Manchester holds a very deep, very large place in my heart. Not only is it the city in which I transitioned from a teenager to a (sort of) adult, I’ve formed such complex relationships with its history, I feel like it’s on old admirable friend I enjoy visiting for cups of tea. So it’s apt that this year I will be throwing myself into Manchester History Festival.
With a new found interest in capturing aural community history, I’ve realised the importance of the celebration of regional history, and the urgency to capture changing areas of the community that is constantly shifting under the fluidity of culture, the changing impact of political ideals and the economic shifts.
Manchester Histories Festival is overwhelmingly full of stories and narratives that lift Manchester’s place in the canon of British history. Emphasis on HISTORIES, not history. Our relationship with history has changed – it is a complex weave of many varied opinions and perspectives, mashed together to make a rich interpretation of time. Some forgotten, some painfully in the foreground. Everything has its place.
Infamous walker and talker Jonathan Schofield presents Truly Madly Brutal, an insight into how Manchester was reimagined after the war. He’s always captivating, and passionate about what he talks about, and does regular walks around the city. Would recommend. New on my radar are The Loiterer’s Resistance Movement. A walk about the histories of walking in Manchester celebrate the non-spaces that surround the city, filled with history. I feel this this walk will be different from the others, the rebellious punks of the history world. Then, the title of the talk Ugly, smoky Manchester, dear, busy, earnest, noble-working Manchester struck immediately with my nostalgic and conflicting love for this city. Join Frank Galvin and Elizabeth Williams to discuss the impact that the city has had on its surrounding environment, and what they discovered when restoring Gaskell’s house. A festival of Manchestee history couldn’t be had without the boisterous sounds of Jennifer Reid, reciting the long lost ballads of Lancashire. If you haven’t heard her sing, this is a great opportunity to. Idle Chatter? is a conversation across different generations of women, discussing women’s liberation in Manchester. There will be chances to look through the feminist web archives, a vital resource that is carving the way for women narratives to be placed into the patriarchal canon. Speaking of ladies, there is a wealth of women related talks, walks and demonstrations this year. John Ryland’s is also featuring Great Women of Manchester, inspired by their extensive collection, founded by Enriqueta Rylands in 1900. Lastly, Gaskell: The Musical! is probably one of my favourite picks across the programme – a 10 week community project put together by the women of Ardwick. Ardwick’s history is rich, a place so full of industry, and having drastic impact when industry declined rapidly in the mid 20th century. Taking place in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house, it isn’t to be missed.