The Working Class Movement Library is a treasure trove with records of over 200 years of organising and campaigning by ordinary men and women.
Based in a former nurses’ home just a 15 minute walk from Manchester city centre, the Working Class Movement Library is a charity with a social conscience and a fascinating history.
The Library started life in the 1950s as the personal collection of Edmund and Ruth Frow. The founders were proud that their love of books created a unique and valuable resource for people wanting to know more about working people’s lives and political beliefs.
By the 1980s their house was at bursting point and so Salford Council agreed to house the magnificent library in a Victorian building called Jubilee House on the Crescent in Salford. The collection has been here ever since.
The collection captures many points of view to tell the story of Britain’s working classes from the beginning of industrialisation to the present day.
The Library covers everything from working life to political life, to sporting life, to creative life. It’s full of stuff to inspire you to investigate, and to spur you on to participate. It’s free to visit, and there are lots of free events on too – head to the website to find out more.
The Library’s literature holdings, as well as many examples of working class autobiography, poetry and drama from the 19th century onwards, include:
- The archive of Jim Allen, Manchester-born playwright who started to write while working as a miner. Jim was a scriptwriter on Coronation Street and wrote screenplays for socialist director Ken Loach for TV dramas such as Days of Hope and films like Spanish Civil War drama Land and Freedom;
- Material from the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers, which grew as part of a campaign of working class dissent to work for the recognition of working class writing.
- From the field of drama, records and scripts from both the national and the local Manchester troupes of Unity Theatre, as well as material relating to Jimmy Miller (Ewan MacColl).