Manchester's Hidden Stories - Places of Prominence

Adam Holcroft
In this blog we delve into the history and stories behind some of Manchester’s often forgotten buildings which Meha has depicted in the Manchester’s Hidden Stories mural.

This & That Cafe | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

This & That Cafe

Tucked away on Soap Street, This & That is Manchester’s no-frills, canteen style, Indian curry house. If you’ve never been before it may take you a minute to find it but once there, don’t be fooled by the modest exterior as inside you’ll find authentic, home-made curries and sundries bursting with flavour. Established in 1984, This & That is a family run business famous for its ‘Rice and Three’ combos where for a set price you take your pick of three curries from those on offer. Dishes change daily but you can expect to see a mix of meat, veggie, and vegan offerings with favourites such as Lamb Keema, Chicken Masala, and Daal on the menu. This & That is extremely popular so be prepared to wait a little, however with delicious Indian curries from as little as £4.50, it’s definitely worth the wait. Vimto | MCR Hidden Stories Mural


First concocted in 1908 by John Noel Nichols in a tiny terrace house on Granby Row in Manchester city centre, Vimto, or Vimtonic as it was called then, started out life as as a herbal tonic designed to give the drinker ‘Vim & Vigour’. In fact, in 1912, Vimto was actually trademarked as a medicine! Enjoyed both hot and cold, the unique Vimto flavour is a special combination of fruits (grape, blackcurrant and raspberry), spices, and herbs which remain a secret to this day. As Vimto grew in popularity, Nichols began exporting the drink around the world, in particular to the Middle East where it was a huge hit in countries such as India and Burma (now Myanmar). Interestingly, to this day, Vimto cordial sent to the Middle East is double the strength of the UK version, to cut down on transport costs and suit the local palate more. Vimto is now sold in more than 85 countries and the distinct flavour can be found in all manner of treats, from ice lollies, to fruity snacks - and all from humble beginnings in Manchester! LGBT+ Centre | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

The LGBT+ Centre

The LGBT+ Centre found at 49-51 Sidney Street was Europe’s first entirely publicly funded, purpose built centre for the gay community, and first opened in 1988. It’s important to note the significance of the timing, Section 28 had just become law, and so the decision by Manchester Council to fund a building built solely for the gay community was a huge step. Over the years the centre has faced numerous threats of closure due to funding cuts but has overcome these with the help of long-term staff and dedicated volunteers who recognise the need for a space committed to supporting the LGBT+ community. The centre is currently home to the Sidney Street Community Cafe, a number of social and support groups, and the Jaye Bloomfield resource library, as well as hosting many other events throughout the year. As of July 2019, the centre is undergoing a huge £2.25million transformation which will see the original building demolished and replaced with a new three-storey centre, ensuring its place as a safe place for LGBTQ+ people for years to come. Manchester Craft & Design Centre | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

Manchester Craft & Design Centre

Situated in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the Craft and Design Centre is housed in a beautiful Victorian building which was once the city’s Smithfield Fish Market. Following the development of the Arndale Shopping Centre, in 1978, it was decided that the fish market would become a craft village, housing craft-makers from potters and jewellers, to furniture makers, weavers, and more. Manchester Craft Village first opened in 1982 as an artists’ cooperative before re-branding as Manchester Craft and Design Centre, and becoming a not-for-profit limited company, in 2003. These days you’ll find the centre a hub of creative activity with two floors of contemporary craft studios, many incorporating small shops, where artists both work and sell their wares. On the ground floor you can even find two of the original fishmongers’ booths, now home to the quaint Oak St. Cafe Bar, where you can enjoy fresh produce from local growers, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and wheat free options. Open 6 days a week, the centre regularly hosts exhibitions, public workshops, and other events. If you’re after beautiful gifts to remember Manchester by or looking to explore the cities bustling creative side, MCDC should definitely be your first port of call! Corbières Wine Cavern | MCR Hidden Stories Mural

Corbières Wine Cavern

One of Manchester’s best kept secrets, Corbières is a quaint basement wine bar hidden-away just off St Ann’s Square on Half Moon Street. Named after a wine producing area of the French Pyrenees, the bar first opened as a Bistro but is now known more for its local Salford ales and collection of French wines. Long before the Hacienda came to be associated with the Manchester music scene, Corbières was a hot spot for local musicians including the band who would become Inspiral Carpets. It’s even rumoured that the Happy Monday’s first met Bez here! The musical history of the cavern remains to this day with one of Manchester’s greatest retro jukeboxes taking pride of place down the winding staircase. Meha’s depiction of the cavern focuses on the exterior, highlighting the recognisable mosaic tiling which adorns the entry way, luring you in to the subterranean cavern below. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.

