Click here to go to the www.aidan.co.uk home page
EWM Home Page | Aidan O'Rourke on Twitter and Facebook | Pinterest | Google+ | Contact


Issue number 19 Monday the 26th of May 1997

Radio 1 RoadshowRadio 1 RoadshowRadio 1 Roadshow

Crowds gather in Albert Square to listen to a live broadcast of the Top 40.
LAST WEEK
HOME PAGE
NEXT WEEK
THIS WEEK
50 YEARS AGO

It's been a mostly sun-drenched bank holiday weekend in Manchester, and the streets of the city centre have been echoing to the sounds of "Music Live 1997". The festival has happened courtesy of the BBC, who decided to hold the annual event here. There have been performances of every genre, in a multitude of venues from alleyways off Market Street to the magnificent Bridgewater Hall.

"Listen to something you wouldn't normally listen to" said the festival posters, and that's exactly what I did in Albert Square yesterday, when I witnessed one of the highlights of the event, a live broadcast of BBC's weekly Top 40 show, presented by Mark Goodier. The Square, which this year has been the venue for so many contrasting and crowd-pulling events, was thronged with teenagers and older pop fans, who listened to the the BBC chart being pumped out at full volume. A giant TV screen displayed the video for each song, interspersed with shots of the crowd, the DJ and a team of dancers. Whatever about the quality of the music, the atmosphere was electric, and it was a great feeling to know that the event was being broadcast live to the whole of the UK.


Drinkers enjoying the sunshine in Shambles Square

While thousands crowded into the city centre to enjoy the party atmosphere, a hundred or so anti-runway 2 protesters were huddling in underground tunnels, holding out against Mr Randall Hibbert, Under-Sheriff of Cheshire and his bailiffs, whose orders are to evict them. As predicted in this feature last week, the operation commenced early in the week, around four am on Tuesday morning to be exact. After camping out on the land for fifteen weeks, the first of the eco-warriors were removed from the site by the "men in black" and "men in white" - expert potholers and climbers specially recruited by the Under-Sherriff's department to carry out the eviction.

About twenty protesters were removed on the first day, and the operation to clear the rest of them from the site continued through the week. Another hundred or so remain entombed under the ground, kept alive with air-pipes to the surface and a plentiful supply of food and water stashed away during the preceding weeks. Tunnellers have installed several sets of doors into the passageways, which the bailiffs must get through before eventually reaching the protesters, some of whom are chained to fixed objects.

It is an extraordinary and potentially dangerous situation - one mistake by the bailiffs could lead to injury or even death, either for one of their men or for a protester. And it would be the Under-Sherriff who would take the blame. The protesters know that the bailiffs must ensure their safety at all times, even if they are are the ones who are deliberately putting themselves at risk.

Martin Bell arrived to look at the operation on Tuesay, and refused to take sides. "The protesters have the right to protest, and the bailiffs have the right to evict them," he said. Ex-Middle East hostage Terry Waite, accompanied by two local residents, paid a visit the next day. The Under-Sherriff would only allow him onto the site alone, and so Mr Waite left shortly after without entering. On Saturday, there was another protest outside the site, this time by local residents.

The area remains out of bounds for most journalists and onlookers, as the bailiffs continue their operation. And I have just been informed of a new development: The protesters have just set up a new camp on land situated further along the path of the new runway. They reckon that it may be necessary for the Airport to go to court all over again in order to obtain the right to remove them.

It looks as though the cat and mouse game is going to continue, and probably well beyond the two weeks that the Under-Sherriff thought would be required to clear the site completely. The protest will probably add an extra 4,000,000 to the cost of the runway, out of a total cost of 172,000,000.

There were emotional scenes at Manchester United, as Eric Cantona announced his decision to resign from the club. Many supporters were overcome with tears at the news, which marks the end of an era.

Christie Hospital launched a fund-raising appeal on Thursday. The Duchess of Kent visited the hospital the same day. Christie's has been a leader in cancer treatment since the earliest days of research - the first X-ray was performed there during the early years of the century.

Another Christie's - the local hat manufacturers - announced that their Stockport factory will have to close next year after over two hundred years in the business. Production will be based at their other factory in Bury.

The weather was doing strange things in the region at the start of the week: There was a tornado in the Staffordshire villages of Waterhouses and Winkhill, located thirty miles south of Manchester. The twister tore the roof off a swimming pool and uprooted trees. On Tuesday, funnel clouds, similar to tornadoes, were sighted between Manchester and Liverpool. Most of the week was cool and cloudy, but the weather turned sunny on Friday, and the pleasant spell lasted through until the middle of this afternoon. Though the skies were mostly cloudless, the temperatures weren't excessive, staying on the comfortable side of 20 degrees celsius.

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke


LAST WEEK
HOME PAGE
NEXT WEEK
THIS WEEK
50 YEARS AGO




Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
Eyewitness in Manchester Home Page | Aidan O'Rourke on Twitter and Facebook | Contact