Working Class Movement Library
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
Exhibition: Peterloo: news, fake news and paranoia
- 31 May — 19 September 2019 *on now
200 years ago in St Peter’s Field a crowd calling for electoral reform was attacked by the Manchester & Salford Yeomanry, an event that has become known as Peterloo. This exhibition explores the historical context, the prevailing paranoia and the reactions of the establishment, utilising the Library’s extensive Peterloo holdings.
Exhibitions are open Wednesdays to Fridays 1-5pm, and the first Saturday of the month 10am-4pm.
Film screening 'Our Sam, the Middleton man'
- 3 August 2019 2-3:30pm
Screening of ReelMCR’s new community film about Samuel Bamford, radical reformer, writer, handloom weaver and leader of the Middleton contingent who walked to Manchester on 16 August 1819 in a peaceful protest which turned into what we now know as Peterloo.
- Family friendly
Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent