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Manchester, What’s new and Chetham’s Library

September 23, 2011

Loathed as I am to finally admit it, summer is well and truly gone and autumn has willingly taken

it’s place.  The sadness in that feeling, is to acknowledge, that it’s likely to be quite a long time before we

feel real summer heat again, but there are other delights in store in the waves of weather and winter

pullovers still to come.  With that in mind autumn is actually one of my favourite seasons, and I noticed

these conkers scattered amongst the twisted orange leaves in the park and they made me smile.

I had a rare chance to spend the day in Manchester city centre so I set out to see what I could find.

Paperchase is always a draw for me. I love to see what is new and there’s always a lot featured on the

amazing Print & Pattern blog if you travel back through Bowie’s postings. Here are some of their

great papers currently available.

And beautiful hand made papers, thoughtfully laid out in a colour coded manner.

Aren’t these display chairs amazing with their paper coverings.

I noticed some of the store windows as I wandered. The mock Lowry painting in Waterstones’ window

again made me smile, wondering what the artist would have thought in seeing a copy of his work in a

Manchester shop window.  Whilst the detail and work in the Harvey Nichols front window display

bowled me over, someone on their display team is working hard.

Jigsaw said ” WOOL “.  I loved the sheep on the pavement and more looking at you from the inside.

I had the great pleasure of meeting the very talented Sue for lunch. Sue is an artist who writes an

informative, honest blog called simply Mouse (well worth a read). She introduced me to Chetham’s

School of music and their incredible Library. It’s just behind Urbis not far from Victoria Train Station.

The school and library dates from early 15th century. Chetham’s Library is the oldest surviving public

library in the country, with a growing collection of over 100,000 volumes, with a specialisation of

books covering the history of the North West.  It’s all very Hogwarts !

The books used to be chained to the shelves (see the holes in the shelf edges) and you could pull up a

stool, pull out a shelf and read the book right next to the volumes.  When the library was extended

and higher shelving was added, the wooden gates were included and the books can now be taken out

one by one into the reading room. There is a alcove in their reading room where Friedrich Engels

and Karl Marx sat looking out over the poverty of the Manchester City Centre. This inspired Engels

to go on the write an account entitled ‘ The Condition of The Working Class in England ‘ (1844).

As you wander the halls and passageways you can hear the concerts and practising from the  School of

Music next door. There is a wonderful exhibition on called  “Curios and Curiosities: A Very Peculiar

Assortment of Treasures ”  This brings together some of the more surprising and unexpected items

in the Library’s collection, the majority of which have not previously been displayed.

Here are just a few of the bizarre pieces from the collection.

Thanks to Sue for her lunchtime company and for revealing the delights of Chetham’s too.

They have an open day with a guided tour on October 16th, details here, go and experience it for yourself.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2011 12:49 pm

    Lovely post Craig, it was a pleasure to share the Library (and lunch!) with you 🙂

    • September 23, 2011 1:03 pm

      Thanks Sue, the pleasure wasn’t however yours alone lol Happy weekend.

  2. Claire permalink
    September 25, 2011 9:08 am

    That all makes me want to pop up to M’chester now and follow your footsteps. BTW is that a mannequin of Brian May in Jigsaw’s window!

    • September 26, 2011 11:14 am

      Well spotted Claire, yes Brian May standing next to Yul Brynner ! Nothing gets past you lol and I’m certain Manchester would welcome you anytime, you don’t need an invite 🙂

  3. Julian permalink
    September 27, 2011 9:35 am

    I can sense you had a great day mixing contemporary art and design with the old at Chetham’s. Thanks for sharing it with us though your perceptive eyes.

  4. ssarahlou permalink
    October 3, 2011 3:55 pm

    Can u visit the areas of the library u have photos and spoken about other than on the 16th ? Fancy taking Nick…..looks amazing!

    • October 3, 2011 5:13 pm

      I think the library is open all week for visitors and I think it maybe free too. You can get a visitors sticker from the man on the gate and then there’s a bell to ring on the main door to gain entrance. If you try the link on the blog post you can email the head librarian and double check. I don’t know how easy it is to take books into the reading room without planning but It’s a fab place to explore for an hour.

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