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The Secret History of Manchester

• This tour: Fri 13 December, 5.30pm
• Meet: TfGM office, Piccadilly Gardens
• Booking:
Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Here’s something you didn’t know (we hope). During the Second World War the Government requisitioned a well-known building in Manchester city centre to be a secret regional HQ, to take over the running of not just Manchester but the entire North-West should Nazi invasion look imminent.

It was kitted out with the most sophisticated communications equipment, food and beds. Winston Churchill, prime minister, even kipped there one night to show how safe it was. But of course it was never needed. Where is it? Ah…

This is a trip into the deepest historical secrets of Manchester. Sites, streets, spaces that you’ve walked past a thousand times will never look the same again. The tour is conducted by Ed Glinert who knows Manchester better than anyone and knows the things that nobody else (apart from the people who told him) knows.

You think you know Manchester? Well, no one knows it like Ed Glinert, who has spent 40 years unturning every last (Gothic) stone in the city, uncovering layer upon layer of other histories, lesser-known stories, the secret side of the city to create the ultimate “believe it or not”.

On this we hear about:
* The atomic bunker under Piccadilly Gardens.
* Racist GIs during the Second World War and the drama they caused.
* The planned demolition of the Town Hall.
* L. S. Lowry, the secret sadist.
* The attack on the paintings at the Art Gallery.
* The pillar box that didn’t survive the 1996 IRA bomb…

It’s the Manchester that nobody knows.


Girl with Bow c1973

IRA Bomb 1

Start: 13/12/2019 5:30 pm
End: 13/12/2019 7:15 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Google Map
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: around £10


Secrets of the Northern Quarter

Next tour: Sunday 15 December 2019, 12 noon.
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.

Start: 15/12/2019 12:00 pm
End: 15/12/2019 1:45 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Google Map
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: around £10


Underground Manchester: Don’t Mention the War!

Day of Call-Up: Monday 16 December 2019, 5.30pm.
St Ann’s Church, St Ann’s Square, Manchester.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.


People of Manchester!
People of Britain!
People of the World!

It’s the long-awaited (after six years) return of Underground Manchester in …

“Underground Manchester – Don’t Mention the War!”


This is an exciting and entertaining brand new tour devised by Manchester’s hardest-working tour guides, New Manchester Walks.

We will descend beneath the city streets on a scintillating subterranean sensationalist and serious new tour.

* First, a warning. Manchester could be under attack from an awful airborne enemy. Various city centre buildings have been targeted. We will reveal the hit list.

* A well-known building in the city centre has been chosen as the secret government emergency HQ, should the enemy invade Manchester. Only we know its identity.

* We will take refuge from the Blitz in the subterranean shelters. Secure? We hope so.

* And then some good news! A different invading army is arriving in Manchester. They are friendly. They will bring with them luxuries we haven’t seen here for years: oranges, chocolate, tipped cigarettes, silk stockings…yes, where would we be without silk stockings?

* If we win the war we can all dance for joy in Albert Square.

* With that war over, there will now be a new, bigger threat. Don’t want to alarm anybody but can we take refuge from imminent nuclear annihilation?

* Phew! After all that you can go home into the safety of 21st century Manchester.

Our earlier Underground Manchester tour, remember, was England’s second most popular a few years ago. Only the London Jack the Ripper tour brought in more customers.

Booking: Strictly booking only for this one on eventbrite please, as numbers are limited.

Start: 16/12/2019 5:30 pm
End: 16/12/2019 7:00 pm
Venue: St Ann's Church
Google Map
St Ann Street, Manchester, United Kingdom, M2 7LF
Cost: £12.50


Bronte Country: “Wuthering Heights” in the dark on the shortest day

This tour: Sat 21 December 2019.
Meet: Haworth Steam Railway Station.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

What could be more suitable on the shortest day of the year than 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.

“…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

At the 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: 21/12/2019 3:00 pm
End: 21/12/2019 4:30 pm
Venue: Haworth Steam Railway Station
Google Map
66 Main Street, Haworth, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, BD22 8DP
Cost: £10.50



Next tour: Sunday 22 December, 12 noon.
Meet: Beetham Tower Entrance on Deansgate.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Unravel the mysteries of the western side of the city centre on this eye-opener of a tour through the Roman birthplace of Manchester which also doubles as the industrial birthplace of the city in the 18th century.

