Tag Archives: manchester’s improving daily

The Manchester Ballads

Ragbag Lyrics

 

The Manchester Ballads is a collection of thirty five broadside ballads dating from the time of the industrial revolution. Collected by two local historians and folk music enthusiasts, and published with financial help from the education offices at Manchester City Council, The Manchester Ballads was produced in a handsome hardback card case, and is in the form of a folio collection of loose- leaf facsimile prints of the original penny broadsheets. There is accompanying text with many of the ballads, giving the biography of the song and, where necessary, a glossary of dialect terms. There are tunes suggested to allow the ballads to be sung communally in pubs and at home, and whilst penny broadsides were produced in the hundreds, many were written to be sung to well known tunes. The impoverished audience would, with few exceptions, have no ability to read music (Boardman and Boardman 1973) and many would also be totally illiterate, only learning the songs through the oral tradition of singing in pubs, at markets and in local homes.

The Manchester Ballads are, in essence, a snapshot of Mancunian life in the industrial era. However, they are a snapshot from a very selective source, and the themes, events, places and characters that are outlined within the lyrics of the ballads should be seen in the context not only of their chance survival, but also of the reasons for publication.

The themes in the Manchester Ballads speak of struggle (The Spinners Lamentation 1846), poverty (Tinkers Garden 1837), civic uprisings (The Meeting at Peterloo 1819) and communal tragedy (The Great Flood 1872). However, they also recall good nights out (Victoria Bridge on a Saturday Night 1861), day trips around the region (Johnny Green’s Trip fro’ Owdhum to see the Manchester Railway 1832) and the various innovations and achievements of industrial Manchester are mentioned, and praised, throughout.

New CD to be released on 19th February

IMG_5402

On Friday 19 February 2016, English roots musical collective Edward II release ‘Manchester’s Improving Daily‘, a collection of rare and historic songs, known as the Manchester Broadside Ballads, dating back over 200 years to the Industrial Revolution.

Beautifully designed, packaged and presented, the physical CD is the culmination of a 15-month project, ‘Manchester’s Improving Daily’.  accompanied by a book, written by social archaeologist David Jennings, explaining the history of the songs and providing an informative commentary to these rare glimpses into the lives of working class Mancunians in the Victorian times.

The CD is to be distributed through Cadiz Music and can be ordered through any good record store, this website and all main digital outlets.  Physical copies only will include the book about  the broadsides.

Ordering info:-

Artist: Edward II

Distributor: Cadiz Music

Album Title: Manchester’s Improving Daily

Catalogue No. E2MID1819

The Execution of Allen, Gould & Larkin.

One of the most harrowing stories recorded in the Broadsides, was the execution of the three members of the  Irish Republican Brotherhood,William Philip Allen, Michael Larkin, and Michael O’Brien.  In the attached image from the time, O,Brien was named Gould.

‘ They were executed for the murder of a police officer in Manchester, England, in 1867, during an incident that became known as the Manchester Outrages. The trio were members of a group of 30–40 Fenians who attacked a horse-drawn police van transporting two arrested leaders of the Brotherhood, Thomas J. Kelly and Timothy Deasy, to Belle Vue Gaol. Police Sergeant Charles Brett, travelling inside with the keys, was shot and killed as the attackers attempted to force the van open by blowing the lock’.

Wikipedia

Allen Gould & Larkin Story

Peterloo

The growing urban discontent that led to the infamous meeting in 1819, like other occasions of civil unrest covered in the Manchester Ballads, grew out of a combination of circumstances that, seen in hindsight, were almost bound to end in conflict.

On the 16th August 1819, the area around St Peters Square in Manchester was the site of a peaceful protest that ended in bloody confrontation with the authorities. Quickly dubbed ‘Peterloo’, the name is a satirical comment on what was seen as the cowardly actions of the soldiers and yeoman who attacked unarmed civilians. By using the term Peterloo, protesters and social commentators were mocking the troops with a name redolent of the famous battle at Waterloo, where the bravery of men was taken for granted, and a matter of national pride. Peterloo, in contrast, was seen by most as a matter of national shame. The speakers platform had banners arranged that read

“REFORM, UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE, EQUAL REPRESENTATION
and LOVE”

however, events on the day prove just how hard the fight was for the working classes in industrial Manchester and Salford.

