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Food and drink on the menu at People’s History Museum

15 September 2022

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Manchester Food and Drink Festival

Co operative advert, date unknown, Crumpsall Biscuit Works tin 1905, Brewdog Barnard Castle Eye Test beer can 2020, Votes for Women ceramic plate and cup 1909

People’s History Museum (PHM) is joining in the celebrations for the 25th Manchester Food and Drink Festival (22 September to 2 October 2022), with a mouth-watering dive into its collections and a wine tasting event with a difference at Open Kitchen Cafe & Bar (29 September).

In amongst the political posters, bold banners and campaigns for change, food and drink makes a surprisingly significant appearance in the galleries at People’s History Museum, if you know where to look.  PHM’s collections team has put together a menu of food and drink inspired objects to discover when you visit.

Many of the items on display at PHM highlight the stories of groundbreaking champions of changes, such as the Crumpsall Biscuit Works tin (1905).  This locally based biscuit factory was the first to introduce the eight hour week, but its employee focused approach didn’t end there with a cricket club, football club, tennis courts, a bowling green, library and busy social calendar also part of the mix.  Its treatment of female employees is another reason this story belongs at PHM, with girls however young employed at a good wage and to do specific work, not to save the expense of employing men. Look out for the biscuit tin on Main Gallery Two.

Some of the objects are the message carriers themselves and falling into this category is the Brewdog Barnard Castle Eye Test beer can (2020).  This was the tongue in cheek response to the controversy that swept the nation in March 2020 when the Prime Minister’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, made a journey across the country with Covid-19 symptoms during the first and most strict ‘lockdown’, when non-essential travel was forbidden.  You can see the can with other recently acquired contemporary items on Main Gallery One.

The Dig for Victory campaign by the Ministry of Information which began during World War II produced some iconic advertising including a campaign to encourage women to join the bid to produce more food with the promise of a free farm holiday, these include the colourful work of the graphic designer Eileen Evans.  Over 200,000 women served in the Women’s Land Army between 1939 and 1950 and you can also see a number of posters from the Ministry connected to this campaign on both main galleries.

Post World War II and food rationing and shortages continued, so when it came to the 1950 and 1951 elections, this was a major issue.  The depiction of a basketful of food is the central message in Labour’s Fair Share at a Fair Price poster, which is found on Main Gallery Two as part of the Welfare State section.

The growth of the Cooperative movement is something that you can explore at People’s History Museum (and children can have fun playing shop in the Co-op shop) and its principles of collectivity and giving working class people access to goods they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford are summed up in some of the 19th century posters.  Also included is this advert that carries the line “Co-operative tea is filling the nation’s teapot” which is on display on Main Gallery Two.

Tea is also something associated with the suffragettes; at a time when for women to meet out of the home was not a society norm, tearooms became a place that they could gather to discuss and plan. Taking pride of place in PHM’s collection is a Votes for Women ceramic plate and cup (1909) that carries the Angel of Freedom design created by Sylvia Pankhurst, used during WSPU tea parties to raise funds for the cause.  It’s on display in Main Gallery One as part of the women’s suffrage section.

Political cartoonists in the late 18th century and early 19th century were seen as visual journalists who enjoyed freedom at a time when the press was strictly regulated.  Their popularity could be compared to social media today and a great example of this is on display in Main Gallery One.  In James Gillray’s cartoon Prime Minister William Pitt is sat alongside other politicians who are all gorging themselves on a rich feast of food made from gold, whilst outside starving people protest at a time when the poor wheat harvests in 1794 and 1795 had resulted in food shortage.

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2022

On Thursday 29 September (7.00pm to 11.00pm) you are invited to raise a glass for Chips and Sips as Open Kitchen Cafe & Bar at People’s History Museum hosts a wine tasting evening with a decidedly different take on pairing.  Five sustainably and ethically produced wines will be filling the glasses, whilst accompanying will be snacks such as Wotsits, Frazzles and even Monster Munch.  This light hearted evening will be led by Nathan Fiske from C&O Wines, with tickets costing £25 plus booking fee.  The event starts at 7.00pm, and tickets can be booked here.

People’s History Museum’s opening hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm every day except Tuesday.  The museum and its exhibitions are free to visit with a suggested donation of £5. To find out more visit, and keep up to date with the latest news by signing up to receive PHM’s e-newsletter, read the blog, or following the museum on social media on Twitter @PHMMcr, Facebook @PHMMcr, and Instagram @phmmcr.

Open Kitchen Cafe & Bar at People’s History Museum is open daily (8.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Thursday and 10.00am to 4.00pm Saturday and Sunday) and makes the perfect accompaniment to the national museum of democracy.  To find out more visit



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People’s History Museum
People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy. It shares stories about the struggle for equity and equality, celebrates radical history and provides space to explore contemporary issues through marginalised voices. PHM’s vision is of a fairer society where people’s voices and actions make a difference and its mission is to encourage people to care more about community and society, to speak up and take a stand on the issues that matter to them.

PHM is more than a museum about campaigning; it is a museum that campaigns, using its voice to encourage people to take action to bring about positive change.

PHM offers a powerful programme that it co-creates with communities with lived experience; 2018 looked at representation and commemorated 100 years since some women and all men won the right to vote in Britain, in 2019 the focus was on protest to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, the 2020-2021 programme explored the theme of migration and beginning in 2022 disabled people’s rights and activism is the headline theme.

Key funders
PHM is incredibly grateful for the support of all its funders and stakeholders. PHM is an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). The work of PHM is supported using public funding by ACE, the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. PHM is funded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Culture Fund, supporting organisations to provide cultural activity and to work with, and in communities, across Greater Manchester.

Previous winner of Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award. One of the 2020-1 winners of the Activist Museum Award. Shortlisted as Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022.

Twitter             @PHMMcr
Facebook         @PHMMcr
Instagram        @phmmcr

Open Kitchen
Open Kitchen is Manchester’s leading sustainable catering company.  The team of passionate chefs create beautiful, unique and thoughtful menus for any occasion or event.  Committed to producing food in the most sustainable and ethical way possible. Working with a range of food businesses to stop good food from being wasted, and also purchase ingredients, working only with local, sustainable, and ethical suppliers.  Open Kitchen chefs use this ever-changing mix to produce nutritious, seasonal menus that offer the lowest carbon catering possible, while maintaining great quality.  Profits from the business go to supporting communities suffering food insecurity across Greater Manchester.

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