Eyewitness in Manchester Update 12 midnight BST Monday 22 June 1998


Boating Lake, Platt Fields Park


TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE went to the festival in Platt Fields this weekend - and watched top pop bands playing for charity. The money will go to the Joe Jaffe Renal Unit charity at Manchester Children's hospital. As reported by Adam Moss in today's Evening News, there was no trouble at this year's event - not like last year, when violence led to the abandonment of a similar event, also arranged by the radio Station Key 103 (If you fancy listening to Key 103, then click here).

I didn't make the event, but above is a picture of Platt Fields looking more typically serene. There's plenty of waterfowl, and it's a superb spot, but the picture doesn't show the rubbish and filth in the water which has accumulated in one corner of the lake, causing the death of one of the birds, as two local girls pointed out to us. Manchester City Council definitely needs to do more to maintain this superb park situated right in the heart of the city. It would never happen in London's Hyde Park or Regent's Park, I'm sure.


NINETEEN YEAR OLD Aaron Smith, from Congleton, was charged today in connection with the disappearance of schoolgirl Claire Hart. He was remanded in custody for three days by magistrates in Macclesfield, Cheshire. She was last seen on Thursday morning when she left home to walk the two miles to her school. Her coat was found 48 hours later. The search is now in its fifth day, and as each hour passes, hopes of seeing her alive are fading.

Oxford Road by nightThis tragic case shows that the worst can happen in the last place you'd expect: in the peaceful Cheshire countryside. The safety of the city centre, or lack of it, was the main topic of a discussion at a party I went to in Eccles on Saturday. The opinion of people who live in the City Centre is that it's a pretty safe place to be, day and night, and I agree. But many outside visitors to Manchester are brought in on chartered coaches, and walk the few steps to the Palace or Opera House without venturing further into the city, or they arrive from Hale Barns or Wilmslow in their BMW's, park in the GMEX car park and ascend by lift to the Bridgewater Hall. These people may think that "it's not safe" in the city centre - but it is! And the more of them that wine, dine and walk around in Manchester's wonderful downtown district, the better it is for all of us!


MY AUNT, on a visit from London, remarked how changeable the weather is - and it's true. After predictions of a hot and sunny weekend, the sunshine delayed its arrival till Sunday. There were blue skies and high temperatures, but it was muggy at night. Today was - sunny at times, cloudy at times. The view from Werneth Low this evening was spectacular - above the city there were layers of silvery clouds - hazy sunshine glinted off the buildings of central Manchester and the Audenshaw reservoirs. But to the south, the sky darkened to a wall of dull grey cloud, sweeping slowly northwards. The rain held off later, though there were a few spots of drizzle on the windscreen. Current EWM temperature: 58/14

Eyewitness in Manchester Update 8pm BST Saturday 20 June 1998

Bridgeford St, Manchester University, where the first stored program computer was run on 21 June 1948


TODAY I VISITED Manchester University's Department of Computer Science Open Day, held at their building on Oxford Road, just next to the Mathematics Building, which can be seen in the left hand photo above. It fascinating to see the work that's going on there, in particular the work in Virtual Reality. Pictures and report coming soon in my Eyewitness at Digital Summer 1998 website, online now. They've come a long way since Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn made their historic breakthrough in the building above. Are there any overseas graduates of the Computer Science Department reading this?


POLICE DIVERS AND TRACKER DOGS are looking for 13 year old schoolgirl Claire Hart, who has been missing since 8.40am on Thursday morning. The last time she was seen, she was on her way to school from her home in the village of Eaton, near Congleton, 30 miles south of Manchester. Police are reported to be interviewing a youth in connection with the disappearance. It's only a short period of time since the charred body of a girl was discovered in woodland near Crumpsall. There are many cases where missing children turn up safe and well, but by now, her family must be fearing the worst. Police are asking anyone with information to phone (01625) 610000.


Swinton Civic Centre

COUNCILLOR RICHARD LEESE, leader of Manchester City Council had to answer tough questions from a BBC1 North West Tonight reporter this week, after a meeting at in Salford of representatives of the councils of Greater Manchester. They were reported to be annoyed about Manchester's proposal to expand its size and population by taking over parts of their boroughs, and by the fact that they put the proposals in London without informing them. In response Manchester City Council have withdrawn their plan and are considering a more co-operative solution (similar to my suggestion!) , involving a referendum at the next election. Councillor Leese spoke conciliatory words, saying the meeting was constructive and useful. He seems to have learnt his lesson. Nevertheless, looking at the Readers Letters in today's MEN, the idea of an expanded Manchester seems to be surprisingly popular


PREPARE FOR A WEEKEND OF SUNSHINE, BLUE SKIES and temperatures in the eighties they said - the weather forecasters, I mean, but when I looked out the window this morning, I saw drizzle and cloudy skies, though the temperature was quite warm. It's certainly been muggy today, though just now, I thought I saw the sun peeping through the clouds. The current temperature is a sweltering 72/22 degrees. Whatever about the weather, a massive funfair and festival is in progress at Platt Fields Park. I hope to make it there tomorrow. Let's hope the rain holds off!

Eyewitness in Manchester Update 6pm BST Friday 19 June 1998

The  Baby small size image

Eyewitness@ds98 is now ready! Please go straight to the home page to see lots of pics and reports from Manchester's Digital Summer Festival including an interview with Chris Burton, the man who led the team that rebuilt "the Baby".

