The oldest library in the English-speaking world has finally reopened its doors to the Manchester public today.
Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 by English textile merchant, financier and philanthropist, Humphrey Chetham, and had remained open in the heart of Manchester city centre ever since – until the pandemic hit in March 2020.
Just like the majority of our great city, the iconic library was forced to temporarily close, but after 15 long months, the library will finally welcome visitors back today.
This has been the longest period of closure in the library’s rich 350-year history.
To mark this special occasion, a new programme of visitor tours will reveal rare items from the library’s priceless collection, with personal stories, historic maps and documents, and rarely-seen images of historic Manchester also on show.
The library said that some of the items from its collection will be on display for the first time.
Now a museum as well as a library, visitors to the Grade I-listed medieval building will be able to see a wide range of Manchester-related treasures that highlight the impressive development of the city from its market-town origins, through the Industrial Revolution and into the modern age.
Some of the items on show include the seventeenth-century manuscript of the first history of Manchester, original watercolours by the town’s antiquarian one-legged saddlemaker, Thomas Barritt (1743-1820), and the first printed map of the town.
There’s so much more than just books and academic literature on offer.
“It has been 15 long months since we last welcomed visitors or academic researchers through our doors.” said Fergus Wilde, a librarian at Chetham’s Library.
“This is our longest closure in 350 years, so it is with great joy and relief that we now welcome people back into our historic buildings.
“The library’s wide-ranging collections have a remarkable story to tell about Manchester’s growth and success [and] as we reopen our doors for guided tours and academic readers alike, we can’t think of a better place to start than by showcasing that Manchester story.”
Guided tours of the library building will now also resume in groups of up to six as a maximum, but Fergus has assured that they offer visitors “a deeper insight into our collections than ever before.”
You can find more information about the reopening of Chetham’s Library here.
Featured Image – Chetham’s Library
‘Significant risk’ of UK gas shortages this winter, regulator warns
Energy regulator Ofgem has warned that the UK faces a ‘significant risk’ of gas shortages this winter.
According to reports in The Times, the regulator has unveiled concerns that the country could face blackouts over the coming months thanks to an undersupply of gas to Europe caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Warning that a “gas supply emergency” could be looming ahead, the energy regulator has said that some gas-fired power plants could see their supplies cut off, which in turn would stop generators from producing electricity.
The alert comes just days before an expected update from the National Grid on the likelihood of countrywide power cuts this winter.
Responsing to arequest from SSE, which owns several gas power stations, Ofgem outlined what is set to be a huge issue of concern given that the UK relies on large gas plants to produce the biggest share of its electricity supply.
The regulator also pointed to rules that could see power plants penalised as a result of shortages, warning of a worst-case scenario that would see the “potential insolvency of gas-fired generators” caused by rules that require plants to pay huge charges if they fail to deliver on promised quotas.
Adding that the issue must be addressed to prevent a “significant impact on the safety and security of the electricity and/or gas systems”, the regulator echoed concerns now widespread in Europe as its comments followed a similar statement made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) this morning.
Europeans are already being told they must lower their thermostats and boilers in preparation in case gas supplies are cut off, with Paris-based agency IEA warning today that the EU must focus on getting underground gas reserve levels to 90% of capacity in case of a complete Russian supply shut-off.
Preparation are already being made in Europe with the German government having approved a set of energy-saving measures for the winter to limit use in public buildings. In France, meanwhile, companies have already been warned they may face energy rationing this winter.
Whilst the UK government is yet to announce any energey saving measures, Ofgem has said that it expect s“this winter to be more challenging than last year” and that it is taking “reasonable regulatory steps to mitigate and reduce the risks”.
GMP officers in the Bolton district are keen to hear from anyone with information that could lead to the suspects described above.
Detective Inspector, Stuart Woodhead of Bolton’s CID said: “We understand this will be a worrying incident for those in the local area, but rest assured we are working hard to identify the two suspects and continue to increase patrols as a result to offer visible reassurance.
“This happened in broad daylight in a public place, so we would urge anyone with details either of the incident or who may know who the two suspects are to come forward in confidence as our investigation continues and we look at all possible lines of enquiry.”
The GMP statement added: “If anyone has any information they are urged to ring the district direct on 0161 856 5757. Alternatively details can be shared via the LiveChat portal on gmp.police.uk or anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”