Municipal Housing in Manchester before 1914: tackling ‘the Unwholesome Dwellings and Surroundings of the People’

Municipal Dreams

Manchester has been described as the ‘shock city’ of the Industrial Revolution and if you lived in Ancoats it was, indeed, pretty shocking.  Ancoats was the world’s first industrial suburb – factories and workshops cheek by jowl with mean terraces of back-to-back working-class housing and courts.

Ancoats in 1895 Ancoats in the 1870s

In 1889, a report by Dr John Thresh on 36 acres lying off Oldham Rd detailed 25 streets, many less than 17ft wide, and housing, mostly over 70 years old.  The area contained over 50 courts; one third of houses were back-to-back.   A death rate of over 80 per 1000 led to his dry statistical conclusion that ‘3000 to 4000 people [were] dying annually here in Manchester from remediable causes. (1)

The City Council declared it an ‘Unhealthy Area’ and determined to clear and rebuild.  A total of 1250 people were displaced and 239 dwellings demolished.

Manchester City Council had…

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