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Manchester Music: The Hacienda Years

Official Manchester Music Tours

Next tour: Sunday 24 October, 11.30am.  
TfGM Travelshop, Piccadilly Gardens.
Tour Guide?:
As Ian Curtis sang: “I’ve been waiting for a guide…”
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Forget Memphis and the Mersey, Manchester is Music City, a factory of superior song-making and stirring soundscapes courtesy of The Smiths, Joy Division, The Fall, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Oasis, New Order, Happy Mondays and Elbow – all spinning around the legend of the Hacienda, the world’s hippest nightclub, chicer than the Copacabana, sexier than Studio 54, cooler than the Cavern or Cream.

• Our Music walks are now starting from HOME, Manchester’s funky but chic (as David Johansen would say) new arts venue, appropriately based at 2 Tony Wilson Place, Whitworth Street West (opposite the Hacienda, natch).

Hacienda - interiorRead on…
Despite no tradition of making memorable music, Manchester became the most feted music city in the world towards the end of the 20th century, acclaimed for its role in nurturing groups such as The Smiths, Buzzcocks, the Fall, Joy Division, New Order and 808 State.

That Manchester would attain such elevated status looked unlikely in the 1960s when the city lived darkly in the long shadow cast 35 miles away in Liverpool by the Beatles, and it remained so in the 1970s with Manchester playing little part in prog or mainstream rock.

Those with local connections that were successful like 10cc and Roy Harper made music that had little to do with Manchester culturally.

The Manchester-based beat groups of the mid-60s were phenomenally successful in terms of sales. Herman’s Hermits and Freddie & the Dreamers cleaned up in America. But this was not exactly cutting edge quality music to rank alongside the greats of that era, such as the Yardbirds, Animals and Who.

So how did Manchester music become so important?

Amazingly we can trace this back to two chaotic Sex Pistols gigs at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in the summer of 1976.

Present that night were many of those who went on to dominate Manchester music for the next few decades, including Barney Sumner (Joy Division, New Order), Mick Hucknall (Simply Red) and Morrissey. Some formed groups, while others set up from scratch a music industry infrastructure of promoters, songwriters, agents, designers, journalists and record label owners.

We go to some of their haunts and venues on the various music walks.

That scene played a huge role in the general renaissance of the city in terms of media, design, architecture and culture. We can trace a development from the summer of ’76 to the opening of new venues such as HOME in 2015.

The music scene has attracted countless people to the city, some as students, some to work in attendant industries.

If you want to see how dull a similar city without a vibrant music scene is like, go to Leeds!


Hacienda - interior

Start: 24/10/2020 11:30 am
End: 24/10/2020 1:15 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Google Map
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: £11 for one: £16.50 for two.


Sunday Explorer: Marple & the Peak Forest

Next tour: Sunday 25 October 2020.
Meet: outside Romiley Station, 1pm.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

A rambling historical extravaganza and ramble through the stunning scenery around the Peak Forest Canal as we meander through Chadkirk Country Park, stopping off at the medieval chapel, journeying along Britain’s highest aqueduct, side stepping the flight of Marple locks and through the Goyt Valley.

Please wear stout walking boots and dress for the weather!

This is a linear walk rather than a circular one and it ends at Marple Locks close to Marple train station where an hourly train can be caught back to Romiley,where we begin, or Manchester.

Chadkirk churchMarple Lock No. 5Marple Aqueduct (1)


Start: 25/10/2020 1:00 pm
End: 25/10/2020 3:00 pm
Venue: Romiley Station
Google Map
Stockport Road, Romiley, United Kingdom, SK6 4AA
Cost: £11 for one; £16.50 for two.


Midland Hotel De-Luxe Tour (on Zoom)

Midland Hotel - inside tilesMidland Hotel - Cary Grant

Next tour (on Zoom), the full tour – every story, every nook and cranny

Date: Tuesday 27 October 2020, 11am.
Meet: On your Computer!
Booking: Please book here on eventbrite.
Cost: £7.50

* What an opportunity this is, given that you can’t tour the Midland Hotel in person because of Covid and building works, and even when you can go in on a tour you find half the rooms booked out for conferences and meetings, and the guide telling you nonsense like “this is where Rolls met Royce”.
* So this is a wonderful alternative. Come with us around the hotel, inside and out, into every nook and cranny, to hear every sensational story, from the comfort of your own laptop.
* The tour is based on original research carried out by me, Ed Glinert, the author/journalist/tour guide who, yes, cracked the Jack the Ripper mystery (East End Chronicles, Penguin, 2005).
* No handed down stories that were never checked in the first place.
* We won’t tell you Rolls met Royce here, because…they didn’t!
Why is that not common knowledge? Please see hilarious explanation at the end.

