New Manchester Walks offer the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of feared felons and learn about the chequered past of Strangeways prison.
Ed Glinert is an expert tour guide with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Manchester area. The Strangeways tour begins at Victoria station and Ed walks you through Strangeways, past the prison and back in a loop through Cheetham.
“Strangeways is the area not just the prison, so nowadays when you say to people Strangeways, they immediately think of the prison.,” Glinert explains. “Even though it’s been officially renamed Her Majesty’s Prison Manchester for the last 40 years, no one cares about that. Strangeways sounds much better.”
I predict a riot
Perhaps the reason the name has stuck is because of the 1990 prison riot which lasted 25-days and included a rooftop protest at Strangeways Prison. It began on April 1, 1990 when prisoners took control of the prison chapel, and the riot quickly spread through the prison. This resulted in The Woolf Report, which ended the practice of inmates emptying their own toilets or ‘slopping out’, while the prison was rebuilt and renamed.
Glinert remembers the riots well as he had just started a job at The Sun newspaper’s Manchester office and was asked to door-step the then Home Secretary David Waddington.
He recalls “I asked my editor, where does he live? Penrith. Oh right, how do I get to Penrith? The news editor looks at me like a total idiot and says ‘you drive’. I said ‘I can’t drive’. I never got asked back. That was the end of my career as a tabloid journalist.”
The riots were the longest prison riots in British history. Strangeways was also the last prison to hang somebody as a form of capital punishment in 1964. No wonder the name still evokes such strong reactions.
Ana Barros, 20, is a student and self-proclaimed ‘goth’ who is enchanted by all things macabre and enjoyed the walk saying: “I like that this is so local for me, I feel a connection with lost souls. I believe in spirits and certainly felt them come alive on this tour.”
The infamous prison has been home to some famous inmates over the years. Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown had a brief stint inside in 1998.
Other infamous inmates include:
- Harold Shipman – Britain’s most prolific serial killer.
- Ian Brady – One half of the Moors murderers.
- David Dickinson – TV antique expert jailed for fraud.
- Emily Davison – Famous suffragette.
- Dale Cregan – Killed two police women.
If you do not like the thought of a stretch inside, why not have a stretch outside? New Manchester Walks offer guided tours of most of the city’s landmarks.