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Presentations and Press Releases


7 February was the first Future Histories workshop of 2015. The day began with all the groups giving a presentation to the other groups reporting on our plans for the exhibition and our progress to date. As Tazeem was unable to be present, Jen and myself were entrusted with representing the My Community UK group – and we were on first!


Jen had created a Powerpoint presentation with photos and diagrams that we took it in turns to talk about. Most of the content was taken from our previous blog posts. We also described the current status of our plan for an exhibition that will include a physical exhibition of photographs and panels, the banners and music from the Young Roots Group, a podcast to be broadcast on the radio, and a launch event at Central Library that will include a screening of a Bollywood film accompanied by some Asian food.


At lunchtime we had some time to catch up with the other groups over our sandwiches and fruit.


The afternoon session was taken up with a media training workshop led by Trevor Barnes from BBC Radio 4. We learned about what the media consider to be newsworthy. Then we practiced writing press releases and being interviewed about our projects for the radio.


Jen and I spent some time discussing how we expected the spending from our budget for the exhibition to break down. The podcast will have no financial cost, but will take up some time recording and editing. Creating panels, and the food and cost of the film screening event are likely to incur the greatest cost. Before the next workshop we will catch up with Tazeem and create a draft budget.



February 18th, 2015 - 23:13pm

A Night of Art

nite of art

People admire the works of art at our fund-raising exhibition.


Late last year, Ancoats Dispensary Trust held a fund-raising exhibition in the heart of the district, at the church of Halle St Michaels. The evening was billed as a ‘Night of Art’, in which various local artists displayed and sold their work in order to raise awareness and funds for the Ancoats Dispensary.

Earlier in the day, the researchers of COFH and members of ADT had met at Manchester Met to thrash out plans for the future and catch up over a brew. Once the business of the day was over, it was off to Ancoats to attend the Night of Art. From the researchers point of view it was great to meet other members of ADT and discuss the various developments of the project. There was a great deal of enthusiasm over the 100 Days blog and the researchers took the opportunity to publicise it even more. For a certain time in the evening they even helped out behind the merchandise desk, the first time that some of them had been involved in retail!

Linda Carver of ADT had earlier given a heartfelt speech to open proceedings and introduce the Trust’s new CEO. There was even an appearance by local actor and campaigner John Henshaw, who is a firm supporter of the work of the Trust. All in all the evening was a great success, with over £1000 raised towards the procurement of the Dispensary.



February 18th, 2015 - 22:52pm

A busy few months ahead…


Happy new year! 2015 looks set to be a busy one for Greater Manchester & District CND, and for us too as we begin interviewing activists who have been involved with the group and documenting events.


Our ideas have taken shape, and it looks like the focus of our work will be these interviews, collecting people’s personal experiences of being part of GM&D CND. We hope the film that results will give people a sense not only of the history of CND in the Greater Manchester area and the role its activists have played in national campaigns, but also a sense of the work they do now and the challenges that lie ahead. With that in mind, we are drawing up plans to interview people who can share their stories, starting with a trio of campaigners from three different generations, taking us from the birth of CND to student activism in Manchester today.


Documenting the work of GM&D CND today will also take us out and about in the next few weeks. We plan to joining the group on their trip to London to ‘Wrap Up Trident’ on 24 January, and will also be visiting local events. It’s shaping up to be a busy few months, as we finally stop planning and start making this project a reality.


This is also a good opportunity to flag up a recent article about GM&D CND, which makes a great introduction to their work – find out more here.



January 21st, 2015 - 12:27pm

From Notebooks to Keep Fit


Over the weekend of 22 and 23 November we attended the second weekend workshop for the Future Histories programme. Under the heading ‘Consult’ we had a number of interesting presentations from academics and community partners about the benefits and pitfalls of working together.

As in previous sessions, the necessity of collaboration was promoted as essential to a successful outcome. We were given valuable advice from both parties such as getting to know the individuals and aims of our community partners; avoiding jargon; and maintaining regular communication through what should be a jointly planned and designed project. On this note, our team was grateful for the chance to work on our plan, to the extent that we were able to define individual tasks and deadlines over the next six months.


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The array of film clips from existing collaborations shown was particularly insightful. They indicated how perceptions about of a project differ, according to whether from the funding body, academic, or – I use this word with caution – the ‘subjects.’

It is about this last ill-advised phrase that I am finding this scheme so useful. As a history researcher my usual ‘subjects’ are separated from me by time and geography. Public engagement involves practicalities relating to the ‘now’ so requires efforts to build respect between all the parties involved.

