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Victorian Crime and Punishment: Sunday 28 June

Stabbings, fights, drug abuse, prostitution, alcohol fuelled violence… welcome to Manchester in the Victorian era.

Published on June 25th 2009.

Victorian Crime and Punishment: Sunday 28 June

In 1867 Arthur Seddon was flogged for stealing a hankie. He was seven years old.

“Find out about skinning, scuttlers, resurrection men and how a piano helped to break a smuggling ring.”

By the middle of the 19th century Manchester's population had swollen to a quarter of a million people. The vast majority of this population lived in abject poverty with low wages, long working hours, dangerous and insanitary working conditions, filthy shared dwellings, little to no health provisions, a high infant mortality rate and a short life expectancy.

For many, a life of crime was seen as appealing, or in fact necessary. However, this was not without its own risks.

A prisoner being held for a mugshot

Join us on this walking tour mostly based around the former site of the Deansgate slums, and hear about crime and punishment during the Victorian era. You will learn about the gangs, vicious brawls, gruesome crimes and policemen, both brilliant and corrupt, of the period.

The slums on the River Irwell; a breeding ground for crime.

Find out about skinning, scuttlers, resurrection men and how a piano helped to break a smuggling ring. It’s not all about criminals, however, there’s plenty about the police and the justice meted out. Some of these coppers gossiped, cavorted with shady ladies and even removed their helmets. Shocking stuff.

You will also hear about the ‘birth’ of the detective (a man who inspired great works of fiction), how rotting corpses gave the game away for body snatchers and how one hardened gang leader eventually lost his reputation after being beaten senseless by a 14 year old girl.

By the time we’ve finished you’ll be sure to understand why one writer felt that Deansgate would be better renamed as ‘Devils Gate’, and you may just have changed your mind about ‘the good old days’

Price and duration
The price is £6 per person (£5 concession) as all official guided tours of Manchester are. The tour lasts one and a half hours.

Meeting place, dates and times
Manchester Visitor Information Centre in St Peter’s Square. Sunday 28 June, 2pm.

Robert Arcangeli at robertoarcangeli@yahoo.co.uk for further details or to book private tours.

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