On Lever street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the Manchester Police Museum. It is based in a former police station and is run by volunteers – only open on Tuesday’s. Inside the imposing Victorian building is a great interesting and fun collection of various police paraphernalia including historical uniforms, photographs and grisly evidence from crimes in and around Manchester. Having known about this for quite some time yet never having visited, both Sarah and I decided we should take a look. So on a lunch break from work we went along to have a look. One of the first things to greet you as you walk in (other than a policeman in 1950s uniform) is a selection of police uniforms – and yes, you are allowed to try them on!
As dressing up as old time police officers was one of our top priorities we spent quite some time trying on a variety of hats and cloaks. Quite sadly we had to tear ourselves away from this, as we were working against the clock and were keen to se the rest of the museum! Next we looked at the ‘crime room’ which contained exhibits on a host of infamous local criminals, such as a Manchester man who was cleared of a murder he committed and hanged for one he did not. There were also lots of weapons that had been collected as evidence over the years and a stack of slates thrown at officers during the Strangeways prison riot of 1990. There was also a reconstruction of an inspectors desk from the 1960s which made me think a lot of Life on Mars and imagined what coming across Manchesters real life Gene Hunts must have been like.
After a little while in the ‘crime room’ we continues our wander and took a look at the cells which had been reconstructed to look as they did when the station was in operation. Here in this pretty convincing reconstruction you could take a look in a cell which was adorned with pictures of offenders who may well have spent time in them. You could also lie on one of the uncomfortable wooden beds, and also peer through the peep hole in a cell door – which made me jump out of my skin as on the other side was a lifelike dummy of a prisoner!
With about ten minutes left before we had to rush back to work we headed upstairs in the museum to see a reconstructed courtroom. This we found out had been painstakingly put together to reflect an accurate historical courtroom of the Victorian period. It was interesting to see all of the fine woodwork and intricate stained glass on display, and the structure of the court – with the judge looming over the accused – gave us an eye opening insight into how justice was dispensed in the Victorian era.
By the time we had seen the courtroom our time had run out, so we had to consider dashing back to work. However, we couldn’t leave without giving ourselves at least five minutes in the gift shop! Filled with various bits of police themed souvenirs we browsed and settled on grabbing a couple of pens and pencils. After we left and were waved off by a cheery gentleman in his vintage uniform we both decided that it was possibly the best lunch hour we had ever had!