B is for Bee

Manchester BeeNot very original, but appropriate nonetheless as the Bee is the symbol of my home city of Manchester, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. This post begins and ends with Bees.

The mosaic on the left can be found at the entrance of Manchester Town Hall and represents the hive of industry the city became. Not to mention the pollution and deplorable working and living conditions.

Like other cities in the UK, there are Blue Plaques to be found on the walls of local buildings to commemorate their connection with the famous and worthy.

They include one outside the Salutation pub dedicated to Charlotte Brontë. She stayed there in 1846 when she accompanied her father who was to have a cataract operation and where she began to write Jane Eyre.

There are two Browns remembered. Lieutenant Sir Arthur Whitten Brown lived in Chorlton-cum-Hardy after his American father set up the British Westinghouse Electrical and Manufacturing Company factory in Trafford Park. He and Manchester born John Alcock were the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, of course.

The other is the artist Ford Madox Brown. His last collective work completed the year he died was the Manchester Murals, a cycle of twelve paintings depicting the history of the city, such as the one on the right showing the opening of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761.

John Hay Beith was born in Chorlton in 1876. He was a schoolmaster, soldier, novelist and playwright best known for the line, “What do you mean, funny? Funny-peculiar or funny ha-ha?”

Finally, Frances Hodgson Burnett author of children’s stories, notably The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy. Born in Cheetham Hill, her widowed mother took the impoverished family to Knoxville, Tennessee, where Frances met her future husband, Swan Burnett.

Back to the Bees, they also appear on the trademark of Boddingtons, Manchester’s favourite beer. Strangeways Brewery was founded in 1778 by Thomas Caister and Thomas Fry. Henry Boddington joined the company as a traveller in 1832 and in 1853 he borrowed the money to become the sole owner of the company.

The brewery chimney remains a landmark on the cityscape, but the brewery itself has gone and “The Cream of Manchester” is brewed elsewhere.

Of course, bees are vital to the environment for the work they do in pollination and there is a concern that their numbers are declining. The National Trust and the BBC has set up the Keeping Bees Buzzing campaign here in Manchester and elsewhere.

I’m all in favour of this as my morning cup of breakfast tea wouldn’t be the same without a spoonful of acacia blossom honey to sweeten it.

But of all the bees I should record, the most important is my beautiful daughter because Bee is is her nickname. Right is one of my favourite photos of her taken when she was a wee Bee.

She is teaching in Cape Town at the moment and, as I wrote last week, celebrated her birthday there with a braai which is a South African barbeque.

One last Manchester Bee export to mention has to be the Bee Gees. Born on the Isle of Man, Robin, Barry and Maurice grew up in Manchester before emigrating to Brisbane. Here they are singing The Battle of the Blue and Grey in 1963.


ABC Wednesday Round 7

Another B for Bee by MorningAJ

Beach Photos from A Raft of Apples


B is for Boulder from Ashton-under-Lyne.com

Boys, Bombs and Brussels Sprouts by Daybyday

B is for Bribes by Savage Reflections

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.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Jay from The Depp Effect 28th July 2010

    Now there’s a lot I didn’t know about Manchester! And so many Bs for this week’s ABC Wednesday too – love the Bee Gee’s song, too. I liked their early stuff, but not when they went all falsetto and disco – it was as if they were a different band entirely!

    On behalf of the team, thanks for taking part in ABC Wednesday this week! 🙂

  • Pat 29th July 2010

    Blimey! That’s B for brilliant!


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