Jim’s 90th Birthday & Chineke! Orchestra


Trips & Adventures – 15 June 2019

Jim celebrated his 90th birthday with a wonderful party upstairs at the Mustard Tree. There was plenty of food, drink and laughter and we were treated to an exhibition of Jim’s artistic works – see self portrait:

There was music, speeches, birthday cake, champagne and more. Photos can be seen here

Trips & Adventures – 16 June 2019

We had a busy weekend as we also ventured to the Bridgewater Hall to hear Chineke! Orchestra, the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up of majority black and minority ethnic musicians. The orchestra was founded by musician Chi-chi Nwanoku and their debut concert was in 2015 at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

The concert featured live music in the stalls bar, a pre-concert talk with Chi-chi Nwanoku and Wayne Marshall (conductor) about the orchestra’s work and aspirations and an afternoon concert. This included an attractively lyrical work by neglected black composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a lively new work by American pianist Stewart Goodyear and a stalwart symphony, Dvořák’s magnificent Seventh.

Dvořák himself was so impressed with the brilliantly successful performance that he climbed on stage and shouted “Bravo!”

Manchester School of Art


Trips & Adventures – 13 June 2019

Unfortunately, the rain stopped our visit to Fletcher Moss Park and Botanical Gardens, but we had a Plan B!

We caught the bus from Piccadilly to Manchester’s LGBT+ centre, a thriving youth and community centre, based on Sidney Street in the heart of the city. It was the first fully publicly funded ‘gay centre’ built in Europe. It’s over 30 years since it opened, and we enjoyed fresh and affordable veggie food made from scratch, in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

It’s only a two minute walk to the Manchester School of Art where the degree show “Everything Starts from Something” exhibited work by over 1,000 graduates in a range of disciplines including architecture, art, design and media.

We had a great time especially in the interactive room. There was so much to see, but we had a break in the Salutation Pub next door.

Plas Newydd, Llangollen


Trips & Adventures – 5 June 2019

We were delighted to be invited to the launch of Pride in Ageing, an important new programme of work at the LGBT Foundation.  We were joined by Sir Ian McKellen at this special event.

I didn’t take any photos! So here is one from the Bolton Pride Diversity Awards on Sunday, 26 May 2019

Many older LGBT people have grown up in a world hostile to their identities. Some will have come of age before the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1967, and may have experienced significant discrimination and prejudice in their lifetimes.

Pride in Ageing believes that all older LGBT people have the right to an excellent quality of life in later years, and deserve to live in a society that embraces all parts of their identity. They will work to end the inequalities faced by older LGBT people in Greater Manchester and ensure that we have access to inclusive housing and care later in life. The programme will also tackle the social isolation faced by older LGBT people in the UK, which is known to be commonplace and has a significant impact on our health, happiness and wellbeing.

It will also celebrate the positive aspects of being an older LGBT person in our city-region, bringing people together to share their stories and experiences, and building a community of active and empowered older LGBT people.

Out In The City was well represented at the event with stories from several of our members.

Trips & Adventures – 6 June 2019

Fifteen of us got out of bed early and travelled comfortably, in executive style, to Plas Newydd in Llangollen, the historic house which was the home of the Ladies of Llangollen for nearly 50 years.

Plas Newydd is notable as the home where two Irish ladies, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby (the Ladies of Llangollen) eloped and set up house together in the late 18th century, scandalising contemporary British society. Plas Newydd was originally a five-roomed stone cottage, but over the years it was enlarged to include many Gothic features.

Although originally ostracised by their families, the ladies and their unconventional lifestyle gradually became accepted, and their home was visited by many famous people including Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, Caroline Lamb and Sir Walter Scott, the Duke of Wellington, the industrialist Josiah Wedgwood and Anne Lister from Shibden Hall.

We went into the town of Llangollen and spent a few hours sight seeing, shopping, walking, having a pint or two, relaxing in the warm sunshine, generally enjoying ourselves, before heading back to Manchester. Lots of photos can be seen here.

Carry On Carnforth


Trips & Adventures – 30 May 2019

Eleven of us travelled by train to Carnforth Station – what a Carry On! The building was used as a location in the 1945 black and white film Brief Encounter and now has an extensive Heritage Centre and exhibitions space, including a small cinema.

The Beeching report in 1966 saw Carnforth lose many local services and in 1969 the refreshment room closed along with the sidings. The booking office closed in 1986 and in 1992 the buildings were in such a state of disrepair that Railtrack proposed to demolish them.

However, the Carnforth Trust was established in 1996 to raise money to preserve the buildings. The clock was repaired and re-started on 5 July 2003 and on 17 October 2003 the Heritage Centre opened. It now has 50,000 visitors a year and is staffed by volunteers.

We dined on chicken, chorizo and cheese baguettes with salad and coleslaw and other fine foods in The Station Master’s office which we took over as a group.

Carnforth Station is renowned for the film Brief Encounter which was ranked as the 12th best film ever and which was originally a half hour stage play by Noel Coward called “Still Life”. It was entirely set in the refreshment room. It was re-written under the direction of David Lean for the film version. By 1944 V1 and V2 rockets were landing in London but a London Station had been designated for use in the film. Because of the risk from attack the filming was moved up north which was considered to be safer. Also David Lean liked the slope at the station as he felt that Celia Johnson would look ridiculous running down steps which were at many stations.

Filming took place between February and May 1945 and the section at Carnforth was filmed in February 1945. Work on the film started late at night after the last trains had departed and finished early in the morning before the first local trains arrived. The refreshment room is not clearly visible from the platforms so the external part of the room which is seen in the film was in reality a painted “flat” specially erected on the platform in the space between the clock and the buildings.

The winter of 1944/1945  was bitterly cold and every night the cast and crew would break for a meal at 1.30am. The meal was taken in two dining cars. Celia Johnson did not enjoy the food but the local extras did. Sweets and chocolates were handed out during the production and these were surprising luxuries as sweets were rationed in the war.

We re-enacted a classic moment from the film when Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson were parting for the last time.

As a homage to Brief Encounter, most of the pictures can be seen in black and white here

Oldham Art Gallery


Trips & Adventures – 23 May 2019

This week Out In The City travelled to Oldham Art Gallery to meet the fantastic Out & About group. Our visit started at the Naked Bean Cafe where we enjoyed teas, coffees, soups, sandwiches, quiches and potato of the day!

We had some great chats and then decided to make our way to the top floor to view the exhibitions. The latest exhibition marks 200 years since the notorious Peterloo Massacre. ‘From Waterloo to Peterloo’ explores the many stories linking Oldham and its people with the historic events of Peterloo.

From Waterloo to Peterloo

However, we were particularly impressed by the panoramic photograph of Oldham taken in 1876. This brought back many memories where we remembered smoke billowing from chimneys and houses with an outside toilet and no bathroom!

There was a lot to see from the temporary exhibitions to the permanent displays, but we decided to have a walk to Parliament Square to view the Annie Kenney statue.

Annie Kenney was the “underestimated” suffragette, who was arrested after asking Winston Churchill about voting rights.

Along with activist Christabel Pankhurst, she was photographed holding a large “Votes for Women” banner in a now-famous image.

Kenney was the only working class woman to hold a senior position in the Women’s Social and Political Union.

Annie Kenney statue

Thanks again to Out & About for hosting us. More pictures can be seen here.