Manchester City Council

The Council & democracy Interesting facts about the Town Hall


March past town hall with lord kitchener during WWI
  • The name of the Town Hall was contested, with 'lively discussion by the city council and considerable interest among the citizens'.  Other popular suggestions included City Hall and Guildhall.
  • Queen Victoria was invited to the opening of the Town Hall, but did not attend.  Even naming 'Albert Square' in honour of her consort was not enough to persuade her to come.  It's been suggested that this was because the city's mayor, Abel Heywood, was twice prosecuted for distributing radical and 'blasphemous' literature     
  • Around 50,000 people took part in a mile-long 'procession of the trades' to celebrate the opening of the Town Hall.  Streets throughout the city centre were decorated with banners and flags representing the many different professions of the city, with 69 trade unions taking part, from the bakers and tailors to the chimney sweeps and the tin-makers – who were accompanied by a mounted knight in full armour.  
  • Many coats of arms are shown on the facades of the Town Hall, including that of Thomas Walker - who, in the 18th century, was tried unsuccessfully for 'having conspired to overturn the constitution and the government'. 
  • Prime ministers including Churchill and Lloyd George have stayed at the Lord Mayor's apartment at the Town Hall.  During the Second World War, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester stayed for three nights - but had to spend part of one of them in the Town Hall's air-raid shelter. 
  • During the 1966 World Cup, the Town Hall served as an 'international lounge', with a team of interpreters manning phone lines to answer queries in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
  • Lord Mayors often lived in the Town Hall apartment until 1984, when mayor Kenneth Strath decided to do away with the tradition
  • 25 film reels discovered in the Town Hall's basement by a workman in 1984 turned out to contain messages sent home by servicemen and women during World War II.  The films were accompanied by paperwork identifying the people who featured in them, plus the names and addresses of their loved ones in Manchester.  The films are now kept at the North West Film Archive, at Central Library, and recently featured in a Channel 4 documentary.  
  • The Town Hall is a much-loved wedding venue, but no happy couple have had a more illustrious surprise guest than John and Francis Canning.  The Cannings' nuptials on 24 March 2012 coincided with Queen Elizabeth II's visit to the building, as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations - and the monarch met the happy couple to offer her congratulations. 
  • The President of China, Xi Jinping, visited the Town Hall in October 2015, as part of his landmark tour of the city.  The President gave a speech in the Great Hall to an audience including Prime Minister David Cameron and proposed a toast to Manchester's prosperity.

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