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The History of Manchester in 20 Objects

17/09/2022 2:00 pm
17/09/2022 3:45 pm

Next FREE tour: Saturday 17 September 2022.
Meet: Outside the Mercure Hotel, Portland Street, 2pm.
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

Ed Glinert will be trawling the streets of Manchester locating the symbols and signs that reveal the history of Manchester in surprising ways.

An off-beat, sideways, soidisant look at Manchester history through 20 objects, some familiar, some little-seen and barely-noticed (statues, plaques, cartouches, shields etc) in the city centre…from the much-hated “Berlin Wall” in Piccadilly Gardens to the misunderstood “IRA” pillar box on Corporation Street, via the sacred geometry of the Cenotaph, the strange ball on top of the Town Hall spire, the lifesize statue of one of the oddest figures in Manchester history and much more.

And a review from a very satisfied customer.
“Dear Ed. Thank you for a most interesting tour of’ ‘Manchester in 20 Objects’ last Tuesday. It was such a shame that more people did not turn up but those who joined us thoroughly enjoyed it! I was amazed at the familiar and unfamiliar objects that you chose to talk about and I shall now go around our city looking for some objects of my own! Thank you for all your efforts”.


And here’s some info on the ubiquitous bee.

Why the buzz in Manchester? In the aftermath of the May 2017 tragedy the bee began to appear throughout the city as a solidarity symbol and a tattoo choice.

The bee the worker bee – is already evident throughout Manchester on municipal structures. In the Town Hall the platform outside the Great Hall is called The Bees and is decorated appropriately. The city’s coat of arms features a globe coated with bees; worker bees. At Manchester Art Gallery the most famous and admired painting is Work by Ford Madox Brown.

So how did the bee first appear in prominence?

In 1842 the newly-created council adopted the worker bee as its symbol. It chimed with Manchester as a cradle of industry and organisation, two of the main functions of the animal. The oft-repeated cliché was that “here in Manchester we’re all as busy as bees/Manchester is a hive of industry.”

The Manchester bee is the worker bee for this is a city founded on the notion of work. Manchester was the first city in the world to pioneer a new type of work: mass production. Tens of thousands of workers, striving like bees for the greater good, in this case the creation of the world’s first and greatest industrial city.

At the same time the council unveiled its Latin motto: Concilio et Labore – “With diligence and hard work”, a phrase derived from the Biblical apocrypha book of Ecclesiasticus. The bee is also a symbol of wisdom, for it collects nectar from flowers and converts it into honey. Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites are told that God will take them into a land “flowing with milk and honey”.

The bee was also an important symbol for the Freemasons who then governed Manchester. In Freemasonry the bee is a symbol of co-operation, that societies can only accomplish difficult tasks when they cooperate. St. John Chrysostom, the 4th century preacher, explained that “the bee is more honoured than other animals, not because it labours, but because it labours for others”. And Manchester in the 19th century became the home of a new political philosophy – co-operation, whose headquarters are still in the city.

This tour will examine the city’s apian history and explore other symbols that relate Manchester history,

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