PHM summer holiday fun!

FF Cafe basketThe summer holidays are here and to celebrate we have a brilliant family friendly basket in The Left Bank cafe bar.

Filled to the brim with exciting things including copies of our museum book Mr Ordinary’s Prize, bee finger puppets, colouring sheets, crayons, jigsaws, and game sheets!

Also on at the museum this summer is a free Stag & Lion treasure hunt, free family explorer bee bags and free craft table.

We also have story sessions and pARTicipate art sessions for a small donation. These events are bookable via Eventbrite. See our what’s on for details.

With free museum entry and free picnic spaces there is no excuse not to come along and join in the PHM summer family fun!



Student Ideas Matter

Students from the University of Central Lancashire have been working with PHM over the past few months on the Student Ideas Matter project. Here, they tell us a bit about what they’ve been up to…

Blog 1The People’s History Museum (PHM) is now showing a collection of pictures from our student campaign ‘Student Ideas Matter’. The display features a number of students, all from the Lancashire area, sharing their ‘ideas worth fighting for’. Come along to the museum, to see the photos in the foyer and Left Bank Café.

The display is a result of a partnership between PHM and the University of Central Lancashire. PHM kindly offered to collaborate with our group of PR students in September 2013, to offer practical work experience for us all.

Since then, we’ve been immersed in conversation with students throughout the Lancashire area. We’ve been visiting Student Unions over the past month, collecting students’ ‘ideas worth fighting for’. There was a great response! Blog (4)

Students from UCLan, Salford and MMU were excited to share their views. We collected a wealth of ideas, along with photos of the students. Ideas ranged from lower tuition fees, to free access to land and rivers. Overall, we talked to around 500 students throughout our three visits. Many were delighted to hear of the museum and its efforts to reach out to students.

‘Student Ideas Matter’ was essentially an Instagram photo competition, with the best ideas being chosen for display in People’s History Museum. The winners have been chosen and they are up for everyone to see! They will be up on display in PHM’s foyer until 30th April.

The campaign was designed with the museum’s values in mind; democracy, equality, peace and welfare all being at the centre of the ideas. The UCLan PR consultancy planned ‘Student Ideas Matter’ from day one, and all ideas were our own. We are all very proud of what we’ve achieved, and thankful to PHM for giving us the opportunity. But the show goes on! We’re continuing to work on the project until May, and hope to leave PHM with improved student relationships.

So, if you want to continue the conversation, use the hashtag #PHMStudentIdeas on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. We’ll be looking out for you!

Come and find out what matters to us students. We will fight for our ideas to be heard.


We hope to see you there,

Emma R., Bernie, Fiona, Greta and Emma U.

(UCLan Student Team)

Why Bureaucracy Broke our Hearts on 14 February 2014

Guest blog by Ian Morgan (Manchester Centre President of the Association of Revenue & Customs)

Hello – I’m Ian and I’m a committed trade union campaigner.  The members of my union (Association of Revenue & Customs or “ARC”) are all senior professionals working in HM Revenue & Customs.  We’re not faceless bureaucrats but real people striving every day to secure the funds which build schools, hospitals, libraries and playgrounds.  Our work knits the social fabric of the UK and delivers for the nation.

#ARC14FebOn February 14 2014, with sterling support from our sister unions, we took our first independent strike action against HMRC in an effort to do our jobs free from the tangle of bureaucracy.  Our dispute stemmed from the Civil Service Reform plan, specifically our new performance appraisal system, and review of our employee terms and conditions.  Both elements were imposed by our employer, refusing arbitration by ACAS, and despite our serious concerns about issues like:

  • link to pay and dismissal
  • no independent appeal process
  • cost and level of bureaucracy when resources are limited
  • greater risk for staff with protected characteristics
  • longer working hours in London, and less sick pay and annual leave nationally, for all new staff and (bizarrely) when existing staff are promoted.

Just under 2300 eligible ARC members were balloted between Dec 2013 -Jan 2014, commanding a respectable turnout of 48%.  This reflected a comprehensive campaign by trade union activists, both nationally and at local branch level.  Of those members exercising their ballot vote, 58% were in favour of strike action and 78% voted for work to rule.

#ARC14Feb 2ARC chose February 14 to launch our strike action, with a strong “broken heart” theme branded across placards, stickers and Valentine’s Day postcards.  They illustrated our sadness and frustration, not just that the new systems are unfair and unjustified for HMRC employees, but because they are also a massive distraction from our work in closing the UK tax gap and helping defeat the deficit – so vital to the UK in these times of austerity.  Last year we delivered an extra £20.7 billion into Exchequer coffers, enough to fund the cost of primary healthcare for the whole of the UK, and the lion’s share of that came from ARC members.  That’s why we think we deserve a fair performance system and a fair deal.

