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OUS Manchester

Manchester Town Hall - Photo by Mark Andrew


The Manchester group organises several events for members each year – typically these include an informal meal and a speaker from Oxford, a May Bank Holiday walk, a visit to a place of historic interest and a lecture in the autumn.

Future events

The Manchester group's future programme includes the following events for all of its members:

  • Visit to Chetham’s historic Library and College House in Manchester – Saturday, 30 June 2018 at 2.30pm

    Chetham’s Library and College House are the oldest parts of the Chetham’s School of Music campus. Originally a 15th century manor house, the buildings had a chequered history, before being bought in 1653 with the bequest of the late Humphrey Chetham for use as a free library and Blue Coat charity school. The library, housed in the baronial hall, has been used by many famous people including Benjamin Franklin and Marx and Engels and is believed to be the oldest free public reference library in the English-speaking world. The school became Chetham’s School of Music in 1969 and is now claimed to be the largest music school in Britain.

    An invitation with full details can be found here. Numbers are limited so early application is recommended.

    Please reply directly to the organiser, Chris Hirst, for this event via the contact details listed in the invitation.

  • Buxton Festival – Organ recital by an Oxford Organ scholar - Saturday, 7 July at 5pm

    The Buxton Festival programme always includes an organ recital by an Oxford organ scholar - this year the recitalist is Charles Maxtone-Smith of New College. He will be playing at St John's Church (very close to the Opera House) at 5pm on Saturday, 7 July, and the group plans an informal arrangement where those members attending can enjoy a drink together afterwards. His programme, and booking details, are here.

    Please book independently for this event, but email the group's secretary if you are attending.


  • History walk taking in the famous lock flight at Marple, Cheshire – Saturday, 8 September 2018

    Local historian Judith Wilshaw will lead a historical walk for the group in Marple, Cheshire, to explore the canal system, the lock flight and the history of the town. Added options will be a lunch at a local Italian restaurant and an extension to visit the remarkable ensemble of aqueduct and viaduct close by.


  • Autumn lecture – Thursday, 15 November 2018

    The subject is 'Does the news media have a future?' and the speaker is Brian Groom, who has held many senior roles at the Financial Times, including assistant editor, political editor and business and employment editor. He also helped to launch Scotland on Sunday and served as its editor.


Invitations to the Marple visit and the autumn lecture will be sent out to those on the group's mailing list nearer the time.

If you live in the Manchester area and are not already on our mailing list, please email the group's secretary, giving your contact details, alumni number, Oxford college, subject and year of matriculation so that we can add you to our list and keep you informed of events.

The group's committee welcomes suggestions for future visits or other activities which might be of interest to its members. Please email the group.

Recent past events

2018 May Bank Holiday walk

Under the leadership of group committee member Philippa Whittaker, our May Bank Holiday walk took place in glorious sunshine around the villages of the Saddleworth parish.

Starting from Uppermill, 17 walkers followed the Pennine Bridleway to Greenfield and through Friezland to the Tameside boundary at Mossley. Philippa provided an insight into the history of the Micklehurst Loop railway line, which the bridleway follows. Built to relieve overcrowding on the LNWR railway line to Huddersfield, it was closed in the 1960s.

The long-awaited return of sun and warmth had brought out a riot of flowers and fresh foliage to our sylvan route, with fresh growth in the meadows of the Rive Tame and birds in abundance. Turning off the bridleway, we followed a path past the restored Royal George Mill complex and walked along the Huddersfield Canal. We learnt about its chequered history, the delays and difficulties of its construction, budget overruns, shortage of water and commercial failure as the railways rapidly supplanted it. The swans, ducks, geese, coots and moorhens, only disturbed by the occasional narrow boat, provided an aquatic wildlife theme. The well-tended - and often humorously quirky - back gardens on the opposite side to the towpath (including stone sheep and a corpse climbing out of a grave) entertained us.

Going under the massive bulk of Saddleworth railway viaduct, we turned off the canal and onto the Delph Donkey, a path along the route of a former railway from Delph to Greenfield. Philippa, David Shipp and helpful information boards, provided some history about the line, its early horse-drawn origins and its later celebrity Royal visitors. As we went through cuttings and along embankments, we could see why the Delph Donkey is now an important wildlife corridor. After the beautifully-restored Delph station (now a private dwelling) we reached the Old Bell Inn at Delph, having walked 5.2 miles almost on the level. Here we were joined by a further nine people for a most convivial lunch.

The walkers then followed a more undulating 2.4 mile route back from Delph along paths through woods bordering the River Tame to Dobcross, then climbed through Ryefields to rejoin the bridleway through Uppermill and back to the start point. We enjoyed each other’s company greatly and made lots of new friends. A better way to spend a spring Bank Holiday is hard to imagine.  


2018 AGM and dinner

The 2018 AGM and informal dinner was attended by nearly 80 members and guests and was followed by a talk on 'Excavating Islamic Jerusalem' by Dr Kay Prag (St Hugh’s), Honorary Lecturer in Archaeology and Director of the Ancient Jerusalem Project at Manchester Museum.

This was particularly warmly received as Dr Prag stepped in at a few hours’ notice to replace the advertised speaker who was indisposed. Dr Prag worked alongside Dame Kathleen Kenyon (later Principal of St Hugh's) in her excavations in Jerusalem, and has continued to research and publish the archive of those excavations.

She illustrated the 1960s excavations with aerial views of the city and contemporary pictures of the excavation teams.

One of her particular interests was the Islamic period of the city from 1187 and we were drawn in by her enthusiasm for the finds – pottery and other artefacts from excavated cisterns and cesspits. The material was often fragmentary but gave hints of vivid colour and eye-catching design. For the archaeologist it was particularly valuable because it could be precisely located and readily dated. 

