Manchester Town Hall and Central Library 1937

One of our volunteer bloggers found an illustrated book on our office library shelf.
Simply titled ‘Manchester‘, it’s a slim volume published in October 1937 by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
It’s full title is ‘Manchester…heart of the Industrial North‘. The introduction is written by J B Priestley. Priestley had travelled England in 1933, commissioned to write a new kind of travelogue, published as English Journey (1934). He commented on social problems of the day. His 1937 introduction to this book in praise of Manchester is an expression of his enthusiasm for the city, its character and history.

Perhaps the secret of the Manchester character is that it is nine-tenths hard north-country grit, solid Lancashire bone, muscle and brain, plus a remaining tenth, acting as a leaven, of liberal-minded and enterprising foreign influence, a contribution from Europe. You are not compelled to accept my analysis, but the smallest research will convince you that I am not wrong in my estimate of the character of these people. Go and talk to them, and you, too, will believe in Manchester.

The book explores eleven phases of Manchester’s identity – Traditional, Commercial, Industrial, Financial, Navigational, Educational, Municipal, Medical, Cultural, Social and Recreational. The text is based on a series of original articles by J K Clayton.
The illustrations for each phase are particularly striking. These watercolour sketches are by Arnold Radcliffe and L G McKibbin. The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce have kindly given permission for us to share them through our flickr photostream

Manchester University 1937
It’s interesting to see the grime of pollution on the fabric of the University Buildings in 1937.
Discharging Grain at Manchester Docks 1937
Manchester’s importance as a port is illustrated here.
A Modern Cotton Mill 1937
Described as a ‘Modern Cotton Mill’, and impressive as a piece of industrial architecture still used for its original purpose.
Wythenshawe 1937
The brave new world of the garden suburb can be seen in this painting of Wythenshawe.
And finally
Alexandra Park 1937
Alexandra Park on a sunny afternoon
This book is full of optimism,and it’s worth remembering that it was published only a few years before the start of World War Two.

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