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Grim reality of Manchester’s forgotten slums revealed in report and photos

The city has a dark history…

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A project from University of Manchester has repaired, photographed and shared forgotten maps of Manchester’s slums.

We might have our complaints about the city centre (in particular Piccadilly Gardens) now but it’s not a patch on how disgusting the city was in the Industrial Revolution.

With factories opening, thousands of people flocked to the city for work and to live in the working-class slums.

Those slums were primarily in Salford and Hulme, but there were also large ones in Pendleton and Chorlton. Two thirds of Ardwick and certain small areas of Cheetham Hill and Broughton were also slums.

Credit: The University of Manchester Library / CC

The most famous slum from the time though is around the Red Bank area of the city, including what we now know as the Green Quarter and Angel Meadows.

Throughout the Industrial Revolution Manchester was described as “the vilest and most dangerous slum of the Industrial Revolution” in Frederick Engels book ‘The Condition of the Working-Class in England 1844’.

The new maps and reports from the University of Manchester go a long way into proving what Engels described as the truth.

The new found reports provide grim and detailed statistical records of the cause of death, occupation age and sex of individuals within each district along with their address and date of death.

The maps were bound into reports by the city’s Medical Office of Health at the time.

Credit: Manchester Archive

The ‘Report on the Health of the City of Manchester, 1880’ shows that the death rate for 1877 stood at a huge 27.79%. This figure is massive when you consider the highest death rate in the world for 2018 was 17.23% in South Africa.

The main causes of death were respiratory related including ‘Diseases of the Lungs’ and ‘Whooping Cough’ due to the high air pollution and terrible housing for the extreme winters.

Adding to this were exceptionally high levels of mortality due to typhus, typhoid and diarrhea due to “a degree of dirt and revolting filth, the like of which is not to be found elsewhere.”

Credit: The University of Manchester Library / CC

At the time, Engels description of the area said: “the shameful lay-out of the Old Town has made it impossible for the wretched inhabitants to enjoy cleanliness, fresh air, and good health.

“And such a district of at least twenty to thirty thousand inhabitants lies in the very centre of the second city in the most important factory town in the world.”

The new maps bridge an almost 50-year gap between found surveys in the 1850s and the later 1904 housing map of Manchester and Salford by campaigner Thomas R. Marr.

The maps are an entirely unique sanitary survey for Manchester and include ‘a valuable resource for researchers to better understand the social conditions of the city in the late 1800s’.

Credit: Manchester Archives, 1897.

The newly discovered maps and reports not only highlight the massive and disgusting social inequalities of the time but demonstrate how the issue was largely ignored by the wealthy, to maintain the wealth in the hands of a limited few, as was the case throughout the industrialised world.

The political uprisings throughout Europe at the beginning of the 20th Century saw changes for the better, at least in the first world.

The digitalised maps and reports are available to view here.

Feature

Supermarket workers share the worst thing they’ve seen customers do in-store

Turns out customers aren’t that sneaky…

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SchuminWeb

Many supermarket workers have caught shoppers using underhand tactics, and they’ve now revealed the worst things they’ve witnessed.

Employees from Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have shared the numerous things they have noticed customers do to grab an unfair bargain.

They’ve also listed all the ways shoppers are really annoying at breaking rules, from trying to sneak in early, shopping after hours or weird queuing tactics.

A report last year revealed that a quarter of supermarket staff have experienced abuse during the coronavirus pandemic. 

See below for some of the things supermarket employees have witnessed.

Philafrenzy

“The worst are the ones who graze as they shop” 

I think we can all admit we can’t resist picking at the French stick as we shop, but the employees, rightfully, aren’t a fan of touching grubby half-eaten food to scan. 

“Customers are messy – and it’s annoying”

Just pick up the things you drop, ok?! Also – stop putting dog food down with the shampoo because you don’t want it anymore.

“You’re not actually allowed to swap the stickers, you know” 

This one is lost on me, I didn’t realise anyone actually peeled a reduced sticker off and slapped it on another product. Might seem dead clever, but it’s technically stealing. 

“We can spot a ‘savvy’ shopper a mile off”

We all love a good bargain but apparently it’s dead obvious when you swarm around the poor sod who’s got the reduced price gun. Who would’ve thought? 

ASDA

“I see you have your evening planned”

Around Valentine’s day, hundreds of men go shopping with the exact same shopping list; cheapest flowers possible (preferably red), card, chocolate, cheap bottle of Prosecco and some condoms. 

“Clocking onto loyal customers’ routines”

If you’re one of those on a tight schedule doing your weekly shop every Thursday at 7pm, they know all about it. 

“If you mess up my display I’ll be furious”

Pretty self-explanatory this one. Imagine working hard to get all the tins facing the right way and some little terrors come along and put their grubby little paws all over them, messing the display up. 

