety Theatre the arts in London, building upon beyond, these institutions were supported and encouraged in the fostered and encouraged the the sound basis provided by its playwrights of Lancashire. coverage of the arts in Manchester. pages of the Manchester Guardian. 8 Manchester Region History Review


Explore the world of private travel in 1914 with Dr Craig Horner

Previous page: Edye Bellamy of Crumpsall in her father’s car © Cheshire Image Bank, c00752.


A walking race passing through Little Sutton, Cheshire. A 20HP CGV, registration M143, is used as the judge’s car. © Cheshire Image Bank, c08182

We think we know all about early motoring and motorcycling – it was what the rich and leisured classes did. But a project by Dr Craig Horner has thrown up some intriguing insights into the world of private travel before the outbreak of the First World War.


atching ‘Downton’ on the TV reinforces this view that early motoring and motorcycling was something that the wealthy and the leisured classes did (although whether the chauffeur would end up married into the family, and actually welcomed by the family, is a moot point…). But a project by Dr Craig Horner to transcribe the vehicle registrations for Cheshire to 1914 has been underway for a few years now, and it is throwing up some intriguing insights. 10 Manchester Region History Review

For example, while motor cars and motorcycles were very expensive to buy new, the project has shown how those vehicles were quickly sold on, again and again. By their, say, sixth ownership, the address of the owner is no longer one in, say, Altrincham, but probably in the working-class depths of Manchester’s suburbs. All motor vehicles had to be registered from 1904, and Cheshire was given the ‘M’ suffix.

The first vehicle was M1 (registered by the Egertons of Tatton) and by the time of the First World War, Cheshire was up to about M5000. Regardless of whether it was a motor car, motorcycle or lorry (they called them ‘lurries’ then), they were all registered in the order they were received. Take, for example, M331, a small car built by the MMC company of Coventry. Brand new, with all the extras (such as hood and headlights!), it would have cost about £200. That’s what George Rowe Fairclough

Image courtesy of David Edwards

Driving in Cheshire Prior to WWI

of Lymm would have paid as he registered it in February 1904. But by January 1911 it is on its ninth owner, Harry Powell of Pendleton, who probably paid, say, £10 for it. Even then, people would have seen it as an ‘old crock’, but the point is, within just a few years, and before the First World War, ordinary people were getting in on the act.

Did you know:

All motor vehicles had to registered from 1 January 1904. This upset a great deal of car owners, who did not want people knowing who they were from their registration number. They instead had wanted motor cars to be named, like boats.

Each county was given its own suffix – M for Cheshire. So, the first motor vehicle to be Manchester Statistical Society registered in Cheshire was M1. have generously provided a Nobody thought that this Campion Grant to fund this sequence would be exhausted project. This has involved so quickly – Cheshire was up engaging an undergraduate at to M5500 by the First World MMU to do some transcription War, and once it got to M9999 it work, and an additional award started on MA1, and so on. One has meant we can sample the Henry Royce registered his first census (and other) records to car, a red Royce 10hp, on 26 establish the ages and August 1904. It was given the occupations of these owners too. mark M612.

When the motor car first appeared, there was no infrastructure, for buying petrol, for servicing or repairs. Petrol was initially bought from a chemist, as a cleaning agent. Agents and dealers soon established themselves. Here is a photograph of one such, showing the yard of Thomas Cousins Edwards, 26 Union Street, Oldham in about 1905. M519 was a Rothwell, made in Oldham, one of the many motor companies set up in the early pre-First World War period. The records tell us that M519 was painted sage green, picked out with red – and it had red wheels. John Bailey of Stalybridge bought it new in June 1904, and then John Whatnough of Oldham had it next in 1905. Manchester Region History Review



The Mysteries and Nuances of Making Music in Manchester during WWI

Carl Fuchs (‘Cello teacher at the Royal Manchester College of Music) set up this orchestra whilst he was held at the Ruhleben Internment Camp after he was interned in 1914 at the start of WW1. He’s not on this picture but he was sent it by the band when he was released as a sort of postcard in 1916. © RNCM Archives.

