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Radicals News 2016

Radicals News 2016

December 2016 - A Radical Winter!

We’re delighted to announce the following Radical Heroes have been sponsored in the last two months:

Barbara CastleBarbara Castle has been sponsored by Leigh Day Solicitors, in recognition of her role in passing the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

Paul Robeson has been sponsored by Susie Orbach, who said of her choice:  ‘Our fight is international and Paul fought for us all.  He paid a heavy price for what he tried to do and he should be honoured for it.’

Robert Owen has been collectively sponsored by the Co-op Members’ Council, via a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Alf Dubs, has been sponsored by PHM Trustee Steve Bassam.  Dubs was a refugee from Prague during the 1930s, and has been integral to changes made to the Immigration Act. Steve nominated Alf as his own Radical Hero, and presented him with a certificate for the sponsorship on his 84th birthday!

If you would like to sponsor one of our many Radical Heroes – or nominate your own – please do get in touch with the team on

November 2016 – Radical Roll CallJoin the Radicals leaflet

The Join the Radicals campaign has been running for two years now, with great success.  As the list of Radical Heroes is constantly changing and evolving, we decided that the Radicals brand needed an update too!

We worked with the talented designers The Office of Craig Oldham to create our leaflets, where the names of our Radical Heroes are listed.  The roundels on the front cover are filled with a variety of people who have fought some of the bravest and most important battles for social justice and equality, both historically and in the present day.

Who’s your favourite Radical?  Can you name all the famous faces on the leaflet?  Tweet us with your answers to @phmmcr!

You can Join the Radicals by picking up one of these leaflets in the museum, or via the Support Us pages onour website.

October 2016 – Ideas Worth Fighting For exhibition

17 – 23 October 2016, Ideas Worth Fighting For @ People's History MuseumOn Monday 17 October, the Ideas Worth Fighting For exhibition opened, bringing together the work of twelve of the country’s leading artists and designers for an exhibition of new work featuring prints, paintings, installations, banners and more.  Each of the contributing artists have created work especially for the exhibition, or donated a piece that provides a unique and personal view of something that they believe in and feel strongly about.

17 – 23 October 2016, Ideas Worth Fighting For @ People's History Museum © Rob Ryan

The exhibition was co-curated by Radical Sponsor Laura Harper, who sponsored William Wilberforce as her Radical Hero.  Laura believes ‘the museum is one of the most important museums in the country as it charts the battle for the ballot and recognises the people to whom we owe a great historic debt.  Of course, life must be lived looking forwards, but it can only be understood in a historical context which is why our museums, and particularly the People’s History Museum, are so important.’

Of Ideas Worth Fighting For, Laura says, ‘After becoming a patron I wanted to do something more to help.  My job with businesses and professionals in the creative industries means that I work with some of the country’s leading artists and designers.  I have been fortunate to meet some incredible artists during my career who I was able to approach to help with the idea of this event.  The response was overwhelming and the result is this incredible exhibition.’

The exhibition will be open until Sunday 23 October, giving you the opportunity to view the work of the following artists:

  • Mark Beaumont
  • Mary Branson
  • Claudia Clare
  • Malcolm Garrett
  • Craig Oldham
  • Rob Ryan
  • Stewy
  • Supermundane
  • Mackenzie Thorpe
  • Unusual
  • Humberto Velez
  • Marcus Walters

August 2016 – Peterloo & Mary FildesDepiction of the Massacre at Peterloo

On 16 August, we will remember and commemorate the 197th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, where 18 men, women and children were killed during a peaceful protest for political reform and against the Anti-Corn Laws.  The tragedy became the foundation of radicalism in Manchester, as the city continued to be the heart of the struggle for reform and social justice.  The stories of Peterloo are often shared at the People’s History Museum, including the story of Mary Fildes.

Mary Fildes remains an unsponsored PHM Radical Hero, despite being one of the most radical women of her time.  Born in Manchester, she was a key figure in the formation of the Manchester Women’s Reform Group, so much so that on the day of the meeting at St Peter’s Fields, Mary travelled in the carriage of noted reformist and speaker Henry Hunt, before being invited onto the platform herself (this was a century before the suffragettes won the vote for women – pretty radical of her to be taking part in political reform so early!).  According to eye witness reports, the yeomanry attempted to seriously injure her during the attack; her escape was disrupted when her dress caught on a nail as she jumped from the stage, and she was ‘slashed across the body’.

Mary escaped and went on to form the Female Political Union of the Working Classes, and became an active advocate of the Chartist movement.  She never gave up the fight for reform, freedom, and justice.

Honour Mary this month alongside the Peterloo victims and survivors – support the People’s History Museum and help us continue to tell their stories.

  • Visit Main Gallery One to find out more about Peterloo, where you’ll find some of the objects that have survived the event
  • Check out August’s Shop Item of the Month to discover more about Peterloo

July 2016 – Radical Lessons! 

