Monday, 17 October 2011

Our hero….

Leonard Kilbee Shaw

Today we are focusing on the life and work of one man – Leonard Kilbee Shaw – who was the founder of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes and the hero of our story….


Leonard was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1834 and was the son of Robert, a merchant, and Alicia Shaw. At the age of 13, Leonard and his family moved from Ireland to Broughton, Salford. The 1851 census shows that there were 11 people living in the house, including Leonard’s three brothers. By 14, Leonard had commenced his business life in one of the large Manchester warehouses as an ale and porter merchant alongside his father.

In 1866 Leonard married Annie Hall, second daughter of Mr and Mrs Hall of Shallcross Hall, Whaley Bridge, in Macclesfield. Within five years of the marriage two very important events had occurred; Leonard opened the ‘Boys Refuge’ on Quay Street with his close friend Richard Bramwell Taylor on the 4th January 1870 and the following year the Shaw’s had their first and only child Robert. Leonard was a prime mover in all the Society’s activities and management. He also found time to write several booklets, campaigning for children’s rights and promoting the Society. This was alongside his own business as a Merchant and Insurance Secretary.

Leonard died on the 22nd June 1902 at the age of 68 after dedicating 32 years of his life to helping the neglected children of Manchester. He was buried in St. Paul’s Church in Kersal, Salford. His grave lies alongside several of the children he strove to save. The memorial itself was erected by the workers of the Refuge as ‘a token of their admiration of his life and work’.   

Leonard Shaw's Grave Stone at St. Paul's Church, Kersal

Today few people have heard of the name Leonard Kilbee Shaw. Although he did for Manchester’s offspring what Thomas Barnardo did for London’s, or William Quarrier did for Scotland’s, he has now been consigned to the ranks of the forgettable. Without him and his work to save Manchester’s pauper children the city would be a different place today. Manchester needs to recognise this hero of its children. What do you think? 

1 comment:

  1. I must agree. Just last night I discovered that my beloved great grandfather was cared for because of this man. My great grandfather even took Mr. Shaw's surname. I am so pleased to find your blog and learn more. Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete

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