The French Revolution of 1789 was still in the minds of many radicals in England, and the word of various activists added to the unease that many workers felt under the increasingly dominant and often abusive grip of the factory owners. Thomas Paine’s rhetoric was typical, and captured hearts and minds across the working classes.

 

Peterloo

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Band Wall Glen

Nothing New Under the Sun (or clouds…)

The Great Flood of 1872

The Great Flood Lyrics

The River Medlock rises in the hills above Oldham and empties into the River Irwell in central Manchester

The Medlock has reportedly burst its banks and flooded areas of the city on a fairly regular basis. However it was on 13th July 1872,  after two days of torrential rain which takes its place most notably in the history books, as this account from a Manchester newspaper, written at the time, describes:

“It was about half past twelve when the floods came … the banks of the Medlock were overflowed to such an alarming extent and the first intimation of the flood was the sweeping away of a footbridge near to Philips Park … It must have been very strongly fixed, for it not only bore the rush of the flood for a considerable time, but it resisted it to such an extent that the water backed up for a considerable distance. The flood increased in depth and power, and at a length swept in a fierce torrent over a large portion of ground apportioned to the Roman Catholics at the Bradford Cemetery carrying away not only tombstones but actually washing out of their graves, a large number of dead bodies. Indeed from the first indication of danger, so far as works on the banks of the Medlock were concerned, dead bodies were observed floating down the river, and those watching could easily see that the bodies had been disinterred out of the Bradford cemetery. It is impossible to calculate how many had been swept out of their final resting place but the number is not short of fifty.” (source:Manchester Courier, 15 July 1872)

So, no great shakes for soggy electrical cables and knocked down gazebos, but interesting that this most remarkable of events took place in early July, just when we all least expect it.  There really is nothing new under the sun, or a grey cloudy Mancunian sky!

The full version of this article can be found at http://www.medlockvalley.org.uk/Sites/MedlockValley/Objects/PDFs/The_Great_Flood.pdf

The Angel in the not so heavenly Angel Meadows

Ragged School

Most of the buildings from the industrial era have been lost to gentrification, development and demolition, but where they remain they provide evocative indicators of the way social identities were played out.   Domestic housing was usually cramped, damp and with few, if any, creature comforts.   As a result, many people socialised in communal buildings and in public spaces. This was often done via the demarcation of clear – and often clearly labelled – social spaces such as markets and licensed premises. The Angel Inn, on the edges of Manchester’s thriving Northern Quarter, is a perfect example. Although much altered and rebuilt since the Angel Inn of the eighteenth century, this is the site of the pub that is mentioned in the 1859 version of ‘The Soldiers Farewell to Manchester’, the first broadside in the Manchester Ballad collection.   Today, the Angel Inn stands in the middle of the area dominated by the new ‘Noma’ development by the Co-operative group, with apartments and plush office blocks now surrounding the pub.

Info for Sunday 5th July

There is now over 400 people registered for Sunday, so down to the last few places. The day basically repeats itself so if you want to read the displays without music (and get some lunch) come down around 2pm and if you stay until 6.30pm isn you should see everything. If you want to have supper and stay into the night, come down sometime around 6pm – the displays will still be up but perhaps not so easy to read!

Weather is still looking good, so we expect it will be busy so if you still have not registered please click on the link below.

There will be merch for sale, so if you want to pick up a copy of the CD sampler, Jennifer Reid’s book or a T-shirt please bring cash as cards will be difficult to process. We will be doing a bundle of all three items for £20 to give you a bit of a guide.

Parking is available in several car parks in the streets on the opposite side of Rochdale Rd, between Swan Street and Thompson Street. Again, there is a map on the registration page if you click the link.

Any other queries, please message and we will try and get back before Sunday. See you all then!

New Cross – one of Manchester’s lost locations.

New Cross

New Cross was a centre of production for penny broadsides in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, with several printers based around Swan Street.   Some of the building around Chadderton Street and Cable Street date from this time, but none of the printers businesses survive. However, ask most Mancunians aged under 60 where the area of New Cross is, and the only reaction you are likely to get is a blank stare.

