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Great Days Out
Great Days Out
Hidden Tours Guide

HIDDEN MANCHESTER (part 7)

Chetham's School south gate & tourist signsClose by the Cathedral is the Victoria Bridge opened by Queen Victoria in the late 1830s. The Times reported how, "Her Majesty passed over the bridge and duly declared it open." The cheeky chappy who did the type setting is reported to have lost his job when he just couldn't resist changing the 'a' in "passed" to an 'i'.

North of the Cathedral, before Victoria Station, is that greatest of all Manchester secrets, Chetham's School of Music and Chetham's Library.

Here in the world's first industrial metropolis is a dream of Merry England. The best way to experience this dream is via the free Wednesday termtime and lunchtime concert and tour.

The school polishes the talents of prodigies from age seven to university and has a superb reputation. The library is the oldest public library in Britain, dating from a charitable bequest of the 1650's by Sir Humphrey Chetham, the man we met on the side of the Town Hall wall. The buildings are much earlier, being the gift of the other man we met up there, Thomas de la Warr, as accommodation for his college of priests in the 1420's.

The library can be visited any time during the week from 9.30 - 4.30 but ring ahead to check on lunchtime closing.

It is a stunning building full of long rows of tall shelves, crammed with books and divided by long corridors of plain oak floorboards.

In the reading room there is wonderful wooden sculpted wall showing the Chetham court of arms and symbolic animals. Some of the supports are carved in the shape of books.

The table in the bay window has played host to many readers and has been shared by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as they discussed the imminent rising of the proletariat.




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