Working Class Movement Library

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

logo: Heritage Open Days 2014




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
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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

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
Cartoon of WW1 profiteering

Exhibition 'The Great War: myths and realities'

  • 6 August — 19 December 2014 *on now

The first exhibition in a series about World War One, this explores topics such as Salford’s response to the outbreak of war, the strength of the anti-war movement locally and nationally, what happened to the campaign which had gathered momentum by 1914 to get the vote for women - and the realities of trench warfare.

Open Wednesdays to Fridays 1-5pm.

There is a series of accompanying talks on three consecutive Wednesdays at 2pm:
24 September The art of WW1 - John Sculley
Using a range of examples from painting, sculpture and architecture, Salford’s Director of Museums and Heritage will show how visual art was used to communicate the country’s national attitudes during and after World War One. This illustrated talk will offer insights into the creative and critical thinking of a time that will be forever remembered for the carnage of its ‘war to end all wars’.

1 October Winifred Letts, Salford poet - Cynthia Greenwood
Winifred Letts was born in 1882 in Broughton. She had a prolific writing career producing plays, poetry, short stories, children's books and an autobiography. She was a nurse during World War One and also worked as a therapeutic masseuse. She was not afraid of confronting people with worrying aspects of the First World War such as those who deserted from the army and those sent mad by the conflict.
This event also marks National Poetry Day

8 October British trade unions and the First World War - John Newsinger
When the war began Britain was in the middle of a great strike wave that the Establishment regarded as of potentially revolutionary significance. In the first six months of the year over half a million workers had taken strike action for union recognition, for the closed shop and for increased pay. The war changed this. In the second six months of 1914, the number of workers taking strike action fell to 21,000. However the unequal sacrifices that were demanded with profits rising while workers’ living standards were squeezed still provoked resistance, from protests over rising food prices to South Wales miners striking for more pay, and engineering workers striking to protect their pay and conditions and in the process creating the First Shop Stewards Movement. By the end of the war the government was again worried about industrial unrest having potentially revolutionary significance.
John Newsinger is Professor in History at Bath Spa University