Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

August 25, 2019

Reach for the Stars: My Favourite Fictional Astronomers

On Tuesday’s Helping of History on North Manchester FM, I talked about Broughton’s William Crabtree and Cheetham Hill’s Joseph Baxendell, two North Manchester men who made their name in the field of astronomy. In 1639, Crabtree was one of only two people to observe and report on the Transit of Venus, and in 1858 Baxendell was appointed official astronomer to Manchester Corporation. I found both these stories so fascinating, that I couldn’t help but extend my stellar theme to this week’s Hannah’s Bookshelf as well – though, of course, Saturday’s show had a slightly more fictional bent! My theme was fictional astronomers, and I took a little look at a selection of books featuring astronomers and astrophysicists.

Now… long-time listeners and readers of this blog might possibly be thinking that I’ve been here before. In 2016, I devoted a show to my favourite books about Outer Space. On that list, I included books set on distant planets and in spaceships, in which people left the earth and travelled the universe. Today’s list is different – the characters in these books are (almost exclusively) earthbound. But they’re all looking up and beyond, in search of some cosmological knowledge or truth. The characters I talked about in this episode all have their feet on earth… but they’re reaching for the stars.

As promised on the show, here’s the list of the books I featured. Let me know if you’ve got any other recommendations (or if you disagree with my choices!).

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (2017)

The first book on today’s list is Cheng’s charming middle-grade novel, See You in the Cosmos, a book that shares some similarities with Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (though it’s aimed at a slightly younger audience). It’s a book with an intelligent child narrator (though an adult may read between the lines and see the things that the narrator doesn’t), an unaccompanied road trip, and (though it may not appear so at first) a mystery to be solved. Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski loves space, astronomy and rockets. He wants to recreate Carl Sagan’s Golden Record (which was launched on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977) by launching a gold-painted iPod with recordings on it into space. He decides to travel to the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival in New Mexico to do so.

Alex is a young narrator, and we see the world through his naive eyes. See You in the Cosmos is structured as ‘recordings’, rather than ‘chapters’, with a stream-of-consciousness style. As such, it’s very much from the narrator’s perspective. Alex doesn’t see anything ‘off’ about his family, and is innocently honest in his descriptions of his home-life: he lives with his mum (who is seemingly neglectful and incapacitated on her ‘quiet days’, during which Alex looks after himself), and he doesn’t see his adult brother Ronnie, who works as a sports agent and lives elsewhere. His dad died when Alex was young. Alex adopts a dog, and names it Carl Sagan after his hero, and his new pet accompanies him on the trip to New Mexico. Alex’s journey is a quest narrative – and, typically, it’s not necessarily the quest you were initially expecting. On his trip to launch his rocket, Alex meets adults (and kids) who help him, and he learns some truths that have been hidden from him. Cheng’s novel is deeply sad in places, but ultimately rather sweet and uplifting.

The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill (2013)

Brill’s novel is set in 1845, and tells the story of Hannah Gardner Price, a Nantucket Quaker. Hannah’s passion is (surprisingly enough) astronomy, and she dreams of discovering a comet and winning the King of Denmark’s prize. Although her father is initially supportive, his own interest in astronomy wanes when Hannah’s brother Edward leaves on a whaling vessel. When he decides to pack up, remarry and move to Philadelphia, Hannah realizes that her career as an astronomer may be curtailed.

In addition to being a historical novel, The Movement of Stars is also a romance. Hannah’s head is turned by a young Azorean whaler, Isaac, who comes to her for help with his ship’s chronometer. As Hannah and Isaac’s friendship deepens, the small Quaker community begin to question Hannah’s respectability. However, Hannah and Isaac are both ambitious, and united in their fascination with the stars. Will this win out over prejudice? And will Hannah ever spot a comet?

Brill’s novel is inspired by the life of Maria Mitchell, the first woman to work as a professional astronomer in America. In 1847, Mitchell discovered a comet, which became known as ‘Miss Mitchell’s Comet’, and won the King of Denmark’s award. The Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket is named in her memory. However, Brill has embellished Mitchell’s story with a forbidden romance and a restrictive, religious society. In reality, Mitchell never married, and her Quaker community believed in intellectual equality of the sexes. Brill’s novel exercises some artistic licence, to create a story about freedom, belonging and human connection.

