As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, eight of the city’s libraries will reopen on Saturday 4 July. We’ve missed our customers very much during these last few months and to celebrate the phased reopening we thought you might like to take a look back at our branch libraries. We hope our popular online memory boxes can help you to stay in touch with each other, using them as a starting point in discovering your family’s history, finding out what your family’s childhood was like and maybe uncover some hidden gems.

Below you will find a collection of images from the branch libraries in Manchester, alongside 3 worksheets. The worksheets focus on one aspect from North, Central and South area libraries. Using the worksheets as prompts to start up a conversation, write down your findings on a piece of paper, or if you prefer type into a tablet or PC. 

In addition to this blog, the online memory box will be published on the Archives+ Facebook page. Dig out your old photos too, these can also be a brilliant resource to trigger fond memories of family times. We encourage you to share your findings on social media, either as comments on our Facebook page or on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ArchivesPlusMemorybox

Instagram manclib_archives

Twitter @archivesplus

Facebook @archivesplus

If you are unable to share your photos and stories online, when the libraries reopen bring copies of your family memories into your local library.  In the coming year we will produce an exhibition in your local library of selected submissions, shared both online and in person.  

Please make sure that if you share any information with us that the person you have spoken to is happy for you to share it with Archives+. When sharing your findings try to avoid sharing too much personal information such as surnames and date of birth as these details can identify your loved ones.


Unlocking Your Sound Archive have produced a blog about conducting oral history interviews with family members. The audio clips included in this online memory box have been kindly supplied by Unlocking Your Sound Archive. 

Manchester Local Image Collection

Archives+ Flickr

NSPCC Staying safe online guide for children.

Age UK Staying safe online guide for older people


The original 12 branch libraries
First branch library to open – Hulme Branch 23 November 1857
Second branch library to open – Ancoats Branch 7 December 1857
Third branch library to open – Rochdale Road Branch 4 June 1860
Fourth branch library to open – Chorlton and Ardwick 6 October 1866
1930s Library Map


Building of Abraham Moss 1972 – Crumpsall Library
Crumpsall Library 1974 (Now called Abraham Moss Library)
Crumpsall Library, junior library 1975 (Now called Abraham Moss Library)
Higher Blackley Library Opening 1982 (Replaced by Avenue Library)
Junction Rochdale Road/Victoria Avenue 1962 – Avenue Library is situated here
Beswick Library was housed in The Bobbin pub on Grey Mare Lane – photo 1978 (Beswick Library is now a modern glass-fronted library sharing a building with East Manchester Academy)
Miles Platting 1978 (Now Miles Platting Community Library based in Victoria Mill Community Centre)
Miles Platting Library opening 1978
Miles Platting Library opening 1978
Newton Heath Library 1982
Opening of Newton Heath Cultural Centre 1979 (Now called Newton Heath Library)
Opening of Newton Heath Cultural Centre 1979 (Now called Newton Heath Library)
New Moston Library 1959
New Moston Library 1991 (Now called New Moston Community Library)
Harpurhey Library 1977 (Replaced by North City Library)


Levenshulme Library 1910 (The library moved to Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre)
Gorton West Free Library 1906 – one of the original 12 free branch libraries (Gorton Library is now on Garratt Way)
Hulme Library 1970 (Replaced by Hulme High Street Library)
Hulme Library, Adult lending, 1st floor 1965
Manchester Corporation Rates Offices, Longsight Library 1955
Longsight Library 1979
Longsight Library 1983 (St. John’s Primary School in Longsight Library)
Moss Side Library 1908
Moss Side Shopping Centre – Moss Side Precinct Library 1977
Moss Side Precinct Library opening 1980 (replaced by Moss Side Powerhouse Library)


Barlow Moor Library opening 1988 (Now Barlow Moor Community Library based in Barlow Moor Community Association)
Barlow Moor Library opening 1988 (Now Barlow Moor Community Library based in Barlow Moor Community Association)
Brookway High School, Altrincham Road 1971 (Now Brooklands Library, based in Manchester Health Academy)
Burnage District Library 1962 (Replaced by Burnage Library)
New Burnage Library to open in 1973 (Now called Burnage Library, Activity and Information Hub)
Chorlton Library 1958
Chorlton’s new free library – the opening ceremony – Manchester City News 7 Nov 1914
Chorlton Library 1984
Didsbury Library 1959
Didsbury Library 1972
Wilbraham Library 1973 (renamed Fallowfield Cultural Centre in 1983, now a community library called The Place at Platt Lane)
Opening of Fallowfield Cultural Centre 1983 (now a community library called The Place at Platt Lane)
Wythenshawe Library, Leningrad Square 1972 (Now called Forum Library)
Wythenshawe Library, children’s library 1972 (Now called Forum Library)
Wythenshawe Library, Record Library 1972 (Now called Forum Library)
Northenden Library 1986 – prefab on Church Road (Now Northenden Community Library, based in Parkway Green House)
Rackhouse Library 1973
Rackhouse Library, shop window display 1965
Withington Library 1959
Withington Library 1962
Withington Library 1977
Withington Library 1977

Education Precinct Library opening, Oxford Road 1973


Mobile Library, Central Library, Library Van, no date
Mobile Library, Gorton, Holywell Street from Sussex Street, facing East 1964
Mobile library, Hulme Library 1966
Mobile library, Hulme Library 1966

We hope you have enjoyed looking back at the photographs of the branch libraries. More neighbourhood areas will be covered each week and if you would like to see more images, don’t forget to check out the photograph albums on Flickr and the Manchester Local Image Collection .