School kids give Manchester’s alphabet revamp to discover ‘sense of pride’ in home city

Young scribblers have redefined the ABC’s of Manchester with their very own modern take on 20th century work A Manchester Alphabet.

The original A Manchester Alphabet was written in 1906 by Roger Oldham, a member of Manchester’s Royal Society of Architects.

Oldham’s booklet was a charming collection of comic verse and illustrations, which now gives us a real sense of the life, moans and humour of early 20th century Manchester.

It was updated and published by Manchester Writing School’s poetry students last year, who reimagined the quirky poems and drawings to portray present day Manchester.

Now it’s time to see A Manchester Alphabet through the eyes of Manchester’s younger generations.

Children from eight primary schools that are part of Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme have been getting their creative juices flowing, penning their own versions of A Manchester Alphabet.

In a bid to encourage the children to learn about their local history as well as develop their writing skills, they were each given a letter to explore and reflect their very own piece of the city in 2016.

Kate Donnellon from Ladybarn Primary School, who is the Heritage Schools Lead Teacher, said: “There has been a fantastic energy and buzz from the children throughout the project. 

“They loved having ownership of a letter and it all being their own work, many of them did extra work at home.”                   

Heritage Schools have indicated that teaching about local history can be challenging for teachers at times – some may not come from that area, for example, or there is a lack of teaching resources available.

As such, The Manchester Alphabet provides a brilliant channel into the past for Manchester’s young creatives.

“I had to find out about the Aces and Belle Vue,” said a Year 4 pupil from St Richard’s Primary School. 

“It was really interesting so I did some extra research.

“I live really near there so it was fun to find out more about what it was like in the past and today.” 

The culmination of the project will see the children’s work take pride of place in a family-friendly exhibition at Manchester’s People’s History Museum.

Heritage Schools worked together in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University’s Special Collections and the Manchester Writing School to bring the Manchester Alphabet updates to life.

Daisy Horsley, Heritage Schools project Manager for the North West, told MM: “The Manchester Alphabet project has been a fantastic opportunity for the children, not only to develop their literacy and artistic skills, but also to find out about the local history and heritage of their area. 

“They have come to appreciate the buildings, parks and monuments close to where they live and go to school.

“It gives them a sense of pride in where they come from, which is what Heritage Schools is all about.”

The public can enjoy Heritage Schools’ A Manchester Alphabet at the People’s History Museum from March 24 – April 17.  

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