Manchester City Council

The Council & democracy Town Hall murals by Ford Madox Brown

The twelve murals

Bradshaw's Defence of Manchester
During the Civil War Manchester was laid under siege when Royalist troops, led by Lord Strange, surrounded the town (it was Colonel Rosworm - not Bradshaw - who defended the town).

Chetham's Life's Dream
Humphrey Chetham was a wealthy Manchester merchant, whose life's dream was the foundation of a school for the education of poor boys. He is represented studying his will and imagining the garden of his home peopled with "forty healthy boys, of poor but hardworking parents".

Crabtree watching the Transit of Venus
William Crabtree, a draper who lived at Broughton, was asked by a curate friend, Jeremiah Horrox to observe the Transit of Venus on 24 November. Initially Horrox's calculations were wrong but, with the help of Crabtree, his new tables were corrected and the event was observed at the right time. 

Dalton Collecting Marsh-Fire Gas
John Dalton, a Manchester schoolmaster, wrote a series of essays on the constitution of gasses, and undertook various experiments on the atomic constitution of substances. This led him to the formation of the atomic theory.

John Kay, Inventor of the Fly Shuttle
For thousands of years weaving was done by hand, throwing the shuttle across the loom. If a wider cloth was needed, two weavers threw the shuttle to each other. John Kay invented a shuttle fired by a cord into boxes either side of the loom. On the left, rioters are breaking in to smash the loom, while Kay is being smuggled to safety.

The Baptism of Edwin
A rather static interior scene, where Edwin, King of Northumbria and Deira (Manchester was part of the Kingdom of Deira) is baptised at York, watched by his Christian wife Ethelberga and family. It is said that York Minster now stands on this site.

The Establishment of Flemish Weavers in Manchester
Queen Philippa of Hainault rides into Manchester in the spring sunshine and is greeted by some of the Flemish Weavers who were invited to England under Edward III's act of 1337.

The Expulsion of the Danes from Manchester
A picture of dramatic realism. The Danes carry their chief on an improvised stretcher through Manchester. Some trip over an escaped pig while trying to avoid various missiles hurled at them by nearby residents.

The Opening of the Bridgewater Canal
The Duke of Bridgewater owned coal mines in Swinton and, with his friend the engineer James Brindley, he built a canal that could carry coal barges into the heart of Manchester. This included building an aqueduct over the River Irwell.

The Proclamation Regarding Weights and Measures
In 1556, Manchester's Court passed an edict directing that "The Burgess and others of the Town of Manchester shall send in all manner of Weights and Measures to be tried by their Majesties standard".

The Romans Building a Fort at Mancenion
A dramatic conception of how Castlefield's fort was built by enslaved Britons, who do manual work while the Roman General gives the orders.

The Trial of Wycliffe
This is perhaps the most ambitious and successful of all the twelve paintings. Wycliffe stands on trial in St. Paul's. His patron, John of Gaunt, Earl of Palatine of Lancaster and son of the King is defending him. Chaucer, the Duke's other protégé, is seen taking notes.


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