Saturday, May 26, 2012

Under the Railway Arch

There was a meeting to form a co-operative wholesale society in a railway arch. I don't think any of the 50 or 60 delegates had top hats though, as illustrated here. Definitely not the attire for a working man. Muddy marshes of the Irwell river - had they never seen the brown-grey depressing trench of water that snakes its way tp fprm a boundary to the city. Oh how they stylise history back then 60 years ago and today.

The arch is on Hewlitt Street, Manchester under the railway line between Oxford Road and Deansgate. Built in 1849 as the Altrincham & South Junction Railway. Back then it was a temperance hall warmed with a smokey stove, and probably lit by oil lamps. In the 1870 street directory 89 Hewlitt Street was occupied by the British Workman Total Abstinence Society, but another organisation may have been there in 1860. There were plenty of temperance societies in Manchester in those times. Plenty of pubs doing a good trade too.

"It was a heroic way to spend Christmas. The conference was called for two o'clock and six o'clock pm on a day when trains ran as on Sundays, and at a period when a third class railway journey from Manchester to Halifax occupied at least three or four hours".

Sources : CWS Display Advert 1951. Quote from "The story of the C.W.S.; the jubilee history of the Co-operative Wholesale Society Limited, 1863-1913" by Percy Redfern. It is available at the Archives.Org

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