People’s History Museum

„The democracy process provides for political and social change without violence.“
– Aung San Suu Kyi

The People’s History Museum holds a wealth of evidence, information and personal stories, linked to the many of the movements, events and places highlighted in this trail.

This National Museum has exhibits on suffrage, education, trade unions, co-operative societies, and the development of the post-war peace movement. It looks at social justice including issues of sexuality, belief, culture and race. Here, you will find the perspectives of working people as well as political parties. It is an ideal spot to find out more information if you’ve been inspired by the trail, especially if you miss any of the stations or are interested in a special theme. It’s open daily from 10am to 5pm and entrance is free.

The museum began life with the Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative History Society. It set up a small collection in the 1960s, and in the 1970s/80s ran a small museum in London. When this closed, the Greater Manchester authorities made a funding offer for the collections. A new trust opened a museum in Princess Street in 1990, and later opened galleries at the Edwardian Pump House on Bridge Street. From 2001 the organisation was called the Peoples History Museum, closing in 2007 for a huge redevelopment at this new site. The new museum opened in 2010 and incorporates flexible spaces for events and a range of themed galleries, as well as an archive and study centre.

Outside, we are reminded of Manchester’s associations with Nuclear Free Local Authorities and Mayors for Peace. The ‚Doves of Peace‘ statue, commemorating the city’s ’nuclear-free city‘ declaration, is installed here.

Two plaques commemorate the 40th and 65th anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings in 1945. They were rededicated by the Mayor of Nagasaki in a special ceremony in 2010, and are located on the wall of the museum.

People's History Museum www.phm org.uk
Public transport
Metrolink St Peter's Square Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Altrincham - Bury
East Didsbury - Rochdale
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne

MAG

„Disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.“
– UN Declaration of Human Rights

MAG is a neutral humanitarian organisation. It works to clear landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) in areas where conflict has taken place. It’s also involved in building education, reconstruction and employment programmes.

In 2013, MAG moved to these headquarters on Peter Street. It has been based in Manchester since its first international headquarters were set up in 1996. The city’s museums have benefitted from MAG’s education resources, outreach and exhibition work, further raising public awareness and support for MAG’s work.

MAG formed in 1989 in response to UXO left by the Soviet War in Afghanistan. At first, MAG published reports to raise awareness about landmines in areas including Afghanistan and Cambodia. 1992 MAG’s delivered its first landmine clearance programme in Iraq. MAG has since worked in more than 40 countries and is currently active in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo Libya and Vietnam.

In 1997 MAG joined other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and formed the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. It led to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, sometimes referred to as the Ottawa Convention – the international agreement that bans anti-personnel landmines. MAG shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for the achievements of the Campaign.

When armed conflict ends, many problems remain, preventing people from living peaceful, productive lives. The number of landmines in an area may be few, but the effect on communities can be devastating. When UXO do not kill, they can cause serious injury, life-changing amputations and disabilities. Children are particularly at risk; almost all casualties are ordinary citizens. MAG offers mine risk education alongside mine clearance, to help reduce risks to local people in their daily lives. MAG programmes provide work and training for many people in areas affected by landmines, including landmine victims and/or their families. MAG supports self-sufficiency, so local people don’t need to depend on outside help in the long term.

MAG concentrates on local people and communities, consulting with them in order to make the  best possible improvements in daily life: releasing land for food production increasing safe access to vital resources like water, education and health services; building a better future.

MAG www.maginternational.org
International Campaign to Ban Landmines www.icbl.org/intro.php
Public transport
Metrolink St Peter's Square Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Altrincham - Bury
East Didsbury - Rochdale
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Time to the next peace trail station
6 minutes

Free Trade Hall

„Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.“
– Dwight Eisenhower

This area was part of St Peter’s Fields, site of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. The Free Trade Hall was completed in 1856 to commemorate the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.

