Weaste Cemetery

Rich and Poor

There are many divisions in society, but nothing greater than rich and poor.


When Salford Council was formed in 1844, many of the early members were manufacturers or prominent businessmen. Most of the cotton manufacturers were Liberal in politics and Non-conformist in religion, whereas most of the Conservative members were in engineering, brewing or other non-cotton industries. They were mainly Churchmen (Church of England) and quite often Freemasons.


It has been reported that the members room at the Town Hall was like a "rich man's club". Councillors would pop in for a chat, read the paper and perhaps have a whisky (not the teetotallers of course), before going to their business. Quite often, when a man became a successful businessman, he would look for some other means of satisfaction in supporting the community (and making a name for himself), either on the Salford Board of Guardians, Salford Council, Education committees or with patronage of worthy causes.


Salford (actually Pendleton) had quite a few large houses, such as Buile Hill (home of the Potter family), Hope Hall (Sir Elkanah Armitage), Claremont (Heywoods) and Summerfield (Agnews) and others. This area was to the west of "deepest Salford" and wasn't affected by the smoke and grime of the manufacturing area. However, working people lived amongst the foundries, breweries, dyeworks and cotton mills. They lived in heavily polluted and shocking unsanitary conditions. Sometimes families shared houses, rooms and even beds (to keep warm in winter).


There was even rich and poor after death. At Weaste Cemetery one could purchase vaults, first class, second class or third class graves, or if you couldn't afford to buy a grave, then you were interred in a common grave with 6 or 7 strangers. There were also divisions on religious grounds too. Church of England, Roman Catholic and Dissenters (Non-conformists) had separate portions. When the cemetery was opened in 1857, the Liberals controlled the Council, so the Dissenter portion is the most prominent, with many fine memorials. However, the most prominent memorial is that of Joseph Brotherton, Salford's first MP and Minister of the Bible Christian Church and a man who had no riches. The erection of such a beautiful memorial was by public subscription.


Come to Weaste Cemetery and see the rich and poor of the Victorian age.