Discover more from Once Upon a Time in Manchester
Manchester's 1832 cholera riot mapped
May 2023 marks 191 years since a cholera outbreak in Manchester sparked a shocking riot. Use this interactive map to understand what happened
This month marks 191 years since the arrival of the devastating 1832 cholera outbreak in Manchester.
The first victim was a 29-year-old coach painter named James Palfreyman, who took ill after a Friday night dinner of lamb’s head, heart and liver and died on 10 May in Coronation Street, Salford.
A doctor, Henry Gaulter, described him as a stout and well-proportioned man who was an occasional drunkard.
Angel Meadow on the left bank of the River Irk was among the areas hardest hit — its lodging houses bearing the brunt of the outbreak.
The occupants lived in fear of the horse-drawn cholera van coming to take them to the hospital at the corner of what is now Swan Street and Rochdale Road.
The “treatments” offered at the hospital included cocktails of brandy, opium, turpentine, castor oil and ammonia.
The doctors’ experiments sparked one of the worst riots in Manchester’s history. I’ve created an interactive map to explain the story.
To explore the map, click on the image below or follow this link. A warning though before you open it — the story contains some very graphic detail that you may find disturbing.
By the time the epidemic subsided, 2,100 people in Manchester had been struck down by cholera and 920 had died.
Cholera returned to the city in 1849 and again in 1854 and 1866.
Document: Dr Henry Gaulter’s cholera casebook
Henry Gaulter was a Manchester doctor who studied the causes of the cholera outbreak by recording details of the first 200 people to die from the disease.
It’s useful for not only understanding what happened, but also for seeing the conditions Mancunian ancestors were living in — and how they struggled with everyday life.
Take for example the case of Jane Wilde, who was the 30th person to die from the disease.
Jane lived in Gibraltar, a low lying court at the foot of Angel Meadow, where people were housed in cellars below the level of the Irk.
Dr Gaulter noted how Jane was surviving on nothing but cups of tea, but she was “too proud to go to the workhouse”.
She lived in a group of “wretched, dilapidated cabins” separated by “narrow alleys, with gullies of impure water running down them”.
You can search the back of the book for your own ancestors here.
Join me for some Manchester history chat
I’ve set up a new subscriber chat to go with my newsletter.
It’s a conversation space in the Substack app that I set up exclusively for subscribers to share your thoughts and stories as well as to ask me questions about family history problems you might have.
To join our chat, you’ll need to download the Substack app, now available for both iOS and Android. Chats are sent via the app, not email, so turn on push notifications so you don’t miss conversation as it happens.
Don’t worry though if it’s not something you want to do. You’ll still receive your newsletter by email.
How to get chatting
Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Substack Chat is now available on both iOS and Android.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it. Jump into my thread to say “hi”, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.