So come and hear the real story of the Midland Hotel: entertaining, enlightening and expertly researched anecdotes about Winston Churchill, John Barbirolli, the IRA’s Michael Collins, how MI5 and MI9 foiled Vladimir Putin’s crack troops, what the King of Afghanistan got up to, why George Best wasn’t at reception…

Book a private Zoom tour for your group! We catered for 60 very happy ladies from Wilmslow U3A recently.

Why the fuss about the Midland and Rolls & Royce?
Since time immemorial (well, around 1924) every tour guide, writer and journalist has told you that on 4 May 1904 Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce met at the Midland Hotel and decided to go into business together, as displayed at the entrance.

What a great event in Manchester history. Well, I have conducted some serious research into this story and come up with some startling twists. But, say, how comes the new research about Rolls and Royce not meeting at the Midland Hotel isn’t accepted by all the guides and the hotel, even as countless history societies, car groups and Rolls & Royce themselves are coming round to my way of thinking?

Well it goes like this…

Ed Glinert: I’ve just discovered, after meticulous research, that Rolls and Royce didn’t meet at the Midland Hotel! As I’ve written 10 books for Penguin and other major publishers, solved the Jack the Ripper mystery, and worked for Private Eye for more than 10 years, you should take this seriously.
Manchester Blue Badge Guides: We don’t want someone coming up from London [Glinert has been in Manchester since October 1977] telling us that what we’ve been saying for 30 years is wrong.
Jonathan Schofield: Ignore Ed and he might go away.
Midland Hotel management: Oh dear. Don’t tell anyone.
Ed Glinert to the Midland Hotel management: But it makes the story better now. You’re missing an excellent marketing opportunity. Sooner or later you’re going to have take down those plaques…

Start: 27/10/2020 11:00 am
End: 27/10/2020 12:30 pm
Venue: Your computer!
Google Map
United Kingdom
Cost: £7.50 for one, £11.50 for two.


Angel Meadow

Next tour (October): Thursday 29 October 2020, 5.30pm.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap (not the window list of battles!)
: Please press here to book with eventbrite.


Journalist Angus Bethune Reach called Angel Meadow: “the lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy, and most wicked locality in Manchester…full of cellars and inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants and tramps.”

Was this yesterday? No, thankfully. He was writing in the 19th century when Angel Meadow was one of a number of notorious Manchester slums; probably the worst.

This is more than a walk through an obscure part of central Manchester; it’s a trip to other worlds: Scotland and Gibraltar!

Believe it. The road that connects Red Bank to the bottom of the steps leading down to the Irk from Cheetham Hill Road railway bridge is called Scotland, although someone sadly has stolen the road sign.

This is what proto-communist Friedrich Engels had to say about the locale in 1844. “The landlords are not ashamed to let dwellings like the six or seven cellars on the quay directly below Scotland Bridge, the floors of which stand at least two feet below the low water level of the Irk … utterly uninhabitable, [it] stands deprived of all fittings for doors and windows, a case by no means rare in this region, when an open ground-floor is used as a privy by the whole neighbourhood for want of other facilities. . . .”

A hundred yards on, at the end of Millow Street, stood “Gibraltar”. This was once described by the social commentator James Phillips Kay as the haunt of the “lowest” of the population. “The stranger, if he dare venture to explore its intricacies and recesses is sure to be watched with suspicion, on every side is heard the sound of the axe or knife…”

Okay, both those revered social commentators were writing many years ago, but go there now and it’s pretty grim, which is why we guide you around these atmospheric areas, converting the squalor and sordidness into scintillating stories. And we’ve not even entered Angel Meadow proper yet.

Have things improved? Yes, with much thanks to the Friends of Angel Meadow. When we’ve finished with all the terrible tales we deserve an ale or two at the Marble pub with its gorgeous tiles, magnificent ales and friendly atmosphere.


