Subscribe to our mailing list

Our regular e-bulletin keeps you up-to-date about our news and activities, and occasionally re fundraising appeals. You can opt out at any time. Full details of how we look after data are available in our privacy policy on our Web site.

If you agree to being contacted in this way, click the ‘Subscribe’ button below. Your information will be sent to MailChimp for processing - https://mailchimp.com/legal/privacy.

* indicates required
Last updated:29 May 2015

Annual report 2013-2014

Annual report 1 April 2013 - 31 March 2014

 Download as a Word document

 Download as a pdf


It is pleasing to report that the year under review has been one of growth and achievement. The combined efforts of the Library's staff, volunteers, friends and supporters have ensured the continuing overall growth in numbers accessing the Library; in extending links with other organisations, in particular with the People's History Museum and with the network Small Heritage Organisations Working Together (SHOWT); in developing the use of social and other media; and in meeting the key areas of the Library's Development Plan for 2013.

Cover of the WCML annual report 2013-2014However, Salford City Council, our major funder, has made the third planned cut in its grant and, despite the generosity of our many friends, income from donations and interest receipts were not sufficient to make up the deficit.

The Trustees have agreed a Strategy to meet the challenges we are facing and to ensure that we uphold the principles of our founders. Groups are currently working on plans to implement it over the next three years.


Income is a little above target. Interest receipts continue to be affected by low interest rates. Salford City Council made the last of the three planned cuts in its grant.

We have received a windfall of £26,463 by cashing our TALIS shares. As we only had these shares because we previously used TALIS cataloguing software, we decided that the money should be used for future IT and communications development.


The Library continues to be very busy with the numbers of drop-in visitors, people attending events and email enquiries continuing to grow. Although the number of readers remains high, it has not surpassed the record high of 2012. Readers are requesting a wider range of items as these become visible via our online catalogue. A Standpoint machine in the Hall, funded by Museums Development North West, now records visitor feedback here and allows comparisons across SHOWT.

In September we welcomed attendees at an event to mark the centenary of the publication of Ethel Carnie Holdsworth's Miss Nobody, one of the first novels published in Britain by a woman of working class background. We have also hosted meetings of the Radical Studies Network, the Independent Working Class Education Network, and conferences on ‘culture, journals and working class movements 1820-1979' and on digitisation in academic research.

We gave tours to 244 people in the calendar year 2013 (204 in 2012) including delegates from the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals Annual Conference, the 24th International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, a group from North West Academic Libraries, and a number of local Universities of the Third Age.

757 people came to Library events (details of which are given below) during 2013, up from the previously record-breaking 718 the previous year. Drop-in visitors totalled 224 (207 in 2012).

HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND - Invisible Histories project

Interviews conducted by volunteers with former workers in the three ‘lost workplaces' of Agecroft colliery, Dickie Haworth's cotton mill and Ward & Goldstone engineering were completed in August. Neil Dymond-Green and some of the volunteers presented papers on the work of the project to three conferences in the summer.

A group of students in Buile Hill Visual Arts College used the interviews and material from our own and other local collections to develop a podcast in the spirit of Ewan MacColl's 1950s Radio Ballads. A creative practitioner and a musician were appointed and a partnership with Chapel Street Community Arts was formed to assist Neil and the students. The results of this community partnership - a podcast and edited recordings - were launched at an end of project exhibition at the Library which opened in early December. The project was the theme of the Library's stall at this year's Manchester Histories Festival celebration day in Manchester Town Hall. We were delighted when the Buile Hill students won the Best School Histories Award in the Festival's Community Histories Awards competition. The podcast and edited interviews are available at http://invisiblehistoriesproject.wordpress.com.

Neil was appointed to a permanent part-time learning post at John Rylands Library in September and, luckily, was able to complete the project alongside this.

ESMEE FAIRBAIRN COLLECTIONS FUND - Unlocking Ideas Worth Fighting For project

Chris Burgess has done an excellent job unearthing and linking ‘hidden gems'
in the Library, the People's History Museum and the Labour History Archive as well as strengthening links between staff and volunteers across the institutions. Two of the Library's banners have been given conservation treatment and are hanging in the Museum's banners display during 2014.

