Christmas 28 December
AT WORKHOUSE, BARRACKS, AND INFIRMARY
At the Workhouse
Yuletide was celebrated in the usual hearty
fashion at the Ashton Union Workhouse. Good,
kind St Nicholas showered his blessings with
an indulgent hand, and the inmates of the house,
numbering 905 all told, were enabled to enjoy
to the full the luxuries of the season of "peace
Catering for such a large family
is no small task, and the newly appointed master
and matron of the house, Mr and Mrs SHORE, had
to exercise all their tact and resource in order
to avoid a hitch. In this they were highly successful,
their long experience in another capacity in
the house standing them in good stead. Their
efforts were backed up by a capable and energetic
staff of assistants.
There were in the house 30 less
than last Christmas, which is a very good augury.
The number of vagrants was 39, and although
their diet is less profuse than the remainder
of the house, still they received good cheer
in the way of bread and butter and coffee.
The decorations at the workhouse
were superb. The large assembly hall where the
inmates dined was decorated with evergreens
and all kinds of fantastically shaped coloured
papers. Suitably worded mottoes were hung about
in great profusion, and one, "Health and prosperity
to our worthy Guardians," was conspicuous.
Perhaps nowhere in the house does
the sentiment of "peace and goodwill" appeal
to one more than in the hospital wards. These
were prettily decorated by the nurses with all
kinds of seasonable mottoes and devices, real
and artificial plants and flowers, and scrupulous
cleanliness was everywhere predominant. The
cots were mostly occupied by old people, who
in their environment must have felt comfort
and solace from such attention bestowed upon
them. The nurses made many sacrifices, and displayed
a kindly regard for their charges, ministering
to their comfort in a manner deserving of the
In No 2 Surgical Ward Nurses JUDSON,
KERSHAW, ETCHELLS and WHITEHEAD were in charge,
whilst in another department were Nurses PLATT,
WHITE, HEGINBOTTOM, and DYSON.
In the Children's Ward was a well-laden
Christmas tree, in addition to suitable mottoes
such as "Welcome Father Christmas," &c.
Other departments of the Workhouse, such as
the Imbecile Ward, &c, wore a bright and
attractive appearance, and not the least important
was the cook kitchen adjoining the large hall,
under the supervision of Mrs ELLISON and Miss
BENSON. The matron's private corridor presented
a pretty sight, the windows being draped with
art muslin, whilst mistletoe, fancy-coloured
papers, artificial flowers and plants were hung
about in profusion.
Preparations were made on an extensive
scale for the eventful day. The Christmas puddings
were cooked several days previously. Since last
Christmas the Guardians have wisely improved
the cooking arrangements by the installation
of two new ovens, which obviated the necessity
of working overnight. The cook (Mr J W HAYES)
and his assistant (an inmate named John MILLS)
rose early and commenced cooking the savoury
joints by four o'clock in the morning, and by
eleven o'clock they had finished their laborious
It was like feeding a small army,
and altogether the task was a stupendous one.
There was 1,100 lbs of meat, 1,050 lbs pudding,
1,200 lbs potatoes, besides pickled cabbage.
In addition 1,000 packets of sweets were sent
by Messrs BOWDEN brothers of the Cavendish Works,
Ashton, a box of oranges and a bag of apples
from Councillor John WILSON (tailor), hamper
of apples and oranges from Mr Alfred ADAMS (Guardian),
box of oranges from St James' Sunday School
Young Women's Class per Mrs E DUCKWORTH, a doll,
a Christmas gift for Pansy OATES, an inmate,,
and a Christmas card for Mary BERRY, an infirm
old lady, a large hamper of fruit and sweets
from the Mayor and Mayoress (Mr and Mrs J B
POWNALL); also 120 sixpences from Mr A BUCKLEY,
JP, and £10 from Mr Henry GARTSIDE (Stalybridge)
for distribution; two dozen pocket knives from
Messrs GRIERSON Brothers (Ashton), and two dozen
pocket knives from Mr Robert SYKES (Stalybridge).
Breakfast was served at 8.30 am,
consisting of coffee and bread and butter. All
joined heartily in singing the Christmas hymn.
Dinner was served at 12.30, there being present
the Mayor and Mayoress. Those inmates who preferred
it were entitled to one pint of beer, or inn
lieu two packets of tea and two packets of sugar,
or two packets of tobacco or packet of snuff.
Tea was served at 5.30, small currant loaves
being given to the participants. An entertainment
afterwards took place. Songs, &c, were freely
contributed by the inmates, accompanied on the
pianoforte by Miss Nellie SHORE, and quite a
convivial time was spent.
For a right merry Christmas and knowing
how to enjoy it commend us to "Tommy Atkins."
In the midst of its solitude the Barracks presented
a bright and attractive appearance. Everything
was neat, clean, and orderly, and to use "Tommy's"
vernacular there was no attempt to "chuck a
front." Neatness and cleanliness are the essentials
of a soldier's life, but there was more than
this at the barracks, for throughout the officers'
and men's quarters the decorations were really
There were four companies of Manchesters
in occupation, and amongst these there was a
little rivalry in the matter of decorations.
