• Next tour: Tue 14 March 2017.
• Meet: Ashton Metrolink station, 2pm.
In the far far east of Manchester they do things differently. Two hundred years ago a ranting prophet called John Wroe set up his Christian Israelite church and declared Ashton to be the “new Jerusalem”. In 1829 Wroe announced that the Spirit of the Lord had commanded him to take unto himself seven virgins to “cherish and comfort him”. Yeah, sure. Nice one.
If you think that’s odd then how about William Murphy’s behaviour. As local historian Mike Herbert has explained, Murphy, while touring England for the Protestant Evangelical Mission & Electoral Union in the 1860s, would rage against the supposed exploitation of female Catholics by their priests. He would begin his by declaring “My name is Murphy and a red hot one it is. I am for war with the knife, war with revolver if you like, war with the bayonet if you like”. He would then declare to his audience that “your wives and daughters are exposed to debauchery in the confessional, and are betrayed and kidnapped into convent prisons, and there kept the dupes or slaves of priestly lust.”
Yes, it’s that kind of walk. And for light relief we’ll head to Tameside Magistrates Court to hear about that nice doctor, Harold Shipman, and the inquests into the deaths of scores of his patients which were held here.
On a lighter note we will fetch up at picturesque Portland Basin where a number of canals merge and hear how Richard Hillman tried to kill the entire Platt family here before he met his end in a watery grave.
And we haven’t even mention the Moors Murders yet.