The following is a signed essay by my grandfather. I do not know whether it was written for any specific purpose (any further information would be greatly appreciated) or how many copies were made. I hope that I will eventually compile enough historical information that the grandfathers mentioned can be placed in their proper places in the family tree - but this awaits further information. If anyone is aware of the current location of the "Remembrancer" I would be very pleased to incorporate it in this web site, selectively or otherwise.
My Grandfather spent much of his life in Salford, Lancashire, as did my Wife's Grandfather. They lived quite different lives, and it has always been interesting to us to compare them. We have been able to make comparisons by reason of my memories, and my remembrance of my Mother's recollections, and the carefully compiled "Remembrancer" left by my Wife's Grandfather.
My Grandfather, William Handley, was born in about 1842 and was as far as I am aware, always connected with the Baking industry. When I knew him he was a Master Baker in business in George Street, Salford, but living in Bolton Road, Pendleton. Previously he and his family lived in Bank Place Salford close by. St. Phillips Church of which the encumbent in 1897 was Canon Hicks who later became Bishop of Lincoln. In that year Canon Hicks conducted the service when my parents married in Manchester Cathedral.
The Bakery was for those days modern in outlook and mechanised as much as was then possible. My Grandfather employed some 40 to 50 men, quite a large and prosperous concern.
It is however for his optimistic character, almost boyish in outlook, his love of a practical joke, and always his great courage, that he is remembered.
My Grandfather's greatest friend was a farmer and miller named William Massey of Chassen Farm, Flixton, Manchester. He supplied the Bakery with flour, and it was in his company that most of the escapades of which I have been told were perpetrated.
Regularly on one day each week Mr. Massey would appear in the Bakery, and off they would go for a few hours fun. Relaxation surely well deserved for they both worked hard and continuously for twelve to fourteen hours a day - on special occasions such as Easter and Christmas, their day's work could last the round of the clock.
But, for those few hours each week they were free, free to enjoy themselves as they pleased. My Grandfather always returned home happily, sometimes a little battered which was not surprising in view of their exploits which might only come to light some days, or even weeks, later. I did not hear the stories at first hand - they happened before I was born, and whilst I was very young, but my Mother used to tell them to me in the early days of this century.
Stories which remain clearest in my memory are both connected with Shudehill, Manchester. There was I believe, a Public House in that district kept by an Irishman named Larry Flood in consequence of which the pub was well known as "Larry Floods", and it was patronized chiefly by Irish labourers engaged on work at the Ship Canal and the Railway. My Grandfather and his friend would go into the pub just before the Irish crowd was expected, select a table roughly in the centre of the room, order drinks, and wait. When the Irish party had gathered, and had had a few drinks, the two conspirators would suddenly jump on to the table and begin to bait and tease their Irish about Ireland and its troubles to such an extent that soon the pub was in turmoil and near riot with the crowd rushing at them yelling for vengeance. Having started the trouble they stoutly defended themselves causing fighting to commence amongst the Irish themselves. Larry Flood in despair tried to cool things by putting out the lights, and by some means smuggle the pair into the street by a back door. He would implore them never to return, but a few weeks later - they were back.
In Shudehill too there was a coffee stall and a cab rank which were a great temptation to the pair. They would wait until it was dark, rope the stall to the nearest cab and wait until the cabby got a fare. The cabby would whip up his horse, and along would go the coffee stall bring confusion and most violent reaction from all involved, all to the delight of the two friends. Then they would drift quietly away to re-tell the day's adventures of which this had been only a part.
When my Mother was a child, the family lived for a time in Stretford, Manchester. Stretford was just sufficiently distant from Manchester to permit of travellers from that City on Sunday qualifying as bona fide travellers and thus able to be served with intoxicating liquor at any hour. Consequently crowds would come from Manchester on the tram for the sole purpose of drinking at will, and I was told that the streets soon became the scenes of drunken excesses and violence. The Police had a very difficult time.
One Sunday two drunken men of small stature were attacking a tall Policeman on the pavement opposite my Grandfather's house. The policeman was getting much the worst of the struggle, for the short men kept hacking away with clogged feet at the Officer's shins. My Grandfather stood the sight as long as he could, and then in velvet smoking jacket, tasselled cap and slippered feet, crossed the road, and in his amazing strength picked up both the men by their necks, cracked their heads together and left them pretty well senseless at the mercy of the Policeman. Then shunning publicity, quickly returned home.
My Mother told me that the Policeman never forgot his action, and thereafter when they met gave her and her brother a penny to buy sweets.
