MANCH­ESTER MAT­TERS

Salford Advertiser - - NEWS -

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

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