Burial Ground at the former Chorlton Union Workhouse, Nell Lane, Withington
Chorlton Union Workhouse was built in the mid 1850’s at Barlow Moor, Withington, known today as Nell Lane.
It housed 1,500 inmates - the destitute and the poor. In the 1870’s, an Infirmary was added which was located next to the Workhouse Burial Ground.
The Burial Ground was consecrated on September 28th 1875 although burials were taking place there from as early as 1857. In 1910, Chorlton Workhouse was renamed as Withington Hospital. During the First World War, the hospital became a military hospital and was sometimes known as Nell Lane Military Hospital. It passed to the control of the Manchester Corporation in the 1930’s and in 1948 became part of the National Health Service. It was at one time the largest teaching hospital in Europe and was affiliated with the University of Manchester which has one of the largest medical schools in the north of England. The old Withington Hospital site has been redeveloped in recent years and the site is now occupied by flats, across the road facing is now the Withington Community Hospital and Diagnostic and Treatment Centre.
The Burial Ground adjacent to Chorlton Union Workhouse closed in 1970 and the remains were reinterred in Southern Cemetery, where some remains had already been reinterred when Princess Road was built.
The exhumations commenced on February 16th 1971 by the Manchester Corporation Cemeteries Department grave diggers and were completed on October 17th 1971. All the work was carried out with due care and attention to decency and was under the day-to-day supervision of the Health Inspectors.
The remains of 3,422 unidentified poor people were placed in 149 wooden boxes and reinterred in the M Consecrated section at Southern Cemetery and the mass grave is marked by an engraved stone.
"Here and in
Graves, lies the
Remains of some
of those formerly
the Grounds of
and May 1985"
There are also some engraved upright stones which have been relocated and we have transcribed a list of names from these.
There were some further re-interments in 1985 as follows:-
Church of England section: January, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 29th, 30th, 31st and February 14th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 25th. There were a total of 68 boxes.
Roman Catholic section: February 28th, March 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th,
18th, 19th and May 19th. There were 76 boxes in total. They can be
found in the FF Section of the Cemetery.
The Roman Catholic re-interments which took place in the
FF Roman Catholic section at Southern Cemetery are located
at the end of each row adjacent to the cemetery path/road,
Sadly there is no memorial stone for these re-burials and we
have contacted Manchester City Council and the Southern
Cemetery Friends Group to see if anything can be done to
In addition to the Church of England and Roman Catholic re-burials, the identified remains of Nurse Grace Jones, Martha of “All Saints, a Sister of the Poor” and the cremated remains of Mrs Fanny Howell, a former matron at the “Old Workhouse” were exhumed and placed in new coffins. They were reinterred in the G Non Conformist section at Southern Cemetery and the original headstones were re-erected.
No services were held for any of the Chorlton Union Workhouse re-burials.
The following records are available to search at Manchester Archives and also on the subscription site, Find My Past, as part of the Manchester Collection:-
Birth registers 1857-1902;
Birth registers 1902-1920;
Death registers 1857-Sep. 1892;
Death registers Sep. 1892- Nov. 1927;
Death registers Nov. 1927-1949;
Creed registers 1869-1880;
Creed registers 1880-Oct 1898;
Admission and discharge registers 1870-1884;
Interment registers Mar 1898-May 1922;
Cemetery reference book 1857-1891 (Manchester Archives only)
Chaplaincy registers of baptism 1849-1924 (Manchester Archives only)
The burial registers for Southern Cemetery are also available at Manchester Archives and the index is searchable on the Manchester Online Burials website where credits can be purchased to view the original pages.