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The Amazing Watkins; Manchester’s Forgotten Stars

Join us for this illustrated public lecture, by Geoff Scargill of The Watkin Society.

Absalom and Edward Watkin – father and son – were key figures in the development of Manchester in the 19th century.

Absalom helped draw up the petition that brought the horror of the Peterloo Massacre to public attention. Although he was basically a shy person and prone to depression he spent most of his adult life fighting for the rights of the poorest people. A close friend of the great Richard Cobden, he campaigned for voting reform and for the repeal of the infamous Corn Laws that kept the price of bread so high that in bad harvest years thousands starved to death.

Absalom’s son, Edward, was one of the best-known and exciting characters of the Victorian Era. He assisted his father in the fight to repeal the Corn Laws and persuaded Manchester businessmen to close their companies at 2pm on Saturdays in what became known as the Saturday Half-day Holiday. (It was 10 years before the rest of the country caught up.) He led the campaign to create the first Parks for the People in the hellholes of industrial Manchester and Salford. Nationally and internationally famous as The Railway King, he built the last mainline into London, the Great Central Railway, from Manchester. A great visionary, he started a Channel Tunnel and an Eiffel Tower in London and helped create Canada! Knighted in 1869, he was an MP for 35 years. When he died over 100 obituaries appeared throughout the world.

Free – booking required – please make a donation to support our Library Live cultural programme at one of our cash or contactless donation boxes in the venue, or online

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