Hope Street: The triumphs and tragedies of a family with a spiritual gift
This is the story of a family which has always lived in the heart of one of the traditional working class communities of the North. Originally immigrants from Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century, their saga, their triumphs and tragedies unfolded in the cobbled streets, working men's cottages and terraced houses of Horwich, near Manchester. They worked in the cotton mills and on the railways. Like most families at the time, they were good socialists and trade unionists. They also attended the local Spiritualist church. Spiritualism was free-thinking, modern and progressive too and went hand in hand with socialism. The family living on Hope Street North had problems every family has - and worse. Marriages broke up and they had more than their fair share of loss and heartbreak. Within the working class in those days there were many - now forgotten - class distinctions which caused painful rifts between the family. There was a violent bully too and an eviction which left a mother and her children wandering the streets penniless and homeless. A young girl was run over and killed by a horse and cart and another died of diptheria. An unmarried woman bound her abdomen tightly to disguise her pregnancy, and as a result her child was born with deformed legs. As a young woman, that child went on to elope with her lover and they both committed suicide. She died as she was born: in shame. The book that would become Hope Street started when Pamela Young felt compelled to write about her mother's childhood, of seeing things - spirits, angels - that other people couldn't see. Vivid memories of their family life came flooding back: coal dusk glistening on her father's scalp as he came home from work, the old army coats used as bedding and the dresser with doors missing because they'd been chopped up as firewood when times were hard. And swirling in and around these very vivid, often earthy memories of life in Hope Street were memories of the extraordinary spiritual phenomena that took place there. On one occasion a silver ball sped around the room. On another her father, asking for proof, was picked up by a spirit guide and lifted up into the air as light as a feather. Pamela would once see her mother engulfed in a cloud of ectoplasm and twice her mother gradually, and starting from her head down, disappeared before her eyes. But it was after her own marriage had broken up and her mother had died, when Pamela was in the depths of despair, that she found her own spiritual gift. Guided by the spirit of her mother, she began to fully understand the great project her mother had initiated.
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