Where does Manchester water come from

Manchester : Black to silver

The machines keep running. "Even if there is a problem," says Jim Garretts. “Time is money.” The slender gentleman with the few silver hair makes himself even smaller, even thinner. As if he wanted to squeeze himself into a pipe. “The children had to crawl under the huge equipment and reach into it. They did it best with their small bodies and their small hands. ”Their job was to get any fallen or stuck fibers out of the cotton-making machines. During operation. Jim Garrett's arms rotate. “Children have been drawn into the machines again and again. Then you could hear the bones break. There was blood everywhere. ”Garretts vividly sums up the cruelty of that time in words and gestures. As a curator, he looks after the collection of the People’s History Museum in Manchester. Jim Garretts knows all the documents of misery in the northern English industrial city. The conditions in the textile production in Manchester were exemplary for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their analysis of the working class in the 19th century. "Manchester capitalism" is still the epitome of exploitation and greed for profit - the pure market economy, free of social barriers. The industrial revolution began here in Manchester. But it was here that the revolutionary struggle against the prevailing conditions began. “A City of firsts” - this is how Manchester advertises itself today.

Karl Marx, whose death is now 125 years old, fled to liberal London from the German authorities and often visited his friend and co-author in Manchester. Engels was a converted capitalist. He worked in the management of the cotton factory of his father Friedrich and his British partner Peter Ermen. “We still have an original spool of thread labeled 'Ermen & Engels',” says Garretts with the pride of the collector. An early English translation of the “Situation of the Working Class in England” is also one of the exhibits at the “People’s History Museum”. In the book, Engels names the misery of the people of Manchester.

"Little Ireland" yesterday and today

“The cottages are old, dirty and of the smallest sort,” writes Engels about “Little Ireland” on the Medlock River. “The streets are uneven, bumpy and partly unpaved and without drains; There is a huge amount of rubbish, rubbish and disgusting excrement lying around between standing puddles, the atmosphere is polluted by their fumes and darkened and made heavy by the smoke from a dozen factory chimneys - a lot of ragged children and women hang around here, just as dirty as they are the pigs who let themselves be comfortable on the piles of ash and in the puddles. "

The place that Engels describes is now part of the student district of Manchester. A red star advertises “Revolution” - a restaurant chain. The inscription under the star promises "Vodka & Food". The cotton mills, warehouses and workers' quarters have become apartments, restaurants, offices and shops. Construction noise - drilling, hammering, sawing - provides the soundtrack for the new Manchester. Everything is construction, expansion, modernization. Everything is "state of the art" and "contemporary", up to date, contemporary. At least that's what the colorful posters and signs that advertise for buyers and tenants on every corner promise. In some run-down side streets, however, in the midst of splintered window panes, sunken roofs and crumbling, moldy walls, you can still imagine how people once lived here.

The red and the silver Manchester

But if you drive up to the most imposing newer building, the glass tower of the Hilton Hotel, you will see from the “Skybar” on the 23rd floor at an urban-glamorous ensemble of brick and steel. The old, shimmering red Manchester and the new, shimmering silver have meshed with one another. The waiters in the Skybar are Eastern Europeans, like everywhere in British cities. A new class of service providers has left post-socialism in search of a better life in England. To the country where those theories were once worked out, the practical test of which threw young Eastern Europeans and their parents back decades.

The cocktails in the Skybar cost twelve euros, more than the UK minimum hourly wage. They are called "Cottonopolis" or "Alexandra Park". Manchester stands by its history, both older and newer. The history of its cotton mills and the history of its problem areas. Alexandra Park is located in the south of the city, in Moss Side. Mainly immigrant families live in the neighborhood: the Irish came first in search of work. Then Indians, Jamaicans and others from the crumbling empire. Finally, the refugees from Africa and Arab countries.

Moss Side should become more bourgeois

Moss Side, like Brixton in London or Toxteth in Liverpool, is a cipher for the racial unrest of the 1980s as well as for the shootings and stabbing between youth gangs in the past two decades. Startled by the violence, the politicians have done something against the slum. New houses were built, the old ones renovated, the streets and sidewalks repaired. Excavators are currently digging through a huge wasteland in Moss Side. Workers lay the first foundations. On the grounds of the old football stadium in Manchester City, where the German goalkeeper Bernd Trautmann thrilled the masses in the 1950s, an apartment complex is being built between old workers' houses. The project aims to attract somewhat better-off buyers and tenants.

Moss Side should become more bourgeois, no longer be a ghetto, no longer a focus of crime. As usual in the national average, the crime rate in Manchester is falling. The problem of acts of violence, including murder, especially by youth gangs, has tended to increase in Manchester, as in other major British cities.

No London Calling

Not all immigrants are stranded in the ghetto. One family even carries on the tradition of the textile industry in their own way. "When my father came from India, he literally had nothing," says Sandeep Malhotra. He continues the textile company that his father founded 25 years ago - as a stall in the market and as a suitcase full of shirts, with which Malhotra senior moved from door to door some time after his arrival. Malhotra junior recently launched its own design label and sells 100,000 items of clothing per year under the “Unique Boutique” brand. "In less than two years Unique Boutique has gained a significant fan base for its sexy party dresses," writes the industry magazine "Drapers".

