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Manchester Music: The Hacienda Years

Official Manchester Music Tours

Meet: HOME Arts Centre, 2 Tony Wilson Place.
Tour Guide?: As Ian Curtis sang: “I’ve been waiting for a guide…”
This tour: Saturday 11 July 2020, 2.30pm.
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: 11/07/2020 2:30 pm
End: 11/07/2020 4:15 pm
Venue: HOME
Google Map
Whitworth Street West, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £11


Engels & Marx in Manchester, Part 1

Marx & Engels in Manchester.

Part 1
: The Frock-Coated Communists.
Date: Sunday 12 July 2020, 11.30am.
Meet: Engels statue, HOME.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Part 2: The Condition of the Working Class in Manchester
Sunday 12 July 2020.
: St Ann’s Church, 2.30pm.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

By day they were Victorian gentlemen with sedentary lifestyles and smart boots. By night they were rabid radicals, roaming the streets with revolutionary fervour.

They were Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, two bourgeois Germans who came to Manchester, created communism and changed the world.

This enthralling and exhilarating walk is led by Ed Glinert who once joined a Trotskyite group so secret its members were obliged to communicate using only pseudonyms. He now votes capitalist.






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: 12/07/2020 11:30 am
End: 12/07/2020 1:15 pm
Venue: Engels Statue
Google Map
HOME arts centre, Manchester, United Kingdom, M15 4FN
Cost: £11


Engels & Marx, Part 2: The Condition of the Working Class

Marx & Engels, Part 2: The Condition of the Working Class in Manchester
Sunday 12 July 2020.
: St Ann’s Church, 2.30pm.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

By day they were Victorian gentlemen with sedentary lifestyles and smart boots. By night they were rabid radicals, roaming the streets with revolutionary fervour.

They were Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels and they changed the world’s politics!

Part 2 of the tour – you don’t need to go on both to get the story – heads off to the Royal Exchange where young Friedrich posed as a capitalist; Chetham’s where the two researched politics and economics; the slums around the Irk; and “Irish Town”.

(For more info, see Walks & Tours. Political Manchester, Engels & Marx).

Start: 12/07/2020 2:30 pm
End: 12/07/2020 4:00 pm
Venue: Outside St Ann's Church
Google Map
St Ann's Street, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £11


Southern Cemetery tour

Next tour: Wednesday 15 July 2020, 11am.
Meet: At the Cemetery Gates (opposite James Hilton Memorials), 245 Barlow Moor Road (Barlow Moor Road Metrolink stop, 8 minutes walk away).
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.
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: 15/07/2020 11:00 am
End: 15/07/2020 12:45 pm
Venue: Southern Cemetery main entrance
Google Map
Barlow Moor Road, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £11 for one. £16.50 for two


Secret History of the Northern Quarter

Next tour: Wednesday 15 July 2020, 2.30pm.
Meet: TfGM Travelshop, Piccadilly Gardens.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Boho Manchester, cool Manchester, modish Manchester, funky but chic Manchester.

It’s the Northern Quarter. A land of crumbling cotton factories, sky-scraping fire-escapes, Bohemian bars, downhome hidden spaces, cult markets, chic galleries and cardamom-scented, sizzingly-cheap curry cafes; a style haven shaped in marble, steel and beechwood, with streets named in Mediterranean tiles and pavements slabbed in mosaic.

There’s even a great history of political turmoil, a stretch of the last remaining back-to-back houses in the area, a number of Life on Mars locations and Mick Hucknall’s favourite curry cafe.

* It’s old Manchester renewed and new Manchester refreshed. It’s good. It’s modern.

Northern Quarter - Bowie

Start: 15/07/2020 2:30 pm
End: 15/07/2020 4:15 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: £11 for one; £16 for two


Along the Bridgewater Canal

Next tour: Friday 17 July 2020.
Meet: entrance Beetham Tower, Deansgate.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.


The Bridgewater Canal opened in July 1761 as the first man-made waterway in Britain with a route independent of existing rivers.

Its promoter was Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, who was looking for a way of reducing flooding in his Worsley mines.