Start: 29/10/2020 5:30 pm
End: 29/10/2020 7:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1PB
Cost: £10 for one. £17 for two.


The Ghosts of Wuthering Heights

Next tour: Saturday 31 October 2020, 5pm.
Meet: Haworth Steam Railway Station.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

It’s autumn, which means the time of the year is perfect for an ethereal, eldritch ghostly trail through the very heart of Wuthering Heights country.

We will saunter through hallowed Haworth on the trail of the Bronte family, stopping at the most disturbing locations to read aloud, in a chilly voice, the most disturbing extracts from Emily Bronte’s unsurpassable novel…such as this.

“…My fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in—let me in!’ ‘Who are you?’ I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. ‘Catherine Linton,’ it replied, shiveringly.

When we get to the main church we will be “beseeching the Lord to remember the patriarchs Noah and Lot, and, as in former times, spare the righteous, though he smote the ungodly”.

Eventually we will settle on the very edge of the wild and windy moors and to protect ourselves from the unholy spirits repair to the nearest hostelry.


Start: 31/10/2020 5:00 pm
End: 31/10/2020 6:40 pm
Venue: Haworth Steam Railway Station
Google Map
66 Main Street, Haworth, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, BD22 8DP
Cost: £11 for one. £16.50 for two.


Sunday Explorer: The Bridgewater Canal

Next tour: Sunday 15 November 2020.
Meet: entrance Beetham Tower, Deansgate, 12 noon.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

About the tour
Come with us to explore the waters, banks and history of the Bridgewater Canal, Britain’s first man-made waterway which saw Manchester launch the industrial revolution in the 1760s.

The tour begins in Manchester city centre, near the canal’s terminus, so that we can traverse in detail the delta-like tributaries that weave through Castlefield, such as Potato Wharf and the Staffordshire Basin. We can also visit the ingenious Giant’s Basin weir and watch how the canal links with the River Medlock it subjugated. From the remarkable crossroads of waterways at the Castlefield Canal Basin we head off to Hulme Locks, which allowed the Bridgewater Canal to link to the River Irwell. At Cornbrook there are traces of the original Corn Brook in a magnificent drain and at Pomona the modern lock that connects to the Manchester Ship Canal. We finish the tour with a visual surprise.

History of the Bridgewater Canal
The canal began life in 1761 thanks to its promoter, Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, who in looking for a way of reducing flooding in his Worsley mines turned to his engineer, James Brindley. They developed a way of channeling the water so that the coal could be taken out on boats. When the Duke realised he had enough coal to supply the needs of Manchester and Salford he decided to build a canal across the land so that his supply could reach those towns.

Work on the new canal began in 1758. There were no locks. Once the canal opened, it became much cheaper to transport coal to Manchester. The price of coal dropped and new industries using that coal began to flourish alongside the water. The original route, which officially opened on 17 July 1761, went from the Duke of Bridgewater’s Worsley coal mines to the River Irwell at Barton. There it crossed the waterway, now the Manchester Ship Canal, on an aqueduct that was one of the wonders of the age but has since been replaced with an equally ingenious structure. By the end of 1761 the canal had been extended to Cornbrook, and in 1765 it reached Castlefield where Brindley culverted the river Medlock.

Once a year in celebration we walk along the canal (not the entire route, that would take weeks!) to relate the great stories about the canal. And what stories! When Brindley first announced he intended taking the canal 38 feet over the river on an aqueduct held up by three sandstone arches he was greeted with incredulity. The Duke himself muttered: “I have often heard of castles in the air, but never before saw where any of them was to be erected”.

To prove how the aqueduct would work at the parliamentary hearing Brindley unwrapped a large cheese which he carved out till it resembled his planned design. He then explained that he would make the aqueduct watertight using clay-puddling – placing several layers of clay, sand and water on the floor of the waterway – demonstrating the idea in front of MPs with buckets of water and wet clay. Indeed so fond was Brindley of the system, his dying words were “puddle it, puddle it”.

The walk will take longer than our usual strolls around town so please bring some refreshments – Kendal Mint Cake is the usual dish of choice but Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (refrigerated) tastes a lot nicer – and wear decent footwear.