Castlefield is packed with history around every corner: the country’s first canal, a weigh house from where people could emigrate to America,  stupendous railway viaducts, secluded waterways, quaint cobbles, the most sprawling of museums and a graveyard full of surprises.

Castlefield 1castlefield Bridges

Start: 22/12/2019 12:00 pm
End: 22/12/2019 2:00 pm
Venue: Beetham Tower (entrance)
Google Map
301 Deansgate, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 4LQ
Cost: around £10


London: Christmas Day Walk

Please see New London Walks website

Start: 25/12/2019
End: 25/12/2019
Google Map
United Kingdom


London: Charles Dickens at Christmas

This is a London tour. We get around!
Charles Dickens’s London
Boxing Day, Thursday 26 December.
outside Holborn tube station, Kingsway, 11am.

Ed Glinert, author of Penguin’s Literary Guide to London, leads this festive tour around Charles Dickens’s central London haunts.

Dickens IS Christmas.

Without London’s greatest author we would have no ghosts of Christmas past, no Christmas presents, no Christmas cards, no Christmas tree. Oh, all right, we might have had some of those, but we definitely wouldn’t have had this tasty Turkey-time morsel from A Christmas Carol.

“No fog, no mist; clear, bright jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!”

Ed Glinert, author of Penguin’s Literary Guide to London, leaves Scrooge to freeze with his humbug to lead this festive tour around Charles Dickens’s central London haunts, from Lincoln’s Inn (where at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor) to Covent Garden.

Start: 26/12/2019 11:00 am
End: 26/12/2019 1:00 pm
Venue: Holborn Tube station
Google Map
Kingsway, London, United Kingdom, WC2B 6AA
Cost: £10


Manchester Cathedral & the Mediaeval City

Next tour: Sat 28 December 2019.
Meet: Shudehill Metrolink stop, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with ye eventbrite.

Chetham's  Cathedral (Mcr) 1

This is a tour into the heart of mediaeval Manchester, replete with extraordinary stories, such as that of the Catholic priest dragged by heels from the prison to what is now the Cathedral, and close-up views of Tudor stones and holy relics.

Here is a potted biography of Humphrey Chetham, adapted from the forthcoming Encyclopaedia of Manchester by Ed Glinert.


Humphrey Chetham (never Sir Humphrey Chetham, despite the long-gone pub in Clayton, the Wikipedia website and pages published by the BBC, who should know better) gave his name to Chetham’s School and Chetham’s Library, the latter the oldest library in continuous use in the English-speaking world.

Humphrey ChethamChetham’s name is pronounced with the long, double “ee”, despite the spelling. He was born in Crumpsall in 1580, baptised at the Collegiate Church (now Manchester Cathedral) on 10 July that year, educated at Manchester Grammar School, which then stood on an adjacent site, and was apprenticed in 1597 to Samuel Tipping, a Manchester linen draper. Chetham made his money from cloth and became the richest man in Manchester in the early 17th century.

Initially he invested in property (Clayton Hall, which survives, for instance) and later by supporting poor boys through schooling. In 1631 Charles I bestowed a knighthood on Chetham but he turned it down, and consequently never became Sir Humphrey Chetham. In some ways this was a wise move, as support from such a King would not have impressed many a decade later in Parliamentarian Manchester. But in the short term it meant that Chetham had to pay a hefty fine. Charles I later punished Chetham further by putting him in charge of collecting the local Ship Money, a tax levied on all households to protect communities from invasion by men in ships, a predictably unpopular tax in inland Manchester.

Wanting to establish a permanent school, Humphrey Chetham approached the parliamentary sequestrators in 1648 to buy the College of Manchester, built from 1421 as a college of priests and now one of the oldest buildings in Manchester. By then the old college was in ruins, with swine roaming freely. Chetham’s death died at Clayton Hall on 20 September 1653 (he was buried at midnight in what is now the Cathedral) didn’t prevent the project going ahead. His executors carried out his intentions from the £7,000 he left. Chetham’s Hospital, a school for the “maintenance and education” of 44 poor boys, a place where one received hospitality, never a medical institution, despite the philanthropic name, opened in 1653. It is now a music school. The library was established in the same year.

