Lithuanian Community up to 1995

The life of the Lithuanian community began around 1885, when some people left Lithuania to avoid military service in the Russian Empire’s Tsar’s army, others left in seach of a better life overseas, and some left for other reasons. In many cases, England was a springboard to South and North America, Canada and Australia. People stayed here for a while to earn money to travel further. But some remained. In the beginning, they kept close relations with the Polish and Ruthenians, who were Byelorusians and Ukrainians (gudai, rusėnai), mostly Catholics.

From 1884, the spiritual affairs of Lithuanians, Polish and Ruthenian Catholics in Manchester were served by br. Kalusz, a Jezuit, who also served Widnes and Liverpool, where there were Lithuanians too. In 1887 Jakob Linden came from Holland, later Jozef Lassberg, J. A. Foltin, Majchrzak. Church services were held in the chapel of St. Wilhelmina.

In 1903, a priest J. A. Foltin came from Gliwice (Poland), his nationality is not clear but he spoke Polish. In 1904 he opened a joint Polish, Lithuanian and Ruthenian chapel and later a church of St. Casimir on Oldham Road, which continued until 1934. This church was established though the joint efforts of Polish, Lithuanian and Ruthenian emigrants.

When Lithuanians and Polish became angry about events in Vilnius in 1919, their relationship broke down. In 1935, the spiritual affairs of Lithuanians and Polish were served by the prel. Jonas Ladyga, an envoy from Kaunas, by Rev. Vincas Slavinas, Kazimieras Gečas, later Rev. Ilys and then Rev. Staškūnas. They helped improve local Lithuanian-Polish relations.

From 1947 to 1953, Lithuanians were served by Rev. Jonas Kuzmickis, Rev. Justinas Steponaitis. They prayed in Notre Dame chapel in Cheetham. That chapel is now demolished. From then until now, Canon Valentinas Kamaitis is serving them.

In addition to St. Casimir’s church, there was also a shared club, which was originally named Slavic Club. In 1910 the club was re-named Kosčiuška (Kosczuszka). The club lasted for 9 years. The Ruthenians didn’t attend that club because the Polish didn’t allow them to sing. Later, the Lithuanians got their own club “Vytis” [Vytautas], but since the club did not keep order, the city council closed it in 1915.

The Lithuanians had a school for their children. Later they opened a meeting room, which closed in 1917. But then the First World War scattered the Lithuanian community. After the war, they began again to organise themselves and in 1925 they opened a Lithuanian Club in Pilling St. off Rochdale Road and this continued until 1949. The aim of the club was to unite all the Lithuanians and maintain close relations with now independent Lithuania, to where the club organized trips as well as establishing a fund for the rebuilding of Lithuania.

When the Second World War began, the club had about 100 members. Since most of the young Lithuanians were born in England, they were all called into the English army. After the war, the number of members had reduced to 40. Although most of the young people still knew Lithuanian, they were not that interested in their club. This was left to their fathers, who had come from Lithuania and settled in Manchester. Before WW2 there were about 600 families living here.

In 1947, the first DP (Displaced Persons) Lithuanians came to Manchester and joined the diminished ranks of the club’s members. Two years later, having completed their two-year contract in agriculture etc., more Lithuanians came to live in Manchester and the existing club premises became too small so more spacious premises were sought for the club. Such a building with land was found at 121 Middleton Road, Higher Crumpsall and was bought on January 8, 1949. Buying and maintaining the club was helped a lot by Lithuanians from previous emigrations: V. Valinskas, J. Muraška, P Puodžiūnas, J. Orentas jnr. and S. Misiukevičius.

After the new club building was acquired, there was a variety of cultural and oganisational activity, which the club supported.