On 16 August 1819, a civil protest for democracy was held in St Peter’s Fields. Only 2% of the population had the vote: most citizens were completely unrepresented. Around 70,000 people attended the protest meeting where speakers called for votes for all. The event began peacefully but magistrates ordered local militia to break up the crowd. Unarmed citizens were attacked with swords, pistols, and batons. It’s estimated 16 people died and 600 injured. Leading speakers were arrested, including famous Radical Henry Hunt, sentenced to over 2 years in prison. The event became known as the ‚Peterloo‘ Massacre – combining St Peter’s Fields with the Battle of Waterloo. A red plaque remembers this historical event, which casts a shadow on the city’s reputation for free speech and open expressions of public opinion.

Richard Cobden gave the land for the Free Trade Hall site. The concert hall, funded by public donations, was home to the Halle Orchestra from 1858 until 1996. The ground floor shows the coats of arms of Lancashire towns that took part in the Anti-Corn Law movement. On the upper floor you can see carved figures representing free trade, the arts, trade and the continents.

Events at the Hall continued a tradition of debate and demonstration about political issues. In 1872 Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli gave his One Nation‘ speech, making reference to social reforms. In 1904 Winston Churchill spoke in defence of Britain’s free trade policy, and was heckled by members of the suffragette movement. The following year, activists from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) were thrown out of a public meeting: politician Sir Edward Grey refused to answer Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney’s question on Votes for Women. Pankhurst began a meeting outside the Hall, and when police tried to move them on she was arrested and brought to court. This was the beginning of the WPSU’s militant campaign for the vote.

The Hall was bombed during the Second World War. Fortunately its exterior survived but much of the interior was rebuilt in the 1950s. In later years, the Hall hosted concerts with performers from Bob Dylan to The Sex Pistols. The final public speech at the Free Trade Hall was delivered by the then Dalai Lama in 1996.

The Hall was put up for sale by the Council in 1997, and is now a hotel.

Peterloo Massacre Memorial Campaign www.peterloomassacre.org
Public transport
Metrolink St Peter's Square Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Altrincham - Bury
East Didsbury - Rochdale
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Time to the next peace trail station
0 minutes

St. Mary’s Church

„To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.“
– Nelson Mandela

St Mary’s Church marks the site of the first purpose-built Roman Catholic Church in England since the Reformation. It is locally better known as ‚The Hidden Gem‘.

St Mary’s Church has been a peaceful sanctuary and a place of tolerance since the original church was built here in 1794. The present building dates from 1848.

‚The Hidden Gem‘ is a good example of religious tolerance in the city. Before the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, most Catholics had to worship in secret. Roman Catholics were still not allowed to build their churches in prominent places. St Mary’s Church was built in a then deprived area between Deansgate and Albert Square.

The church is referred to as ‚The Hidden Gem‘ because of its unexpected beauty, with marble sculptures and striking stained glass and paintings. Its parish priest describes the ‚wonderful amazement and a feeling of utter peace‘ felt by people who visit. It offers a peaceful place for reflection for visitors of any, or no, religious faith.

Manchester has a long history of sheltering those who experience religious persecution, a city where a variety of cultures and faiths co-exist, often working together for the benefit of the wider community. Within less than 10 miles of this spot, you can find Manchester’s Buddhist Centre; Mosque and Islamic Centre; Synagogue; Hindu Temple; Sikh Temple and Catholic cathedral.  Many of these institutions work together on interfaith projects across the region.

Faith Northwest, Interfaith Network www.faithnorthwest.org.uk
St. Mary's Chruch hiddengem.catholicfaith.co.uk
Public transport
Metrolink St Peter's Square Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Altrincham - Bury
East Didsbury - Rochdale
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Time to the next peace trail station
5 minutes

Abraham Lincoln

„I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.“
– Abraham Lincoln

This statue of Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the USA, was sculpted by George Grey Bernard. It was planned to stand outside the Houses of Parliament in London, to mark 100 years of unbroken peace between the UK and the USA.

However the design was controversial, and eventually a different statue was chosen. The first statue, bought by private American owners, was donated to Manchester to recognise its support for Lincoln’s Union movement during the American Civil War. In 1919 it was installed in Platt Fields, just outside the city. It was moved to Lincoln Square in 1986.