Until the 1960’s, the area around the junction of Tib Street, Swan Street and Oldham Street was a well known, and quite distinct, district of Manchester called New Cross. The original Victorian trams stopped here on the way out of the city centre towards Oldham, and the name would have been as familiar s Ancoats, Beswick or Ardwick. Historic maps of the area show that Swan Street was originally named New Cross Street, and that there was a physical cross, perhaps even an old market cross – although this is unclear – located in the centre of the junction opposite the Frog and Bucket and the Historic Crown and Kettle pub. The records show that there was a pub on the corner as early as 1734.

The New Cross name is perhaps best associated nowadays with the shop on Tib Street that sells ex-army gear, a ‘destination shop’ for several generations of Mancunians looking to buy their first pair of docs, or maybe some waterproof clothing for a festival. There is also the nearby New Cross Dental Surgery, and it is often the case that when place names that have otherwise fallen out of use, they live on in the names of nearby buildings or businesses.

Although the area is currently overshadowed by its better known neighbours Ancoats, Shudehill and Collyhurst, New Cross may yet see a revival, both as an area of commerce and as a name. Manchester City Council has announced plans to develop the area north of Swan Street, between Rochdale Road and Oldham Street, referring to it as the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ in the redevelopment of the city centre ( M.E.N. 2015)

David Jennings

fig6-newcross

Sources

http://bandonthewall.org/archive/19th-century-history/more-seriously/

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol4/pp222-230

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/search/New+Cross+Manchester/@53.4858996,-2.2326152,18z

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/revealed-massive-plans-develop-last-8859943

http://pubs-of-manchester.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/5-crown-and-kettle-great-ancoats-st.html

Angel Meadows: A Hell on Earth

The Angel Pub, where we perform on 5th July and which also features in the song ‘A soldiers Farewell to Manchester’ (one of the better known of the Manchester Broadsides), sits on the boundary of a neighbourhood Angel Meadows.  Now thoroughly re-developed, many of the buildings and streets still retain titles reminiscent of its less than  illustrious past.  In fact this is the part of town that Marx and Engels would walk into from Ancoats and Swan Street where they reportedly sat in the pubs looking over at the poor souls working the gravel pits on the edge of Angel Meadows.  In fact Freidrich Engels described this residential  neighbourhood as a ‘Hell on Earth’ and we can only imagine how horrific it would have been to live there.

However, three hundred years ago, Angel Meadow was a heavenly landscape with views over fields and hills. Indeed, the name conjures an image of some pastoral idyll.

By the mid-19th century however, thanks to Manchester’s new industrial age, it had become one of the city’s worst slums.

Angus Reach, a London-based journalist, visited Angel Meadow in 1849.

“The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy and most wicked locality in Manchester is called, singularly enough, ‘Angel-meadow.’ It is full of cellars and inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants, tramps and, in the very worst sties of filth and darkness, by those unhappy wretches the ‘low Irish.’

Friedrich Engels in the slums of Manchester
 Such is the Old Town of Manchester.. and the frightful condition of this Hell upon Earth. Everything here arouses horror and indignation. 
Friedrich Engels, writing in The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1844

Bounded by Rochdale Road, Miller Street, Cheetham Hill Road, and Gould Street, Angel Meadow covered 33 acres on the edge of the city centre.

Its population of 20,000 to 30,000 was made up predominantly of destitute Irish who had fled the Great Famine to find work in industrial Manchester and now lived in squalid conditions in cellars beneath lodging houses.

Recalling one particular cellar he visited, Reach wrote:

“The place was dark, except for the glare of a small fire. You could not stand without stooping in the room which might be about twelve feet by eight. There were at least a dozen men, women and children on stools, or squatted on the stone floor, round the fire and the heat and smells were oppressive… the inmates slept huddled on the stones, or on masses of rags, shavings and straw which were littered about. There was nothing like a bedstead in the place.”

BBC news website

Quotes courtesy of The Gangs of Manchester by Andrew Davies and The Condition of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels (1844).