Thursday, 21 February 2013

Behind every great man...

“She hath done what she could.”

So reads the gravestone for Mrs Leonard Shaw who served the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes for 53 years of her life. Looking back at the blogs of late, it is noticeable the influences male individuals had on the charity. The early committee was made up entirely of men who ran the services and made visits to the slum area’s offering shelter to those living on the streets.

Portrait of Mr and Mrs Shaw c.1890
However the hours of toil that Leonard Shaw put into the charity would never have occurred if it wasn’t for the support of his wife, Annie Shaw. She was born the second daughter of Mr and Mrs Hall of Shawcross Hall, Whaley Bridge, a family that was devoted to good causes. Her gentle encouragement and advice allowed Shaw to build up the charity over the years, putting in many hours to the venture long after his day’s work as an insurance agent was completed.

Mrs Shaw in later life, c.1915

After Leonard Shaw’s death in 1902, Annie took on a much more public role. She was an active Member of the Committee as well as supervisor of the nine Cheetham Hill Homes (six Orphan Homes, Rosen Hallas, Tetlow Grove and Bethesda). She also set up and was responsible for successful fundraising activities. The Ladies Sewing Meeting and the Annual Sale of Work every December raised around £500 a year.

As well as the administrative work it was her character and ability to win the esteem and affection of the staff and children of whom she was in constant company with, that made her so fondly remembered by all who knew her. Away from the Refuge’s Annie was also involved with other philanthropic work. She was a member of the Committee of the Girl’s Home, Devonshire Street and an active worker of the Bible Flower Mission.

‘Behind every great man is a great woman.’


  1. I am so pleased to find the TTA and your blog. After many years of searching I have just discovered that my great grandfather, Sidney Shaw, was cared for because of Mr. Shaw... and now learned about his wife. Thank you so much for the photos of them and the information. I look forward to following your stories.

  2. I am trying to find out more information on the Girls Home that was located at Devonshire Street, the Committee of which Annie Shaw was a member. I seem to be having trouble finding out which organisation actually ran that particular Girls Home, which is hindering my ability to find out more information on my great Grandmother, who was an 'inmate' there in 1891. Any assistance would be most appreciated!

    Many thanks from New Zealand,

  3. Hi Jan,

    As far as I am aware the Girls Home on Devonshire Street amalgamated with the Jubilee School for Girls in 1920. There is an archive collection for this school located at Manchester Archives. If any records do still exist it is likely to be in this collection so it's probably worth sending them an email to see if they can help.

    If you copy and paste this link it should take you to the catalogue entry on Manchester's website.

    Good luck!


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