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Chetham’s & Manchester Cathedral

Next tour: Thursday 16 April 2020.
Meet: Shudehill Metrolink stop, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Hello to everyone who comes on our tours.

We have a new system in place for tours of Chetham’s, Europe’s oldest library, the oldest library in the English-speaking world, founded 1653, and the most ancient and awe-inspiring building in Manchester.

One reason why we have not been able to do tours recently is because the long-standing librarian, Michael Powell, sadly passed away last year. We are all still in a state of shock. Michael was much loved and admired.

The Library is now ready to welcome our expert tours again, but because it needs much funding to maintain its status and 15th century foundations, it has put a price on each visitor of £6.50 a head. All visitors on tours now have to pay this very reasonable charge, but on our tour you get Ed Glinert’s unrivalled knowledge of the building, its history, its religious story as a college of priests for nearly two hundred years, its transformation in to a school for poor boys and its development recently as a prestigious music school, and most of all the story of the library with its associations with the eponymous property developer and tax collector, and its welcoming of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels whose connections to some of the most controversial and absurd political machinations of the mid-19th century will astound you when told with Ed Glinert’s infamous wit and panache.

But the tour is not just of Chetham’s; it is a trip through mediaeval Manchester. This is the schedule.

  • 1.00. Meet Shudehill Metrolink stop.
  • 1.00-1.30. Introduction to Mediaeval Manchester, looking for the Seven Stars and the Rovers Return, some of England’s oldest pubs.
  • 1.30. Enter the hallowed portals of Chetham’s. Expert tour.
  • 2.20. Leave for the Cathedral and more mediaeval haunts.
  • 2.30-3.15. Tour of Manchester Cathedral.

Because this is the tour of tours we’re charging £13, but what a bargain! £6.50 goes to Chetham’s, a slightly smaller amount goes to the guide and out of that he will probably have to pay the Cathedral.

We’re doing this tour not to make money (most tours are £11) but because we love these places and want to unveil its history to as many people as possible.


Start: 16/04/2020 1:00 pm
End: 16/04/2020 3:15 pm
Venue: Shudehill Metrolink stop
Google Map
Shudehill, Manchester, United Kingdom, M4 4AN
Cost: £13


Ancoats at Night

Ancoats at Night
This tour: Friday 17 April 2020.
Band on the Wall, Swan Street, 6pm.
: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Post-Christmas blues? Unimpressed with “Dry January”? Come with us around a ’burb so achingly hip journalists from San Francisco to Sao Paulo, from St Etienne to St Helens have been beating a path to soak up the boho, NoHo, Soho, mojo atmosphere.

And how dynamic it looks at night, with the shadows phasing around the water and the lights twinkling from the old mills. Which is why we have collected a phantasmagoria of stories for you from the world’s first industrial suburb starring…

* Some of the oldest mills in the country, breathtaking monuments to Mammon and cotton from the late 18th century.
* The newspaper office where the Yorkshire Ripper story was broken.
* The world’s first aircraft manufactory.
* The picturesque marina created out of industrial spoil.
* The saved Ancoats hospital.
* The so-called Chips building.
* And the site of the motorcycle factory which went bust after the Russian Revolution.

Start: 17/04/2020 6:00 pm
End: 17/04/2020 8:30 pm
Venue: Band on the Wall
Google Map
Swan Street, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £11


The Grand Canals of Manchester

Next tour: Saturday 18 April 2020.
Malmaison Hotel, No. 3 Piccadilly, 2pm.
Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Heading west from Piccadilly, the canals under the city streets flow towards Britain’s grand canal junction at Castlefield where four waterways cross. This is a spectacular stroll along the waterways of Manchester invoking a host of stories industrial and architectural, anecdotal and incidental.

