Welcome to the Angel Meadow virtual museum.

I was a long way down the path of writing my book when I started to seek out objects connected with Angel Meadow. In this new role as magpie-historian, I have gathered together a small collection of curiosities in the casual way of a beachcomber or a mudlark.

Artefacts is too strong a word for a collection that includes an old tobacco tin, some postcards, a few fragments of broken pottery and a key from a pocket watch. But this odd jumble of items has helped me to inch a little closer to the past and get a sense of Angel Meadow that was lacking from the history books.

So, instead of putting them away to gather dust in a drawer, I thought I would exhibit them here so at least they can be enjoyed by others. I’ll be adding more “exhibits” as the collection grows. I hope you enjoy visiting this museum of Angel Meadow curiosities. Please sign the visitor book below – and don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave.

Tobacco tinCWS tobacco tin

The CWS tobacco factory opened in Ludgate Hill in 1898. Eight people could produced 3,500 packets of cigarettes an hour. The factory’s most-prized workers were its cigar makers, whose nimble fingers could wrap and roll tobacco with the dexterity of classical pianists. Managers preferred to employ people from better class districts. This tin from the factory, which was made in around 1910, still has a strong whiff of tobacco.

Watch key

Watch key

This is a pocket watch key made by B Cramer jeweller and watch “factor” of Stocks Street, Red Bank, which was across the River Irk from Angel Meadow. Red Bank was home to Manchester’s Jewish community, whose businesses included jewellery shops and watchmaking. Watch keys, which were used for winding up pocket watches, acted as portable advertisements for the firms.

Death’s head clay pipe

Nose warmerDozens of clay pipes such as this were discovered by archaeologists who have carried out a number of digs in Angel Meadow to find out about life in the Victorian slum. Mill workers smoked the broken stems of clay pipes like cigarettes and they became known as “nose warmers”. Clay pipes were also known as dhudeens, from the Irish Gaelic duidin. This pipe smells strongly of tobacco.

Pottery shards


These broken shards of pottery from spoil heaps in Angel Meadow are worthless now, but once had an intrinsic value to the slum dwellers who owned them. They were once cups and plates – everyday objects that Victorian Mancunians touched and held in their hands as they sat in their homes or in the slum’s lodging houses. Perhaps more than other objects here, they tell a story of domestic life in Angel Meadow.


4 thoughts on “Findings”

  1. Thank you very much for sharing these wonderful objects. I hold a strong interest for the history of Manchester, so I appreciate this very much.


  2. The clay pipe is amazing, to think somebody got a bit of comfort from it. The death head is interesting I thought Death cigarettes were a 20th century invention!


  3. I found the tobacco tin really interesting as both my late mother and grandmother worked at the CWS factory. Their title was ‘tobacco corders’.


  4. In 1974 I worked at Manchester Tobacco Company Ltd as an office junior. I had just left school
    Aged 16. My sister already worked there. It’s not what you know. I recall they made cigarettes and tobacco for cigars called Hagar. We’d mostly send orders to towns in Scotland. I’d type out the orders in a manual typewriter. My tutor was an elderly lady called Alice. I’d hate going to bank the cash at the cws on ballot on street with a middle aged man who smelt of cigarettes in the car and who also smoked in the office. We worked with an elderly man (Bill) from Tottington and a lady (Ann) who had a disability that caused her to fit. She sucked victory v’s all day. She was a comptometer. There was an abattoir nearby.


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