Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.
Our main image this week shows Manchester University students protesting against British policy in Egypt during the Suez Crisis. The date is October 1956.
The students are smartly attired in tailored coats as they file past the Town Hall in Albert Square bearing a banner and placards. One is even carrying a briefcase.
All the buildings are still blackened by soot and smog as the Clean Air Act of 1956 had only just been passed. There also looks to be some mist in the air.
The message from the protesters, however, is clear – Prime Minister Anthony Eden must go.
The crisis blew up in the Middle East when Egypt’s President Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. Israel promptly attacked, followed by the landing of British and French troops.
Protests at home were overtaken by Russian opposition to what was termed ‘the tripartite aggression’ as well as the non-support of the USA. This led to the withdrawal of troops and Eden’s resignation.
The Manchester march was mirrored across the UK. A crowd at London’s Trafalgar Square made their way to 10 Downing Street and tried to storm the Prime Minister’s residence while the cabinet was meeting there.
The incident was captured on TV and was said to have had a demoralising effect on Eden and his Tory government.
There are no student protests in our modern image – or large gatherings of any kind as Manchester remains governed by coronavirus restrictions.
*Many more images from Then and Now are featured in The Changing Face of Manchester published to mark the 150th anniversary of the M.E.N.
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