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In 1780, "he is returned from finishing the survey of the County of Lancaster for Wm. Yates, of Liverpool, and therefore at leisure to pursue his own employment of measuring and planning estates His terms of land survey and planning are: Estate measuring and mapping 1/- per square acre, measuring land for the content only, six pence per statute acre; for finishing any old plan of estate in the new method, six pence per statute acre, and six pence for every mile the estate lies distant from Manchester (as it is necessary to inspect every field, as Plowed, Pasture, and meadow are differently distinguished, as likewise the fences, whether hedges, walls, cops, dykes, or pales, as likewise hilly ground, etc.; levelling, dividing, etc. according to the time and trouble)."
In 1783,† three years later, "returning thanks to those gentlemen who have been pleased to employ him with surveying, drawing," etc., he informs them that "a school will be opened in a room at the corner of Tassel Street, near Ridgefield, for the instruction of young gentlemen in the arts of drawing and painting. Ladies and gentlemen may see a great variety of his performances at the school aforesaid, which he will regularly attend for the purpose of teaching from 2 to 4., and 6 to 8 in the evening." Acting on West's advice, he must have thrown himself, on his return from north Lancashire, into the cultivation of drawing and painting, probably assisted by William Marshall Craig,‡ one of
Ibid, 17th June.
* Mercury, 17th October, 1779, No. 1,507. W. M. Craig (1828) was miniature painter to the Duke and Duchess of York and painter in water-colours to the Queen. As early as 1788 he exhibited at the Academy, and resided then (and before that) in Manchester. He settled in London in 1791. His water-colours are skilfully finished. (See Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers.).
his close friends. In another advertisement, in 1786,* he is "informing the Public, that he has opened a school for ladies at his house at 2 Brazenose Street, in drawing, writing and account, ladies and gentlemen instructed at home and boarding schools attended as usual." His enterprise was remarkable. Inspired by the recollection of former achievements as Yates's assistant, the desire seems to have grown to undertake a survey his native town upon a scale hitherto unattempted. He was aware that such a survey had become an urgent need. Some plans were already in existence, but the surprising development of the town had long outgrown them, and they were now mere records of old landmarks, of interest only to the curious. Of such, he scrutinised the quaint maps by R. Casson and J. Berry,† of whose history we should like to know more, productions which had gained in their time great popularity, making their last appearance in 1757, when the copper-plates passed into the hands of Harrop. In addition to this, another map, executed in 1772, by T. Tinker, junior, styled "A Plan of Manchester and Salford," was bare and dreary, and on a small scale. This constituted the sum total of material available in 1787. Green had well weighed the conditions of things, and realised the opportunity that lay before him, not only to render a service to the community but also to make it remunerative to himself. His idea was to produce a plan, on a scale that would harmonise with the necessity of the times, based on correct principles, and serviceable in all respects as a lasting reference for either public or private requirements. His qualifications, first, as a surveyor of exceptional
* Mercury, 28th March, 1786.
† See my note in Manchester City News, 26th January, 1889, No. 5,248, where I have given a list of all the old maps.
training, and, secondly, as an individual who knew its topography almost by heart, with every facilities of access to land and owners, were considerations in the task he placed before him which led him to believe that his project would be favourably received, and gain for him the support of the town. Green's survey must
ever stand as a work of the first rank. It remains the first standard survey of Manchester, and I must be permitted, therefore, frequent quotations in illustration of the lamentable incidents which arose at a later stage in the pursuit of his labours. To quote in full,* 15th May, 1787:
Prospects for publishing, by subscription, a plan of the town of Manchester and Salford, to be drawn from an actual survey of Wm. Green. It is proposed in this plan to lay down all the streets, squares, spaces, courts, lanes, yards, passages, fields, gardens, etc., etc., in such a manner as to express the exact dimensions of every regularly bounded plot of land in the township of Manchester and Salford, that will fall within that square which shall be judged the most proper to encompass it. Upon the unbuilt land will be specified all the intended improvements, for which purpose plans of the intended streets will be requested from the owners.