[image left: Fish design on Ayyubid glazed pottery; late C12/early C13 AD. Courtesy of Dr K Prag]


Autumn lecture - November 2017

[image right: Reconstruction of the head and shoulders of a victim of the Vesuvius eruption in AD79. Courtesy of Richard Neave]

Our Autumn lecture, 'Macedon, mycenae, molars and more: reconstructing ancient faces' was given by Professor John Prag, Honorary Professor in the Manchester Museum and Professor Emeritus of Classics in the University of Manchester.

His ground-breaking work on archaeological reconstruction brings together all the details that specialists can deduce from ancient remains, producing what he describes as a three-dimensional report, more accurate and powerful than any printed account. He paid warm tribute to the many specialists who had contributed to the research – surgeons, dentists, anthropologists, physicists, radiologists and others. 

A large and enthralled audience watched as he revealed the lifelike heads he had produced in collaboration with the medical artist Richard Neave. Philip of Macedon was a particularly startling sight, as the skull found at Vergina supported the historical record that he had lost an eye in battle. The method has also been used to identify modern-day murder victims, and to prove that ancient tomb effigies and mummy paintings were, not surprisingly, considerably idealised.


Oxford alumni network - Manchester LinkedIn group - September 2017

In late September, more than 30 members of our LinkedIn group met over drinks and a buffet in the rooftop bar of the Hilton Doubletree Hotel, Manchester where they enjoyed lively conversation and a rather spectacular sunset against the Manchester skyline.



Guided tour of the Lion Salt Works Museum, Northwich, Cheshire - September 2017

[image below, right: Salt-making experience © Copyright Chris Allen]

A group of members and their guests had a guided tour of the museum at lunchtime on Sunday 3 September. The works had been set up in 1894 to exploit the brine resources which, together with rock salt, are widespread in the area.

A variety of ongoing problems related to the corrosion-enhancing nature of salt, subsidence caused by mining of rock salt, and competitive markets meant that the business struggled along but defeat was finally accepted when it was closed down in 1986.

The site was then taken over by the local council and, after a long period of fund-raising followed by conservation and restoration, it was opened as a museum in 2015.

The tour showed how crystalline salt had been produced by boiling away the water from brine in large saucer-shaped “pans” and how it was then crushed and ground to produce the various grades of salt that were used largely in the food industry.

The ongoing structural problems that the works had suffered were evident. Continual subsidence meant that very few of the buildings on the site were not leaning in one direction or another and one remaining works’ chimney looked decidedly precarious.

The salt had also taken its toll, with brickwork and surviving machinery and other metalwork being severely corroded.

At a cost of several million pounds, walls and roofs had been rebuilt and buildings reinforced by internal steel frames.

Whilst the corrosion had been arrested, it was evident that the whole site was still on the move. Our visit was very enjoyable and informative with Duncan, our excellent guide, keeping us entertained with both his thorough knowledge of the history of the site and his keen sense of humour.


Visit to Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire - July 2017

Gawsworth Hall is an evocative Tudor house in Cheshire, whose beautiful gardens still have traces of a historic tilting ground.

The group was invited to visit by the owners, the family of our late group member, Timothy Richards.

Almost 50 members and guests enjoyed a fascinating visit on an afternoon of glorious sunshine. Rupert Richards made us very welcome and spoke warmly of how much Oxford had meant to his father and uncle – although the strongest memories were of successes on the river and of driving around Oxford in one of his classic cars, a Bugatti.

 Elizabeth Richards, the current owner, gave us a lively account of the history of the house, which was built by the Fitton family, whose daughter Mary was a maid of honour to Elizabeth I.

The story was full of interest and incident, including the occasion when the ownership of the house remained unresolved after a duel in which both participants were killed. 

Following the introductory talks, members were free to explore the house and grounds. Gawsworth is also renowned for its outdoor theatre productions in the summer, and some of the party remained to enjoy a picnic and an evening performance of Romeo and Juliet.

Younger alumni

The Manchester group is keen to engage with recent Oxford graduates in the area, particularly those who graduated in 2000 or later. Both a LinkedIn and a Facebook group have been set up to assist this.

  • LinkedIn

    Gareth Davies has established the Oxford Alumni Network - Manchester group on LinkedIn to help alumni make connections for networking, mentoring and career development as well as for socialising. Particular functions of the group will be to provide career insights and professional connections to recent graduates looking to work in Manchester, and to provide professional and social connections to alumni who have recently relocated to Manchester. Membership of the LinkedIn group has continued to grow and now exceeds 260. The group has held two events so far.

    The group’s LinkedIn web address is:

    The group' has held two events so far - see 'Recent events' section. 

    Future events might include:

    • social/professional networking, particularly providing an immediate and friendly network of people for alumni who have recently relocated back to, or to, Manchester
    • opportunities to be mentored by more seasoned members of the alumni group in the same field of work
    • opportunities to mentor more recent alumni in the same field of work
    • to provide career advice/opportunities to recent graduates looking for work in Manchester

      For more details and to join the group, please connect with Gareth Davies via LinkedIn, providing your alumni number, college, subject and matriculation year.

  • Facebook

    Dr Zixi You has set up a Facebook page up at: for University of Oxford alumni living and working in and near Manchester who are warmly welcomed to check our website, join our group and many exciting events!

    The Facebook group has had two meetings so far and further meetings are being planned.

    For more details and to join the group, contact Zixi You via Facebook, providing your alumni number, college, subject and matriculation year.

Contact the Group

If you live in or near Greater Manchester and wish to be kept in touch with OUS Manchester group events, please email the group's Secretary and ask to be added to the contact list.