Monday, 24 August 2009

Manchester Pioneers

It is 50 years ago today that the Manchester Guardian ceased and became another London-based paper. Manchester nowadays seems to be regarded by the rest of the world as a provincial city with nothing to commend it except rich/famous football team(s) and occasional music trends. As the world’s first industrial city it should be more famous and respected than it is. For over 200 years it has produced pioneers in a range of fields:

For instance, without Manchester I might still be writing this on an old-fashioned typewriter. This was one of the key places in the development of the computer both via the Mark 1 ‘Baby’ and via Alan Turing who spent his latter years in the city.

Politically it has played a key role in radical movements across the political spectrum: Communism, Feminism, Free Trade and Zionism for starters – for more detail see here. Less well known is its role in African history of the last century see here

In the field of science and technology, Manchester has played a key role in several developments with particular resonance for Greens, in both a positive and negative way.
For instance, no-one could deny that energy is an important subject; and what is the international unit of energy? – the Joule, named after nearby Salford’s James Joule

Less positively (for most Greens anyway), the development of nuclear energy (and for that matter weapons) can be traced back to Ernest Rutherford who ‘split the atom’ whilst chair of physics at Manchester University.
Similarly those of us concerned with the growth of aviation, have to live with the fact that it was John Alcock, born in Seymour Grove Old Trafford, who made the first non-stop transatlantic flight (with navigator Arthur Brown).

Who will be the next Manchester pioneers? At this point in human history, wouldn’t it be great if Manchester led the way in solutions to the problems of climate change, peak oil and economic collapse? The present City Council doesn’t inspire much confidence, but there is a thriving alternative community, and maybe that ‘first city to industrialise’ tag should give us a head start.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And for more Manchester pioneers and inspirational figures from progressive movements, see