One large motto bore the words "Long life and
prosperity to Colonel SPURGIN and Major BALDWIN,"
another, "Success to our comrades in South Africa,"
and another, "Success to our colonel and officers."
There was a portrait of Lord Roberts, and one
large motto was studded with battle honours.
Turkeys, geese, roast pork, plum
pudding, and fruit were prominent items in the
day's dietary, and the single sergeants were
invited to dinner by the various non-commissioned
officers of the depot. Leave of absence was
given to 75 per cent of the men, and a large
number of them availed themselves of the opportunity
to spend Christmas in their own homes.
The commanding officer, Major
BALDWIN, visited the men at dinner, and wished
them all a merry Christmas. In the evening concerts
were held in the various mess rooms. It is noteworthy
that there was not a single misdemeanour in
the depot, and they were all very well behaved.
This year has beaten all records for recruiting.
Recruits have come in so fast that they have
had to be sent away from the depot to the regiment
with a fortnight's service only. There are already
100 recruits of the 6th Battalion Manchester
Regiment, which mobilises for active service
in South Africa on January 6th.
At the Infirmary
Nowhere, perhaps, are the joys and sorrows
of Yuletide more forcibly depicted than in the
hospitals. To the convalescent the occasion
is truly one of gladness and joy, but in those
less fortunate the festive spirit is not manifested
to the same extent. To show that the patients
were not forgotten in their afflictions hundreds
of Christmas cards were sent to them by relatives,
friends and others interested in the Institution,
and these were arranged on the lockers beside
the beds so that they could be seen. The wards
were all prettily decorated by the nurses with
evergreens, Chinese lanterns, and suitable mottoes,
and in the children's section there was a large
Christmas tree filled with all kinds of toys.
Everything was made as bright and cheerful as
possible, and there was the usual Christmas
fare of turkey, plum pudding, &c.
OF A STALYBRIDGE VOLUNTEER AT THE FRONT
We regret to announce the death of Private James
COX, one of the Stalybridge Volunteers, who
went out to the war in South Africa last February
along with a contingent of our local Volunteers.
The sad news of COX's death reached Stalybridge
last week, and amongst his many friends the
utmost sympathy is felt.
Private COX was the son of Mr
Paul COX, of No 5 Primrose Terrace, Knowl-street,
Stalybridge, and he celebrated his 21st
birthday whilst out in South Africa. When in
work here he was a grinder at the Albion Mills,
and was a regular attender at Holy Trinity (Castle
Hall) Sunday School and Church, though he was
educated at St Thomas' School, Hill End, Delph,
in which village both his parents and deceased
was well known.
He wrote home regularly during
his absence at the war, and his letters have
always brought the pleasing intelligence that
he was in capital health. The last letter received
was dated on the Sunday preceding the official
message of his fatal illness, and singularly
to say, he then wrote of his being well and
hearty, and enclosed a Christmas card of greeting
for his parents. Deceased was an Oddfellow,
and was a member of the Castle Hall Young Men's
DEATH OF A WELL KNOWN
We notice with regret the demise of Mr Henry ANDREW,
the respected and genial proprietor of the Railway
Hotel, Rose Hill, Marple. Deceased, who was a
man of unassuming ways, was born at Stalybridge.
Whilst very young, he came with his parents to
reside at Godley, and afterwards at Newton, where
he became the proprietor of the Commercial Hotel.
This house being sold, he removed to the King's
Arms, and after presiding over this hostelry for
a great number of years, took the Railway Hotel.
Subsequently he was compelled
to leave this place in consequence of the premises
being sold, and he then bought for himself the
well-known Norfolk Arms Hotel in Hyde. For some
time he lived a life of retirement, but not
being content out of harness, he acquired the
tenancy of the Railway Hotel, Rose Hill, Marple,
and there ended a prosperous career, leaving
a widow, two sons, and three daughters to mourn
his loss. His remains were interred on Tuesday
in the Hyde Cemetery. He was in his 62nd year.
SINGULAR DEATH AT ASHTON
An inquest was held on Monday forenoon at the
Beaver Inn, Oldham-road, Ashton, on the body of
Elizabeth HARRISON, aged 37, wife of William HARRISON,
who died on the previous Friday afternoon at her
home, Peel-street, Ashton.
Dr BOWMAN, Wellington-road, deposed
to making a post mortem examination of the deceased
on Sunday. Externally there were no marks of
injury beyond a small blackened swelling. The
brain and membrane were normal. The heart was
fatty, and contained very little blood. The
right lung showed early stage of acute pluero-pneumonia,
extending from the base to the lower part of
the upper lobe. Left lung also showed early
stage of acute pneumonia from base to apex.
That was not sufficient to cause death.
Death was due to heart failure,
the result of extensive haemorrhage. The early
pneumonia would predispose to death, but was
not sufficient to cause death of itself in its
present stage. There had been 93 similar cases
reported during the last 25 years, 23 of which
had proved fatal. In his opinion the cause of
death was natural. Had the witness been sent
for half an hour earlier probably the woman's
life would have been saved, because he could
have stopped the bleeding, whereas the individual
present could not have done so. It was an unusual
case, and probably no medical man in the town
had had a similar case.