In March 2016, the Royal Northern College of Music’s Research Department joined with the Halle Concerts Society archive and the Henry Watson Music Library to try and poke at the question, “What was music-making like in Manchester during WW1?” Aided by a team of volunteer researchers, the team ventured forth into multiple archives with themes of repertoire, students, gender and class in mind. Archivist Heather Roberts from the Royal Northern College of Music shares some of their findings.


ost-war priority? Okay, so it’s 1919, right? You’ve just finished a war that took four years to end when you thought it was going to take four months. The country is shaken and an incredible number of people, families and livelihoods are destroyed. You need to prioritise resources. So, musicians! That’s what we’ll invest in. And that’s what the government did. Between 1919 and 1920 around 90 returning soldiers came back from the war, collected government grants (mainly from the Board of Education) and entered into study at the Royal 12 Manchester Region History Review

What a drastic change in environment! We haven’t been able as yet to get to the bottom of the matter as to why this happened. Perhaps it was a sort of Young ladies came to the College rehabilitation effort? as a sort of specialist finishing There was however, one woman school, because the only way to who received a grant: Edith S. get a good husband is to learn to Fielden, pianist from Lancaster and then listed as living at play the piano. Chetham’s hospital. Can we find Satire aside that was the overall anything about her? No! It’s more environment of the College. But than a little frustrating. then suddenly you get these But this then raises a note about gender. For it’s not only the lives soldiers turning up in the dozens who have seen and done and are of women within the College that feeling who knows what, to study were affected by the war. Fantastic research into the Halle concerts with them. Manchester College of Music. This was an instant game changer because prior to that the student body was mainly women.


Manchester during WW1

banning German music were, as far as we can tell, wholly dismissed by the music makers in Manchester. The Working Class Brass It wasn’t just in the concert halls that repertoire was affected. Wonderful research by our project team into brass band repertoire has revealed some intriguing For further nuances. information about Traditionally, any of these stories and brass bands’ to see other things we have repertoire been working on check out the Hallé Concerts Society’s Librarian’s WW1 notebooks. © Hallé Concerts Society Archive. project blog at https://music- consisted of operatic mcrww1.wordpress.com/ or And what of Society archive has turned out an selections and email Heather Roberts at the repertoire? Did interesting note on the topic of arrangements of archives@rncm.ac.uk Manchester suddenly gender. the ‘great’ cross a line through Wagcomposers, including ner? Did Beethoven and SchuA Gendered Halle Orchestra the popular Wagner and When men were removed to fight, mann become mere memories of Beethoven. Public performances the concert halls? What actually the Halle continued to perform. in the war years, however, happened to all that German You can’t however, perform a developed to embrace the music? Well, the answer is symphony with only half of your patriotism that the very popular varied. The Halle, under the orchestra. They needed to fill in war evoked. instruction of the famous the gaps of their players. There are many studies into the Austro-Hungarian conductor, Who to get? Women. They were growing conservatism of the Hans Richter, ploughed forth used by the Halle as place working classes at the time of the with German music. And not just war. Evidence of this is easily keepers and performed in their any German music: Wagner. In ranks extensively. Now, the war envisioned through the fact, the Halle continued to have was a turbulent time for all and propaganda surrounding the fight Wagner nights throughout the little fissions of dissent grew. We for the classic tropes of British war, no matter the anti-German uncovered a story in which some values, traditions and nostalgia. feeling. Some research from the men were refusing to play and the One stand-out pride of the manager of the orchestra basically Henry Watson Music Library has working class culture during this revealed that some critics said, “Well, if you won’t, I’ll just period is its brass bands and this demanded a ban on German have the women do it instead.” certainly wasn’t left out of these music and some just a ban on The players sniffed and scoffed growing feelings. The classical playing music by German and then must have had a operatic numbers were being composers who were born before crossed out of the repertoire and in highly amusing expression when the orchestra was then quickly and some seemingly trivial cut-off their place march songs extolling date in the late 1800s. Despite wonderfully staffed with women the greatness of Britain’s military these murmurs, Richter’s performers. Until peacetime. In were being played in the very championing of Wagner’s music line with the historical narrative popular public park made for a steady programme of of post-war Britain’s professions, performances of the bands. The Germany in the repertoire. they were removed and in popped trends even made it all the way to Repertoire wasn’t wholly the men. Business as usual. the publishers of music who were unaffected, however. Now, the running out of adverts for books murmurs in the press about Patriotism v. Wagner consisting solely of patriotic songs. Manchester Region History Review


Manchester - Leningrad Speedway Connection


Speedway in the 1970s


If you are interested in the Belle Vue Aces check out their website: http://www.bellevueaces. co.uk

From 1836 the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens and amusement park in Manchester was an entertainment magnet for all ages. In 1928, a purpose built speedway stadium was opened within the complex. Dr Catherine Danks discusses the unlikely relationship between a Manchester speedway team and the USSR.


peedway is one of the lesser known connections between Manchester and the USSR, and later with its twin city of Leningrad. In the late 1920s Clem Beckett, a member of the Young Communist League, became a rider for the Belle Vue Aces. In 1932 he arrived in Leningrad with a delegation arranged by the Workers’ Sports Association, whose Manchester District organiser was the legendary Bennie Rothman. At that time the USSR did not have any proper dirt tracks and the British riders helped to popularise

