Guided tour of Victoria Baths

Posted on: November 27th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Discover more about the history and architecture of Victoria Baths: ‘Britain’s finest historic municipal swimming pool’.

The Grade 2 listed building was opened to the public in September 1906 and cost £59,144 to build. In his opening address, the Lord Mayor of Manchester described the building as a “water palace”. For 86 years Victoria Baths provided both essential and leisure facilities. Private baths and a laundry were housed there along with three swimming pools and a Turkish bath.

No expense was spared in the design and construction of the building, Manchester having at that time one of the world’s wealthiest municipal coffers. Many of Victoria Baths’ finest decorative aspects can still be enjoyed today. The facade has multi-coloured brickwork and terracotta decoration, the main interior public spaces are clad in glazed tiles from floor to ceiling and most of the many windows have decorative stained glass.

Whilst the facilities, architecture and unique atmosphere of Victoria Baths was enjoyed by local residents for many years, in 1993 Manchester City Council decided to close the building as they couldn’t justify the expense of keeping them open. A Charitable Trust was formally set up in the same year, with the aim of fully restoring the building and bringing it back into public use.

The Trust took control of the building in 2001 and in September 2003 Victoria Baths won the first series of the BBC’s Restoration programme. It was awarded £3.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a restoration project began in 2007.

Whilst there is still a lot of work to be done, the building now hosts many events and has over 30,000 visitors a year. Join us for this tour to get a insight into Victoria Baths’ past, present and future.


Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance area. The tour will start promptly at 10.00am, so please arrive in good time. Refreshments are available – please see ticket types for further details.

The Human Condition in four dimensions: sculpture at Manchester Art Gallery

Posted on: August 31st, 2023 by mlpEditor

What can we learn about ‘the human condition’ through the artworks in Manchester Art Gallery’s ‘Out of the crate’ exhibition?

The gallery holds an early piece by the modern sculptor, Henry Moore, titled Mother and Child (1925), that will greet us at the start of this tour. This remarkable work seems to contain so much energy within such a restricted space. The emotional bond between mother and child is somehow intensified by the sense of mass and gravity.

Henry Moore said that sculpture was just an interest in shape and form and that anything at all (for example a tree, a cloud or a person) might provide the spark for a creative idea. And it is the extension of this notion that has enabled the frontiers of the genre to expand so that the more contemporary and ground-breaking works in our exhibition can challenge and provoke in the way that they do.

Perhaps it is because sculptures seem to occupy a similar space to ourselves that we find them so imposing. But how much do they reveal of the artists behind them and how well do they illuminate the joy and pain of human existence?

Join volunteer tour guide John Ward in an exploration of some of Manchester Art Gallery’s most thought-provoking sculptures.

Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance of the gallery. The tour will start promptly at 2.00pm, so please arrive in good time.

Conversations through time: Historic and Contemporary Art

Posted on: August 21st, 2023 by mlpEditor

How do Historic and Contemporary Art speak to one another at Manchester Art Gallery?

One of the most exciting things about the display of art at Manchester Art Gallery in 2023 is the cutting-edge contemporary pieces living in the immediate presence of dreamy seventeenth century landscapes, Dutch Golden Age portraits and world-famous Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces. How do these vastly different pieces relate to each other?

Take the example in the illustration here: on the left, a detail from George Stubb’s The Cheetah and a Stag with Two Indian Attendants painted about 1764; on the right, a detail of 14/73 by Jeremy Moon (painted in 1973). The one draws upon the deep well of age-old human experience. The other operates on the very frontiers of the unknown. But are these paintings so very different from one another?

Few subjects divide public opinion in the way that contemporary art does. But we are also reminded that a relentless creative impulse has always driven artists to explore alternative worlds in which they can then provoke, challenge and question. This is equally true of these two very different artists, George Stubbs and Jeremy Moon. Their works will begin the tour.

Earlier this year, novelist and critic Sarah Dunant spoke on Radio 4 of how when “the past is speaking to the present, it can be a rich conversation”. Join gallery Guide John Ward as we put this observation to the test, by taking several different journeys back and forth across the centuries.

Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance of the gallery. The tour will start promptly at 2.00pm, so please arrive in good time.

Guided walk – Manchester and Slavery: abolitionists and manufacturers

Posted on: August 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Explore the contradictions of the eighteenth and nineteenth century city of Manchester with regard to slavery.

