Emigration Party outside Manchester Town Hall, 1897. Courtesy of the Together Trust
Liverpool docks have seen many people leave England’s shores to start new lives abroad over the centuries. One lesser known part of this history, which was explored in our recent exhibition On their own: Britain's child migrants, was the story of the child migration schemes which sent British children to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries between 1869 and the early 1970s. These were run by charities and religious organisations and supported by governments.
One such charity which was involved in emigration between 1872 and 1914 was the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes, now known as the Together Trust.
The charity provided residential care, respite breaks and other services to the poorer children in Manchester and Salford. Today the Together Trust is exploring its history with its current young people, through a Heritage Lottery Funded project entitled Deep Pockets and Dirty Faces.
Young people in costume, 2016
Since January young people have been delving into the charity’s extensive archive collection and visiting other heritage organisations to learn about life in the Victorian era. Due to the charity’s connection with Liverpool it has partnered up with Merseyside Maritime Museum in order to learn more about the docks and the ships these children would have sailed on. The group have already taken part in an Emigration lesson at the Museum and spent time on a restored sailing ship.
So far the project has created a radio piece on the story of one child’s journey from the streets of Manchester to the open landscape of Ontario, Canada. It has also produced a heritage film, documenting young people today partaking in activities experienced by 19th century children. You can watch a short clip from the film below - see if you recognise a familiar building in the background of some of the scenes! Performances based around these will be shown in both Manchester and Liverpool and we will be featuring some of the stories of children with Liverpool connections on our website next year.
You can read more about the project so far through the Together Trust’s blogs.