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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Politicians, Law & Social Reformers


Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming was a Tory politician, and an influential figure
in local Manchester politics for some thirty years from about
1810 onwards. He played an important role in the civic redevelopment
of the city in the early to mid-1800s, having been involved
in such schemes as the widening of Market Street and the building
of the present Blackfriars Bridge which separates Manchester
from Salford across the River Irwell. He
was also a motivating force in setting up the municipal gas
works, which he advocated as a shrewd business move which would
save a great deal of money to the city and the ratepayers. Fleming
was less than honoured by more radical left wing politicians,
amongst whom he was known as the “uncrowned king of Manchester”.
statue to his memory stands in Manchester Cathedral, and was
made by Edward Baily, celebrated sculptor of the famous statue
of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square in London. Its siting in
the Cathedral was always controversial, particularly since several
ancient tombstones were damaged during its installation.

Robert Peel MP


Robert Peel

Sir Robert Peel is possibly one of Greater Manchester’s
most celebrated historic figures. Manchester’s first ever outdoor
statue raised by public subscription was the Peel Monument in
Piccadilly, Manchester, erected to honour Sir Robert Peel following
his unexpected death in 1850, following a fall from his horse
while riding in Hyde Park in London. Peel was Prime Minister
at that time, and the whole nation mourned his death, and especially
his native town of Bury, where a town centre statue was installed.
Another tribute to Peel is the dominating Peel Tower overlooking
the whole of Bury from the top of Holcombe Hill nearby. Peel
was born in 1788 at Chamber Hall in Bury, the eldest son of
the first Sir Robert Peel, whole calico printing business had
made him one of the richest industrialists in Britain. The younger
Peel was educated at Harrow School and at Oxford University,
before becoming a Member of Parliament at the age of 21. He
went on to hold a number of important government posts, including
that of Home Secretary, when he laid the foundations of the
Metropolitan Police Force. Until relatively recent times, policemen
were still known affectionately as “Bobbies” or “Peelers”.
As Prime Minister, it was he who was responsible, despite great
opposition from many of his party, for the Repeal of the Corn
Laws. This brought him great popularity with the common people. Manchester’s
Peel Memorial Committee collected over �3,000 in 4 days from
the town’s people, so that the best possible monument could
be raised to his memory. The
sculptor William Calder Marshall was commissioned to create
the work, which was unveiled on 12th October 1853. Statues
to commemorate Peel were raised in towns throughout Great Britain,
including London, and, of course, in his native town of Bury.

Philips MP

Mark Philips MP

at The Park, Whitefield ,
in 1800, the son of a prosperous local merchant, Mark Philips
was to become one of Manchester’s 2 new Members of Parliament,
directly elected by democratic free elections under the 1832
Reform Act. Philips represented the city in parliament for 15
years (1832-1847). During this time he was closely associated
with the Anti-Corn Law League, and was an active voice in the
eventual abolition of this tax on corn and bread. Like his father,
the owner of J & N Philips & Company, he was successful in business,
and went into the commercial world of Manchester as Chairman
of the New Quay Company. He was also a fierce supporter and
advocate of education as an essential factor in the improvement
of social conditions in Britain.
In 1837 he chaired a meeting in the Theatre Royal in St Peter’s
Street in Manchester, which eventually led to the establishment
of the Lancashire Public Schools’ Association. The Association
was instrumental in changing the funding of popular education,
by suggesting that free non-sectarian schools could be set up
for all, by levying a local tax to pay for it (a system still
in use throughout Britain today). Philips was also active in
the Free Library Movement, and was an important figure in the
setting up of the first free library in England, opened in 1852
at Campfield. He
also supported many good causes by generous donations of money,
which included �1,000 (then a great deal of money) towards the
fund for the provision of open spaces and parks for the City
of Manchester. This resulted in many estates being purchased
by the city, including Lark Hill in Salford (which became Peel
Park), and the Bradford Estate (which became Philips Park).
Philips retired from his public duties in 1847 to live in Warwickshire,
though he frequently made return visits to Manchester to attend
functions. He died in 1873. There
is a statue of Mark Philips in Manchester
Town Hall

also: Manchester Parks
& Gardens


of Manchester

Abel Heywood

Abel Heywood was 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, and at the age of 9 years
he was apprenticed to the Thomas Worthington warehouse in High
Street in Manchester for the princely sum of 1s.6d (about 7½
pence) a week. He would, nevertheless, go on to become a prominent
figure in the local government of Manchester and in the establishment
of its free press. What education he did receive came largely
from his attendance at the Bennett Street Sunday School, later
the Mechanics’ Institute, of which he was one of the first members.
By the time he was 20, Heywood had opened a “penny newsroom”,
and acquired the agency for the sale of the “Poor Man’s Guardian”,
a working man’s newspaper which sold for one penny. Its editors
refused to pay the stamp duty which was then due on all newspapers,
regarding it as a tax on knowledge which kept newspapers as
the prerogative of the wealthy.
By 1832 Heywood had opened a shop in Oldham Street in Manchester.
He was prosecuted several times for selling this “illegal” newspaper,
serving one 4 month jail sentence for the offence. He continued
in business however, and when, in 1837, the government reduced
stamp duty from four pence to one penny, the need for such defiance
of the law was removed. His business flourished, and the number
of newspapers he could sell increased to 18,000 copies a week
by 1840. He came into conflict with the law again at this time,
with accusations that he has sold material containing “blasphemous”
matter took him into court and raised great local sympathy for
his “free” press principles. His reputation and business acumen
had so grown by 1835, that he was appointed as Commissioner
of Police in that year, and later elected as a member of the
new Manchester Corporation. Meanwhile
he continued newspaper printing and sales, opening his own paper
mill in Stockport, and publishing journals such as “The Northern
Star”, “Ben Brierley’s Journal”, and his own publication, the
“Manchester Spectator”. A follower of Robert Owen’s philosophies
on social reform, he actively promoted educational expansion
for the city. He was elected and served as Alderman for the
city, and was twice made Mayor between 18662-1877, though his
bid to be elected as a Member of Parliament failed in 1859.
As Chairman of the Paving, Sewering and Highways Committee for
47 years, he presided over the laying out of Albert Square in
1862, and the erection of Manchester Town Hall, opened in 1877,
for which occasion Heywood was first elected Mayor.
was most particular in his supervision, having taken personal
interest in every facet and stage of the construction, so that
it should be perfect in every detail and no inferior workmanship
was tolerated. Abel Heywood died in 1893 aged 84 years, and
is buried at his residence “Summerfield” in Rose Hill, Bowden,
There is a statue of him in Manchester
Town Hall



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This page last updated 6 Jan 12.