My Grandfather died in 1918. I was with him a few weeks before he died. He had cancer of the the throat, he knew it, and that he had only a very short time to live, indeed he told me so. But, he still carried himself upright and with pride, and he still considered it slothful to lie in bed later than 7 a.m. He walked down the road with me that day, and although he by then had the greatest and most painful difficulty in swallowing any sort of food, and thus apart from the disease, was gradually starving, I very much doubt if anyone seeing him and noting his bearing, would have realized he was so sick. To me he always epitomised courage and love of life and laughter. His friend was at his funeral, and later recalled the incidents of which I have written.
I am able to give more precise dates and detailed information about my Wife's Grandfather for he left a written diary of the family events of his life in a "Remembrancer" which is in fact a printed diary in book form for the year 1849 adapted and used to cover a life time.
Alderman Isaac Bowes was born in Yorkshire in the year 1822, and on Easter Monday 1837 went apprentice at Stockton to a Millwright. By 1850 he had married and had changed his employment several times. In that year he was in Sunderland and commenced work as a clerk at a salary of one guinea per week which three months later was increased to twenty five shillings per week.
Eventually he settled in Salford and founded Pendleton Ironworks which proved a very successful undertaking with products selling far and wide. In 1935 my wife noticed in London a cast iron staircase with the words "Pendleton Ironworks" cast in the risers.
There is no evidence that the Grandfathers ever met but it is certain they both attended one event of national importance - the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal by Queen Victoria in 1894. My Grandfather attended the ceremony with his family. He bought a £10 share for each of his children. My Mother held her's until she died in 1939, and saw its value shrink to a few shillings, but eventually it became much nearer par when the Company started to pay modest dividends.
Alderman Isaac Bowes also attended with members of his family, and in his official capacity for he had been elected an Alderman of the City of Salford in 1880. He must have been very interested in the building of the Canal and the engineering problems involved. Indeed, he had considerable knowledge of Canal construction for we still have his published paper on the difficulties and trials met by Lesseps during the building of the Suez Canal.
In September 1851 he visited London to see the Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations "which by far exceeded my utmost expectations". He spent a day examining "the wonderful display of machinery of every description all at work" and that same evening "went to the Olympic theatre and saw the celebrated Farren perform in his best character, Grandfather Whitehead, and the no less celebrated Mrs Stirling as the unprotected female".
Another day was spent sailing down London River of which he gives a long and colourful account. He wrote about landing at Woolwich "where the chief attraction is the Dockyards which are on a most extensive scale. We saw two Noble Men of War building, the "Queen" 90 guns and the "Prince Albert" 120, the latter had been on the stocks 10 years. The Forges, Docks and Blockmakers Shops are all on the newest and best principles, but the gangs of Convicts labouring in the Yard is not altogether a pleasant addition to the scene!"
"After spending about two hours in the Dockyard we entered on of the Steamboats proceeding up the River and landed at the Tunnel one of the most wonderful feats of Engineering skill in the World and a lasting memorial of the skill and perseverance of Sir I.K. Brunel the celebrated French Engineer. We walked through to the Southwark side admiring the ingenuity displayed by the Keepers of the different stalls for the purpose of extracting money from the pockets of strangers".
He also paid a visit to Hampton Court "that paradise of the Cockneys". He took a Steamboat to Richmond - "the Paradise of Poets!"
He and his friends could not find a conveyance so walked from Richmond to Hampton Court and passed by Richmond Hill and the Park - "certainly the finest scenery in England and long since celebrated by Pope and other poets - this was the happiest part of my excursion".
Neither of our Grandfathers passed through life without their share of trouble. My Grandfather suffered a cruel stroke of fate when a baby daughter was stolen from her pram and was never traced. My Mother told me that such thefts were relatively common in those days in towns like Manchester and Salford, the babies being used by beggars to attract sympathy and pence. Such children usually died from starvation and neglect.
My Wife's Grandfather's trouble came through his eldest son. This son's health began to deteriorate in the summer of 1868, and it is painfully clear from the Diary that he suffered from tuberculosis or consumption as it was called in those days, and died in December 1871. He was sent on a voyage to Venice and the Black Sea, and on a long visit to Yorkshire, but there islittle evidence of treatment for "a cough and weakness". Indeed, he was kept indoors for the last eight months of his life. He was 23 when he died.
There is a great deal of interest in the Diary not the least being the prices at which Grandfather purchased various properties in Salford and district.
For instance, in 1890 he bought two houses in Half Edge Lane, Eccles, for £950, and five houses in Lorne Street, Peel Green, Patricroft - "paid £560 and for paving street concreting yards, lawyer's bill, etc, £83 - total cost £643!"
(signed) J. Handley Nichols
(handwritten) (approx 1700 words)