Working Class Movement Library

A blog from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford

Archive for November, 2009

Salford Working Lives

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 26, 2009

Reflections from Lawrence on the final group session (Lawrence will now be working on putting together the library exhibition about Salford, based on what people from the group have found evocative/useful as they’ve explored the library holdings. The exhibition will open in January):

Open discussion, as a form of evaluation. The group were invited to reflect on the series of 14 sessions as a whole, outlining their preferences, favourite themes, talks and what subjects they thought were inportant to develop.

The role of the facilitator was mentioned, people seemed pleased that it had gone well and wanted a further programme of events and talks, which is currently being organised. The group stated that continuing to develop an informal, welcoming atmosphere at the library was a key factor in encouraging them to return. Offering tea, biscuits and allowing visitors space to conduct open ended research and discussion on personally inspired subjects relating to the library archives was important.

Caroline and Lawrence were present to take notes on what people wanted to see in the future and what they had enjoyed. This will be written up as a reflective analysis, informing further work.

In the morning, Paul viewed Jeremy Deller’s re-enactment of The Battle of Orgreave. Watching the film with an ex-miner (Paul) who had been  present at the actual event was a real eye opener. He mentioned that the film was a fairly sanitised version of actual events. Listening to Paul discuss his experiences brought back memories of the depth of working class  solidarity  shown to the miners by many working class communities and how our culture is passed on and revitalised through oral testimony.  During the Wednesday sessions the library has played a key role in allowing some of these  hidden voices to be heard, which is a really important issue.

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Salford Working Lives

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 19, 2009

Bob kindly let us listen to a taped recording of his elderly mother (recorded in the late 1980s). She recounted her life through two world wars. She recollected working in various factories including Worrals in Ordsall and the Bleaching works near Adelphi. One of the interesting things to emerge from her stories was  how she walked nearly everywhere. Apparently that is what kept her fit.

We also watched a DVD of bygone Salford. One part showed Peel Park before the construction of the University and boat races on the River Irwell.

Next week is the last public session. After that Lawrence will be working one to one with individuals to construct the forthcoming exhibition at the Library.


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10,000th item catalogued!

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 12, 2009

I have just catalogued my 10,000th item as part of our Heritage Lottery Fund project. Its a leaflet from the Independent Labour Party about the Post Office and was published way back in 1902, but what it is talking about is very much in the public eye today – the privatisation of the Post Office. Some things never change. In fact a number of the things I have catalogued have as much relevance today as they did when they were first published.

I have almost finished adding the all pamphlets and leaflets that made up part of the Independent Labour Party archive to our online catalogue. If you are interested in seeing what we have, go to our online catalogue at

Project Librarian

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Salford Working Lives

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 11, 2009

Today we settled down to watch some home movies donated by Salford people and transferred to DVD by the North West Film Archive. The first movie centred around a ‘Whit Walk’ from Broughton to Manchester City Centre sometime in the 1960s. It is amazing to think that the Whit Walks were an integral part of life up until the 60s/70s. Sadly the tradition is now very much on the wane. The recent Salford Mission exhibition at the nearby Salford Museum and Art Gallery also touched on this issue. One of the Salford residents in the group who remembered the Whit Walks descibed how the Catholics and Protestants marched on separate days. The decline of the Whit Walks may have had something to do with the programme of housing clearances and the re-organisation of the road network (for example around Regent Road). It may also have been related to the seeming decline in church attendance.

The second film was a home movie from the 60s into the 70s. It was interesting to note the change in men’s hairstyles. One scene showed children on Christmas morning opening presents. The abundance of gifts led some to comment about the relative affluence of workers in that period and the growth of consumer society (now in the credit crunch we are feeling some of the negative effects of that then nascent consumer boom).

The session today was quite personal with people bringing in their photo albums and family snaps. It was interesting to relate the private pictures and films with the official histories, maps and other resources in the library’s collection.


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A new blog contributor adds to yesterday’s account

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 5, 2009

Lawrence asked us to talk about what we had been doing over the last few years interviewing Salford people about their lives in the past.

We at Salford LIDS (mainly Mike Scantlebury and Jane Wood) have been working for Retracing Salford since its beginnings. We had however been recording in Salford since we moved here and Community Radio started in the city. I had got the Community Radio bug a few years before in Longsight, Manchester where the first programmes in the country started.

I have become quite passionate about the amazing stories that have emerged at exhibitions around Salford of Old Streets, family photos, films and lots more. I was born in the last century! in Levenshulme, Manchester but I had never come across stories like this before. The conditions that some folks from some parts of Salford (mainly S567) experienced even in the 60s were so deprived. Diphtheria, Bugs, Midwife, were some of the titles of the excerpts we played. A lot of people in the room recognised the pictures that the stories portrayed and had indeed done some recordings of their own.

The midwife never locked her new mini in the street where she attended regularly and she remembered the names of “her mothers” and often delivered babies by candlelight without any phones in the middle of the night, and regarded her families with respect and enjoyed them as characters. We heard the lady who was willing to share all her food and soap with great good humour. Hunger was common as were bed bugs, blackjacks, mice and rats, despite constant cleaning. These people often “described everyone being in the same boat” and “everyone helping each other” and I am convinced that we have a lot to learn about how to make the most of our resources.

All the people in the room joined in and I think there was an agreement that these stories are so valuable. We are going to the sound archive next week to see how the general public can gain greater access.

In the meantime…they are being acted out by Blueberry Youth Theatre at Salford Arts Theatre on Sat 14th November at 7p.m. Ring 07770 769424 for details.
There is a wide variety of our recordings for radio and otherwise including one on the Working Class Movement Library on

and there are some recordings on http://retracingsalford/


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Salford Working Lives

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 4, 2009

From Lawrence
Today’s session involved two guest speakers, Mike Scantlebury and Jane Wood, who have recorded numerous oral histories over the past two and a half years, as part of the RE-Tracing Salford Group (they are the oral history wing of the project).
They played some really interesting (entertaining, funny, tragic, sad, novel), stories on tape(CD) for the audience. This was received with animated feedback from the Salford residents in the group, who all related to the stories, of illness, bugs, sharing things, common perceptions of the past in Salford and lots more.
Mike and Jane have made hundreds of recordings and have captured the spirit of Salford people really well.
This session was really popular and well attended, it was rooted in social history and given an animated spark. It was supplemented by reading material from the library, which residents read during and after the session.

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