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The Manchester Genealogist

Unfilmed 1851 census of Manchester, Salford And Districts
Report No. 4

Fourth progress report on the transcription work to retrieve entries from previously unfilmed census returns for Manchester and District.

The above project, which has entered its seventh year, Is now being carried out at the Public Record Office, at Kew, the project's former location at the PRO Chancery Lane m London having closed in December 1996. The move to Kew has signaled a fresh approach to the serious problems of trying to read the unreadable from the badly damaged original returns. Although the project team had previously tried using ultra-violet light to scan the returns, this had been unsuccessful, mainly due to the poor quality of the equipment available at Chancery Lane. At Kew the work now comes under the control of the Conservation Department whose Head, Mario Aleppo, has brought new light (pardon, the pun!) to the problems of retrieval. Instead of relying on natural the vagaries of London weather, the daylight and team now work in almost total darkness, using a hand-held UV light to scan the returns. We have to wear protective eye cover whilst doing this, but now we are also allowed to use ordinary tungsten light if UV is unsuitable. Experience has shown that a combination of the two methods, sometimes on the same page, has brought considerable improvements to the work in terms of speed, quality and amount of data retrieved. As a matter of interest, we now work in what is known as the Disaster Room!

Since the work resumed at Kew last January after a well-deserved month's break for the project team, we have completed Book 5B covering the northern part of St. Georges sub-district with the following results: -

Table 1: 1851 Census for St Georges, showing the retrieval rate of entries of Book 5B

Book EDs covered Total population Retrieved Percentage
5B IH-IL 6307 6185 98%

The major streets in this area are as follows: Oldham Road (north-west side), Pump Street (north-east side), Lees Street, Sudell Street, Livesey Street, Chapman Street (south-west side). We also decided to recheck the St. George's book 5A (sent to Manchester for computer inputting in November 1996) and have managed to increase the retrieval rate from 61% to 76%, an additional 863 names being retrieved using UV light, making a revised retrieval total of 4178 entries out of a total population of 5473.

Harpurhey, Blackley and Prestwich (HO 107/2232)

We have now completed the two books covering these districts of north Manchester and have sent the first for computer inputting. Returns for the Asylum were sent to Manchester last year. Details are as follows: -

Table 2: 1851 Census for Harpurhey, Blackley & Prestwich showing the retrieval rate of entries

Book EDs covered Total population Retrieved Percentage
9 1, 2A to 2E 3937 3646 93%
10 1A to 1C, 2/3 4823 4218 87%
Institution   227 227 100%
Totals   8987 8091 90%

The main areas covered by each book are as follows: -

Book 9 - Harpurhey township, Green Mount, Rochdale Road, Blackley township, Moston Lane, Booth Hall, Market Street, Market Place, Sandy Lane, Barnes Green, Valentine, Crab Lane, Chapel Lane, School Lane, Munn Lane, Top of Blackley.

Book 10 - Prestwich township, Bury New Road, Church Lane, Poppythorn, Hardmans Fold, Rooden Lane, Ostrich Lane, Longfield, Rainsough, Hilton Lane, Sedgley Park, Sheepfoot Lane, Heaton Park, Prestwich Workhouse, Great Heaton, Little Heaton, Bowlee.

The returns for the Rooden Lane district are practicably unreadable, caused not only by the effects of water damage on the originals but also due to the enumerator running out of a full-strength ink and substituting a very weak mixture whilst writing up these returns. If only he knew what problems he would cause 146 years later! Over 530 entries are unreadable in this part of the returns.

The returns for Prestwich Lunatic Asylum, which had been sent off for inputting and to match the entry registers, have been rechecked using UV light and a few changes made, mainly to the ages of patients.

Pendleton and Pendlebury (HO 107/2222)

These sub-districts are the final batch of unfilmed returns on which the project team will be working, and are contained in three books. The area contains 18 enumeration districts that are bounded in the east and south by the River Irwell (later the Ship Canal), Windsor Bridge and Regent Road ward, in the west by the Gilda Brook, near Eccles town centre, and Swinton; and in the north by Clifton township. The total population is estimated at over 15,000 people. A start has been made on the first enumeration district for Pendleton covering the area around New Richmond, the southern end of Broad Street, Leaf Square and Peel Street, but the results have been disappointing, mainly due to the terrible state of the originals. The first ten pages are in tatters and impossible to read. The remainder of the first book embracing the southeast comer of Pendleton township is badly damaged and we shall be fortunate to retrieve 50% of the entries shown. The other two books appear to be in better condition and hopefully the results will reflect this. It is likely that this last batch will take us until well into next year, with publication of results in 1999.

Future work

The use of UV light has clearly demonstrated that it is by far the best method for scanning the unfilmed returns and retrieving the data from them. In the early years of the project at Chancery Lane, reliance on natural light restricted the amount of information recaptured and the results from several enumeration districts were extremely poor. When we have completed the Pendleton and Pendlebury returns, we intend to transcribe some odd pages of HO 107/2219 (Didsbury and Ardwick) and HO 107/2231 (Beswick and Bradford). These were omitted from the filmed returns due to their poor state and hopefully UV light will help fill the gaps. We then intend to analyse our previous pre-UV results from the unfilmed returns, select the worst of them (any results with a retrieval rate of 80% or less), and carry out a quick recheck of the particular returns. This will be done by one member reading the transcribed results previously produced, whilst a second member scans the originals. Any new information found by this recheck will held at Clayton House for future reference. Districts that will be rechecked include Salford Greengate and Regent Road, Deansgate, Chorlton on Medlock, Hulme, Oldham-below-town, Ashton under Lyne and Knott Lanes.

If any member wishes to have a particular address in the above unfilmed returns rechecked with UV light, it can be rechecked on payment of a donation to the Society. Please contact me for details. Finally, may I take this opportunity to thank the other members of the project team engaged on this work. Kath Arkwright, Jeanne Bryan and Ruth Rumins have been stalwarts since the early days of our work in 1991 and have made an immeasurable contribution to the project. Norman Eyres is a comparatively 'new' boy but has already shown his prowess in transcribing difficult returns. Other members including Fleur Adcock, Beth Haworth, Elizabeth van Lottum, Harry Partington and Peter Shearan have helped with the work before moving on to other (less demanding?) matters. All of them deserve the highest of praise for their contributions, which will be of tremendous benefit to the Society's members in particular and to family historians in general.

*Ray Hulley 1823


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