Probable Route: Malmaison – Paradise Wharf – under Piccadilly – the Venetian-styled Crown Court – Canal Street – Gay Village – Bloom Street power station – under Oxford Street – Lee House – the Ritz – Manchester & Salford Junction Canal detour – the Hacienda – Roman fort – Duke’s 92 – Castlefield Canal Basin – Bridgewater Canal detour – collapse into Knott Bar.

Start: 18/04/2020 2:00 pm
End: 18/04/2020 4:15 pm
Venue: Malmaison Hotel
Google Map
3 Piccadilly, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £11


Alan Turing’s Manchester

This tour, April 2020. Sun 19 April, 11.30am.
Meet: Manchester Museum, off Oxford Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

He broke the Nazis’ Enigma code, almost invented the computer, and was persecuted to a painful suicide by the ungrateful authorities.

Alan Turing was a tortured genius and modern martyr who posthumously received an official government apology from prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009.

Back in 1948 Alan Turing discovered to his chagrin that mathematicians at Manchester University had beaten him into building the world’s first programmable computer. He contacted the department and had little difficulty convincing them he should be hired for he had enjoyed an excellent war, heavily involved in cracking the supposedly uncrackable codes that the Nazis had encrypted into their Enigma machine.

Turing had been a maths prodigy as a boy. At the age of 14 his first day at Sherborne school coincided with the 1926 General Strike. So determined was he to attend school, he biked it 60 miles to the school, stopping overnight at an inn. At Sherborne he developed an interest in the latest mathematical philosophies, in particular Bertrand Russell’s paradox: “the set of all tea cups is not a member of itself, but the set of all non-tea cups is”, its beautiful and simple resonance so influential in the development of logic as a science.

Alan Turing - Enigma (Paolozzi)At Cambridge University Turing developed the idea of a thinking electronic machine but lacked the parts to build one. Manchester had succeeded (find out more on our Oxford Road/University/Science walks) and Turing helped extend the department’s knowledge of primitive computer technology, working in a small brick office on Coupland Street.

It all went wrong for Turing in the 1950s after he picked up a boy at the Regal Cinema on Oxford Street (now the Dancehouse Theatre) and took him home. The boy allegedly tried to blackmail Turing, and the mathematician went to the police. When they discovered that there had been a (then illegal) homosexual relationship between the two men they turned the tables on Turing and prosecuted him for gross indecency. His conviction led to the removal of his security clearance at a time of public anxiety about spies and homosexual entrapment by Soviet agents. He was forced to take hormones to “cure” him of his sexual leanings which made him grow breasts, and on 8 June 1954 Turing’s cleaner found him dead. The cause was established as cyanide poisoning.

Did Alan Turing commit suicide, depressed about his career and life being in ruins, or was his death an accident brought on by failing to take care following one of his numerous chemical experiments? A further complication to the drama suggests that Turing was re-creating a scene from his favourite film, Snow White, and that he deliberately executed an ambiguous death to save his mother from too much embarrassment.

Alan Turing was cremated at Woking; his life-size statue occupies pride of place in Sackville Park, where we end the tour.

Alan Turing at 101


• Many thanks to Jury’s Inn, Manchester, for supporting our tour. Here is their excellent tribute.

Alan Turing of Manchester, by Jurys Inn Manchester Hotel

Alan Turing Infographic by Jurys Inn Hotels

Start: 19/04/2020 11:30 am
End: 19/04/2020 1:00 pm
Venue: Manchester Museum foyer
Google Map
Oxford Road at Bridgeford St, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, United Kingdom, M13 9PL
Cost: £11


Strangeways: No Escape!

Next tour: Sunday 19 April 2020.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap, 3pm.
Booking: If you’d like to go to Strangeways, the law will help you get there. Alternatively, just turn up at the above place and on the right date and we’ll take you.
Oh, alright: Please press here to book with eventbrite.
: Bucket for slopping out.
End: Somewhere near the governor’s office.

Strangeways. The very name is enough to send a frisson of fear down the spine of the most hardened felons.

