How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

Porter mug

Made by Derby, about 1820
Porcelain with painted enamel and gilt decoration

Object number 2004.21
Purchased with assistance from the Friends of Manchester City Galleries, 2004

See this object at Manchester Art Gallery This object may not always be on display. Please check with the venue before visiting.

Porter mug

This delicately painted beer mug shows the engineering works of Peel, Williams & Peel in Manchester: the Phoenix Foundry on Swan Street near Shudehill, and the Soho Foundry on Pollard Street in Ancoats. The Swan Street factory was used as a cholera hospital in 1832 and was the scene of a major riot following the discovery of human remains. Both buildings have now been demolished, but, during Manchester's industrial heyday, they were hotbeds of manufacturing activity, making cogs, gear wheels and other machine parts.

Ancoats is often referred to as the world's first industrial suburb. It developed rapidly during the late 1700s, providing housing for the city's growing population, and suitable sites for new steam-driven textile mills. Mills and related businesses (including cotton spinning, clothing manufacture, furniture makers and glassworks) once sat alongside workers' housing and workhouses, churches, pubs and schools.

By 1815, Ancoats was the most populous district in Manchester, attracting immigrants, including Jews and Irish and later Poles and Italians, in great numbers from continental Europe. However, living conditions were notoriously bad and the back-to-back slum dwellings of Ancoats textile workers typified the way Manchester was viewed by outsiders, described by Friedrich Engels in his book, Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844.

With the decline of the textile industry from the 1930s, Ancoats also declined. During the clearances of the 1960s, much of the housing was demolished and its residents relocated elsewhere in the city. Since the 1990s, however, Ancoats has undergone significant regeneration and was nominated as a World Heritage Site in 1999.

Images of industry are extremely rare on porcelain, a luxury product that was usually decorated with idealised rural English landscapes. The images here are much closer to the truth, depicting the harsh reality of working life amongst fiery furnaces and belching chimneys.

This information was provided by curators from Manchester Art Gallery.