The forthcoming 'Dig Greater Manchester' lecture by Dr Mike Nevell on Thursday 14th March 2019 at the MCC will look at the aim, scope and outcomes of this community archaeology project; which ran from 2011 to 2017 and involved excavating eleven sites in Greater Manchester, ranging from textile mills and workers' housing to owners' houses and a cavalry barracks.
We in the office are especially looking forward to this archaeology-themed lecture as we recently heard a rather unusual story concerning the rediscovery of the John Dalton Bronze Bust...
Sir Henry Roscoe commissioned a bust of John Dalton from a noted sculptress Ruby Winifred Levick and presented it as a gift to the Society in 1903. It was displayed in the Society's House at 36 George Street until the fateful night in December 1940 when, during the Blitz, the building was burned to the ground and the bust presumed lost.
Twenty years later, a new home for the Lit and Phil was erected on the same site on George Street. It was, unfortunately, constructed with high-alumina cement and suffered what was popularly known as "concrete cancer". By 1980, the building was beyond repair and the site was sold to French Kier Property Investments who demolished it. It was while deep foundations were being dug for an office block that the excavator hit an object that was soon identified as the lost bronze. It had suffered some damage and the developers made an extremely generous gesture, paying for its restoration by Phoebe Clements of Leeds City Art Gallery. The restored bust was re-presented to the Society in November 1981 at what was appreciatively described in the Annual Report as "a quite splendid lunch" at the Hotel Piccadilly.
In subsequent years, it was displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry. It has now been returned to the Society's current premises where it keeps the office staff company.
We look forward to seeing you at this week's event!