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Manchester Airport/Aviation in Manchester

Next tour: Sunday 16 June 2019.
Meet: Airport Railway Station barrier, 10.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Only 4 months after the Wright Brothers first achieved powered flight, it all took off here with the meeting of Messrs Rolls and Royce in Manchester in 1904.

By 1907, the Roe brothers were manufacturing aircraft here in kit form, to open the world’s first aircraft factory in central Manchester in January 1910. The city has been flying high ever since.

Meet at the Airport Rail Station barrier for our tour of the history of flight in the city, bringing us up to the present day with a guided tour of Manchester airport.

Our tour includes:
* An overview of the beginnings of aviation in the region, including the first successful Transatlantic flight by 2 local pilots.
*A visit to one of the five Prayer rooms.
* We discover Ringway’s significant contribution to World War II and beyond (including modern aircraft safety) at the Memorial garden.
* We finish on the roof of the original Terminal building to see the entire Airport from above, as we watch aircraft movements.

This includes the arrival of the lunchtime Emirates Airbus A380 super-jumbo from Dubai (the world’s busiest international airport) – a city that would not exist, were it not for the achievements of a man from Manchester! (which man? We’ll explain on the tour).

Airport 1Airport 2

Start: 16/06/2019 10:30 am
End: 16/06/2019 12:30 pm
Venue: Airport station barrier
Google Map
Manchester Airport, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £10


The Manchester that L. S. Lowry Painted

Next tour: Thu 20 June 2019.
Meet: TfGM Travelshop, Piccadilly Gardens, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Spurned, snubbed and sniggered at, Laurence Stephen Lowry became Britain’s best-loved 20th century painter.

He called himself a “simple man”, but he was the strangest of fellows. He never left the British Isles, enjoyed no sexual relations, and made his will over to a much younger woman, whom he befriended simply because she shared his surname.

Lowry’s day job was not as an artist. He was a rent collector in the slum areas of the city. We explore the man behind the paintings, and take you through the haunts he visited and depicted.

In 1930 the curator of Manchester Art Gallery asked Lowry to produce some paintings of Piccadilly.

I wonder if you will consider my suggestion that you should at your leisure make one or two studies of Piccadilly as it is today with the sunken garden, the loafers, the ruins [infirmary] and all the rest of the mess and muddle.”

Yet his work was rejected and he was told to try again, which he refused to do.

Ironically the City now owns a later, locally-set Lowry painting, Piccadilly Gardens (1954), below.

Lowry - Picc Gdns


Start: 20/06/2019 11:30 am
End: 20/06/2019 1:30 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Google Map
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: around £10


Manchester Music: 40 Years Since Unknown Pleasures

As Ian Curtis sang: “I’ve been waiting for a guide…”

This tour: Saturday 22 June 2019, 11am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite. 

Forty years ago this day music was changed forever with the release of the haunting, mesmerising, disturbing Joy Division album “Unknown Pleasures”. Clipped metallic rhythms, phased guitars, tortuous atmosphere. It was like nothing before or since.

Ed Glinert, Mojo launch production editor and co-author of Fodor’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Traveler series, pays tribute on this tour of the city’s music haunts, with the emphasis on Ian Curtis and Joy Division.

Hacienda - interior

Read 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: 22/06/2019 11:00 am
End: 22/06/2019 1:00 pm
Venue: HOME
Google Map
Whitworth Street West, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £10.50


Secrets of the Northern Quarter

This Tour, June 2019
* Date:
Saturday 22 June 2019, 2.30pm.
* Meet:
tfgm Travelshop, Piccadilly Gardens.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

What’s uh, the deal?
It’s 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 recording studio where the very essence of the music that Manchester enthralled the world with was cut, 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: 22/06/2019 2:30 pm
End: 22/06/2019 4:15 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Google Map
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: around £10


Alan Turing’s Manchester

Alan Turing at 101

June 2019: Sunday 23 June 2019 (Alan Turing’s birthday)
Meet: Manchester Museum Reception, Chorlton-on-Medlock, 11.30am.
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.