Chris worked with Matt Kavanagh, one of our Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded PhD students, on a project on oratory with groups of students at Winstanley College. He also gave two ‘Pecha Kucha' presentations at the Manchester Art Gallery on Eddie and Ruth Frow and James Klugman using sources from both the Labour History Archive and ourselves.

Chris ran two well-attended Open Reading Days: one using material from our Peterloo collection and the other using material on women and democracy to coincide with Parliament Week.

Chris left in December to take up the post of Collections and Access Officer at the People's History Museum and has continued to have close links with us.

Catherine Robins was appointed to replace Chris in January until the end of the project in July. She quickly settled in to both workplaces. She has written blog posts on ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners', ‘Tuberculosis' and ‘Cotton Mills', has given a presentation on the project to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and selected objects from our cotton industry collection for people to handle at a half-term event at the People's History Museum and at our Manchester Histories Festival ‘Creative Threads' open day.


The Front Room - Explore the Past, Change the Future

Explore the past Change the future leafletWork on converting one of the ground floor rooms into a welcoming drop-in space for visitors new to the Library was completed in October. It was funded by a generous donation from the former T&GWU Chloride 6/153 Branch. It was fitted out with books representative of our collections, image boards produced by our graphic artist Mike Carter, easy chairs and lamps to assist reading. Of course, tea and coffee are served! On show is a ten minute video made by Megan Olivier of Winstanley College who filmed volunteers speaking about what the Library means to them. Visible on the windows are the phrase ‘Explore the Past, Change the Future' and a QR Code for passing smart phone users to learn about us.

Adlib online catalogue

After several years of setbacks the updated Adlib cataloguing software was finally installed, making it a much better search tool. New features include:

  • Links to audio files and other online library documents
  • Links to relevant external websites
  • Links between related library and archive materials

Great credit is due to Jane for her patience and attention to detail in ensuring that Adlib completed the work to our satisfaction.

2,477 records were added to our catalogue during the year in question, including
1,994 books and pamphlets (97 of the books published within the last five years).


Our No Conscription Fellowship and other material relating to conscientious objectors has been digitised by Microform Academic Publishers, and we are in the process of digitising our Spanish Civil War collection of photographs.

Access to the selection of images from our collection in the University of Salford Digital Repository (including images of the Spanish Civil War, and of local strikes and demonstrations) has trebled in the past year, with nearly 2,000 views.


We have a full complement of volunteers and continue to have a waiting list of people, many of whom are young and seeking work experience. They undertake a wide range of tasks, from welcoming visitors, creating exhibitions and digitising tapes to adding indexing terms to books to make them easier to find on our catalogue. We also have a bookbinder, four volunteers from the Invisible Histories team who have stayed with us to do more interviews for our oral history collection, and a ‘transcriber' who is typing up Peter Tatchell's LGBT History Month talk prior to putting it on our Web site.

Jen Morgan, our first Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded student appointed jointly by the Library and the University of Salford is nearing completion of her thesis, Matt Kavanagh is in his final year of research and Sally Richardson, the third student, started doing one day a week voluntary work in the Library in October, amongst other things doing sterling work in our garden.

The monthly volunteers' lunches followed by talks on aspects of the Library collection continue to be popular.


Lynette Cawthra and Jane Taylor, our Library Manager and Librarian continue to give excellent service with Lynette managing our two projects, the Library building and what goes on within it, acting as the first point of contact for enquiries, applying for grants and representing the Library more widely, whilst Jane takes responsibility for cataloguing our ever-growing collection and overseeing the work of volunteers, and is our IT trouble-shooter.

Tara Sutton, our Library Assistant, left us in early September to take up a full-time post with Manchester University in its Study and Learning Centre and Sam Ziesler stepped into the post later in the month. Sam is a qualified librarian who had been doing a wide range of voluntary work in libraries, including our own. Sam deals with readers' requests, undertakes administration to do with Friends and fundraising, and maintains the FileMaker database which holds details of all who use the Library or donate to it.

