Manchester Made

Despite all the grousing about the country going to dogs, falling standards of behaviour and our ‘hell in a handcart’ attitudes, I suspect that there lurks within all of us a spark of civic pride in the place where we live and what they have contributed to history, society and the world at large.

In my case, it’s Manchester. The Industrial Revolution, William Cobbett and the reform of Parliament and the Corn Laws, Rutherford and the atom, Boddington’s bitter, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Manchester Guardian, Harold Evans and Alistair Cooke, Oasis, MUFC, the Co-Op, Freddie and the Dreamers (okay, maybe not), Joe Bloggs’ jeans, rhe 2002 Commonwealth Games, the Velodrome and the Wheeltappers and Shunters Club. Again maybe not, but the contribution of Granada Television to British comedy cannot be ignored.

The list goes on, not least what you’re doing now, looking at a computer screen. Perhaps it was destined to see its birth somewhere, but it happened to be in Manchester and the genius that was Alan Turing. Not Manchester perhaps, but Manchester Made, as the saying goes.

But just when you think you know all these things you come across another scrap of knowledge that you were previously ignorant, and sometimes it is something that that makes your heart swell with a little more pride.

So it was tonight. I flicked to the BBC History site feature on the slave trade and typed in ‘Manchester’ on their interactive map. Only one result, but a significant one:

“The country’s first large petition against the slave trade was sent to parliament from fast-growing industrial Manchester, where it was signed by 10,000 people, an astonishing 20% of the city’s inhabitants.”

The year was 1788, no doubt influenced by Thomas Clarkson’s sermon in 1787 at what became Manchester Cathedral in 1847.

The question is: “Given the above, do I feel the need for this country to apologise for the slave trade?” Actually; No. Given that one in five of my forebears said it was wrong nearly a decade before the practice was outlawe and I had no say in the matter, why should I?

Like good old TB, I can go along with this expession of sorrow, but not the shame.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 27th February 2007

    Of course the main man in the battle against slavery was a guy from my hometown of Hull – William Wilberforce who said in one of his journals about Manchester – “It is a dismal grey place where the rain never ceases. Only its people are greyer than the weather. They move like ants from their humble terraced homes to grey mills and factories that belch noxious fumes towards the heavens.”
    In your eulogising about Manchester you didn’t mention the notorious Mancunians Myra Hindley and Ian Brady!

  • Steve 28th February 2007

    Well I naturally agree with you Mr Parrots. Ignore the curmudgeonly Tike – he has “issues” ;-()

    Mind you, I did notice a distinct lack of reference to Manchester City. You may not know it but your club does owe a lot of its success to us:-

    From the Guardian:-

    Football’s European odyssey of incident and grandeur resumes tonight. But how many are aware that it was Manchester City who made it possible for Manchester United to be England’s trailblazers?

    Thirty years ago this month I had afternoon tea – including toasted teacakes – with Sir Matt Busby at Old Trafford after he had agreed to an interview on the 20th anniversary of his team’s historic first expedition into Europe. As his successor, another knighted Scot, prepares the club for its latest assault on Europe tonight, that 1977 birthday has turned into a rounded half-century but how vividly still I recall the elderly football eminence in his reverie that day. How the tender gleams of both profound and gloomy sadness and warm, fond recollection alternated in his soft-boiled eyes as he told the tale.

    The European Cup had begun in 1955: Hibs had entered from Scotland but that year’s English champions, Chelsea, had feebly heeded the insular Football League’s ban. There was no such timidity from Busby when his bonny Babes were 1956 champs – in ambition anyway – but Old Trafford couldn’t yet even afford the prerequisite for entry, namely a set of floodlights. Thus Busby’s chairman, well named, the tight-fisted Harold Hardman, knew defiance of the League was impossible – until Sir Matt suggested that for European matches they hire City’s Maine Road ground – lit up since 1953 – and the resulting gate-money share “would easily pay for our own set of lights by Easter”. Hardman was swayed; the League incensed.

