People's History Museum

Last updated

People's History Museum
The People's History Museum
Greater Manchester UK location map 2.svg
Red pog.svg
The location of the museum within Manchester
Former nameNational Museum of Labour History
Location Manchester, United Kingdom
Coordinates 53°28′53″N2°15′12″W / 53.481389°N 2.253333°W / 53.481389; -2.253333 Coordinates: 53°28′53″N2°15′12″W / 53.481389°N 2.253333°W / 53.481389; -2.253333
Type History museum
Architect Henry Price
Website People's History Museum

The People's History Museum (the National Museum of Labour History until 2001) in Manchester, England, is the United Kingdom's national centre for the collection, conservation, interpretation and study of material relating to the history of working people in the UK. It is located in a grade II-listed, former hydraulic pumping station on the corner of the Bridge Street and Water Street designed by Manchester Corporation City Architect, Henry Price. [1] [2] [3]

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 3.2 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.


The museum tells the story of the history of democracy in Great Britain and about people's lives at home, work and leisure over the last 200 years. The collection contains printed material, physical objects and photographs of people at work, rest and play. Some of the topics covered include popular radicalism, the Peterloo Massacre, 19th century trade unionism, the women's suffrage movement, dockers, the cooperative movement, the 1945 general election, and football. It also includes material relating to friendly societies, the welfare movement and advances in the lives of working people.

Democracy system of government in which citizens vote directly in or elect representatives to form a governing body, sometimes called "rule of the majority"

Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Peterloo Massacre Massacre of protesters in 1819

The Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.


The People's History Museum, as viewed from across the River Irwell in Salford People's History Museum from Salford.JPG
The People's History Museum, as viewed from across the River Irwell in Salford

The Trade Union, Labour and Co-operative History Society operated a collection at Limehouse Town Hall between 1975 and 1986, with the bulk of the collections in storage.[ citation needed ] The museum moved to Manchester and re-opened in 1990 at the Grade II* listed former Mechanics' Institute at 103 Princess Street. [3] [4]

Limehouse Town Hall former town hall in Limehouse, London

Limehouse Town Hall is a former town hall building on Commercial Road, in Limehouse, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Listed building Collection of protected architectural creations in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

In 1994, the museum opened the Pump House People's History Museum containing a public gallery at the present site on Bridge Street. The two sites were renamed the People's History Museum (PHM) in 2001. [3] The Bridge Street site closed for a £12.5m redevelopment in October 2007. [5] The redevelopment included the refurbishment of the existing Pump House and the construction of a four-storey extension alongside it. A glass walk way was constructed to link the two buildings. [6] The museum reopened on 13 February 2010. [7] [8]

The new building houses the museum galleries, changing exhibitions, education service, Labour History Archive and Study Centre (formerly at 103 Princess Street), Textile Conservation Studio, corporate facilities, café and shop. The new People’s History Museum has more coherent museum galleries designed to display the collection with improved interactive exhibits and interpretation.[ citation needed ]

A larger, temporary exhibition gallery allows more of the museum’s own collections to be seen, as well as topical national touring exhibitions. A dedicated community gallery provides local people with a space to display their own work while the integration of the Labour History Archive and Textile Conservation Studio allows visitors to see the museum’s work.[ citation needed ]


The People's History Museum holds one of the largest collections of political material in Britain, beginning with the early 19th century. It focuses on the history of democracy with objects relating to the right to vote making up a large part of the objects on display. The collection includes 2,000 posters focused on elections and political campaigns, 300 political cartoons, 7,000 trade union badges and tokens, as well as 95,000 photographs. [9] With over 400 trade union and political banners, People's History Museum holds the largest banner collection in the world [10] and visitors to the museum can see banners being conserved in Main Gallery Two in the Textile Conservation studio. [11]

The museum actively collects contemporary material. Through projects such as "Play Your Part", the museum makes the historic collections relevant to present day issues.