To complete the list, Alain Kahan, our retired librarian continues to work two half days a week, Jan Walker is our valued cleaner and Mike Carter is our regular, talented graphic artist.


Invitations for the Library to take part in events and projects across Greater Manchester and beyond continue to increase.

Small Heritage Organisations Working Together (SHOWT) - the newly-formed Network brings together some of the small unusual collections in Manchester and Salford which have few resources for publicity. Other members include Manchester Jewish Museum, Victoria Baths, the Pankhurst Centre, Chethams Library and the Greater Manchester Transport Museum. The Network has received funds from Museum Development North West to install Standpoint visitor evaluation software in every venue, and funds from the Arts Council to fund the Creative Threads event as part of this year's Manchester Histories Week. This grant paid for free transport by heritage bus, and events at every venue.

Display case from the Invisible Histories project exhibition

Invisible Histories project exhibition

Exhibitions - There have been four outstanding exhibitions in the period under review. In April, the 50th anniversary of the publication of E.P. Thompson's The making of the English working class was celebrated with an exhibition of Thompson's work in the Library's collection. This was followed in July by ‘Knowledge, Work and Workers: Science and the Working Class' which highlighted unusual aspects of our collection and was linked to an international conference on the history of science at Manchester University. In October the centenary of the Dublin Lockout was marked with exhibits from our and the Co-op Archive's collections, and in December an exhibition opened which illustrated the work of the Invisible Histories project.

Events - We have had a really packed year of events, from films to talks to concerts to communal sewing...

In April our first joint conference with the People's History Museum was a ‘sell out'. It celebrated the Front cover of the Pelican edition of The Making of the English Working Class50th anniversary of the publication of E.P. Thompson's The making of the English working class with a mix of readings and analysis.

The Fourth Annual Frow Lecture was given in May by Owen Jones on the theme ‘Change Comes From Below'. For the first time we had to turn people away so an audio version of Owen's inspiring talk was made available on our Web site. Later in the month we held our first film festival, culminating in a showing of Turner Prize nominee Luke Fowler's ‘The Poor Stockinger' to mark the national Museums at Night late evening openings.

In June, Will Kaufman performed ‘All You Jim Crow Fascists: Woody Guthrie's Freedom Songs' at Islington Mill. Again he gave his services free and donated the proceeds of over £400 to the Library. Also in June we hosted the launch of the book Physical Resistance, an activists' history of the collective anti-fascist struggle in Britain edited by Louise Purbrick from the writings of the late Dave Hann.

A summer series of ‘Invisible Histories' talks was held in June and July on a range of topics from the role of women in the UK punk scene to "horse burgers" in Newton Heath in the 1850s.

In August a ‘Living History' performance on the theme of Peterloo was given by an actor from the People's History Museum to an audience of older Manchester residents, all of them first-time visitors to the Library, as part of the City's Culture Champions: Valuing Older People project.

In September Chris Burgess led a ‘Peterloo Showcase' Open Day when visitors, many of them coming along for the first time, enjoyed immersing themselves in reading a range of items from our collection. Also a new series of Invisible Histories talks was held with topics ranging from working class autodidacts in the post-punk scene in Manchester to British socialist fiction from the 1880s to the First World War.

Image from the Darn that Picasso eventIn October our contribution to the annual Manchester Weekender was ‘Darn that Picasso' when we enjoyed experiencing the power of collaborative creativity by joining with activist artists from Brighton who are re-making Picasso's sombre anti-war masterpiece, Guernica, by gently sewing the image into a huge banner. A tour guide led a walk up the Crescent to the Library, following a bespoke trail knitted especially for the day by the King's Arms Knitters. In the same month ‘Struggle, Solidarity and Defeat: the 1913 Dublin Lockout' conference marked the centenary of the lockout. The conference was organised jointly with the University of Salford and supported by five organisations including the North West Labour History Society. A busy month continued as Black History Month was marked with a talk by Marika Sherwood on the struggles of Manchester's black community from the 18th century to the Pan-African Congress in the city in 1945.

