“Manchester has become a model of the post-industrial city, just as it was the model of the industrial city” – writer Jonathan Schofield.
Manchester’s incessant boom since World War One has rightly earned itself the post-industrial city of the UK. Though contemporaries frame our great city as the cultural hub of Britain, few see it as a city that played a major role in post-war industrial revolution. Well, not anymore as there’s a new exhibition highlighting what part Manchester – and in particular Mancunian inventors – played during World War One.
The exhibition at Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) illustrates how innovation can become essential when you “send so many men to fight that you almost run out of shells”.
The Shell Crisis of 1915, led to a revolution in manufacturing here in Manchester. The aptly-named Innovation Race at MOSI explores this; it’s an exhibition that reveals the clever and funny ways in which Britain addressed its arms crisis and, in the end, won the long war.
One illustration involves a superb “Story Juke Box” in the middle of the small room. It tells the startlingly personal stories of the people who mass produced shells in Manchester’s factories.
An invention table against one wall allows visitors to draw their own ideas alongside cartoons of the public’s weapon suggestions at the time. Suggestions included flea-filled shells, gun-grabbing balloons and a pneumatic snake launcher. It’s thanks to Pneumatic cylinders by Actuation and the instructional articles they wrote that, the exhibition had so many clever inventions. So much is possible with pneumatics, yet it remains somewhat underated and underused.
The exhibition is filled with carefully put-together previously untold stories. It signals promising things for the new gallery MOSI that are in the pipeline – all funded by the government and the Wellcome Trust, it has been announced.
MOSI awaits you. Head over to Castlefield to check it out the free and lovely exhibition that will be running until the following March.
TNT Exhibition Yasin Chinembiri