• 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: 23/06/2019 11:30 am
End: 23/06/2019 1:00 pm
Venue: Manchester Museum foyer
Google Map
Oxford Road at Bridgeford St, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, United Kingdom, M13 9PL
Cost: around £10


The Evil Corners of Strangeways

Next tour: Sunday 23 June 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: 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: 23/06/2019 2:30 pm
End: 23/06/2019 4:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1NY
Cost: around £10


These Are the Great Art Treasures of Manchester

Tour: The Great Art Treasures of Manchester
Mon 24 June 2019.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Inside the Reading Room at Manchester’s Central Library is a gorgeous, ornate, marble mini clock tower, a baldacchino, our first stop on this tour of the art treasures of the city. It was included in 1934 when Emmanuel Vincent Harris’s building was opened and is based on the larger, baldacchin canopy that stands in the centre of Rome’s St Peter’s Basilica, probably the world’s most visited church, above the tomb of St Peter. That Baldacchin was made out of bronze work taken from the Pantheon in Rome in ancient times.

Why create such a connection? Manchester’s Central Library is situated on St Peter’s Square and its design is based on the Pantheon in Rome. St Peter’s Square was named after St Peter’s church, built by James Wyatt in 1794 (demolished 1907). A few years earlier he had gone to Rome and drawn the dome of St Peter’s Basilica “being under the necessity of lying on his back on a ladder slung horizontally, without cradle or side-rail, over a frightful void of 300 feet”.

When Manchester announced it was to hold an art treasures exhibition at Old Trafford in 1857 the city’s leaders wrote to the owners of special collections, with the hope of borrowing their great works. Most complied. However William Cavendish, seventh Duke of Devonshire, replied: “What in the world do you want with art in Manchester? Why can’t you stick to your cotton spinning?”

Nevertheless Manchester now has an art gallery packed with masterpieces, including a huge number of ever-popular Pre-Raphaelites by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Foremost is Ford Madox Brown’s monumental Work, a perfect inclusion for the city built on the notion of hard work, whose Latin motto, Concilio et Labore, translates as “with diligence and hard work”. Join us to hear the full description and explanation of that and other of Manchester’s great art treasures.

Madox Brown - Work


Start: 24/06/2019 11:30 am
End: 24/06/2019 1:30 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1PB
Cost: around £10


Manchester Cathedral & the Mediaeval City

June tour: Mon 24 June 2019, 2.30pm.
Meet: Shudehill Metrolink stop.
Booking: Hear ye, hear ye, press here to book with ye eventbrite.

* Chetham’s: Europe’s oldest library.
* Manchester Cathedral: an ancient place of worship with a history to match.

Chetham's  Cathedral (Mcr) 1

And all around the site of the “Old Town” where Manchester grew by the rivers Irk and Irwell, and the Hanging Ditch.

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: 24/06/2019 2:30 pm
End: 24/06/2019 4:15 pm
Venue: Shudehill Metrolink stop
Google Map
Shudehill, Manchester, United Kingdom, M4 4AN
Cost: 10 groats


The Pankhursts: Suffragette City

June tour: Tue 25 June, 11.30am.
Meet: Emmeline Pankhurst statue, St Peter’s Square.
: Press here to book with eventbrite.

On 28 December 1918 a woman was elected to the British Parliament for the first time. This is what the Suffragettes had been dreaming about for decades. This is why they had smashed the windows of the Treasury, raided 10 Downing Street and hidden in the crypt of the House of Commons. This is why they had disrupted a Liberal Party at the Free Trade Hall in 1905 and spat at a policeman. This is why Emily Davison had thrown herself in front of Anmer, the king’s horse, at the Derby. They had done all these things and more to persuade the British establishment that women should have the vote.

At last, early in 1918, the Liberal Coalition government had passed the Royal Assent, giving (some) women the vote at the next general election, whenever that would be, after the Great War. The day after the Armistice of 11 November the government announced that a general election would take place on 14 December.

It took fourteen days for the results to be announced (to allow returning soldiers to vote and for their votes to be counted). Sixteen women stood. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, one-time treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union, founded by the Pankhursts in Manchester in 1903, stood for Labour in Rusholme but lost. Only one woman was elected. She had impeccable Manchester credentials and had once been sentenced to death by the British government.

New Manchester Walks celebrates the entry of women, well one woman, to Parliament in this guided tour of suffragette haunts in Manchester one hundred years after the first success.

Start: 25/06/2019 11:30 am
End: 25/06/2019 1:15 pm
Venue: Emmeline Pankhurst Statue
Google Map
St Peter's Square, Manchester, United Kingdom, M2 5PD
Cost: around £10


The Secret History of Manchester

This tour: Wed 26 June 2019, 6pm.
Meet: tfgm Travelshop, Piccadilly Gardens.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

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: 26/06/2019 6:00 pm
End: 26/06/2019 7:45 pm
Venue: TfGM office
Google Map
Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, United Kingdom, M1 1RG
Cost: around £10
iCal Import