Manchester City Council

New website lifts the lid on Manchester’s history

A new website designed to showcase Manchester’s rich history is now live.

Packed with pictures, films and stories, offers a sneak peek at some of the materials that will be held at Manchester’s new Archives+ centre and a flavour of the kind of exhibitions that will take place there.

Everything from our history of radical thinking and protest to the living conditions of our ancestors is explored on the website, using images and film footage to help bring the past to life for a new generation. 

The website highlights the collections of Greater Manchester’s unique family history and archives partnership, which will be stored at the Archives+ centre - a custom-built repository at Central Library - from March 2014.  

By bringing together this partnership of regional and national collections of documents, photographs and films, the Archives+ centre will serve the growing demand for accessible personal and community history in Manchester.   

Material from the collections will be exhibited at Archives+, with digital interactive displays and the original archive items used together to tell the stories of Manchester’s people and communities. 

The centre’s local and family history resources will include books, maps and original materials, self-service digitised items and online resources.

Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: “The Archives+ Centre will attract a wide range of visitors to the Central Library, raising awareness of Manchester’s histories and making them accessible for everyone. will give people just a taste of the treasure trove of important family history materials that we are fortunate enough to hold in Manchester and which will be exhibited at Archives+.”

If you have a story to share, or would just like to learn more, contact Archives+ through the website, Facebook (, or Twitter (@archivesplus).

The main partners in Archives+ are:

• Greater Manchester County Record Office (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities) 
• Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives (Manchester City Council)
• North West Film Archive (Manchester Metropolitan University)
• Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and Education Trust (The University of Manchester)
• Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society
• British Film Institute Mediatheque
• Manchester Registration Service (Historic Registers)


Belle Vue

Circus, speedway, boxing, rollercoasters, fireworks, a zoo – from 1848, Belle Vue attracted visitors from all over the north with its unique combination of leisure activities.

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens were originally meant to provide an enjoyable pastime for the middle classes,but very quickly became one of the North West’s biggest attractions.  At the height of Belle Vue’s popularity, it was host to around 2 million visitors a year.

 The site eventually became home to exotic animals, live music, dancing (attached - ticket for Grand Dance, 1938), speedway, boxing and wrestling, greyhound racing, football, rugby league and a myriad of other entertainments.

Just about anyone who spent time in Manchester before Belle Vue finally closed it’s doors in 1987 has a story to tell about it.   Share yours by visiting us at

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