PHM also houses the Labour History Archive and Study Centre, an important archive of material relating to the history of working people in Britain. Its collections include the archives of the Labour Party, the former Communist Party of Great Britain, the co-operative movement and the Department for Work and Pensions. It also contains documents relating to Chartism, general elections, the First World War, women's suffrage and the 1984–1985 miners' strike. [12]

Related Research Articles

Science and Industry Museum Science museum in Liverpool Road, Manchester

The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, England, is a large museum devoted to the development of science, technology and industry with emphasis on the city's achievements in these fields. The museum is part of the Science Museum Group, a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, having merged with the National Science Museum in 2012.

Royal Ontario Museum Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Royal Ontario Museum is a museum of art, world culture and natural history in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is one of the largest museums in North America and the largest in Canada. It attracts more than one million visitors every year, making the ROM the most-visited in Canada. The museum is north of Queen's Park, in the University of Toronto district, with its main entrance on Bloor Street West. The Museum subway station of the Toronto Transit Commission is named after the ROM and, since a 2008 renovation, is decorated to resemble the institution's collection.

Bolton town in Greater Manchester, in the North West of England

Bolton is a town in Greater Manchester in North West England. A former mill town, Bolton has been a production centre for textiles since Flemish weavers settled in the area in the 14th century, introducing a wool and cotton-weaving tradition. The urbanisation and development of the town largely coincided with the introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. Bolton was a 19th-century boomtown, and at its zenith in 1929 its 216 cotton mills and 26 bleaching and dyeing works made it one of the largest and most productive centres of cotton spinning in the world. The British cotton industry declined sharply after the First World War, and by the 1980s cotton manufacture had virtually ceased in Bolton.

Manchester city centre central business district of the City of Manchester, England

Manchester city centre is the central business district of Manchester, England, within the boundaries of Trinity Way, Great Ancoats Street and Whitworth Street. The City Centre ward had a population of 17,861 at the 2011 census.

Walter Crane British artist

Walter Crane was an English artist and book illustrator. He is considered to be the most influential, and among the most prolific, children’s book creators of his generation and, along with Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway, one of the strongest contributors to the child's nursery motif that the genre of English children's illustrated literature would exhibit in its developmental stages in the later 19th century.

The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art is a contemporary art gallery based in Manchester, England, which aims to advance the education of the public in contemporary Chinese arts and culture. It is currently based on Thomas Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter in part of the renovated Smithfield Market Hall.

Manchester Museum University museum of archaeology, natural history and anthropology in Manchester, England

Manchester Museum is a museum displaying works of archaeology, anthropology and natural history and is owned by the University of Manchester, in England. Sited on Oxford Road (A34) at the heart of the university's group of neo-Gothic buildings, it provides access to about 4.5 million items from every continent. It is the UK's largest university museum and serves both as a major visitor attraction and as a resource for academic research and teaching. It has around 430,000 visitors each year.

National Waterways Museum grade II listed building in the United kingdom

The National Waterways Museum (NWM) is in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England, at the northern end of the Shropshire Union Canal where it meets the Manchester Ship Canal. The museum's collections and archives focus on the Britain's navigable inland waterways, including its rivers and canals, and include canal boats, traditional clothing, painted canal decorative ware and tools. It is one of several museums and attractions operated by the Canal & River Trust, the successor to The Waterways Trust.

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology part of University College London Museums & Collections

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London is part of University College London Museums and Collections. The museum contains over 80,000 objects and ranks among some of the world's leading collections of Egyptian and Sudanese material.

The Western Australian Museum is the state museum for Western Australia. It has six main sites: in Perth within the Perth Cultural Centre, two in Fremantle, and one each in Albany, Geraldton, and Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The Western Australian Museum is a statutory authority within the Culture and the Arts Portfolio, established under the Museum Act 1969.

Museum of Liverpool

The Museum of Liverpool in Liverpool, England, is the newest addition to the National Museums Liverpool group having opened in 2011 replacing the former Museum of Liverpool Life. National Museums Liverpool intention is for the new venue to tell the story of Liverpool and its people, and reflect the city’s global significance. The museum is housed in a new purpose-built building on the Mann Island site at the Pier Head.

