I’ve had another really enjoyable year of presenting A Helping of History, my local history show on North Manchester FM. I’ve told loads more stories of North Manchester’s past, welcomed some fantastic guests to the studio, and been out and about at various events and exhibitions. I’ve also done my weekly read of Yesterday’s Papers, looking at the local papers from 1941 through the year. Here’s a round-up of everything that happened this year on the show, but I’d like to say a big thanks to North Manchester FM for letting me haunt the airwaves and to Rob Shedwick (aka Digital Front) for being my unofficial producer on the show.
The 2019 Helping of History show schedule began in January with a show dedicated to Corporation Housing in Blackley, and this was followed by a programme about the proposed (but failed) incorporation of Failsworth with Manchester at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The next show in January was my first interview of the year, when I spoke to Owen Hammond about Broughton House (past, present and future). This show also featured a short interview with Sir Richard Leese about progress in the sad case of Crumpsall Library. The final show of the month featured Three Tales of Old Collyhurst.
I began February with a show about one of the North Manchester ‘power families’: Meet the Chethams. This was followed by an episode devoted to a particular strand of Prestwich history… the history of public punishment (think Star Chambers and stocks)! I also welcomed a couple of guests to the show this month, to talk about some really interesting projects that explore and celebrate our local history. I spoke to Katrina Navickas about her academic History of Public Space project, and to Julian Hill about the Our Life theatre project, which is looking to gather stories from local people about the communities of Moston and Harpurhey.
This month, I decided to start including theatre reviews on my other show, Hannah’s Bookshelf. However, I quickly found that I didn’t always have enough space on that show for this content, and so I sneaked a few of them in on A Helping of History as well. This month, I review 2084 and Tea and Two Sugars. Given the content of my shows this month, I think these theatre reviews fit quite well!
March began with an interview with the Theatres Trust about their Theatres at Risk register. In this interview, we talked about Broughton’s Victoria Theatre, and so the second half of the show was devoted to looking at the opening ceremony of that theatre (and the famous visit from Bram Stoker). The next show this month was a chance to go back to a selection of the iconic North Manchester buildings featured on last year’s Who Am I? quiz, and then the week after I had a little wander through a book about the local area: Crofton’s History of Newton.
The final Helping of History this month included two interviews. I spoke to author Denise Beddows about her book, The Cheetham Hill Murder: A Convenient Killing?, and to the People’s History Museum about their new exhibition, Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest.
Two episodes about particular area of North Manchester for the first half of April… the first was all about the incorporation of Crumpsall into Manchester, and the second was about the history of Langley. These were followed by a show explaining some of the curious place and street names in the area – Fourways, Vauxhall Court, Chain Bar and Middleton Old Road.
On St George’s Day, I presented a Special Edition of the show recorded the previous day (Easter Monday) at the Middleton Pace Egg play. And then the final show of the month was an interview with Alexandra Cropper at the Manchester Jewish Museum, in which we talked about the very exciting renovation plans for the museum in the coming few years.
In addition to all this, I also included a cheeky theatre review in April. This time, it was a review of Visitors.
I started this month by interviewing local historian Les Leggett about the former Crumpsall Wesleyan Methodist Cemetery, which was on the site of the current Cheetham Hill Tesco car park.
The next show in May was all about the history of Drinkwater Park and Irwell House. Then, there was another opportunity to revisit some more of the landmark North Manchester buildings that were included in last year’s Who Am I? quiz. And finally, I talked about the story of Young Langley (an heir of the Langley family in the fourteenth century) and the legend of his abduction by Robert de Holland.
This month started with a rare crossover interview with Hannah’s Bookshelf. I played an edited version of an interview from my literature show with Polyp and Eva Schlunke about their new graphic novel about the Peterloo Massacre. And then I had a show featuring Three Tales of Old Chadderton.
Two really excellent guests in the second half of the month… I spoke to Zara Hakobyan about the Aratta projects looking at Armenian heritage in Greater Manchester – and as a bit of bonus content in this show, I also included some miscellaneous stories of Moston’s past – and then I spoke to Jacqui Carroll of REELmcr about their new community film about Samuel Bamford, Our Sam – The Middleton Man.
