Ten best places to teach your kids (and yourself) a thing or two about history in Manchester - for free
As part of a new series every week Manchester World will be bringing you the best places to sleep, eat and play on a budget
and live on Freeview channel 276
Sure, there’s a cost of living crisis and it’s making most of Manchester miserable - but here at Manchester World we don’t believe that has to stop people from having some fun for free.
Manchester is home to tons of things to do that cost very little - if not, nothing at all - and we are happy to seek out the best the city has to offer, so you don’t have to.
This week, we are kicking off with a round up the best educational freebies where kids and adults alike can learn a thing or two, while enjoying a great day out. Enjoy!
Manchester’s Northern Quarter is home to the fabulous Greater Manchester Police Museum. Housed in a former Victorian police station, with resplendent bright blue front doors, you’ll be able to wander around fascinating displays of police uniforms and transport, stand in the dock in a courtroom and experience the creepy feeling of being in a real Victorian cell. Open on Tuesdays and additional days in school holidays.
The former home of Manchester born political activist Emmeline Pankhurst on Nelson Street is now the Pankhurst Centre. It was here that Pankhurst held the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union in 190, who became the suffragettes. You can physically stand in the parlour where the women met. A permanent exhibition, At Home with the Pankhurst Family, will tell you all about the family as well as the famous Votes for Women campaign. The museum is open on Thursdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. Also, wander over to St Peter’s Square to see a statue in Pankhurst’s honour.
Budding little scientists will love the Science and Industry Museum. Inside you can immerse yourself in 250 years of fascinating ideas that started life in Manchester. There’s fun to be had in the family-friendly Experiment Gallery and the Textiles Gallery, with historic working mill machinery, where you can learn how the cotton industry transformed Manchester.
Enjoy a trip to Manchester Art Gallery’s grade I listed building and look around its many galleries. A famous collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and famed Manchester artist Lowry’s art as well as those by Lowry’s teacher, the French impressionist Valette are on the first floor. There are multiple, changing exhibitions looking at elements of modern society as well as a fun Lion’s Den area for families with table tennis, art materials and different events on offer.
The uber cool MediaCity is home to the BBC and ITV. Head to the attractive Salford Quays to find some fantastic free educational attractions. One of the largest collections of LS Lowry’s work is in The Lowry arts centre, while over a curved footbridge there is the Imperial War Museum North and here you can learn stirring stories of war through multimedia installations.
Head to the People’s History Museum, to hear the stories of people who’ve fought for freedom and a fair society. Here you can step into the shoes of an asylum seeker or economic migrant on its Passport Trail. On display is the navy jacket that mayor Andy Burnham wore when he made an impassioned plea to the government to support Manchester as it faced some of the harshest restrictions during the Covid pandemic.
The 600 year old Manchester Cathedral has a breathtaking gothic structure and dazzling stained glass, the widest medieval nave in England and intricately carved stone and woodwork — have fun looking for carvings such as two kangaroos on the bishop’s chair and a small sandstone carving of an angel with a scroll, which is believed to date back to Anglo-Saxon times. Hidden on the back of the red choir stalls are 22 small, beautifully crafted, bees in memory of the 22 who died in the Manchester Arena when it was bombed in 2017.
Fun fact: There are six beehives on the cathedral’s roof and you can buy its Heavenly Honey.
On a sunny day, simply take a stroll around Manchester’s urban Northern Quarter - home to some of the city’s best street art. In the last couple of years Manchester has been treated to a mural of Harpurhey born author Anthony Burgess, who wrote A Clockwork Orange, a mural of Sir Captain Tom painted on the corner of Thomas Street and even musical artists such as Prince or Manchester’s own musical legends like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis. They are ever changing so have fun spotting the art and educating yourself on the history behind the person painted.
If you want to be informed on a ton of Manchester history then why not join the Free Manchester Walking Tours. Guided tours are run daily at 11am from the Alan Turing Memorial in Sackville Park with no need to book. The tour will take you to some of the city’s iconic sights as well as revealing some of the lesser known ones and you will be given the low down by a knowledgeable Mancunian.