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Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)

Paul Burke 28 Oct 08 - 07:07 AM
John J 28 Oct 08 - 10:50 AM
meself 28 Oct 08 - 11:34 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Oct 08 - 12:16 PM
GUEST, Sminky 28 Oct 08 - 12:20 PM
Les in Chorlton 28 Oct 08 - 12:21 PM
Azizi 28 Oct 08 - 07:19 PM
Georgiansilver 28 Oct 08 - 07:23 PM
John J 28 Oct 08 - 08:49 PM
Azizi 28 Oct 08 - 09:07 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 Oct 08 - 04:05 AM
GUEST, Sminky 29 Oct 08 - 05:31 AM
andydavies 30 Oct 08 - 10:19 AM
JohnB 30 Oct 08 - 10:43 AM
Azizi 30 Oct 08 - 10:50 AM
Azizi 30 Oct 08 - 10:52 AM
andydavies 31 Oct 08 - 07:15 AM
Big Al Whittle 31 Oct 08 - 09:00 AM
GUEST 31 Oct 08 - 09:01 AM
GUEST, Sminky 31 Oct 08 - 09:02 AM
Dave the Gnome 31 Oct 08 - 09:20 AM
GUEST, Sminky 31 Oct 08 - 09:56 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Paul Burke
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 07:07 AM

Science Daily carries an article a fascinating study of youth gangs in Victorian Manchester. Setup fights, invasion and defence of territory, characteristic dress, stabbings- it all seems very modern, and provides a corrective to the view of Victorian Britain as a society where everyone knew their place and went to chapel on Sunday.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: John J
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 10:50 AM

It just shows that there's nothing new under the sun.

Locations may have changed slightly, not as many people live in Manchester city centre these days in spite of the rise and rise of new flats.

A very interesting article, thanks for posting.

John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: meself
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:34 AM

Check out "Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears" by Geoffrey Pearson. He traces 'youth violence' and the respectable reaction to it from modern London to ancient Rome (where the 'Blues' and 'Greens', supporters of rival sports organizations, fought deadly street battles on an annual basis). One prevailing popular notion throughout the centuries in England, is that any street violence beyond fisticuffs is 'un-English', and a new innovation introduced by foreigners.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:16 PM

Look for the sinister hands and feet of Gorton Morris Men,

L in C
But once in GMM


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:20 PM

It wasn't restricted to towns and cities either. Edwin Waugh notes in his 'Sketches of Lancashire Life' that:

"Sometimes they sallied from the village, in jovial companies, attended by one or more of their champions, to have a drinking-bout, and challenge "th' cocks o' th' clod" in some neighbouring hamlet. Such expeditions often led to a series of single combats, in which rude bodily strength and pluck were the principal elements of success; sometimes a general melée, or "Welsh main," took place; often ending in painful journies, with broken bones, over the moors, to the "Whitworth Doctors." As far as rough sports and rough manners went, "the dule" seemed to have "thrut his club" specially over Smallbridge in those days. That man was lucky who could walk through the village without being assaulted by something more inconvenient than mere looks of ignorant wonder, and a hearty pelting of coarse jokes;"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 12:21 PM

Some of the Historyofo Gorton Morris Men:

1829. At the wake this year there were five bull-baits in or near the village, viz., at the "Plough Inn, Chapel House, Lamb Tavern, Abbey Hey, and the Bulls Head, Aspinall Smithy; and a bear-bait at the Black Horse. The rush-cart, as usual, after perambulating the village, proceeded to Manchester. Ultimately, when the band and morris-dancers were half-seas over, they entered Newton Lane (the Irish pale). The former commenced the tune of Croppy lie down, instantly the war-whoop was sounded, and hundreds of the "boys" immediately commenced an unequal war on the rash and unfortunate offenders. The assailants were armed with brooms, pokers, tongs, knobsticks, etc.; the musicians turned their instruments into implements of war and defence, music for once having failed to charm the savage breast. The dancers tript their light fantastic toes, Lancashire fashion, upon the posteriors of their opponents. The rush-cart was mounted by two Irish-men; the drivers, alarmed for the safety of the plate which adorned it, lashed their horses; one scalar contrived to escape, but the other was detained, and driven to Gorton in gallant style, and upon him the Gortonians wreaked their fury. The old fool wisely enough turned his regalia, an old broom, into a weapon of offence and defence. Many of the dancers, being nimble of foot, commenced a speedy retreat, recollecting that

            "He who fights and runs away
            Will live to fight another day."

At intervals throughout the day, odd dancers might be seen stealthily approaching the village, covered with wounds and glory, their dresses, plumes, and ribbons woefully dishevelled and torn. Since this period the rush-bearing at Gorton has gradually declined.

Chiz

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 07:19 PM

In the interest of preserving that information on Mudcat since its link might go bad in time, here's the entire article:

Victorian Manchester Home To First Youth Gangs
"ScienceDaily (Oct. 26, 2008) — A historian at the University of Liverpool has uncovered extensive archive material detailing the activities of the 'scuttlers' - one of Britain's earliest youth cults.

Records from the late Victorian period detail more than 30 years of territorial battles in the streets and music halls of Manchester, where youthful gang members were easily identified by their fringed hair, tilted caps and bell-bottomed trousers.

Gang fights were known as 'scuttles', and as many as 500 young people would take part in pitched battles between rival gangs.

Dr Davies explains: "The archival records from this period are so vast that it took 15 years to pull all the material together. By combining press reports with police, prison and court records we get a real picture of what life was like for young people going through the new, compulsory school system and out into the mills and factories of Manchester.

