Building Name

Charter Street Ragged School and Girls Home, Ashley St/Chester St. Manchester

1898 - 1900
Angel Meadow, Manchester
GMCA, England
New Build
Southern and Sons,

At the corner of Aspin Lane and Dantzic Street is the Charter Street Ragged School and Working Girls Home, a relatively rare surviving example of a purpose-built institution of this type, with a largely intact plan. The work of the mission had commenced in 1847 and a school was built on the site in 1866. The range to Little Nelson Street by Maxwell & Tuke, dated 1891, was an extension of the 1866 building. The earier building was, subsequently pulled down and replaced by the block to Dantzic Street in 1898, also by Maxwell & Tuke. The earlier part has tall channelled chimneys and top floor oriels, the rather plain later building one or two Baroque touches. The corner entrance to Dantzic Street has the words "Working Girls Home" over the doorway. Accommodation was provided for servants who would otherwise have to use lodging houses, with kitchens, laundries and individual cubicles. Some of these features survive. Two large halls on two floors on the Aspin Lane side served the ragged school and mission. The changes of level inside reflect the piecemeal building history and the exigencies of a circulation system which separated the working girls from other users.

CHARTER-STREET RAGGED SCHOOL.  The institution in which so excellent a work has been carried on for more than thirty years in the heart of Angel Meadow is to be considerably enlarged.  The old building, the Charter-street Ragged School. was erected in 1866. and its corner-stone was laid by that great, philanthropist. the Earl of Shaftesbury. After its capacity had been tried for some twenty years, the Committee resolved to make their work and their experiments more vigorous and bold. They decided to establish a home for girls who worked in the neighbourhood, a mission hall, a men's club, and a boys' club, and largo mixed school. The money was raised, the building put up, and the new Charter Street Ragged School and Girls' Home was opened by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts on April 23, 1892. The enterprise of the Committee has been successful.  People who know Angel Meadow are aware the betterment of life cannot be there carried on without a struggle, and that the struggle is severe. The Charter Street. institution, besides offering home to working girls with many of the nicer comforts that are not easily obtainable in city life, helps forward in one or another way that social and intellectual entertainment that. is especially necessary. Hundreds of men and boys find relief from the tedium of a city working life in its halls and mission rooms. Everybody therefore, will be glad to know that. the Committee are again adding to their means for carrying on this admirable duty.  

When the new building was erected in 1892. the old ragged which faces Charter-street, was left standing. The old school adjoins the newer part of the institution. It will be pulled down, and the ground on which it stands rebuilt. upon. The newer school and Girls' home, with the school. occupy a small square bounded by several streets. and the Committee have bought two cottages in Ashley Lane. one of the narrow thoroughfares which run at right. angles from Charter Street and surround the square. These cottages will be pulled down for the purpose of the extension. On the ground now covered by the old ragged school or rather on part of it, there will be built an addition to the newer school and the working girls' home. Part off the land will be appropriated to public use under the scheme for widening Charter Street, which in the ease the proposed building requires the building line to be set back some fifteen feet. The basement. of the new building will contain a kitchen and boiler house and the other storerooms necessary for carrying on the work of the Ragged School. It has long been found that if social work the kind undertaken in Charter Street is to be successful it must, in a sense, be complete or self-contained. The kitchen is not the least useful of " the appointments" of the school. The new building will be in four storeys. On the ground floor, there will be placed near the entrance. which is at the corner of the building, an office for the use of Mr Thomas Johnson, who has been so long known as the active manager of the institution. There will also be stores and a room in which food may be prepared for use. On the next floor, appropriate rooms will be provided for the matron of the home for working girls, and storerooms for the Home. Higher still, there will be found, when the building has been completed, two floors which will contain additions to the girls' home.  These will include kitchen. as the girls cook for themselves, a laundry with a drying stove, and still higher an extension of the accommodation and the cubicles or sleeping apartments. It should be understood that besides cooking for themselves girls do their own washing. Consistent with the maintenance of order they are allowed perfect freedom.  Each of the new cubicles, like those already in use, will be neatly furnished. and will contain a bed with a wool and wire mattress, linen. a chest of drawers, looking-glass. Chair, and strip carpet. It is perhaps known that the Home has already a sitting-room. the windows of which overlook the old Churchyard of St. Michael's which has been formed into a play- ground. surrounded by such bits of green tree as can keep life going in this part of the city. The comfort of such a room. combined with the whole home life of the institution, is a source of quiet pleasure to the girls who live in the Home. On the piece of ground in Ashley Lane occupied by the cottages a house will be erected for a caretaker for the whole institution. Two large clubrooms for use as part of the ragged school scheme will also be built. Above the clubrooms, and of course wholly separated, there be another extension the home for girls, consisting of sleeping and other apartments. The highest part of this portion of the new building will be so built as to form a play or recreation ground, covered as a protection from rain. The addition of these new buildings will in a large degree permit the remodelling of the inner arrangements of the Home, and will afford practically double the accommodation now at the disposal of the Committee. The increase in the work and the value to Angel Meadow of the institution can therefore be easily estimated. The building erected in 1892 cost £4,330, and the estimated cost of the extension is £4,600. The architects are Messrs Maxwell and Tuke of this city, and the work of erecting these additions is to be at once taken in hand. [Manchester Guardian 5 August 1898 page 7]