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Manchester's Hidden Stories - Elizabeth Raffald

Adam Holcroft
The Manchester's Hidden Stories series explores the forgotten history and icons of the city of Manchester. The project was sponsored by NOMA Manchester and involved Meha becoming the artist in residency at the Old Bank Residency throughout July 2019, working on her largest mural yet. The first story Meha discovered was that of Elizabeth Raffald (below), who is considered one of Manchester's first female entrepreneurs. elizabeth raffald - manchester's hidden stories Arriving in Manchester in 1763, Elizabeth Raffald hit the ground running, and launched her first venture, a catering business, from her home. Not long after, in 1764, she opened a 'confectionary' store, what would now be considered a deli, on Fennel Street in the city, selling everything from sweets, soups, and meats, to table centrepieces. Whilst at Fennel Street, Elizabeth also started a staff employment service and a cookery school for young women. Moving her confectionary store to the Market Place, she began advertising the business in the local newspaper, listing, amongst other items, “Plumb cakes for weddings." This is considered one of the first references to what has now become the modern day Wedding cake. In 1769, Elizabeth published her first must-have cookbook, 'The Experienced English Housekeeper', which contained over 800 (!!) original recipes, including the first recipes for Piccalilli, crumpets, and an early version of the Eccles Cake. The book was so successful it was reprinted 13 times and even became a favourite of Queen Victoria who is said to have copied recipes from the book into her personal diary. elizabeth raffald mural Between 1769 and 1772 Elizabeth's business streak continued with her running the Bull’s Head Inn in the market place, starting a carriage rental business, establishing a post office, and helping to create Salfords first newspaper, Prescott’s Journal. In 1772, Elizabeth created the first ever Manchester and Salford trade directory, essentially a yellow pages of its day. The directory was a great success and was updated in 1773 from 60 to 78 pages. Finally, in another publishing venture, Raffald co-wrote a midwifery manual with Manchester surgeon, Charles White. Unfortunately the manuscript was never printed in her name, seemingly sold off by her alcoholic husband following her death. elizabeth raffald - meha hindocha What makes Elizabeth's story all the more incredible is that whilst launching and running her businesses she also gave birth to at least 9 children! Elizabeth died in April of 1781 and is buried at St Mary's church, Stockport We're sure you'll agree that Elizabeth's story and entrepreneurial spirit is one which should be remembered and celebrated for years to come which is why it's been fantastic to be able to include her in the Manchester Hidden Stories mural. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.

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What Connects the Bee Icon to Manchester?

Adam Holcroft
Following the 2017 attack on the Manchester Arena, the Manchester bee symbol has come to represent the defiant spirit and unity of the city but did you know this best-known symbol of Manchester has been around for much longer? The worker bee icon first became associated with Manchester during the 18th and 19th centuries, during the period more commonly known as the Industrial Revolution. The bee represents the city being a hive of activity, with the workers of textile mills and factories being referred to as 'busy bees', a reflection on their hard work ethic and ability to work together. Officially introduced to the city's coat of arms in 1802, you can now find the bee icon all over the city, from adorning bins and plant pots to the clock face of the Palace Hotel. As a result of the bee becoming a symbol of solidarity following the Manchester Arena attack, there was also a huge movement of people who had the Manchester icon permanently tattooed on their skin as a reminder of the cities unity. Whilst the events of May 22nd were horrific, the public's response showed the world the true spirit of Manchester, with people from all walks of life coming together to support those involved in the attack. Taxi Drivers gathered around the arena to take victims to local hospitals, Sikh temples gave out food, and many Mancunians offered refuge in their own homes to those left stranded. It was a striking display of resilience and a community brought together through tragedy. In the wake of the attack, the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund was set up to help the bereaved families and those injured or traumatised by the event, and over the following months an incredible £21.5 Million was raised by people around the world wanting to show their support. Another recent display of the Bee symbol was the Bee in the City trail which saw a huge colony of 101 giant bee sculptures take over the streets of Manchester. Meha was delighted to be involved, creating a bee featuring a colourful depiction of the ever-changing Manchester skyline and sponsored by Henry Boot PLC. 77 of the Bee's were auctioned off in aid of the We Love MCR Charity raising an amazing £1.1 Million, with Meha's Bee being purchased by a private collector for an impressive £10,000!! With the bee's popularity continuing to rise, Meha has had many requests to replicate her colourful worker bee design as murals, with her most recent piece brightening up the office space at Ashfield Healthcare alongside a larger piece depicting the Manchester skyline. The Manchester Bee's representation of hard work make it the perfect icon to adorn the walls of office spaces across the city, whilst bringing a splash of colour too! If you fancy brightening up your space with a hand drawn Meha mural get in touch with us today by emailing

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