Family Friendly Highlights over Easter

If you follow our blogs, you’ll know that in November 2013, year 5 from St. James’ Primary School in Rusholme came to the People’s History Museum and took over our jobs for the day. They got involved in front of house duties, exhibition checking, evaluating our shop displays and much more!

As you may also know, we’ve recently launched a new aspect of our collections website, our Collection Highlights, and over the next few months, we hope to update our Takeover Day - St James' CofE Primary School, 22.11.2013, copyright People's History Museum (135)highlights page to include many different themes. The first of these is our Family Friendly Highlights, chosen by none other than our Year 5 class from St. James’- who better to test our interesting interactives, fun dressing up areas and immersive displays! The group were given half an hour on each gallery to inspect, test and evaluate what they most preferred, and what they wanted including in our new Family Friendly Highlights.

We then came down to our offices and (after a lot of working out) we decided on our highlights. Year 5 then went on to the marketing department to tweet about what they’d been doing. On their return back to school, they very kindly wrote us some blogs telling us about their time at PHM.


Ellie decided to share the objects the group decided to be in their highlights in her blog:

“We have just finished judging the top ten family games. Here they are:

  1. The co-op shop
  2. Football display
  3. Life boxes
  4. 1945 living room
  5. Wheel of fortune
  6. Build a bridge/ picket line
  7. Hannah Mitchell’s kitchen
  8. Match box making
  9. Badge making
  10. Dress up”


Aman described his morning at the museum:

‘…On Friday I went to the Peoples history museum and we wrote a twitter we all thought which part we liked in the museum. There was a co op shop and a football display and a TV that showed football..’


Maham also liked the Coop shop:

‘.. The history is very interesting and its only 10 minutes till lunch we saw a co-op shop was very fun for children to play in, that would be fun admit it. ..’


Zain told us about his favourite part of the day:

‘..In our group we decided the top ten “Family Friendly Activities.” It was so fun!

My personal favourite was defiantly the “Build A Bridge”’

You should visit.”


Finally, Larry gave some sound reasons for visiting PHM!

Hi, my name’s Larry, and I recently went to the Peoples History Museum with St. James Primary School, Rusholme. Me and my class, Year 5 went for National Takeover Day, an idea by Kids In Museums on 22nd November 2013. We had quite an eventful day…

My group were mainly involved in marketing, but did do a certain part on the Top Ten Family Friendly Activities, the top three being:

  • Pre-WW2 Co-op Shop
  • Football Displays
  • Life Boxes

It was a very exciting day altogether, and checkout the P.H.M. website for more information! I have one more quote, and it’s on the Family activities

“I was impressed, and if you want to see more, then come to the Peoples History Museum!”


We’re really excited to have our PHM Family Friendly Highlights chosen by St. James’s Primary School. Check the collections page on our website over the Easter holidays to find out more about their expert choices!


150 years of The Co-operative – short conference report

On Saturday 25 January, the People’s History Museum played host and organiser for the conference 150 years of The Co-operative.  Timed to link in with our current exhibition, The People’s Business, there was a wide range of speakers and an opportunity to have a special guided tour with the exhibition curator, Lisa Keys.

Coop display

The team at PHM had created a small pop up display, seen above, made up from a mix of material from our rich object and archive collection.  We were also joined by staff from the National Co-operative Archive who hosted a small stand with some items from their archive for our conference delegates to view during breaks and lunchtime.

Before lunch there were sessions by Rachael Vorburg-Rugh on women in the co-operative movement (she will be back at PHM on Feb 22, more info here), David Stewart and Angela Whitecross looked at The Co-operative Political Party until 1997 and Gillian Longeran talked about the development of shopping and customer service within the CWS.  Gillian also screened a CWS staff training video from 1941, demonstrating how to maximise business through innovative window displays and the use of bright colours, peppered with snippets of the manufacturing processes.  (You can have a go at your own window display in our exhibition too!)

Polyp Author Signing

At lunchtime Polyp, author of The Co-operative Revolution: A Graphic Novel signed copies of his book in the museum shop.  There was a small display of other books and art work as you can see above.

Tony WebsterWelcome to the Conference

After lunch we were straight back at it, with talks from Dr Nick Mansfield and Stephen McCusker on architectural heritage and the buildings of rural co-operatives.  This was followed by Professor Tony Webster talked about his research looking at the global role the CWS has in 1863 – 1950 and how it set up branches for trade in New York as early as 1876.  There was a fair old amount of talk about butter being sold to New Zealand and trade in meat from Argentina.  All completely compelling and fascinating!

Co-op Exh Tour

We then took on a change of pace and had a special tour from the curator of The People’s Business Lisa Keys.  Lisa spoke to the group about her approach to documenting and celebrating 150 years of heritage, not an easy task when everyone has such fond memories of The Co-operative.

Finally, we were joined by Russell Gill, from The Co-operative Group, who spoke about the importance of heritage to the group and the sheer amount of materials held with the National Co-operative Archive and on show at Rochdale Pioneers Museum.  Sadly I can’t find the great film Russell showed from the 100 years celebrations in 1963 – if you know where it is do let me know.