There has been considerable renovation and rebuilding on the site over the centuries but many 15th century features remain. These include the Library, Baronial Hall, the cloisters, the fellows’ dormitories, the Fox Court, and the Audit Room, where the feoffes who run Chetham’s meet, with its original moulded beams and bosses.


Start: 28/12/2019 11:30 am
End: 28/12/2019 1:15 pm
Venue: Shudehill Metrolink stop
Google Map
Shudehill, Manchester, United Kingdom, M4 4AN
Cost: 10 groats


Strangeways: No Escape!

Next tour: Saturday 28 December 2019.
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 eventbrite.
: Bucket for slopping out.
End: Somewhere near the governor’s office.

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

This is the prison where a hundred people found themselves dangling at the end of a rope (until 1964) and where the inmates rioted voraciously in 1990.

But it’s not just a prison, Strangeways is the area north of Victoria Station, colonised by immigrant Jews in the late 19th century whose one-time presence can still be spotted by the eagle eyes and whose community was overlooked by the minaret-shaped prison tower (designed that way by a rather naughty Alfred Waterhouse).

Escape with us around its darkest corners for a less than a whole life tariff.


Start: 28/12/2019 2:30 pm
End: 28/12/2019 3:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1NY
Cost: £10.50


Ancoats: the Perfect Sunday Morning Constitutional

Ancoats Historical Tour
December 2019:
Sunday 29 December, 11am.
Band on the Wall, Swan Street.
: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

We explore the backstreets and forgotten corners of the world’s first industrial community, converted from market gardens and fields with frightening ferocity into a land of mills blackened with soot at the end of the 18th century, colonised by Italians fleeing il risorgimento to bring ice cream to the begrimed city in the 19th century, abandoned by the council with forcible depopulating in the 20th century and now being imaginatively revived as essential 21st century Manchester.

Ancoats mills


Industry began in Ancoats, a factory hoot from Manchester city centre. In 1700 it was a semi-rural enclave by the river Medlock, with Ancoats Hall home to the lords of the Manchester manor. By 1800 this was a teeming, squalid suburb, blackened with soot, the smell of belching smoke hanging in the air.

The conditions were shocking: the noise of thundering machinery, suffocating air, high accident rates and notorious employment practices at the expense of an emaciated, underpaid workforce slave-driven for unsustainably long hours amidst disease, darkness, damp and desperate heat, living in dingy streets of tiny workers’ houses, jerry-built two-up two down brick boxes standing back-to-back so that as many properties as possible could be squeezed into the smallest of spaces.

Child labour was rife.

As one Ancoats mill owner explained to the early 19th century poet laureate Robert Southey, when he visited Manchester in 1808, “You see these children, sir. By the time they are seven or eight years old they are bringing in the money. They come at five in the morning, they leave at six and another set relieves them for the night; the wheels never stand still.”

This was never a pleasant area, yet some of the mid 19th century buildings, such as the Ice Palace, which we will visit on the walk, were exquisitely detailed with Italianate effects, perfect for the large influx of Italian immigrants, while the earlier mill buildings by the Rochdale Canal, though functional and formal, were palaces of Mammon, monuments to mercantilism, magnificent in their might and mass.

Later experiments in social planning saw some wonderful additions to the locale: the vast Victoria Square, Manchester’s oldest surviving municipal estate, is still an astonishing site. Even more striking is the jazzy Daily Express building on Great Ancoats Street, its gorgeous curves of glass and vitrolite the perfect coating for what was then a quality mass market newspaper owned by the formidable Lord Beaverbrook.

The late 20th century saw Ancoats die. The mills shut, the workshops wound down, the canal almost dried up. Now it’s all cleaned up. The mills are modern workshops; the factories smart apartments, while new developments such as the much lauded New Islington project with its funkily named Chips Building and Dutch-styled houses are attracting investment…slowly.

Start: 29/12/2019 11:00 am
End: 29/12/2019 12:30 pm
Venue: Band on the Wall
Google Map
Swan Street, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: around £10
iCal Import