Manchester Histories Festival

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Remembering Strawberry Studios

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Remembering Strawberry Studios

Friday January 27th will see the launch of a major exhibition at Stockport Story Museum commemorating the history of the iconic Strawberry Recording Studios, founded fifty years ago in 1967 by Peter Tattersall.

Strawberry became one of the first professional recording studios outside of London and was home to the four Manchester musicians who would eventually form the pop group 10cc in 1972. All of 10cc’s albums and hit singles up to 1976, including the worldwide hit I’m Not In Love, were recorded in Stockport and, as a result of the band’s success, Strawberry developed a technical opulence unmatched in the region. Strawberry became so successful in this era, that 10cc found themselves unable to book time in their own studio and they were forced to build a new Strawberry Studios, in the South of England.

However, Strawberry in Stockport went from strength to strength and continued Strawberry 50 Exhibition to provide facilities for a wide variety of bands into the 1980s. It was particularly handy for the new generation of bands who were part of the emerging Manchester music scene of the mid-1970s onwards. Bands on the Factory Records label were regular visitors to Stockport, with Factory producer Martin Hannett particularly attracted to the sound produced in the 19th Century industrial building that housed Strawberry.  Unfortunately, the volatility associated with the emergence of digital sound saw Strawberry lose its way in the early 1990s and the Studio closed in 1993, after a quarter of a century of sound recording in Stockport.

Whilst Manchester’s musical legacy is famous throughout the world, Strawberry’s role is less well-known and the history and legacy of the Studio had been largely ignored until Peter Wadsworth started researching the Studio for a PhD at the University of Manchester (awarded in 2007). This renewed interest led to the Strawberry building receiving a blue plaque in 2007 (updated in 2016 to tie-in with the 50th anniversary celebrations), and the current building owners reinstating the 1980s signage on the outside of the building. Manchester Histories Festival also helped with a series of memory-collecting events in 2014 and this exhibition is the culmination of a number of years’ work in bringing together a variety of items relating to Strawberry’s history.

Strawberry Studios: I Am In Love explores Strawberry’s rich heritage, commemorating 50 years since the Studio first opened welcoming an array of artists, including the likes of 10cc, Joy Division, Neil Sedaka, Paul McCartney, The Smiths, Sad Café, Simply Red, The Syd Lawrence Orchestra and The Stone Roses through its doors.



Strawberry Blue Plaque      Strawberry Blue Plaque (1)

(above) The original blue plaque being removed in 2016 and the new blue plaque prior to installation (Photos: Peter Wadsworth)

Strawberry new signage

(left) Retro signage, fitted by building owners (Mondiale) in 2016 (Photo: Peter Wadsworth)

Strawberry at MHF(above/right) Promoting Strawberry’s history at the

2016 Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day at Manchester Town Hall (photo: Peter Wadsworth)

Fuse and the Small Blonde

(above) Fuse and the Small Blonde perform at the Seven Miles Out fundraiser Strawberry-themed concert in March 2016 at the Stockport Plaza (Photo: Peter Wadsworth)

Strawberry in 1973

(above) Strawberry in 1973 (Photo: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council)

(right) The classic 10cc single I’m Not In Love,10cc single I’m Not In Love

recorded in Strawberry in 1975 (Photo: Peter Wadsworth)

(below) Manchester City visited Strawberry in 1972 to record Boys in Blue (Photo: Peter Wadsworth)

Boys in Blue

(below) 10cc’s Eric Stewart in Strawberry in 1970 (Photo: Courtesy of Eric Stewart)

Eric Stewart

The exhibition continues at Stockport Story Museum from 27 Jan 2017 to 28 Jan 2018.

Guest blog by historian Peter Wadsworth


Tagged in CommunitiesPeople

Welcome to our new MA students

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Over the next few months the post graduates students will work with us to support our social media platforms, get out and about to meet our community groups who are taking part in our Hidden Histories and Hidden Historian HLF project. We will be releasing more information about our plans for the project in the New Year. The students will also be posting some blogs about their journey working with us. So watch this space.

Here is a bit about our new arrivals, and we look forward to working with them all.