14 Manchester Region History Review

the sport with their demonstrations in towns around the USSR. Clem Beckett proved so popular that he stayed on in the USSR for four months after the rest of the delegation had gone home. Manchester and Leningrad became twin cities in 1962 and developed civic, educational, cultural and sporting exchanges. In 1967 and 1969 the Aces competed with the Leningrad Auto Club–Neva in Leningrad. In 1968 the Leningraders returned to Belle Vue, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Aces’ first match. They returned again in 1970 and 1972 for a festival

of sport. Sadly, the Belle Vue complex gradually closed in the 1970s and 1980s, but Chetham’s Library in Manchester now holds eight collections that make up their Belle Vue archive. Chetham’s have created a Virtual Belle Vue Archive of over a hundred years of manuscripts, photographs and ephemera about the zoo, speedway, gardens and funfair. To access the Belle Vue archive and for links to other relevant sites go to: http://www.chethams.org.uk/bellevue/


On 21 December 1910 there was a large underground explosion at the Pretoria Pit near Westhoughton which was owned by the Hulton Colliery Company. 344 men and boys were killed, making it the third largest disaster in British mining history. A fund was set up by the Mayor of Bolton to provide financial assistance for the families of the victims. The Lancashire and Cheshire Miners’ Permanent Relief Society (LCMPRS) acted as an advocate for the families when they needed additional funds. The Society created individual case files for each of the families and these are held by Wigan Archives Service. These files tell stories which are both tragic and inspirational and are being studied by history students GEMMA CLARKE and ELISABETH PRICE from Manchester Metropolitan University. Gemma has been looking at the case of Annie Austin, widow of John Austin. This is what she’s found out so far...



Previous page: Pretoria Pit. Image © Wigan Archives

Petoria Pit was operated by the Hulton Pit Company. Image © Wigan Archives

n the aftermath of the Pretoria Pit Disaster in 1910, Mrs. Annie Austin found herself a widow with four children and another on the way; at the age of 29 she had lost the head of the household and the bread winner in the home. Annie’s husband, John Austin, had been a coal miner in the Pretoria Pit earning a wage of 36s 2d a week. He had been a member of the LCMPRS, meaning Annie could rely on some relief in the months and years that followed her husband’s death and the birth of her fifth child. Following the death of John, Annie received a widow and children’s annuity of 14s. a week from the LCMPRS, 17s. a week from the Hulton Relief Fund and from the Workmen’s Compensation Act she received

16 Manchester Region History Review

£282.2s.; after taking a lump sum of £10, the rest was invested to give her 6s. per week. For reasons unknown, Annie had a visit from the board of the Hulton Relief Fund in April 1915. After her husband’s death, she had moved with her five children to live with her father where she had added support. Annie was not at home on the evening that the officials visited. They arrived at 9pm, a time that a hundred years later appears late, but in 1915 the officials presumed that Annie was in fact out with men! Annie was accused of ‘being out late at night, coming home at all hours of the night with different men in taxicabs’; a claim that Annie strongly denied.

Although there is no way of knowing where Annie had been spending the evening or who she had been with, her respectability had been lost. One week after the visit Annie apologised for her misconduct, and although she denied any wrongdoing, she did acknowledge being out at night, after which she was informed that if there was another instance of misconduct she would no longer be entitled to any help. In 2016 it is hard to understand the instant judgement that a widowed mother of five children had received for being out at 9pm in the evening. Of course, there is no way to tell what she was doing or why, but the suggestion of being unrespectable was all it took to be treated differently.

Pretoria Pit Disaster

John Austin, husband of Annie Austin, who was tragically killed in the Pretoria Pit disaster.

The idea that Mrs. Austin was unrespectable stayed with her, so much so that when Annie asked for help sending her son to a convalescent home in 1923 when he was sick with bronchitis, or when she asked for help with doctors’ bills in 1925, it was stated in correspondence that ‘If the family have been in any special difficulties it has been due to quite preventable causes which have arisen due to personal misconduct.’ Annie’s reputation was not considered as a factor though when her youngest daughter, Edna, who was still in the womb when her father died, needed help. At the age of 14 Edna had been suffering from Furunculosis, crops of boils over the body, as well as profound anaemia, meaning she was unable to work. Edna had previously been working at Brown’s Mill in Daubhill, earning between 10s and 15s per week. Due to her condition Edna needed extra nourishment which cost more money than she had been earning. The