Somnium by Johannes Kepler (1634)

The rest of today’s books were all published in the twenty-first century – but we’re going a bit further back in time for the next one! Tuesday’s Helping of History featured the story of William Crabtree and Jeremiah Horrocks – who were followers of Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), the German astronomer and mathematician. So I thought it would be fitting to include a book related to Kepler on today’s list. I considered John Banville’s 1981 novel Kepler, and nearly included it… But surely it’s even more apt to include a work of fiction by the man himself. Somnium is sometimes described as one of the first works of science fiction. It was written in 1608 (in Latin), and published in 1634 by Kepler’s son Ludwig.

In the (relatively short) novel, Kepler-the-narrator falls asleep reading about a sorceress. He dreams about reading another book, this time about a fourteen-year-old Icelandic boy named Duracotus, whose mother Fiolxhilde makes a living selling mystical herbs to ship captains for luck. After an incident involving the herbs, Duracotus ends up being sold to a ship captain, and then later becomes a student of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. When he eventually returns home, Fiolxhilde explains she has the power to commune with daemons, who can transport humans to their home world, the island of Levania (which is really the earth’s moon). The books contains detailed descriptions of the journey to Levania, its two hemispheres, and the view of Volva (Earth) in its sky. It offers a poetic-but-scientific version of the geometry of the Earth/Moon system, eclipses and other lunar astronomy.

Somnium was originally a student dissertation by Kepler, defending the Copernican doctrine of the motion of the Earth. Two decades later, he added the dream framework, and then later, some explanatory notes on his own career. Some people have theorized that Kepler wrote it as a piece of fiction in order to disguise the radical nature of his thoughts – it was not an easy time to be an astronomer, and Kepler’s fellow Copernican Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy in 1600.

Percival’s Planet by Michael Byers (2010)

Percival’s Planet is a fictionalized account of Clyde Tombaugh‘s discovery of Pluto in 1930 (following Percival Lowell‘s unsuccessful search for the hypothesized ‘Planet X’). The story of Tombaugh here is roughly based on a true story, but Byers populates his novel with a series of fictional characters, all of whom are locked in their own quests – and all of whom play some part or intersect in some way with the search for Planet X. The book begins in 1928, with Tombaugh on his family’s farm in Kansas, grinding a telescope lens and dreaming of astronomy. In Flagstaff, Arizona, the Lowell Observatory is planning to resume the late Percival Lowell’s search for Planet X. Tombaugh ends up working at the Lowell Observatory, initially helping with the night-time photography required for the search, but eventually making his name as the discoverer of Pluto. Surrounding his story are those of other ‘lost souls’ and searchers, including Alan Barber (who names a comet after the woman he loves, just before she marries another man), Barber’s (later) love Mary (who is fighting a losing battle against psychosis), Felix DuPrie (a rich dilettante who ends up as a dinosaur-hunter). Percival’s Planet is a book about discovery, loss, obsession and madness, but also about astrophysics, mathematics and computation.

The novel is inspired by the story of Tombaugh, rather than being faithfully biographical. David Levy’s biography, Clyde Tombaugh: Discoverer of the Planet Pluto, offers a different account of Tombaugh’s character, for instance. As in other books on today’s list, the astronomer here is presented as unsupported by his family and community, whereas in reality Tombaugh’s family put a high value on education.

Boneland by Alan Garner (2012)

When I was thinking about this list, I considered including a novel featuring the Royal Greenwich Observatory – for instance, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent or Graham Swift’s Waterland – but in the end I decided to stick a little closer to home, and so the next book on my list is one where Jodrell Bank in Cheshire plays a significant role. Boneland is a sequel to Garner’s much-loved children’s books, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963), but it is not straightforwardly so. Published nearly fifty years after the second book in the trilogy, it is a very different kettle of fish – not least because it isn’t a children’s book. (It is still set in and around Alderley Edge, though, and the landscape is still very much a character.)

