Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Touching History Roby Church

I've written many times about how the Manchester & Salford Equitable Co-op was founded by members of the Roby Brotherhood. A 19th Century group of young men who worshipped at the Roby Church and had attended that Sunday School. Walking down Dickenson Road you can see one of their former church buildings. It's at the corner of Hamilton Road and is now used by the Church of God of Prophesy. Better still sautering further south down Dickenson Road is the actual successor church, the Roby United Reform Church. A neat stylish building in smart brick with a small attractive garden. There you can touch the names carved in stone of the early preachers. Roby Church Dickenson Rd

William Roby was invited to preach at the Cannon Street chapel in 1830, and they moved to larger premises on Grosvenor Street in 1807. The chapel was renamed Roby in his memory after his death. I doubt if many of the founders of the Manchester & Salford Co-op would have heard him speak. But they would have been familiar with Richard Fletcher who went off to pastures new in Melbourne, Victoria, and Patrick Thomson who had a long career at various independent churches.

As a side note to illustrate how history is an ivy that intertwines. William Roby (1766-1830) ran an academy to teach independent preachers, and from 1803-1808 it was funded by Robert Spear (1792-1819) a wealthy cotton merchant in Manchester. "Robert Owen describes how Spear sent him the first two bags of Sea Island cotton to land in Britain. It was through Spear's sister that Owen met his future wife Caroline Dale." - paraphrased from the Life of Robert Owen (1920). The New Lanark mills were part of the marriage settlement. Yet another co-op connection.

Further Reading :
William Roby brief biog
History of the Roby Church

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Longsight Printing Works

Reading through many old co-op society magazines and pamphlets the imprint "CWS Printing Works Longsight" is on the publication. I thought the old printing works had long since been demolished until I took a cycle short cut down Hamiliton Road in Longsight and caught glimpse of the building. It took a few more months before returning with a camera.

CWS Printing commenced in January 1895 off Balloon Street in Manchester, and such was the need for more output a site was acquired in Longsight and production commenced in July 1898. The works expanded over the years and employed 1,100 persons in 1913. Printing wasn't as mechanised as today so lots of hands, both men and women were needed to collate, trim, bind and box all that paper.
longsight printing works
The attractive engraving shows a magnificent structure and with artistic licence the roads are shewn overly wide and spacious. Built on large open plot behind the shops on Stockport Road with Gore Brook and Rushford Farm to the right and east of this illustration. It has been knocked about since its heyday. The chimney and pond have gone, the brook is under a culvert but the original entrance to the offices on Hamilton Road survives.

former CWS Printing Works former CWS Printing Works The illustration is from The Story of the CWS: the jubilee history of the Co-Operative Wholesale Society by Percy Redfern (1913). You can download it at Archive.Org
You can email : coop AT biffadigital.org with any information that will help in the making of this history.