Becky Brookes

Photo of Becky Brookes

Becky is currently an MA student. focussing on Modern British and LGBT+ histories. She previously volunteered for Manchester Histories during the 2016 Festival, where she was inspired by the range of creative projects on display, and the passionate people who put it all together. Becky has a keen interest in public history as a way to empower people and communities, and firmly believers that histories and heritage have the potential to 'transform lives'. Becky is therefore very excited about working with Manchester Histories again, and looks forward to getting involved with their upcoming projects.

Joe Harrigan

image of Joe

Joe is studying for a MA in History. Joe is new to the city and is looking forward to the chance to see more of the palace with Manchester Histories. Before arriving in Manchester, Joe worked in his hometown of Leicester on a variety of different voluntary and community media projects. Joe has been an advisor to people interst6ed in volunteering or setting up their own charities and has worked on the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Joe has also written a series of short historical films about Leicester, been assistant producer on several other short films for local charity magazines. Most excitingly Joe helped to deliver the Richard III re-interment5 ceremony and worked with Dave's Leicester Comedy festival in 2015. Joe is hoping that he can use all of his skills to help uncover the Hidden Histories of Manchester.

Rebekah Shaw

Image of Rebekah

Rebekah is a recent graduate of University of Manchester, having studied BA History and Sociology. Rebekah is now studying MA History. Rebekah is interested in bringing interdisciplinary approaches to cultural and social history, and wants to get more people excited about their heritage working with Manchester Histories.

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The Bradford Pit Project; an update from one of Manchester Community Histories Award 2014 Winners - Lauren Murphy

Sunday 3 January 2016


In 2014 I won the Community Award as part of the Manchester Community Map of the Bradford Pit area courtesy Remembering Bradford Pit ProjectHistories Awards with The Bradford Pit Project. 

To give you a bit of background on the project, Bradford Colliery was a fundamental contributor to the fuel and power industry for years. Today, the Etihad campus occupies the site on which the colliery once stood. After its closure in 1968 and demolition in 1973 there have been various changes to East Manchester’s physical development and regeneration, which means there has been a lessening awareness of the area’s heritage.

My Grandfather was a former Bradford Miner and suffered an accident there which affected the rest of his life. After his passing I was inspired to research the history of the site and develop a project for a permanent commemoration. 

Miners visit St Brigids Primary School The project’s exhibition ‘Remembering Bradford Pit’ ran as part of Manchester Histories Festival in 2014 and was nominated for the award because of the work done with Beswick Library and St. Brigids Primary School. A visit was arranged to ‘tell the stories of the underground’ to the children. The event included activities such as ‘tally’ stamping and coal drawing to capture the children’s responses to the stories. The aim of the exhibition and miners visit was to help the Beswick/Bradford community rediscover what is an important part of the area’s heritage. Children drawings produced in response to listening to oral histories

During the awards ceremony, I was approached by Laing O’Rourke, sponsors of the Community Award, who were so impressed with the project that they offered me a 6 month placement during which I was appointed the role of ‘Regeneration and Community Co-ordinator’. I gained a fixed term contract with the company to work on The Bradford Pit Project full time to bring the project into fruition. Since then I have been able to spend my time developing the phases of the project in order to realise it's end aim of creating a landmark, that is a celebration of this pioneering area. 

The prize money has contributed to the development of the project’s website which allows the public to share their stories and memories on the area aiding the development of the project’s archive. The archive is to be housed at Archives+ Manchester Central Library as a permanent resource for generations to come. 

The recognition received and whole experience of Manchester Histories Festival, provided me the stepping stones and break the project needed in order to realise its full potential and aims. Without the festivals awards I wouldn’t have been able to propel the project to the stage it is currently at and have even been given the amazing opportunity to do this.

Entries and nominations for the 2016 Manchester Histories Community Awards 2016 close at 5pm on Friday 29th January 2016. Full details and application forms are available through the Manchester Histories' website.

Tagged in CommunitiesFestival

Angel Meadow, Gravestone Genealogy with Friends of Angle Meadow

Monday 7 December 2015

2014 Manchester Histories' Community Award Judges' Recommended prize winners - Friends of Angel Meadow and Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society have written this insightful blog post about their joint project and what they have done since winning the award.

St Michael’s Flags and Angel Meadow park is situated close to Manchester city centre, near to the new Co-operative Group headquarters. St Michael’s Church stood on the site and LS Lowry depicted the area in several of his paintings.

