Anna Ford on her Manchester background

I knew Manchester quite well, because my mother comes from Manchester and she was in Manchester high school. And my grandfather was a doctor in Urmston. And all my grandfather’s brothers were either born in Pendlebury, Wigan or Salford. They were to do with coal mines and Pendlebury. In fact, one of them grew out of the coal mine to become the first ever professor of mining engineering at Manchester University. Another one ended up managing a coal mine, but not very well. And so my whole background was Manchester and Lancashire through my mother’s family. And she was exceedingly proud of being a Lancashire girl and of growing up in Manchester. And grandpa used to say, “I’ll go to London if there’s anything worth going for. But on the whole there isn’t.” Because he’d got the Opera House, which he had a season ticket to, he had the Hallé Orchestra, he had cricket at Old Trafford, which he loved. He had the dogs at Belle Vue which used to bet on, and he had all his friends who had been to medical school with him, none of whom wanted to go south, because that’s what they didn’t do in those days. So it was a very Mancunian background, but it also meant… my mother was born in 1913, she lost a sister from scarlet fever in the 1920s. And therefore, we grew up with a real understanding of what poverty was like in Lancashire when people were really poor. And she was aware of that all her life. She was a true socialist, very committed to the Labour Party. And she used to take me to hear Harold Wilson speaker at Carlisle Town Hall when we moved up there, in the days when political meetings were real political meetings, and people could throw things and all the rest of it, but times have changed. And so I had that background. And I felt very wedded to the movements in Manchester, not just the Suffragettes, but the trade union movement and the Workers’ Educational Establishment, and the fact that people were out to make a better life for themselves. And that seemed to be a thread that, despite Sidney Bernstein, ran through the Granada newsroom.

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