Keith Williamson/Tesco /CC BY-SA 2.0

“We know you know what 10 items or less means” 

So no, don’t bring your entire monthly shop into the basket-only till. You aren’t special. 

“I can’t just unlock the doors because you’re standing there” 

If the shop opens at 7am, it opens at 7am. It doesn’t matter that you’re early or stood in the rain. Look up trading laws folks.

“We see you trying to get to the store at 3:59pm on a Sunday” 

Honestly, anyone who goes anywhere minutes before it closes is so annoying and immediately on the naughty list. And don’t do a naive ‘oh sorry, are you closing?’ when the shutters – which you just ducked under – are halfway down. OBVIOUSLY we are closing! 

“Huffing and puffing in the queue won’t make me go any quicker on the checkouts” 

It’s just busy, ok!? Actually, in the past, it’s made me go slower if people are rude – oops, sorry!

Don’t be rude to people who work in the service industry folks! 

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Feature

The most brutal reviews of Greater Manchester’s towns

These are ruthless…

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Bill Boaden / Geograph

While we definitely think Greater Manchester is the greatest place on earth, we can’t help but have a laugh at these terrible reviews of areas of our region.

ILiveHere.co.uk is a website specialising in providing terrible and brutally honest reviews of areas across the country, and each year it releases a list of the top ten worst places to live in the UK – here’s the list for 2021, if you’re interested.

We’ve hand-picked some of the best insults the site has dished out to areas across Greater Manchester – take it all with a pinch of salt and remember it’s just a laugh!

Credit: G-Man

Mossley

In an article titled ‘Mossley, home of ‘Who’s got the most toes competition’ you can imagine what the rest of the review was like.

In a small section that’s without profanities, the review describes the town with a nod to evolution: “Darwin clearly left Mossley out when he wrote origin of species.” Not exactly something you’ll see on a poster board for the town…

Credit: Martin Clark / Saddleworth Church / CC BY-SA 2.0

Saddleworth

The reviews of Saddleworth are all pretty similar in their incredibly derogatory comments.

This one sums it up: “Saddleworthians are easily spotted in a crowd amongst their fellower Oldhamer’s. They’re the ones who have fake accents, no wit and a false sense of superiority. Yes if you like a bit of bullsh*t and self congratulations you’re in for a treat.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Rochdale

Unfortunately, Rochdale has made the site’s top 10 worst places to live in the entire country list two years running.

Most of the reviews see some pretty catty comments about the inhabitants of Rochdale, with one stating: “Majority of the residents disdain this town. The sole act of living here, and even being associated with Rochdale is a disgrace. Not for trivial, but rather major reasons. In fact, the (not so) respectful residents may just happen to be the contributory factor!

“Possessors of low IQ, users of unknown speech codes, devoted to ‘grime’ and overly fond of drugs, in particular marijuana- are few of the admirable traits and practices common among the youth.”

Ouch…

Credit: Keith Williamson

Harpurhey

All I know of this place is to avoid it, and this review seems to agree: “When me mam told me we were moving to Harpurhey in 2002, I was devastated.

“When she showed me the estate we were going to move on to I tried to throw myself under the 52 bus. Unfortunately it never turned up on time, I don’t think it ever has since. Here lies the problems with Harpurhey.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Bolton

One of my few experiences of Bolton involves venturing to a nightclub called J2. I got attacked by a girl for looking at her in a takeaway, after being served triangle shapes of buttered toast in J2 a few hours earlier. Great times.

This reviewer really isn’t a fan of the place either: “Superficially at first the greenery, rivers Croal and Irwell seem appealing… unfortunately, soon you have a suspicion that all is not as it appears-in fact the whole place gives the impression of nature reclaiming post-holocaust man-made destruction, the greenery taking from direct sight the utter ruination wrought by hundreds of years of poisoning the land, and utter despoliation of the environment.

“The place has a sort of chemical stink…a miasma…even on the freshest of days.”

Credit: Eugene Regis / Flickr

Salford

Salford has come a long way in recent years so I’m going to guess this review was left a while back, probably by someone from Walkden: “Charles Darwin would have had a field day here, as Salford not merely proves the theory of evolution but actually allows a casual observer to witness the process in reverse.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Stockport

This one really paints a picture of the home town of Blossoms, maybe it was left before the Plaza had a revamp: “The average Stopfordian seems to roll out of his bed around eleven, take a 192 – or better still a deathtrap Corsa with a stolen stereo more powerful than it’s engine – down to sign on and then simply hangs around in the town.

“They aren’t even entertaining like the drunks in Manchester they’re just, well… ****!”

Credit: Rept0n1x

Bury

I’ve never ventured to Bury so I can’t vouch for how true this one might be: “Bury has its own perfume – Eau de Weed which is particularly noticeable between the Spotted Cow and the Old Crow on Bell Lane.”

