Working Class Movement Library

Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent
Greater Manchester
M5 4WX




0161 736 3601


0161 737 4115

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
Library displays
Guided tours icon Library icon Study area icon Visual disability facilities icon Wheelchair access icon

Working people have always struggled to get their voices heard. The Working Class Movement Library records over 200 years of organising and campaigning by ordinary men and women. Our collection provides a rich insight into working people's daily lives as well as their thoughts, hopes, fears and the roles they played in the significant events of their time.

We have information on:

• The trades and lives of people who worked in the past - brushmakers, silk workers, tailors, boilermakers and others

• Trade unions, where people have banded together to improve their working conditions

• Politics and campaigns, from Chartism to the General Strike and more recent protests

• Creativity and culture - drama, literature, music, art and leisure

• Important people who have led activist lives

• International events such as the Spanish Civil War, and aspects of Irish history

Much of this information is held in books, pamphlets or leaflets. Many more stories are told by our photos, banners and tape recordings.

Our collection captures many points of view to tell the story of Britain's working classes from the beginning of industrialisation to the present day.

Our oldest items date from the 1760s. From the 1820s we have some of the earliest trade union documents to have survived.

We have material on politics of all shades and come right up to date with the archive of Jim Allen, the Manchester-born screenwriter who worked on Coronation Street and collaborated with film director Ken Loach.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive

Opening hours

Tuesday 10.00a.m. until 5.00p.m.
Wednesday 10.00a.m. until 5.00p.m.
Thursday 10.00a.m. until 5.00p.m.
Friday 10.00a.m. until 5.00p.m.
Saturday 10.00a.m. until 4.00p.m - third Sat of each month only, and by appointment

Closed: Sundays, Mondays

Admission charges

Admission to the library is free.

Additional info

Everyone is welcome to drop by to view our ground floor displays. To use the reading room to study, please contact us in advance to make an appointment.

There are important collections on Thomas Paine, Peterloo, Chartism, rise of trade unionism, Socialism, Labour Party, Communist Party of Great Britain, Ireland, Spanish Civil War, General Strike, CND, suffragettes and suffragists, Co-operative movement.

Collection details

Social History, Photography, Music, Literature, Industry, Film and Media, Archives

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Frow Lecture 2014

  • 3 May 2014 2-3:30pm

We are delighted to announce that John Hilary will be giving the fifth annual Frow Lecture.

John is Executive Director, War on Want, and author of The Poverty of Capitalism:
Economic Meltdown and the Struggle for What Comes Next.

All are welcome. Admission is free


Old Fire Station
M5 4WT

Additional info

The venue is wheelchair accessible


Testing the Echo ... is that Paul Robeson singing on the stairs?

  • 15 May 2014 5-8pm

The Library's delighted to be luring the Manchester After Hours event across the River Irwell...

Experience the amazing acoustic of this library, as songs of struggle echo through the building. Paul Robeson, African-American bass singer, actor and civil rights activist, sang in Manchester's Free Trade Hall in 1938 and also addressed political meetings in the city. Tayo Aluko, acclaimed interpreter of Robeson's songs and life, muses on extraordinary tales such as Robeson's links with Welsh miners, while historical ballad singer Jennifer Reid offers us broadside ballads on mining and industrialisation.

Soft drinks and nibbles are included in this free drop-in event.

Manchester After Hours is part of the national Museums at Night celebration.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Free drop-in event, including soft drinks & nibbles.