In addition to all this, I also managed to fit a theatre review in as well – a review of Yvette.
This month, I presented episodes of the show on Hannah Mitchell, Barnes Green and the trial of Sidney Faithorn Green of Miles Platting (and this show also included a little additional story about the Miles Platting Mission). I also had a show featuring a Cheetham Hill Miscellany, with a number of curious little stories about the area, and an episode looking at the Queen’s Park Hippodrome and the Blackley Electric Theatre.
As it was festival season in July, I had a lot of theatre reviews on the show this month. I reviewed productions in the Incoming Festival: The Basement Tapes, Electrolyte and No One is Coming to Save You. And in the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival: Gobby, Wake Up Maggie!, People are Happy on Trains, Blue Lines, The Joy of Cam, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Rice, socially [un]acceptable, Drowning in Silence, Memoires d’un amnesique, Frozen Peas in an Old Tin Can and The Greek. Phew.
In August, I very much enjoyed co-presenting a show (on my birthday!) with fellow North Manchester FM presenter John Barker. We covered lots of birthday and anniversary events, including the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre and the 120th anniversary of the opening of Crumpsall Park.
Crumpsall Park also featured in the next show in August, in which I talked about the Crumpsall Observatory and also about William Crabtree observing the Transit of Venus in Broughton. The final show of the month was all about myth-busting – I asked listeners to text in with things they’ve ‘always believed’ about our local history, and we talked about whether or not they were actually true!
This month began with another visit to the People’s History Museum, to talk about their new exhibition, The Most Radical Street in Manchester?. The exhibition features some of Katrina Navickas’s research into the History of Public Space, which she talked about when I interviewed her back in February. In the second half of this week’s show, I followed up my interview about the PHM exhibition by talking about the Boggart Hole Clough Prosecutions, which were one of the consequences of the Independent Labour Party rallies that took place in the Clough.
The next show in September featured Three Tales of Old Alkrington. One of those tales intrigued me so much that I devoted all of the next show to exploring it further: The Singular Disappearance of the Old Man from Jumbo. (And you might have noticed that I really was taken by this story, as it inspired one of my Ten Tales: Ghost Stories for North Manchester as well!). And then the final show this month was all about Scuttling on the Rochdale-road.
I included a couple of theatre reviews on the show this month as well: No Man’s Land and Red Dust Road.
October on A Helping of History saw me talking about Heaton before Heaton Park, and then the history of Strangeways Hall. As this latter broadcast was interrupted before the end, I returned to the story of Mrs Margaret Taylor of Strangeways the following week as well. I also presented a show in October dedicated to the Listed Buildings of Heaton Park.
As this month also saw celebrations to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Citizens Advice Manchester, I invited Rosi Avis of CAM (who also presents the Here to Help show on North Manchester FM) onto A Helping of History, and we talked about the history and development of the organization.
One final bit of October content… another theatre review! This time it was of Thunder Girls.
This month, I looked at some collections of curious tales about specific areas of North Manchester. First, it was tales of sport in Cheetham Hill, then it was Miscellaneous Middleton, and finally a Prestwich Pot Pourri. The final show of November was all about Tripe Colony in Miles Platting.
December started off with rather a big question – and what that I should probably have addressed a long time ago on the show – what is North Manchester? To explore this, I looked at the Curious Case of Beswick. The next show this month was all about trains! I looked at the history of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, and its significance for the North Manchester area (and beyond).
And then things got a bit festive… I looked at what I called some ‘Christmas Crackers’ – little curiosities from the local papers about Christmases past. And then I shared some Christmas Memories on my Christmas Eve show – reminiscences from North Manchester residents about the festive season.
Just one show left this year in 2019!
On New Year’s Eve, I’ll be presenting a Yesterday’s Papers Special, reading the local papers from the week between Christmas and New Year, 1941. As always, you can catch the show on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).
Happy New Year!