Continuing our discovery of the stories behind the people and places featured in the #MCRHiddenStories mural, this blog takes a look at some of the businesses, big and small, established in the city.
Next up in Meha’s #MCRHiddenStories mural in collaboration with NOMA Manchester and The Old Bank Residency are a series of boards exploring the stories of inspiring scientist’s. Read on to find out more about Balloonist James Sadler, Physicist Professor Brian Cox, and Botanist Kathleen Drew-Baker.
James SadlerA pastry chef from Oxford, James Sadler was a celebrity of 1780’s Britain, after he became the first ever Englishman to fly. Inspired by Joseph and Etienne Mongolfier, the French brothers who first conquered flight, Sadler began experimenting with gas filled balloons and made his first flight in 1784. At a time when knowledge about our skies was lacking, people were concerned that Sadler may collide with Heaven, or be attacked by ‘sky dragons’. Thankfully this didn’t happen and he took off from Oxford, flying for 30 minutes, and covering six miles before landing in Wood Eaton. Following his first flight, Sadler became a huge celebrity, with memorabilia from drawer knobs to bidet’s featuring his image. He became so famous in fact, that he, and three of his balloon’s, were given top billing at the 1814 jubilee at the personal request of the Royal family. So, what connects Sadler to Manchester? Two of Sadler’s further attempts at balloon flight took off in the city, with the first, from the garden of one John Howarth, in Long Millgate, watched by a crowd of over 5,000 people. The flight was a success and saw Sadler, with a cat for company, flying seven miles north to Radcliffe where he promptly landed in a reed bed. Named after Sadler, you’ll find Manchester’s newest public square, Sadler’s Yard in the cities Northern Quarter as part of the NOMA Manchester neighbourhood.
Brian CoxKnown for revitilising the British public’s interest in Physics, Professor Brian Cox credits his love of the subject to Carl Sagan’s book ‘Cosmos’. Born in Oldham in 1968, Cox’s early years were spent dreaming of space travel, before his passion turned to music in his teens and saw him join a local band, Dare, as a keyboardist. He recorded music and toured with Dare in the late eighties returning to his love for Astronomy when the band split in 1991, completing a degree in Physics at the University of Manchester, followed by a PhD in particle physics. Prior to his PhD, Cox was again a keyboardist for another music group, D:Ream, best known for their 1994 hit, ‘Things Can Only Get Better’. Confronted with the choice of going on an international tour with the band or staying in Manchester to finish his PhD, Cox decided to stick to his first love, completing his doctorate with a thesis titled, ‘Double Diffraction Dissociation at Large Momentum Transfer.’ In 2005, he began working as a professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester and made his television presenting debut hosting episodes of BBC One’s Horizon programme, looking at topics such as ‘Can We Make A Star on Earth?’. Following this he presented a one-off show, The Big Bang Machine, which resulted in him being offered his own series, Wonders Of The Solar System. Since then, Cox has hosted numerous science based shows including Stargazing: Live, Forces of Nature, and The Science of Doctor Who. He has also co-authored and written a number of books including, ‘Why Does E=mc2?’. Cox currently works on the ATLAS experiment, one of four major experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, requiring him to spend time at CERN in Switzerland.
Kathleen Drew-BakerBorn in Leigh in 1901, Kathleen Drew-Baker was a British botanist who’s research into edible seaweed, known as Nori, led to her being celebrated in Japan as the saviour of seaweed. Drew studied Botany at the University of Manchester, graduating with first class honours, before going on to complete a Master’s degree in 1923. Kathleen also spent 2 years studying seaweed at Berkley College, California, which gave her the luxury of spending time in Hawaii, where she would collect samples for her research. On her return from the United States, she headed back to Manchester University and became a researcher and lecturer in Botany. Following her marriage to fellow academic Henry Wright-Baker in 1928, Kathleen was removed from her lecturers position as the University had a policy of not employing married women. This wouldn’t stop her however, and she overcame this obstacle by becoming an honorary research fellow. Drew’s research into the life cycle of the red algae Porphyra Umbilicalis, resulted in the discovery that in order to continue their growth cycle, the seaweed’s spores needed to be in old seashells to seed. This discovery was of great interest to scientists in Japan who had long been searching for the solution to devastating crop failures of Nori seaweed. Japanese Nori seaweed was, and still is, widely used in staples of Japanese cuisine such as Sushi and by using Drew’s findings, they developed new farming methods which lead to a resurgence in Nori crops. When Dr Drew-Baker died in 1957, she was unaware of the impact her research had had on Japan’s seaweed industry. She became known as the ‘Mother of the Sea’ and every year on the 14th April, the annual Drew Festival is held in Kathleen’s memory n the city of Uto, Kumamoto. Thanks goes to Skyliner Manchester for bringing Kathleen’s story to our attention. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.
If you grew up in the seventies and eighties, you’ll most definitely have heard of some of Cosgrove Hall Films most famous creations, if not the studio itself. Do Danger Mouse and Count Duckula ring a bell? What about The Wind in the Willows? Founded in 1976, Cosgrove Hall Films was the brainchild of Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall. Having first met whilst studying at the Manchester Regional College of Art & Design (now known as Manchester Metropolitan University), the pair started their first independent company together in 1971, Stop Frame Animations, which specialised in short films, commercials, and series including Noddy (1974). The company also created opening sequences for a number of children’s TV shows including the titles for the hit series Rainbow in 1972. Craving more creative freedom, Cosgrove and Hall closed Stop Frame in 1975 and established Cosgrove Hall Films in January 1976. Making their home in a converted tobacco and confectionery warehouse on Albany Road in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, the business would go on to become, at the time, one of Europe’s largest animation studios. Running for 161 episodes, Danger Mouse, voiced by David Jason, was Cosgrove Hall’s biggest success, entertaining over 24 million viewers. The series followed the ‘World’s Greatest Secret Agent’ as he, and his rather useless sidekick Penfold, took on a variety of baddies including evil Baron Silas Greenback. Another regular character to appear in Danger Mouse was Count Duckula, a vegetarian vampire who aspired to become rich and famous, who was given his own spin-off series which also grew to become one of the studios most successful programmes airing in the United States on Nickelodeon through the late eighties. In 1989, the studio produced its first feature length film, an animation of Roald Dahl’s classic book The BFG. The film included an ‘Easter Egg’, with a poster for their hit show Danger Mouse appearing in the background on a young boys bedroom wall. The studio also collaborated with best-selling author Terry Pratchett, producing two series for Channel 4 based on two of Pratchett’s Discworld novels, Wyrd Sisters, and Soul Music (1997). Continuing their work in children’s television, Cosgrove Hall produced series such as Bill and Ben, Andy Pandy, and in the mid 00’s developed a new version of Postman Pat. Cosgrove Hall Films closed in 2009 as a result of ITV Granada deciding the company was no longer financially viable. The original home of Cosgrove Hall, on Albany Road, is now a block of residential flats named Cosgrove Hall Court and features a plaque in tribute to the studios most well known productions including Danger Mouse, The Pied Piper of Hamlin, and The BFG. Meha's Manchester's Hidden Stories tribute to Cosgrove Hall Films takes on a Pop Art style, full of vibrant colour and bold shapes, to represent the fun and lively nature of kids TV. ______________________________________________________________________________ To stay up to date with the progress of the #MCRHiddenStories mural, be sure to follow Meha on Instagram here.
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 CafeTucked 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.
VimtoFirst 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!
The LGBT+ CentreThe 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 CentreSituated 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 CavernOne 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.
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.