It was here (in the area, not the prison, you klutz) that thousands of Jewish immigrants made their home in pre-Brexit Victorian Manchester, and if you look hard enough you can still the diminishing signs of their sojourn.

The prison is the nastier story, for Strangeways has been home to the most evil elements in existence – Ian Brady and Harold Shipman – and temporary refuge of political prisoners such as Christabel Pankhurst and Austin Stack, the Irish Republican who was one of the few to escape from its clutches.

Even Ian Brown, ex-Stone Roses, was briefly incarcerated within in 1998. No, not for inflicting his tuneless drone and inane lyrics on humanity but for getting into a strop on an aeroplane. 60 days. So what was it like in Strangeways, Ian? “Dirty. The food was like dog food.” He’s out now.

Ian Brady was sent here for stealing from Smithfield Market, where he worked in the late 1950s. John Robson Walby (alias Gwynne Owen Evans), was hanged at Strangeways on August 13, 1964 – the last person in England to suffer this punishment. (No, it wasn’t Ruth Ellis).

In April 1990 three hundred prisoners filed into the chapel to attend the church service. During the sermon a prisoner, later identified as Paul Taylor, stood up and shouted: “I would just like to say, right, that this man has just talked about the blessing of the heart and how a hardened heart can be delivered. No it cannot, not with resentment, anger and bitterness and hatred being instilled in people.”

It all kicked off. Riot!

Prisoners took to the roof and began to dismantle the prison for 25 days. 147 staff and 47 prisoners were injured. One prisoner and one prison officer died. Your NMW guide, Ed Glinert, was ordered by his editor at the Sun to doorstep home secretary David Waddington. He never made it.

Later, Paul Taylor and Alan Lord faced a five-month trial as its ringleaders. Both were acquitted of murder. The riot resulted in the Woolfe Inquiry which ended the practice of slopping out and saw the jail rebuilt and euphemistically renamed as Her Majesty’s Prison, Manchester. But we know it as Strangeways: embodiment of evil; Psychopath Central.

Start: 19/04/2020 3:00 pm
End: 19/04/2020 4:45 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1NY
Cost: £11


Hidden Gems of Manchester

April 2020 tour: Monday 20 April.
Meet: Art Gallery, Mosley Street, 11am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

This is a remarkable tour of city sights and sites you always wanted to see but maybe never managed to.

We go to as many of the following that we can manage: the interior of the Freemasons Hall, designed like the Baths of Caracalla in Rome), the Portico Library, the Lesser Free Trade Hall (where the Manchester music scene was invented), the most beautiful part of the Midland Hotel that led to the German Restaurant, the Hidden Gem church (of course), the awe-inspiring reading room designed like a mediaeval nave.

It’s the Manchester you never thought you’d see!

Masonic Hall



Start: 20/04/2020 11:00 am
End: 20/04/2020 1:00 pm
Venue: Art Gallery
Google Map
Mosley Street, Manchester, Select a State:, United Kingdom, M1
Cost: £11


Angel Meadow

All walks meet at: Victoria Station wallmap (not the window list of battles!) and end at the Marble Arch pub.

April tour: Wednesday 22 April 2020, 6pm.
Booking: 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: 22/04/2020 6:00 pm
End: 22/04/2020 8:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1PB
Cost: £11


Manchester’s Formidable Women

ToursMeet Midland Hotel, Peter Street.

April 2020: Thursday 30 April, 5pm.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

These formidable women…
* Elizabeth Gaskell, who wrote Mary Barton, one of the classic “condition of England” novels in 1848.
* Hannah Mitchell, who challenged Churchill at St John’s School during the Suffragette era.
* Annie Horniman, who established Britain’s first repertory theatre company.
* Shelagh Delaney who pioneered modernist theatre with her groundbreaking A Taste of Honey.
* Ellen Wilkinson – “Red Ellen” who accompanied the Jarrow miners to London.
* Kathleen Ollerenshaw, who overcame deafness to become Lord Mayor, a leading educationalist, mathematician and advisor to Margaret Thatcher (now what sort of job is that for a Mancunian?!).
* Sylvia Pankhurst, Britain’s greatest political campaigner.

