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18th November: Joanna Williams – Manchester's Radical Mayor: Abel Heywood, the Man who Built the Town Hall.

Manchester Town Hall

November’s talk? First let’s try a little word association, Manchester Town Hall – Alfred Waterhouse or closed for six years ?

And what of the clock bell, Great Abel, weighing in at 8 tons 2.5 cwt in the 280ft tower? Abel who ?

Abel Heywood, that's who.

Born in 1810 to a poor family in Prestwich, his father's death when Heywood was only 5 resulted in him having received very little formal education. Despite this Heywood built up a thriving printing and bookselling business at an early age. A radical in his politics, Heywood nevertheless won a succession of positions in local government, serving as both a town councillor and as an alderman prior to his first election as mayor in 1862. A mayor who published "Poor Man's Guardian", a working man's newspaper which sold for one penny. Refusing to pay the stamp duty imposed on all newspapers of the time, he was prosecuted several times, serving a 4 month prison sentence in the early 1830s. . It was during his second term as mayor, in 1877, that he presided over the opening of his city’s new town hall, which served as both as a symbol of Manchester’s newfound status and an embodiment of Heywood’s role in shepherding its development. Speaker Joanna Williams, author of ‘Manchester’s Radical Mayor: Abel Heywood, The Man Who Built the Town Hall’ will explore many fascinating facets of this Mancunian’s history at the monthly meeting.