The students declared their university building an ‘autonomous zone’ - but not for long
Plus: How an extraordinary hoard of classical music ended up in pre-industrial Manchester
Dear Millers — welcome to our Friday edition, which brings you tales of short-lived student protests and 18th century popes, stories of campus occupations and a stash of priceless classical music finding its way to Manchester.
Before we get into it, a little announcement: we’ve now reached 1,900 members, and 2,000 is firmly within our sights. If you know someone who might enjoy The Mill, please do forward this email on to a friend or family member to help us grow.
Last night, we were at Manchester Museum for a drinks reception to celebrate the museum’s long-awaited reopening. We’ve made a brilliant on-location podcast about the event (click here to listen now), featuring interviews with the museum’s director and leading curators, and we’ll have a full piece about that ready for you in your inboxes tomorrow morning, just as the museum swings open its brand new doors.
Exciting announcement: Mill members can now book their tickets for our first Mill Members Club on Thursday 30 March. It’s the first edition of our new series exclusively for our paying subscribers. A huge thanks to the wonderful Manchester University Press, who we are collaborating with to make these events happen. Members will have the chance to watch a live Mill interview onstage as we speak to Andy Spinoza, a co-founder of City Life editor and the author of a new book about the city. Just click the booking link at the end of this email.
As always, this edition is for Mill members, but regular Millers can still read a few bits at the top. If you’re not a member, please do join us for just £7 a month or £70 a year. Every extra member allows us to commission more writers, expand our team and get ever closer to our long term vision of being a fully staffed up quality media outlet to rival any in the city.
Your Mill briefing
Chaos continues to surround the election for the next MP for Bolton North East. Nine of the local Labour group’s 13 executives resigned last week after what they call a “clique in London” tried to promote, as well as shun, certain candidates based on their alignment with the national party. Leigh Drennan, as we reported last week, was kept off the ballot officially for “due diligence reasons” but sources believe it is actually because of his leftist views. To make matters worse: there are new allegations of postal votes being “compromised” due to voting packs not containing ballot envelopes — “therefore the secrecy of members’ voting records is severely compromised”, reads one statement seen by the Bolton News.
The police watchdog is investigating after a man died shortly after being arrested by GMP. The man, in his early-20s, was arrested by officers responding to reports of a stabbing in Leigh. He became unwell afterwards and died at the scene. The Independent Office for Police Conduct have said they will be investigating “the level of force used to restrain the man” and the “actions and decision-making of police”. Separately, another shocking report of officer misconduct came out of GMP yesterday: PC Thomas Woods was sacked after admitting to making and possessing indecent images of children. Chief Constable Stephen Watson said the 34-year-old’s actions “could not be further removed from what a police officer should be”.
An independent report into Greater Manchester’s Jewish population has found that there needs to be greater collaboration between the region’s mainstream Jewish community and it’s Charedi population, or ultra-orthodox Jews. Questions were raised as to how well the Federation of Jewish Services, the community’s main welfare provider, worked with the Charedi community, who it found were having more problems accessing affordable property and specific services.
Planning latest: Manchester’s planning officers are minded to approve an application to remake the area surrounding the Great Northern Warehouse. The plans, brought by a consortium of developers based in Hong Kong and London, will require the partial demolition of the complex to make way for three residential buildings — 16, 27 and 34 storeys high — accounting for 726 homes. The warehouse itself, a listed building currently housing a cinema, retail spaces and one casino (read more about what goes on there here) will be converted into Grade A offices and accommodation.
A 15-year-old boy from Leigh, Wigan, is one of two charged with the murder of Brianna Ghey, the 16-year-old transgender girl killed in Cheshire. The boy appeared at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday alongside his co-accused: a 15-year-old girl from Warrington. Ghey was found stabbed to death in a park in Culcheth on Saturday. On Wednesday, a vigil for Ghey was held at Sackville Gardens.