Hopefully everyone got as much out the day as I did and a huge thanks to all our speakers for being so brilliant!

Memories of the Co-op

113Today we have a guest post from our Exhibitions Assistant, Josh Butt, who tells us about our visitors memories of the Cooperative.


People have left a range of interesting co-operative shop memories at our exhibition The People’s Business. Many are childhood memories of shopping with mum at the local co-op, reflecting a time when nearly every family were members at a local co-operative society.

We also have many memories of the milk tokens left for the milkmen as payment. Including this story left by a then cheeky 4 year old:

‘I went round and collected all the neighbours milk tokens and proudly took them all back to my mum. I didn’t understand why she wasn’t pleased and made me take them all back and apologise!’

Others remember being sent to the shop on errands:

‘Being sent to buy the next weeks supply of ‘milk checks’ from Brightside and Carbrook Co-op, Sheffield in the early 50s’

One visitor remembers working at the Broughton Cabinet, Clothing, Handkerchief and Shirt factory and their own personal link to the Munich Air Disaster:

‘Spent many happy years as a machinist in Broughton from 15 years to 30 and went on many trips out to Blackpool. We made blazers for Manchester United in 1958, sad year.’

Lots of memories focus on the famous dividend or saving stamps. Including several people who can still remember mum’s ‘divi’ number:

‘My mum’s Co-op number 11404!’

‘I can still remember the divi number which I had to give when I went to get the shopping for my mother.’

‘I remember going to the Co-op on a Monday with my mum and younger sister and brother to get the groceries. These were delivered later in the day. We got penguin biscuits, the treat for the week! Still know my divi no. 24448.’

‘Sticking my mum’s co-op stamps in her book after shopping at the local co-op’

‘I remember going up the stairs at Hindsford Co-op with the ‘divi’ sheet and watching men in white/brown coats cutting amounts of butter from a huge slab.’

‘Watching the bacon slicer move when it cut the bacon. Always a chair for elderly people to sit on.’

These fascinating little memory snippets offer us a great peek into the past and make me remember my own childhood shopping memories and how they are of a different generation. There was no nipping out to get groceries, only getting in the car and driving to the supermarket. I remember eating the grapes on the way round the shop, or sneaking some chocolate onto the conveyor belt at the checkout (it never worked!).

PHM Top 20 Tweets of 2013

A guest post from our Marketing & Development Officer, Daisy Nicholson

One of my favourite parts of my job is tweeting (along with my colleague Karen Moore, Marketing Manager) about all the exciting goings on at the museum and especially hearing what tweeters have to say about PHM.  It was too difficult to narrow it down to a top ten tweets of 2013, so here’s the top 20.  Why not join the conversation and follow us @PHMMcr.

We’re always happy with more attention..

  1. 01/02/13: @marieemonaghan: @visit_mcr People’s History Museum is my fave, interesting & fun & I feel gets less attention than other Manc museums #followamuseumday

Visitors are often moved by the story we tell of those who fought hard for the rights we enjoy today

  1. 10/02/13: @michaelquille: At @PHMMcr today, was reminded of the tremendous optimism and collective confidence people had in making a better world in post war Britain.

Great to hear our Family Friendly activities are enjoyed!

  1. 24/03/13: @ybuck82: Yet another lovely family day @PHMMcr was fab munchkins really enjoyed the bug hunt 😉 xx

Some excellent advice to union reps

  1. 26/03/13: @TradeUnionStudy: @PHMMcr Students thoroughly enjoyed visit thanks .All union reps should go to see the history of our movement. Keep up the good work.

Some more excellent advice!

  1. 06/04/13: @nickbason: The @PHMMcr is BRILLIANT. If you are in Manchester, go.

We really do have something for everyone

  1. 22/04/13: @benkenyon: Great day out at @PHMMcr yesterday looking at 200 years of struggle for democracy in UK. Take your family, your kids, your granny. Everyone!

Couldn’t agree more

  1. 12/06/13: @arwallis: Visited the people’s history museum. Worth it to see how people can change society for the better.

Passing on the story on to the next generation!

  1. 16/06/13: @spunshon: I am totally in love with @PHMMcr. If @danielbye & I ever have kids, we’re coming on a yearly pilgrimage.

A lovely description of PHM

  1. 16/06/13: @beardedcynic: Manchester People’s Museum is just swell. Modern and accessible yet with oodles of lovely history to swallow.

From someone in the know

  1. 24/07/13: @DanJarvisMP: “There have always been ideas worth fighting for.” Anyone interested in politics and democracy should visit the @PHMMcr in #Manchester

Following their wedding at PHM (get in touch with our Venue Hire Team if you’re planning a wedding or civil partnership)

  1. 07/09/13: @cathfeely: @PHMMcr Thank you for everything. Everyone at the museum was wonderful and everyone loved the venue. We will be in touch very soon!

