Introduction to ‘Manchester Movements and Manchester Moments’.
Every city, be it north, south, east or west, is surely made up of the sum of its parts plus an added ingredient that’s made from aspiration, inspiration and perspiration. Architecture, culture, infrastructure all play their part in a city’s stature, but it is the spirit of the people who live there that can make a city great or fearsome, lively or desolate. Some people lead, others inspire, many are exploited and some watch from the sidelines.
So what is it that makes Manchester Manchester? Certainly its industrial heritage shaped the city’s politics and attitude. Factory owners and other privileged Victorian gentlemen may have headed the world’s first industrial city which came to be known as Cottonopolis – but it was built on the back of the workers. Through exploitation rose resistance and protest movements which took on their own momentum.
In my week’s curation of ‘A Wondrous Place’ I’m hoping to bottle some of that Mancunian spirit and present it under the banner of Manchester Movements and Manchester Moments. Join me as we journey from a Georgian businesswoman to a veteran gig goer, via a city landmark and two global institutions that came to fruition from the people and are for the people.
I must also credit and give equal billing to Manchester’s oft-overlooked neighbour – the city of Salford, ever a short stroll away over the River Irwell. At least three of my posts have strong Salfordian connections. The two cities have such an overlapping history, geography and culture and yet proudly remain distinct entities. I’ll not be the first (nor last) blogger to struggle for a satisfying solution to the two cities scenario.
There are many moving and notable examples that I could have chosen but have omitted, e.g. The Peterloo Massacre (which led to the formation of The Guardian newspaper) and the Suffragette Movement. Indeed, Manchester should surely also be known as Suffragette City, alongside its other epithets of Mamucium, Mancunia, Mamecestre, Warehouse City, Cottonopolis, Madchester and Rainy City.
So do join me tomorrow for the first trip in the time machine I have especially rented for the week – don’t be late!
But before we set off I need to answer a question from last week’s excellent curator Sid Fletcher, who asks:
“Chrissy, you’ve experienced living both in London and now Manchester… What sells Manchester to you over the capital?” I love both cities for different reasons – London for its quantity of landmarks and galleries. Manchester has its own galleries and landmarks too, admittedly fewer. But the smaller size of Manchester means that it is more manageable, quicker to travel around and also cheaper to live in than the capital. I find there are more opportunities here, you can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. The city is small enough for you to be a part of it, to live, work and socialise and become a local in communities and areas, such as the Northern Quarter, Chinatown, etc. Unlike London, Manchester is surrounded by such diverse, dramatic and accessible countryside too – to get away from it all when you need to – the Cheshire Ring Canals, Peak District, Lake District and north Wales.