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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.