Ed Glinert of New Manchester Walks is launching a new campaign. It’s time to start protesting against the prominence of the wrong people on the streets of Manchester. It’s time to make the prominent art and statuary in Manchester more reflective of the city’s history of protest and civil rights. In this most left-wing of cities we have more statues of Tories than socialists; more colonialists than progressives.
To kickstart the debate here’s a new tour (please book with eventbrite) looking at the history of Manchester you hoped wasn’t true: a city created by slave traders, colonialists, imperialists, warmongers, murderers, racists, plunderers. Yes, even this city’s history was shaped by those on the wrong side of right – and they’re still being honoured, with too many statues, paintings and streets named after the bad guys.
Ed Glinert names the guilty men (and women):
- The Duke of Wellington, reactionary bigot who opposed the people having the vote. So he beat off Napoleon? Vive la revolution!
- Queen Victoria – vehemently against women having the vote. Wouldn’t elevate a “Jew” to the House of Lords.
- The Mosleys: they owned Manchester for 250 years and gave us Mosley Street but also Oswald Mosley, the 1930s fascist leader and his lovely son, Max Mosley, who was so welcoming to “coloured immigrants”. Visitors must think we’ve named a major street after the fascists.
- Charles, 9th Lord Cathcart, ADC to “Butcher” Cumberland at the Battle of Culloden, whose portrait hangs in the Art Gallery.
- Queen Elizabeth (Tudor): murderer; slayer of Mary, Queen of Scots.
- The Gregs who established Quarry Bank Mill – on the backs of the slaves in their sugar plantations on Dominica.
- William Gladstone who enjoyed a lavish lifestyle on the back of slavery. Backed the wrong side in the American Civil War.
The campaign begins with a new tour, Uncomfortable Art, Uncomfortable History on Sunday 12 August at noon from the Visitor Centre, Piccadilly Gardens. The tour has been devised by Ed Glinert who has spent 35 years combating injustice in his hard-hitting journalism for City Life and Private Eye, and in books for Penguin, HarperCollins and Random House.