A Place Lived – #7 Grove Street
Martha Harrison, ‘Knocker Up’

Number 7 Grove Street was the home of the Aldred family. In 1901 Martha Harrison, a widow (age 63), lodged at number 7 with the Aldreds. Martha was a ‘Knocker Up’, charged with waking her neighbours for work by tapping a long stick on their windows. A ‘Knocker Up’ was a lowly and poorly paid role, taken on by widowed women. In a time before alarm clocks, the role entailed staying up all night with a precious pocket watch, wandering the streets, waking up a list of people in time for work, normally workers in the factories and warehouses. By 1911 at 73 years old she retired but remained lodging with the Aldred family. It is possible that by then she had become part of the family and they were caring for her.

In 1901: 275 people lived in Grove Street and St John’s Place, occupying a total of 34 houses.

107 of these people were under 18, of these 17 worked and there are no records for school attendance.

Only 13 people were over 60, 10 of these still worked, the oldest was 79.

142 people had trades , the youngest was 14 and was a Print Compositor.

38 of the residents worked in textile and clothing trades.

53 % were Mancunian.

A Place Lived – #7 Grove Street
Alice Aldred, ‘Assistant Confectioner’

In 1911 Alice Aldred (age 22), daughter of Mary Emma (age 55) and Edward Aldred (age 57), lived with her family at 7 Grove Street. Her father Edward was a ‘Lurry Driver’ (an early wagon), and Alice herself was an ‘Assistant Confectioner’. Confectionery of the period often took the form of boiled sugar sweets, rather than cakes, and was flavoured with aniseed or lemon. Molten sugar or toffee was moulded into shapes by hand, and later small sweet machines with a winding handle were introduced, making the process quicker.

Alice had nine brothers and sisters, though only three survived. Her sister Hannah (age 23) still lived with the family at the time and was a ‘Leather Stitcher’ in a Saddlery. Examining census data that includes ‘number of children’ and ‘children surviving’ noted side by side makes for startling reading, revealing that in 1911 it was more common than you may think to lose six of your nine children. Lack of affordable healthcare and general poverty took its toll on child mortality rates.

In 1911: 242 people lived in Grove Street and St John’s Place, occupying a total of 33 houses.

85 of these people were under 18, of these 20 worked and 42 went to school.

The child mortality rate was 35%, only 20 people were over 60 and of these 18 still worked, the oldest being 74.

151 people had trades, the youngest was a 14 year old errand boy.

42 worked in the textile and clothing trades.

65% were Mancunian.

Additional images