When you think of Manchester, a number of things might spring to mind. Football, rain and Noel Gallagher would be just three examples. However this city is a profoundly historical place and perhaps its greatest gift to the world thus far was the Industrial Revolution. With this reputation in mind then, it seems only fitting that Manchester is home to The People’s History Museum – a historical archive chronicling the history of working people in Britain.
The great thing about this museum is its relevance to its location – this is perfect product placement! However, the museum’s greatest strength is its universality. On visiting it you will realise its collection addresses political history, the fight for workers’ rights and art, all relevant in some way to the working history of this country. One of the museums greatest highlights is the collection of 18th and 19th century cartoons – perfectly capturing the essence of British working class satire and its representation in the press.
It is not just political history you will be able to enjoy upon your visit but a broader and revealing social history. Over 1700 posters relating to the Spanish Civil War and the Labour Party are on show in one of the museum’s newest exhibits. These posters are an emotive window into the role of British working people in their push for reform both at home and abroad, helping bring to life the often perilous struggle they faced in doing so.
For the keener eyed historian there is also an extensive array of medals and political tokens which celebrate a variety of key historical moments for working people, including the repeal of the Corn Laws and the founding of workers’ unions. An interesting part of this vast collection is the deep connection many of these items have with the north west of England and Manchester more specifically, such as a commemorative jug remembering those killed in protests against the Corn Laws in Manchester.
The People’s History Museum is an insightful, entertaining and varied look into the relevance of working people to Britain’s political and social fabric – but also a historical collection with great significance to Manchester’s itself.