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The society on a mission to preserve Manchester’s heritage

How Manchester Civic Society is helping to preserve our amazing history

Manchester has an interesting history which is etched into a wide selection of beautiful buildings around the city.

You only have to take a brief stroll around the city to realise how blessed we are. From buildings like Central Library, The Midland Hotel, Town Hall (when it eventually reappears) and the John Rylands Library, you don’t have to go far to see something beautiful.

And we’re only just scratching the surface.

But how do we protect it?

The Manchester Civic Society has been a guardian of the city’s heritage since it started in November 1995, aiming to instil civic pride and preserve the essence of Manchester for both residents and visitors.

What does the Manchester Civic Society do?

Manchester Civic Society
Manchester Civic Society meeting at The Red Bull with Brian Trafford performing

We met up with Steve Speakman, chairman of the Manchester Civic Society, to discuss its ongoing work in the city and across Greater Manchester.

“We serve as a conduit for safeguarding Manchester’s built environment, advocating for preservation, and building a deep sense of pride and belonging among its people,” said Steve.

“We serve as a link for people to stay informed about efforts to protect the environment and heritage as best we can.

“We also organise trips, events, and talks that allow people to appreciate our civic landscape and to learn more about where we live. This is at the core of our mission.”

Steve Speakman (R) with Steve Oxley of the School of Decorative Art

The group participates in planning meetings, joining forces with architects and people like Dr. Margaret Collier when the group object to planning developments or projects which seem out of order or sync with the environment.

The Society has also taken part in several collaborations, including one with Stockport Heritage Trust on various development issues in Stockport, including discussions on the proposed King Street West developments.

“Recently, we intervened in the closure of the Comfortable Gill,” said Steve.

“We proposed initial development phases aimed at preserving it as a pub, demonstrating our commitment to preserving cherished community spaces.

“While our efforts may not always bring success, we consistently strive to make a difference, leveraging our influence to address various issues, no matter how small they may seem.”

Manchester Civic Society

Saving the Oldham Mural at the Holy Rosary Church

One of the Society’s recent triumphs showcases its commitment to preserving Manchester’s heritage.

Following an extensive campaign led by SAVE Britain’s Heritage and artist George Mayer-Marton’s great nephew, Nick Braithwaite, the Oldham Mural at the Holy Rosary Church was saved from demolition and secured a listing recommendation from Historic England.

Oldham Mural at the Holy Rosary Church in Greater Manchester
The beautiful mural at the Holy Rosary Church in Oldham

This remarkable mosaic and fresco masterpiece, dating back to 1955, will now keep its place, allowing generations to enjoy its beauty.

A campaign for cash

The Society’s work extends beyond historic preservation.

It has also been actively engaged in contemporary issues affecting the city. A notable campaign spearheaded by Steve Speakman revolves around the resurgence of physical cash.

Recognising the importance of cash accessibility for various demographics, including older adults, disabled individuals, and young children, the Civic Society has been advocating for businesses and institutions to retain cash as a payment option and has been featured on BBC Breakfast and GB News for its campaign on this issue.

Through persistent lobbying efforts, the Society has successfully persuaded prominent establishments like Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital, The Lowry, and Manchester Museum to embrace physical cash once again, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all.

The Society also hosts a myriad of events, talks, and tours that celebrate Manchester’s cultural richness and architectural diversity.

From historical pub crawls to insightful discussions on urban planning, the Society offers a diverse range of opportunities for residents and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the city’s heritage and culture.

Its collaboration with esteemed institutions and umbrella bodies like Civic Voice underscores its pivotal role in shaping policy and decision-making at both local and national levels.

Manchester Civic Society meets monthly at The Briton’s Protection. You can find out when these meetings are on their Facebook page by clicking here

You can find out more about Manchester Civic Society on their website by clicking here

You can find out more about Civic Voice’s work by clicking here


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