These are just some of the heroic Manchester women we will be celebrating.

PankhurstsElizabeth Gaskell


Kathleen Ollerenshaw
Kathleen Ollerenshaw



Start: 30/04/2020 5:00 pm
End: 30/04/2020 6:45 pm
Venue: Midland Hotel steps
Google Map
Peter Street, Manchester, United Kingdom, M60 2DS
Cost: £11


Marx & Engels Pub Walk: Drinkers of the World Unite!

Marx & Engels in Manchester.
Next tour: Marx & Engels May Day pub walk:
Fri 1 May 2020.
Meet: St Ann’s Church, 6pm.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Engels & Marx 1

Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky, as the old song asked? Well, he never came to Manchester, but Marx and Engels were here and did they like a drop! After all it was thirsty work for Engels, a successful cotton merchant by day and a fiery, rabid revolutionary at night, traipsing the slum areas of Manchester gathering ideas for how to change the world.

When Marx came up to Manchester, fresh from the drinking holes of London’s Tottenham Court Road, these two frock-coated communists would head off for a pint of red roasted ale in the back streets of Manchester. We will do the same and raise a glass in their honour.

Start: 01/05/2020 6:00 pm
End: 01/05/2020 8:30 pm
Venue: St Ann's Church
Google Map
St Ann Street, Manchester, United Kingdom, M2 7LF
Cost: £11


Peterloo: The Story continues

Peterloo is for life, not just 16 August.
Tours all year round.
Please book below with eventbrite.

For tours, please meet Central Library, St Peter’s Square.

Next tour: Saturday 2 May 2020, 11am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

These unique Peterloo tours have been devised by Ed Glinert, Penguin author and compiler of the forthcoming Manchester Encyclopaedia, who has conducted enormous amounts of recent research into the entire Peterloo story. (And many thanks to Mike Herbert’s invaluable research).

Manchester tour guide Ed Glinert has worked with both the campaigning journalist extraordinaire Paul Foot (author of Red Shelley) and Mike Leigh, director of the Peterloo film.

* Further descriptions below.


Peterloo 5

The Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819 is the most dramatic incident in English political history. Sabre-wielding troops charged 60,000 Mancunians at a rally called to lower the price of bread and demand the vote. More than a dozen people died and some 650 were injured.

The first few decades of the 19th century, enshrined in public imagination as the elegant age of the Regency, were a time of severe political repression in England. The Tory government, led by Lord Liverpool, feared that the kind of revolutionary activity recently witnessed in France would break out in England – probably in Manchester, where social conditions were so desperate – and chose decided to stamp out all dissent and free speech.

The government was at war with France, which saw Wellington triumph over Napoleon’s forces at Waterloo in 1815.

But as Paul Foot once wrote, the British government was also waging war against its own people.

This guided tour, visiting the site of St Peter’s Field in Manchester city centre where the Peterloo Massacre took place, has been devised by Ed Glinert, political commentator with 30 years’ experience for various leading newspapers, magazines and publishers, who worked with legendary left-wing political journalist Paul Foot at Private Eye combating injustice.

Glinert, who has researched the story for decades, brings his unique touch to this chilling story, going into extraordinary detail, explaining the build-up to the events, the violence of the day, 16 August 1819, and the dreadful aftermath, introducing related events, themes and people: Shelley’s powerful poem, The Masque of Anarchy; the birth of the Manchester Guardian; the Cato Street Conspiracy; the Six Acts; Tom Paine and his bones – even Anthony Burgess.

Start: 02/05/2020 11:00 am
End: 02/05/2020 12:40 pm
Venue: Central Library
Google Map
St Peter's Square, Manchester, United Kingdom, M2 5PD
Cost: £11
iCal Import