A Place Lived – #16 Grove Street
Martha Barry, ‘A Washerwoman’

In 1841 Martha Barry (age 50) lived in the cellar at 16 Grove Street with five other people. As well as Martha, in the cellar lived a ‘Dressmaker’ (age 20), a ‘Cooper’ (age 55) and his two sons, one being 15 years of age and a ’Woolcarder’. Martha wasn’t related to any of these people and was a ‘Washerwoman’. A ‘Washerwoman’ took in laundry from other households for a small charge, using a Dolly Tub and Posse to wash clothes. The work was done by hand, often in the cellar and back yard. The Dolly Tub (barrel) held hot water and the Posse or Posser or Dolly (it had many different names depending on the part of the country you were from) was used to bash the laundry clean. Finer clothes were the responsibility of a ‘Ladies Maid’.

In 1841: 261 people lived in Grove Street and St John’s Place occupying 36 houses.

118 residents were under the age of 18 years, 8 of whom worked.

Only 8 people were over 60 years old, 4 still worked and the oldest was aged 75 years.

108 occupants had trades, the youngest worker was 13 and she was a servant.

18 people worked in textile and clothing trades.

64% were Lancastrian.

A Place Lived – #16 Grove Street
Maria Spencer, ‘The Keeper of the Mangle’

In 1871 Maria Spencer a widow (age 36) lived in the cellar of sixteen Grove Street with her three sons, Joseph (age 14) an errand boy in a machine shop, John (age 7) and Charles (age 5), as well as a 9-year-old boarder called Joseph Clegg. As ‘The Keeper of the Mangle’ Maria hired herself out on a wash day to other women as a ‘wringer’. Introduced in England in the 1850’s, mangles had two wooden rollers set in a sturdy frame, connected by cogs, that were wound by hand to wring water from wet laundry so it dried quicker whilst pressing the fibres flat. The process aided drying but also reduced the amount of ironing needed. A mangle and a ‘Keeper of the Mangle’ would have been a much sought after addition to any ‘Washerwoman’s efficiency and therefore ability to earn a better income.

In 1871: 334 people lived in Grove Street and St John’s Place occupying 37 houses, an average of 9 people living in each house, however 4 houses homed 16 people.

126 residents were under 18 years of age and of these 18 worked and 70 went to school.

Only 24 people were over 60 years old, 15 of them worked, the oldest worker was 81 years of age.

169 occupants had trades, the youngest was an 11-year-old errand boy.

47 people worked in textile and clothing trades.

50% were Mancunian.

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