This walking tour looks at how Manchester and the slave trade were linked – and complements the recent publication of the UCLan report, ‘The Manchester Lit & Phil and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1780-1865.

The tour passes sites associated with abolitionists determined to remove the stain of chattel slavery, and other locations where slave-picked cotton was used by manufacturers – some of whom were also abolitionists. It examines the contradictions of the eighteenth and nineteenth century city of Manchester with regard to slavery.

During the tour, stories of key individuals will be shared. These people include the Heywood and Gregg families, Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Percival (co-founder of the Lit & Phil), John Edward Taylor, John Bright, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Gaskell, Abel Heywood, William Andrew Jackson, amongst many others.

Key moments of the tour will include:

– the Thomas Clarkson speech which led to the first abolition petition from any British town or city in 1788

the foundation of the Manchester Guardian in 1821

– confusion over the ship on the Manchester coat of arms granted in 1842

the visit of Frederick Douglass in 1846

– the pro-Union city during the American Civil war in the early 1860s

Tour guide Jonathan Schofield’s commentary will be lively with a clear narrative, guaranteed.


Good to know: The walk will start at 2.30pm and finish around 4.30pm at the latest. We will meet outside Manchester Cathedral. Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the walk start time. The walk will finish at the Edwardian Hotel (formerly the Free Trade Hall).

Mushroom forage with wild gin at Fletcher Moss Park

Posted on: August 7th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Join us for this foraging tour to explore fascinating Fungi. Each species has its role and its special connection and purpose in its habitat. There’s lots to learn, including how to identify mushroom species.

The tour will begin with a taste of wild gin made from foraged delights. Suitably fortified, and with staff and baskets in hand, we will then head off into the woods to see what we can find.

By the end of the session, you should be able to confidently identify two or three species of mushroom that we have focused on, depending on what is coming up on the day. If we find enough edible species, we will be able to have a fry up at the end and sample our foraged delights!


Good to know:

The foraging tour will start at 10.00am. We will meet at the entrance to the park on Stenner Lane, by the Didsbury pub.

Getting there:

Bus numbers 23, 42, 42A, 157 and X57 all stop near the entrance to the park. Tram stops Didsbury Village or Didsbury East are about 7 minutes’ walk away.

Great Expectations – at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Posted on: August 3rd, 2023 by mlpEditor

Come along to the Theatre Group’s visit to ‘Great Expectations’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

From the Royal Exchange’s website:

This adaptation of a classic by Tanika Gupta is just pure genius. You’ll get to see the familiar Dickens framework, but it comes with a twist.

All my life they looked down on me, always cursing and abusing. But you, you will be different!

Bengal, 1903. Rumours that the British Empire plans to partition Bengal spread and uncertainty is never far away. For one Indian boy destiny is found on the banks of the River Padma before the Goddess Lakshmi. Here a promise is made. Born out of terror or kindness the choice Pipli makes that night will shape his life forever.

Pooja Ghai directs Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Pipli moves from his home in Rajshahi to the bustling streets of Calcutta. With an open heart he navigates unforgiving darkness and unsettling friendships in his search for a better future. For Pipli, dharma – the right way of living, is never far away.


Lit & Phil members and friends are invited to book their seats directly with the theatre for the 2.30 pm matinee performance on the 20th September.

There will also be a post-theatre meal at Cote Brasserie in Manchester at 5.30 pm. This will be an opportunity to share our views about the play in a relaxed atmosphere.

Please email the organiser, Joanna Lavelle, via the button above if you would like further information or if you would like to join us.


Good to know: There will be an online pre-event discussion led by Dr Manju Bhavnani before the play on Tuesday 12th September at 6.30 pm via BlueJeans and an online post-event discussion on Tuesday 25th September at 6.30pm. Email the organiser via the button above for signing in details.

If you can’t go to the theatre on September 20th, you can still join in the pre-event discussion on September 12th and/or the post event discussion on September 25th.

Bat Walk at Broadhurst Park Local Nature Reserve

Posted on: July 18th, 2023 by mlpEditor

**New date**

Join us for this evening outdoor walk to meet the bats of Broadhurst Park, delivered in partnership with the Friends of Broadhurst Park Community Group. Bats have a vital role in ecology but are increasingly endangered. Broadhurst Park is one of the best places in Manchester to encounter them!

The Bat Walk will start with an introduction to these fascinating creatures and the equipment we will be using to detect them through their echolocation frequencies. We will then take a leisurely walk around the park, with the hope that we will see the bats just after sunset; the time when they start flying.

