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A Map of the City of Manchester in the year of its first Civic Week, A.D.1926

  • Author: 'W.M' (Artist)
  • Publisher: The Manchester Guardian, Manchester
  • Date: 1926
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 60.5 x 43 cms / Map image: 58 x 39.5 cms


Rarely seen pictorial map of Manchester published in 1926 by the local Guardian newspaper to celebrate the City’s first Civic Week

About this piece:

Title: A Map of the City of Manchester in the year of its first Civic Week, A.D.1926 in which are seen its Principal Street & Quays, Its Public Buildings and Common Lands and the ample means provided by its City Fathers whereby the Citizens may transport themselves in public vehicles. Published by the “Manchester Guardian” Newspaper in the 106th Year of its life.

Signature (l.l): W.M. 1926

Sheet: 60.5 x 43 cms. Map image: 58 x 39.5 cms. Colour process print published as a centrefold spread for the Guardian’s special Civic Week Supplement dated October 2nd 1926. Some infilling to old staple holes on central fold. Reinforcement of lower centrefold split mainly affecting outer blank margin. Verso of sheet now entirely backed with museum-quality archival tissue for better preservation & presentation.

A rarely seen and attractively designed pictorial map of the City of Manchester published by the local Manchester Guardian newspaper to commemorate the City’s first ever Civic Week celebrations in Oct 1926. The map was designed by the clearly talented but still-to-be-identified artist who has inscribed the map with just his initials, “W.M.”, in the lower left corner. It is probable he was one of the Guardian‘s in-house artists or illustrators.

The Manchester Corporation saw the 1926 Civic Week as an opportunity to revise perceptions of the City both by the outside World and its own citizens and to highlight its commercial dynamism and revitalised sense of urban pride & identity. Equally through Civic Week’s wide range of activities and events – celebratory parades & processions, two large pageants, local factory visits, guided tours of the City’s principal public buildings & the Guardian-sponsored Textile Exhibition at Belle Vue – the City fathers sought to underscore the vital importance of active community participation & involvement in the day-to-day affairs and life of the City.

The map extends from Heaton Park in the North to Platt Fields in the South and from Barton Aquaduct & Trafford Park in the West to Broadhurst Park, Phillips Park, Gorton Lane & Sunny Brow Park in the East.  The City’s Industrial heart at Trafford Park with the Bridgewater & Ship Canals and Docks are visible on the left. The two Manchester Football team stadiums and County Cricket ground are highlighted, along with the main public parks and green spaces. The campus of the Victoria University can be seen lower centre, adjacent to the City’s Royal Infirmary.  The principal civic buildings are identified and much attention given to the power & transport infrastructure with gasometers, electricity stations, aircraft factories, local railway lines & stations marked with trains bringing visitors from as far afield as Yorkshire & Bolton. On the left George Stephenson’s ghost can be seen on the footplate of the 1829 Rocket locomotive, heading west on the Liverpool to Manchester Railway. The  City tram routes are highlighted, a visually striking web of pink connections along the City’s principal thoroughfares, all cross-referenced to a numbered key in the top left. The offices of the Manchester Guardian, also highlighted in pink, are marked centrally beside the Town HallAt the very top of the map, the assembled cast of the Civic Week Historical Pageant, some 2000 in number and auditioned from different districts and neighbourhoods across the City, can be seen preparing for their performance in the adjacent Heaton Park. The Pagaent attracted an estimated crowd of almost 100000 to its first performance. Its second performance was a washout & unfortunately attracted a crowd of only 5000 of the hardiest locals ready to brave the weather.

In each of the four corners are the coats of arms of the City itself, the Diocese of Manchester, The University and The Grammar School.  Interesting historical notes and amusing vignettes abound, including the two Boy Scouts who prize apart a pair of dividers on the Map’s scale lower right with the words “We must be prepared to see the map id right…” whilst the figure of the local schoolmaster stands in the lower right corner and extolls to his attentive student: “Observe my child what a wonderful City, is it not Unique?”

This map may not be unique but it is certainly rather scarce. We have been able to locate only one other example in the holdings of the Library of the University of Manchester.

Refs: University of Manchester Library