Friday, 12 May 2017

Central Refuge report - part 2

In our last blog we left our Sheffield Reporter in the schoolroom of the Central Refuge on Francis Street. Today we’ll be following him as he tours the rest of the building, shedding a light on how the Refuge operated back in 1881.

Firewood workshop in the courtyard

Friday, 28 April 2017

Central Refuge report - part 1

Over the next few blogs we’re going to be looking in more depth at the Central Refuge in Strangeways. The following description comes from the ‘Sheffield Reporter’, whose journalist made a visit to the home in May 1881. This was a reconnaissance trip to see if there could be a similar set up for the children of Sheffield, as an alternative to the workhouse or industrial schools.   

Central Refuge, Francis Street

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Newspaper Brigade

This rather lovely photograph below shows one of our boys, Charles, dressed in the uniform of the charity’s Newspaper Brigade. The group was formed ‘for the purpose of counteracting the pernicious influence of bad books by the introduction of pure literature, in a cheap and an attractive form, into the homes of the people’.  
- The Quiver : an illustrated magazine for Sunday and general reading (1894)

 Charles in uniform
Those admitted to the Brigade were not usually resident in one of the charity’s homes. On application, a form was completed to determine place of birth, position of family, the education standard passed, and whether "he has been used to selling papers”. Once admitted, conduct was closely watched, parents, or guardians, visited periodically and a report of behaviour and the condition of home was completed. When the boys were old enough, the Committee undertook to find them regular employment. It will be noted that the service was strictly for boys, the Refuge not wanting to encourage any form of employment on the streets for girls.   

Caxton Brigade in the Central Refuge yard
The service was set up for a number of reasons. Mostly it was for the benefit of the boys themselves; firstly to make a stand on the issue of juvenile hawking but also to try and provide a stepping stone for them towards permanent employment. The problem of juvenile hawking in the mid to late Nineteenth century was abhorred by the charity, who went to great lengths to try and stop the employment of young children on the streets at night.

The service was also seen to benefit the public by providing cheap and healthy literature to the masses. As highlighted by the Quiver‘thousands, of the working classes, never enter a book- seller's shop. If, therefore, the homes of the working classes are to be permeated with pure literature, it is absolutely necessary that it should be offered to them at their own doors’.

During the year 1883, nearly £3,000 passed through the hands of 400 boys. It was a way for those who had a home, but needed to help supplement the family wage to obtain a safe, useful job, under supervision and prepare them for future full time employment.    

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The archives of the Remand Home

We’ve spoken before on this blog about the Remand Home that was set up in 1910 as part of the Children’s Shelter on Chatham Street. The archives reveal separate admission books for the Remand Home from this date, although magistrates were using other homes belonging to the charity from 1896 to house boys who had been convicted of a crime.

Railings on the roof top of the Remand Home

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A new history of the Together Trust

In 1921, in celebration of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes jubilee, a new book was published. Written by William Edmondson, Secretary of the charity between 1894 and 1920, it told the story of the first 50 years of the Refuges. It is the only published history of the charity and concentrates on individual stories, attempting to provoke sympathy in the reader and encourage donations or aid. For those interested in the charity’s Victorian work, it offers an introduction to the services, key staff and stories of the children who lived in the homes.

Making Rough Places Plain, 1920

Friday, 17 March 2017

The charity and its Irish Roots

As it is St. Patrick’s Day today, it seemed only apt to look into our Irish heritage at the charity. We’ve seen a number of boys and girls pass through our different homes and services over the years who hail from the Emerald Isle. Our most famous Irish connection however is our founder himself, Leonard Kilbee Shaw

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Woman's Day

As today is International’s Women’s Day it seems only fitting to dedicate this week’s blog to all of the women who have worked for and cared for the children in our charity over the years. Some we have talked about before; Annie Shaw for example dedicated over 50 years of her life to the Manchester Refuges, being an active member of the committee and taking a particular interest in the Cheetham Hill Homes, which included the 6 Orphan Homes, Bethesda, Tetlow Grove and Rosen Hallas; Harriet Smethurst worked for the charity for 37 years as Matron of Rosen Hallas, travelling across to Canada every year with her party of girls and Miss Pickford ran Bethesda, caring for all the ‘delicate children’ that entered through its doors. 

Annie Shaw on left

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


The charity is very aware that in 3 years time we will be celebrating our 150th anniversary. It’s a huge milestone in the history of the Together Trust and gives us a chance to reflect back on the many different services and activities we’ve provided over the last century and a half.  

Our 150th isn’t the only anniversary we celebrate in 2020 however. It also notes 100 years since the charity moved its offices out of Manchester into the leafy suburbs of Cheadle, where we have remained ever since. It is important for this occasion not to be overshadowed and to recognise the important connection we have with Cheadle and its community. 

Cheadle Village, c. 1950s

Friday, 3 February 2017

Beyond the Home

Our case files that sit at Manchester Archives take up around 11.5 linear meters in space. Each case file, which exist from 1886, contains details of every single child that entered one of the Manchester Refuges’ Homes. These can vary in content for the genealogist searching for details on their ancestor’s past. Some contain only an application form. To many this is the most important find, as it details previous addresses, family members and circumstances leading up to admission. Other files can be bursting at the seams with documents pertaining to that individual’s life. 

Envelopes for case files

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Respected and Protected

Some of our archives are having another little journey south to be displayed as part of a new exhibition at the Central Family Court in London. The exhibition entitled 'Respected and Protected: The Rights of Children', focuses on these entitlements through the ages and how these have changed and adapted over time.

Respected and protected?