The Roundhouse, Ancoats

In 1895 Esther Roper helped establish the Manchester University Settlement in Ancoats. Based in the Roundhouse on Every Street, it offered education and cultural opportunities to the local working poor.

Eva Gore-Booth ran a women’s drama group there. As well as rehearsing classic plays like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, members would also devise short sketches based on their own life experiences. Esther later wrote of these improvisations: “most vivid and racy it often was, I assure you.” 

Roundhouse with stained glass window tribute. Image courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office

Roundhouse with stained glass window tribute. Image courtesy of Greater Manchester County Record Office

After Eva’s death in 1926, Esther commissioned artist Ethel Rhind to create a stained glass window commemorating Eva’s life. It was unveiled in June 1928 at the re-opening of the Roundhouse, and can be seen in place in the picture above.  The building was demolished in 1986 by which time the window had been lost or stolen.

Roundhouse - window by Ethel Rhind. Image from Manchester University Settlement papers

Roundhouse – window by Ethel Rhind. Image from Manchester University Settlement papers

It is a shame that the black and white photo above, from the official window unveiling leaflet, is the only picture available of Ethel Rhind’s colourful design.

(“most vivid and racy…” Quote from Esther Roper in: ‘Eva Gore-Booth, An address given at the unveiling of a window placed in her memory in the Round House, Ancoats, on June 11th 1928)

Next: Urania journal

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