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FRED ENGELS IN SALFORD
 

A GUIDE TO ENGELS' SALFORD - Part 2

For your guide to Engels in Salford click here...

From Salford Star issue 6 Winter 2007


 ENGELS HOUSE ENGELS HOUSE ENGELS HOUSE
ENGELS HOUSE ENGELS HOUSE ENGELS HOUSE
ENGELS HOUSE ENGELS HOUSE ENGELS HOUSE
ENGELS HOUSE ENGELS HOUSE
click image to enlarge

Ermen and Engels Victoria Mill - the mill where Engels worked was at the bottom of Weaste Lane, and the M602 now smashes straight through the former site. Its chimney still stood until about 25 years ago when that too was demolished. There's not a trace left of the world's most famous mill which Engels part owned until 1869.

Engels Pubs. "If one is to believe all the stories about Engels, most of his time was spent in the pub. The most widely published story is that he would call in The Crescent pub, on the Crescent, for a swift 'un before returning home to his house in Chorlton on Medlock. However I doubt this story because his father's mill was in Weaste, and surely that's a long way to go for a pint? His most sensible route home would have been along Eccles New Road and Regent Road, a distance from The Crescent pub. However, several books on Eccles history tell the story of The Grapes pub on Church Street which was licensed from 1770. It is reported several times that Engels visited this pub, and allegedly attempted to form a communist cell there. Eccles at this time was a hotbed of social unrest." Salford social historian, Tony Flynn

Kersal Moor...Fred was a keen horseman, riding with the Cheshire Hunt at times, but he apparently also used to go riding on Kersal Moor, which is commemorated in a mosaic on Prestwich Precinct.

Working Class Movement Library. The Library, on the Crescent, has a collection of rare photos and slides of places of Engels interest. It also has copies of his books plus an incredible Engels scrapbook based on Roy Whitfield's research for his Friedrich Engels in Manchester book. Whitfield painstakingly tried to piece together the maze of pseudonyms and secret lodgings that Engels had in order to foil the secret police during his stay in Manchester. He also tried to unmask the mystery behind Mary Burns.

Local History Library at Salford Museum and Art Gallery. The library has copies of Engels books and communist propaganda pamphlets featuring photos and portraits. It also has a typewritten letter in Russian, dated 1951, from the Soviet Central Committee of the Institute of Marx Engels Lenin to a Mr Butterworth in Eccles discussing the idea of putting a memorial plaque to Fred in a local factory.

Salford Council Planning Department. Engels' descriptions of Greengate found in The Condition Of The Working Class in England 1844 are now being used in official council planning documents for the area's multi-billion pound makeover...

"A town of eighty thousand inhabitants which, properly speaking, is one large working-mans' quarter, penetrated by a single wide avenue (Chapel Street)... it is an old and unwholesome, dirty and ruinous locality... The narrower side lanes of Chapel Street, Greengate and Gravel Lane have certainly never been cleaned since they were built."

ENGELS HOUSE

Welcome to the only formal monument to Fred Engels in the whole of Salford - a ten storey towerblock in Eccles.


They've got massive statues of Fred Engels all over the world. From Germany to China, Russia to Cuba. The''ve got libraries named after him, even children named after him. Fred's featured on postage stamps, coins and bank notes, and what do we do to commemorate probably the most famous person ever to breathe in Salford? We name a towerblock in Eccles after him.

Not that Engels would have minded. He wasn't into monuments and stuff. But given this is as good as an Engels monument gets in Salford, we thought we'd have a chat with the residents who live there to gauge their views.

Engels House, off Trafford Road in Eccles, has no plaques on the wall commemorating the infamous revolutionary. In fact the block has only got half the letters of its title on the wall. Just `Engels' because the House bit of the white lettered sign has fallen off at some point and never been replaced. In 2004, 100% of homes here didn't meet the Decent Housing Standard and now there's a huge sign outside declaring a Hazard Reduction Scheme.

The block itself is a style-junkie's dream. Minimalist to the extreme with spotless, Mondrian inspired floor and wall tiles, shining metal lift doors and awesome symmetrical staircases. It's a classic of `modernist design', as they used to called it. Similar to hundreds of high rise flats in what was the Eastern Bloc which perverted Engels' theories and then worshipped him. Here, though, in his spiritual home a few miles from his former mill, few have ever heard of the man who literally changed the world.

Outside Engels House we meet Steven Greenhall, who's lived here for two years and says he's always wondered who the flats were named after.`You should be proud, man' we say `It's Frederick Engels!' Blank looks. `Engels? Karl Marx's mate? He changed the world? And this is the only monument to him in the whole of Salford!'. "Poor man" Steven laughs, but adds "Now I've got a bit of information I do feel proud to live here, and it makes you want to know a bit more about him."

We venture inside and on the middle floor find Anne Manley in her very cosy flat. She's lived here for seven years, has never heard of Fred Engels and has never really wondered where the name of the block came from. When we tell her that it's the only monument to the man, she just shakes her head. "A bit of a shame really, isn't it?".

Gordon Langlands has lived here for 12 years. He's only too keen to invite us into his immaculately decorated flat. `Proud to live here?' we ask. "I don't know about that but I'm having problems with this" he says, pointing to the ceiling. Oh my god! It looks like it's about to cave in at any minute. It's all damp and there's huge bubbles underneath the peeling paint.

