Edges take all forms: from officially designated boundaries to informally
appropriated demarcations; from the sharp lines of man-made routes to the
fuzzy outlines of natural features and reclaimed landscapes. The edges
explored in this chapter are those where the suburbs are disrupted by the
River Mersey, which flows along the southern rim of the city. It is
undeniably an edge, only to be crossed via bridges. It is also the
connecting thread that weaves together woodlands, meadows, artificial lakes,
flooded gravel pits, and so much more. No mere frozen lines on a map: edges
are dynamic forcefields for the identity of place and its people.
Exchange is a process, and it is two buildings in Manchester. These are the
Cotton Exchange building, now the Royal Exchange Theatre, and the Corn
Exchange. As well as being monuments to capitalism, the Cotton Exchange was
tied up with overseas slavery, particularly in the American South. The Corn
Exchange is associated with more localised struggles for living standards.
‘Exchange’ was a general term before Manchester capitalism, but it emerges
from the other side of nineteenth-century industrialism – which Manchester
drove – as a markedly different thing. Global, globalising and highly
divisive, this entry explores the tensions within the term ‘exchange’ in the
city of Manchester.
Manchester mythology posits a city of warm, gritty, authentic and rooted
subjects. It projects an image of itself as tough but ‘homely’. Yet the
speed at which the city tears down and rebuilds presents an opposite view.
Many buildings are entirely destroyed, but the façade – the frontage – is
often left standing. These ‘fronts’ are the second Janus face of Manchester
myth. They are also ‘fronts’ as in the frontiers of revanchism, as
capitalism finds yet another space to cream surplus from – either directly
off or to the detriment of – its citizens. Here is the tragic face, the
counterpart to the garrulous myth of the swaggering, cheeky Mancunian on the
make. Here is the evidence of Manchester as a radical right city.
The human sense of touch allows us to understand the world through texture
and shape and enables the manipulation and embodiment of tools.
Neurophysiological and psychophysical research has identified the
exquisitely sensitive neural and psychological mechanisms that capture
information through the skin. Ecologically, this information is used to
guide behaviour and control movement. However, as Manchester thrums at our
fingertips, these capabilities are hijacked by the motion of the city.
Through vibrotactile psychogeography, this chapter explores the interface
between the vibration of transport, construction and material texture, and
the physiological machinery of sensation.
Flower looks at the role fauna plays in Manchester. From the beauty of
hand-picked flowers to the mosaic memorials on the pavements by the Town
Hall, this chapter studies the symbolism and history of these flowers and
the importance their role plays in defining the city. It gives a quick
overview of the Peterloo massacre by comparing those injured and killed by
the dragoons to flowers that had been trampled on.
Manchester is not a city readily associated with green space. Yet, in order
to alleviate inner-city slum conditions and poor air quality, it was the
Garden City Movement that the city’s municipal authorities looked to when
planning new housing estates on land to the south of the city centre in the
interwar years. Subsequently referred to as Wythenshawe Garden Suburb,
residents had access to their own private gardens which they were encouraged
to look after and cultivate. This chapter looks at the importance of these
private gardens to early residents of the estate, and how these once-valued
green spaces have fared after almost one hundred years of change.
This chapter explores the connections between Manchester, Hiroshima and peace
through the ginkgo tree. The green spaces of Manchester are the adopted home
of a living fossil. The paired lobes of the leaves of Ginkgo biloba are
marked by prehistoric striations, unchanged for 270 million years. Like Homo
sapiens, the ginkgo is the sole survivor of a once ample family tree. Unlike
us, a single tree can survive for over two thousand years, outliving our
regimes and empires. The ginkgo has somehow persisted, seemingly oblivious
to the melodramas of both dinosaurs and humans. However, isotopic traces of
our human age are sequestered away within the ginkgo’s trunk during each
growing season, to be accessed only by the dark art of dendrochronology.
Through the growth and planting of the Manchester-Hiroshima ginkgo trees,
the histories of two cities have become entangled as peace becomes
This chapter explores the history of Dukinfield Cemetery in Greater
Manchester, and the writer’s personal connection to one of Manchester’s most
notorious historical crimes. The writer is looking for the unmarked grave of
Thomas and Elizabeth Hannah Britland, the victims of serial poisoner Mary
Ann Britland – the first woman hanged at Strangeways Prison and the writer’s
distant ancestor. The chapter includes nineteenth-century descriptions of
the newly opened cemetery, and reflects on its significance to the
community. It ends with a spot of light gravedigging.
A narrative connecting archives of mothers, daughters and a Russian
childhood. The story of Alice Pitfield, encountered through a curl of her
hair and a plait cut from her mother’s, found in the Royal Northern College
of Music archives; building a new archive of hair-stories: images and
narratives from women in Manchester Art Gallery in 2016. Alice’s curl and
her mother’s plait, alongside the hair-stories of other women, offer us a
different type of Manchester. Manchester-as-woman, mother, sister.
Manchester as playful, tender, corporeal and vulnerable.
Homeless gives the lie to the Manchester bee myth – a myth about solidarity
and warmth, of togetherness, of a city of benevolent left-wing radicals.
Here is Manchester, both old and new, as a radical right city: buy yourself
a new shirt, get yourself into the game, or die in a doorway.