Angel Meadow was originally on the outskirts of the city [Manchester] and was once a field of wildflowers sloping down to the River Irk. Fast forward a few hundred years and it was described as “the lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy and most wicked locality in Manchester”. After the Industrial Revolution, the area became an Irish slum and land next to the old church became a paupers burial ground. An estimated 30,000 bodies are buried here. The German philosopher, social scientist and journalist, Friedrich Engels studied the area for his Conditions of the Working Classes in England (1845).

Friends of Angel Meadow or FOAM was formed in 2004 in Degeneration of Angel MeadowManchester. Since then, the area has been transformed from an abandoned, unloved site into a green retreat amid the bustle of the city.

All that remains of the church today is around 50 gravestones which form part of a planting area within the park. Members of FOAM and park users had often asked about the histories and fates of people inscribed on these stones and we frequently come across tourists visiting the park after discovering ancestors with links to the area. This interest led to a collaboration between Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society (MLFHS) and FOAM to look into the people behind the names and the “Who Do You Think They Were?” project was born.

Our aim [through the project] was to discover more about the people buried in this historical park. Along the way our volunteers learnt about genealogical research, most for the first time. We discovered links to interesting Manchester characters and made contact with descendants in far flung places who were as excited as we were to discover their links to Manchester and its history.

MLFHS were incredibly supportive from the outset. Their burial ground expert, John Marsden, spoke at our Community Day and provided a help sheet explaining how to get started for novice genealogists. MLFHS ran sessions for FOAM volunteers.MLFHS did in-fact carry out a survey of the stones and their inscriptions in 1968, but FOAM’s survey in 2013 found that only 40% of those stones were still in situ. This meant that it was even more important to document this information and history for posterity as who knows what may happen in the next 40 years!

In 2014 FOAM and MLFHS were awarded a Judges' Recommended Prize of a trophy and cash prize in the Manchester Histories' Community Awards for the project ‘Angel Meadow Gravestone Genealogy’.

Memorial plaque at Southern Cemetery FOAM spent some of the prize money on a memorial plaque to recognise unmarked graves (see image to the left). Works in the park in 2014 meant that graves were disturbed and bones discovered were reburied at Southern Cemetery by Manchester City Council (MCC) in an unmarked “paupers” grave. We felt it was important that the new grave was marked in some way that made clear the historical link back to Angel Meadow. FOAM members also planted some bulbs at the grave so it should look lovely in spring. We combined this with a Southern Cemetery Tour from Emma Fox of Manchester Guided Tours and showed her the grave so she could incorporate this into future tours.

Since winning the award we have been in contact with people as far away as America who have discovered their family links to Manchester via our website which is really encouraging. John Marsden of MLFHS has also subsequently published a book on Manchester’s old burial grounds which includes a chapter on Angel Meadow and the New Burying Ground - forgotten-fields.co.uk. We also decided to continue our historical research and some of our members looked into the archives of the two Ragged Schools in our area – the Sharp Street and Chartered Street Ragged Schools. FOAM subsequently gave a talk at the Ragged University Project. This research is ongoing and we plan to co-host a talk next year on site.

Over recent years FOAM has worked closely with MCC and The Co-operative Group/NOMA, along with other property developers in the area. Whilst we have not always seen eye to eye; all sides recognise that St Michael’s New entrance to Angel MeadowFlags and Angel Meadow is a valuable asset to the area and we are all keen to ensure that the history and heritage of the site is protected as further development occurs in the area. Section 106 money provided to MCC by developers led to the rebuilding of the boundary wall on Aspin Lane and the reopening of the “Lowry Steps” in 2014, and European Regional Development Fund grants sourced by The Co-operative Group as part of their NOMA re-development have resulted in a new entrance to the park being formed. NOMA also gave FOAM thousands of spring bulbs and we held a planting session in November and a reopening event on Sunday  6 December this year.

If anyone wants to get involved and learn more, FOAM runs a variety of events throughout the year including; litter pick and gardening sessions, tree, bulb and wildflower planting, historical research and talks and community events, and we always welcome volunteers. A number of guided tours also operate regularly in the area including New Manchester Walks and Manchester Tour Guides.

Entries and nominations for the 2016 Manchester Histories Community Awards 2016 close at 5pm on Friday 29th January 2016. Full details and application forms are available through the Manchester Histories' website.

