At last, a busy day in Manchester

Trip Start Apr 13, 2014
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Trip End Sep 03, 2014


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One of my early memories was visiting my nanna, my mother. and my auntie Rene a few times at the cotton mill where they worked. I think it was just up the road from the Primary School I went to and I would have called in there to pick something up or drop it off. It was only 2 or 3 times that this happened because it wasn't the place where children would have been welcomed ( in the mid 20th century anyway ) because it was far too dangerous. My memories were of overwhelming noise, movement, heat, dust and humidity from the rooms crowded with row after row of machines going full bore. It could have been considered a scene from hell, and I don't know how it was possible to work there day after day, but it was a job and it was one of those rare jobs that a women was able to get at the time.
In Manchester in the 1800's there were over 300,000 men, women, and children employed in such mills. It was only in the mid1800's that a maximum 12 hour working day was established for women and 9-13 year old children. The average life expectancy for a mill worker was 30 years.
The Museum of Science and Industry runs a working demonstration of cotton spinning and weaving machinery and I turned up at 10.30 with a bunch of kids and their parents to hear all about it. It was fascinating to see how machinery turned a bale of cotton from the cotton fields into spindles of spun cotton threads which were able then to be woven into material. It was interesting too to hear how many ways women and children could be exploited by ruthless mill owners and the many different ways you could be maimed from unguarded machinery or die from exposure to health hazards associated with working in the mills.
From these first examples of factories where goods were mass produced the world as we know it today has evolved, for better or for worse.
I needed a cuppa after that and then I had a look at an exhibition of the winning entries in a microscopic image awards in one of the other buildings. It was interesting and curiously artistic.
 I then went down to check out various exhibits about the development of gas, and electricity usage, and about how sewerage and water was made available throughout the city.
I couldn't leave without checking out the steam engines and cars, bikes and planes first.
It is school holidays here and the place was crowded with hundreds of kids and their parents so a couple of hours of yelling kids and I was ready to move on. 
A 20 minute walk up the road brought me to the John Rylands library which has become part of the Manchester University Library and now holds over 250,000 books and a over a million manuscripts and ancient books, It opened it's doors on the 1st of January 1900 and was built by John Rylands ( one of Manchester's wealthiest mill-owners ) widow, after he died at the age of 87.
I was ready for food when I walked into the library but settled for a coffee and a scone at the cafe. The scone when it came was on a plate with clotted cream and jam. Now I know that if you spread clotted cream really thickly onto a scone and then add lots of jam, there is a possibility that your tummy might feel a bit queezy half an hour later. It was good eating it 
 though.
Well what a surprise I got when I walked into the reading room. It was as good as some of the cathedrals I've been in in Paris. They have some amazing manuscripts and books on display but to keep them from fading the lighting in lots of the library rooms was too dim to take decent photos. I would have spent an hour looking around them and then decided to pop into the town hall on the way back to the bus station. 
Around the town hall was buzzing with people who were drinking and eating and listening to a couple of jazz bands. I got into the town hall but was then asked to leave as the premises usually open to the public had been booked for a wedding..
I'll have another look at it when I come back from Clitheroe, where I am heading to on the train tomorrow.
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