Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Salford and Socialism.

Occasional Anglican Wanderings commentator Craig Roters. Craig is starting his ordination training this September.

Bar Fringe.

Tib Street scene.

Another Tib Street scene.

Lunch was had here, just off Tib Street.

The back bar in the Briton's Protection.

You can see one of the frescos of the Peterloo Massacre on the wall.

The Britons Protection.

Early Salford Social Housing, now very expensive apartments.

The New Oxford, Salford.

Manchester and Salford are two cities who meet at their centres, so walking from Manchester City Centre to Salford City Centre takes but twenty minutes, past the TV studios and Salford Central station to Bexley Square. Salford is, generally, a more deprived area than Manchester and this is reflected in the centre of it, which feels more like an adjunct to Manchester that a city in it's own right. True, there are grand law courts, a university and the Roman Catholic Cathedral (which was thoroughly wrecked in the time after the last council) but you have to have them pointed out to you, otherwise you will miss them on the way to Manchester. The most significant building, I think, is the Red Lion pub, now derelict, where Hobson's Choice was filmed. This gin palace interior summed in the film the desperation of a generation of Salfordians at the turn of the century and the coming of war. That it lies in wrecks, now long past saving, shows the councils priorities clearly. Salford is also where the great Anglo Catholic priests worked tirelessly to relieve the lot of the urban poor, especially Deacon Andrews who gave up his life to save those of others. Socialism and faith are no strangers to this area, and nor is Ecumenism as the accounts of Roman and Anglican nuns moving into the area at the time of Hobsons Choice tell us. Much of the old houses have been knocked down now and vertical ministry is, I am told, much harder than ministry on the flat street and as this area is now rebuilt as tower blocks this is what there is.

Into this scene stepped your scribe and other Anglican Wanderers. We went, for your benefit of course, to a curry cafe in Manchester then to Bexley Square in Salford and the New Oxford Pub, the nearest public house to the old Red Lion, then to the Britons Protection in Manchester, following the route that the people took to the Peterloo Massacre where thousands of peaceful protesters were overcome by government troops a hundred and fifty years ago as they demonstrated against increased taxation. Spurred on by Charles Gore and William Temple, the great Anglo Catholic Bishop of Manchester and the writings in the seminal Anglo Catholic publication, Lux Mundi, there were protests all over the country and trade unions began to be formed under Parish guidance in Blackpool, Salford and Rochdale, which still survive to this day, protecting the rights of the downtrodden (at their best). The Britons Protection stands as the only monument to the massacre and the future of that building is in doubt as well, as developers want to move it a few metres to the left so they can accommodate a new office block on Peter's Fields, so commerce and industry may flourish where workers were slaughtered. There is nothing overtly bad in this, after all, the pub hardly gives away drinks to members of the Labour Party, but it jars slightly, there are few parts of 'Old Manchester' left, as the clean brigade sweep up all the places which seem, to them, to be out of place in a great new city and replace them with blocks of tiny flats which nobody will want to live in in ten years. Tib Street, pictured above, is another example of this, once home to the pet shops of Manchester, they were moved by a reforming council in the nineties, to be replaced with a brave new world which never came, so 'Adult Shops' proliferated instead, then came real ale bars which slowly took the bland bucks to fill the spaces and maximise profits and now, one by one, the buildings are bought and turned into flats, the old pubs go and the workers cafes are squeezed out, to make way for a new type of resident who want to have a new kind of place on their doorstep but who cannot actually afford to go there due to extortionate rents. Bring back the pet shops! And where is the Church in all this? Where are the Anglo Catholic Socialists of old? Well, yesterday they were in the local Bar Fringe, discussing this very issue, to the great relief, I am sure, of the local residents. Or not, whatever the case may be.