Well we won’t argue with that

  1. 15/09/13: @salegirl: Been at @PHMMcr again today, such a great place, most important museum in the country/world I think! #manchester

Chile Fights, Scotland vs Chile Don’t Play Ball with Fascists, 1977 © People's History Museum

Following our Object of the Month for September 2013

  1. 23/09/13: @janoveliz: @PHMMcr Well done with the Object of the Months guys. Quite nice story, regards from a Chilean in Manchester 😉

Exactly why we’re here

  1. 05/11/13: @Anthillel: @phmmcr is a fantastic museum. Shows us how far we’ve come and reminds us how far we have to go!

Some of the gems in our collection

  1. 05/11/13: @edithmayhall: Completely stunned by old Trade Union banners at Manchester People’s History Museum–and the table on which Tom Paine wrote Rights of Man!

Couldn’t ask for more!

  1. 13/11/13: @HTrub88 just been around the people’s history museum. It’s AMAZING . Explains some difficult concepts, great objects, hands on & friendly staff.

Direct action following one of our POLLfest events (don’t worry if you missed it – POLLfest strikes back in 2014!)

  1. 16/11/13: @i__like__eggs: @LucyMPowell is rather inspirational! I just went to her talk at @PHMMcr and have now joined a political party! 🙂

Following a fab day with pupils from St James CofE Primary School for Kids in Museums Takeover Day22 November 2103, Takeover Day - St James CofE Primary School © People's History Museum

  1. 22/11/13: @andyuk71: Many thanks to the fantastic folk @PHMMcr today for the inspiration and activities – children loved it! #TakeoverDay @visit_mcr

Lovely feedback following one of our Little PHM story sessions

  1. @sonnyandluca: The little PHM at the Manchester Peoples History Musuem is fab, and only £1. Highly recommended, thanks for a lovely morning @PHMMcr

And finally, a brilliant photo originally tweeted by @robnitm & @StephenGParker, shared with us in light of our current changing exhibition, The People’s Business – 150 Co-op milkman, 1972Years of The Co-operative, on until Sunday 11 May 2014

  1. 31/12/13: @susienich33: Thought you would like this! @PHMMcr The 1972 winning entry to the Co-Op milkman uniform competition…

150 Years of the People’s Business – our forthcoming conference

Manchester 1913 low resOur changing exhibition The People’s Business – 150 Years of The Co-operative is in full swing at the moment.

To complement it, we are putting on a conference here at the museum on 25 January 2014 – a Saturday. Called 150 Years of the People’s Business, everyone is welcome, and we have put together an excellent bunch of speakers talking on a wide range of co-operative-themed subjects.

For example, from the Co-operative Archive we have Dr Rachael Vorberg-Rugh talking about women and the co-operative business model; and Gillian Lonergan will talk about the CWS 1941 promotional film Behind the Counter (and we’ll show the film too).

David Stewart and Angela Whitecross from UCLan will look at the Co-operative Party from 1917 to 1997.

We have talks on co-operative buildings and architectural heritage, by Stephen McCusker from the Loop Systems Architects Co-operative, and our former director Nick Mansfield, now a research fellow at UCLan.

There are also talks on the business networks of the CWS, by Prof Tony Webster of the University of Northumbria. John Wilson from the Newcastle University Business School will then suggest some lessons to learn from the Co-Operative Model. And Russell Gill from the Co-operative Group will talk about how it (the Group) can use its heritage to shape its future.

The day will also include a guided tour of our exhibition.

The full programme of the day is here. We’re starting the day a bit later (10.30am) because we’re told an earlier start time is not suitable for people travelling from afar. There’s so much to cram in, though, and we finish at the museum’s closing time – 5pm.

We’re trying to keep the cost of the day down, and will charge £25 for the full rate and £20 for concessions. These need to be bought in advance online (

Tea, coffee and biscuits are available at the start of the day. The best place for lunch – not included in the fee – is the Left Bank Café based within the museum.

We hope the themes and speakers will appeal. And of course, there are the wonderful – and free – permanent galleries to browse through. A busy day! Hope to see you here.

Ashtrays and Cream Crackers

This post is by Josh Butt our hungry Exhibitions Assistant

Box 37 (7)Last week the Exhibitions Team spent the day at our object store. We have been selecting objects for the next exhibition The People’s Business: Celebrating 150 years of the Co-operative. There were some interesting finds, including these Crumpsall Crackers matches and ashtray. It seems the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) liked to advertise on absolutely everything, including depicting food at the bottom of an ashtray. It made me hungry.

The Crumpsall factory, located north of Manchester, produced a whole range of biscuits, cakes, jams and chocolate goodies. Crumpsall opened in 1873; it was the CWS’s first factory. In 1901 Crumpsall became the first factory in Britain to provide the 8 hour working day for employees. Other benefits were provided for workers, including dining rooms, sports fields and social activities. The Crumpsall factory lasted more than 100 years before closing down in 1985.

IMG_7327Whilst down at the objects store a colleague took this picture as I was tapping away at the laptop. It shows our various collection of typewriters and dial phones. It is kind of ironic that whilst the typewriter is now out of use (except by the Kremlin), and the laptop will probably be replaced by something better in the near future, the pencil and paper next to me has survived many different technologies.