At a glance: Meetings 2019 - 20 Season

  • 16th September 2019: Paul Hindle – Ordnance Survey History
  • 21st October: Roy Murphy – James Brindley – the first canal engineer
  • 18th November: Joanna Williams – Manchester's Radical Mayor: Abel Heywood, the Man who Built the Town Hall.
  • 9th December: Nici Matlow – 90 Years of Swizzels-Matlow
  • 20th January 2020: Judith Wilshaw – From Ancient Tracks to Modern Highways
  • 17th February: Neil Mullineux – The Leghs of Lyme: How to join the aristocracy
  • 16th March: Nigel Linge – The Red Box
  • 20th April: AGM & Frank Pleszak - WW2 bombing of New Mills and Hayfield

Next Meeting

18th November: Joanna Williams – Manchester's Radical Mayor: Abel Heywood, the Man who Built the Town Hall.

Manchester Town Hall

November’s talk? First let’s try a little word association, Manchester Town Hall – Alfred Waterhouse or closed for six years ?

And what of the clock bell, Great Abel, weighing in at 8 tons 2.5 cwt in the 280ft tower? Abel who ?

Abel Heywood, that's who.

Born in 1810 to a poor family in Prestwich, his father's death when Heywood was only 5 resulted in him having received very little formal education. Despite this Heywood built up a thriving printing and bookselling business at an early age. A radical in his politics, Heywood nevertheless won a succession of positions in local government, serving as both a town councillor and as an alderman prior to his first election as mayor in 1862. A mayor who published "Poor Man's Guardian", a working man's newspaper which sold for one penny. Refusing to pay the stamp duty imposed on all newspapers of the time, he was prosecuted several times, serving a 4 month prison sentence in the early 1830s. . It was during his second term as mayor, in 1877, that he presided over the opening of his city’s new town hall, which served as both as a symbol of Manchester’s newfound status and an embodiment of Heywood’s role in shepherding its development. Speaker Joanna Williams, author of ‘Manchester’s Radical Mayor: Abel Heywood, The Man Who Built the Town Hall’ will explore many fascinating facets of this Mancunian’s history at the monthly meeting.


21 October 2019 // Roy Murphy – James Brindley – the first canal engineer

Bridgewater Canal

Roy Murphy gave us a wide-ranging talk about James Brindley and the canals which he pioneered. It’s nice to think of him as a local boy made good but that is not quite correct. He was born in Tunstead, which is halfway between Whaley Bridge and Chapel, and only about ten miles from Marple, but there is no record of him having anything to do with Marple or Mellor though he must have been to both places. Instead he was more focused on places to the west and the south. He was apprenticed to a millwright near Macclesfield and showed exceptional skill and ability. As the name suggests, the original function of a millwright was to construct and operate mills powered by wind or water, and this developed in scope as the industrial revolution gathered pace.

above: Bridgewater Canal

Read more: 21 October 2019 // Roy Murphy – James Brindley – the first canal engineer

16th September 2019: Paul Hindle – Ordnance Survey Maps

Monday night was for the map aficionados. But not just for those map nerds, among us, because Paul Hindle’s Ordnance Survey talk brought a light touch introduction to an array of topics. However, deep down, it allowed us all to wallow in maps, maps of all sorts and all varieties.

First Paul explained the origins of the Ordnance Survey. The name gives us a clue. “Ordnance - guns, ammunition, a branch of the military dealing with weapons.” It was established to protect these islands from invasion. The Jacobites posed a very real threat, even after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, so the army was assigned the task of producing a map of Scotland under the chief surveyor, William Roy......

Read more: 16th September 2019: Paul Hindle – Ordnance Survey Maps