Thursday, 22 September 2016

Spreading the news in 1916

It’s been a while since we thought back to our Refuge boys on the Western Front. In September 1916 the Battle of the Somme was still raging and the Manchester population read the newspapers everyday, to try and gain some understanding into what was happening 400 miles away. 

Refuge soldiers

Friday, 9 September 2016

We're the famous Together Trust, and we went to Wembley

The Archives and Records Association (ARA) Conference is over for another year but as always it created plenty of opportunity for debate and learning. For a charity archivist it was a bit like being the proverbial ‘small fish in a big pond’ as professionals gathered from all sectors, ready to convey new techniques, technologies and ideas to the world of archives. For this small fish it meant an opportunity to discover and rethink methods of how to preserve, make access to and promote our own small collection. 

Wembley Stadium

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

'Global Futures' for archives

Next week sees the gathering of archivists and conservators from all over the UK and beyond, to London, for the annual Archives and Records Association (ARA) conference. For the lone archivist working in the north of England, it’s a chance to travel to the bright lights of the capital city and mix with other like minded professionals. This creates an opportunity to share new ideas, receive advice from your peers and hear about some of the wonderful work going on in archive repositories across the country and beyond.

Friday, 19 August 2016

An archaeological find

We’ve had our archaeologist caps on at the Together Trust campus this week. The summer holidays often results in building work to the schools in preparation for a new academic year. The modern age mixes with old as the ground has been dug up to create a 35 metre trench to install fibre optic cabling. It’s this manual work that can lead to surprising discoveries and bring up questions as to how this site used to be.

Digging a trench

Friday, 12 August 2016

A Russian connection

The vast majority of children who entered the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes were from Manchester and the surrounding areas. The charity began with the intention to take boys, and later girls, out of the city slums and give them safe, warm accommodation, where they could learn a trade and create a better life for themselves. A look at the admission books for the charity however, revealed that it was not just Mancunians who passed through the Refuge door. 

Of course Manchester appealed to people from all over. The Industrial Revolution meant people had swarmed to the cities looking for work. Certain areas therefore became well known as settlements for different nationalities. Ancoats, for example, became well known as ‘Little Italy’, as poverty caused many Italians to move away from their homeland. Ancoats was also home to a large population of Irish workers, many of whom lived in the cellars of the small, cramped houses. Up in Salford and Prestwich, people settled from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. It is from this area we take out next story.

Philip and Samuel on admittance

Friday, 5 August 2016

The end of the line?

Last week’s blog centred round the will of Leonard Kilbee Shaw and the distribution of his final assets. A portion of this went to his adopted son, Robert, who we have mentioned once before in this blog. Robert is an interesting character, not least because of his mysterious beginnings and unknown connection to Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, prior to being adopted by them. We know little about his upbringing and consequent life. However, the release of new documents can often start a new trail to discovery. 


Friday, 29 July 2016

Wills and legacies

It’s been 114 years since the Together Trust lost its founder. A man still largely unknown to many, we’ve discussed through several of our blogs the work he did within the charity. From the very beginnings of opening a small home for boys on Quay Street, to the many different homes and services that were running during his lifetime, he left a legacy that continues today. 

Leonard Kilbee Shaw

Friday, 22 July 2016

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

The Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes had a well known motto in its early days:  
'We help those who try to help themselves’
It was a principle the charity stood by. It was the Refuge’s work to help those in need but it also expected those who were admitted to its homes to work hard to become useful members of society. 

Working hard in the printing department

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


The problem with war is people’s lives become numbers. For those who died in a battle like the Somme, which had as many as 19,000 killed on the first day alone, the sheer logistics of identifying and burying those who had died, was an overwhelming task. Those who were identified became a plot number, those who didn’t got an unmarked grave. The lives and stories behind those people become lost. For the young people from the Manchester and Salford Boys' and Girls' Refuges and Homes who enlisted in World War One it was yet another adjustment to their ever changing lives.

World War One Soldier 
Let’s take Arthur as a good example:
  • Arthur was born in Manchester in 1892. His father was a labourer working in the starch works. 
  • He was born into a family with 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters.
  • He was admitted into Prestwich Workhouse around 1905. 
  • He was admitted to the Manchester Refuges in 1906. 
  • In May of that year he emigrated to Canada. 
  • He worked on various farms around Ontario. 
  • In 1914 he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • In 1916 he was transferred to France. He was wounded at the Somme in September of that year.
Growing up in Manchester at the turn of the century would often result in an inconsistent childhood. If parents couldn’t afford their bills or died, there was no welfare system in place to assist children. If no relative could take them in they often end up in the workhouse, as Arthur did. Prestwich Workhouse at this time was located in Crumpsall and like all others was a harsh place to spend part of your childhood. The Guardians however, had earmarked Arthur for yet more change and transferred him to the Refuges in order to be emigrated across to Canada.

Arthur had spent his first 14 years surrounded by the dark, soot stained buildings of Manchester. Here he likely played out in the narrow, crowded slums of the city. His last known residence before admittance to the workhouse was only streets away from where the Etihad Stadium can be found today. Then the area was densely packed and disease was rife. The change from this setting to the wide open landscape of Ontario, Canada must have been hugely unsettling to a small boy. Within a few weeks, he had left the only city he’d ever known, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and been placed on a farm with animals he’d never seen before and expected to do work he’d never partaken in.

But as years went by the new landscape would have become familiar, and despite movement to new farms, the work would been similar. The outbreak of War however, changed everything for the countries involved. Perhaps for an individual who had seen so many changes in his young life it was not quite so much of a shock that his life was being turned upside down again. He had learnt to deal with new ways of life, new sceneries, new countries.

Nothing however can prepare you for War.

In 1917 we see the return of Arthur to Marchmont Home, perhaps an area of refuge and comfort.

29 May 1917 – Marchmont Report
In a way, Arthur was lucky. Although injured, he survived the Somme to come back to Canada. The report above, found in the charity records, perhaps gives a semblance of identity back to one soldier from our homes. Once more, he had been faced with great change. Once more he had survived.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Battle of the Somme

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. Lasting over four months and claiming thousands of lives, it was the largest conflict on the Western Front during World War One. Like many other organisations the bloody battle affected the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes. There were a reported 19,240 British men killed on the first day alone. Albert was one of those men. In memory of all those who died during the battle, we tell his story. 

Manchester Battalions