Good to know:

The walk will start at 6.30pm and finish at 8.00pm at the latest, to give us the best chance of seeing these captivating creatures.

Temperatures can drop at night so please remember to wrap up warmly. If you can bring a torch, that would be helpful, but is not essential.

We will meet at the St Mary’s Rd entrance to the park (close to the St Mary’s Rd/Joyce St. junction) the blue gate by the side of St Mary’s Nursing Home, Moston, Manchester M40 0BL.

Getting there:

Broadhurst Park is about ten minutes’ drive from the centre of Manchester and 10 minutes from the M60 (Junctions 21 and 22). There is plenty of street parking near the site (on Joyce St., round the corner).

Bus numbers 181,182 and 52 pass down St Mary’s Rd. Newton Heath and Moston Metrolink station is about 5 minutes’ walk away.

Visit to International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Posted on: May 22nd, 2023 by mlpEditor

Anthony Burgess (1917-1993) was quite the polymath! He was a novelist, poet, playwright, linguist, translator and critic. And a talented and prolific composer who wrote over 250 musical works during a compositional career that spanned more than 60 years.

Join us for a tour of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester to find out more about his exceptional life and works.

The Foundation’s staff will introduce Burgess’ work and members will have the opportunity to see a selection of objects from the archive – which includes books, music and papers.

The visit will last approximately 2 hours. Tea/coffee will be provided.

Good to know: Places are very limited so book soon to avoid disappointment.


About the International Anthony Burgess Foundation

The Foundation encourages and supports public and scholarly interest in all aspects of the life and work of Anthony Burgess. Based in Manchester city centre, on Cambridge Street, they have an extensive library, archive and study centre containing Burgess’s books, music and papers. There is also a performance venue where new work by writers, artists and musicians is presented.

Established in 2003 by Liana Burgess (1929-2007), the Anthony Burgess Foundation is an independent educational charity which welcomes all individuals and institutions interested in Burgess’s work.


Guided tour of RHS Garden Bridgewater

Posted on: May 15th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Nature has sprung back into life and Manchester is blooming! We’re celebrating by offering members and their guests a private tour of RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford.

RHS Bridgewater officially opened in May 2021, after 6 years of planning. The site was originally developed in 1840 when Worsley New Hall was created, along with magnificent formal gardens, and is 154 acres in size.

Once visited by Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, the Hall survived a fire and two World Wars before it was demolished in the 1940s, with the gardens succumbing to Nature. Today the RHS master plan for Bridgewater is to embrace the site’s heritage while also giving it a future.

The tour – which will inspire gardeners and non-gardeners alike – lasts 1 hour, after which you can visit one of their three cafes, which serve a huge variety of tasty food (cost not included).

The ticket price of £13.50 includes admission to the site (usually £12.35) and the tour.

There is a separate ticket type for existing RHS members (who do not need to pay admission).

Booking is open to Lit and Phil members and their guests and this event should make for a wonderful afternoon in the great outdoors.

Good to know: You will need to make your own way there. Visit their website for more information on visiting the site.

No Pay? No Way! – at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Posted on: May 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Come along to the Manchester Lit & Phil’s Theatre Group visit to the UK Premier of Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s play ‘No Pay? No Way!’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

The play was a smash hit at Sydney Opera House in February 2020. The Royal Exchange production is described as “a ferocious and feisty political comedy” and “an urgent exploration of our global and economic reality.”

‘No Pay? No Way!’ has received numerous rave reviews, including:

“Funny? There has to be a stronger word? Funny? If I wasn’t sitting down, I’d have fallen over. I mean, at one point I was crying.” Sydney Morning Herald

★★★★★ “A complete joy to watch… Liberation takes many forms in this stellar offering which contorts riotously for two hours to hit the frontal lobe along with the funny bone.” ArtsHub

Members and friends are invited to book their seats directly with the theatre for the matinee performance (2.30pm) on the 20th May. Visit the theatre’s website to book your ticket(s).

As part of this event there will also be an informal post-theatre meal. If members and friends would like to reserve a place for the meal, please contact the organiser, including a note if you have particular access requirements (as this may influence the choice of venue).

Good to know: Members and guests who register for the event will receive briefing notes before the visit. There will also be an on-line discussion on May 22nd at 6.30pm, led by Professor Tony Jackson. See details below.

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our e-newsletter to receive exclusive content and all the latest Lit & Phil news

* indicates required