Manchester Skyline

About Manchester

Manchester Cathedral.

Welcome to Manchester!

We look forward to welcoming you to buzzing, multi-cultural Manchester for the annual conference. Why not use this as a chance to explore and discover the rich cultural heritage that abounds here?

Manchester grew out of a small medieval market town in the late 18th Century through the mechanisation of cotton manufacture.  With its surrounding towns, rivers, canals and later railways it spearheaded the Industrial Revolution, becoming a hub for commerce and trade with global supply links.  Workers arrived here in waves of migration from other parts of Britain, Europe, and the Commonwealth and beyond.

Chethams School of Music.

Parts of medieval Manchester survive, including the Cathedral and nearby Chetham’s School with the first free public library in the English speaking world, dating from 1653. If you book onto a tour, you can sit at the same old desk in the alcove where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels liked to meet to discuss research into the appalling conditions of the working class in England.

Manchester, nicknamed ‘Cottonopolis’ in Victorian times, adopted the symbol of the worker bee, representing workers united in a hive of industry.  Yet workers struggled for fair treatment and Manchester has a long history of people fighting for their rights.  Testament to this is the Peterloo Memorial, where in 1819, 18 people were massacred and hundreds injured by cavalry while protesting for parliamentary representation. Visit  the People’s History Museum, UK’s unique Museum of Democracy, to learn more of people’s quest for equality and social justice.

The Science and Industry Museum.

In the Museum of Science and Industry,  built at the site of the world’s  first inter-city passenger  railway station,   the  harsh working conditions come alive when  the  literally deafening  mill machinery is  demonstrated in action in the textile gallery.  You can learn about technological ideas and advancements that originated in Manchester and have changed the world.

John Rylands Library.

Alongside burgeoning industry and commerce, science, education, art, design, theatre, music and sport flourished, the legacy of which we see all around the city today.    Some of the iconic buildings and collections you might visit include;  the Georgian era Portico Library, the Victorian John Ryland’s Library and 1930s Central Library in St Peter’s Square;  The Royal Exchange Theatre, housed  within the former cotton trading building;  The Whitworth,  Manchester  City and the Lowry (Salford Quays) art galleries; The Bridgewater Hall, home of the Halle Orchestra; The Palace Theatre,  Opera House, HOME arts centre and most recently opened  Aviva Factory International,  future base for the  English National Opera and the Football Museum,  housed in the sleek, glass Urbis building.

Just across from the BABCP conference site on the Oxford Rd, take a look into the fine neo-Gothic building of the university museum.  Developed at the height of the colonial period and recently sensitively co-curated to increase understanding between cultures, it cares for 4.5 million objects from human cultures and natural sciences and is a centre for research and education.

Behind this museum you can locate the Rutherford Laboratory where in 1917 this Nobel prize winning physicist first ‘split the atom’, a dramatic breakthrough in scientific discovery establishing nuclear physics.  Further up Oxford Rd,   incongruous amongst the modern buildings of Manchester Royal Infirmary, you can find the home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Sylvia, Christabel and Adela. This has been a centre for women’s activism since the first meeting of the suffragette movement was held here in 1903.   In Sackville Gardens there is a bronze statue of Alan Turing, described as ‘father of computer science, mathematician, logician, war time code breaker, victim of prejudice’. Close by is the Gay Village, a beacon for LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms, centred on pedestrianised Canal Street. Gay Pride has been celebrated here since 1985.

Salford Quays.

Manchester has been busy re-inventing itself since manufacturing industries collapsed with a shift to a service -based economy and focus on new technologies.  Media and creative industries have been boosted by the relocation of part of the BBC from London to Media City, Salford Quays.  With nearly 200 languages spoken in the area and over 100 thousand students, at the five universities, there is plenty of human cultural capital to attract investment.  Public transport has been greatly enhanced by the Metrolink tram/light rail system which so far connects 4 of the 8 Greater Manchester Metropolitan Boroughs with Manchester and Salford.  Heritage warehouse buildings have been repurposed, opulent Victorian banks transformed into fine hotels and restaurants.  The Spinningfields district has become a new financial centre with multi-national offices, apartments, smart chain restaurants and cocktail bars humming in the evening.  New neighbourhoods   are emerging and dizzyingly high towers of luxury flats springing up transforming the skyline into ‘Manc-hattan’.  Meanwhile the shortage of social housing continues.


More gardens have opened in the heart of the city in the last 2 years.  Mayfield Park is 15 minutes’ walk from Manchester Piccadilly and provides green space, seating areas amongst shrubs and trees, walkways and play areas.  The uncovered river Medlock runs through the centre creating a new wildlife habitat.  Castlefield Viaduct is a small National Trust ‘Sky garden’ right next to Deansgate Castlefield tram stop. A hidden gem and peaceful space with gardens, trees and even a pond laid out on this Victorian Era viaduct with views of the city.

China Town.

Built on migration, Manchester offers every variety of cuisine to try.  You might like to sample the famous Curry Mile, in Rusholme, south of the university on Oxford Rd.  Since the 1950s it has offered South Asian curry houses  and sweet shops,  more recently reflecting changing demographics with Middle Eastern and North African newcomers,  the multi-cultural mix includes Syrian dessert parlours, Iranian and Afghani restaurants , Kurdish barbers, shisha bars. In the city centre you can locate China Town by its impressive Ming Dynasty arch and also find Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants in the neighbourhood.

Manchester, Street Art

The Northern Quarter is a vibrant, creative area with colourful murals, many independent shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Amongst these is the Victorian Smithfield Market now transformed into a stylish airy dining food court called Mackie Mayor. The poultry and fish market now houses the Manchester Craft Centre and the funky indoor market of Affleck’s Palace is ever popular.

Band on the Wall in the Northern Quarter has a heritage stretching over 200 years as a music venue. It was first a pub with ballad singing for mill workers, later popular with bands from  Irish,  Italian, Afro Caribbean communities. In the 70s, punk bands The Fall, Buzzcocks and Joy Division all performed here.  It’s a venue at the heart of the multi-cultural Manchester music scene with a stated mission to celebrate music from all the diverse communities of the UK.   We are delighted that the BABCP Conference is able to use this iconic, newly refurbished venue for the party night on Wednesday 24th July with Bedlam playing live!

We pride ourselves on being ‘friendly up north’.  If you have you a friend, family or ex colleague in Manchester why not get in touch with them and see if they might be prepared to put you up during the conference to save having to book into a hotel. If you live in Manchester and you know anyone who might be coming to the conference, do make contact with them if you feel able to offer  some Manchester hospitality”.

From – The Manchester Branch BABCP

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