Back in the 1990s, Ged was in charge of The Blob Shop, a long-lost institution on High Street that specialised in ‘cheap wine, cheap beer, and plenty of blobs’ (a mix of Australian white wine, hot water and lemon. Ged sold 6,000 a week).
When he arrived to work that day, he could never have imagined that he’d be sitting in the rubble drinking beer with police officers just hours later.
He told us: “I’ll never forget that day, because it was a beautiful day – it was all blue skies and everyone was in a great mood and all that, and then you heard all the things going on, sirens and things.
“And the police coming in saying to people ‘You’ve got to move out, you’ve got to move out of the pub’.
“Truthfully, a lot of people said ‘No. I’m staying here for a few pints. If I’m going to go, I’ll go with a pint in my hand’.”
Eventually, Ged’s punters were coaxed out of their local and down the road – to another pub.
His customers were safely drinking in The Merchants on Oldham Road (now The Crafty Pig), but Ged was still standing in The Blob Shop when the IRA’s 1,500kg bomb was detonated.
“The phone happened to ring, and I was in the off-licence which is the window on High Street,” he said.
“I put the phone to my right ear, the bomb went off – the reason I’m saying that is because it blew my ear in, it blew my ear drum in.
“And it blew all the panels off the wall. All the windows came in, everything came in when the bomb went off. It was unbelievable.”
After being evacuated, one of Ged’s employees told him that she’d left her purse at the Blob Shop – including her house keys.
He continued: “I knew how to get down the back streets to the Blob Shop.
“As I was crossing the road I heard the police shout ‘There’s a bloke!’ and they chased after me.”
Ged was quickly emptying the cash from the tills and fetching his friend’s purse when the police rushed through the open doors after him.
He says they were shouting ‘we’ve got him Serge, we’ve got him’.
“I put my hands up and said ‘I’m the manager, I’ve had to go and get this girl’s purse and I’ve just got to take all my cash downstairs and put it in the safe. I’ve got to do all these things.’
“I was [shaking with] adrenaline and so were the policemen, so I said to them ‘Well while we’re here, let’s have a pint!’
“And I promise, and this is the God’s gospel truth, we all had three pints each, just like that.
“They were great policemen.
“So then obviously they got me out of the Blob Shop and they had to walk me down Church Street in the middle of the street with the policemen with me, to make sure I was safe.
“All the glass was still coming out of the windows, it was still falling in from all over the place.
“When I came out with the police it was still a lovely day, obviously it was blue skies.
“All the alarms were going off, I remember all the alarms.
“Alarms for cars, alarms for all the offices. The sound of alarms all the time, it was very very eerie.
“I can’t describe it. Well, after three pints anyway! I just remember thinking ‘What the hell’s happened?'”
Ged’s Blob Shop pub was only closed for a matter of days – it was back open for business by the middle of the week after the attack.
“People are very resilient, they want to go back to normal ways and that’s what they do.
“We opened the Blob Shop again and it thrived and it thrived.”
Featured Image – The Manc Group
Man uncovers long lost photos in charity shop depicting historic suffragette march
Whilst digging away in a charity shop, a man has uncovered a set of old Victorian era glass slides depicting what appears to be Women’s Sunday – a suffragette march held in London, organised by Moss Side’s own Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Amongst a heap of slides that appear to be taken sometime around the early 1900s, one depicts a large group featuring women in the signature stripy hats worn by the protest group.
What’s more their new owner, Ray Newman, has even suggested that one of the photos may depict Emmeline Pankhurst herself.
Writing on Twitter, he shared a thread of the images with his followers: adding short commentary to each one.
One the photo in question, he comments: “If you zoom in on the woman in dark clothing seen looking towards the camera from between two PCs she looks like Emmeline Pankhurst, or am I fooling myself?”
Others have chimed in with suggestions as to the date of the photograph, with one writing: “The boater straw hats plus mutton sleeves equals c.1910.”
Given that the Women’s Sunday protest was held just two years prior to this in 1908, it does seem possible that this incredibly old photograph has captured one of the biggest moments in the suffragette’s history.
The event, organised by Pankhurst’s WSPU, featured the organisation’s colours (purple, white and green) for the first time in public. In days leading up to the event, over 10,000 scarves in the colours were sold at two shillings and elevenpence each, whilst men donned ties in solidarity.
Held to persuade the then Liberal government to support votes for women, the march is thought to have been the largest demonstration to be held until then in the country – drawing around 30,000 women marched to Hyde Park in seven processions.
Of course, the photos not being dated or marked in any way, it is hard to know if these really are images of Emmeline Pankhurst and the historic march but there are quite a few people online speculating that it could well be.
