Friends’ Meeting House

“Force is not a remedy.”
– John Bright

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, has a long history of promoting peace and social justice. Quakers had been meeting in Manchester for 200 years before building their first meeting place on this site.

The Society of Friends began as a breakaway group from the Church of England. Quaker beliefs in practical Christianity meant playing active roles in social justice issues such as prison reform. The Society was were dynamic supporters of anti-slavery campaigns, and in 1774 voted to exclude dealers in slavery from membership of their church. When British slavery was abolished in 1833 the Quakers remained active in campaigns to make sure slavery in British colonies was truly at an end, and to abolish slavery in America and elsewhere.

Several key figures in Manchester’s social and political history are linked to the Society, including Richard Cobden and chemist John Dalton.

This House replaced the original building in 1829. Architects Arthur Lane, who later built Manchester’s Corn Exchange, and his pupil Alfred Waterhouse, who would later win the commission to design Manchester Town Hall, were both Quakers.

Meeting Houses are often known as ‘citadels of peace’. Historically, the Mount Street Meeting House has offered a meeting place for those who are concerned with peace and social justice. During the Boer War, meetings held here highlighted the use of concentration camps in warfare. The building has provided a place of peace and safety for those in need: in the chaos of the Peterloo Massacre, the Meeting House provided a vital refuge and first aid post for people fleeing the event.

The Mount Street Meeting House continues to offer a base for local organisations working for peace and human rights, including RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research). This human rights organisation works with people, both locally and abroad, whose human rights are at risk. They support displaced people dealing with housing, deportation, employment, education and other problems. The group is run on an entirely voluntary basis by local and displaced people from all over Greater Manchester. These volunteers come together from many different backgrounds, cultures, histories, experiences and challenges. They represent the rich and diverse community of 21st century Manchester working together to protect social justice.

Society of Friends www.nfpb.gn.apc.org
RAPAR www.rapar.org.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

Friendship Arch

“No man is an island.”
– John Donne

The Friendship Arch stands as an example of the friendship between Manchester and the wider world. For centuries the city has welcomed migrant and refugee populations seeking to build new lives or avoiding persecution elsewhere.

Manchester’s diverse community is based on migration, sadly often caused by conflict, social injustice or change elsewhere. In the 1800s many Irish people came to the city to escape famine. Anti-Semitic pogroms forced many Jewish people to flee from Russia and East Europe: there is a longstanding Jewish community in Manchester. Since the Second World War citizens from Italy, Poland, the Ukraine, India, Pakistan, West Africa and the Caribbean have made their homes in the city and surrounding areas.

Manchester city centre is home to a strong Chinese community. The arch, given to Manchester by the city of Shanghai as a token of friendship, was constructed by specialist Chinese engineers in 1987. It features images of a dragon and a phoenix, symbolising strength and grace. Together they represent the peaceful union between yin and yang.

Following public riots in 2011, Manchester’s citizens joined together to help clean and clear the damage in the city centre. The I Love MCR campaign was set up to express the city’s resilience,  and celebrate community spirit. You will see the logo in shops and on buildings across the city.

Every two years Manchester celebrates its international identity and cultural diversity through the Manchester International Festival, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Manchester has official friendship agreements with the cities Los Angeles (USA), Wuhan (China), St Petersburg (Russia), Chemnitz (Germany), Faisalabad (Pakistan), Cordoba (Spain), Rehovot (Israel) and Bilwi (Nicaragua). The city hosts one of the largest university communities in the world, with students from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and neighbouring Salford University.

Manchester has hosted many conferences on international relations and peace building, including the International Peace Society’s 6th congress (1852) and the 5th Pan-African Congress (1945). Manchester holds annual Peace History Conferences, a Peace Festival and many cultural events including its Literature Festival, Food & Drink and Manchester Pride. Renowned for its love of sport, music, politics and the arts, Manchester is one the UK’s top 3 tourist destinations.

Manchester International Festival www.mif.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
6 minutes

Mechanics Institute

“Education is, quite simply, peace-building by another name. It is the most effective form of defence spending there is.”
– Kofi Annan

The Institute building, completed in 1854, is now a conference centre. It began life as the Mechanics Institute, a school for working people. Its history reflects changes in thinking about education, workers’ rights and social responsibility.

The Institute was first founded in 1825 to offer education to young working men. Like many charitable associations of its time, the Institute was funded by wealthy citizens influenced by the radical ideas being discussed in Manchester’s political and philosophical societies and meetings. But working class people still had little say in how these new institutions worked.

The original Institute, including a library, was built in in Cooper Street. Workmen, ranging from shopkeepers to labourers, could attended evening classes in writing, reading, arithmetic, languages and music. However, classes were not free: the poorest people in the city were still excluded. In 1837, women were allowed to attend the Institute, but classes offered to them – household management and craft – show that ideas about education for all were still very limited. The Institute also ran a children’s school, when there was no state education or other affordable schooling for Manchester’s working class families.