Manchester’s huge cotton processing industry, employing thousands of people, imported almost all its raw cotton from America. In 1861, the Civil War prevented cotton shipments. The region was divided:  some felt that supporting Lincoln would mean a longer war. Lancashire’s mill towns would be devastated without cotton imports. However, many workers passionately supported Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance.

A mass meeting in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in 1862 was attended by a mixture of the Manchester middle class and cotton workers. They agreed to support Lincoln and the blockade on cotton, essentially boycotting Southern cotton in protest against the use of slave labour. A letter in the name of the Working People of Manchester was sent to Abraham Lincoln. It speaks in support of

‚the erasure of that foul blot on civilisation and Christianity – chattel slavery… the vast progress which you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed.‘

Lincoln’s reply, thanking the cotton workers of Lancashire for their support, can be read on the statue’s base, including this line:

‚… I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the working men of Manchester and in all Europe are called to endure in this crisis….‘

The word ‚men‘ has now been changed to ‚people‘. This recognises the fact that more than half of the region’s mill workers were women. The strong moral and political statement made at the Free Trade Hall meant terrible hardship: it led to the Lancashire Cotton Famine. Without raw material, production in the county’s mills came to a halt. Many cotton workers lost their jobs and homes, and began to starve. Many efforts to relieve the situation led to public works programmes, where workers could find other ways to earn money.

This monument represents the integrity and solidarity of Manchester’s workers with enslaved citizens in America.

Public transport
Metrolink St Peter's Square Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Altrincham - Bury
East Didsbury - Rochdale
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Time to the next peace trail station
0 minutes

Cathedral

„Diversity, Inclusion, Glory, Wholeness, Healing“
– Healing Window, Manchester Cathedral

This beautiful church was founded in the 1200s for the small medieval parish of Manchester. By 1847 it was the cathedral of an industrial city. The building has seen many changes over the years as each generation has made its mark.

The cathedral represents resilience and reconstruction. It endured vandalism in the civil wars of the 1700s, and was bombed in the Second World War. Post-war repairs took 20 years, and included replacement of the stained glass windows. A stunning new window, the Fire Window, was created, marking survival and regeneration in peacetime. In 1996 an IRA bomb devastated the city centre. The rebuilding that followed included the development of the area near the cathedral, known as the Millennium Quarter. That reconstruction is commemorated in another work of stained glass, the Healing Window. The words ‚Diversity, Inclusion, Glory, Wholeness, Healing‘ are engraved under the window, celebrating the qualities of peaceful communities.

The cathedral will see further changes as the city begins work on the ‚Medieval Quarter‘ development. The project will highlight historic Manchester for new generations and reflect some of the events covered in this trail – perhaps with memorials relating to peace and social justice.

The cathedral itself has witnessed some of those events: Thomas Clarkson, a key figure in the anti-slavery movement, delivered an influential sermon here in 1787. It was attended by many local people, and Clarkson wrote, ‚I was surprised also to find a great crowd of black people standing round the pulpit‘.  From this point, Manchester was at the forefront of campaigns to abolish the transatlantic slave trade.

In early 1939, Picasso’s famous anti-war painting ‚Guernica‘ went on show in a car showroom opposite the Cathedral, where you now see a car park. Entry to the show, part of a tour to raise awareness about the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, cost sixpence. This went to Manchester Foodship for Spain, an aid agency for civilian refugees and children. Manchester’s citizens showed strong support for the Spanish Republican cause.

Today the cathedral is a peaceful haven for visitors, but also hosts many events and concerts. The nearby Manchester Buddhist Centre organises joint visits with the cathedral, to explore both buildings, their underlying history and beliefs – and how they work as places of peace.

Manchester Cathedral www.manchestercathedral.org
Manchester Buddhist Centre www.manchesterbuddhistcentre.org.uk
Public transport
Metrolink Victoria Station Stop
East Didsbury – Rochdale
Bury – Altrincham
Time to the next peace trail station
9 minutes

Chetham’s Library

„Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.“
– Benjamin Franklin

Chetham’s library was founded in 1653, and is the oldest public library in the UK. The beautiful sandstone building dates back to 1421, when it was a priest’s college.

