When: 21st – 30th March 2014
Where: Across Greater Manchester
£: Prices vary depending on the event, many events are free. Some events need to be booked in advance.
What is it?
Manchester Histories Festival takes place from 21st to 30th March at a range of venues across Greater Manchester with over 160 events. The festival offers music, film, talks, performance, tours and exhibitions, and aims to both celebrate the familiar and reveal the new and hidden histories from across the city. The festival is for people of all ages and historical experience, from schoolchildren to family history enthusiasts.
Contrary Life has picked out some festival highlights:
Belle Vue: Showground of the World Exhibition: Founded by John Jennison in 1836 Belle Vue grew to an unbelievable size, including a zoo, fair, circus, three ballrooms, the King’s Hall exhibition area, two lakes, a speedway track, dog racing and outdoor dancing. Exhibits include legendary Champion Speedway rider Peter Craven’s leathers, a motorbike ridden by Champion Speedway rider Peter Collins, shoes belonging to Britain’s best-loved clown, Jacko Fossett, and the lifelike statue of The Great Omi; the freak and sideshow performer. The exhibition runs from 21st – 30th March at The Flatiron, 33 Dale St, Manchester M1 2HE. Free event.
Thank you: A spectacular two-mile laser beam artwork will light up the night skies across Manchester, Trafford and Salford for one week, pulsing thank you in morse code. Artist Craig Morrison’s powerful work is inspired by the mathematician, wartime code breaker and father of computer science, Alan Turing OBE. Every evening at Quays/MediaCityUK from 5pm to 11pm, 21st – 28th March. Free event.
Creative Threads: Manchester’s special hidden gems, the Museum of Transport, Manchester Jewish Museum, Chetham’s Library, Working Class Movement Library, Victoria Baths and The Pankhurst Centre are throwing their doors open for a day of art and music. Hop aboard one of the two heritage Routemaster buses running between the venues. Discover the colourful history of Victoria Baths with an entertaining musical tour, written and performed by singer songwriter Black Jack Barnet. Hear musical tales from the Working Class Movement Library’s archive as the Bailey Sisters turn histories of working people into song. 23rd March. Free event.
Godlee Observatory Tour: Step back in time and join Manchester Astronomical Society for a tour of one of Manchester’s truly hidden gems. 2pm and 4pm on 27th March. Godlee Observatory, Sackville Street Building, University of Manchester M1 3BU. Tickets £5.
Histonauts 3: The Manchester Music Edition: From the legendary Sex Pistols gig that kicked off Joy Division and Factory Records to Morrissey and The Smiths to the birth of rave culture, the ‘Madchester’ scene and the indie swagger of the Stone Roses; it all happened here, in the pubs, clubs and streets of Manchester. With a fun, creative task to achieve every day of the festival, join in a digital scavenger hunt and add new venues, bands, videos and other popular music memories to the Manchester Music Map. 21st – 30th March. Free event.
A Victorian Pharmacy: Learn all about the world of the Victorian Pharmacy in this tour of Lark Hill Place with special attention to the medications of the Victorian time; both those sold by Mr. Hamer from his pharmacy, and the more homespun remedies used in the home. 2.30pm on 22nd March. Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Peel Park, Salford M5 4WU. Free but places are limited.
Remembering Strawberry Studios: The studios were founded in 1967 by Peter Tattersall at a time when there were no other professional recording studios outside of London. Artists including Paul McCartney, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Smiths and The Stone Roses all recorded at the studios. MHF is calling for people across Greater Manchester and beyond with memories of Strawberry Studios to come and record their Oral Histories for a new interactive exhibition. Free event. There will also be a Stockport Rocks! walking tour around Stockport town centre. 2.30pm – 4pm on 23rd March, tickets cost £7 (£6 concessions).
Ruined: Short Stories from Long Lost Places: Local authors excavate uncanny tales from the ruins of Manchester’s lost buildings in this literary evening. Expect short fiction told with humour, pathos and a touch of the uncanny. Blackwell’s Bookshop on 27th March at 7.30pm. Free event.
Vanishing for the Vote: Dr Jill Liddington provides a remarkable insight into the events of Census Night 1911 and how Manchester people evaded participating as part of the campaign for women’s suffrage. 3pm – 3.45pm on 29th March at the People’s History Museum. Free but donations welcome.
The Great Gentry House Bus Tour: Discover the hidden remains of the families that ran pre-industrial Manchester on this coach tour around the gentry houses of Manchester including Wythenshawe Hall and Barlow Hall. Starting Point: Slug and Lettuce, Albert Square M2 5HD. 1pm – 4pm on 22nd March. Tickets £15.
The Hidden Histories of Angel Meadow: This walk reveals Angel Meadow’s stories of extreme poverty, hardship, illness and crime, including kindness, philanthropy and co-operation. Starting point: Victoria Station tiled wall map, M3 1AR. 2pm – 4pm on 23rd March. Free event.
Radical Salford: Find out more about Salford’s radical history including the Flat Iron Market, vegetarian Christians and Salford’s first birth control clinic. Starting point: Black Lion pub, 65 Chapel Street, Salford M3 5BZ. 11am – 12.30pm on 23rd March. Tickets cost £6.
The Secret History of Manchester: So you think you know Manchester histories? Uncover the strange and secret histories of the city in this fascinating guided walk. Starting Point: Manchester Visitor Information Centre, Piccadilly Plaza, Portland Street, M1 4BT. 1.30pm – 3.15pm on 23rd March. Tickets cost £6.
101 Ways to Die on Lark Hill Place: Take a guided tour in Salford Museum and Art Gallery’s Victorian street and discover some of the weird and wonderful ways people met their end in Victorian Salford. Starting point: Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Peel Park, Salford M5 4WU. 2.30pm – 3.15pm on 25th March. Free event.
Hidden Gems of Manchester: Take in some of Manchester’s hidden gems on this tour to Freemason’s Hall, the Portico Library and the Town Hall prison cells. Starting Point: Manchester Visitor Information Centre, Piccadilly Plaza, Portland Street M1 4BT. 1.30pm – 3.15pm on 28th March. Tickets cost £6.
Costumed Walk of Historic Stockport: Come and meet the historical costumed characters of Stockport complete with shawls, whiskers, petticoats and mop caps galore. Starting point: Robinson’s Brewery, Aspley Street, Stockport SK1 1JJ. 2pm – 3.30pm on 30th March. Free event.
Manchester Histories’ aim is to reveal the hidden histories of Greater Manchester and encourage everyone to take a role in celebrating their own histories and creating the new histories of tomorrow.
More info: For the full festival programme and booking details visit www.manchesterhistoriesfestival.org.uk.