Lithuanians in Lancashire 1901 and 1911

Here is a sample of the information that can be found in the 10-year census. Every resident must be recorded together with some details about their family and work.

The County of Lancashire used to be approximately north of the Manchester Ship Canal. Away from the cities, there were many coal mines. Although work was hard and dangerous, it paid well. Even after World War 2, many men came to work in the coal mines.

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Newspaper articles

Thanks to Manchester Guardian newspaper archives, information in these articles helps to put community events into context.

18th May, 1894, Roman Catholic Whitsuntide Procession in Manchester

“Walking with St. Chad’s were some 400 Poles and Lithuanians under their leader and chaplain, the Rev. Father Lasberg, S.J., headed by the Prize Band of St. Thomas’ Church, Bedford, and bearing the banner of their patron saint, St. Casimir.”

7th October, 1921, Manchester Lithuanians’ Custom

“Among the music and dancing licences applied for at the sitting of the Manchester Licensing Justices was one by the Rev. Aloysius Foltin, of St. Casimir’s Catholic Church, Rochdale Road, in respect of the parochial hall attached to the church in Reather Street, Oldham Road.

“Sir William Cobbett, who appeared in support of the application, said it had been the practice of the congregation (largely Lithuanians) to have a dance for an hour or two hours after the Sunday service. Sunday, Sir William said, was not observed by these people as it was in this country. They had amusements of various kinds, and as he suggested that a little dancing was an innocent matter. “I can quite conceive”, Sir William added, “that after some sermons it is desirable that there should be some innocent distraction.” Father Foltin felt that if the practice was disallowed it would be a deprivation to the people.

“Mr. Foltin gave evidence in support of the application. He said that he understood that dances and social evenings on Sundays had been carried on in the hall for 40 years.

“The Chairman pointed out that certain sanitary defects required to be remedied before the application could be dealt with, and with a view to this work being done the application was adjourned till the next sitting of the Court.”

2nd December, 1931, Appeal for Reopening of a Church

“Members of the Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Polish communities in Manchester have recently petitioned the Bishop of Salford to sanction the reopening of St. Casimir’s Church, Oldham Road, where for more than a quarter of a century they were able to worship according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church and to hear sermons in their own tongues. Althogether, it is estimated, a congregation of about 650 is affected, 500 of whom are Lithuanians, 100 Ukrainians and 50 Poles.

“Until recently a Lithuanian priest, Father Sirdaravicius, has been officiating for them at special services which they have been permitted to attend in St. William’s Church, Angel Meadow, but these services ceased this week-end and Father Sirdaravicius left Manchester on Sunday night.”

17th February, 1936, Lithuanians in Lancashire, National Celebration

“The Lithuanians in Manchester, Liverpool, St. Helens, Widnes, Earlestown and Haydock united in celebrating in Manchester yesterday the eighteenth anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the Lithuanian Republic. About 500 attended a service in St. Williams Roman Catholic Church, Angel Meadow, conducted by the Rev. Father Vincent Slavinas, the Lithuanian priest in Manchester, and afterwards marched in procession to the Lithuanian Social Club, the Lithuanian flag and Union Jack being carried in front.

“The newly established Lithuanian Consulate in Manchester was represented both at the service and the meeting in the club by the Consul, Mr. H H Sidebottom, and his secretary Dr. J Kaskelis. In his sermon at the service Father Slavinas urged the congregation to be loyal and faithful citizens of England, “the country with the most freedom”. The meeting at the club was crowded and much enthusiasm was shown. The speeches were followed by Lithuanian songs and choruses and a broadcast greeting from Lithuania. “

16th February, 1938

“To-day is the 20th anniversary of the Lithuanian declaration of independence, which will be celebrated by Lithuanians living in Manchester at a meeting in the Lithuanian Social Club, Pilling Street, Collyhurst, on Sunday. The meeting will be addressed by local speakers, among whom will be the Lithuanian Consul, Mr. H. H. Sidebottom, and the secretary to the Consulate, Mr. P. Sveikauskas, There are about 400 Lithuanians in Manchester and a majority of them is expected to attend the meeting. Lithuania has a strong trading connection with this country that began first in the reign of Edward III, when English merchants went out to bargain for Baltic amber. In 1937 about 30 per cent of all her imports came from Britain.

“Lithuanians from Manchester, Liverpool and Widnes met on Sunday at Widnes, where they laid a wreath on the war memorial.”

12th September, 1949, Lithuanian Exhibition

“An exhibition arranged by the Manchester Lithuanian Society at the Lithuanian Social Club in Middleton Road, Crumpsall, shows there are two things which when they come together cannot be displaced: memories of home, and a craftsman’s skill to give them shape. Given an hour’s leisure and a chisel, it seems, a Lithuanian will begin carving anything from a cigarette box to a full range of farm buildings. Here are woodcarvings done in German camps and British hostels: one is a huge peasant set-piece some 10ft. by 6ft., with a painted backcloth, another, called “D.P.” shows a figure with a pack on its back precariously balanced on a globe – a weary inverted Atlas. Elsewhere an old woman, made from a stocking, sits at an elaborate spinning wheel. The carvings are by far the best, but there are also specimens of weaving and needlework, and many gay dolls in national costume.”  

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St.Casimir’s, Collyhurst

In 1903-4 Lithuanians, Poles and Ruthenians (White Russians, Ukrainians) jointly financed a chapel in Manchester. The chapel building also housed community associations and clubs.

They called it St.Casimir’s. It was on Pilling Street, off Rochdale Road near Collyhurst. Their priest was Polish but from Germany and he lived at no.26, next door.

They opened a members’ club called the Vytautas Club, but it was closed in 1915 because it broke the law. Later, there was the St. Casimir’s Club, which then became the Lithuanian Catholic Club.

In 1915, the Lithuanian Catholic Club moved from Pilling Street to 32 Richardson Street but later this was closed for disorder offences and struck off in March 1918. It was soon after Lithuania became independent on 16th February 1918.

Back in business, the Lithuanian Club began buying beer from Groves and Whitnall brewery. In 1925 the Lithuanian Social Club was formed and opened in the chapel building in Pilling Street and continued there until 1940 (World War 2).

St.Casimir’s chapel is not listed in directories from 1925. Services may have been held at the church on Oldham Road, which was officially transfered to the Lithuanian-Polish community in 1931. The Ukrainians went to St.Chad’s instead. That same year the Lithuanian Catholic Society of St.Casimir was established.

St.Casimir’s is the building to the left of the Church Inn and behind the petrol station. Picture taken in 1958.

Continue reading about St.Casimir’s here:

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Christmas 1957

Christmas was celebrated at the Lithuanian social Club by an annual visit of ‘Kalėdų Senis’. ‘Eglutė’ [Christmas Tree] often took place just after the New Year, within the 12 days of Christmas. As many travelled to the venue by bus, this avoided days without transport and did not spoil Christmas at home.

The programme was always the same. A ‘warm-up’ with singing and then the arrival of the man himself. He would sit down for a rest while the children took turns to recite a poem, sing a song or show off in some other way. Without this you would not be sure of a present. At the end of the performance, out would come the presents from the sack. Every child also received a bag of monkey nuts, sweets and a mandarin.

This picture from 1957 has Aleksas Kuzmickas as Santa next to Domas Dainauskas who was our teacher (Lithuanian classes every Sunday) and led the programme.

1957 Lith Soc Club Eglutė

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Large gatherings

Large gatherings of 2-300 people took place in hired halls. The Blackley Insitute on Rochdale Road was used several times until it was demolished.

Cheetham Town Hall was then hired until about the early 1980s, when Manchester Council sold it. This building is close to St.Chad’s Church and today it is a restaurant.

During these functions, the stage was adorned with Lithuanian flags and a large ‘Vytis’ about 1 metre tall. Here is a picture of what remains of that shield.


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Moston Cemetery

St.Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Moston, North Manchester, is the final resting place of many Lithuanians. There are two communal sites. Some Lithuanian graves are closeby.

Moston7 Moston6 Moston5 Moston4 Moston3 Moston2 Moston1

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St. Casimir’s Church – a Polish view

St.Casimir's Church 1904-1930

St.Casimir’s Church 1904-1930

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This extract is part of an unknown document by an unknown author. There are some errors in the dates, they don’t match other more reliable sources.

Baraniecki gives us the first reference to pastoral care in Manchester. In a letter of 4 May 1882 he noted when asked to go to Manchester that ‘there is a Polish priest by the name of Szulc who most certainly serves the needs of the Polish community there’. Nothing else is known about this early ministry.