It was important then, for me to spend a day with my community partner in their setting. The week following our training I visited the MC-UK team in action. As well as seeing where they work, I was able to experience their important community work. As we will elaborate on in February, one of MC-UK’s key areas of work is reducing social isolation. I attended their ‘Over 50s Ladies’ drop in session at Burnage Community Centre, so was able to talk with volunteers and the ‘aunties’ there. Some of these women had already collaborated on our ‘Bollywood in Burnage’ project. So, rather than hide behind my note book, I got stuck into the seated keep fit session, one which, I believe, would benefit desk obsessed academics everywhere.


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December 19th, 2014 - 13:16pm

A Blog About a Blog


Ancoats Dispensary 100 Blog21 November, 2014 marked the beginning of a 100-day countdown to save the Grade II listed Ardwick and Ancoats Dispensary from demolition. Ancoats Dispensary Trust must raise £55000 during this period in order to unlock a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.


The Creating Our Future Histories team has launched a blog which will run alongside this campaign, A History of Ancoats Dispensary in 100 Objects. The team hopes that the blog will raise public awareness of the appeal and will highlight the rich architectural, artistic, medical, and social history of Ancoats Dispensary —a heritage which will lose its physical roots if the building is demolished. The blog is also a virtual space where members of the community can share their own memories and souvenirs of Ancoats Dispensary.


Each day during the campaign, a new post will be published on the blog. Each post centres on an object which has relevance to the history of Ancoats Dispensary. The blog explores well recognised aspects of Ancoats Dispensary such as L.S. Lowry’s Ancoats Hospital Outpatients’ Hall. But the blog also brings to light stories which have long been hidden in the archives. The blog has revealed that x-rays were pioneered by a physician at Ancoats Hospital, that nineteenth-century patients were routinely treated with leeches, and that an Ancoats Hospital surgeon operated on goalkeeper Jack Crompton mere days before he played for Manchester United in the 1948 FA Cup Final (and won!).


Some of our posts have struck a chord with readers. Individuals who knew the institution as members of staff or patients have shared their memories in comments. We would like to see much more of this sharing as personal testimonies from those who were there are incredibly compelling. And, with eighty days yet to go, there are many more tales waiting to be uncovered.


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Some of the objects which have been featured on the blog. From left to right: the Royal Osborne Theatre, medical leech, FA Cup Final ticket, Ordnance Survey map, and the Dr. Alfred Ernest Barclay medal.



December 17th, 2014 - 11:04am

Cunning Plans


November the fifth was memorable for more than Bonfire Night this year, at least for the members of Ancoats Dispensary Trust and the researchers of Creating Our Future Histories. The date saw us meeting for the first time outside the confines of the People’s History Museum, as we ventured onto the streets of Manchester.


Group shot at Merci Mills

Group shot at Merci Mills

There have been a lot of ideas floating around our discussions during the last workshop and also between ourselves on social media. These included what exactly the Ancoats Trust members wanted from the Future Histories programme and how we as researchers can help deliver it. In order to help achieve this, and for the researchers to appreciate the community which we hope to involve, we all met up at the dispensary and began to explore the area which it once – and will again – served.


The weather was kind to us on what was a glorious Manchester day. After meeting at the dispensary for a quick look round it was onto the streets on Ancoats. The tour of the area, amongst the remaining mills and factories of ‘the workshop of the world’ was enriched by the local knowledge of the Ancoats Trust members who helped provide an insight into how the area would have looked in its industrial heyday. It wasn’t all fun though (!) as within the confines of nearby Merci Mill we soon got down to business and started to discuss the content and form of the Future Histories exhibition. The meeting was very productive and we all left with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence that the project is going in the right direction.

Sunset over Ancoats

Sunset over Ancoats


Ultimately, our exhibition will aim to celebrate the building’s past and its role in Ancoats as well as looking forward to the future and how it can once again be a focal point for the community. Its days serving the medical needs of the area may have gone but there are many functions that it could fulfil as a community hub for locals, both long-established and new arrivals.


Although the parkin and black-eyed peas failed to materialise, the conversation was sparkling and the day went with a bang!




November 28th, 2014 - 13:52pm

Pictures of youth: the next steps…


A rather wet and windy Tuesday saw Adelle and I take another trip to Manchester for a visit to the Powerhouse and an afternoon of research in Manchester Central Library. Taking some time to explore the beautifully refurbished Library, we then delved into the local history section to examine a range of resources; from early twentieth century local newspapers to cultural histories of Manchester’s music scene – all with a focus on the young people of Moss Side, past and present.


After a productive afternoon (with just enough time for some excellent tea and cake) we walked through Manchester to Moss Side and the Powerhouse. There we met with Kemoy Walker and Devon Dixon, youth workers based at the Powerhouse, who were preparing for the very first Tuesday evening youth session.sat 1


We spent some time chatting with Kemoy and Devon about Moss Side, and the work they do with young people and the Powerhouse, and then went on to discuss our ideas for the Moss Side: Pictures of Youth project; in particular how we could connect history to the present and engage with the Moss Side community.


