The Guardian honours its Manchester roots as it turns 200 with a commemorative plaque at the site of its former offices on Cross Street

·5 min read

The Guardian and Manchester City Council are proud to unveil a new commemorative plaque at 3 Cross St, today, marking the site of the Guardian’s offices in the city from 1841 to 1970.

Editor-in-chief Katharine Viner, along with Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills, Manchester City Council and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham unveiled the plaque this morning to celebrate the joint history of the Guardian and Manchester.

The paper was founded as the Manchester Guardian in May 1821, in the wake of the Peterloo massacre in August 1819, which saw police charged into a crowd of people in St Peter’s Field protesting for fairer political representation, killing at least 14 people. This national scandal led to the inception of the Manchester Guardian by John Edward Taylor, a journalist who was present at the massacre and saw how the “establishment” media sought to discredit the protesters. The Manchester Guardian was launched with a manifesto that outlined a huge responsibility to the public to give facts accurately and honestly, and to hold power to account.

The Guardian turned 200 on 5 May and has planned a series of Manchester-focused events to mark its Mancunian heritage and celebrate its 200th birthday. Activities include a school visit to the Russell Scott Primary School in Denton, a special online Manchester event and an exhibition at University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library as well as the enduring commemorative plaque.

People walking down Cross Street will be able to see the plaque on the side of what is now the Arndale Centre. It reads:

The Manchester Guardian (now the Guardian) founded on 5th May 1821, had its newspaper offices here between 1841 and 1970. For almost 50 years it was the office of CP Scott, the paper’s longest-serving editor. ‘Comment is free, but facts are sacred’

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief said:

“In 1821 The Manchester Guardian launched promising to hold the powerful to account and to promote liberty, reform and justice. Guardian journalism is still driven by these values forged in Manchester, which now reaches millions of people every day. Today readers from across the world help to support Guardian journalism and keep it open to all. I’m delighted that we are able to mark this crucial part of our joint history.”

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, said:

“Manchester has a long tradition of innovation, challenge, and doing things differently. The Guardian is very much part of this history and its local roots are something we’re rightly proud of - with the newspaper and its values crafted in Manchester hailed the world over as a blueprint for independent journalism. It’s an honour to be unveiling this plaque and recognising this important part of our city’s history.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said:

“The Guardian was born out of injustice on the streets of Manchester and has always remained true to your mission of being a voice for human rights, for compassion, for justice. This is a part of Manchester’s history we can be very proud of, and I’m very pleased we’ll have this permanent reminder of Manchester Guardian and the ongoing positive influence this city has around the world.”

At the Russell Scott Primary School Katharine Viner will be talking to students about life as an editor, the Guardian’s history in Manchester and how to spot fake news as part of the Guardian Foundation’s NewsWise programme, which aims to empower children to be news literate. She will be joined by Russell Scott, the great-great grandson of CP Scott and a member of the Scott Trust, created to secure the Guardian’s independence. The Russell Scott Primary School was originally set up by the Scott family in the 1800s.

Steve Marsland, headteacher Russell Scott Primary School:

“As a school, we have been proud to bear the name of Russell Scott since 1882 and all these years later still be associated with the Guardian; upholding the values of the family who founded the school as an integral part of the community and reflected in the timeless values of the newspaper in standing up for what we believe is right, not what is easy. We give our children a voice and the Guardian continues to give small voices an audience, making them loud and making them heard”.

This evening the Guardian is hosting a free online event: The Guardian at 200: Made in Manchester, exploring the Guardian’s Manchester roots with Guardian columnist John Harris and editor-in-chief Katharine Viner in conversation with some of the city’s most influential voices including Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham; great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline and granddaughter of Sylvia, Helen Pankhurst; CEO of Manchester Pride, Mark Fletcher; lead singer of The Charlatans, Tim Burgess.

University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library (which holds the Manchester Guardian archives) will be holding a special exhibition and events with Manchester academics, Guardian writers, and experts on the Guardian’s history. The virtual exhibition opened on 5 May, with in person exhibition dates to be announced.

The Manchester Guardian grew in national and international acclaim under its longest-serving editor, CP Scott, who worked from the Cross St offices for almost 50 years. It was here he wrote his famous centenary essay, which became a blueprint for independent journalism.

In 1959 the paper changed its name to the Guardian to reflect the growing importance of national and international affairs in the newspaper, but never lost its original values and Manchester roots. The Guardian today is a global news organisation with offices in London, Manchester, Australia and the United States - read by millions of people everyday.

Manchester-based historian Jonathan Schofield is independently offering Guardian walking tours of Manchester to explain the history of the newspaper and the city.

Ends

For more information please contact: media.enquiries@theguardian.com

About Guardian News & Media

Guardian News & Media (GNM) publishes theguardian.com, one of the world’s leading English-language news websites. Traffic from outside of the UK now represents around two-thirds of the Guardian’s total digital audience. In the UK, GNM publishes the Guardian newspaper six days a week, first published in 1821, and the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, The Observer.