For visitors who want a deep insight into the character of the city, Manchester’s People’s History Museum is my recommended starting point. It may sound like a showcase for a random collection of folksy items, such as costumes and cooking pots but, actually, it’s a lot more important than that, for it tells the story of how Manchester was the frontline of the battle for universal suffrage, the right of every man and woman in the country to have the vote.
The museum is free to enter, small and welcoming. You won’t find crowds there – just occasional parties of schoolchildren – and there is a peaceful cafe with a terrace on the bank of the river. Even the building is historically significant, a Victorian, hydraulic pump room which provided power for the elevators in the city-centre buildings, though there is a modern wing which houses most of the exhibitions.
As an adopted Mancunian, I never take for granted the heritage of this place. Every day I admire the architecture, which is the legacy of its industry, and the institutions, which represent the huge social changes pioneered in this, the world’s first “modern city”. If you are inclined to take for granted the privileges of first world citizens, or do not bother to exercise your right to vote, a look at Manchester’s history will surely make you think again.