Join the Radicals is now at the foundation of everything we do at the museum – the generous support of our members allows us to continue telling the story of the Radical Heroes and ideas worth fighting for!  We offer numerous ways for community members to learn more about the Radicals and their stories.  In a guest post, volunteer Kate describes her experience of Radicals within the Learning Department.

Living History - The Hard Way Up @ People's History MuseumThe Learning Department presents guided gallery tours, interactive children’s story sessions, and Living History performances.  In one of the Living History performances offered, an actor portrays one of the museum’s Radicals Heroes, Hannah Mitchell, a local working class suffragette.  This unique performance compels the audience to experience Hannah’s own thoughts and background based on her autobiography, The Hard Way Up.  Audience members learn about the development of Hannah’s radical roots through the personal story of Hannah’s hardships growing up and her development as a political activist.

In the performance, the actor recounts how Hannah had courageously fought for the right to vote.  The audience joins in Hannah’s protest by waving banners and shouting ‘Votes for Women’, creating an atmosphere of an active protest.  As the story develops, it is revealed that Hannah is sentenced to prison as a result of her involvement in the protest.  The consequences of Hannah’s courageous act become even more tangible as the actor shared the description of her hardships in prison.

This interactive and engaging performance brings to life Radical Heroes in a unique way.  The audience hears the hero’s own thoughts and beliefs.  Importantly, this event compels audience members to reflect on how they would act during these historic circumstances; would they have supported the votes for women cause?’

  • Find out more about the Learning Programme and other Living History performances available.

June 2016 – An Audience with Betty Tebbs

At the People’s History Museum, we celebrate the stories of ordinary people who have gone down in history as revolutionaries.  Chartists, suffragettes, abolitionists… they have all played a massive part in changing the world that we live in.  These are the Radicals who have made our Heroes list – though not all of them are in the past.  The fight didn’t stop when women got the vote or the Tolpuddle Martyrs came back from Australia.  People are still fighting everyday for a better, fairer world, and these people belong on the list of Heroes just as much as those who made changes 100 years ago.  We welcomed a very special Radical Hero to the museum on the evening of Thursday 9 June – a singular lady named Betty Tebbs.

PHM Radical Hero, Betty TebbsTo say that 98 year old Betty Tebbs has been quietly changing the world we live in for 84 years would be wrong – Betty Tebbs has never done anything quietly.  We welcomed Betty to the museum to share the stories of her incredible, active life, and the fight for social justice that she has never given up on.  One of the things Betty first asked the PHM team when we decided to invite her to become a Radical Hero was ‘why now?’.  To her, her life of fighting for peace and for the rights and freedom of women all over the world has just been the norm, and though she has never got on with it ‘quietly’, she has always just got on with it – which makes her even more special.

She said as her closing statement: ‘What’s the point in having a voice if you’re not going to use it?’  Betty used her voice to help women get equal pay.  She has used it at Geneva peace talks between Russia and the USA.  She has used it to stand up for women all over the world.  She has used it to protest against cuts, to protest against austerity, and to fight against Trident.  She continues to school younger generations on the importance of activism, and campaigning.  She has used her voice to become a champion against social inequality, and she will continue to do so.

So let’s all use our voices!  Let’s vote.  Let’s campaign.  Let’s protest.  If Betty has taught us one thing, it’s that if you want to see change, be the person who makes that change happen.  An unquestionable Radical Hero, Betty was more than deserving of her standing ovation.

Betty is still unsponsored.  Find out how you can Join the Radicals and support the museum, helping us to share more incredible stories like Betty’s.

May 2016 – Museum and Heritage Awards 2016

PHM Highly Commended at Museums + Heritage Awards 2016The Radicals campaign was nominated for Fundraiser of the Year at the recent Museums + Heritage Awards, and though sadly we didn’t win, we came second with Highly Commended!  We’re thrilled with this and would like to offer a massive congratulations to the Biggar Museum Trust, who were thoroughly deserving of the prize.

PHM’s Head of Business Development Janneke Geene attended the glittering awards ceremony at 8 Northumberland, and made the following statement:

‘The People’s History Museum is about ideas worth fighting for and our Radical Heroes Campaign shows how much people value the Radical Heroes, the real flesh and blood women and men, who fought for and still fight for these ideas.  We’ve realised that our campaign appeals to the widest range of people: from the person who sponsored a Radical Hero as a Christmas gift to his partner, to the parents who are sponsoring a Radical Hero as an inspiration for their children as they grow up.  From the politician sponsoring the person who inspired their whole working life to the journalist paying tribute to a world-changing figure.

It turns out this scheme speaks to all our imaginations: it gives a concrete way to honour those who have fought for justice, equality, rights and democracy, in different settings, in different ages, then and now.  This is the power of the scheme: it speaks to all who can see that the world as we know it, with the right to vote for you and me, paid holidays and a world class NHS is the result of the relentless efforts of many radical people.  Through the Radical Heroes scheme we celebrate two people each time: the Radical Hero who fought for the ideas and rights we hold dear and the Radical Sponsor who invests in the museum by honouring their Hero.’