officials, although initially unable to help with costs, were willing to pay for Edna to go to a convalescent home. It took a while to get her a place in a home. In the meantime she was given an allowance of 10s a week. Edna continued to receive the relief payments until she returned to work, but in 1927 at the age of 15, whilst working in the Rumworth Spinning Factory Edna became ill again. The fund then paid for Edna to go to a Convalescent home in Southport. The following year, Annie had asked for £3 for a holiday to Blackpool which was also granted. It appeared that the reputation Annie had been labelled with back in 1915 had been forgotten, her case was finally assessed on its merits rather than the presumption that she was not worthy. The notable lack of judgement on Mrs Austin and her family did not last. In 1929 Annie was suffering from Cholecystitis, an inflammation of the gall bladder. The advice from her doctor was to have a change of air. The judgement which was set upon the Austin family was clear: ‘Mrs. Austin has lived an improper life’. Hannah, Annie’s eldest daughter had also had two children who were illegitimate, leading to the quote within the correspondence: ‘Like mother like daughter, maybe there is something in that proverb after all.’ The reputation that Mrs. Annie Austin gained for herself in 1915 followed her and her

family for the rest of her life. Today the notion of respectability may not be as easy to comprehend; it is common place to have children outside of marriage, staying out at 9’o’clock at night is also no longer shocking, but one hundred years ago that type of stigma could follow you throughout your life. Mrs. Austin passed away on Friday the 27th of August 1965, nearly fifty-five years after the death of her husband. She never remarried, even though she was made a widow at 29 with five children. Although Mrs Austin used all her compensation in a shorter time than was expected and had a child who in turn had illegitimate children, it didn’t mean she was a bad mother, a bad wife or a bad human being. The fund looked after Mrs. Austin in the wake of the Pretoria Pit disaster in the best way it could or believed it could in a society where morals were of the upmost importance.

Leigh Archives and Local Studies

For more information about the Pretoria Pit Disaster or to learn more about mining in Wigan, contact Wigan Archives and Local Studies, Second floor, Leigh Town Hall, Leigh, WN7 1DY 01942 404 430 Facebook: @WiganArchivesService Twitter: @WiganMuseum

Manchester Region History Review





AnthonyCrolla in Ancoats Antonio’s son - Anthony’s great-great-grandfather - was called Vittore Crolla (1859-1924). After moving to Ancoats with his father, Vittore earned his living as a street musician, playing both the street organ and the hurdy-gurdy. However, by 1891, Vittore had started to earn a wage manufacturing and selling ice-cream. This venture enabled him to move to a larger property on Great Ancoats Street. Vittore’s success in manufacturing ice-cream was short-lived. In 1900, Vittore Crolla was the first person to be prosecuted in Manchester for manufacturing ice-cream ‘in a place which was in a dirty condition’, and was fined 5s.

Primrose Street © Manchester Libraries

By 1911,Vittore along with his wife and eleven children were living in a two-up twodown terrace. Vittore Crolla died in 1924. He was 65 years old.

In 2015, Manchester boxer Anthony Crolla, overcame a life-threatening injury to be crowned WBA Lightweight Champion of the World; A title which he held until September 2016. In the summer of 2016, I met up with Anthony to unearth the first generation of Crollas to live in Manchester. Here is a snippet of what I uncovered...


nthony Crolla’s ancestors were one of thousands of Italian families that left Italy in the latter half of the nineteenth century, to seek economic stability in countries such as America and Great Britain. The first of the Crollas to arrive in Manchester was Anthony’s great-great-great-grandfather Antonio (1831-1894). Antonio was born in the picturesque farming village of Picinisco, near Lazio. Employment in the small village was largely agricultural, meaning that Anthony’s ancestor had to rely on a low paying, seasonal wage. In the late 1870s, Antonio, his wife Felis, and his seven children left Italy and moved to Manchester, settling in Ancoats. Even though he spoke very little English, Antonio managed to rent a property on Primrose Street and start his own business by converting his home into a lodging house for Italian immigrants. Antonio continued to live in Ancoats until his death in 1894.

Ice-cream seller in Ancoats © Manchester Libraries

Manchester Region History Review



Making the Modern City

JOSHUA BUTT recommends this excellent study into the history of Manchester Manchester: Making the Modern City

Edited by Alan Kidd and Terry Wyke Liverpool University Press (2016)

Manchester sets out to offer ‘key insights into some the main features of the history of the modern city’. It does this by bringing together a number of experienced local historians to write eight chapters of forty to fifty pages each. Overall Manchester offers an excellent introductory study to the history of the city, with appropriate weight given to several different aspects. The book’s structure is well conceived. 20 Manchester Region History Review

Five themed chapters are sandwiched between three chapters that provide a roughly chronological history of Manchester’s development. ‘Roots of the Industrial Revolution’ by Geoff Timmins and ‘Rise and Decline of Cottonopolis’ by Terry Wyke, explain how Manchester changed from a small town to a global city of commerce before facing industrial decline. Brian Robson’s final chapter ‘The Resurgent Entrepreneurial City’, brings the story up-to-date. The work explores many of the important political, social, economic, administrative and structural changes that have shaped the modern city.