Start: 15/11/2020 12:00 pm
End: 15/11/2020 3:00 pm
Venue: Beetham Tower (entrance)
Google Map
301 Deansgate, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 4LQ
Cost: £11 single; £16,50 for two


Southern Cemetery tour

Next tour: Sunday 22 November 2020, 12 noon.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.
Meet: Cemetery Gates (opposite James Hilton Memorials), 245 Barlow Moor Road (Barlow Moor Road Metrolink stop, 8 minutes walk away).
Please don’t Go To: The Crematorium, Nell Lane…

New Manchester Walks will take you around one of Europe’s biggest cemeteries, final resting place of some of the greats of Manchester history.

The guide is Ed Glinert, author of “London’s Dead” (published by HarperCollins), who has turned his attention to the graves and memories of Matt Busby, John Rylands, Joe Sunlight, Daniel Adamson, Tony Wilson and L. S. Lowry, as we explore Britain’s biggest graveyard.

Southern Cemetery (1)Southern Cemetery - Rylands graveSouthern Cemetery - Matt Busby Grave


Start: 22/11/2020 12:00 pm
End: 22/11/2020 1:45 pm
Venue: Southern Cemetery main entrance
Google Map
Barlow Moor Road, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £11 for one. £16.50 for two


Friedrich Engels 200th birthday, Parts 1 & 2

Marx & Engels in Manchester
Next tours
!!Engels 200th Birthday Special!!
Part 1: The Frock-Coated Communists
Date: Saturday 28 November 2020.
Meet: Engels statue, HOME, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Marx & Engels in Manchester
Next tours
!!Engels 200th Birthday Special!!
Part 1: The Frock-Coated Communists
Date: Saturday 28 November 2020.
Meet: Engels statue, HOME, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Part 2: The Condition of the Working Class in Manchester
Saturday 28 November 2020, 2.30pm.
: St Ann’s Church.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Two hundred years ago on this day, 28 November 1820, Friedrich Engels was born in Barmen, Prussia. He went on to devise a new political creed – communism – which the world has been confounded with ever since. His great friend, Karl Marx, also had a part to play.

But Engels was more than a revolutionary campaigner, he was also one of the greatest writers who ever lived – no one captured and critiqued the horrors of Victorian Manchester more vividly, as related in his ground-breaking work, Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England (1845).

We will visit his haunts and match the quotes to the location, probably from the English version, The Condition of the Working Class in England, rather than German, unless you insist.

These two different tours will be led by Penguin author and expert Manchester historian, Ed Glinert, a bit of a revolutionary himself.






What do we hear about? If you want to blame any one place for the creation of communism, blame Manchester. It was here, in the middle years of the 19th century, that the movement’s two founding figures, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, arrived from Germany to conduct much of their research into poverty and social conditions, fuelling their original take on how society could be reorganised along class lines. Their work resulted in some of the most influential political books ever written, including The Condition of the Working Class in England. 

Then there was the later and better-known Manifesto of the Communist Party. How strange that must have seemed when published in 1848. No such body as the Communist Party then existed, nor, as Francis Wheen explained in his 1999 biography of Marx, was the work really a manifesto. As a piece of literature the Manifesto is clumsy and pedestrian. Its famous early line – “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” – pales alongside its precursor, Rousseau’s great epithet from the Social Contract: “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains”.

But as a piece of political propaganda its resonance has been phenomenal. Only one other book – the Bible – and that is of unsure translation – has had such an impact on humanity. The Manifesto of the Communist Partyis the most influential book that ever arose from debates held by heavily-bearded German visitors in sawdusty pubs, the cornerstone of a philosophy that powered the Soviet Union, China, Mongolia, North Korea and a much of east Europe for the latter half of the 20th century, and still propels much political thought worldwide.

Friedrich Engels came to Manchester in December 1842 to work at the headquarters of the family firm of Ermen & Engels in Weaste. His father sent the young firebrand to Manchester to rid him of his radical views; so he hoped. It didn’t work. If anything, Friedrich became even more devout. By day he worked as a cotton merchant. By night he scoured the slum streets of Irish Town (now Angel Meadow) rooting out instances of injury, injustice and inequality.

These were brilliantly outlined in The Condition of the Working Class in England, published in 1844 (which no one could have read in English until the end of the century as it was available only in German). Now it’s our most potent set of descriptions of down and out Manchester at the height of the industrial revolution.

