A day out at Manchester Histories Festival

A few of our team recently enjoyed a day out at the Manchester Histories Festival, where we were keen to spread the word about our work as well as delving into others! Here, Lesley gives us a round-up of the day, with some interesting volunteering opportunities shared too.

We had a great day at Gorton Monastery where the MyGen reporters revelled in the mass and diversity of all things history, nostalgia and Manchester on display.

We chatted to stall holders and visitors about their interests, hobbies and obsessions! From freshly baked Challah on the Jewish Museum stand, to the man who owns a 1950’s corporation bus, it was all delicious, delightful and absorbing.

I stopped by the Manchester Archive stand. Having worked as an Archive Assistant for 14 years in Worcestershire, I was keen to compare notes. This is the County Record Office as was, and as such stores safely, and makes available to the public, primary written materials on a vast array of subject matter.

Alan and Paul exhibiting the merch from our online shop!

It’s oldest record dates back to 1197. The public can use the material in many ways, academic research, house, family and local history. So, if you want to learn about what house your Auntie Ethel lived in or look into the historical deeds of Manchester’s great and good, browse back copies of the MEN this is your place.

It’s open 6 days a week and is free. They also put on behind the scenes tours, and have currant volunteering opportunities. I hope to find out more soon so watch this space.

I like extremes, from medieval paper archives to 20th Century musical history. Band on the Wall, a 200 year old (who knew) iconic Manchester music venue were also in evidence, and their news is a breath of fresh air after the last two years.

They have secured government funding to help recover from the pandemic effects and keep serving the good people of Manchester with superlative tunes.

Band on the Wall stand

This has also enabled them to undertake the Echoes from the Attic project – sorting, cataloguing and digitising material they found in their attic, prior to redevelopment. This stash consists of posters, leaflets, tickets etc., from previous live performances.

They are looking for volunteers to help them do it. This can be done online from home, but may also involve work on sight, and may include helping to curate a future exhibition. Does this get you tapping your feet? Contact Stacy on 0161 834 1786 or [email protected]

Then my attention was grabbed by the North West Labour History Society stand. Being a leftie a homed in. I was quickly disabused – they are definitely not the society for the Labour Party’s History NW branch, but rather people interested in the history of working people in the north west.

North West Labour History Society.

They produce a journal regularly and had back copies on offer. So to finish the day I took home what promises to be very interesting reads on various topics – Peterloo, Nelson Pacifists, Pilkington’s strike, Alexandra Park (a park of protest), Mrs Pankhurst’s Advice Column, Women’s Football and much more.

Our reporter Christine Duffin said: “I was interested in the musical performances that were part of the programme and took place in the Knave, were the acoustics were amazing.

“There was a collaboration between the Youth Voice Group, a composer and instrumentalists from Manchester Camerata – a British Chamber orchestra with a base at Gorton Monastery – Manchester Camerata, to create a brand new song about the environment and climate change, especially for the Celebration Day event which was pretty special and amazing.

“Plus we were also wowed with a dance piece created by the Hideout Youth Zone, which provides a safe, inspiring place for young people aged between 8 and 19 – HideOut Youth Zone.

“I was so impressed by these young people with all their creative abilities and fearlessness – new ‘My Generation’ members in the making I think!”

It was a brilliant day!

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