In some ways, the book offers a catch-up with Colin and Susan from the two previous stories (they’re brother and sister in the early books, now explicitly twins). In other ways, however, it’s really not a catch-up, as a large part of the story of the intervening years is absent. We find out that Susan has disappeared, and Colin is now autistic polymath Professor Colin Whisterfield. He works at Jodrell Bank, using the radio telescope to search the Pleiades for his lost sister. Colin can remember every moment of his life after thirteen, but nothing at all that happened before that age. Readers expecting a turn of events that will bring the sort of high-peril fantasy adventure found in the 60s novels will be disappointed (or, perhaps, pleasantly surprised), as Colin’s story is actually told through conversations with Meg, an idiosyncratic but gifted psychologist who is sympathetic towards him. It is intercut with a Shamanistic dream narrative – a man (the Watcher) who is the guardian of the Edge needs to find/create the Woman to ensure the survival of the world. Written in the sparse but poetic prose characteristic of Garner’s later fiction, Boneland is, in part, a meditation on growing up – the jaded, cynical adult world is stripped of the fantastical beings and wonder of childhood – but also a consideration of magic, memory and mental health. Its non-linear and opaque narrative structure creates a cerebral and unsettling finale to the Alderley Edge story, and one that bears re-reading.

The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt (2013)

The final book on today’s list is another novel by an astronomer… but it’s a very different kettle of fish to Somnium! Pippa Goldschmidt has a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Edinburgh. The Falling Sky was her debut novel. The novel’s central character is Jeanette, a post-doctoral researcher who finds evidence that potentially does not fit with the Big Bang Theory (she observes two connected galaxies that should be impossible). A true scientist, Jeanette is desperate to refute her own findings, painstakingly calculating and recalculating in an attempt to find her own error, and travelling to Chile in order to continue her observations. However, this is only part of the story. The book alternates between ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ chapters. The former describe her present situation – she’s trying to come to terms with implications of her discovery and the consequences for her academic career, while going through a cycle of unsatisfying affairs and relationships. The ‘Then’ chapters focus on her past – piecing together her early childhood, and her disjointed relationship with her parents and beloved sister (whose unexplained death is a shadow on Jeanette’s adult life).

Described as a satirical campus novel, The Falling Sky is more than this. Its humour is really of the blackest (or perhaps bleakest?) kind. This is a quiet and thoughtful novel about disconnection, reality, tragedy and loss. It seems a fitting book with which to end this list, as it touches on so many of the themes that these books have in common. However, it does leave me with a puzzling question: Why can’t astronomers (in fiction) be happy? Are they all reaching for the stars to replace something that’s missing from their terrestrial life? Given the proliferation within these books of dead/absent parents and missing siblings, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that literary takes on astronomy repeatedly situate the science as a potent, but poignant, search for meaning in the face of loss and absence.

To hear more about all the books on today’s list, and my reasons for choosing them, listen to the show here:

August 20, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 20 August, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 on North Manchester FM for a truly stellar Helping of History! We’ll be reaching for the stars, as I take a look at some stories of North Manchester astronomy.

I’m going to be talking about three interesting astronomical events – the 1639 transit of Venus, the 1851 solar eclipse, and the 1858 occultation of Saturn – and, more importantly, how these events were witnessed in North Manchester. Of course, this means taking a look at some of the North Manc men who’ve reached for the stars. Broughton’s William Crabtree, one of only two people to observe the 1639 transit of Venus, is probably the best known. But I’ll also be talking a bit about Cheetham Hill’s Joseph Baxendell, once the official astronomer to Manchester Corporation, who constructed the Crumpsall Observatory with his friend Robert Worthington. From their telescope in Crumpsall, Baxendell and Worthington witnessed a number of phenomena, including the occultation of Saturn. Find out more on Tuesday’s show!

In addition to my astronomical theme, I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers.