Like our fellow members throughout the UK, on February 14s Day of action.  ARC received some fantastic coverage in the national press, including sympathetic articles in tax publications, and members of the public up and down the country stopped to chat with the pickets or went on their way sporting our broken heart stickers!

Many more ARC members supported the strike quietly at home or with their families.  Each and every one of them were stars – we all know that industrial action is never easy but is proof positive of our commitment, both to our union and to our duties as public servants.  As a union we are small in number, but we do have a voice and hopefully a strong one.

The Manchester picketers were pleased to reconvene later in the day on 14 February in the much warmer surroundings of the Left Bank cafe bar at the People’s History Museum, always our preferred planning HQ.  Our Twitter photo was taken on its doorstep and I’m now proud to post my guest blog here, as a more detailed record of our campaign.  I hope that readers agree it connects with the museum’s story of ideas worth fighting for, during its Play Your Part project.

Our visit to the People’s History Museum by students from Broadgreen International School, Liverpool

A guest post from students from Broadgreen International School, Liverpool who visited the museum in July

Broadgreen International School, Liverpool

On Thursday 4th July we went to the People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester with Mr Windle and Miss Eyres to learn more about solidarity, how to get along with people and to produce our own banner for International Evening.  This involved working with John Halligan from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Annette Cobley, the museum’s artist.

 Broadgreen International School, Liverpool 2Broadgreen International School, Liverpool 3

The first thing we did when we got to the PHM was to go to the Learning Studio where Annette gave an introduction about the museum.  We then had a tour of the museum galleries and learnt about banners, why they were there, and what the symbols on them mean.  Some of the banners we looked at were made by the bricklayers’ union, the Labour Party and George Tuthill.

After our tour we went to the museum’s café for a cake and a drink, before going back to the Learning Studio to make plans for our banner.  We worked together and all got our points across about what should go on our banner.

Broadgreen International School, Liverpool 4 Broadgreen International School, Liverpool 5 Broadgreen International School, Liverpool 6

Going to the PHM was a very good experience because we learnt how to all work together, how to get our points across better, how to make a banner and how solidarity can help our careers.   Before our visit to the PHM we worked with Mr Windle to learn about solidarity in Cuba and with Jay McKenna from the TUC to learn about what trade unions do.   Our visit to the PHM was also funded by a trade union called Unison.

Our plans for the future are to carry on working with the TUC and Unison because we want to learn more about trade unions, take part in a community radio project and hopefully even go to some places around the world like Cuba or Nigeria so we can see how other people live.

Broadgreen International School, Liverpool 7

Peace and Love!

You can find out more details about our Learning Programme on our website. Alternatively you can contact the Learning Team on 0161 838 9190 or by emailing


IMG_3385IMG_3387This month we’ve been working on some programming that explores the often complicated relationship between fashion and protest.  We’ve got an exciting new pop-up exhibition in the foyer and The Left Bank cafe bar from Labour Behind the Label called Made in Cambodia and you can sample life as a garment worker at their Race for a Living Wage: educational exploitation for all the family! event this Sunday.   The exhibition details the lives of Cambodian garment workers producing sportswear goods in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics. The photography exhibition follows one day in the lives of a group of women garment workers who work in the Shen Zhou garment factory in Phnom Penh, making products for Adidas’s 2012 Olympics range. Their stories speak of poverty pay, excessive working hours, job insecurity and lack of union rights. Many work 11 hour days and survive on a basic wage of £39 a month, forced to share small rooms in factory-owned apartment blocks. The photos are taken by Will Baxter.

IMG_3398Our Learning Officer, Lisa Gillen, shares the story of her personal fashion/protest object:

I was given the protest clothing ticket by a friend during the summer of 2012. She was distributing these to ask people to get involved in a protest against the poor wages paid to people involved in making adidas goods in other countries.

Adidas was one company receiving a lot of coverage for the Olympics that summer.  The protest involved putting the protest tickets in stores that sold adidas goods. I really liked how the protest was a simple idea, but also quite effective in raising awareness of the issue with people who may be buying adidas goods.  I keep this pinned by my desk to remind me of the creative and inventive ways that people can protest and how methods of protest can comes in many different forms.

PHM presents POLLfest!

PW Partner logo web versionAs part of this year’s Parliament Week, the People’s History Museum are holding our very own politics festival- POLLfest- an exciting series of events all based around this year’s theme, women in democracy. Parliament Week is a government initiative which aims to inspire, engage and connect people with parliamentary democracy. Running from Friday 15 November to Thursday 21 November, PHM will hold discussions, debates, displays, comedy and much more!

