For the past 18 months, we’ve been working on a very special project with staff and students from The Manchester Writing School and the Manchester School of Art.
The idea for the project began when our Education and Outreach Officer, Louise Clennell, was researching the Manchester Society of Architects Library, held at MMU Special Collections, and came across a small booklet called ‘A Manchester Alphabet’.
Published in 1906, the booklet was written and illustrated by Roger Oldham (1871-1916), a member of the Manchester Society of Architects. ‘A Manchester Alphabet’ takes us on a poetic journey around Edwardian Manchester from Ancoats to the (Bellevue) Zoo, via The Guardian, Whit Week Walks and Trams.
Inspired by its humour and charm, a project began to update Oldham’s original Alphabet and the resulting book was launched last week at Manchester Art Gallery (which featured as ‘P for Picture Gallery’ in the original Alphabet). ‘A New Manchester Alphabet’ is a snapshot of Manchester in 2015: illustrated by students from the Manchester School of Art and written by poetry students from The Manchester Writing School. This collaboration takes us on a brand new journey: from Afflecks, via New Islington, to Ziferblat. Roger Oldham’s original Alphabet is re-printed at the back of our book so that readers can step back into the past and see what has changed and what remains familiar.
Copies of the book are available to buy from Manchester Art Gallery, The Portico Library, Blackwell’s Bookshop and Ziferblat in the Northern Quarter. It can also be purchased online from Manchester Metropolitan University. The original version of ‘A Manchester Alphabet’ can be seen in our current exhibition, ‘We built this city’ which runs until 18 March 2016 and celebrates 150 years of the Manchester Society of Architects.