Michael Herbert runs a regular programme of historical walks, which as the name suggests, focus on Manchester and Salford's radical history from Peterloo to the present day. The programme includes introductions to Manchester and Salford as a radical city, women's history, votes for women, trade unionism and literary Manchester. The walks last about two hours. Michael is a very knowledgeable guide with a background as an historian and a trade unionist in UNITE. He is the author of a number of books on Manchester's history.
We recently did the gangs of Manchester tour. Starting at the Barton Arcade on Deansgate, Emma Fox, the tour guide takes you round sites relevant to the stories of The Victorian Scuttler Gangs and tells you tales of violence, poverty and squalor. She manages to recreate a sense of the time through her accounts, tales and poetry and having been resident in Manchester for 18 years, I ended up in areas just a few miles from home that i would never had known about. The tour finishes in the wonderful Marble pub just right for a thirst quenching beer!
+44(0)161 431 7030
Castlefield in Manchester is a great starting point for waterside walks in Manchester. It’s across the road from Manchester Science and Industry Museum, an exciting place to visit even before you start walking! Follow the Bridgewater Canal south west as far as Old Trafford (where a stadium tour is available), and then walk across to the Manchester Ship Canal. On the Trafford side there is the Imperial War Museum, or cross the footbridge to visit the Lowry Gallery and theatre complex (and outlet shopping mall). If you don’t want to walk back, you can always take the tram. In the other direction from Castlefield, follow the Rochdale Canal to walk under central Manchester’s busiest streets whilst watching barges negotiate locks. There is plenty of choice for refreshment with the bars and restaurants at Deansgate Locks and along Canal Street. At Piccadilly Basin you can either return to Castlefield by walking through the city centre, visiting museums, art galleries (or shops) along the way – or continue walking along the towpaths of either the Rochdale Canal or the Manchester and Ashton Under Lyne Canal. The latter leads to Manchester’s other football stadium.
Museum of Science and Industry:
Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FP
+44(0)161 832 2244
Google map: bit.ly/qiM1Hu
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ
+44(0)843 208 6000
Google map: bit.ly/oTOCEe
Imperial War Museum North
The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ
+ 44 (0) 161 836 4000
Google map: bit.ly/pDppEq
The library is a hidden gem, being one of the most important and remarkable collections in the country on the history of the radical, trade union and labour movement. As well as books, it has banners, prints, photos, posters, badges and many other artifacts.
The collection begins with Thomas Paine in the 1790s and goes right up to the present day, taking in chartists, socialists, suffragettes and suffragists, the Spanish civil war, the miners strike of 84/85 etc.
It was started by Ruth and Edmund Frow in their own home in the 1950s and now fills 40 rooms in a former Edwardian nurses home. Visitors are welcome by prior arrangement (phone or email first).
Sadly, Ruth Frow died on January 11 2008, aged 84.
If you want a two-hour-long, food/beer-sozzled route to see a Manchester City game, as well as a chance to feed some geese, this is my dream route to my seat in the East Stand lower tier from Piccadilly Square: from Piccadilly, with your back to 1960s megalith, Piccadilly Plaza, you head up Tib Street to the YADGAR curry house. If you're veggie, you can get rice and three curries for £3.00 - same price as a pint in some of the Northern Quarter bars. £3.90 and you get lamb or chicken toppings too. Best tarka dhal in Manchester.
After that, you could go further up Tib Street and drink in Centro and then have another pint in the Copper Kettle, a pub whose restoration ran out of money - look at the ceiling on one side of the pub, and then the other. One side was restored, the other remains as it was when the building was almost derelict. However, if you choose to hit Great Ancoats Street at this stage, all there is from there is street and no canal. Instead, after Yadgar, I suggest you go back towards Piccadilly and locate the Mother Mac pub, on a side street off Oldham Street. This, I imagine, will remain like something out of Victorian times even long into another era in which Manchester aspires to make its eastern central section resemble a damper, rainier New York.
From Mother Mac's, you could stock up on samosas at Marhaba, one of the other remaining low-price curry houses in the city centre, or maybe buy some bread and head towards the canal - there's an entrance on to the towpath on Ducie Street, which is the road bearing left as you reach the ramp leading towards Piccadilly Station. Once on the canal, the geese are very 'people-friendly' - in other words, mind your fingers.
Continuing up the canal, you'll reach steps at Great Ancoats Street. Following crowds towards the ground, my final stop is the Bank Of England pub. It's not just a no-frills pub - it's a no-stitching-at-all pub. The toilets are signposted by a male and female pointing figure silhouette shapes, but the male silhouette says 'women' on it and the female one 'male' - everyone turns the wrong direction the first time, like one of those psychological tests where they write 'blue' on a red-coloured board. Once you've survived this delightful obstacle course, remember, you've still got a football match to watch, and the return leg into town afterwards to negotiate. As is often said of Manchester City, it's the 90 minutes in the middle that ruins the experience.
Between Manchester Piccadilly and Sportcity.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com