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100 up for ‘wonderful’ Elsie, the oldest Manchester United fan in Eccles?

Glasses are being raised in Eccles for mum-of-nine Elsie Merrishaw, who celebrates her 100th birthday this week with a telegram from the Queen.

Elsie, who is currently in Ward L5 at Salford Royal Hospital, is pictured in an historic photograph thought to date from around 1940.

She wears the Manchester United kit of the time, with scarf, old-style wooden rattle and striped socks.

Elsie was born in on Railway Terrace Eccles on 8 September 1916 and gave birth to nine children: five girls and four boys.

“My mother has had a very full and active life,” said daughter Barbara Wilde.

“She has always been a mad keen Manchester United fan ever since she was young girl.”

Elsie went to Christ Church Primary School on Nelson Street, which was built in 1872 and remains one of Eccles’ oldest schools.

As the family grew, Elsie and her relatives moved to Renshaw Street in Patricroft where she met her late husband Joe.

Together they then moved to Barton Grove.

Elsie, centre, pictured with five generations of the family

Elsie, centre, pictured with five generations of the family

“One her first jobs when she left school was working in a textile mill on Cawdor Street.

History records that this purpose-built mill was owned by Friedrich Engels, the founder of Marxist theory who went into business with Godfrey Ermen at a number of mills in Eccles, Monton and beyond.

Says Barbara: “She told me that on her first day, her mother cut up her old fur coat to fit her so that she would look smart: ‘Fur coat and no knickers,’ as she used to tell us!

“She was a wonderful mother to us all and despite having a hard life with little money she made sure that we were all fed and clothed, bless her.”

In later life Elsie worked as a cleaner at the Wellington pub on Canal Bank in Winton.

Such was the credo of hard work instilled in her, she was still there at the age of 75!

“Lots of people know her around Eccles,” recalls Barbara

“In fact one New Year’s Eve we went out with her and were unable to buy a drink because she was so popular.”

So what’s Elsie secret to a long and happy life (aside from supporting Manchester United)?

“She has always kept herself active and that’s what I think has kept her going for so long,” Barbara said.

“Some people when they retire, they seem to give up, but not Elsie.

“While she’s not very well at the moment she is visited everyday by members of the family who all think the world of her.

“She dotes on her family and loves all her of her many grandchildren and great-grand children, she is an inspiration to all of us.”

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.