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Marketing the Manchester Ship Canal 1919-1939

This new exhibition showcases a range of original publicity material and print adverts created as marketing for the Port of Manchester. This saw a revolution in publicity with modern ideas on typefaces, much more dynamic imagery and bolder use of colour. Manchester Ship Canal Company started using imaginative visual design to sell itself more effectively internationally and encourage industrial growth around the docks.

The exhibition highlights the work of a fascinating array of commercial artists engaged by the Ship Canal Company. Some of the most innovative in their design work were born locally and trained at the Manchester School of Art. Highlights include the ‘ship prow’ painting created by Paxton Chadwick, the futurist designs and humorous sketches of Bert Wilson and the quirky illustrations of John Dronsfield. It also considers the influence of the company’s publicity chief Kenneth Brady who brought new ideas in design and messaging following his appointment to MSCC in 1926. Much of material exhibited was discovered 2021 in the extensive archives Ship Canal Company held in Manchester Central Library. It includes original artwork for some of the widely used designs that have never been displayed publicly before.

Exhibition curated by Martin Dodge (Senior Lecturer in the Geography Department, University of Manchester). Much of his research is currently focused on the historical geography of Manchester’s transport and town planning. He is fascinated by the history of the Manchester Ship Canal and understanding how it transformed the city and the wider region.

Supported by Archives+ at Central Library, The University of Manchester and the Manchester Geographical Society.

Free – just drop in

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