Angel Meadow: Victorian Britain’s Most Savage Slum


Step into the Victorian underworld of Angel Meadow, the vilest and most dangerous slum of the Industrial Revolution. In the shadow of the world’s first cotton mill, 30,000 souls trapped by poverty are fighting for survival as the British Empire is built upon their backs.

Thieves and prostitutes keep company with rats in overcrowded lodging houses and deep cellars on the banks of a black river, the Irk. Gangs of ‘scuttlers’ stalk the streets in pointed, brass-tripped clogs. Those who evade their clutches are hunted down by cholera, typhoid and tuberculosis. Lawless drinking dens and a cold slab in the dead house provide the only relief from this filthy and frightening world.

In this shocking book, journalist Dean Kirby takes readers on a hair-raising journey through the gin palaces, lodging houses and underground vaults of this nineteenth century Manchester slum, which was considered so diabolical it was re-christened ‘hell upon earth’ by Friedrich Engels. Enter Angel Meadow if you dare…

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15 thoughts on “Angel Meadow: Victorian Britain’s Most Savage Slum”

  1. Can’t wait to read your book. My graddad Jake Winter lived in the ‘Meadow’ when he was a small child. His stories about that time stuck with him his whole life.

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  2. I too am looking forward to reading your book. My father was born in “the Medda” and I was born only a stones throw away. Researching my family history I found many fascinating pieces about my great grandparents.

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  3. When we found our family had lived there in the 1890s it opened up a chapter of social history that we never dreamed we were part of. Our family history census tells of families living apart in cellar dwellings, tramping around the country rocking up in the slumiest parts of major cities, eventually settling in the Angel Meadow part of Manchester. Thanks to a late life marriage, and an escape to Sheffield in the late 19th century (which was probably only successful because of the early death of a man who we think was tricked into marrying our great-great-great-grandma and was possibly driven to an early and suspicious death (there was a post mortem)), our ancestors travelled over the Pennines into the relative luxury of the Sheffield crofts where they ran doss houses and sold coal.
    It’s an unimaginable way of life and one which fills me with gratitude that they survived it.

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  4. My Great Grandfather and my Grandfather b.1875 lived in Charter Street for some years. My great Grandfather died there in 1906 and he was a Beer Retailer. I went to see the excavations and could not believe my eyes at what sort of property they had to live in. Angel Meadow today is a wonderful place to sit and quietly contemplate all of the work everyone has done to make such a beautiful place in the middle of our city – a wonderful tribute to everyone concerned and a big thank you to the ‘Friends of Angel Meadow’.


  5. I would be very interested if anyone has come across any of the Miller family who lived on Canal St in the late 1800s. They were of Irish descent. Coming from Dublin via Liverpool.


  6. I found out about Angel Meadow after researching my family tree. What a different place it all was back in those dark industrial times. Fascinating History all round. Can’t wait to read your book.


  7. My g.grandfather was a lodging house keeper..william powner..24st michaels square..the end of angel st..he lived with his wife elizabeth..sons/family lived on angel street..lodging houses…


    1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Angel Meadow, what an eye opener, the survival of the fittest it’s a credit to the author,we’ll done. John Flaherty.


  8. I was born in 52,PILLING STREET, Collyhurst, on the edge of Angel Meadow, in 1939. My mother, Grandmother and Great-grandmother were all from the same area, and I recall those slum areas very well from my childhood. The women in my family were obviously made of strong stuff to survive such hard lives.


  9. I live in Australia now but was born at Crumpsall Hospital, trained as a nurse at Wythenshawe Hospital and love social history. I never heard of Angel Meadow, I do remember Mum driving down Oldham Rd seeing the depressing red brick slums of Ancoats that faced the road.
    Thank you for all your research!


  10. Quite surprised to find out about the area where my Gt Gt Grandfather was born (1841). Family lived in 36 Back Style St from around 1836 to the mid 1840’s . I presume this to be overlooking the burial ground in back to back houses?


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