Here’s an example of Engels on the slums off Oxford Street: “In a rather deep hole, in a curve of the Medlock and surrounded on all four sides by tall factories and high embankments, covered with buildings, stand two groups of about 200 cottages, built chiefly back to back, in which live about 4,000 human beings, most of them Irish. The cottages are old, dirty, and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts and in part without drains or pavement; masses of refuse, offal, and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions…The race that lives in these ruinous cottages, behind broken windows, mended with oilskin, sprung doors, and rotten door-posts, or in dark, wet cellars, in measureless filth and stench must surely have reached the lowest stage of humanity.”

Engels stayed in Manchester on and off for almost 30 years. Marx came to visit him a number of times, lodging at 70 Great Ducie Street near Strangeways prison, a house since demolished. Engels had various Manchester addresses over the years. In the 1860s he lived at 6 Thorncliffe Grove, 25 Dover St, and 58 Dover Street – all in Chorlton-on-Medlock, all long demolished. He left no easily retraceable trail as he was wary of the German authorities, through the British secret service, catching up with him. Indeed on 11 March 1933, the 50th anniversary of Karl Marx’s death, the Manchester Guardian sought help in tracking down Engels’s Manchester movements. “The 50th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx is a reminder that through his great friend, collaborator and benefactor, Friedrich Engels, Marx had the closest of links with Manchester. Oddly enough neither the directories of the time nor the accessible biographies tell us where Engels lived…here is a problem for some local historian.”

Letters from helpful local historians soon flooded in, but the best research was conducted by Ruth and Eddie Frow, founders of the Working Class Movement Library that can now be found on Salford Crescent, in the 1960s. The Frows pieced together almost every aspect of Engels (and Marx’s) life in Manchester. It’s thanks to them that modern-day scholars and guides know so much, as you can find out on our walks.

Start: 28/11/2020
End: 28/11/2020
Venue: Engels Statue
Google Map
HOME arts centre, Manchester, United Kingdom, M15 4FN
Cost: £11 for one. £16.50 for two.


Classic Corrie Locations Coach Tour on ZOOM (60th Anniversary Special)

Next tour: Wednesday 9 December 2020, Classic Corrie Zoom coach tour to mark 60 years of Coronation Street.
Meet: On your computer!
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.
Private tours: By arrangement.


Coronation Street celebrates 60 glorious years on the 9th of December and we are marking the occasion with a remarkable new tour: “Classic Corrie Coach Tour on Zoom”!

So whether you live in Windsor, Winnipeg, Wooka Wooka or Weatherfield you can join legendary tour guide Ed Glinert, one of the very few official Manchester tour guides who has taken groups down the cobbles, on a rip-roaring, mind-blowing, eye-opening trail through the great stories from Coronation Street’s golden days at the places where they were filmed:

  • Richard Hillman driving the Platt family into the drink.
  • Alan Bradley run over by a Blackpool tram.
  • The original prototype for Coronation Street – Ordsall’s Archie Street.
  • St Christopher’s, Weatherfield, where so many happy marriages began.
  • Weatherfield Register office, where so many happy marriages began…you get the drift.
  • Weathefield Quays where Don Brennan in his taxi drove him and Alma into the watery depths.
  • The now-demolished studios in Granadaland.
  • The Manchester pub where the name “Coronation Street” was devised.


and more…until Jack and Vera call “last orders”

The anniversary
On Wednesday the 9th of December 2020 it will be exactly 60 years since Elsie Lappin (no, not Elsie Tanner) told Florrie Lindley “Now the next thing you want to do is get in a signwriter in. That sign above the door will have to be changed.”

The format

  • You, the Corrie lover pay official Manchester tour guide Ed Glinert the grand sum of £11 English pounds.
  • Before the tour you receive your Zoom, invite.
  • Just before 4pm on Wednesday the 9th of December 2020 you log in and then for the next hour-plus you are transported to the streets of Weatherfield disguised as Manchester and Salford as if you were on a coach.
  • The good news is, you don’t have to leave your house to get a plane to Manchester Airport or a tram (that might crash into the Bistro) to Weatherfield North to come on the tour.
  • It’s less than half the price and twice as much fun.
  • We’ll have two breaks en route so that you can go to the fridge and open a can of Newton & Ridley’s finest.
Start: 09/12/2020 4:00 pm
End: 09/12/2020 6:00 pm
Venue: Your computer
Google Map
-, -, United Kingdom
Cost: £11 for one. £16.50 for two.
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