Tagged in CommunitiesPeople

One Pound Reward for a Lost Boy with Vicci McCann

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Among the posters and handbills of the Warrington County Borough police collection in the Lancashire Archives, there is a poster detailing the loss of an Italian boy at Preston, while travelling to Manchester. It is from about 1860/61. The boy's name is Antonio Grafigna, aged 11 and he is described as having chesnut eyes and hair, wearing a hairy cap, Italian fustian jacket and drab corduroy trousers. An intriguing aspect of his description is that he has with him guinea pigs and white mice, suggesting that Antonio was a street entertainer.

Antonio's brother Davide, named on the poster as 'Davis' hadBlack and white image displaying a LOST poster for a young Italian boy who was lost in Preston. A one pound reward is offered for his return and people are to contact his brother who was living in Back Turner Street Manchester. Image courtesy of Lancashir offered a £1 reward for information and gave his address as 20 Back Turner Street , Manchester. Back Turner Street in the Northern Quarter is also very close to Ancoats, which in the 19th century was known as 'Ancoats Little Italy' because of the large number of Italian immigrants who settled there. Among these immigrants were a large number of 'Italian Musicians' which was a common euphemism for street entertainer or barrel organ musician. A large number of child street entertainers were part of this music industry, and our 'Lost: Boy from Italy' poster is evidence of a history that is often dark and involved what was essentially child trafficking.

Italian children were commonly purchased from their parents, sometimes kidnapped, by men known as Padroni. The children would be taught to sing or play and while some managed to save money and eventually prosper, while under the control of the Padroni they were often abused, beaten and otherwise cruelly treated. Because they were foreign nationals they were not covered by developing legislation controlling the employment of children in Britain.

According to Anthony Rea's web site 'Ancoats Little Italy', 'Manchester's Little Italy was well known for its entertainers and especially its street musicians.' There were also a number of barrel organ manufacturers who set up in Manchester in the late 19th century including, the Antonelli family and Antonio Varetto.

The story has a happy ending as Antionio was found and Antonio went on to set up a barrel organ hire shop and bar in Berlin and later was a partner in a company called 'Cocchi, Bacigalupo and Graffigna' making barrel organs. This and other handbills and posters relating to Manchester can be seen at Lancashire Archives in Preston.

Tagged in CommunitiesPeople

Manchester's Apple Market with Hannah Barker

Monday 2 November 2015

On Apple Day (21 October) Helping Britain Blossom launched a scheme in Manchester that aims to restore and create 100 community orchards in the UK by 2017. As part of the launch they brought back to life Manchester’s apple market that used Black and white photograph sketch of Fennel Street in Manchester in 1820 showing different buildings and a man on a horse crossing the streetto exist on Fennel St in the City Centre, hoping to encourage volunteers and to locate some of the region's forgotten orchards. I went along to provide some historical context.

Though Manchester’s main market during the eighteenth century was in Market Place, by the later part of the century lack of space led to a series of specialized markets setting up in adjoining streets, when the Apple or Fruit market moved to Fennel Street. Here it remained from 1769 to 1846 when the market made way for road improvements.

The Apple Market in Manchester was the traditional name for the town’s fruit market. Although other types of fruit were sold here, apples dominated the fruit trade from at least the eighteenth century, hence the market’s name.

Roger Scola, who traced the food supply of Victorian Manchester in his book, Feeding the Victorian City: The Food Supply of Manchester 1770-1870 (1992) noted that whilst apples arrived to the town from countiesImage of a deed map of Manchester from 1760 - 1783 in colour showing orchards growing near Shudehill in Manchester. Image courtesy of Chetham's Library such as Worcestershire and Herefordshire, they were also grown more locally in the market garden-districts around Warrington and Stretford as well as in a large number of small mixed farms.

We can also see evidence of apple growing right in the centre of town in a deed map dating from c.1760-1783 held at Chetham's Library. This shows in unusual detail a series of plots around Shude Hill – a mere stone’s throw from the site of the Apple Market. Here we can see what look to be two small orchards in the gardens of two properties. Hopefully we will soon see more small orchards in and around greater Manchester.

Hannah is Professor of British History at the University of Manchester, Historical Advisor to the National Trust's Quarry Bank Mill and Chair of Manchester Histories. You can read more about Hannah's research on her website http://hannahbarker.net/about/

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