Mr Birch's / Cornbrook Orphanage, Manchester, Lancashire

In about 1863, during the Lancashire cotton famine, Baptist minister William Birch made a promise to the dying mother of two fatherless children that he would see them cared for. Gradually, more children joined the circle that he was maintaining. At first, he provided them with a home by boarding them out to foster families. Eventually, however, a small house was rented and placed under the charge of a matron or 'mother'. A second house. In the 1871 census, the Orphanage was occupying 9-11 Cornbrook Road in the Hulme district of Manchester.

By 1875, the Cornbrook Orphanage, as it had become known, had moved a short distance and was occupying a block of four houses at the east side of Princess Street with between 25 and 30 children in each. In 1881, three of the houses — numbers 11, 13 and 15 Princess Street — were in use, with 47 inmates in residence.

The Orphanage site is shown on the 1891 map below.

Mr Birch's Orphanage site, Manchester, c1891.

In 1894, when Birch decided to emigrate to New Zealand, the Orphanage land and buildings were handed over to the Manchester and Salford Refuges. The site was then sold and new houses were erected.


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  • None identfied at present — any information welcome.



  • None identified at present.