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Slavery and Manchester

Next tour: Saturday 24 July 2021.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap, 11.30am.
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

SlaverySlavery - shacklesSlavery - hands





Manchester prospered from the horrors of slavery for much of the 18th century but the growing town was soon leading the campaign for its abolition.

The turning point was a meeting held at the Manchester Collegiate Church (now Manchester Cathedral) on 28 October 1787 fronted by the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. “When I went into the church,” Clarkson recalled, “it was so full that I could scarcely get to my place; for notice had been publicly given, though I knew nothing of it, that such a discourse would be delivered. I was surprised also to find a great crowd of black people standing round the pulpit. There might be forty or fifty of them. The text that I took, as the best to be found in such a hurry, was the following: ‘Thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt’”.

Manchester amassed the biggest number of signatures for the petition against slavery that went before Parliament. Sadly the petition was destroyed when the Houses of Parliament burned down in 1834.

While America continued to promote the system in the 19th century, Manchester led the move for Stateside abolition even though most of the raw cotton that fuelled the Manchester economy was picked by slaves in the Deep South.

This tour cuts straight to the heart of one of the most controversial and disturbing social systems ever devised. We hear how Manchester families such as the Heywoods and Gregs who benefited from slavery became its biggest opponents. We explain how the “Slavery Triangle” (Lancashire-America-Africa-Lancashire…) kept the system going, relate the stories of the escaped slaves such as Henry “Box” Brown, who once posted himself in a box from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia and who visited Manchester, and discuss how leading 19th century local Liberals such as John Bright and Richard Cobden not only kept the anti-slavery campaign flourishing but were even in contact with Abraham Lincoln.

We finish the tour at the Abraham Lincoln statue in Lincoln Square, naturally.

Start: 24/07/2021 11:30 am
End: 24/07/2021 1:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station, Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1NY
Cost: £10.50


Manchester Music: The Hacienda Years

Official Manchester Music Tours

Next walking tour: Saturday 24 July 2021, 2.30pm.   
HOME Arts Centre. 
Tour Guide?:
As Ian Curtis sang: “I’ve been waiting for a guide…”
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.


Forget Memphis and the Mersey, Manchester is Music City, a factory of superior song-making and stirring soundscapes courtesy of The Smiths, Joy Division, The Fall, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Oasis, New Order, Happy Mondays and Elbow – 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.

• Our Music walks are now starting from HOME, Manchester’s funky but chic (as David Johansen would say) new arts venue, appropriately based at 2 Tony Wilson Place, Whitworth Street West (opposite the Hacienda, natch).

Hacienda - interiorRead 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: 24/07/2021 2:30 pm
End: 24/07/2021 4:30 pm
Venue: HOME
Google Map
Whitworth Street West, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £10.50


Marx & Engels (Private Tour)

No description has been entered for this event.

Start: 25/07/2021 12:00 am
End: 25/07/2021 2:00 pm
Venue: HOME
Google Map
Whitworth Street West, Manchester, United Kingdom


The Pankhursts of Manchester

This tour: Mon 26 July, 2.30pm.
Meet: Emmeline Pankhurst statue, St Peter’s Square.
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

It is just over a hundred years (1 December 1919) since a woman entered the British Parliament for the first time. American socialite Nancy Astor won a by-election for the Unionists in Plymouth Sutton, ironically replacing her husband, Waldorf Astor, who had just been ennobled.

The campaign to win women the vote and the right to enter the Commons had been raging ever since more than a dozen people were killed and hundreds injured at the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819. Henry Hunt, the main speaker at the Peterloo rally that never happened, later became the first MP to put forward a bill to allow women to vote in general elections, but that was back in the 1830s. Two generations later the Pankhurst family took over the campaign, leading one of the most bitter and brutal political battles in British history, for many years from Manchester.

Partial victory was celebrated in 1918 when (some) women were at last allowed to vote and stand. One woman was elected, but never took her seat. A year later Nancy Astor made up for it.

