ANEW exhibition at Central Library has opened celebrating the little known, but fascinating, link between Manchester and the French town of Mézières. The ties connecting the two locations reach back nearly a hundred years, having first been forged in the crucible of the devastation wrought by the First World War. Mézières (which became Charleville-Mézières in 1966) was deeply affected by the First World War having been ravaged by bombs that destroyed the hospital and much of the town centre.
Two days after the armistice of Compiègne, which ended the First World War, the city of Manchester promised to support the rebuilding of Mézières. This promise lead to Manchester officially adopting Mézières on June 10, 1920, under the authority of the then Lord Mayor Tom Ford, resulting in an outpouring of generosity from the people of Manchester, who collected a small fortune to help the French town.
Money was raised in different ways, including an historical Lord Mayor’s pageant in 1921. In recognition a hospital and a district of Charleville-- Mézières are still called ‘Manchester’ to this day and there are ongoing links between the two cities. The exhibition explores the bond between Charleville-Mézières and Manchester bringing history to life with a selection of breathtaking images of both Mézières and the 1921 Lord Mayor’s pageant.
Also on display are archive news cuttings that illustrate the special relationship throughout the last century and footage unearthed by the North West Film Achieve which offer a glimpse back in time with films of the reconstruction of Mézières and the 1921 Lord Mayor’s parade. The exhibition was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Sue Cooley who was joined in the library by the current Mayor of Charleville-Mézières Boris Ravignon.
Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Sue Cooley said: “Many people may be unaware of the connection between Manchester and Mézières so I hope this exhibition will not only educate but inspire a rejuvenation of the relationship between our two cities. It was a genuine honour to open the exhibition with the Mayor of Charleville-Mézières, whose predecessor was in attendance when Central Library was originally opened back in 1934. The exhibition is a fascinating reminder of the importance of cooperation and a testament to the generosity of Manchester’s residents.”
The exhibition is being held on the first floor of Manchester Central Library, until May 30.
● The 1921 Lord Mayor’s Pageant was one of the ways Manchester raised funds for Mezieres after the French town was devastated in the First World War