The Plan will be laid down upon the scale of 40 or 50 yards to an inch, at present it cannot well be determined which will be the most eligible. The drawings will be made in a modern and approved style, and when finished, will be submitted to the inspection of the subscribers at large. From the proposed large extent of this plan, it will be engraved upon 4 copper-plates which will be executed by a good master.
The impressions will, with the strictest honour, be delivered in order as they are subscribed for, at one Guinea each.
The survey will be begun to be made, as soon as 500 copies are subscribed for, and it is eagerly requested that such as wish to become subscribers, will be as early as possible in signifying their names, that the proposer may embrace the opportunity of surveying all the streets this summer, which cannot be conveniently done after 7 o'clock in the morning, on account of the interruption of carriage.
Books for the reception of subscribers' names are open at J. Harrop's Printer, Mr. Matthew Falkner, and Mr. Clarke's, in the Market Place, and at Wm. Green's, No. 2 Brazenose Street, who has now upon sale a valuable collection of Prints etc.
* Mercury, I5th May, 1787, No. 1,875.
A number of respectable gentlemen in the town and neighbourhood of Manchester, being desirous that this plan shall include the whole of the township of Manchester and Salford, and as much of the adjoining townships, as will fall within that square, which will be formed from the extensions of the said two townships, Mr. Green hopes that this will be a sufficient apology for advancing the subscription to one guinea each copy.
Within a little more than a month arose which for a while threatened to interrupt his project, in consequence of a notice in the columns of the Mercury, 26th June to 11th September, 1787, to the following effect:
To be sold: A Plan of the Town of Manchester and Salford, being an actual survey, taken by the late Hugh Oldham, ‡ and finished in a modern and elegant stile. Any bookseller, or other, wishing to become a purchaser, may have the plan reduced to any size he shall think proper, and made complete and ready immediately. A person of distinguished abilities to this line, being engaged to insert any alterations and improvements that have been made since the decease of the late Hugh Oldham. The advertizer flatters himself that the long established reputation of the late H. O., as a surveyor, in the town and neighbourhood of Manchester, will secure the success of this plan (when published) in preference to any other that may be offered to the Public. A line directed to J. Oldham, corner of Hanging bridge, will be duly attended to.
This offer was not responded to by any publisher in Manchester. It is impossible to say what became of Oldham's survey; it is a loss to the historian and topographer, as it would have filled a space between 1772 to 1787, which remains a blank.
Green had now been five years absorbed in his work, and was nearing its end, as far as field-surveying was concerned, when an event took place which exercised a lasting influence upon his future career. I allude to the
+Ibid, 26th June, 1787.
* Mercury, 22nd May, 1787. Described in the Directory of 1773, as land surveyor, Shambles and Cheetwood; 1781, as agent and surveyor, Shambles and Strangeways.
sudden appearance in Manchester, in December, 1791, of Charles Laurent, a Frenchman by birth, and a cartographer by profession. John Stockdale, of Piccadilly, London, a well-known publisher of political and historical works, books of travel and geographical discovery, had engaged himself about this time to issue by subscription A History of the County round Manchester,* the material to be arranged, and the work to be compiled, by Dr. J. Aikin, and to be embellished by fifty copper-plates of views, and a large map of the county thirty to forty miles round Manchester. For the compilation of the latter he had sent Laurent on a mission to Manchester in the winter of 1791. A man of sharp wits, he quickly gauged the situation, and perceived a rare opportunity for himself. A handy and cheap plan of the town was a daily need. He had come on the eve of great reconstructive changes; the destruction of old thoroughfares and the construction of new streets were under parliamentary consideration, and the town in a state of building excitement. Green's map was progressing, but its production was laborious and slow, and he was further delayed by constant alterations necessitated by many changes which the town had already undergone since he began. Besides, the size was not handy, and the increased price an obstacle. Laurent grasped these facts, and saw his chance. He soon matured a scheme of his own for a plan of the town, of cheaper and more manageable size. It was
of importance to him to ascertain how far Green had advanced, and to obtain an inspection of the chief features of his competitor's production. He lost no time in personally introducing himself to Green, under cover and pretext of offering his assistance, which was declined;
* See Mercury, 7th January, 1794, No. 1,794.