• Sat 2 Feb Marx & Engels in Manchester, Part 1
Meet Engels statue HOME, 11.30am.
• Sat 2 Feb Marx & Engels in Manchester, Part 2
Meet St Ann’s Church, 2.30pm.
Follow in the footsteps of the world’s most controversial political theorist, Karl Marx, on his sojourns in Manchester with his great pal Friedrich Engels, the German cotton merchant and secret revolutionary who spent his working life in Manchester making capitalist money so that he could live the life of a bourgeois, riding with the Cheshire Hunt at the weekends, but researching social conditions in the Manchester slums to write one of the most influential political books ever written, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845).
• Sun 3 Feb The Smiths’ Manchester
Meet Art Gallery, Mosley Street, 12 noon.
They were Britain’s greatest ever rock group, more melodic than the Beatles, more powerful than the Stones, cleverer than The Who, catchier than U2. They played music that lifted the soul with words that sharpened the mind. They played both types of music: fast and slow, soft and loud, country and western (OK, not quite the last), and they came from Manchester. They were The Smiths.
• Sun 4 Feb The History of the Northern Quarter
Meet Queen Victoria Statue, Piccadilly Gardens, 3pm.
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.
• Tue 5 Feb Manchester’s Glorious Victorian Art & Architecture
Meet Midland Hotel, Peter Street, 11.30am.
Manchester is one of the world’s most glorious Victorian cities, home to one of the greatest collection of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites and their circle, the streets around the gallery lined with exquisitely designed Classical, Italianate, Gothic and baroque structures that made Manchester city centre into one of the most beautiful new cities. Ed Glinert, compiler of the forthcoming Manchester Encyclopaedia, leads this tour around the gems and giants of Victoriana.
• Tue 5 Manchester Cathedral & Chetham’s
Meet Victoria Station wallmap, 2.15pm.
The only double tour of Manchester’s mediaeval landmarks and the only tour on which you won’t be told bogus stories about “Sir” Humphrey Chetham or that the three stripes on the city shield are the “three” rivers of Manchester.
• NEW Wed 6 Feb The Mysteries of the Manchester Art World
Meet Manchester Art Gallery, 10.30am.
• Why did L. S. Lowry leave his estate to a woman more than 50 years younger than him who was no relation?
• Is the Descent From the Cross painting in St Ann’s Church the real one by Annibale Carracci or a copy?
• How did a Manchester church get to obtain the greatest new religious paintings of the late 20th century?
• Which of the Art Gallery’s Pre-Raphaelite paintings was replaced by a forgery to intrigue the public for a television programme?
It was Manchester that organised the most remarkable exhibition of artefacts the world had ever seen, in 1857. What a story…
• Thu 7 Feb The Hidden Gems of Manchester
Meet Art Gallery, Mosley Street, 10.30am.
This is the 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, glorious features at the Radisson and the John Rylands, the the Hidden Gem church (of course), the marble bank vaults on King Street and more.
• Thu 7 Feb The Secret History of Manchester
Meet Visitor Centre, Piccadilly Gardens, 5pm.
You think you know Manchester? Well, no one knows it like Ed Glinert, who has spent 40 years unturning every last 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”.
• Fri 8 Feb The Horrors of Eating, Drinking and Living in Victorian Manchester
Meet Victoria Station wallmap, 11.30am.
Horrors? Most certainly. Towards the end of the 19th century the Ministry of Health conducted a survey of local milk. Of 62,133 samples tested, 4,773 were found to be impure. In one case the milk contained one heaped-up teaspoonful of cow dung per gallon.
They also found that self-raising flour contained traces of lead and arsenic, and in jam small pieces of ham bone. Until the late 19th century all sorts of nasty things went into beer. A typical pint of the time might contain a pinch of fox-glove, a plant with large purple flowers and a bitter taste which taken in quantity induces nausea and giddiness. Or it might include a trace of green copperas, an iron-based compound which gave porter a frothy head and was therefore a must for the enterprising landlord.
No wonder everyone died a painful death at a young age! And we haven’t even got political yet.
• Sat 9 Feb Peterloo Part 1 (“We are on the Brink of Liberty”)
Meet Central Library, St Peter’s Sq, 11.30am.
• Sat 9 Feb Peterloo Part 2 (“Remember the Foul Deeds of Peterloo”)
Meet Central Library, St Peter’s Sq, 2.30pm.
Thanks to extraordinary amounts of research, we have devised two unique and ingenious new Peterloo tours. In Part One we run through the horrendous social conditions in Manchester during the misnamed elegant age of the Regency, and consider which were the most dreadful: the poor wages, poverty, filth, disease and lack of any political rights. In Part Two we detail what followed Peterloo: harsher laws, an attempt to assassinate the entire Cabinet and a short-lived Peterloo Memorial.
• Sun 10 Feb Alan Turing Tortured Genius of the Computer Age
Meet Manchester Museum reception, 12 noon.
He broke the Nazis’ Enigma code, almost invented the computer, and was persecuted to a painful suicide by the ungrateful authorities.
• Sun 10 Feb Manchester Music: The Hacienda Years
Meet HOME Arts Centre, 3pm.
Forget Memphis and Merseybeat, Manchester is music city, a venue to rank alongside New Orleans or Notting Hill, a factory of superior song-making and stirring soundscapes courtesy of Joy Division, the Fall, New Order, Buzzcocks, Happy Mondays, John Cooper Clarke, the Stone Roses, 808 State and, of course, the Smiths, 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.