A Place Lived – #17 Grove Street
Mary Jane McKellan, ‘A Tailoress’

In 1891 Mary Jane McKellan (age 23), lived with her parents and four siblings. Mary Jane’s father, Duncan McKellan (age 64), was a ‘Boot Closer’, one of her brothers Duncan was an ‘Umbrella Frame Maker’, another James (age 15) worked on the railways. Mary Jane herself was a ‘Tailoress’, a more skilled position than a seamstress. She stitched clothing by hand and worked as an assistant to a ‘Tailor’. The ‘Tailoress’ would particularly concentrate on women’s clothing and finer fabrics. As a ‘Boot Closer’, Mary Jane’s father Duncan hand stitched leather boot uppers to the sole of boots. Perhaps this is where Mary Jane learnt her skills?

In 1811: 272 people lived in Grove Street and St John’s Place occupying 36 houses in total.

112 residents were under the age of 18 years and of these 20 worked, 6 of them went to school.

Only 17 residents were over 60 years, 15 still worked, the oldest was 78 years old.

149 people had trades, the youngest was 12 years old and worked as a ‘A Burlesque Actress.’

45 people worked in textile and clothing trades.

52% were Mancunian.

A Place Lived – #17 Grove Street
Elizabeth McKellan, ‘A Cotton Weaver’

In 1891 Elizabeth McKellan (age 31), Mary Jane’s sister, was a ‘Cotton Weaver’. She would have pulled thread through the shuttle’s eye with her mouth – this trade giving rise to the term ‘Kissing the Shuttle’. The shuttles were shared, and this was thought to be the reason why ‘Cotton Weavers’ had the highest rate of Tuberculosis in the cotton industry. The practice was banned in 1952. The noise in a weaving shed made hearing impossible, so workers communicated through ‘Mee-Mawing’, a cross between mime and lip reading, hands were cupped over mouths when conversations needed to be private.

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