A great success for the Radicals and the museum!

April 2016 – Radical Reception

‘I’m very proud to have been asked to speak on the subject of the People’s History Museum, now so splendidly established in Manchester, a museum full of traditions and examples of the best in British working class culture – in its inventiveness, its principles, its variety and determination.’

Lord Melvyn BraggMelvyn Bragg opened the Radical Reception at the House of Commons with these stirring words.  In an uncertain time of arts cuts and funding issues, Melvyn’s speech helped to remember why the People’s History Museum is so significant in today’s society – we work extremely hard to preserve the history and the stories of the Radical men, women, movements, protests, events and organisations that have shaped our history and the fight for equality.Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn

On 12 April 2016, we celebrated these achievements at the House of Commons, where we hosted a Radical Reception to say thank you to all of our Sponsors and Patrons who have supported us over the years!  The event was a huge success, and five new sponsors pledged to join the Radicals – including Melvyn Bragg, Baroness Jan Royall (our new Chair of Trustees) and Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. We made even more people aware of our collections and the important work that we do here at the museum.

Jeremy Corbyn made an important appeal on the night, encouraging support for the museum and for people to donate their collections to the museum: ‘We all have important bits of history in our desks, in our offices – I make an appeal now, please give it to the People’s History Museum.’

We were treated to a fantastic Living History performance of William Cuffay’s life, performed by one of our brilliant actors Alex Lawler, a performance which, following inspirational speeches from Melvyn Bragg and Jeremy Corbyn, brought the story of the Radicals to life.

March 2016 – A Radical Visit

Jeremy Corbyn visiting the Labour History Archive & Study Centre @ People's History MuseumOn 17 March 2016, Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn visited the museum.

Jeremy has been the MP for Islington North since 1983, and has always been an outspoken advocate for social equality and justice.  Jeremy came and visited our archives, re-visiting many of the campaigns and protests he has been involved with.

Now the leader of the Labour Party, he continually splits public opinion on his strong views.

LGBT History Month

February is LGBT History Month, and here at the People’s History Museum, we’ve been celebrating the stories of all the Radicals who have Never Going Underground t-shirt, 1988campaigned for LGBT rights over the years.  Our list of 100 Radical Heroes features prominent LGBT campaigners such as Leo Abse, Peter Tatchell and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.  Who is your LGBT Radical Hero? Share your thoughts on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!

Would you like to sponsor an LGBT Radical Hero and help the museum preserve our amazing collection of LGBT History?  Email for more details.  We would love to get LGSM hero Mark Ashton on the list, if we can find him a sponsor! 

February 2016

Back in August, one of our sponsors, John Nicholson, talked about Friedrich Engels and why he had chosen to sponsor him.  Now, Nigel Taylor, sponsor of politician Tony Benn, tells us why he chose Benn as his Radical Hero.  Nigel joined the Radicals campaign back in June 2015, and has since been an incredible, vocal, and active advocate of the museum.

Why did you choose to sponsor a Radical Hero?
I have a degree in history but my career wasn’t related to this; history was always my passion, and when I retired, I thought that it was the right time to start pursuing my interests more.  I’d always known about the museum but had never visited; when I first walked in and met the team, I knew I wanted to be part of it.  I also support the museum; having set up and worked for different charities, I understand the struggle.  I consider it a privilege to help.

Why did you choose to sponsor Tony Benn in particular?
When I was younger, Tony Benn used to be on Any Questions all the time, on Radio 4.  My dad used to say: ‘Listen to him, he makes sense.’  So I did, and always have done.  My dad was right – Tony was a very different type of politician at a time when Macmillan and Churchill had been in power.  He was always fighting for what seemed to me to be the important issues of the day.  As Postmaster General, he revolutionised the Post Office in 18 months: he got the workers a massive pay rise, he introduced celebrations of art and science to stamps, and he introduced the trimphone and used answering machines before anyone else knew what they were for.  He got a few things wrong, but always fought against his status and media invention as ‘the most hated man in Britain’.  I was fortunate to meet him and told him how much I admired him.  He told me the older he was getting the more Radical he was becoming.  I told him that one day I’d study all the things he’d done, and he put his arm round me and said: ‘thank you so much.’  Now, with the People’s History Museum, I can do it.

If you could nominate another Radical Hero, who would it be?
There are so many.  Perhaps William Wilberforce, as he was the first blind MP.  Peter Shore, as he was great friends with Benn and an extremely complex character, but a fascinating thinker.  Aneurin  Bevan too, as was so much more than the NHS which many people don’t know.  I’m currently reading up on Keir Hardie - he was such an interesting figure (and not sponsored yet!).

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