Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Meet our orphans

“I’m Richard, 11 years old. I was in Salford Workhouse until my Mum got a job as a servant. I hope she manages to keep it with the amount she drinks. Would you like a game of cup and ball?”

Richard, aged 11

We would like to introduce you to Richard. This is one of the lives we have been investigating during our young roots project ‘Deep Pockets and Dirty Faces’. The quote above introduces our audience to this orphan, as he meets a new admission to the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes. Throughout the radio script the young people involved in this project will tell the stories of their orphans, written through their own research into the individual children. It is their way of bringing these orphans' tales to life.

Richard for example entered the homes in 1899 at the age of 11. His father had passed away and consequently the family had ended up in Salford Workhouse. His Mother had eventually managed to get a job as a domestic but could only take it, if someone could look after Richard. The mother was also fond of drink and had not been looking after Richard properly. He was admitted into the Stevenson Emigration Training Home on Great Ducie Street. The building had a workshop and smithy in the basement, where the boys were taught useful handicrafts in preparation for emigration. 

Emigration Training Home on the right

Richard stayed at the Training Home for eighteen months before emigrating across to Canada in April 1901 on the Dominion. Here he was placed with a farmer in Colbourne, around 30 miles away from Marchmont, the receiving home for the Manchester Refuges. The reports sent back to the charity tell of a boy who ‘seems happy and contented’. By the age of 18, Richard was getting good wages and was ‘well able to do any kind of farm work’. He made a trip back to Manchester in 1905 to stay with his Aunt, but called into the Refuge requesting assistance to travel back to Canada, which he was duly obliged with.
The story of Richard and his contemporaries is being told as part of the Manchester Histories Festival at Manchester Central Library on Tuesday 7th June. This is a free event although tickets should be booked in advance. We’d love to see you there!

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