Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1857 & 1869

Lanag's Victorian Music Hall Disaster (N/A - 1868)



Lang's Victorian Music Hall was located at the corner of Deansgate and Victoria Bridge Street, Manchester. It was opened in the late 1850s by Benjamin Lang and was the first of its kind in Manchester. The building had five storeys above street level and two stories below street level which had access to the River Irwell. Shops were at street level and the Music Hall occupied the top storey. At the time of the disaster the building was owned by Benjamin Lang's son and daughters, (since Benjamin Lang had died in 1864), but the Concert Hall was tenanted by David Richard Davies.

On the night of Friday 30th July 1868, the Music Hall hosted a vocal performance and was filled to its capacity of two thousand people. It was established that somebody shouted "Fire" and everybody rushed to the exits. There was a crush on one of the two staircases, which resulted in 23 deaths and 12 serious injuries. Ten of the victims were buried at Weaste Cemetery, in common graves. They were: James Makin, 10 Factory Lane, Salford, (aged 16); Caroline Carlisle, 1 Back Caygill Street, Salford, (aged 11); William Cardwell, 5 Back Ravald Street, Salford, (aged 16), Samuel Poole, Dale Street, Manchester, (aged 20); Charles Keogh, Pump Street, Manchester, (aged 14); Thomas Long, 16 Charlestown Square, Pendleton, (aged 15); William Baxendale, 19 Clayton Street Manchester, (aged 18); John Reynolds, Silk Street, Salford, (aged 15); Elizabeth Strothers, Clayton Street, Salford, (aged 42); and William Ramsden, 70 Broster Street, Salford (aged 16).

An Inquest was held and it was established that shortly after 10 pm, some of the youths who were in the front row of the audience in the pit, in their eagerness to obtain a better view of what was going on upon the stage, stood upon the benches. Several lads overbalanced and fell, and one of them tried to hold on by clutching at a slender gas light pendent. The gas pipe broke and gas escaped. Somebody in the pit shouted "Fire" and there was a rush to the exits. It was also established that one of the Music Hall employees named Heywood had almost immediately stemmed the escaping gas by plugging the pipe. And in fact there was no fire at all. The Inquest also established that one of the staircases had a bend at the bottom, the crush had taken place there, and the deceased died of suffocation.

The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death and added that the staircases and handrails were quite insufficient for the egress of such large audiences, and suitable alterations should be made at once. Also that the lighting should be so constructed as to prevent gas from being interfered with. The jury further recommended that power be given by Parliament for the appointment of a qualified officer, employed by the Corporation to inspect theatres, music halls and similar places, and that no license be granted for places of public entertainment unless the means of egress are sufficient for the number of people they profess to accommodate.

Plans to re-develop the site first occurred in 1871, but not completed. After a delay, the Grosvenor Hotel was built in 1875, which lasted until 1970 and demolished in 1971.