Hear the full story on this eye-opening guided tour.

This is the only Pankhurst tour which goes to the Pankhursts’ shop (yes, I bet you didn’t know they had a shop in Manchester city centre!) and gives the accurate political background to the infamous Free Trade Hall rally in October 1905.

We have made a forensic and in-depth study of this extraordinary story. Discover Manchester’s cataclysmic connections…

…read on below.


Further study
In August 1819 at least a dozen people were killed demonstrating for the right to vote at St Peter’s Fields, Manchester. Nearly a hundred years later, in 1903, the Pankhurst family, disgusted with the Independent Labour Party’s refusal to allow women to use the newly-opened Pankhurst Hall in north Manchester, founded the Women’s Social and Political Union to step up the campaign for the right of women to have the vote in parliamentary elections.

What had been a sedate pressure group, willing to stay within the law to change the law, soon became militant. The women suffrage supporters (“suffragettes,” the Daily Mail called them) disrupted a Liberal Party rally in the Free Trade Hall in 1905 and two of their leaders – Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney – were jailed. Manchester had become Suffragette City, but it took a generation and many thousands of broken windows for women to secure the vote.

This is a walk in memory of the Pankhursts – Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia – fierce campaigners, resolute radicals. We visit their haunts, outline their struggle and follow in their footsteps.

An excerpt from the walk
When Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney were arrested for disrupting the Liberal Party’s political rally at the Free Trade Hall in October 1905 they were taken first to a cell in Manchester Town Hall and then to Strangeways Prison.

Soon one of the leading Liberal politicians of the day turned up at the prison offering to pay the women’s fines so that they could be quickly released. The philanthropic politician was none other than Winston Churchill, MP for Oldham, who had recently crossed the floor from the Conservative benches. But was this really a welcome move or just a cynical one? Surely if the women agreed to his offer he could champion himself as being in control of them …


Start: 26/07/2021 2:30 pm
End: 26/07/2021 4:30 pm
Venue: Emmeline Pankhurst Statue
Google Map
St Peter's Square, Manchester, United Kingdom, M2 5PD
Cost: £10 for one. £15 for two.


Masterpieces of Art, Architecture & Design (on Zoom)

Next walking tour: Friday 30 July 2021, 2.30pm.
Meet: On your computer!
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

Ed Glinert, occasional RIBA judge and Manchester architecture expert,
takes you on a remarkable whirlwind tour of the city’s greatest aesthetic achievements:

* The Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the Art Gallery.
* The paintings of the Stations of the Cross at the Hidden Gem.
* The Golden Ratio proportions of Lutyens’s Midland Bank on King Street.
* The gargoyles at the John Rylands Library.
* The Georgian splendour of the bank manager’s house nearby…

this is Manchester at its most stylish and sophisticated.

Lutyens' Midland BankBarbirolliParr's Bank

Start: 30/07/2021 2:30 pm
End: 30/07/2021 4:15 pm
Venue: Your computer
Google Map
-, -, United Kingdom
Cost: £10.50


Chilling Tales From the Manchester Graveyards (walking tour)

Next walking tour: Friday 30 July, 6pm.
Meet: Victoria Station Wallmap.
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

Enter, if you dare, a nether world of murder, assassination, hanging, homicide, regicide, talking corpses and some really nasty stuff.

Tragic deaths and accidental deaths. Hoax deaths and bloody deaths. Death by hanging, death by shooting and sudden death. Those who didn’t die and those who should have died. Instant death. Slow, tortuous death. There are lot of unexplained deaths on this tour, as well as the odd decapitation, hanging and being buried alive.

It’s a grave night out!

These are gruesome, ghastly and ghostly stories, especially when they involve those who weren’t supposed to be dead. Take the case of Manchester man John Beswick. He woke up some time in 1750 to find himself in a confined space, and then realised it was his own coffin. He banged on the roof and was rather relieved to find a crowd of people on the other side ready to release him. They were the mourners at his funeral. He wasn’t dead, just very tired.