Several have pointed to the seemingly large police presence (and one person claims to have counted eleven officers), suggesting that that could indeed point to it being a photograph of a large suffragette protest.
Elsewhere amongst the collection of photos, images show a stately home, school or institution with flamingos outside, what appears to be a boy scout troop or group of cadets armed with rifles, boaters on the water at Alexandra Park, and a number of people posing in period dress.
Writing above a picture that depicts an old British high street, Ray comments on how the glass slides are tricky to scan adding that he had to “do it with my phone against a bright white screen.”
He continues: “This is a high street… somewhere… c.1910, I’d guess. I can see a sign for an inn with an ‘excellent motor garage’ but can’t work out any more than that.”
Above another, he said: “A stately home, school or institution. There are statues of flamingos on the left. Definitely haunted. (House and slide.)”
Offering a fascinating look into a lost world, some of the images are over 100 years old and taken when photography was something of a new art form. Unlike today, when everyone has a camera in their pocket, to own a camera was something of a rarity – making these images even more intriguing.
If you would like to see the full thread of pictures uncovered by Ray, you can do so by clicking here.
Feature image – Ray Newman
Rugby legend, ultra-marathon runner, inspiration | Kevin Sinfield — Manc of the Month November 2022
It’s that time of the month again (no, not that one): it’s time to pick our Manc of the Month for November and while there were plenty to pick from, one man has stood out in the past few weeks.
Kevin Sinfield is the ex-rugby player turned coach, ultra-marathon-runner and mega-fundraiser from our very own Oldham who did something truly amazing earlier this month.
The 42-year-old former loose forward, who currently serves as a defensive coach for the Leicester Tigers in the rugby union, has gone from a Manc-born sporting role model to a national hero thanks to his extremely admirable charity work over the past couple of years.
This bloke is a machine.
Seven ultra-marathons in seven days
For anyone unaware of Sinfield’s latest exploits, the former Leeds Rhinos player and director undertook the immense ‘Ultra 7 in 7‘ challenge earlier this month, tasking himself with the ridiculous feat of running seven ultra-marathons in seven days.
To put that into context, a standard marathon measures just over 26 miles or 42 kilometres; ultra marathons regularly clock in at 50km or more. Sinfield is said to have covered more than 256 miles (approx. 417km), averaging more than 60km a day. Insane.
Finishing the series of ultra-marathons alongside his dedicated team of runners on November 19 at Old Trafford, just in time for the 2022 Rugby League World Cup final, he was met with rapturous applause from the crowd — and rightly so.
The ex-Rhinos and England international set himself the target of raising £777,777 for Motor Neuron Disease in honour of his former teammate and equally inspiring close friend, Rob Burrow. He went on to absolutely smash that goal, amassing an incredible £1.4 million in donations in just a week.
Moreover, just last year he put himself through similarly unimaginable levels of strain by running a 24-hour marathon for the first time, raising over £1m for MND in November 2021 alone.
Again, this man is utterly remarkable.
Covering more than double the distance he managed the last time around, raising a total of over £2.3m across his two 7 in 7 ultra runs, it cannot be understated how much he has done for more than five different motor neuron disease charities in just a few short years.
Even before his latest heroics, Sinfield’s contributions to motor neuron awareness and fundraising were recognised by the local ouncil alongside record-breaking rower and Oldham native, Frank Rothwell, who were both bestowed with the little-known ‘Freedom of the Borough’ award back in March.
As for this year’s ultra-marathon challenge, his route saw him trek all the way from Edinburgh, through various parts of Yorkshire and, finally, back down to his home county of Greater Manchester. Not even bathroom breaks could stop him.
Compelled to run and raise as much as possible to support the MND community and honour Burrow, who was diagnosed with the disease back in 2019, Sinfield has made it his mission to help raise awareness and fund research into the rare condition which affects the brain and nervous system.
Joined by peers like footballer Stephen Darby as well as late rugby union colleague and fellow MND suffer Doddie Weir, who sadly passed away just last week, these and many more who supported Sinfield’s campaign have done untold levels of good when it comes to highlighting the disease.
Since beginning his fundraising journey in 2019, Kevin Sinfield has now raised over £7 million for the Motor Neuron Disease Association (MNDA) and related charities through his ultra-marathons and other charitable efforts, a miraculous and potentially fortune-changing amount that could save countless lives.
This absolute hero has already helped raise in excess of £2.6m all told with this year’s Ultra 7 in 7 alone, but if you want to join the millions of people still donating then you can do so HERE.