Working Class Movement Library
Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent
0161 736 3601
0161 737 4115
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.
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 to the library is free.
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.
Social History, Photography, Music, Literature, Industry, Film and Media, Archives
Invisible Histories finale exhibition
- 22 January — 28 March 2014 *on now
The Working Class Movement Library's current exhibition marks the successful oral history project Invisible Histories: Salford's Working Lives.
Salford was an industrial powerhouse for much of the 20th century, employing thousands of local people. Today these industries have vanished, leaving behind only memories.
Volunteers have interviewed people who worked in three different Salford workplaces:
• Agecroft colliery
• Dickie Howarth's cotton mill
• Ward & Goldstone's engineering factory.
They have worked through hours of recorded material to explore themes, identify key events and select extracts to illustrate them. In this exhibition, which is open every Wednesday to Friday 1-5pm until spring 2014, the interviewees' words speak powerfully for them.
The Library has also worked with Year 9 students from Buile Hill Visual Arts College to create a new Radio Ballad, inspired by the pioneering example of Ewan MacColl in the 1950s. Our new Radio Ballad includes not only extracts from the interviews and newly-composed music, but also animations created by the students.
The exhibition can only explore a tiny part of the wealth of memories uncovered during the project. The full interviews, along with summaries, indexes and some transcriptions can be heard at the project Web site InvisibleHistoriesProject.wordpress.com.
The project has taken place thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which awarded £34,000 to the Library.
- Any age
Bailey Sisters concert
- 23 March 2014 7-9:30pm
The Bailey Sisters are a trio who perform early and traditional music. Though known for their a capella performances they also accompany their singing with fiddle, guitar and percussion. As part of Manchester Histories Festival, they will perform a concert drawing on the Library's resources to present a history of the Manchester cotton trade in story and song.
- Any age