Friday 15 will see visitors come and learn more about women’s contribution to democratic life in a specialised gallery tour and those who would like to stick around will be treated to some unique material from our Labour History and Archive Centre as well as the chance to go behind the scenes in an archive tour.  Booking is advised- call the museum on 01618389190 or email

We will be holding two events on Saturday 16 November, a debate in the afternoon, and a Pecha Kucha event in the evening. The debate will look at the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, as a whole, and more specifically her legacy to women in senior political roles. We are still in the process of confirming speakers for this debate, so stay tuned for more exciting announcements! Pecha Kucha will be held from 6pm in our Engine Hall, and will feature 6 speakers talking for 20 seconds on 20 slides. Themes for the speakers will be on a whole host of topics including politics, social revolts and art. Our cafe bar will also be open for drinks, what more reason do you need to book! Tickets are free and can be claimed via Eventbrite.

On Sunday 17 November, we will be hosting our very own comedy spectacular from 4pm in the museum. We will have performances from Do Not Adjust Your Stage who will provide us with improvised fun based on scenes and stories in the People’s History Museum. Stand-up comedian Grainne Maguire will headline the evening with her ‘One Hour All Night Election Special’ show. Both acts have received rave reviews from past performances, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming them to PHM! Tickets are free but donations would be gratefully received- book them via Eventbrite.

Check back for more POLLfest announcements, and get booking your tickets- it’s set to be an amazing few days!

Ingrid’s placement reflection

Today we have a guest post from Ingrid who is studying Museum Studies at Newcastle University and recently completed an eight week placement with the museum. Ingrid has been tweeting about it and more at @museumingrid

The work placement is a key part of Museum Studies Masters programmes, and I jumped at the chance to do mine at the People’s History Museum (PHM). I’d first visited the museum in winter 2010, where I had a chuckle at the temporary community exhibition of political Christmas cards and was struck by the contemporary and eye-catching way the museum presented the chronological story of working people in Britain.

My placement has been mostly within the Exhibitions department. I’ve been conducting research into Tailored Trades as part of a newly formed AHRC Network between Northumbria University and the University of Exeter. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to create a display case for their launch event – the case will be in the museum’s processional way museum on 29 June and will include objects highlighting the radical changes in production and consumption of clothing between 1880 and 1939.

paper pattern adverts from Labour WomanI’ve had the pleasure of working with the collections of both PHM and the Working Class Movement Library in Salford and have unearthed incredible treasures such as tailors notebooks from 1907, and these incredible paper pattern adverts from Labour Woman, the Labour Party’s publication for women. They’re so Great Gatsby!

I’ve done so much research into the banner collection at the museum and read so many different records from Tailors Trade Unions that I feel like I was a member myself! The solidarity of trade unions is such an inspiring story and one which is core to the museum’s exhibitions. Tailors trade unions are pretty much the first examples of women being active in trade unions, basically due to the amount of women who happened to work in these trades. The role of working women campaigning for rights and an active voice has been a real theme in my placement which has been an unexpected delight as it’s one close to my heart. This particular project has helped me to develop working knowledge of the exhibition process, I’ve really had to manage my time myself which has been a really useful experience which I’m sure will come in handy.

Food Pamphlet Table DisplayAnother task I was given was to create two small displays for the museum cafe, using material from the archive. I scanned in some eye catching pamphlet covers and newspaper articles and created reproductions to use as table top displays. This was really fun because the museum has some really amazing things in its archive that don’t often see the light of day, so doing this has meant that visitors can enjoy them and the cafe has been brightened up too.

I’ve also been able to experience the early stages of a major changing exhibition, as museum staff have been busily preparing ideas, having meetings and developing designs for the forthcoming exhibition about the Cooperative. I shadowed the Exhibitions Assistant in several visits to the museum’s collections store to photograph potential objects that may be selected for the exhibition. This chance to go truly behind the scenes and put my object handling training into practice was very enjoyable.

Emily Wilding Davison the one who threw herself under the horse a play by Cambridge Devised TheatreAnother one of my highlights has been blogging for the Wonder Women Manchester blog about a series of events at the museum in commemorating the centenary of Emily Wilding Davison’s death. There have been installations, talks and even a play in the museum!

I’ve really loved doing my placement at PHM, it’s gotten better and better and I’ll be sad to leave, thanks to all of the staff for being so supportive to their placement students, I’ve been one of a few in the time I’ve been here. It’s been incredibly varied, possibly due to the nature of my interests and I’ve loved every moment!