During the Civil War, it was used to store weapons and gunpowder.

Humphrey Chetham, a wealthy banker, made a will to establish this library and 5 ‚chained‘ libraries in local churches. He also funded a school for underprivileged boys, the Chetham School and Hospital – so called because it was a place for shelter as well as education. He believed that overcoming ignorance could help overcome poverty. The School is now a specialist music college next door but the library, an independent charity, offers free entrance to readers and visitors as Chetham intended.

The library collection began in 1655 and is still growing. It is of international importance and continues to be used for research and reference. It was famously used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the 1840s: they worked on studies of social problems at a wooden table in the Reading Room. Engels’ influential book The Condition of the Working Class in England was published in 1844. Engels wrote to Marx in 1870:

‚During the last few days I have again spent a good deal of time sitting at the four-sided desk in the alcove where we sat together twenty-four years ago. I am very fond of the place‘.

The desk is still beneath the window, and the Reading Room looks very much as it would have done when Marx and Engels were readers there.

Manchester is well known as a pioneer of education and a centre for literature, learning and research. When the Free Libraries Act was passed in 1850, the city’s Mayor oversaw a campaign to build a ‚free‘ library for all Manchester’s citizens – the first free public library in the world. A new Central Library was opened near the Town Hall in 1934. It’s one of the largest public lending libraries in the UK.

Other city libraries include the University of Manchester’s John Ryland’s Library on Deansgate. Its astonishing collection of rare and priceless works includes the oldest known piece of the Bible, the St John fragment. Like Chetham’s, the beautiful and historic setting of the collections gives a sense of peace and reflection to visitors.

Chetham's Library www.chethams.org.uk
Manchester City Council www.manchester.gov.uk
Public transport
Metrolink Victoria Station Stop
East Didsbury – Rochdale
Bury – Altrincham
Time to the next peace trail station
3 minutes

Victoria Station

„Poverty is the worst form of violence.“
– Mahatma Gandhi

Victoria Station was built in the 1840s. It reminds us of Manchester’s links with people and places, locally, nationally and across the world.

A tiled map in the station shows connections from Manchester to UK towns and cities, and also to European ports and the rest of the world. It reflects Manchester’s status as a hub for industry and trade, and of transportation and migration.

In the 1800s major developments in industry and transport, especially the railways, caused huge growth in Manchester and its population. This changing society included an underclass living in shocking poverty. As the region became industrialised people migrated to the cities; in Manchester, migrants from the Irish Famine added to a desperately crowded slum population. The local area was notorious for its terrible poverty and this actual site is described in Friedrich Engels‘ book, The Condition of the Working Class in England:

‚The pauper burial-ground, the station of the Liverpool and Leeds railway and, in the rear of this, the Workhouse, the ‚Poor-Law Bastille‘ of Manchester‘.

Victoria Station itself is built on the site of mass graves of the poorest citizens: thousands died from preventable conditions, like cholera, linked to poverty and squalid living conditions. The average life expectancy in Manchester in 1841 was just 26 years.

Engels writes about:

„the frightful condition of this Hell upon Earth. Everything here arouses horror and indignation.“

That horror and indignation strengthened support for social change and reform in Manchester. Practical efforts to help the poorest citizens included Ragged Schools, referring to the appearance of the destitute children who attended. They were set up in several UK cities with similar social problems, giving basic education but also food, clothing, and lodging. There were 7 of these in Manchester, and a Ragged School building is just a 10-minute walk away from the station.

Later, campaigns for social reform would lead to improvements in living and working

Public transport
Metrolink Victoria Station Stop
East Didsbury – Rochdale
Bury – Altrincham
Time to the next peace trail station
1 minute

Albert Square

„Good laws make it easier to do right and harder to do wrong.“
– William E Gladstone

Albert Square has witnessed many demonstrations and public protests linked to politics, citizenship and controversial government decisions, including UK military action and public spending cuts.