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

August 13, 2019

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 17 August, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm on North Manchester FM for another edition of Hannah’s Bookshelf. This week, I will be joined by the fantastic CJ Harter!

CJ has dissected human bodies in Sheffield, shushed library-users in Wigan, shared poetry in Liverpool, organised bedbaths in Salford. Now she helps folk connect with their creativity through writing, as well as assisting authors on their journeys to publication with her editing and proofreading services. CJ has a degree in Literature and Philosophy, is mother to two adults, wife to one and slave to two tiny dogs.

Her first novel, psychological crime suspense Rowan’s Well, won a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award, was shortlisted in the Words With Jam First Page 2017 Competition, and is garnering 5 star reviews. Her second book, Fitful Head: A Ghost Story, is set in Leigh. It recently won second prize in Liverpool Writing On The Wall Festival’s Pulp Idol contest and was highly placed in the international UK-NWC competition. CJ is currently working on a new crime series of novels set in and around Manchester.

I’ll be talking to CJ about her novels, and her writing work generally, on Saturday’s show. And, of course, she’ll be sharing her selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

August 13, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 13 August, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week’s a bit of an unusual show, as I’m going to be joined in the studio by another NMFM presenter… the lovely John Barker!

This summer sees a number of important birthdays and anniversaries in the local area… from the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre to the 120th anniversary of the opening of Crumpsall Park. Citizens Advice Manchester turns 80 this year, and later on (in the autumn) the North Manchester Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society turns 100! Of course, there’s another birthday a little closer to home as well… North Manchester FM hits ten years old this summer!

Join me and John as we talk about some of these anniversaries and their importance for our local area. And, of course, I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers in the second hour of the show.

Catch A Helping of History on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

August 11, 2019

Send in the Clowns: A Selection of Fictional Comedians

On Saturday’s Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM, I decided to have a bit of a laugh (or, in some cases, not so much of a laugh) and look at a selection of literary comedians. Now, I don’t mean comedians who have written books… this week’s show was devoted to fictional comedians and the books in which they appear. I had a look at some clowns, jesters and stand-ups from a selection of very different fictions.

If you missed the show, you can catch it again on the player at the bottom of this post. But, as promised on the show, here’s a list of the titles featured on this week’s episode…

The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah (2016)

So, I began with a stand-up comedian. The Narrow Bed (aka The Next to Die) is the tenth novel in Sophie Hannah’s Culver Valley crime series. The story focuses on the investigation into a serial killer dubbed ‘Billy Dead Mates’, who has been targetting pairs of best friends. The killer sends pairs of little white books as a calling card to both BFFs before dispatching them. However, there’s a problem… comedian Kim Tribbeck received one of the books at the end of a gig. But Kim doesn’t have a best friend (she barely has any friends at all). So have the police got ‘Billy Dead Mates’ wrong? Or is there more to Kim’s story than meets the eye?

Told through the alternating perspectives of a third-person account of the investigation and extracts from Kim’s book about the case, The Narrow Bed is a well-written and engaging murder mystery. For me, it’s the character of Kim that really stands out. Mildly misanthropic, troubled, and very much using humour as a defence mechanism, Kim Tribbeck could easily have veered into cliché, but Hannah’s writing brings her to life as a believable and sympathetic character. I’m not going to say I loved the big reveal at the end (no spoilers!), but I certainly enjoyed reading about this particular comedian.

The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell (2007)

A very different type of book next, and a very different type of comedian. Campbell’s book tells the story of film journalist Simon Lester, who is commissioned (with an offer that’s almost too good to be true) to write a book about forgotten silent film star Tubby Thackeray. Thackeray was once well-known as a comic performer (along the lines of Chaplin or Keaton), but his fall into obscurity was sudden and (almost) complete. Lester’s project begins as a simple re-evaluation and rediscovery of Thackeray’s lost work – but things soon take a turn towards something much darker.

