Manchester Weekender Guided Walk & Film: What is a City but the People?

Susie Stubbs

Discover the modernist dreams of post-war Manchester in a fascinating guided walk and archive film screening – presented by Manchester Modernist Society and the North West Film Archive.

A City Speaks, a 1947 documentary produced by Paul Rotha, was Manchester City Council’s post-war announcement for its reconstruction of the bombed city. It was a cinematic vision designed to inspire confidence and hope in a brighter future. Today, it offers us the sights and sounds of Manchester of over sixty years ago, from the grim slums of Hulme to the leafy streets of Wythenshawe, and from heavy industry to the fun of the fair at Belle Vue. With incredible aerial shots of the city, it’s an evocative glimpse of people in a post-war past that will fascinate Mancunians and visitors alike. Also on the billing is a short from the BBC North West collection, which shows the opening of New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road in 1977 – right opposite the Art Deco Dancehouse (itself a former cinema and BBC television studio) and now just a rubble-strewn car park.

But that’s not all: before the screening, our friends at the Manchester Modernist Society lead a guided architectural walk through the 20th century city, from the white heat of technology that once burned bright at the UMIST campus to the love-it-or-hate-it concrete structure of the Mancunian Way, via the various ideas (good and bad) proposed for the University’s Oxford Road precinct. Walk and watch, or take one or the other: either way, this is a fascinating glimpse into the modernist dreaming of a post-war city. The screening is presented by the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University. Walk: Meet at Vimto Statue, Granby Row, off Sackville Street, M60 1QD, 10am-12pm, Saturday 12 October, £4. Screening: The Dancehouse, 10A Oxford Road, M1 5QA, 12.30pm for 1pm, Saturday 12 October, £3. Walk + screening: buy tickets for both for just £6.

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