The Victorian/Edwardian butchers shop appears to be like the modern supermarkets, every town seems to have more than necessary. The 1913 Trade Directory for Atherton lists an incredible 14 butchers competing for business, a figure which has shrunk to just 2 today. This post is going to focus on two former butcher shops which just managed to survive into the 21st century.
106 High Street
My first example is 106 High Street, Atherton. As you can see from the photograph above, it is nestled within terraced houses. This is because it was originally built as a domestic property.
Number 106 was built as a typical ‘two up-two down’ terraced house in the late 1870s. James Butterworth, his wife Elizabeth and their four children are the first family recorded at the property in the 1881 census. By 1891 the family have moved on as John and Mary Smith and their three young sons John, Thomas and Ernest are living at the property. John Smith was a mechanic in a cotton mill, a skilled profession which meant that he could soon afford to move his family to a better newly built house on Hamilton Street.
In 1895 the property takes on a new role as Peter Halliwell uses the house as both a domestic and commercial premises and he runs his butcher’s shop from here. The 1911 census reveals Peter is the head of the family and is assisted in the business by his son Richard Norman Halliwell. Peter and his wife Eliza also have a daughter, Mary Ann and another son George. Whilst filling out the census form, Peter mistakenly records George, which is then crossed out. It is revealed that George was deaf and in 1911 he was a student at the “Royal Deaf and Dumb Institution” at Old Trafford, a philanthropic charity aimed at developing skills for disabled people.
Peter Halliwell died in 1925 and his business was inherited by his son Richard. The telephone directory for 1955 reveals that Richard Halliwell is still running his business at Number 106. He passed away in 1970 and his son, also called Peter took over the business and continued to run the butchers shop founded by his grandfather until the 1990s. It was then taken over by W & D Derbyshire who was still running the butcher’s there until about 2010.
Over a century after Peter Halliwell turned the terraced house into a butcher’s shop, it is now in the process of being turned back into a dwelling. However with little clues like the tiles underneath the window, the building reveals some of its secrets.
8 Morley Street
8 Morley Street is again another example of a domestic property being converted into a business. Again this ‘two up – two down’ Victorian terrace was built as a domestic property in the 1880s.
The first census that lists the residents of number 8 is the 1891 census. Living here is William Knowles, a coal miner and his family. In 1901 the Fielding family are living at the address. Interestingly both the Knowles family and the Fielding family had sets of twins. Thomas and Joseph Knowles were born 27 February 1870 and Harry and Mary Fielding were born at 8 Morley Street on 27 July 1900.
In 1911 the house has a dual purpose. Elizabeth Gerrard, aged 36, lived at Number 8 and also ran her laundry business from there too. A laundress was a physically strenuous job, but as a former domestic servant, Elizabeth would have been used to it and it offered her some independence as an unmarried woman in Edwardian Britain.
At some point after 1911 Thomas Mullineaux, his wife Margaret and their infant daughter Alice lived at 8 Morley Street, perhaps in 1914 when Thomas signed up to fight in the First World War, although Margaret and Alice no longer live there by 1919 as the newspaper clipping above shows. Thomas fought firstly with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment before being transferred to the Lincolnshire Regiment. Unfortunately he died on in Belgium or France on 27 May 1918 aged 38. Sadly it appears Margaret and Alice only discovered he had died in 1919, some nine months after his death and three months after the end of the war.
I am unsure when exactly the property became a butcher’s shop, but certainly by the early 1960s H. Foster had his butcher’s shop there. He was followed in the early 1970s by Critchley and Allred and in the late 1970s Mr Scott was a butcher there. Finally from 1980 until the 2000s, Vincent Harvey owned the shop and the fading remains of his business advertisement can still be seen painted on the side of the property.
It is sad that these two butchers shops have closed after around 150 years of trading between them but it is quite interesting that both are being converted back to domestic properties which was their original design. Hopefully the history of these two buildings won’t remain hidden.
– census information & telephone directories = http://www.ancestry.co.uk
– Newspaper Clippings = Wigan Archives and Local Studies
– Kelly’s 1913 Trade Directory =http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Atherton/indexr.html