Blog: Sarah Williams

Come Through the Mill and discover Cottonopolis, says the Ancoats festival organiser

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On Friday and Saturday, 9-10 September, the wonderful Hallé St Peter’s church right in the heart of Ancoats will be opening its doors to unite communities old and new to celebrate the first ever Through the Mill community festival.

Ancoats is a place of great social change. As developers rebuild the historic core of Manchester’s Industrial Revolution, regeneration is seeing a new community move into an area and use this as a great opportunity to build on Ancoats’ strong identity and make it even stronger.

As such, event organisers wanted to create a positive impact in the area, bringing all of the community together and celebrate all that is Ancoats new and old.

Ancoats’ rich history is exemplified by the community action that saved a legendary Manchester landmark

Whilst acknowledging all of these changes in an area of development, this festival will to pay tribute to the original Ancoats community, to celebrate their rich and continuing contribution to the city and also provide opportunities for the new communities to shine.

Ancoats’ rich history is exemplified by the community action and cohesion that saved a legendary Manchester landmark, the wonderful Ancoats Dispensary – the first British hospital offering free healthcare. This building is a symbol of compassion, community values, expertise, ideas, excellence and support for all in the community.

So the festival will be a platform to educate people about Ancoats’ heritage as the focal point of the first Industrial Revolution and how this history (including that of the Dispensary) and its values are relevant to the present and can shape the future of the great city of Manchester.

There is so much variety in Ancoats that it has much celebrate, such as the contribution of the Italian community to the area – ice cream – clothing, cotton mills, buildings, food and music. Our event is a platform to tell this story by different voices and diverse groups, so that people can learn how this was all thrown into a melting pot in the 19th century.

The weekend will stitch together the story through music, food, art, guided walks and talks, aiming to shine a light on this rich social tapestry, in which differences are forgotten and friendships made.

The event organisers are passionate local people who want to enable visitors and local residents to really discover the heart of Cottonopolis, and see how it has become a vibrant quarter of the city with a real buzz, bringing so many people together.

The festival will kick off on the Friday evening with live music from Ancoats’ very own community choir, Golden Voices, acoustic guitarist Stephen “Chaddy” Chadwick of local band the Back Handers and the amazing Hallé string quartet Classical Evolution. Real ale and great food stalls will be offering a wide range of delights.

The Saturday will be an action-packed day for all the family, with art and crafts, live music, fashion, food and drink, and history walks to learn about Ancoats’ rich industrial heritage, taking in Ancoats Dispensary.

The festival doors open from 5pm on Friday 9 September for a full evening of entertainment. It continues on Saturday 10 September from midday at the Hallé St Peter’s, Cutting Room Square and the Hallé at St Michael’s, with events and activities going on right into the night.

For further details visit or follow @TTMill_Ancoats. For more on Ancoats see

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