Photographing the everyday in South Manchester
'I’m a white middle class man going into an ethnically diverse area. I just wondered, would I be accepted?'
Good morning Millers — welcome to today’s edition, which is much more visual than usual. We normally bombard you with thousands of words of text, but today we bring you some stunning photos from two exhibitions we’ve visited this week, both of which document ordinary lives in South Manchester. One of them is the result of handing cameras to 40 people in Moss Side and asking them to document their world. The other tries to capture life on the Curry Mile. Mollie went to see both and spoke to the people behind them.
Today’s edition also includes our To Do list for the weekend, an update on our Bury FC story yesterday and some headlines you should know about today. As always, if you’re not yet a member and you’d like to read this edition in full, please do join up now. We’re coming off our best ever month in July, when we added just over 200 members, smashing our previous record. We’re overjoyed that so many people are appreciating our journalism and feel it’s worth paying for, and months like this allow us to move faster, be more ambitious and take on more big stories. Thanks to our newbies and do join them now if you’re enjoying The Mill.
🎉 Talking of moving faster, we have some truly excellent news: Daniel Timms is joining us on staff! Earlier this year, Daniel joined the team temporarily as a writer focusing on data and policy stories, having written a few pieces for us as a freelancer in the past. It was supposed to be a stop-gap before he started a course later this year, but he has now delayed starting that course and is coming on board as a staff writer for the next year, writing for us and also for our sister newsletters The Post (in Liverpool) and The Tribune (in Sheffield). Please drop him a line to welcome him or to give him ideas about stories he should work on.
Daniel used to work for the economics consultancy Metro Dynamics, and he combines a great brain for data, a deep interest in how things actually work and a lovely storytelling style. Having him on board as a staffer will hugely enrich our coverage of core policy areas like education, healthcare, transport and… the location of protected trees. Here are a few of Daniel’s recent stories for us:
The billion pound Manchester question: Who has benefited from the city’s breakneck growth? Read it.
Why can't Manchester persuade developers to build affordable housing? Read it (members-only 🔐).
Are Greater Manchester's schools falling behind? Read it.
The best place in Manchester to be a tree: Why are most of our protected trees in the south of the city? Read it.
You can hear Daniel talk about his weekend read about who really benefits from Manchester’s economic boom on our free weekly podcast.
The background at Bury FC
After we published our (members-only) piece about the unexpected return of Bury FC yesterday, a couple of fans among our members got in touch to fill in gaps and add details.
“Thank you for reporting on the return of Bury to Gigg Lane, where I volunteer,” wrote a member called David. “The atmosphere was electric, better than at any game in recent memory. I'm delighted with the outcome of the merger.”
But David pointed out that the merger that led to Bury’s return wasn’t quite as we had it in our piece. It’s actually a lot more complicated, as he explains:
Bury AFC have not merged with the original Bury FC. The original club is still in administration, having changed its name to CCFB Realisations 2022 Limited in April last year. The fan-owned football club, Bury AFC, formed in 2019, merged with Bury Football Club Supporters Society Limited, who were formed in 2002 as Forever Bury, the football club's supporters group. i.e. one fan-led group merged with another fan-led group.
AFC had established new men’s and women’s teams of three years’ standing. BFCSS for their part had acquired Gigg Lane, the ground, from the original Bury FC’s administrators with financial support from a group of benefactors, government grants, and Bury Council. The newly merged entity was then given permission by the FA to play under the name Bury FC, something we had been told would not be possible in 2019.
Another member, Mike, felt we had skated over what he calls the “schism” between the two supporters' organisations which emerged from the embers of the old club (one a team without a ground; the other a ground without a team). “It turned very nasty, with supporters who'd been friends for years turning on each other depending on which side they were on.”
He also felt we should have explained the role of the government in bringing football back to Bury. He writes:
The Tory government was heavily involved in the purchase of Gigg Lane, which they did for wholly partisan political reasons. That was another contributory factor in the enmity between the two supporters' organisations, and will be one reason (of many) why Bury North MP James Daly will almost certainly lose his seat at the next General Election.
You will know that both Bury seats are ultra-tight marginals (Bury North saw the tightest result in the UK at the last General Election), while ironically, the MP in Bury South defected from the Tories and now sits as a Labour MP.
Thanks to David and Mike for putting us right on the merger and deepening the story a little bit.
Your Mill briefing
Climate Emergency Manchester wants Trafford Council to pause plans for a giant spa which is set to be built in the borough. Therme Manchester — a 28-acre indoor water park and spa — will use the equivalent of 833 extra households worth of gas and 1,724 more of electricity, according to the campaign group, which is calling for more public scrutiny of the scheme. Adam Peirce from Climate Emergency Manchester said: “At a time when many residents are trying to save energy, Trafford Council is giving the green light to a huge spa which will use more energy and water than a small town with no real scrutiny. The decision flies in the face of the climate emergency.”
A design team has been appointed to the Piccadilly Gardens redevelopment project; they will submit full designs for public consultation next year. Their initial proposals included children’s play facilities and improved links to London Road. Council leader Bev Craig said the plans can help Piccadilly Gardens realise its potential as “somewhere people want to linger and enjoy, not just pass through.” In other public-square-improvement news, a new public square around Rochdale Train Station has also been given planning permission.
Six babies in Greater Manchester have had their hearing saved due to innovative genetic testing developed by Manchester researchers. The simple cheek swab test has now been rolled out at North Manchester General Hospital and Wythenshawe Hospital after it was successfully piloted at Saint Mary’s Hospital and Liverpool Women’s Hospital in 2021.
Rachel Tunstill, a 32-year-old who was sentenced to life in prison after killing her newborn baby, died in prison on Tuesday. A spokesperson for HMP Styal, the women’s prison in Wilmslow where Tunstill died, said her death was not self-inflicted.
Capturing the everyday in South Manchester
By Mollie Simpson
Leo Macdonald Oulds grew up in Whalley Range and moved to London to study at the Royal School of Drawing. During his degree, he spent time with skateboarders in Morocco, handing them disposable cameras and asking them to document their everyday lives.
He returned home after graduating in 2020 and soon began exploring his local neighbourhood with his camera, imagining starting a similar project in Moss Side. He knew how to work with texture and create striking compositions, but the locals knew every stone and every tree and every bump in the road, which felt much more important. The idea of the project was that it would help them represent themselves and capture the easily overlooked magic of living in Moss Side, when so much media coverage concerned itself with violence and anti-social behaviour.
Leo took the idea to his local community centre, Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse. At first, the locals were curious about him, but a little stand-offish. Some said outright they weren’t interested. “At first it was like, are we going to have time to do our bingo if we’ll have a photography workshop as well? When will we have lunch?” Leo tells me over the phone. “I think once we got to know each other, we found a way to do it.”
40 people chose to participate, and over the next 18 months, they were given disposable cameras, a supply of film and told to take 27 photos every week. Nothing was prescribed — people could take photos of whatever they liked. Many of the photos are playful and fun but they can also be forthright. One man took a photo of a pile of rubbish on the pavement and ranted in his journal about — as Leo recalls it — “people from down South coming up North and making his world upside down, saying how cheap it is here and how cheap his area is”.
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