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Town Hall Gets Sword Back... 137 Years Later

A ceremonial glass sword used in the opening procession of the Town Hall in 1877 has been returned to the city

Written by . Published on November 13th 2014.

Town Hall Gets Sword Back... 137 Years Later

IT'S BEEN all ups and downs at Manchester Town Hall of late.

“The journey this sword has taken is remarkable"

One week we're promised devolution, an elected Mayor for Manchester and seamless Oyster card-style city slicker travel.

The next, we're digging under sofa cushions for £59m, 600 unlucky souls at Town Hall face the chop and over-60s can't even swim for free anymore. Which, incidentally, is a bit silly (surely we can scrape £70,000 from somewhere else?).

Well, now we've on another up... if you're into glass ceremonial swords.

Lovely Janette Cox - a former resident of Offerton who jumped ship to Oz - contacted Manchester City Council recently about a glass sword that had been passed down through the generations in her family.

After some investigation, it was discovered that Cox's sword was carried in the Processions of Trades which marked the opening of Manchester Town Hall on 15 September 1877 - 137 years ago.

The procession saw approximately 50,000 tradesmen, representing 69 trades, march through Albert Square. Members of the procession carried specially made items celebrating their occupations. A first hand account of the day describes, “the flint glass cutters… armed with glass swords” – and it is believed it is one of these glass swords that Janette Cox inherited.

Janette Cox (left) presents Lord Mayor Cooley with the ceremonial glass swordJanette Cox (left) presents Lord Mayor Cooley with the ceremonial glass sword

Cox's father, Roy Bracewell, worked in the City Architect's Department in the Town Hall for many years before emigrating to Australia and taking the sword with him.

Janette recently visited Manchester to see where her father had worked and presented Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Sue Cooley with the historic gift.

It's now on display in Manchester Town Hall.

Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Sue Cooley said: “The journey this sword has taken is remarkable and it was a privilege to meet with Janette to hear the story first hand.

“It is in an incredibly generous gesture to donate an item that has clearly meant so much to Janette’s family for generations and I can not thank her, and all those involved in preserving it, enough.

“The sword symbolises what a pivotal role Manchester Town Hall plays in the city and is a reminder of the sheer scale of spectacle the opening created over 130 years ago. It is a true honour to be able to display this heirloom for everyone to appreciate.”

“If anyone knows of any other artefacts dating back to the opening of the town hall please get in touch, I’d be fascinated to hear about them.”

Wonder how much that sword would fetch at auction? £59m would be handy.


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