The Duke turned to his engineer, James Brindley, and 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 transporting to 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: 17/07/2020 2:00 pm
End: 17/07/2020 4:30 pm
Venue: Beetham Tower (entrance)
Google Map
301 Deansgate, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 4LQ
Cost: £11 single; £16 two4one


Jewish Manchester (City Centre Trail)

Jewish Manchester (City Centre Trail):
Next tour: Saturday 18 July 2020.
Meet: TfGM Travelshop, Piccadilly Gardens, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Here are two kosher stories. On the south-east side of Piccadilly Gardens is the site of the Queen’s Hotel where Chaim Weizmann, a Manchester University research chemist, met the outgoing Tory prime minister, Arthur Balfour, in 1906. Weizmann was the leader of a new nationalist movement, Zionism, that sought a Jewish homeland in the Holy Land. Balfour was pushing the British establishment view of the time that Jews could have a homeland – in Uganda. Weizmann that particular battler and became the first president of Israel in 1948.


On the north-west side, now taken up by Toni and Guy, is the site where the most powerful non-military figure in Europe two hundred years ago had his textile business, a “true Lord of Europe” as Lord Byron described him in Don Juan (1819). Who could this possibly be? Aha!


Now, like in every good Jewish story we end with a joke.

Goldstein had been going to the same restaurant for ten years. Every day he starts with the same thing, barley soup. One day, as soon as he comes in, the waiter brings the soup over to his table.

“I want you to taste the soup,” Goldstein says as the waiter starts to walk away.

“What’s the matter?” the waiter asks, “Every day you take the same barley soup.”

“I want you to taste the soup,” Goldstein repeats.

“You don’t want the barley soup?” the waiter says, “I’ll bring you something else.”

“I want you to taste the soup,” Goldstein says once more.

“Is it too cold? Too salty? God forbid is there a fly in it? What’s wrong with it?” said the waiter.

“Just taste the soup,” insists Goldstein.

“Okay, okay, I’ll taste the soup,” says the waiter, wearily. “Where’s the spoon?”



And as for him below: NOT the first ever Jewish prime minister.


Start: 18/07/2020 11:30 am
End: 18/07/2020 1:00 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Google Map
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: £11 for one, £16.50 for two.


Jewish Manchester (Cheetham Hill trail)

The Old Jewish Ghetto (Cheetham Hill Trail):
Next tour: Sat 18 July 2020, 2.30pm.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Manchester’s Jewish community first appeared in numbers in the late 18th century around the parish church (!).

Well, that was the old town, where people lived.

Gradually Manchester Jews began to move north, first to Strangeways (the area, not the prison, you schmerel), then Cheetham Hill, Hightown, Prestwich and eventually Whitefield.

Only London has a bigger Jewish population in Britain than Manchester. But only Manchester has a Torah Street (with its own bacon-curing factory; really!) and a prison built like a mosque in the heart of the ghetto. And that’s apart from a history embracing that rogue Robert Maxwell, the rich-beyond-rich Nathan Meyer Rothschild, and the rabidly irreligious Karl Marx – all Yiddisher fellers.


Start: 18/07/2020 2:30 pm
End: 18/07/2020 4:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1PB
Cost: £11 for one, £16.50 for two (or the equivalent in shekels)


Strangeways: No Escape!

Next tour: Sunday 19 July 2020.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap, 2.30pm.
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 evenbrite.
: 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: 19/07/2020 2:30 pm
End: 19/07/2020 4:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1NY
Cost: £11


Discovering Manchester

Next tours: Mon 20 July 2020.
Meet: Central Library, St Peter’s Square, 10.45 am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

This is the official expert entertaining introduction to the city, an in-depth, original and eye-opening tour devised by Manchester’s most prolific tour guide and energetic historian, Ed Glinert, author of Penguin’s Manchester Compendium and compiler of the Manchester Encyclopaedia.

£11 – one person
£16.50 – two-person ticket

Here’s what’s going to happen. We will start at Central Library, built to look like not only the Pantheon of Rome but the long-lost Pantheon of London. We will then take you to:

  • Meet one of the most formidable women in British history.
  • The hotel where Rolls didn’t meet Royce.
  • The site of Britain’s most dramatic political protest.
  • The building where modern Manchester music began.
  • The greatest Gothic revival library in the country.
  • The most spectacular new religious paintings of the 20th century.
  • The parliament of the cotton lords, now one of Britain’s most celebrated theatres.

…and more

Manchester: discovered and undiscovered.

Start: 20/07/2020 10:45 am
End: 20/07/2020 12:30 pm
Venue: Central Library
Google Map
St Peter's Square, Manchester, United Kingdom, M2 5PD
Cost: £10 for one; £16.50 for two.
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