"Gang members were relentless in their violence and would take possession of their favourite music halls and attack any members of rival gangs that entered the hall using sharpened belt buckles or knives as weapons. Each gang wanted to be recognised as the toughest in the city, and scuttlers would walk as far as five miles to take on a rival gang.

"Manchester's gangs were motivated by the excitement of battle and the status it gave them. In Liverpool, where youth unemployment was much higher, gangs were more likely to be formed for the purpose of street robbery and there is much less evidence of territorial violence here.

"Some Manchester gangs actually found inspiration for their style in continental wars such as the 'Russians' and the 'Turks' who re-enacted the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-8 on what is now the site of the City of Manchester Stadium, built for the Commonwealth Games."

Gang members were recruited from the age of 14 up to 21, and included girls as well as boys. Female 'scuttlers' were condemned by the press who believed that they stirred up fights by flirting with boys from rival districts. Young women, however, often took an active part in fights between rival gangs.

Dr Davies added: "One 'scuttler' whose career the newspapers followed in detail was John-Joseph Hillier. Born in Ireland in 1875, he grew up in Salford and was a gang member at the age of 14. He went on to lead the 'Deansgate Mob', based in Manchester city centre. The boys frequented the Casino – a popular music hall – and regularly clashed with opposing gangs inside the hall. Hillier was repeatedly jailed for his attacks with a butcher's knife. The newspapers called him the 'King of the Scuttlers', a title he later had sewn onto the front of his jersey."

The research is published in the book, The Gangs of Manchester, and will be launched at a public reading on Wednesday, 22 October at Manchester Central Library. The book is also being adapted into a play and will be performed at Manchester's Library Theatre in 2009".


Adapted from materials provided by University of Liverpool.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081021190638.htm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 07:23 PM

I guess the big difference in the modern era is that communication is much greater than before and we hear of these things daily. Going back to the 1950s.. if we heard of a murder in one of the big cities (I lived in the country in Devon UK) it was a big thing... nowadays we hear of them locally and accept them as they are.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: John J
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 08:49 PM

Les, when I came across this thread it was Gorton Morris who sprang to mind!

Although not directly related, we know that when rival 'Gangs' (as they were known) of Soulers met up violent fisticuffs generally followed. There is still a rivalry today but I don't think it would get (too) violent in these PC times!

John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 09:07 PM

Excuse me, but what are "Soulers"?

Thanks in advance for the information.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 04:05 AM

Azizi,

Take a look here:

http://www.larchfieldhouse.co.uk/Souling/WarburtonSoulingPlay.htm

Or better still here:

Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 05:31 AM

Just out of interest, here's the household of John-Joseph Hillier the 'King of the Scuttlers' in 1881. It appears he lost his father at an early age

Dwelling: 25 Providence St, Salford, Lancashire, England

Peter LARKIN
Head   M Male 30 Dublin, Ireland Foundry Laborer (Iron Manuf)   
Winifred LARKIN
Wife   M   Female   29   Dublin, Ireland   Hawker   
Hugh MC MAHON
Step Son   U   Male   11   Worley, Essex, England   Scholar   
Richard SHINNICK
Lodger   M   Male   46   Cork, Ireland   Bricklayers Laborer   
Kate SHINNICK
Lodger   M   Female   30   Cork, Ireland      
Bridget HILLIER
Lodger   W   Female   27   Limerick, Ireland   Factory Hand      
John HILLIER   
Lodger   U   Male   6   Ireland   Scholar

U = Unmarried, M = Married, W = Widowed


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: andydavies
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 10:19 AM

If anyone's interested there is a blog devoted to the book at:
http://gangsofmanchester.com

There are a couple of short extracts from the book, plus details of related projects and academic articles - including one on "scuttleresses" (female gang members of the period 1870-1900). There is also a link to feature on BBC online.

To follow up on Sminky's post, Providence Street in Salford - where John Joseph Hillier spent part of his boyhood - was known locally as the "She Battery". It was right opposite a military barracks, and a lot of prostitutes lived and worked there. Most of the houses were sub-let, and shared between two or more families.

Cheers,
Andy (author of The Gangs of Manchester)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: JohnB
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 10:43 AM

As a kid (born 1950) growing up in Newton Heath, there was always rumours of an annual fight between the "Newtoners" and the "Claytoners". It supposedly happened I think around Easter time near Clayton Bridge Railway Station, although I was never party to anything like that. Our "gang" got no worse than raiding the Bonfire pile of the kids from two streets over, "well they started it!"
JohnB


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 10:50 AM

Les, thanks for posting those links. That information is quite interesting.

http://www.larchfieldhouse.co.uk/Souling/WarburtonSoulingPlay.htm

And, Andy, your book sounds like a fascinating read! Here's the link to your website.

http://gangsofmanchester.com


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 10:52 AM

By the way, andydavies, welcome to Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: andydavies
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 07:15 AM

Thanks, Azizi, much appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 09:00 AM

Theres a sort of reference to these kind of goings on in the last verse of The Rocky Road to Dublin. Gang warfare along race lines.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 09:01 AM

Andy, do we know what became of Mr Hiller?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 09:02 AM

Sorry that was me. I did a quick check in the death indexes but couldn't find him, though the coverage is only partial.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 09:20 AM

What a fascinating insight! I had to smile when I read 'gang members were easily identified by their fringed hair, tilted caps and bell-bottomed trousers' - Even gang 'colours' are nothing new then:-)

DeG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Youth gangs in Victorian Manchester (UK)
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 09:56 AM

fringed hair, tilted caps and bell-bottomed trousers

19th century Bay City Rollers.


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