In the period 1949-1994 in Manchester the following organisations and groups were active and some continue to function:

  1. Lithuanian Resistance Concord Manchester section /closed/
    Lietuvių rezistencinės santarvės Mančesterio skyrius
  2. Lith. Association in GB Manchester District branch /closed/
    DBLS Mančesterio Apygardos skyrius
  3. Lithuanian rebirth movement /closed/
    Lietuvos atgimimo sąjudis
  4. Sports club “Kovas” /closed/
  5. Sports club “Saja” /closed/
  6. Manchester Lithuanian Women’s Circle “Rūta” /closed after 23 years of activity/
    Mančesterio lietuvių moterų ratelis „Rūta“
  7. Manchester Lithuanian Cultural Coordinating Committee /closed/
  8. Sunday school /closed due to lack of children/
  9. Scouts and School Parents’ Committee /separate before this/closed/
  10. Manchester Lithuanian Cultural Circle, who published the “Northern, later England’s, Lithuanian Bulletin” from December 1967/closed 1992 after 25 years/
    „Šiaurinės, vėliau Anglijos Lietuvių Biuletenis“

The following groups are still active:

  1. Manchester Lithuanian Social Club
  2. Lithuanian Association of Gt. Britain Manchester Branch
  3. Manchester Branch of the Union of Veteran Lithuanian Soldiers “Ramovė”
  4. Manchester Lithuanian Catholic Society
  5. Lithuanian Philatelists’ Society “Vilnius”
  6. Lithuanian Film and Radio unit
  7. Manchester Scouts (boys) “Maironis” troupe
  8. Manchester Scouts (girls) “Živilė” troupe
  9. Lithuanian Association of Gt. Britain Manchester Youth Branch,  from 1979 Lithuanian Youth Association of Gt. Britain

Although the number of organisations in Manchester has deceased, the organisational and cultural activities continue at full force.

The club’s library is part of the cultural activity of the club, it holds many publications from independent Lithuania’s time, publications by the “Nida” book club in London, from America including “Lithuanian Encyclopedia” and from elsewhere. In addition, the club regularly subscribes to various Lithuanian publications.

The Lithuanians in Manchester and its surroundings have two burial plots in Moston cemetery, one of which has already been filled. It has a monumental cross commemorating the 700th anniversary of the first Lithuanian baptism and to remember those buried here. This section contains 54 buried countrymen. There is another section with 77 spaces and a monument to St. Mary of the Dawn Gate, which has not yet been filled. Many Lithuanians are buried in other cemeteries around Manchester: in Eccles, Agecroft, Blackley, Stockport, Bolton, Rochdale and others.

When the emigration to overseas (mainly USA, Canada, Australia) started, all the organisations in Manchester’s community suffered a lot because many of its most active members left. Most of the remaining members of the community are now of an old age but still involved in the activities of the community, in various committees holding several positions. Most of them have been active for a long time. There is no one to replace the remaining active members. There are only a few young people interested.

This is a list of the most active Lithuanians from the newer (after the war) emigration: K. Barėnas, A. Liubinskas, J. Štaras, V. Dijakas, G. Glatkauskas, V. Kupstys, J. Kalvis, A. MyIė, A. Petrikonis, J. Šiaučiulis, A. Kuzmickas, J. Verbyla, P. Navakauskas, A. Zubrickas, L. Venskus, K. Rudaitis, V. Stabačinskas, P. Butkus, J. Čeponis, A. Pilkuskas, Kylas, A. Jaloveckas, A. Puras, P. Venskuvienė, E. Venskutė, J. Šneliūtė, K. Šneliūtė, J. Jokubaitytė, P. Gugas, Kuraitė, Barauskas, B. Navickaitė, S. Lauruvėnas, S. Karanauskas/Karnas/, A. Pupelis, A. Kublinskas, K. Steponavičius, A. Podvoiskis, V. Motūza, D. Banaitis, B. Ličkauskas, G. Žemaitis, J. Navickas, A. Norvaišas, J. Bendorius, A. Pužauskas, V. Rudys, V. Bernatavičius and many others.

The Club was and still is the centre of the Lithuanian community’s activities in the Manchester area, which it supports. It also supports other Lithuanian activities and provides help where needed.

From an account written in Lithuanian in 1995 by Ark. Podvoiskis.

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From then until now

This is short summary of how Manchester became home for some 6 generations of Lithuanians, and probably for more. How they got here, grew into a community and how they organised themselves.

Here not by choice

The first wave of immigration from Central Europe started after an uprising in Poland in 1863, which was controlled by Russia then. To suppress it, conscription to the Russian army for 20 years was made earlier. But that only made things worse, and the unrest spread into Lithuania, also controlled by Russia. Rebellion was met with swift public executions and deportation to Siberia.

Many people from the west of The Russian Empire found a way to leave their country, and some came by ship to Gt. Britain and some then on to the US. They landed in Glasgow, London as well as Liverpool. Some moved on to Widnes and to Manchester to find work. Here, there was work in coal, chemicals and textiles. And general work such as carters and labourers. A few managed to set up their own business, as tailors and cobblers.