Credit: Parrot of Doom

Stretford

Widely recognised as the next victim of gentrification, here’s a cracking and detailed review of the south Manchester suburb: “The local park is full of teenagers who have broken the children’s climbing frames. These teens are usually swearing their heads of pissed off white ace and that’s just on a Monday afternoon.

“The local council then put a murder tape round it for nearly two years. The people who cant escape have taken to impaling themselves just to end it all.”

What you waiting for, get on the property ladder here and cash in?!

Credit: Gerald England / 28-32 Wallgate, Wigan / CC BY-SA 2.0

Wigan

Honestly, I’ve only ever been to Wigan once and I went to Spoons, so my view of it wasn’t too dissimilar to this review: “The hub of the pissed-up activity at the weekend is King Street, a place where (to nobody’s surprise) there seems to be a murder once every couple of years.

“The road is closed to traffic every Friday and Saturday night, giving the drunken oafs the freedom to lurch around trying to find the taxis that aren’t allowed to drive down that road, or the takeaways that apparently aren’t allowed to serve anything that won’t make you ill for a couple of days.”

Credit: Rept0n1x

Droylsden

This is my hometown so I can say what I want about this shithole. Enjoy this considerably kind review: “Let us begin with the very heart of Droylsden – the precinct. Dominated by the vast grey concrete tumour that is the Concord Suite.

“A building so hideous that to gaze upon it leaves a stain on the scorched retinas of the observer. Imagine if you will, a building so hideous it makes the newly built Tameside Council Pension offices look like Cologne Cathedral.”

The square has got a little better since the Silly Country opened, still…

Credit: Rept0n1x

Wythenshawe

This one makes you do that deep breath in you do through your teeth when someone says something a bit risque: “It actually has some decent shops here to be honest, well catered for the masses of ball bags, moaning about paying 5p for a JD bag they’ll use for the rest of their lives until the black paint has come off and it looks like a dandruff encrusted version of it’s former self, sleeveless bubble coats to match.”

So there you have it some of the most brutal and degrading reviews of Greater Manchester we could find – we still love it though.

You can read more ruthless reviews here. If you’re offended, please please please, don’t let us know in the Facebook comments.

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Feature

One of the UK’s most haunted places is a pub in Greater Manchester

The scariest pint you’ll ever have…

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Credit: Eccles.Express / Flickr

The Ring o’ Bells pub in Middleton is actually one of the most haunted places in the whole of the UK and it’s bustling with paranormal activity.

The land that lends itself to the pub was once the site of an ancient Druid temple in the Bronze Age, where dark rituals and human sacrifices often took place.

From the off, this little patch of land has been home to spirits. The pub itself goes back to the 12th century and has been a hot-bed of eerie happenings ever since.

Credit: whatpub.com

Ring O’ Bells resident ghost is nicknamed Edward, also known as the ‘Sad Cavalier’. He’s often found moving glasses along the bar, stomping with heavy footsteps upstairs, moaning and groaning and even throwing the occasional rock at the landlord and regulars.

It is thought that Edward is the son of Lord Stannycliffe and he died during the Civil War in a brutal massacre.

At this time, Middleton was a strong Parliamentarian camp and a group of Royalists, including Edward, were using the pub as a secret base.

Credit: Eccles.Express/ Flickr

There have been tales of a tunnel that ran directly from the pub to the local parish church as a means of escaping the Roundheads if they were ever caught plotting against Cromwell.

Many people have speculated that the sitting room on the upper floor is where Edward did his secret plotting. It’s not uncommon to experience sudden, spine-tingling temperature drops in this room.

One dark wintry night, Edward and his Royalists were going along as they normally did, plotting their revenge – but the Roundheads were waiting for them. What followed was a brutal massacre where they were not only killed but dismembered and buried in the cellar of the Ring O’ Bells pub.

The only remains of this night were helmets, spears and other historical artifacts. There have yet to be any bodies found and the tunnel to this day remains undiscovered.

Credit: Budby/Flickr

That’s not the only haunting murder that has happened at the Ring O’ Bells though, no no no.

A pair of serial killer landlords lived in the pub in the 17th century. The legend goes that over 60 murders were committed by the landlord and his wife.

Their targets were the wealthy guests, disposing of the bodies in a specially hinged bed of boiling liquid. They made a fair bob or two from the victims’ valuables too. Creeps.

It’s safe to say, ever since there have been ghostly figures wandering the walls of the Ring O’ Bells pubs.

Credit: Broady/Flickr

Some of the scariest encounters include a cold invisible hand pulling at the pockets of punters, could it be that the serial killing couple are still after your valuables?

There’s also plenty of cold spots, sightings of figures and generally a feeling of ‘not being alone’ in this pub, even after the doors close.

If you think you can handle one of the scariest pints you might ever have, put the Ring O’ Bells pub top of your places to visit after lockdown. While you’re there, say hello to Edward from us. 

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