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For other authors named Joseph O'Neill, see the disambiguation page.

4 Works 42 Members 2 Reviews

Works by Joseph O'Neill


Common Knowledge




The Secret World of the Victorian Lodging House – An honest account

Joseph O’Neill has written a book that should knock those who have a golden sepia view of the Victorian era, The Secret World of the Victorian Lodging House breaks down those ideals. For those of us who have studied social history this book is a reminder of how bad things were, and for the general reader will open their eyes.

What the reader will learn is that the Victorian lodging house was no romantic place, but a place where you would need to sleep with at least one eye open, and a hand on your possessions. The lodging house sometimes reminds me of the song from Les Miserables ‘Master of the house’ where he breaks down the price for sleeping with a window shut and always looking to lighten your loads and more.

What you learn from this book is that the underbelly of society passed through the lodging house, mainly the criminal elements, beggars, immigrants, prostitutes, street entertainers, navvies, the abandoned and families that were just about avoiding the workhouse. The book explains the harshness of the places and uses examples of known lodging houses, such as those that were in Britain’s worst slum Angel Meadow (do not be fooled by the name) in Manchester. Also drawing those from the worst areas of London, Birmingham amongst others.

Every town and city of the time had a lodging house or more in its borders and all had the same reputation of ill repute not the sort of place you would want to take your family. As terrible these places were they were a step above poor relief and prison, but it was not a very large step.

This really is an interesting book that covers many areas and also explains the foundations of the NSPCC and the Peabody Trust for example as well as places such as Port Sunlight as a response to the horrors of the Lodging House. As well as explaining how the introduction of the Public Health Acts came about in effect as an answer to the insanitary aspects of the lodging houses and the slums where they resided.

What you get from this books is that the ill treatment of immigrants is nothing new and we have been doing it for centuries, and the treatment of the Irish, Italians and Jews are just some of the examples that highlight this in the book. As well as the crimes that surrounded the lodging houses which really will open your eyes.

This truly is an excellent book, well researched and a book you can come back to time and time again, especially if you are studying social history and history from below. A fascinating and totally absorbing read and one that will leave an impression on you about life if you were at the bottom of the heap of humanity.
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atticusfinch1048 | Oct 12, 2016 |
Manchester In the Great War

With the the commemoration of the Great War now in full swing the excellent historical publishers Pen & Sword are publishing a new series of books on the towns and cities in Britain during the Great War. Including the City of Manchester the city of my birth and home. I just wish my Grandmother was still alive to relive the memories of that war and Manchester.

Each of the chapters covers a year of the war and what was happening in the City of the time. There are some wonderful pictures of the men queuing outside the Town Hall to enlist in 1914 to do their patriotic duty. Wonderful pictures of the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Manchester regiment in 1914 bringing home how many signed up to fight a war they did not understand the reasons they were fighting.

There are also pictures of some of the firms in Manchester that moved in to military production including my father’s employers in Trafford Park. He did notice some of the equipment in use in 1914 was still being used in 2000 and they wonder why Britian never moved forward!

This is an excellent book in a brilliant series of books on our towns and cities during the war. It is an excellent tool to show students today how much was done by the whole population in the war effort. The is book helps to bring home that the war was not just fought at the front but here at home too.
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atticusfinch1048 | Oct 2, 2014 |

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