EWM UPDATE 11.45am Thursday 18 June 1998 Louise Woodward speaking at her press conference at Manchester Airport picture copyright Aidan O'Rourke - unauthorised copying prohibited


THESE WORDS were uttered by Louise Woodward at a press conference which I attended at Manchester Airport this morning. She said how glad she was to be back on British soil, and thanked all those who had supported and helped her. Asked to comment on her manslaughter conviction, she reasserted her innocence and said she hadn't been given a fair trial. She blamed adverse pre-trial publicity for this, and said she was confident that new medical evidence would eventually clear her name. She said she had nothing to do with the baby's death, and reasserted she had not sold her story.

The case has broken new ground in media terms: Sky Television ditched their normal schedule to cover the trial and experienced a huge increase in viewing figures - and when she left Boston last night, it was said there were more journalists than if the President had been flying out. This morning's press conference was typical - a room crammed full of reporters, technicians and cameramen carrying bulky tv cameras and video lights, photographers with still cameras, huge lenses and flashguns, watched over by police, security guards, airport officials. MP Andrew Miller politely warned the assembled journalists that they should be reasonable in their questioning. He got a... mostly... courteous response. When Louise and her parents came in, hundreds of cameras shutters and flashes went off - but she looked calm and confident, showing few signs of stress and tiredness after the journey.

At the end of the conference, which lasted about 20 minutes, she left again, to be taken by car the remaining 25 miles down the M56 to her home village.

Louise Woodward leaving for Elton, pursued by photographers


THANKS TO THE 24 HOUR UPDATE facility of the World Wide Web, and the services of a well-known one hour processing lab in central Manchester, I'm able to bring the above report and picture ahead of the newspapers! I wish I could have loaded the photos into a laptop, typed in the report and transferred them onto the website straight after the conference. When I have a digital alternative to my Nikon and 300mm zoom lens, this will be possible. I'm also looking into the possibility of incorporating sound and video clips into the newsletter page. All this will be coming soon, so please keep visiting!

Hi Aiden , I was born in Davyhulme and have been in Australia for 40 years . I am forgetting so much . I enjoy browsing your photographs and reports . I am an Aussie now ... and yet news of what happens over there fills a hole that still exists . I get NOT FOUND messages on photo's 100 to 299 , 1 to 99 and QTVR I can access . Keep up this excellent presentation .

Best wishes
Arthur Hanlon

Sorry - we're still in the process of uploading the pictures, they should be ok by the end of today. Thanks for your message.

EWM UPDATE 10pm Wednesday 17 June 1998


Lord Mayor of Manchester giving concluding address at Computer 50 Launch Event

THIS AFTERNOON I ATTENDED the fabulous Computer 50 Launch Event at the Bridgewater Hall. Invited guests had come from as close as Manchester University and as far away as Asia and America to attend the Computer 50 festivities. Though I'd arrived without a ticket, I was given perhaps the best seat in the house - in the middle directly in front of the stage. We were treated to an impressive two hour multimedia spectacular, using lighting effects, still and moving pictures on large screens, and live drama, recreating the moment in 1948 when Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams successfully got the Small Scale Experimental Machine to work.

Professor Kilburn then came onstage and gave his personal reminiscences. During his talk, there was a link-up via satellite to the Museum of Science and Industry, about half a mile away. On screen was the smiling face of Christopher Burton, the man who led the team that rebuilt the "Baby", and whom I interviewed last week. Professor Kilburn and Lady Williams, widow of Professor Williams, onstage at the Bridgewater Hall, pressed the button and the program ran once again, displaying the words: "Hello World 1948".

There were presentations by Sebastian de Ferranti, Keith Todd, ICL Chief Executive, Bill Perry of Barclays Bank, Peter Cochrane, research head at BT and Mac aficionado, Judy Nunn of the BBC, the University Chancellor The Lord Flowers, Vice Chancellor Professor Martin Harris, and the Lord Mayor. Honorary degrees were conferred on Chris Burton, Tom Kilburn, Sebastian de Ferranti and Michael Brady (see picture below). All in all it was an extremely professional, informative and entertaining afternoon.

Conferring of Manchester University honorary degrees

And I'm proud to say that Eyewitness in Manchester has scored another first, this time in reporting the Computer 50 Launch Event to the world in words and pictures: A live netcast had been planned but didn't take place, and the event finished too late for the evening newspapers. So thanks to an after-hours processing lab in Didsbury here are pictures of what I saw, taken on my Horizon panoramic camera. Fairly soon I'll be uploading pictures directly from a digital camera via a laptop and mobile phone connection, but until there are practical digital alternatives to my Nikon SLR, panoramic and stereoscopic cameras, I'll continue to use processing labs, or do it myself!

You'll find lots more about the Digital Summer 98 event in my Eyewitness@ds98 website, which is about to go online (just need to scan a few more photographs!).


THE FACE OF THE 20 year old from Elton, 30 miles south west of Manchester, was all over the papers and tv today, in the aftermath of the decision by Massachussetts judges to allow her to go home, though with the manslaugher verdict upheld. Her plane, BA flight 212 should be taking off from Boston's Logan Airport about now, and she'll be arriving at London Heathrow around 5am. Then she'll be taking the Shuttle to Manchester. The Manchester Evening News editorial said "Louise: Tell it, don't sell it", urging her not to make a profit from her story. But with the huge amount of interest, some are saying why shouldn't she? Last night, Granada TV presented a special programme about the case, and all today's newspapers have Louise Woodward on the front page. I wonder how long it will take for the story to die down, or if it ever will.


Despite forecasts of an improvement in the weather, drizzle fell on Manchester this afternoon both before and after the Computer 50 Launch Event. This evening it was fairly heavy. The current EWM temperature is 55/13 degrees.

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