Boneshaker Bill, they called him.
Every weekday morning at five he would cycle along the cobbled streets of Ancoats on his way to the mill, bike frame rattling like a sack of old bones from the butcher. The noise would bounce from one gaunt terraced house to the next, jabbing at sooty windows, sneaking past nets to pull curses from those still lulled by sleep.
On the day Bill died, five workers were late clocking in at the Vulcan Works on Pollard Street, nine at the flint glass works.
Ancoats was a little quieter after that – some said a little greyer.
Ancoats is an area of Manchester in the north of England, once crammed with cotton mills and foundries, a hub of the Industrial Revolution. See here to learn more about the area.