I do enjoy the ‘lost film’ trope. Campbell has previously used this in Ancient Images (another book that I really enjoyed). But what I like about The Grin of the Dark is that it’s all about comedy, rather than horror. There’s something about the wild anarchy of Thackeray’s performances that is even more unsettling than the horror of the Karloff/Lugosi film in the earlier novel. The Grin of the Dark has some incredible set pieces (a visit to the circus, a description of Thackeray’s performance) and some characteristically Campbell word games. Ultimately, this is a book that will make you scared to ever laugh again.

I Funny by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (2012)

James Patterson might not be the first name you think of when it comes to children’s fiction. But – along with his many other titles – Patterson has a raft of children’s books to his name. I Funny is co-written with Chris Grabenstein and illustrated by Laura Park. It introduces the reader to Middle School student Jamie Grimm. Jamie uses a wheelchair (the reasons behind this are revealed later in the book) and has to live with his rather miserable aunt (the reasons for which are also revealed later). His cousin is the school bully, an abusive and violent boy named Steve. One day, Jamie’s uncle – impressed by his nephew’s ability to make customers in his diner laugh – encourages him to enter a competition to find ‘The Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic’. Jamie’s journey to becoming a stand-up (or, as he puts it, a ‘sit-down comedian’) has begun.

I Funny is a book about self-esteem, disability and coming to terms with loss. Jamie’s humour might not always ring quite true (he’s a bit young to be recycling Steve Martin jokes), but the book’s heart is very much in the right place. I Funny was followed by a series of sequels, which continued Jamie’s story: I Even Funnier (2013), I Totally Funniest (2015), I Funny TV (2015), I Funny: School of Laughs (2017) and The Nerdiest, Wimpiest, Dorkiest I Funny Ever (2018).

Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie (1933)

And now the almost obligatory Agatha Christie! Admittedly, Lord Edgware Dies (aka Thirteen at Dinner) might not be the first book to pop into your head when you think about fictional comedians. It’s a Hercule Poirot mystery, which sees our little Belgian detective approached by actress Jane Wilkinson. Jane is married to the eponymous Lord and wants Poirot’s help to secure a divorce. The plot thickens when the detective discovers that Lord Edgware has already agreed to a divorce… but before he get to the bottom of the confusion, Lord Edgware dies!

However, it’s not Lord Edgware or Jane Wilkinson that have secured the book’s place on the list, but rather the character of Carlotta Adams. Carlotta is a music hall/theatre performer who specializes in impressions, and who becomes embroiled in the mystery of Lord Edgware’s death. Okay, maybe she’s not exactly a comedian, but there’s a reason why I’ve included her here. Christie based the character of Carlotta Adams – and also her character Aspasia Glen in the short story ‘The Dead Harlequin’ – on real-life performer Ruth Draper. Draper was an American monologist who used minimal props to conjure a series of characters on stage, and whose work inspired many comic performers, including Joyce Grenfell, Lily Tomlin, Emma Thompson and Maureen Lipman. While Draper wasn’t primarily known as a comic act, Christie’s Carlotta and Aspasia are both known in their respective stories for incorporating humour into their acts.

Clown Girl by Monica Drake (2007)

I didn’t think my list today would be complete without a clown. And Monica Drake’s 2007 novel certainly has one of those. The central character is Nita – aka Sniffles the Clown – who lives in Baloneytown and tries to get by making money from clowning gigs. While Nita dreams of creating high art performances, she’s ended up doing ‘corporate clown’ gigs and performing for clown fetishists. Nita is stuck in a bad relationship with boyfriend Rex Galore, and her life is in the process of taking a serious downward turn.

Drake’s novel is bizarre and weird, and it rattles along at a frenetic pace. But it’s also a story of sadness, pathos, grief and loss. The darkly quirky location of Baloneytown has clowning at the heart of its economic structure, and Clown Girl also offers comments on economic struggle and prejudice. This is a strange story, but an engaging one. If you’re looking for ‘tears of a clown’, this is the one for you.

Fool by Christopher Moore (2009)

And finally, from clowns to jesters. I toyed with the idea of including Shakespeare’s King Lear on today’s list, as it has a pretty memorable jester (or fool), who plays a significant (if not major) role in the story. But I decided instead to go for something even more fool-ish.