Lassberg gives the next evidence of the Christian Polish population in Manchester which he began visiting every third month in 1888. He estimated the population of the Poles and Lithuanians as 300 who earned their living as slipper makers. He noted some 1100 to 1200 Jews of Polish origin living at Cheetham Hill Road and he commented that ‘I have not met a Jew who would not understand me if I spoke in  Lithuanian or Polish’.

The Christian Poles met in St.Chad’s Church in Cheetham Hill Road. Over Christmas 1889 Lassberg stayed in Manchester for five days. He assembled the Polish community in the small chapel of St.Wilhelmina where he had a ‘freer hand’ than at St.Chad’s. On the Sunday before Christmas some 200 Poles and Lithuanians gathered for Vespers and a sermon. They were collecting money for standards (banners) of Our Lady of Czestechova and St.Casimir.

While no records are extant, it appears that Lassberg stayed with the community in Manchester for a number of years, at least until 1893. He is described as their leader and chaplain in an account of 500 Poles and Lithuanians from St.Chad’s, Cheetham Hill taking part in the Roman Catholic Whit procession which started in Albert Square in 1893 accompanied by their banner of St.Casimir, ‘their patron saint’. A similar account appears for Whit six years later, but Lassberg is not mentioned and the number of Poles and Lithuanians taking part has dropped to 200. They were, however, described as being based at St.Chad’s and that ‘they live chiefly in the neighbourhood of Rochdale Road and Ancoats and are engaged for the most part in boot and slipper making’.

In 1903 Father J.A.Foltin arrived in Manchester from Gliwice. It is not known if he was originally of Polich or German origin. He certainly spoke Polish. After some preparations he open the first Polish church in the city in 1904. It was called Šw.Kazimierza (St.Casimir’s) and it was to exist until 1930. It was founded by the mutual efforts of the Polish, Lithuanian and Russian [Rusniy? White Russian?] immigrant community. The group first met informally in a first-storey room [Pilling Street?] but they soon had collected enough money to establish St.Casimir’s at a church in Oldham Road.


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1952: Gathering

Some Lith Club members in the Lounge, 1952.Some Club members celebrating in the Lounge, 1952.

The Club was at 121 Middleton Road, Higher Crumpsall, then.

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Lithuanian families in 1901 census

My Grandfather was born in Lithuania and came over to Manchester around the 1885 period.  On the 1901 census he and his parents were living in Sanitary Street (later Anita St) and were slipper workers.  The family is listed as all born in Russia -British subjects.  Other families that were born in Russia in the area were identified as being non British subjetcs.  Does anyone know how these were identified?
Our family have been trying for over 20 years to trace our Lithuanian roots but the family seemed to have Anglised their name to Daniels so we do not know what the Lithuanian name was.  Any help or advice we would be grateful for.
Thank you

Paula Bradbury

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St.Casimir’s Church (2), Collyhurst

Read this first:

St.Casimir’s Church was on Oldham Road on the corner of Reather Street. The Priest’s (Rev.Foltin’s) house was at no.1 Reather Street, behind the church.

In 1901 this building was a Methodist Free Chapel and is built in that style.

It was bought in 1925 for £8000 by the Poles, Lithuanians and Ukrainians (Rusny). It had the only gold incense burner in England at the time. There was also a school for the children. Various Lithuanian priests were invited from time to time: Fr. Ilgys, Prel. Ladyga, Fr. Gečys, Fr. Slavinas and Fr. Staškūnas.

In 1931, the St.Casimir Society was founded. It had about 40 members and was led by V.Valinskas. Fr. Ladyga took care of Lithuanian religious matters.

It is not clear when the Ukrainians seperated from this community. In 1931, Bishop Andrey Sheptytsky and Fr. Josyf Slipyj, both of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, made a pastoral visit to Manchester. A Ukrainian Catholic congregation was established at St. Chad’s RC Church in the 1930s, which continued until the Ukrainian Catholic parish became established at its present location on Bury Old Road at the Dormition of Our Lady Church.

Due to various political tensions in Europe, the relationship between the local Poles and the Lithuanians broke down, there was not enough money to pay the loan and so the Bishop of Salford passed the church to the Poles in 1934.

In 1961, when the photograph was taken, it was a garment factory. Locals mentioned you could see the ladies working on the sewing machines making raincoats in the basement.

These days, Reather Street has disappeared and the site of the church is covered by grass.

St Casimir's church Oldham Road and Reather St

This used to be St.Casimir’s Church, photo taken in 1961.

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