Historically, Albert Square dates from the late 1800s: a time of great political upheaval and debate in the UK. People, with more diverse religious, political and professional backgrounds than ever before, began to influence social change, forming societies to share and act on new ideas. The Square’s statues represent political thinkers and social reformers, and their efforts to make changes through debate and active participation in political processes:

William Gladstone, Liberal politician Prime Minister four separate times. He was responsible for reforms in voting systems.

Oliver Heywood, a Manchester-born banker, sponsored many charitable causes including Chetham’s Hospital and Manchester Grammar School.

James Fraser, Anglican Bishop of Manchester, played an active role in social issues. He supported the Cooperative movement and, as an arbitrator, helped resolve conflict in several strikes. Known as ‚the bishop of all denominations‘, Fraser was honoured by non-Anglican, Jewish and Greek Orthodox congregations when he died. Manchester as a multi-faith city is reflected at various stations in this trail.

John Bright was a Quaker, manufacturer, Liberal statesman and Manchester MP. With Richard Cobden, he was a leading member of the Free Trade movement and ‚Anti-Corn Law League‘. The ‚Corn Laws‘ deliberately kept bread prices high to protect British landowners and farmers. They had devastating impact on poor citizens until their abolition in 1846. Bright also spoke out against capital punishment and slavery. However, he was disliked by his own millworkers: his social conscience did not drive him to improve their living and working conditions or condemn child labour.

Manchester differs from many European cities: only one of its civic memorials features a military figure, instead remembering those who developed new ideas about working, learning, and social justice – in times of peace as well as conflict and crisis. It’s possible that people leading protests today will be remembered through monuments in Manchester’s’ public spaces in years to come.

Public transport
Metrolink St Peter's Square Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Altrincham - Bury
East Didsbury – Rochdale
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Time to the next peace trail station
13 minutes

Town Hall

„Ring out the false, ring in the true.“
– Inscription on Great Abel

Manchester’s Town Hall was built in 1877. This outstanding piece of neo-Gothic architecture is a busy working headquarters for 21st century Manchester’s City Council.

The clock tower’s bell, Great Abel, is named after Abel Heywood. A Manchester publisher, born into poverty and educated at the Mechanics Institute, he became a successful publisher and was twice the city’s Mayor. He was active in the Chartist movement, which called for basic reforms to make voting systems more democratic.

The stunning interior design includes floor mosaics of bees and cotton flowers, symbolising Manchester’s industrious history. The Great Hall is lined with the Manchester Murals, a history of the city painted by Ford Madox Brown. The Sculpture Gallery includes a bust of Richard Cobden: manufacturer, Liberal statesman and co- founder of the Anti-Corn Law League and Free Trade Movement. Linking free trade to the promotion of peace and prevention of war, he put forward proposals in parliament to support international arbitration and reduce armaments.

Reminders of the history of peace and social justice include a transcript of the UN’s International Declaration of Human Rights, and a painting of Margaret Ashton, a campaigner for women’s right to vote and the first woman elected to the council. Ashton, a committed pacifist, was stripped of her civic positions during the First World War. This portrait was refused when presented to the City Council in 1925.

You can also find a plaque declaring Manchester the world’s first ’nuclear free city‘ in 1980. The city is the host for the UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA). NFLA, an international group of authorities, works towards a world free from nuclear weapons.

Another plaque honours Mayors for Peace, proposed by the Mayor of Hiroshima in 1982. Lead cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, plus a global membership of nearly 6000 cities, work together towards the abolition of nuclear weapons. They aim to support ‚genuine and lasting world peace by working to eliminate starvation and poverty, assist refugees fleeing local conflict, support human rights, protect the environment, and solve the other problems that threaten peaceful coexistence within the human family‘. Manchester became a Vice President City in 2001.

NFLA www.nuclearpolicy.info
Mayors for Peace www.mayorsforpeace.org
Manchester City Council www.manchester.gov.uk
Public transport
Metrolink St Peter's Square Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Altrincham - Bury
East Didsbury – Rochdale
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Time to the next peace trail station
1 minute