In his showroom on a side street in Piccadilly Gardens hang pictures of stars who photographed paparazzi in “Unique Boutique”. The model Kate Moss, Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty and Victoria Beckham have already been spotted in Malhotra's clothes. The Spice Girl, also his wife David Beckhams, once Manchester United's football hero, is an important reference figure for him. “All girls want to be like pop stars and like women, soccer players,” says Sandeep Malhotra. Or like the possible wife of a future king. Also a picture of Kate Middleton, the always-again-girlfriend of Prince William, number two in the line of succession, hangs on the wall at "Unique Boutique" as a reference.

It does not occur to Sandeep Malhotra to move from Manchester to the fashion metropolis of London. “In the age of the Internet, it is no longer so important where a company is. We also have our agents in London. ”But his fashion also fits in with the working-class city of Manchester. “Unique Boutique” stands for the working class chic of women soccer players, girl group singers and Big Brother candidates. The fact that Malhotra junior himself looks like a Bollywood star should not be a disadvantage on his research forays into the Manchester VIP scene.

"The bomb brought us forward"

The new money for Manchester and its 450,000 residents is coming from industries such as entertainment, new media, high-tech development and financial services. The boom is in jeopardy, however, because the island is afraid of a recession. "We are still one of the poorest regions in Great Britain anyway," says Peter Babb. “You mustn't forget that.” The head of town planning at Manchester City Hall knows that more beautiful houses and streets alone bring neither security nor prosperity. But they create the environment for a new departure and help people not to give up or to develop an all-important feeling. And so Babb is proud of how Manchester's cityscape has changed. Especially after 1996. On June 15, during the European Football Championship in England, Irish Republican Army terrorists set off a bomb in downtown Manchester. Nobody died, the perpetrators had warned shortly beforehand. But more than 200 people were injured. The damage to the buildings was so great that the city planners decided to demolish and rebuild.

“The bomb brought us forward,” says Peter Babb. “You have to put it that way.” Suddenly Manchester was in the focus of the nation. Everyone wanted to do something for the city: the economy, the Conservative government in London, the City Council of Manchester, as always dominated by the Labor Party - they all worked together to get the shock off the ground. The chance was there to make up for the building sins of the post-war years - gray prefabricated buildings, Peter Babb speaks of “monstrosities”.

And facing the water

Glass office buildings emerged, spacious shopping centers, the first sections of a promenade on the Irwell River. The city opened up its canals, which it had once used industrially, and attracted restaurants, small shops and creative companies there. “The Victorians have turned their backs on the water,” says Peter Babb. The manufacturers and executives, profiteers of the industrial boom, did not want to see the poverty on the riverbanks. In his book on England, Engels describes how walls and shop fronts obscured the view of the slums. “We're turning back to the water,” says Peter Babb. “Today every builder has to plan two entrances. One to the promenade and one to the street. That is a requirement from us. "

The job was taken over by the Air Force

A bomb terror on a completely different scale made the structural monstrosities of the post-war decades possible in the first place. “The city planners took over their job from the Air Force,” says Peter Babb, laughs and shrugs back briefly. “Oh please, don't write that!” It takes a moment to convince him that the war can be mentioned in front of German newspaper readers.

Peter Babb pulls out old pictures and a map. A photo from the middle of the last century shows the town hall, blackened all around with soot. Today it is a clean sandstone building again. "In the meantime there was even the idea of ​​tearing down the town hall," says Peter Babb, looking as if this barbaric act was still a real threat today. "Fortunately that was too expensive, you got to see it."

Brought the ocean into the city

Babb's map, the “strategic plan”, divides today's Manchester into several colored sections. In the middle, delicate lilac, the “retail core”. The bomb went off here, everything is a peaceful pedestrian zone now. To the southwest, bright red, the Castlefield district. This is where Manchester's origins lie, a Roman fort. And it is from here that industry moved into the city. Railway tracks and canals invaded. “They wanted to bring the ocean to Manchester,” says Peter Babb. “Hence the shipping canal.” The coastal city of Liverpool, eternal competitor in the north-west of England, was to be overtaken. Manchester wanted to be the number one industrial city with all the advantages of moving goods by water.

To the northeast of Castlefield is Peter’s Fields, an orange section on Babb’s map. Today's hotel and conference center was once the site of a bloody confrontation that went down in British history as the Peterloo massacre, a sarcastic play on words that suggests a connection with the Battle of Waterloo. British soldiers who fought victoriously against Napoleon killed and injured their own compatriots that day. The former Peter’s Fields have long been built on. A plaque hangs on the luxury hotel Radisson on Peter Street, with an inscription in memory of the massacre: “On August 16, 1819, 60,000 reformers gathered who fought for more democracy, men, women and children. They were attacked by armed cavalry. 15 died, 600 were injured. "

Reform instead of revolution

The "People’s History Museum" has a picture from that time. Soldiers in colorful uniforms slaughter the crowd with their sabers. There are terrified speakers on the stage. Among other things, they advocate a right to vote in which not only the owning class can vote. The Peterloo massacre is considered an important event in the struggle for reform. It did not lead to revolution in Great Britain, any more than did the writings of Marx and Engels.

In Manchester today, not much is reminiscent of the two of them. In the Chetham library, the table where they read is marked. There, where they drank and discussed, in the pub "The Crescent" on the other side of the Irwell, nothing reminds of the two revolutionary theorists. “The locals are not interested in that,” says the landlord with a friendly smile that shows that he is asked this question quite often. The man from the “People’s History Museum” sums up the relationship between Marx and Manchester as follows: “For the people here, he has something to do with Russia,” says Jim Garretts. "But nothing with England."

To home page