In the footsteps of our founders...
This month, exactly 150 years ago, our founders Leonard Shaw and Richard Taylor opened a ‘Night Refuge for Homeless Boys’ at 16 Quay Street in the centre of Manchester. This three storey Georgian terrace house, long since demolished, marks the start of our story, the story of the Together Trust.
Manchester in 1870 was a city of stark contrasts, with immense prosperity and grinding poverty existing side-by-side. The cities unplanned urbanisation was brought about by the boom in textile manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution, resulting in Manchester becoming the world's first industrial city. The huge mills, warehouses and opulent public buildings that sprang up were accompanied by a massive influx of people, which in turn led to poor and overcrowded housing, unemployment, poverty and disease.
In 1869 an encounter with two homeless boys made Shaw and Taylor aware of the abandonment of hundreds of boys in the city. Determined to do something about their plight the pair set about raising money from local businessmen with the purpose of establishing a shelter and at the beginning of January 1870 they were able to open the Quay Street shelter.
From this small beginning, where young boys were given a bed for the night, the charity grew and thrived. Within nine months, the small home on Quay Street was oversubscribed and the charity moved to larger premises on Francis Street, Strangeways. In 1878 the charity broadened its remit and bought its first home for girls in Broughton, resulting in it becoming known as the ‘Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes’.
For the rest of their lives Shaw and Taylor worked tirelessly to relieve the plight of thousands of young people in Manchester and to change social attitudes towards street children.
On the fourth of January this year staff from the Trust, along with the Trust’s Chairman Ralph Ellerton, chose to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of that first home by retracing the steps of its founders, in Salford and the centre of Manchester.
Shaw and Taylor first came into contact with one another through their membership of St Ann’s Church in the centre of Manchester, and our walkers visited both the church and the site of St Ann’s Ragged School on Queen Street, where Taylor was the Superintendent at the school and Shaw volunteered as a Sunday school teacher.
One Sunday night, in the winter of 1869 after the school had been dismissed, two boys, ragged, cold and hungry, lingered behind. On being questioned as to why they did not go home they replied that they had no home. Shaw and Taylor discovered that one had been sleeping under a railway arch in Salford, the other up an old staircase in a Deansgate entry. There and then that the pair decided that at the very least such destitute, unwanted, little waifs should have regular shelter for the night.
It was the site of this Shelter, our very first home, that our party visited next. The building itself has long since vanished and today Sunlight House stands on the site on Quay Street. Following this the group moved on to St. Pauls Church in Kersal, the final resting place of Leonard Shaw and his wife Annie, along with some of the children who died in our homes.
The first intake in our first home on Quay Street consisted of 10 boys. We’ve come a long way since then and today we support more than 2,700 children, adults and families each year, providing a fostering service, short breaks and community services, residential homes, schools, special education services and family support.
The work of our founders continues to inspire our modern-day values - our commitment to the people we support never falters because they’re at the heart of everything we do. We’re immensely proud of the fact that we’ve been doing this for a century and a half and we fully intend to keep on doing so for another 150 years!
Main picture: Trust’s Chairman Ralph Ellerton and Liz Sykes, Records, Archives & Information Manager with the commemorative plaque that will be fixed to the site of our original building on Quay Street in Manchester later this year.
All pictures are copyright of the Together Trust.