From classics to Madchester, museum marks city's heritage

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Plans to mark Manchester's integral role in British music over a period of 150 years were revealed yesterday as the city prepares for the return of local hero Morrissey.

Plans to mark Manchester's integral role in British music over a period of 150 years were revealed yesterday as the city prepares for the return of local hero Morrissey.

The Smiths' frontman will perform in the city for the first time in 12 years today, coinciding with details of a Manchester music museum which will do much to challenge Liverpool's monopoly on the musical heritage trail in North-west England.

The museum will mark the city's place as a classical music mecca in the 1860s, show off relics from its 250 1960s beat clubs (more than any other city in the world, including Liverpool), its thriving 1940s jazz scene and - perhaps the finest of all - the Madchester days of the Happy Mondays, New Order and Factory Records.

A site for the museum has not yet been chosen but the company established to create it, 100% Cotton, is aiming for one of Manchester or Salford's iconic red-brick hotel buildings. The Heritage Lottery Fund is understood to be positive about contributing towards the venue's creation.

The city's fine music traditions date back to the 1860s, when Charles Halle's orchestra was one of the world's finest. In the early 1900s came a generation of marching bands - many made up of musicians so poor they simply played kazoos, then there was a strong music-hall tradition.

But the arrival of American servicemen and women at the Burtonwood military base, near Warrington, upped the city's musical tempo during the Second World War. "It was the second largest US air base outside of the US," said Matt Norman, a filmmaker who works for The Doves, who originate from Manchester, and is a leading member of the 100% Cotton group. "They set up the great jazz clubs in the 1940s. The size of the beat-club scene followed on from that."

The museum will host archive material, including performance footage, on various stages in the industry's development The names it has to collate material from the 1960s alone includes Manfred Mann, Wayne Fontana, Herman's Hermits. Salford boy Ewan McColl - who wrote the words of Killing me Softly and Dirty Old Town - a dirge written about Salford. The Madchester, Hacienda, Factory Records days almost speak for themselves.

The only problem is where to site it. The adjoining cities Salford and Manchester still vie with each other and both seem to have contributed as much to the musical heritage.

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