His sister, Hannah, was so mortified of being similarly buried alive she asked a local doctor, Charles White, to check her corpse regularly once she had expired. In return she made a hefty donation to Dr White’s new infirmary, what is now the MRI in Chorlton-on-Medlock. Once looked as if Hannah had expired the doctor made sure by pickling her in vinegar and stuffing the body into a grandfather clock in her own house in east Manchester where the servants could check on her every day. Hannah Beswick remains dead.

This is just one of many deathly stories we’ve dug up and revived for this chilling tour with the equally frightening Ed Glinert.


Start: 30/07/2021 6:00 pm
End: 30/07/2021 7:45 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1PB
Cost: £10.50


Strangeways: walking tour (and you can go home afterwards!)

Next walking tour: Saturday 31 July 2021, 11am.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap.
Booking: If you’d like to go to Strangeways, the law will help you. Alternatively, just follow the orders from the guv’nor below.
Oh, alright: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.
Bring: Bucket for slopping out.
End: Somewhere near the Governor’s office.

Strangeways. The very name is enough to send a frisson of fear down the spine of the most hardened felons.

Strangeways has been home to the most evil elements in existence – Ian Brady and Harold Shipman – and temporary refuge of political prisoners such as Christabel Pankhurst and Austin Stack, the Irish Republican who was one of the few to escape from its clutches.

Even Ian Brown, ex-Stone Roses, was briefly incarcerated within in 1998. No, not for inflicting his tuneless drone and inane lyrics on humanity but for getting into a strop on an aeroplane. 60 days. So what was it like in Strangeways, Ian? “Dirty. The food was like dog food.” He’s out now.

Ian Brady was sent here for stealing from Smithfield Market, where he worked in the late 1950s. John Robson Walby (alias Gwynne Owen Evans), was hanged at Strangeways on August 13, 1964 – the last person in England to suffer this punishment. (No, it wasn’t Ruth Ellis).

In April 1990 three hundred prisoners filed into the chapel to attend the church service. During the sermon a prisoner, later identified as Paul Taylor, stood up and shouted: “I would just like to say, right, that this man has just talked about the blessing of the heart and how a hardened heart can be delivered. No it cannot, not with resentment, anger and bitterness and hatred being instilled in people.”

It all kicked off. Riot!

Prisoners took to the roof and began to dismantle the prison for 25 days. 147 staff and 47 prisoners were injured. One prisoner and one prison officer died. Your NMW guide, Ed Glinert, was ordered by his editor at the Sun to doorstep home secretary David Waddington. He never made it.

Later, Paul Taylor and Alan Lord faced a five-month trial as its ringleaders. Both were acquitted of murder. The riot resulted in the Woolfe Inquiry which ended the practice of slopping out and saw the jail rebuilt and euphemistically renamed as Her Majesty’s Prison, Manchester. But to everyone else it’s still good old Strangeways.

Start: 31/07/2021 11:00 am
End: 31/07/2021 12:45 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1PB
Cost: £10.50


Marx & Engels in Manchester: Walkers of the World Unite!

Next event is an actual walk: Saturday 31 July 2021, 2.30pm.  
Friedrich Engels statue outside HOME.
Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

We missed 28 November 2020, the 200th birthday of one of the greatest writers, best-known political activists and most formidable figures in Manchester history: Friedrich Engels. We’ll make up for it in 2021.

Yes, the creator of communism spent the best part of twenty-five years of his life working as a cotton spinner and merchant in Manchester and Salford, keeping his campaigning activities a secret to safeguard his job and so that he could rake in the postal orders and ride with the Cheshire Hunt. But away from Manchester Engels and his better-known sidekick, Karl Marx, were doing their best to create a new philosophy that would do away with the hated capitalism system of the bosses and the money men.

Join Ed Glinert, who was once a member of a Trotskyite cell in Hulme that was so secret all the members had pseudonyms, although he can’t remember what his was, on this entertaining, enthralling, wild and witty Zoom tour-talk which details Engels’s and Marx’s sojourns not just in Manchester but in London and on the continent as well. This Zoom has already been road-tested on student groups but it’s the first time we’ve presented it commercially.

