Manchester Histories Festival

How People Used to Live

Friday 26 February 2016

On 18th January 2016, parents and teachers of Year 5 Pupils from the New Islington Free School were treated to a tour of some of Ancoats’ most historic sites – from the pupils themselves!

This was part of the How People Used to Live in Ancoats project, run with the help of University of Manchester historian Professor Hannah Barker. Pupils were asked to prepare presentations in small groups, with each group being given a different site to research.

George Leigh Talk These included Murray Mills, The Ice Plant (formerly known as Blossom Street Ice Company), Loom Street, George Leigh Street, Victoria Square and George Leigh School.

The project enabled pupils to develop their skills in evaluating historical evidence, their knowledge of local history and their English skills. For each of the sites, pupils were given a series of online resources and contemporary writings, including Friedrich Engel’s The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845). They then used this evidence to answer questions about each site. For instance, the pupils were asked what each site was once used for, and what life might have been like for the people who lived and worked in the area, comparing this to how the buildings are used now and what life is like for us today.Loom Street

Some groups considered wider historical events and movements: Loom Street was linked to the historic Peterloo Massacre in 1819, by tracing former residents who had been involved in the protest; the Ice Plant site was used to highlight the Italian Heritage of the area (including the history of ice cream making!); and George Leigh Street was discussed in terms of the wider context of the living conditions during the Industrial Revolution, using census records.Ascoats schools tour group photo

On the day of the tour, the pupils braved the cold January streets to present their findings to teachers and parents. Each group delivered articulate and detailed presentations, with some even including dramatised interpretations of events!

It was clear a great deal of hard work and enthusiasm had gone into their work. Congratulations to all pupils involved!

You can see the route they followed, the sites they researched and the sources they used yourself. Download a copy of the teaching pack HERE.

You can see the route they followed, the sites they researched yourself. Ascoats route map

With thanks to the pupils, teachers and parents of the New Islington Free School; Hannah Barker, from the University of Manchester History Department and the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society.

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