Working Class Movement Library library

The Working Class Movement Library (WCML) is a collection of English language books, periodicals, pamphlets, archives and artefacts relating to the development of the political and cultural institutions of the working class which were created by the Industrial Revolution. It is situated in Salford, Greater Manchester, England.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery museum in Brighton, UK

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is a municipally-owned public museum and art gallery in the city of Brighton and Hove in the South East of England. It is part of the "Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton and Hove". It is free for local residents but charges £5.20 per non-resident visitor.

Manchester Hydraulic Power

Manchester's Hydraulic Power system was a public hydraulic power network supplying energy across the city of Manchester via a system of high-pressure water pipes from three pumping stations from 1894 until 1972. The system, which provided a cleaner and more compact alternative to steam engines, was used to power workshop machinery, lifts, cranes and a large number of cotton baling presses in warehouses as it was particularly useful for processes that required intermittent power. It was used to wind Manchester Town Hall clock, pump the organ at Manchester Cathedral and raise the safety curtain at Manchester Opera House in Quay Street.

The Designation Scheme is an English system that awards "Designated status" to museum, library and archive collections of national and international importance. The Scheme is administered by Arts Council England (ACE). As of 2018, 148 collections are officially designated, with 140 recognized as 'outstanding'. National museums are not eligible for Designated status.

Islington Local History Centre

Islington Local History Centre is a local studies centre and archive which holds material documenting the history of the London Borough of Islington.

Marine Museum of the Great Lakes marine museum in Kingston, Ontario

The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes is a small museum dedicated to marine history in the Great Lakes.

Ormrod and Hardcastle spinning and manufacturing firm began in 1788, with the partnership of James Ormrod and Thomas Hardcastle, and the purchase of the Flash Street mills in Bolton, Greater Manchester. These two men have been identified amongst the fathers of the early cotton trade in North West England. Others named are Carlisles, Gray, Knowles, Bulling, Crook and Culling. These names often figured prominently in the political, judicial and economic life of Bolton during its great period of growth, but sadly these names have been largely forgotten in the history of the cotton trade. By the time of their closure, in 1960, Ormrod and Hardcastle owned six large successful cotton mills in Bolton.

Althea McNish FCSD is a British textile designer of Trinidadian origin who has been called the first British designer of African descent to earn an international reputation. Born in Trinidad, McNish moved to Britain in the 1950s. She was associated with the Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) in the 1960s, participating in CAM's exhibitions and seminars and helping to promote Caribbean arts to a British public. Her work is represented in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Whitworth Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Cooper-Hewitt, among other places.

Conservation and restoration of flags and banners

The conservation and restoration of flags and banners is the process by which conservators work to preserve and restore flags and banners from future deterioration and damage. As a part of Conservation of Textiles, flag and banner conservation require the care of a skilled and well trained textile conservator, specifically trained in historical materials.


  1. Former Hydraulic Power Station In Grounds Of City College, Heritage Gateway, retrieved 28 February 2010
  2. Field, Corinne (16 August 2004), Pump Up The Volume – Manchester Hydraulic Heritage, Culture 24, retrieved 28 February 2010
  3. 1 2 3 Little, Steve, Conservation Plan The Pump House – People's History Museum, Bridge Street, Manchester (PDF), Manchester City Council, archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2011, retrieved 28 February 2010
  4. 103 Princess Street, Heritage Gateway, retrieved 28 February 2010
  5. Haile, Deborah (19 January 2008), People's museum wins cash boost, Manchester Evening News, retrieved 28 February 2010
  6. Bosley, Kirsty (31 July 2008), Glass walkway to restoration, Manchester Evening News, retrieved 28 February 2010
  7. People's History Museum set to re-open, Manchester Evening News, 19 February 2010, retrieved 28 February 2010
  8. History, People's History Museum, retrieved 28 February 2010
  9. Introduction To Our Collection, People's History Museum
  10. Our Collection, Banners, People's History Museum
  11. Textile Conservation Studio, People's History Museum
  12. Collection Catalogues and Descriptions, Labour History Archive and Study Centre

Further reading