"It's getting worse and worse now, and every time it rains, it comes through again, it's been like this for over a year" he adds "I've reported it, had them out five times and I can get nothing done about it. The Council just seem to be deafing me on it, they're just a bunch of comedians. But it's getting beyond a joke now. Someone told me to move out but I've built this place up. This Engels, he would have sorted it!"

Hopefully, in Engels' absence, the Council might decide to sort it. It's shocking. Next we meet Jean who's lived here a year and has never heard of Marx's mate either. "It's not a very good monument to him though is it?" she decides.

"No-one's ever mentioned him" says David Atkinson, who's lived here for two years "There's no plaque, nothing at all, and if he's that famous it's a bit disappointing and he should be recognised. They could at least have some information here that explains a bit more about him."

David says that he's going to go on the net to find out more. Meanwhile, Mike Barton echoes the view, "They should have one of those blue plaques, get the tourists here from Cuba!"

It would be good to get the Council here first to fix Gordon's rotting ceiling, but yeah, why not?

The towerblock named in Fred's honour is off Trafford Road near Eccles town centre.

In the wider region you can still sit in the alcove at Chetham's Library in Manchester where Marx and Engels would research their work, and read the very same books that they poured over in the summer of 1845. There is also a blue plaque to Engels at the Toblerones student halls off Oxford Road in Manchester, commemorating one of his official houses at Thorncliffe Grove. But anywhere that Engels lived has now been demolished. There's not a brick left. It's like he was never here. You can't even buy a new copy of The Condition of the Working Class In England 1844 anywhere in Salford.

See Part 1 of Fred Engels here...

See Part 3 of Fred Engels here

See Part 4 of Fred Engels here

Engels Trivia and limited edition Engels poster here

Who was Mary Burns?

adrian purdy wrote
at 10:58:13 PM on Saturday, May 21, 2016
Back in 1981 ,2 I worked at the former winterbottoms site after it was bought by a London based property firm which turned it in the weaste trading est .I was there over 2 years and had unlimited access to every part of the old mill ,I can picture every part of it as for that time I was the only person with the keys and when I say keys ,I mean a wheelbarrow full of giant old keys ! I also spent a couple of days showing a BBC film crew around the site in relation to making a film about Engels ,iv never found the film though ,suspect its in the bbc archives somewhere .I also have the only piece left of the original mill that was still in 1981 ,its a heavy cast iron lift balance weight which I saved one day from the scrap men .Just a shame I never had the foresight to take pictures at the time ,Adrian Purdy

Granville Davies wrote
at 3:10:27 PM on Sunday, February 23, 2014
The Engels mill referred to by Angela Roberts (21/4/13) as being in Cawdor Street did contain old textile machinery on its top floor. From memory there were a number of textile carding machines still in situ. On the ground floor there was still the old line-shaft used to drive machinery. But the original steam engine had long since been replaced by an electric drive motor and was being used to drive machine lathes etc.

Frank Birchenough wrote
at 7:32:28 AM on Friday, May 3, 2013
The purpose built mill of Ermen and Engels was at the junction of Cawdor Street and Trafford Road. It was named after the great Japanese Admiral Togo - Togo Mill. Togo was the victor in the naval battle of Tsushima Straits, where the Russion fleet was vistually annilated. This led to the signing of the treaty of Portsmouth (US Portsmouth that is) with US meadiation between Russia and Japan. Presumably, Engels felt that anybody who beat imperial Russia and the Tsar was worth commemorating. Strangely, the Wikipeadia article and this site do not mention either Togo mill, or the Godfrey Ermen (Engels partner in the firm) primary School. Best regards, Frank B

wrote
at 8:33:08 AM on Tuesday, April 30, 2013
In T. Swindells book, Chapters in the History of Eccles, he mentions our Fred calling in The Grapes, Church Street for a pint after work, Fred's dad also had a mill in Eccles town centre called Bentcliffe Mill, roughly the site of Lankro Chemical Company, apparently there was a fire and it burnt down, and the company took up residence in Patricroft, Ermen and Engels Mill on Cawdor Street. The Grapes in Eccles dates back to the 1790's so Fred may have called in for a quick 'un, as for the one in Weaste, nice story but a tad unlikely same as the old guff about him boozing in The Crescent pub, if it's all true, it's a wonder he managed to put pen to paper!

Tony Easom wrote
at 3:28:25 PM on Monday, April 29, 2013
I was born and bred in Buckingham Avenue next to Winterbottoms in the 1950s. Amazing to think of Engles involvement/inspiration there. There was also a Grapes pub in Weaste as there was/is in Eccles. Wonder which story is true? Would love the Weaste saga be the one!

Angela Roberts wrote
at 3:18:43 PM on Sunday, April 21, 2013
The mill that Engels owned was in Cawdor Street in Eccles. I was employed there by Archibald Edmeston in 1968 and I understand that on the top floor, which Edmestons did not use, were some of the old machines which were reputed to have been owned by Engels. When I last travelled down Cawdor Street I noticed that the mill had been demolished (trust Salford Council to let that happen!) but the 'new' offices are still there. It would have been easy for Engels to call in at The Grapes on his way home as it is a cockstride from Cawdor Street (though Wangey's would have been nearer!).

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