Saturday, July 11, 2009

Over the next few weeks I will post scans of some of the maps and plans we have featured in our 'Mapping Manchester' exhibition in the Rylands Library. To start with 'Wealth and Poverty' cabinet that focused on surveys and plans of housing conditions and new development schemes.

Sales map for the Oaks Estate, 1843
(Courtesy of Manchester City Library and Archives)

Wealth and Poverty

Manchester’s burst of population growth in the first half of the nineteenth century brought with it severe housing problems. By the 1840s the ‘Shock City’ became notorious for its slums.

Concerted efforts from social reformers to improve the housing of the poor can be seen in the cartographic results of their surveys. Richard Bastow’s survey in the late 1880s mapped out the age of housing as part of a sanitary campaign, and in 1904 a report on housing conditions, produced by The Citizens’ Association of Manchester, included a detailed map of housing quality. The areas of worst housing were shaded in dark colours, and the map shows a cluster which almost completely encircles the commercial core of the city. (A nice online interface to this map is availabile here.)

From the mid-nineteenth century private estates of substantial suburban villas were constructed, away from the poverty and crime of the inner neighbourhoods, for the affluent beneficiaries of Manchester’s industrial prosperity. An example of these developments can be seen in the sales map for the Oaks Estate, planned in 1843 (shown above). In its bucolic design, individual houses are arranged in their own wooded grounds with curving driveways. The area of Oaks Estate is now occupied by the, not quite so elite, Owens Park student halls of residence of the University of Manchester!


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