At the turn of the 1800s while Jane Austen was writing and George III was on the throne, Manchester, like many newly industrialised cities throughout England, was a place of deprivation and strife. Children as young as five years of age were malurished and impoverished working long hours in factories and mills. David Stott, an invative philanthropist and part of the Sunday School Movement, founded Bennett Street Sunday School for families living in New Cross and Ancoats. Through tireless dedication he introduced them to the Bible, educated and implemented social and welfare reforms for them decades before legislation caught up. By doing so he provided a haven alleviating, at a local level, some of the abhorrent conditions which the working classes endured. This book chronicles the extraordinary history of Bennett Street Sunday School which, with the aid of benefactors, Visitors, dors and supporters - t least L S Lowry, transformed the lives of tens of thousands, young and old, for over 150 years.
Margaret Wendy Lees retired in 1996 after a forty year career divided equally between administration in Manchester's raw cotton trade and on the support staff of the Manchester School of Management, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). After retirement she enrolled for an MA in the History of the Manchester Region at the Manchester Metropolitan University submitting a dissertation on two large Sunday schools in the Manchester region (Stockport Sunday School and Bennett Street Sunday School) during the Victorian and Edwardian eras; she graduated in 2001. She was the fourth generation of her family to be a scholar at Bennett Street, her father Edmund Grundy Lees having also been a teacher, her grandfather Walter Lees a manager and her great grandfather John Grundy a manager and a Visitor.