The Institute attracted well known speakers and was very successful. By 1854 it needed new, larger premises: this new Institute was built on Princess Street in what is known as the palazzo style, like many of the buildings in this area.

In 1870 children’s education was made compulsory. More education opportunities for working adults became available. The Institute changed over the years, becoming a Technical School, a teacher training college and finally the Municipal High School of Commerce. After this closed in the 1960s the building, unused and unrepaired, came close to collapse. A Trust was set up to restore the Institute, which re-opened as a Trades Union meeting centre.

The Institute has hosted key events in social and political history including the first mass meeting, or congress, of trades unions in 1864. This is now known, famously, as the Trades Union Congress or TUC. The Cooperative Insurance Society was also founded at this site. Plaques on the Institute’s walls recall these historic events, as they reflect major developments in social history.

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
2 minutes

Alan Turing statue

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there to be done.”
– Alan Turing

This life-size bronze statue was unveiled in 2001. Mathematician Alan Turing played a key role in defeating global fascism in the Second World War, helping to break the Nazis’ Enigma code. He is known as ‘the father of modern computing’.

Turing was Reader in Mathematics at the University of Manchester after the Second World War. He worked on computer programming and artificial intelligence, and his research contributed to the development of the first computers. The coded message on the plaque spells ‘Founder of Computer Science’. Sculptor Glynne Hughes buried his old computer below the memorial in tribute to Turing’s work. The statue is sited near University buildings in the Gay Village – important places in Turing’s life.

Turing holds an apple, recalling his death in 1954, aged 41. He apparently took his own life by eating an apple laced with cyanide, following distressing events in his life linked to his sexuality. Turing, a gay man when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, was arrested in 1951 for having a relationship with another man. He was prosecuted on charges of ‘gross indecency’ and sentenced to chemical castration.

From 1967 homosexuality was no longer illegal England and Wales, but only fully decriminalised in the UK in 2000. In 2009, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a public apology: ‘on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work, I am very proud to say: we’re sorry. You deserved so much better’.

The memorial recalls how intelligence and teamwork helped defeat fascism; the ground-breaking achievements of university research; and progress towards human rights and equality since Turing’s conviction. Manchester proudly remembers Turing’s life and legacy with this statue, the University’s Alan Turing Building, the Alan Turing Way and the Alan Turing Bridge.

Sackville Gardens also holds the Beacon of Hope memorial to those who live or have lived with HIV / AIDS. An annual vigil is held here as part of the Manchester Pride Festival.

Manchester Pride www.manchesterpride.com
Turing www.turing.org.uk
Public transport
Metrolink Piccadilly Gardens Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Time to the next peace trail station
3 minutes

Piccadilly Gardens

Piccadilly Gardens Manchester, M60 1HX

“Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
– Article 20, UN Declaration of Human Rights

Piccadilly Gardens is a lively public space, a site for performances and markets. It’s also a popular location for public demonstrations, drawing attention to concerns about human rights across the world.

Piccadilly Gardens is now recognised as a place where political issues can be highlighted, and where people can communicate their concerns to fellow citizens and to the media. In recent times, people have gathered to show their support for citizens in places of turmoil, including Syria and Egypt. The passionate but peaceful demonstrations seen in the Gardens reveal Manchester as a city of diverse communities and continuing political and social sensitivity, especially about areas and regimes where citizen safety and human rights are at risk.

Two memorial trees in this area remind us of the human cost of conflict, by remembering civilian casualties of war.

The Tree of Remembrance, a bronze and steel tree, was installed in 2005 as part of a project to value older people. It marked the 60th anniversary of the end of fighting in Europe and remembers civilians who lost their lives in bombing attacks on the city (the ‘Manchester Blitz’) during the Second World War. Their names are engraved on the leaves and trunk.

The Halabja Memorial Tree was planted to remember the people killed and injured by a poison gas attack, in 1988, on the Kurdish city of Halabja in Iraq. This attack by the Iraqi air force during the Iran/Iraq War killed an estimated 5000 people and injured many thousands. People still suffer from the terrible effects of chemicals remaining in the environment. Manchester is home to many Kurdish people who sought refuge from conflict, and is connected to Halabja through the Mayors for Peace initiative – both cities are members.

The deadly aftermath of war prevents citizens from developing cultures of peace around the world, threatening health, education, and freedom – basic human rights. Manchester is home to several agencies that tackle these issues on local and international levels: the Mines Advisory Group, UK Campaign Against Depleted Uranium and the International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons work to create safer environments in which people can begin to build peaceful communities.

Refugee Action and RAPAR support people displaced by conflict, who are trying to build lives in Manchester. These agencies all have active bases in the city centre.

CADU/ICBUW bandepleteduranium.org
Refugee Action www.refugee-action.org.uk
Public transport
Metrolink Piccadilly Gardens Stop
Altrincham – Piccadilly
Eccles – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Metrolink Market Street Stop
Bury – Altrincham
East Didsbury – Rochdale
Time to the next peace trail station
9 minutes