Daniel SCHOFIELD, labourer at
New Moss Colliery, residing at 19 Peel-street,
said deceased had lived with him two years as
his wife. He knew she was about to be confined,
and when she complained he went and knocked
a neighbour up named Mrs MORRISON, and subsequently
went for Mrs SORBY, midwife, who returned with
him, and remained with deceased until five o'clock
in the morning, and then went home. Witness
went to his work shortly afterwards, and did
not see her alive again.
Elizabeth CASSIDY, wife of John
CASSIDY, Margaret-street, deposed to looking
after deceased during confinement. Deceased
did not complain of palus. Deceased at first
objected to a doctor, saying she would manage
without. Margaret SORBY, Frazer-street, midwife,
deposed to attending deceased. Witness examined
the deceased, and on seeing the swelling she
sent for the doctor. She did not deal with the
case because it was so unusual.
The Coroner said there was no
reason to suspect malpractice. A juryman said
they seemed to have done all they possibly could
to save the deceased. The jury returned a verdict
of death from heart failure, the result of extensive
haemorrhage, accelerated by pneumonia.
This issue of the Reporter appears in the
interval between Christmas Day and the first day
of the New Year. The period is devoted to festivity.
It can scarcely be devoted to anything else or
better. Many things determine the choice of this
particular season for special rejoicing and merry
making. The reasons are not all or mainly religious
ones. Indeed, the ways in which most people make
merry at Christmas are anything but of a specially
religious character. Gluttony and winebibbing
are granted a plenary indulgence by all but the
most ascetic at this festal time. The motto that
is regarded as the most seasonable is this:
There is expected to be a general
realisation of the most complete animal blessedness
to be attained by the amplest catering to the
natural appetites. And this is expected to be
carried to the extent of satiety, until the
"full soul loatheth the honeycomb," and even
it may be the grossness of excess warns that
no enjoyment is to be expected from that particular
source. That sort of thing is not countenanced
by any form of the Christian religion even during
its nominal festivities.
There is one aspect of Christmas,
however, to which no possible exception can
be taken, although the appetite may be allowed
to have full scope and satisfaction. That is
when the poor, ragged, cold, and hungry children
of a town or city are gathered together and
warmed, and fed, and entertained, and for a
few hours made as happy as their capacity for
enjoyment will admit. There is a great deal
of that kind of thing done by benevolent committee
whose own Christmas is rendered specially blessed
to them in the satisfaction they feel at having
been the means of feasting some hundreds of
little fellow-creatures who would otherwise
have been experiencing the unmitigated pangs
of hunger, at a time when all the more fortunate
sons of men had the fullest felicity to be derived
from abundance of food and from good clothing,
and comfortable housing.
ASHTON AND DISTRICT
Few things are more interesting than the vagaries
of the weather at the present season of the year.
Nearly all one's comfort or discomfort depends
upon temperature and other meteorological conditions.
Sometimes it has been almost impossible to go
out of doors, there has been such a deal of snow
and frost and hail, and rain, and sleet and wind.
At one time the snow has been
beaten hard and converted into ice on all the
roads and footpaths; and the officials of the
Corporation, with benevolent solicitude for
the welfare of the working people, have impartially
scattered sand on sloping roads and footpaths.
If we mistake not, they used to let the footpaths
severely alone, and took particular care of
the roads, lest horses might fall. It is pleasing
to see as much care taken of the legs of the
ratepayers as of their horses.
On Monday, after the most promising
appearance of abundant skating everywhere for
Christmas, a sudden thaw set in, with a biting
cold wind. Singular that a thawing wind should
so often chill one to the bone. The rain came
down, and the wind blew great gusts, and in
a few hours all the caked accumulations of snow
and solid accretions of ice had melted away.
A great deal that had been white was changed
to black, and what was solid became liquid,
and what was slippery became rough.
People had to stop congratulating
one upon the weather being what they call "seasonable."
Father Christmas is always supposed to come
with an overcoat powdered with snow, and icicles
hanging from his beard, and here was Christmas
Eve quite out of character, with rain and a
warm, moist temperature.
Yet we had surely had enough of
winter. The snow had almost made a record, and
the fall of telegraph and telephone posts had
surely never been beaten. It would have been
out of all reasonable conformity with the character
of the present winter if Christmas Day had been
as mild and black as Christmas Eve was. It turned
out to be quite as "seasonable" as the most
rigorous could have wished for.
Big flaked snow kept falling hour
after hour, but it kept melting almost as rapidly,
so that people had to wade through a depth of
two inches of snow and water snowbroth
for the remainder of the day, and there
was no comfort underfoot until a great deal
of it had disappeared or been swept away on
the day following.
Those who went to the Christmas
parties on Wednesday evening had their work
before them. The cabs that were out required
a couple of horses, and heavy work it appeared
to be for the two. Seldom has Christmas night
been more inconvenient for the pedestrian, and
those who had the experience will pray to be
delivered henceforth from such "seasonable"