Plans for a 420m bridge spanning the Medlock Valley to connect Oldham and Tameside have been approved. Park Bridge will cost £5m, stand 100ft above ground at its highest point and will follow the route of an old railway viaduct. “Effectively it’s reinstating a feature that was there previously”, planning officer Graham Dickman says. It will include new cycle lanes and a footpath across the boroughs, with funding intended to be drawn from the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund.
And finally, is the world under the control of a global elite? Half of the people in Manchester Central think so, according to UnHerd, who surveyed the 632 constituencies making up England, Scotland and Wales on conspiracy. Manchester Central had the 4th highest proportion of residents who believed the world was dominated by such a cabal, with Blackley and Broughton coming in at 9th.
🎧 Listen to our podcast
In our latest podcast, Joshi and Darryl record on location at the newly renovated Manchester Museum. They chat to the museum’s director Esme Ward and some of her leading curators to find out what they have changed — and how they are re-imagining what a museum is all about. To listen, click here or at the Spotify player below.
How an extraordinary hoard of classical music ended up in pre-industrial Manchester
By Mike Emmerich
In short I have bought for you 150 weight of musick, enough to fill a large box which I have ordered to be sent… And the purchase was not great; the whole thing amounting not to above 40 Shillings.
So wrote Edward Holdsworth from Italy in 1742 about his musical bargain in a letter to his friend Charles Jennens, the author of the words in some of Handel’s most important works, The Messiah included. The journey from Rome to Manchester of one of the most important musical collections of the time had begun, a journey which finally ended in 1964.
Important? Really? Well, yes. The collection was bought from the estate of Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, one of the most prominent patrons of music of his and most other times. To further his ambition to be pope he set up shop in the Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome, entertaining his guests with lavish musical events. He employed composer Arcangelo Corelli, hosted a visiting young Handel, organised a visit to the Vatican by Vivaldi and held concerts by the major composers of the day, some of whom premiered new works at his soirées. Ottoboni failed in his papal ambition, dying in debt, his possessions sold to pay his creditors.
From Jennens, the collection passed to the Earl of Aylesford, later bought at auction by the publisher Newman Flower. On his death, the collection was passed to the Henry Watson Music Library, and it sits in our very own Central Library to this day.
That’s why, despite Manchester being a modest pre-industrial town in the era they were written, there is a set of Vivaldi pieces which are known to the world only as his Manchester Sonatas. It’s also why there is a unique autograph (i.e. original handwritten) set of his Four Seasons concertos and a huge amount more besides, much of it unique, and most of it never performed in modern times, let alone recorded.
That is set to change. Starting next Saturday, Manchester Baroque, an ensemble dedicated to playing music of the period and which I helped to found, begins its own exploration of the music from the Henry Watson Library, including Spring from the Manchester version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The concert at Manchester Cathedral is being hosted in aid of the Disasters Emergency Committee’s campaign to support those affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, providing another powerful reason to come along. Join us as we begin a musical journey into one of the hidden histories of our great city.
Tickets for the concert start at £7.49 because of a special 20% discount only for Millers —just click this special link and the discounted is already loaded. You can find out more about Manchester Baroque here.
The students declared their university building an ‘autonomous zone’ - then the wifi ran out
By Mollie Simpson
On Tuesday afternoon, Riley asks to rendezvous at the Simon Building, an austere tower block mostly filled with biology students and laboratories on the University of Manchester campus on Oxford Road. We take the lift up to the third floor, where he’s commandeering a staff room with harsh overhead lighting, black leather sofas, a packet of pains-au-chocolat and a crumpled sleeping bag on the floor.
It smells vaguely of Pot Noodles and every so often, a staff member enters the kitchen, makes a cup of tea and then leaves immediately with their head down. Around the corner, a couple of quiet students are sitting in a large seminar room with views of the glass towers in Deansgate. They wave shyly and look down and resume writing large letters on signs: a warning to the university that they’re not backing down anytime soon.
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