We love our history on the Forever Manchester Island and are always on the lookout for new titles. Luckily there is no shortage of books about Manchester in 2009 – on a wide range of subjects.  So far this year these include music (John Robb’s The North Will Rise Again), crime (Alan Hayhurst’s Greater Manchester Murders), the changing urban landscape (Jonathan Schofield’s Manchester – Then and Now) and the colours chosen for our old buses (Michael Eyre’s The Colours of Greater Manchester). So many, in fact, that I have yet to read all of them…
spainSomething that I have read is From Manchester to Spain written by Bernard Barry and published, this month, by the Working Class Movement Library. To my mind this booklet gets under the skin of what moves and motivates Mancunians more than anything else that I have read in a while.  It tells how in the 1930s, at a time of deep recession and unemployment, men and women across Greater Manchester supported the Spanish people in their fight against fascism. The author draws on the Library’s extensive archive and uses original accounts, correspondence and photos to tell the stories of some of the volunteers.


He also deals with the Spanish Aid committees which sprang up in many districts across Greater Manchester to raise money. Apparently, there was a Manchester Foodship for Spain Shop at 40 Deansgate – Pizzeria Italia today.  Three foodships were sent from Manchester.

The booklet deals predominantly with the experiences of Communist Party members and those that volunteered to join the International Brigade. Of 200 volunteers from Greater Manchester, 44 gave their lives and many more were seriously wounded.

One of the notable figures from the Manchester Communist Party to fight in Spain was Sam Wild who was born in Ardwick in 1908 but later lived in Rusholme. One of Manchester’s most curiously located heritage plaques at 57 Birch Hall Lane commemorates Sam Wild, who had been Commander of the British battalion in the International Brigade.

Working Class Movement Library

Working Class Movement Library

From Manchester to Spain is available from the Working Class Movement Library where you will also find a lot more information about the themes that it introduces.  The Library is located on The Crescent, Salford and is open to everyone. 

The staff and volunteers are extremely helpful in finding relevant material from collections that cover 200 years of labour movement history in the British Isles. You can drop-in or contact the Library in advance to arrange a tour.


You can learn more about Sam Wild from an interview with his daughter on the new Manchester’s Radical History website, which promises to be a great online resource.