One of the main strengths of Manchester is its use of a large volume and range of primary sources. This is demonstrated straightaway in ‘Roots of the Industrial Revolution’. Timmins uses local parish records to highlight population growth and trends in birth and death rates. These are coupled with some excellent 17th and 18th century maps of Manchester demonstrating the town’s physical changes, while sketches and court records are used to relate the sights and unwholesome smells of the town. Images of a variety of source material, from maps and pictures, to pamphlets, cartoons and portraits appear on almost every page, consistent in all chapters, providing a delightful accompaniment to the text. These images also serve to showcase the wonderful material collections held in the city at its various libraries and archives. Overall I would highly recommend this book, which provides an excellent springboard and reference for any Manchester-based research. The lasting impression that this work leaves is one of immense and constant change, perhaps the defining feature of the city. One only needs to gaze around the city centre and count the number of cranes that occupy the skyline to understand that Manchester is still changing, and doing so rapidly; perhaps just as rapidly as during earlier periods in its history. As historians we can only do our best to try and keep up. Joshua Butt is a PhD History student at Manchester Metropolitan University

REVIEWS Early Victorian Railway Excursions: The Million Go Forth By Susan Major

Pen and Sword (2015)

Major’s book describes a world of new mobility for the great unwashed, a world utterly removed from ours. It doesn’t say so on the cover, but much of the evidence, drawn from local newspapers and diaries, make this very much a description of the English north-west experience. The northern textile towns, and their northern holiday destinations, make this a valuable source-book for social and mobility historians of the north west. The coming of the railway in the 1830s had an immediate and unexpected development: that people wanted to travel by train. By the 1840s, entrepreneurs were taking advantage of this development and had become active in promoting trips to, for example, the Great Exhibition of 1851 and countless towns and seaside destinations. Major charts how this new mass mobility presented a huge social and moral challenge. For the day-trippers to get there often meant enduring considerable discomforts. Major describes a railway journey in 1856 from York to Newcastle. The third-class carriages were open tubs, ‘only a fit conveyance for pigs and sheep’ as the York Herald put it. Its passengers endured the 85-mile journey on a wet night. This is a terrific book, written in an accessible style but with the usual academic paraphernalia of endnotes and index. I thought it concluded rather abruptly, but as the product of a huge trawl of local newspapers, it has much to say.

Professor Colin Divall writes in the foreword that you won’t ever complain about a crowded train ever again. You won’t. Craig Horner Manchester Centre for Regional History, MMU

Battersby Hats of Stockport: An Illustrated History By Rupert Battersby

Amberley Publishing (2016)

Battersby’s new book takes a look back at Stockport’s long association with hat production. Richly illustrated, the book takes the reader on the personal journey of the Battersby family who founded the Battersby hat factory in Stockport. Using diaries, family papers and some fascinating photographs from the family’s personal collection, the book gives a unique insight into family life starting in the Victorian era and moving into the present day. The narrative of the book is filled with personal triumph, from the warehouseman who went on to become one of the largest manufacturers in the British hat industry, and tragedy, such as factory fires and family disputes. The book would have benefited from a bibliography, however, overall a great local history book. Michala Hulme, MCRH, MMU.

50 Finds from Manchester and Merseyside By Vanessa Oakden

Amberley Publishing (2016)

50 Finds from Manchester and Merseyside by Vanessa Oakden presents star finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The volume provides wellillustrated and accessible detail on a series of objects per period from prehistory to the post-medieval for both Merseyside and Greater Manchester, the majority of which are chance finds from field-walking or metal-detecting. As an introduction to the quality of material culture found in North-West England it is hard to fault. Finds are presented as high-quality photographs with short descriptions and interpretations, alongside (importantly) their catalogue reference numbers should anyone wish to access further information through the PAS web-portal. The only potential criticism is that the maps presented in the volume are not produced to the same high quality as the rest of the illustrations. Overall an excellent introduction to the material culture of the region, and the essential, important work that the PAS undertakes on behalf of the public. Long may it continue. Dr Ben Edwards Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Region History Review


Profile for Manchester Centre for Public History & Heritage

Manchester Region History Review (Spring 2017, Vol 3)  

Manchester Region History Review (Spring 2017, Vol 3)  

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