Monday, September 11, 2006

Too much pressure...

Heritage weekend has just been and gone. As usual, the Town Hall was open for guided tours, this time with performances in the Borough Court by students from Joseph Priestley College.

One change this year- one of the police station cells has traditionally been visited as part of the tour. However, it seems that some IT racks have taken prime position in the untouched cell, so we had to look into the others which have generally been shelved out but retain their toilets.

We also had a trip to the "people's Museum" in manchester, a sort of Socialist Museum housed in a former pumphouse for the Manchester Hydraulic Company. I knew there had been a London one but Manchester having its own 1000psi network with 35 miles of piping in the City Centre was news to me. It continued to run until 1972 and provided power in its time to wind the Town Hall Clock and lift the Opera House Safety Curtain.

How was I aware of the London one? They had a ready-made set of ducts in the Capital for Telecommunications services and Mercury purchased their assets at some stage. Something similar happened in manchester and Cable & Wireless now use the ducting.

1000 pounds per square inch sounds a scary amount of pressure- you could wash away walls with a leak and apparently a burst main squirted higher than the Manchester Exchange. There isn't too much to see of the legacy in the pumphouse now but worth a visit if you are into banners and communist propaganda. One of the six original pumps was saved by the Science Museum and you can see a picture of it here.

The Museum of Transportwas running heritage buses to & from the two venues which is how we latched onto the Pumphouse tour. If you are interested in buses, the transport museum is a must- if you are a normal sort with a slight passing interest it is worth 45 minutes...

I've decided that bus spotters are a bit like train spotters, us men can get obsessive about anything mechanical! (I'm an entertainment technology spotter & proud of it...

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