Working Class Movement Library

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

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.
Quiet Loner

Museums at Night - Quiet Loner and Jennifer Reid

  • 27 October 2016 6:30-8:30pm *on now

Come and enjoy the Library's great acoustic as two wonderful performers sing on the stairs! Broadside ballads from the Manchester region from the ‘Middleton Linnet’ Jennifer Reid form a counterpoint to Battle for the Ballot, in which singer-songwriter Quiet Loner uses original songs to tell the story of how working people came to have a vote. The story will take in events like the Peterloo Massacre and introduce the people – Chartists, politicians and suffragettes – who fought for the ideal of universal suffrage.

Suitable for

  • Any age


MaD Theatre Company image

Charlotte Delaney's 'Sweet Responsibility' - first UK reading

  • 3 November 2016 6-8pm

In April 2016 Charlotte Delaney, playwright and daughter of Shelagh Delaney (the Salford writer of 'A Taste of Honey', 'Dance with a Stranger' and other plays) retraced an epic rail journey across America that her mother had first made in 1972. She was accompanied by Selina Todd, historian and author of 'The People: the rise and fall of the working class', who is now writing the authorised biography of Shelagh Delaney. The journey helped shape Charlotte's latest play, 'Sweet Responsibility', which is having its first reading in the UK at this event. Come and hear Charlotte and Selina discuss the life of one of Salford's most famous daughters - and listen to members of MaD Theatre Company read 'Sweet Responsibility', Charlotte's play about friendship and activism between two 70-something women in Greater Manchester


Free tickets for the event are available via Eventbrite at We expect tickets to book up fast – and please note that because of limited space, people will only be able to get in to the event if they have a ticket.


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.