City Safari
Cottonopolis, Civic pride, wealth and the Co-Op
19th - 22nd September 2024

Led by Sue Constable
3 nights, from £605 Discount for AIA members
Payment can now be made by credit card
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City Safaris and Industrial Explorer Weekends
These walking tours take a look at an industrial city's civic, commercial, industrial and transport legacy on foot, guided by an expert. Our groups are deliberately kept small so that everyone has a chance to ask the leader questions as we go and to make walking as a group practicable in an urban environment.

We go away for a long weekend and stay together as a group at a reasonable hotel. A dinner is held on the Thursday evening which is a chance for new members to be introduced and old friends to catch up on news. After dinner there is a short talk to introduce the city and its history as well as to explain the programme.

City Safaris use whatever public transport is available: bus, tram, metro or train which is a great way to gain some understanding of how the area works and may be of historic interest in themselves.

Industrial Explorer Weekends are the same but we use a minibus to reach areas where public transport does not go and to give us the possibility of conveniently exploring a slightly wider area.

We tend to spend more time looking at buildings than we do going inside, but we usually try to include at least one visit to a site of industrial interest. In Sheffield, for example, we visited a small, specialist scissor maker. In the Black Country we rode through the Dudley tunnel on a trip boat and ended the tour in the Black Country Museum.

We look at all kinds of buildings: industrial, civic, retail and domestic. We cover everything from workers' cottages & workshops via pubs and factories to the magnificence of northern Victorian Town Halls and don’t forget the merely quirky. And we like interesting buildings in all kinds of condition, be they in use, re-used, shabby, derelict or forgotten. Transport is always part of the story: roads, railways and canals.

We generally walk about 5 miles a day. When walking around we are often asked why we are standing looking at a particular building, perhaps by people who now live or work there. Sometimes we are able to tell them more about the building than they know themselves but in response they are sometimes able to fill in some interesting snippets of social history which adds greatly to the mix.

Group members are provided with a full set of notes describing details of every building we stop by. We usually include stops for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea.

Tour members often say that these trips allow them to see things that "we never knew were there" and to view urban areas from new angles.
Manchester was one of the major industrial cities in the 19th century and grew to be rich and powerful as cotton spinning and weaving developed. Many large mills were built, and transport links developed. Important civic and commercial buildings were erected as monuments to civic pride and wealth. Another significant group of buildings was erected to house various sections of the Co-operative Wholesale Society and Manchester is still the home to the headquarters of the Co-Op Group.

We last visited Manchester twenty years ago and things will have changed since then, though most of the historic buildings survive. Our Safari will look at all these aspects of the growth of the city.

On Thursday the tour will start with the group assembling in the early evening at our hotel for a short walk to a nearby restaurant for a group meal (included).

At the end of dinner Sue will give a short introduction to the weekend.
On Friday we will begin our exploration by looking at the east side of the city. On Friday morning we will walk around the city centre looking at civic and commercial developments and in the afternoon the focus will be on the Castlefield area looking at railways and canals.

There will be breaks for coffee, lunch and tea during our walk (own expense).

Evening at leisure.

(Sunday Times)
Saturday morning will start with the Co-op and then go to Ancoats to look at mills and associated buildings.

The afternoon will be spent looking at other buildings associated with the textile trade from warehouses to insurance offices.

There will be breaks for coffee, lunch and tea during our walk (own expense).

Evening at leisure.

On Sunday we will go to Old Trafford and Salford quays to look at the Manchester Ship Canal and to see the redevelopment of the area with housing, commercial buildings, the Lowry, Imperial War Museum North and Media City.

There will be a break for coffee and the group will take lunch together at a restaurant on the way back to our hotel (included).

Media City footbridge and the BBC
(David Dixon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sue Constable will be well known to anyone who came to the Ruhr, Moravia or Romania with the AIA or has joined one of her previous City Safaris or Explorer Weekends. She was born in Buckinghamshire but moved to Hastings at an early age. She read History and Archaeology at Liverpool and also has a qualification in museum studies. She may have started out as an archaeologist but soon changed to being a social and industrial historian. She has worked in museums for most of her life, apart from a spell teaching and a break when her daughter was small. Much of her work in museums has been with industrial collections, ribbon weaving, nail-making and shoemaking. With her husband, Mike, she has explored much of the British and European waterways network. As a social historian she is also interested in how people live and how they organise their living spaces and environment.

    You may be interested to know that Steve Roman, City Safari regular, is organising an optional, free walk around sites connected with Manchester's importance as a centre for radical political activity.

On Thursday, 19th September meet Steve Roman in the foyer of Motel One, Piccadilly, at 2.15 for 2.30 start. The walk will include a coffee break and return to the hotel around 5.15.

Sites and themes to be included are:
Alan Turing statue, commemorating his role as the "father of computer science" and as a gay icon
St Peter's Square with the Manchester Academy, John Dalton, the "nuclear timeline" , suffragists and suffragettes ("the Pankhurst women got on so well that they are all buried on different continents")
Central Library, the reading room and memorials, busts and plaques
Lincoln Square, the Peace Garden and three different aspects of the slave trade and chattel slavery
The Hidden Gem and religious tolerance, free-thinking and science
The Millennium Quarter with 18th Century polymath Elizabeth Raffald, the Gandhi statue, the Glade of Light (2017 Arena bombing memorial) and Chetham's Blue Coat School and Library (1635, the oldest public reference library in the English-speaking world, where Marx and Engels undertook research)
Cross Street Chapel (home of Unitarians), the Portico Library (1806) and the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society (1781 - the embodiment of Manchester technology, commerce and learning)
The 1872 commemorative plaque to the visit by a 40-strong Japanese delegation to learn about the region's industry
Background notes will be included.

Please book this walk by emailing

This walk is not part of our City Safari and not covered by our terms & conditions or insurance.


We will be staying at the Motel One, Manchester Piccadilly, 34 London Rd, Manchester M1 2PF

The hotel is located near to Manchester Piccadilly Station near to the many city centre attractions

The tour starts at the hotel on the Thursday evening and ends at about 14:30 after lunch on the Sunday afternoon.

We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Manchester to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points.

There is no car parking at the hotel. The Q-Park Piccadilly Place car park is the most convenient, check with them for pricing.

You should expect at least 5 miles of walking, in short sections, on Friday and Saturday, mostly on hard surfaces.
Detailed joining instructions will be supplied about two weeks before the start of the tour.

The cost of the tour is £605 per person sharing, single supplement £175. The single supplement is entirely accounted for by the additional costs charged by the hotel for single occupancy. With a high proportion of singles on these tours it is not possible to avoid this.

Heritage of Industry is pleased to offer a discount of £10 to any paid-up member of the Association for Industrial Archaeology  at the time of the tour.

The cost includes:
  • 3 nights bed & breakfast accommodation
  • Dinner on Thursday, Lunch on Sunday
  • All entrance fees and travel card covering all public transport
  • Expert guiding and services of an experienced tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunch on Friday & Saturday
  • Dinner on Friday & Saturday
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotel other than bed & breakfast
All prices are quoted in Pounds Sterling (GBP) whilst most of the costs are in Euros (EUR). In these turbulent times, changes to exchange rates, accommodation, transport costs or taxes may necessitate a price change

Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 25th July 2024, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents may need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.

Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 people. Book as soon as possible and by 25th July 2024 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking.

Invoices for the balance of the price will be issued about 8 weeks before the tour starts. A non-refundable deposit of £60 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

We are very pleased to be able now to accept payment by credit/debit card. We are automatically notified when payment is made by card.

Otherwise payment may be made via your bank’s online banking facilities, the necessary details are shown on the booking form. Please send an email note when you have made payment this way.

If you are unable to use electronic banking then please send a sterling cheque drawn on a UK bank via carrier pigeon to:

Heritage of Industry Ltd, The Gables, 20 Main Road, East Hagbourne, Oxon OX11 9LN UK

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Download a printable version of the above and a booking form

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)

The Association for Industrial Archaeology

For the last three centuries industry has had a major influence on the society, environment and landscape in which we live and its remains provide a link with the past that can also serve the future.

Uniting individuals, local societies, academics and field professionals the AIA:

  • Promotes Industrial Archaeology and Heritage both nationally and internationally
  • Supports the development and sharing of knowledge about Industrial Archaeology
  • Publishes IA Review - the leading Industrial Archaeology journal
  • Seeks to ensure the value of industrial sites is recognised in planning decisions
  • Supports local and special interest societies
Through its programme of awards and grants it:
  • Sponsors research and rewards excellence
  • Assists preservation and restoration of Industrial Heritage assets
  • Encourages research and publication
And through its Young Members Board it:
  • Promotes the aims of the AIA through broader engagement with people in their early careers
Heritage of Industry Ltd is very pleased to support the activities of the Association and very much hopes that you do too and will become a member.

Apart from the discount available on Heritage of Industry tours AIA members enjoy a range of benefits which are shown on the Membership page of the AIA website where you can also find full details of how to join:

An AIA member joining this tour will already have recouped nearly 1/3 of the AIA membership fee but more importantly the support members give enables the AIA to continue its work.