Champions’ visit to Archives+

Our Volunteer Champions made the journey into town this morning, finding refuge from the freezing temperatures in Manchester’s Central Library.

We met with a warm welcome from Larysa Bolton from Archives+ who was to be our guide, and whose support has already been of great assistance to us in our work. After shedding our bags we were led deep into Central Library, enjoying a privileged look at its interior and magnificent holdings.

After seeing the preserved section of shelving holding periodicals, we delved down into the temperature-controlled strong rooms: home to the library’s most valuable materials. By a stroke of luck a Shakespeare second folio was in transit, and we were allowed to glance at an original publication almost four centuries old.

Our next stop was a journey around the conservation rooms, home to a magnificent array of presses; and a chat with the library’s volunteers in what will soon be Central Library’s sound studio. After this wonderful introduction, Larysa brought our trolley of Burnage materials for us to examine.

We looked at the Minutes of the Manchester Housing Committee from 1923 – 1927, including pages recording the Council’s approval of the construction of the [first] Burnage estate; and passages detailing the Manchester and Salford Wholesale Co-operative’s leasing of land from the Manchester Corporation to build housing for their employees between Crossley Road and Arbor Avenue.

Additional items included the Minutes of the Public Health (Housing) Committee from 1925-6, looking at the more personal aspects of life on the newly constructed estate. The Corporation were keen to maintain high standards, keeping a vigilant eye on any development compromises the integrity of the new estate. Battles ensued over the erection of bicycle and motor sheds; the establishment of fish and chip shops and pubs; and the keeping of fowls in these new suburban idylls!

Finally we were shown a Tithe map from 1868, listing the land’s owners and a surprising number of familiar landmarks. Interestingly, new roads and rail lines were pencilled in, highlighting the owners affected by these intrusive new developments.

It was a fantastic introduction for our Volunteer Champions to the resources held in this superb institution, with many an expression of interest made to dig deeper into the records! Our thanks to Larysa and all at Archives+ for their great encouragement, enthusiasm and continued support for our project.