Renting rooms near work brought fellow countrymen together, such that many came to live in the same streets. The Census from those times shows this. Men would meet up in the local pubs after work and find out about jobs and any new neighbours.

In 1885 there were 7 Lithuanian families living in Manchester. By 1903 there were enough Lithuanians, Polish and Ruthenians [gudai, rusėnai] (Belarusians and Ukrainians) to establish a chapel and a social club, St. Casimir’s. It is interesting to note that “members clubs” could buy beer from the brewery and sell it at a lower price than pubs but only to their registered members. This was a distinct advantage when money was tight. Such membership also helped to strengthen the community and raised funds to support particular causes.

There were several social clubs for East Europeans in Manchester including the Slavonic Club and the Vytautas Club but they had various problems with the law and soon lost their license. When St. Casimir’s chapel (more about this later) transferred to a church on Oldham Road in 1925, the Catholic Club that shared the building with the chapel remained there but became the Lithuanian Social Club. At that time, it had 80 members.  

The Social Club raised money for those in need. At that time, there was no national health service or job centre, everything had to be paid for from your pocket but not everyone could afford to do so. Interest groups formed such as the Lithuanian Catholic Society of St. Casimir in 1931. Activities were arranged and annual traditions continued.

A Priest?

This community of mixed ethnicities eventually received a priest, Rev. Foltin who came from Poland. In those days Catholic religious services were in Latin. It is not clear which language the sermon was in, but the congregation were multilingual anyway. And then a church was obtained; St Casimir’s on Oldham Road, and services were transferred from the building on Pilling Street off Rochdale Road. The church initially helped community cohesion.

Unfortunately, tensions on the other side of Europe spilt over into the community in Manchester. Lithuanians fell out with the Polish and boycotted the church. As not enough rent was collected and debts built up, the Bishop of Salford closed St. Casimir’s in 1934. The congregation split into ethnic groups and attended different churches and chapels.

Although this community was referred to collectively as Russians or Poles, some of these people were actually Lithuanians, Poles and Ruthenians (Ukrainians and Byelorussians).

Young men joined the British Army

When WW1 started in 1914, soldiers conscripted to the British Army included those from the immigrant communities, the sons of earlier immigrants born in Manchester.

Trading with Lithuania

Following Lithuania’s independence in 1918, trading with the UK slowly increased and in 1938 a ship called “Kaunas” sailed into Manchester Docks, loaded with mainly pork and dairy products. This was such an inspiring event for the local Lithuanian community. They came to meet the ship and invited the captain and crew back to the Club. The following year, a Lithuanian Consulate was opened in Cannon Street, near the Corn Exchange.

Sadly, then Germany took over Lithuania. Suddenly, local Lithuanians were now classed as “Aliens”. And when Germany bombed Manchester in 1939 everything came to a stop.

After the War

When WW2 was over, displaced persons in camps in Germany were offered work in Britain. The “Westward Ho” scheme had a 2-year work contract with fixed residence in now-disused army camps. When the contract ended, they were allowed to stay anywhere in Britain and to seek work. Once again, countrymen came to live together, close to work locations.

A good example is Eccles, across the canal bridge from Trafford Park, the largest industrial zone in the world. There was work there in textiles in Patricroft and Monton, in engineering in Gardner, Massey Fergusson and Taylor Brothers factories, in Ward and Goldstone plastics and, unfortunately, in Turner’s Asbestos in Trafford Park.

Some bought big houses and rented rooms to countrymen. Others came to live in the same streets and became neighbours. Friendships and families were formed as they kept together.

The Club re-starts

In 1947 the Lithuanian Social Club was revived in a rented building on Rochdale Road. With so many newcomers joining as members, large gatherings such as concerts and commemorations were held in the spacious Blackley Institute on Rochdale Road. Later, Cheetham Town Hall was used.

The newcomers and the existing countrymen came together, uneasily at first. However, it became clear a larger meeting place was needed, bigger than the small premises on Rochdale Road and so a property in Higher Crumpsall was bought. The Lithuanian Social Club continued with committees formed from the old community and the new. This wasn’t easy mainly because of the language barrier; the old ones spoke little Lithuanian, and the new ones spoke little English. Eventually, the old community became outnumbered.