Zoomers of the world unite!

Start: 31/07/2021 2:30 pm
End: 31/07/2021 4:15 pm
Venue: Engels Statue
HOME arts centre, Manchester, United Kingdom, M15 4FN
Cost: £10.50


Southern Cemetery

Next walking tour: Monday 2 August 2021, 1pm.
Meet: Cemetery Gates (opposite James Hilton Memorials), 245 Barlow Moor Road (Barlow Moor Road Metrolink stop, 8 minutes walk away).
Please don’t go to: The Crematorium, Nell Lane…
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.


New Manchester Walks will take you around Southern Cemetery, final resting place of some of the greats of Manchester history, with Ed Glinert, author of “London’s Dead” (published by HarperCollins).

We will see the graves and memories of Matt Busby, John Rylands, Joe Sunlight, Daniel Adamson, Tony Wilson and L. S. Lowry, as we explore Britain’s second biggest cemetery.

Southern Cemetery (1)Southern Cemetery - Rylands graveSouthern Cemetery - Matt Busby Grave

Start: 02/08/2021 1:00 pm
End: 02/08/2021 2:45 pm
Venue: Southern Cemetery main entrance
Google Map
Barlow Moor Road, Manchester, United Kingdom
Cost: £10.50


Angel Meadow…Victorian Hell-Hole (walking tour)

Next tour is a walking tour: Monday 2 August 2021, 5.30pm.
Meet: Victoria Station wallmap.
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

Death, decay, dead souls and devilment. That was Angel Meadow, Victorian hell-hole, cholera-infested ghetto and industrial shanty town. It’s a bit cleaned-up now but there will be plenty of horrible stories that will ensure you don’t have a good night’s sleep.

Angel Meadow. Never was a name more inappropriate. This is what made Manchester THE shock city.

Journalist Angus Bethune Reach called Angel Meadow: “the lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy, and most wicked locality in Manchester…full of cellars and inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants and tramps.”

Was he writing this yesterday? No, thankfully. He was writing in the 19th century when Angel Meadow was one of a number of notorious Manchester slums; probably the worst.

This is what proto-communist Friedrich Engels had to say about the locale in 1844. “The landlords are not ashamed to let dwellings like the six or seven cellars on the quay directly below Scotland Bridge, the floors of which stand at least two feet below the low water level of the Irk … utterly uninhabitable, [it] stands deprived of all fittings for doors and windows, a case by no means rare in this region, when an open ground-floor is used as a privy by the whole neighbourhood for want of other facilities. . . .”

So this is more than a walk through an obscure part of central Manchester; it’s a trip to other worlds: Scotland and Gibraltar! Believe it. The road that connects Red Bank to the bottom of the steps leading down to the Irk from Cheetham Hill Road railway bridge is called Scotland. A hundred yards on, at the end of Millow Street, stood “Gibraltar”. This was once described by the social commentator James Phillips Kay as the haunt of the “lowest” of the population. “The stranger, if he dare venture to explore its intricacies and recesses is sure to be watched with suspicion, on every side is heard the sound of the axe or knife…”


Okay, both those revered social commentators were writing many years ago, but go there now and it’s pretty grim, which is why we guide you around these atmospheric areas, converting the squalor and sordidness into scintillating stories. And we’ve not even entered Angel Meadow proper yet.

Have things improved? Yes, with much thanks to the Friends of Angel Meadow. When we’ve finished with all the terrible tales we deserve an ale or two at the Marble pub with its gorgeous tiles, magnificent ales and friendly atmosphere.


Angel Meadow 3

Angel Meadow 4

Start: 02/08/2021 5:30 pm
End: 02/08/2021 7:15 pm
Venue: Victoria Station wallmap
Google Map
Victoria Station Approach, Manchester, United Kingdom, M3 1PB
Cost: £10.50
iCal Import