CHARTER STREET RAGGED SCHOOL: EXTENSION OF THE BUILDING - Two memorial-stones of the new Ragged School and Working Girls' Home laid on Saturday by the Right Hon. Evelyn Ashley and Mr Thomas Johnson. Some account of the building, which has for so long a time been a centre of light in a dark neighbourhood, has already been published in the " Guardian," together with details oi the new scheme of extension. It may be sufficient to state now that the old building, called the Charter-street Ragged School, was built in 1866 and that the memorial stone was laid in  that year by the great Earl of Shaftesbury. The bottle containing contemporary documents has been taken out.  and the stone was re-laid on Saturday by the son of Lord Shaftesbury. Some twenty years after the opening of the school the work was considerably extended. and new buildings of which the greater part was taken up by a Girls Institute, were opened in 1892 by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. When this new building was erected the old school was left standing: it has now been taken down and new buildings, which will be used for various purposes in connection with this work are in course of construction. The cost of this latest extension is about £5,000. [Manchester Guardian 19 December 1898 page 3]. 

CHARTER STREET RAGGED SCHOOL: THE WORKING GIRLS' HOME EXTENSIONS.  The Duchess of Sutherland is visit Manchester tomorrow to open the new buildings which have been added to the Working Girls' Home at the Charter Street Ragged School. The Ragged School work and also that of the Working Girls' Homes has been suffering for some time by reason of lack space. Suitable building sites are rare in the dim locality of Charter Street and Mr. Johnson has had for a time to stay his hand and stifle his energy. But, fortunately, not for long. The nearly completed extension to be opened on Wednesday will, it is hoped. relieve the congestion and set Mr Johnson and his colleagues free once more. This extension is in itself a monument to the self-denying zeal and energy of the Committee. It has been built as the result at the subscriptions and donations which are alone the means of its existence. All the workers are zealots; there are no paid officials of any kind, and it is to the credit of the community that they have in the past realised the good work being done and sympathised and aided it forward with suitable contributions.  And it is to the credit, of the Committee and the staff of workers that they have so husbanded their means as to be able to enlarge the field of operations and the same time put these large extensions in hand.[Manchester Guardian 1900 page 12]

In describing the extensions, is necessary to refer to original Charter Street Schools buildings situate in Charter Street This is where the institution took real root and grew. Its foundation stone was laid by the Earl of Shaftesbury on October 6, 1866. The limited accommodation provided by the old building was found inadequate very soon, and in 1892 an adjoining site, covered with cottage property and lodging-houses, cleared, and a large new building was erected, into which the institute moved. retaining the original school as an annexe, the foundation of this 1892 portion was laid by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. Time has rolled on, and here in 1900 we have another extension. To make way for this, the historical and somewhat smoke-begrimed old building has been removed. The original foundation stone was however, preserved, and on December 17, was re-laid by the Right Hon. Evelyn Ashley, son of the Earl of Shaftesbury. A second stone was also laid on the same date by Thomas Johnson.  Building operations were commenced in September 1898 by Messrs Southern and Sons, of Salford. The present extension consists of two blocks of buildings, the main one in Charter Street (above referred to as being on the historical site) and a second one in Ashley Lane, on the site of two cottages adjoining the 1892 extension.  The first and principal block is five storeys high. In the basement is an enlarged and general kitchen for the Ragged School, a boiler-house, and a gas engine, fan, screen, etc., in connection with the ventilation. The ground floor has an angle entrance for the sole use of the members of the Working Girls' Homes. On this floor, also is Mr. Johnson's office and certain stores connected with tbc Ragged Schools. The first floor consists of rooms for the matron and certain stores in connection with the Working Girls' Homes, also a ladies' cloakroom. The second floor is given up to a large girls' kitchen and the laundry. This latter is fitted up in the most approved style with a range of drying horses and a double range of fireclay washtubs.  The third floor provides for baths, lavatories, and additional cubicles.  The second block of buildings, facing Ashley Lane, provides caretaker's house and men's and boys' clubs.  The second floor is given up to additional cubicle space for the Working Girls' Homes, and is cut entirely from the lower portion belonging to the Ragged Schools.  The third floor is a large playroom for the girls. The extension has increased the number of cubicles for the Working Girls' Homes by twelve, thus bringing the total up to 45. The lighting throughout is by electricity both in the new portion and the old. The whole of the building (except the caretaker's house) is fireproof. [Manchester Guardian 24 July 1900 page 12]