A new exhibition in Manchester that focuses on the history of protest in Britain is a must-see.
It’s been nearly a decade since I first visited the People’s History Museum.
It has been closed for more than two years for a £9 million refurbishment programme.
No stone has been left unturned in modernising this treasure trove of working class history.
Carried Away takes you on a 200 year trip through the history of social and civil rights struggle in Britain.
The exhibition includes never before seen photography – some of which is so rare that the original owners couldn’t be traced.
Many of the pictures focus on the moment of arrest, hence the name Carried Away. It’s clear at first glance what the struggles are.
The Suffragette movement is prominent, along with campaigns for nuclear disarmament and anti-war movements.
Opposition to cruise missiles and the Falklands war is also featured.
The most emotive items on display are the distinctive black and orange jackets worn by the miners during the dark days of Thatcherism.
They are preserved in glass cases and are complete with CND badges, union stickers and an early Anti Nazi League badge.
The exhibition shows the links between different causes.
As an “interactive experience” there are audio tracks playing excerpts from historic speeches and even the soundtracks of the riots.
This brings the photography to life. Rolling screens play footage of every type of protest you can think of, some of it never before shown on public television.
I finished my visit in awe of those who have fought over the years.
And then, as I navigated my way across the road I encountered, you guessed it, a strike!
PCS union members at the Department for Work and Pensions were picketing just yards from the museum.
The struggle continues.
David Henry is standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition against Hazel Blears in the general election in Salford.
Go to » www.tusc.org.uk for more information
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