This time, the immigrants were better educated and quickly organised themselves into groups. There was a sports group which focussed on basketball and chess, a women’s group, and folk-dance groups. The annual events calendar was agreed by a coordination committee to avoid clashes.

There were musicians that helped the dancers, small choirs for church and concerts. Those who enjoyed arts and crafts could exhibit their work. Kazys Steponavičius, who made a model of a homestead and called it Sodyba organised an exhibition in Salford that had many exhibits and lasted for 2 months. And Vytas Šiaučulis designed the tall monument for the Lithuanian section in Moston Cemetary

Calendar of annual events

February 16th, Independence Day
Mother’s Day in May
Darius and Girėnas who flew the Atlantic
Nation Day, remembering King Mindaugas
Army Day in November

The Lithuanian army veterans (calling themselves Ramovė) were allowed to join in with the Royal British Legion to commemorate the fallen in war by laying a wreath at the memorial in Eccles. Which they did for decades.

The Manchester community, which includes those in Leigh, Atherton, Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham, maintained close links with those in Bradford, Nottingham, Derby, Wolverhampton as well as London and Glasgow. These larger gatherings and commemorations strengthened the sense of community and helped maintain Lithuanian cultural identity. Choirs, dance groups and singers from overseas added to these occasions.

The next four decades

These were Soviet times. Lithuanians in Lithuania struggled to maintain even superficial links with relatives in the UK. Mail was censored and phone calls had to be ordered in advance. Travel to Lithuania was rarely possible until the 1980s and was very restricted. Those few allowed to come to Britain had to talk about it later, what they did, where they went and who they met there. Those allowed to enter Soviet Lithuania were closely followed.

Meanwhile, the Lithuanians in Gt. Britain continued their traditions and commemorations, and many still hoped one day to return to their homeland. Sadly, many did not achieve that dream. Coal dust, asbestos and cancer bought an early death to many.

Hardly anyone was able to get permission to leave Soviet Lithuania permanently. A small number of Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) did manage to leave and came to Manchester for a while before moving on.


There was some involvement in politics, members of the Lithuanian community joined those from other ethnic communities in the Captive Nations Committee. This organised some demonstrations and joint concerts to raise public awareness of the situation in Eastern Europe.

New times

Lithuania restored its independence in 1990. In 1992, Vytautas Landsbergis, who became the first speaker of the new parliament, was attending a conference in Blackpool and was invited to Manchester’s Lithuanian Club. Community representatives from across the country joined local members to welcome him. Regardless of politics, this was indeed a great honour for the Lithuanian community. His visit confirmed what many had lived for during 5 decades.

When Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004, travel became much easier in both directions. The freedom to travel and work brought many young countrymen to the UK, where they could earn much more than back home. And so began yet another migration of Lithuanians to Manchester as well as to other towns and cities. And again, the uneasy mix of different values diminished the initial enthusiasm of both sides. The ‘poor’ newcomers expected a lot more from the ‘rich’ locals, many of whom had started life in Britain with absolutely nothing.

And so to present times

Today a Lithuanian community in Manchester continues to exist. Cohesion seems less strong, but culture and traditions are certainly being maintained. Recently a dance group took part in the Manchester Festival and the Central Library has a Lithuanian section. There is a church available, and a Lithuanian priest comes from London each month. And after Brexit, having ‘settled status’ is not preventing a regular back and forth to the homeland, thanks to Ryanair, Wizz Air and Air Baltic. Travellers also include those from generations born here visiting cousins and relatives, and so reviving their connection to Lithuania.

In 2016 Lithuanian TV and Radio came to film three reports about Manchester’s Lithuanian Community. Those recordings are still available in their archive.


This short account shows how Manchester became home for some 6 generations of Lithuanians. They came here for refuge and for a better life. Some came for a while and moved on to USA, Canada and Australia. Others stayed here longer and hoped to return to their country one day. And these days newcomers can choose to have a home in two counties if they want to. But Lithuanians do continue to be in Manchester.

From a presentation given in 2022 by J. Podvoiskis.

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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.

View the PDF document:

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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.

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St. Casimir’s Church – a Polish view

St.Casimir's Church 1904-1930

St.Casimir’s Church 1904-1930

StCasimirChurch 3 001 StCasimirChurch 2 001












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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