In November we held another Open Day on Women and Democracy which provided readers with material from our collection and was linked to Parliament Week. It again introduced new readers to the Library. A play by Eric Northey, ‘The Transit of Venus', was performed in the annexe. The play is based on the lives of two local 17th century astronomers.

In January the Library lent material to a pop-up exhibition about community football club FC United of Manchester at the People's History Museum, and a linked, well-attended walk ‘Radicalism, football and co-operatives' brought people to enjoy a tour of the Library's collections.

We marked LGBT History Month with an excellent talk by Peter Tatchell, ‘Queer Britain - the struggle for LGBT human rights'. He outlined how the battle for law reform was won and the current challenges facing the LGBT community. Later in the month, Ian Sinclair spoke on the long-term impacts of the anti-war march of 15 February 2003.

We celebrated International Women's Day with a talk entitled ‘Socialist women of the Independent Labour Party - political propagandists and trade union organisers, 1890s-1914' by June Hannam. Our newest Trustee, Lynn Collins spoke on the theme ‘The struggle continues', looking at issues facing women today.

We held an Open Day at the end of March as part of the Manchester Histories Festival's Creative Threads event. We had nearly 100 visitors, the vast majority of whom had not visited us before. The Bailey Sisters sang during the day and gave a concert in the evening using material from the Library.

Stalls - Stalls staffed by volunteers were held at the ‘Spirit of Kinder' event in New Mills Town Hall, Unison conference in the Manchester Central Convention Centre, the Peace History Conference in the Friends Meeting House, the North West TUC Equalities Conference in the Mechanics Institute, the Irish World Heritage Centre's annual conference, the Institute of Employment Rights Conference in Liverpool and the Manchester Histories Festival celebration day in the Town Hall. Further afield, we again had a stall at the Tolpuddle Festival tended by Mike Weaver with Derek Clarke kindly transporting the material.


The Library's Facebook page has over 2,660 ‘likes' (2,200 in April 2013) and our Twitter feed @wcmlibrary has 1,950 followers. This is up from 1,200 in April last year. The numbers had an overnight boost after the BBC Culture Show's Miranda Sawyer tweeted about us following the programme in July in which we featured. The e-bulletin publicising our future activities goes out about once a fortnight to over 1,600 people (1,350 in April 2013).

The Library blog has featured a wide range of guest posts including Phil Cosgrove, ‘a (training) archivist's journey' on his placement at the Library and ‘Benny Rothman and the police officer - the story of an iconic photograph' from Peter Jackson, the police officer pictured towering over Benny Rothman at the 50th anniversary of the Kinder Trespass.


Maxine Peake appeared in July on BBC2's ‘Culture Show' in a programme partially filmed in the Library, ‘Performance, Protest and Peterloo', which complemented her performance in the Manchester International Festival of Shelley's ‘Masque of Anarchy'. Her passionate advocacy of the importance of WCML's collections and our good fortune in the filming taking place on a lovely sunny day had a big impact and brought many new readers and visitors to the Library.

The Library continues to receive regular publicity in the Manchester Evening News, Big Issue in the North, the Salford Advertiser and Salford Online. An article about Black History Month appeared in an FC United match programme. The most unlikely publicity of the year came from a drop-in visit from a journalist which led to a large feature about Len Johnson, and the Library more generally, in the sports pages of the Daily Telegraph.

The Library's new Front Room resulted in online features on the Web sites of Creative Tourist and Manchester Confidential, and we got mentions in various blogs including one about our exhibit of Bagpuss's radical family tree.


The Trustees wish to record their gratitude to the staff, volunteers, friends and all our active supporters for their invaluable personal contribution to the Library which enables it to run to high standards and also to be a warm, welcoming place.

We are grateful to all the individuals and organisations who support us financially in these difficult times.

We are determined to do everything in our power to ensure the long-term future and continuing development of the priceless collection we hold in trust.