We will be discussing some of these ideas with Kemoy on his Peace FM radio show at 2pm on Wednesday 19 November – where we will be talking about the project, and how people can get involved with their own stories and photos of growing up in Moss Side. You can listen online here or tune into Peace FM 90.1 in the Greater Manchester area.







November 22nd, 2014 - 11:19am

Banner-making in Burnage


Tuesday 28 October fell into the schools autumn half term holiday week. Tazeem and the My Community UK team had organised a joint activity at Burnage Community Centre to bring the members of the Young Roots Group together with the women’s group.


Led by Jana who has already been working on an arts project with the young roots group, everyone worked to complete the banner that will be displayed at the Young Roots exhibition and sat 1again when we produce our exhibition for Future Histories in May 2015.


Most of the members of the different groups had not met each other previously, but were soon working together well to finish the individual panels that depict different aspects of life in the 1980s and the 2010s. These include such themes as what people eat, what they wear and the methods of communication that we use now and then. Jana brought a huge case full of scrap fabrics that we were able to sew and glue to the panels.


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Some of the women were able to join the panels together on the sewing machine to construct the final banner to be revealed at the Young Roots exhibition.



sat 3At lunchtime, the My Community UK team brought in a caterer with some delicious Pakistani food for everyone to share. My favourites were the chicken and rice and the vegetable curry. I was also able to take some interviews from Jen’s questionnaire with some of the women who were confident to speak in English.


After the banner was finished some of the women needed to go home, but for the Young Roots team it was time for them to dress up in their favourite clothes for a fashion shoot with Jana.


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Since the workshop everyone has been working on individual tasks for the project, so that we can report back to the Group at the next Future Histories workshop which is over two days on 22 and 23 November at the People’s History Museum. I have been in discussion with a mobile film screening company, so that we will be able to show a Bollywood film at the opening event for our exhibition in May. We are all looking forward to our next weekend together at the workshop where we will have sessions on partnership building and project planning – and we will be adding detail to our plans for the exhibition.




November 22nd, 2014 - 09:19am

Come and see us!


We’re now a couple of months into our Future Histories project and things are coming along nicely. GM&DCND has a wonderfully rich history. Exhibition ideas are starting to take a more concrete form, with the main source of inspiration coming from a desire to hear the voices of those that have been involved in GM&DCND campaigns throughout the history of the various groups. Our next step is to begin to make contact with activists with the hope of creating some object-prompted oral histories. We also have plans to go along to some contemporary campaigning events to create video footage for use in our exhibition, and for uploading to the Peace History Hub. To begin to make contact with potential interviewees Hannah and I will be attending the regional GM&DCND co-ordination meeting on 19th November and we will also be present at the Manchester Peace and Craft Fair on Saturday 29th November so do pop along and see us!




November 13th, 2014 - 12:02pm

A trip to the Working Class Movement Library


A trip to the Working Class Movement Library in Salford gave a real insight into the long-standing activities of CND and related anti-nuclear campaigns in the Greater Manchester and District region. With material dating back as far as the 1950s, the collections highlight just how important Manchester and the North West have been as a centre of peace activism in the UK.


Particularly notable from a Mancunian perspective is 1982’s ‘Hard Luck’ campaign. Launched in response to the Conservative government’s ‘Hard Rock’ civil defence exercise, it was a flashpoint in the relationship between the national government and local authorities – particularly those who had declared themselves to be Nuclear Free Zones, following the lead of the  Greater Manchester Council.


For the ‘Hard Rock’ exercise, scheduled for September/October 1982, local authorities would have been obliged to prepare plans for civil defence in the case of a nuclear strike. It was eventually called off in July of that year, after a lack of cooperation from local authorities – particularly, but not only, Nuclear Free Zones – which felt the exercise was a waste of scant resources that could be better used elsewhere. Even more pointedly, opponents of ‘Hard Rock’ argued that it was an attempt to fool people into thinking that they could be defended against nuclear attack. As councillor William Risby wrote in an article found in the collection, ‘the fact is that 2 medium-size nuclear weapons would kill almost everyone in Manchester, many of them instantly and the rest within a few days.’ ‘Operation Hard Luck’ was an exercise designed by CND to publicise the true horrors of nuclear war and the futility of civil defence programmes, by showing just what would happen in the case of an attack on military and economic targets. Pictured is a booklet from this time about what to do in the event of a nuclear strike, produced for Manchester residents by the GMC.


Visiting the WCML has given me a real insight into the role of the Greater Manchester and District CND in the nationwide campaigns against nuclear weapons, and the incredible history of local activism which continues to this day.




November 6th, 2014 - 14:54pm