Joanna M. Williams

Manchester’s Radical Mayor

Abel Heywood, The Man Who Built the Town Hall

The History Press 2017

New Books in BiographyNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 31, 2018 Mark Klobas

Today, the Neo-Gothic Manchester Town Hall stands as one of the notable architectural features of England’s second city. It also serves, however, as a...

Today, the Neo-Gothic Manchester Town Hall stands as one of the notable architectural features of England’s second city. It also serves, however, as a towering monument to the career of Abel Heywood, a businessman and politician who, as Joanna M. Williams details in her book Manchester’s Radical Mayor: Abel Heywood, The Man Who Built the Town Hall (The History Press, 2017), did much to guide his city through its transition from a town still governed by medieval institutions into a modern industrialized metropolis. Though born into poverty, Heywood built up a thriving printing and bookselling business at an early age. A radical in his politics, Heywood nevertheless won a succession of positions in local government, serving as both a town councilor and as an alderman prior to his first election as mayor in 1862. It was during his second term in 1877 that he presided over the opening of his city’s new town hall, which served as both as a symbol of Manchester’s newfound status and an embodiment of Heywood’s role in shepherding its development.


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