Queues, Clogs & Redemption – Wood Street Mission

Wood Street Mission today

Wood Street Mission today

Tucked away down an unassuming side street that runs directly along the side of The John Rylands Library, you’ll find one of Manchester’s longest running charities The Wood Street Mission.

Founded 30 years before the Rylands was opened, the Mission was set up in 1869 in an area of Manchester that was predominantly a slum. Much like the Rylands, the mission was set up to help the poor factory workers of the area, in particular the children, who were also often working in the same factories as their parents.

For almost 150 years the charity has carried on it’s incredibly important work, working from the same Wood Street base to help alleviate the effects of poverty on local children and families.

‘The City may have changed; society may have changed; the world in which we all live certainly has changed; but remaining at our core is a belief and commitment that if we can respond to a need for help from a neighbour then we should and thanks to the generosity of so many local people today and throughout our history we have been able to meet that need for help.’ – from the Wood Street Mission website.

The John Rylands Library holds the fascinating archive from the Wood Street Mission, containing an incredible amount of material like diaries, account books, cuttings, and many, many beautiful photographs from the Mission’s almost 150 year history.

Children queuing outside the mission c.1900 WSM/15/1/1 - An incredible album of photographs of the mission and its work

Children queuing outside the mission c.1900 WSM/15/1/1 – An incredible album of photographs of the mission and its work

One of the important aspects of the Missions work was the erection of a seaside camp among the dunes of St Annes near Blackpool. Every year, hundreds of children were given the opportunity to leave the soot and smog of Manchester and spend time at the beach, playing games and swimming in the sea.

Fund raising advert for the missions seaside trips

Fund raising advert for the Mission’s seaside trips

A group of boys at the camp. c.1900

A group of boys at the camp. c.1900

This week 9th September, a fascinating exhibition containing many images from the collection housed in the Rylands opens, Queues, Clogs & Redemption. The exhibition will look at the work of the Mission since mid-Victorian times from the days of “rescuing” street children in the nineteenth century, sending tens of thousands to the seaside in the twentieth through to running a city gym in the 1980s.

A young couple waiting outside the Mission (70s)?

A young couple waiting outside the Mission C1980’s

As well as a historical timeline, it will feature some fascinating artefacts and photographs from the past, and first hand accounts from former service users about their experience of poverty as a child and being helped by ‘the Mission’.

Running in conjunction with the exhibition are a number of historical walking tours, taking in some of Manchester’s most important sites, starting at the Wood Street Mission, The Rylands, St Anne’s Church, Manchester Cathedral, Chethams Library, the beautiful (but steeped in a darker past) Angel Meadows, ending finally in The Marble Arch Pub, where you can try a pint of Wood Street bitter, specially brewed for the charity. The exhibition opens on Wednesday the 9th of September and runs until the 9th of October. Details and bookings here.

Queues Clogs and Redemption_Page_1

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10 thoughts on “Queues, Clogs & Redemption – Wood Street Mission

  1. Nigel Rose says:

    Great that you’ve put this together. People need to know about the history of the charitable sector in Manchester especially in these times of savage cutbacks.

  2. Sylvia Kuhbauch says:

    I attended the Blackpool Holiday Camp between 1958 and 1962 (cannot remember exactly which year) but I was at Benchill Primary School in Wythenshawe Manchester at the time. It was the best week I made so many friends both with the children attending and the staff, I remember going to the see a live show in Blackpool, swimming everyday in the indoor heated pool, playing in the beautiful grounds. I remember going to Wood Street Mission in Manchester at Christmas and receiving a beautiful present. I remember clearly a beautiful staff member called ‘Zita’ who supported me for the whole week. I never saw this as a ‘poor kids holiday’ I would more likely remember it as a ‘rich kids holiday’ something I will never forget and have always been grateful to Wood Street Mission. I have lived in Australia since I was 18 years old have a wonderful life and never forget the lovely memories of Wood Street Mission.
    I was Sylvia Thompson at the time so if anyone remembers me from Wood Street Mission would love to hear from them.

    • Sylvia, if you let me have your email address I would like to send you a snap and see if you might possibly be able to identify a member of staff for me. She is pictured with my mum who used to work there. I know it is a long shot but I’m trying to put together a project about the 1950’s at the seaside camp.

  3. Sylvia Kuhbauch says:

    Hi Paul my email is silvia.k@bigppond.com I have just come back from a month in the UK hence the lateness in responding to you.

    • Paul William miley says:

      OK Sylvia, I will scan the photo and email you later! Thanks.


    • Paul William miley says:

      Hi Sylvia. I copied and pasted your email address to try and get details to you several times but it has bounced back to me each time with the following message: “Technical details of temporary failure: The recipient server did not accept our requests to connect.”



  4. Paul William Miley says:

    Will try again with and without the photos also with only one ‘p’ in your address in case!

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