Moore’s Fool is a retelling of King Lear from the fool’s perspective. We view the story through Pocket (as he is called here)’s eyes, and it’s a rather vulgar, rowdy story at that. Fool is heavy on the bawdy (some might say frat-boy) humour, (anachronistic) swearing and slang. It offers a wry, though somewhat altered, version of Shakespeare’s story, with references to other plays scattered throughout. As a minor caveat, I will say that this is an American book, so some of the faux ‘Britishisms’ can feel a little clunky on this side of the Atlantic – and the humour is definitely of a type that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, Moore’s novel has been very popular, and the interpretation it offers of some of Shakespeare’s subtext is definitely interesting. If you enjoy Pocket’s escapades, there’s also a sequel: The Serpent of Venice was published in 2014.

To hear more about all of these books, and my reasons for choosing them, you can listen to Saturday’s show here:

July 31, 2019

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 3 August, 2-4pm

Join me on Saturday at 2pm for another episode of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM. This week, my guest will be the fab D.M. Wolfenden.

D.M. is a horror author who’s addicted to tattoos. Winner of Readers’ Favorite Honorable Mention for horror in 2015, D.M.’s passion is short stories, and she aims to write at least three a year. Known for her dark fiction, D.M. does have a softer side, and on occasion she writes drama coupled with a touch of romance.

D.M.’s goal in life is to live in a castle in Romania (fans of her work will know why).

I’ll be talking to D.M. about her writing, and about all things horror. And, of course, she’ll be sharing her selections for this week’s Apocalypse Books.

Catch the show on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

July 30, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 30 July, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’ll be talking theatre!

I’ve got quite a bit of bonus content for you this week, in the form of some reviews of Greater Manchester Fringe shows on at this year’s festival. And this bonus content has inspired the theme of today’s show… theatres in North Manchester. I’m going to take a look back at some of the theatres of North Manchester’s past, as well as some of the other pre-WWII entertainment venues that served our local area.

In addition to this theatrical wander, I’ll also be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers (and there might be some theatre info there as well)!

You can catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

July 21, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 23 July, 12-2pm

Tune in on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week, I’m going to be talking about religious battles in Miles Platting!

Specifically, I’m going to be talking about the Rev. Sidney Faithorn Green, a clergyman who appointed to St John’s in Miles Platting in 1869 – but then imprisoned in 1880 for offences against the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874. Green was a follower of the Oxford Movement and held services in Anglo-Catholic style – which led to him being admonised by the Bishop of Manchester. The fall-out from the case split the congregation at St John’s, with petitions favouring one side or the other flying back and forth. Even after Green’s imprisonment, animosity raged on between his curate Harry Cowgill and his replacement, the Rev. W.R. Pym.

I’ll be talking about notorious Sidney Faithorn Green case – and about its impact on the congregation in Miles Platting. But in a bizarre twist, I’ll also be sharing the story of a fall-out in the Methodist community that happened around the same time! In the second hour of the show, I’ll be talking about the founding of the Miles Platting Mission following an argument about a Salvation Army brass band!

In addition to these Miles Platting controversies, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers. And there’ll be a bit of bonus content in the form of a couple of new theatre reviews as well!

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

July 16, 2019

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 16 July, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 on North Manchester FM for another Helping of History. This week, I’m going to be talking about the curious case of an almost forgotten district of North Manchester: Barnes Green.

Barnes Green sits on the border of Blackley and Harpurhey. While some people may be familiar with (or may have spotted) the Barnes Green Catholic Social Club on Factory Lane, a lot of people may not be aware that the area was considered a district in its own right once. In fact, some of the landmarks of this bit of Harpurhey (like the Farmyard Hotel and the public baths) were frequently referred to as being in Barnes Green in the early part of the twentieth century.

On this week’s show, I’m going to take a little wander through Barnes Green (with the help of a couple of old maps and some newspaper clippings!). In addition to this, I’ll be taking my usual look through Yesterday’s Papers, and sharing a little bit of bonus content in the form of a theatre review as well.

Catch the show on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here: