People and Places gallery heading 1901: Living at the Time of the Census People and Places

Salford, Lancashire

Salford, Lancashire
Salford, an industrial town based on the cotton industry, was still growing rapidly in 1901, at which time its population had reached 220,957. This figure was nearly three times that of its 1851 population of 85,108.
Egerton Mill, Ordsall Lane, Salford  -  link to an enlarged version

In 1901, cotton manufacture was still a significant industry in both Salford and neighbouring Manchester - as it had been since the 16th century - but distribution was then becoming more important. According to a 1908 survey, 'warehouses have replaced mills…although the spinning and weaving carried out within the boundaries of the combined boroughs still give employment to many thousand men and women'. Engineering, which had developed in response to the demand for machinery for the cotton industry, was also significant.

Egerton Mill was located at 249 Ordsall Lane, Salford. In around 1914, it was valued at £49,005 and described in the Inland Revenue Valuation Office Field Book (held by The National Archives reference IR 58/72845) as '…four & five storey cotton spinning mills with the usual lower buildings, also weaving shed with top light. Engine house & boiler house etc.'

Valuation Office map of Salford showing Egerton Mill -  link to an enlarged version The 1901 Census return for Ordsall Lane (reference: RG 13/3737 f.124 p.4) does not include any entry for Egerton Mill, but it does describe the small houses and shops opposite it. These include a public house, an undertaker, a draper, stationer, grocer, second hand clothes dealer, a watch-maker, a hardware dealer and a German 'chipped potato cook', doubtless catering for hungry mill-hands.

The staff records for workers at Egerton Mill do not appear to have survived; however, the 1901 Census returns for surrounding streets do show numerous mill workers such as Godfrey Blakely of 153 Ordsall Lane, a 'maker up of grey calico', and his 16 year old daughter, who was a cotton weaver.

  Watch a film clipWatch film, dating from September 1900, of Howarth & Co., cotton spinners and manufacturers at Egerton Mill.
  The cotton industry employed a significant number of women. In 1901, 7,774 women and girls aged over 10, who were living in Salford, were employed in cotton manufacture; easily outnumbering the 2,376 men and boys. A further 5,445 'females' worked in tailoring. Married women did not necessarily give up work - 16.6% of married women, including widows, were in paid employment.

The dominant male occupation in Salford was engineering and machine-making (7,464 men), followed by house building (6,457). Wages in 1905 for skilled workers, such as pattern-makers or iron-moulders, could be as much as 40s a week; ordinary labourers, however, might work for over 54 hours a week for wages between 18s and 22s and face unemployment or short-time working in the winter season.

Salford was essentially a town of small houses. In the poorer districts, there were still many back-to-back two-roomed houses. The 1908 survey noted that 'working people appear to live as near to their places of employment as possible, though, owing to the tramway system, there is a growing tendency to live out in the suburbs where houses cheaper and better in accommodation can be found'.

Poverty remained a problem. The 1901 Census showed that 7.54% of Salford's population was living in officially overcrowded conditions. This was not particularly high compared with other large urban centres; however, Salford's mortality rate was higher than average, especially the infant mortality rate at 157 per 1,000 births.

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