Friday, 12 February 2010
"The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy and most wicked locality in Manchester."
Friedrich Engels called it 'Hell upon Earth.' But what was Angel Meadow really like in Victorian Manchester? We delve into the history books to find out.
Three hundred years ago, Angel Meadow was a heavenly landscape with views over fields and hills. Indeed, the name conjures an image of some pastoral idyll.
By the mid-19th century however, thanks to Manchester's new industrial age, it had become one of the city's worst slums.
Angus Reach, a London-based journalist, visited Angel Meadow in 1849.
"The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy and most wicked locality in Manchester is called, singularly enough, 'Angel-meadow.' It is full of cellars and inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants, tramps and, in the very worst sties of filth and darkness, by those unhappy wretches the 'low Irish.'
Such is the Old Town of Manchester.. and the frightful condition of this Hell upon Earth. Everything here arouses horror and indignation. Friedrich Engels, writing in The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1844.
Bounded by Rochdale Road, Miller Street, Cheetham Hill Road, and Gould Street, Angel Meadow covered 33 acres on the edge of the city centre.
Its population of 20,000 to 30,000 was made up predominantly of destitute Irish who had fled the Great Famine to find work in industrial Manchester and now lived in squalid conditions in cellars beneath lodging houses.
Recalling one particular cellar he visited, Reach wrote:
"The place was dark, except for the glare of a small fire. You could not stand without stooping in the room which might be about twelve feet by eight. There were at least a dozen men, women and children on stools, or squatted on the stone floor, round the fire and the heat and smells were oppressive... the inmates slept huddled on the stones, or on masses of rags, shavings and straw which were littered about. There was nothing like a bedstead in the place."
The most infamous part of Angel Meadow was the former burial ground of St Michael's Church, which contained the mass graves of 40,000 paupers.
Unpaved for 40 years, it was finally laid with flagstones and thereafter known as 'The Flags.' A resident of Rochdale Road described it thus:
"There was at one time a number of gravestones covering the remains of some dear lost ones, but these have been removed and a few are to be seen in some of the cottages... Very often are the bones of the dead exposed and carried away and a human skull has been kicked about for a football on the ground."
Friedrich Engels, socialist reformer and author of the The Communist Manifesto described Angel Meadow - an area he called the Old Town of Manchester - in his hugely influential book, 'The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.'
"Such is the Old Town of Manchester, and on re-reading my description, I am forced to admit that instead of being exaggerated, it is far from black enough to convey a true
If any one wishes to see in how little space a human being can move, how little air -- and such air! -- he can breathe, how little of civilisation he may share and yet live, it is only necessary to travel hither. True, this is the Old Town, and the people of Manchester emphasise the fact whenever any one mentions to them the frightful condition of this Hell upon Earth; but what does that prove? Everything which here arouses horror and indignation is of recent origin, belongs to the industrial epoch."
Quotes courtesy of The Gangs of Manchester by Andrew Davies and The Condition of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels (1844).
George Carlin's Views on Ageing
Do you realise that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about ageing that you think in fractions.
'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.
You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. 'How old are you?' 'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life .... . You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony.. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!
But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling.. What's wrong? What's changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.
But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!
So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.
You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!
You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30 ; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there Into the 90s, you start going backwards; 'I Was JUST 92.'
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!' May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!
HOW TO STAY YOUNG
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them'.
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love , whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity. AND ALWAYS REMEMBER :Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.