The People's River

The People’s River is a community-led project delivered by Manchester Histories who are collaborating with people who live and work along the River Irk in North Manchester. The project aims to reveal and share the often hidden histories and stories of people’s heritage in a creative way.

The project is inspired by and designed to commemorate the bicentenary of Friedrich Engels’ birth and his connection to the industrial river. Engels, a German socialist philosopher, wrote about the River Irk in his 1845 essay ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’, based on his experiences in Manchester.

The People's River Toolkit

Want to learn more about Friedrich Engels?

Then please download our brand new educational toolkit for free

View the Issuu version here
Download the pdf. of the toolkit here

The booklet introduces Engels life, his work and his connection with Manchester. Each chapter has its own creative activity at the end. You can choose to respond however you would like to each activity.

You may wish to respond in the form of a poem, song, rap, a short story or perhaps you would prefer to sketch a drawing or take a photograph. However, you want to express yourself. Each activity in the booklet is designed to take only a few minutes at a time and can be done alone, with friends, members of your family, your neighbours or work colleagues over a brew.

Once you have completed all the activities we would love to see your responses. Send them in an email to us via this email address

river irk

The People's River photography project

A socially engaged photographer, Liz Wewiora, will be working with community groups along the River Irk in North Manchester to uncover hidden histories and create a brand new photographic project inspired by the writings of Friedrich Engels.

Groups collaborating with Manchester Histories on the People’s River project include HMG Paints Ltd, Collyhurst Big Local, 93 Wellbeing Centre and the Friends of Angel Meadows.

Participants will learn about the history of Engel’s work and his relationship with the area surrounding the River Irk through a programme of history talks and tours taking place on Engel's birthday weekend in November 2020. Photographic responses will be made during creative workshops and will be exhibited in early 2021.

The People's River project is coordinated in partnership with the organisation Wupperverband in the city of Wuppertal, Engels’ birthplace in Germany, as part of their celebration of Engels’ birth (‘Engels 2020’).

The project has been funded by Manchester City Council through their Neighbourhood Investment Fund and Economic Regeneration Fund.

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