    So on September 26 1956, 75,000 filled their rivals’ Moss Side arena to see United overwhelm Anderlecht 10-0 (12-0 on aggregate) with a show described by Busby those 20 years on as “the most exquisite 90-minute exhibition ever displayed by any side of mine”. Later that autumn Borussia Dortmund were beaten 3-2 over two legs.

    After Europe’s new year break United lost 5-3 in a Cantabrian blizzard at Athletic Bilbao on February 6. The “lifeline” final goal – “honestly, still the most magnificently daring individual goal I’ve ever witnessed” – was scored by the only “foreigner” in the side, the Dubliner Billy Whelan; and at the airport next morning, in harrowing augury of February 6 a year later at Munich, “all of us, including you pressmen, had to wield brooms and our bare hands to scrape the ice and snow off the wings of the Pionair Dakota before we could take off”. He had remembered the name of the aeroplane “because I knew we’d suffer deadly serious recriminations from a gloating League if we hadn’t been at Hillsborough to play Wednesday the very next day”.

    A fortnight later at Maine Road they beat the Basques 3-0 for a 6-5 aggregate victory and, although they were to lose in the semi-final 5-3 overall to the fabled holders Real Madrid, before the fulminating 2-2 second leg Old Trafford had, as Busby promised, switched on its own gleaming new floodlights. Fifty years on I fancy old hands – and no end of Red Devil ghosts – will be mindfully moist-eyed tonight.

    I notice Mr Pudding made no reference to the Ripper, and let’s not forget Yorkshire role during the Slave Trade years:-

    From the BBC no less……

    Whitby’s slave legacy
    Slaves in Africa
    Barbaric trade – slaves were sent to the Americas

    Inside Out investigates Yorkshire’s links to the slave trade.

    Whitby is one of our prettiest seaside towns but it also has an unsavoury past and links with the barbaric slave trade.

    We investigate two men with Whitby connections who were involved in very different aspects of the slave trade – one who tried to stop it and the other who profited from it.

    Inside Out travels in their footsteps to see who is remembered the most.

    Slave labou

  • Blognor Regis 28th February 2007

    Hail Cottonopolis.

    But The Tolpddle Martyrs? They be from Dorset.

  • Shooting Parrots 28th February 2007

    Hmmm. I tried typing ‘Hull’ into the interactive map and diddly squat. I added thye ‘Kingston’ bit and got a result, but it turned out to be the’Jamaica Mercury and Kingston Weekly Advertiser’.

    There is no doubt that WW was born in Hull, but it has been airbrushed out of history by the BBC it seems. Then he he was a rich buger whose father had exploited the Baltic trade.

    As for his thoughts on Manchester, good to see that his benevolanve didn’t extend to his fellow countrymen. And the rain? A much repeated myth in my experience — I don’t even own an umbrella (wrongly named to protect one from the sun). Or is it global warming?

    Nope, I didn’t mention Brady or Hindley, nor Harold Shipman for that matter.

    What skeletons lurk in the fishy capitals cabinet?

  • Shooting Parrots 28th February 2007

    Blimey Steve, the longest comment by a mile. Believe it or not, I did want to include MCFC, but two things stopped me.

    One, I was picking and choosing events etc, and probably mentioned Sale Harriers and Sharks, and the year that NW clubs topped the four leagues, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

    Two, believe it or not I have great fondness for Man City. Except for two days a year. I grew up when MCFC were the better team, so the present hierarchcy suits me fine.

  • Shooting Parrots 28th February 2007

    Did I say ‘Tolpddle Martyrs’? I actually meant the ‘Toll Payment Congestion Charges Because You are it and must bear it as Martyrs’.

    Or did I mean Tolpiddle?

  • Blognor Regis 1st March 2007

    Now I’m more confused than I was before.

  • Shooting Parrots 1st March 2007

    Blognor Regis: So am I. Of course, I meant the Peterloo Massacre. Very easy to get your working class martyrs muxed ip.


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