New iPhone app unlocks the Manchester of yesteryear for history buffs

By Claire Holden & Shanna McGoldrick

Manchester History buffs can now take a step back in time using their iPhone thanks to a new interactive app.

The Manchester Time Machine has already seen over 1,000 downloads since its launch yesterday.

The event, held at Visit Manchester on Portland Street, was part of the week-long Manchester Histories Festival that is taking place this week.

The iPhone app uses GPS navigation to pinpoint your location and displays old video footage of that area. The films, which were previously unavailable to the public, date back as early as 1911.

The project is the result of collaboration between Marion Hewitt, of the North West Film Archive, and Professor Steve Hawley, of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Highlights of the app include 80 unique film clips from the North West Film Archive’s collection of over 35,000 items, which reflect people’s lives through work and leisure, places and events, culture and tradition – a regional identity.

It also includes films that depict momentous times that still resonate, such as the bombings and destruction in 1940, and VE Day across the city, alongside almost forgotten events – Paulden’s Department store collapsing in a terrible fire in 1957.

Professor Hawley said: “This is the first app of its kind to combine historical film and GPS. It is really quite amazing.”

The Manchester Time Machine is the first app of its kind, although producers are not ruling out the possibility of applying the concept to other cities such as Liverpool or Leeds.

For more information about Manchester Histories Festival, log onto

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