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Mid 17th Century
Quakers have been meeting in Manchester since the establishment of the Quaker movement in the mid-17th Century.
Originally they met in each other’s homes but in 1673 they purchased a plot of land on the corner of Jackson’s Row and Deansgate.
A new Meeting House was built on the present site at Mount Street in 1795. During the Peterloo Massacre, some of the crowd, that were dispersed by the militia, sought refuge in the grounds and the building itself.
Over the years Friends’ Meeting House has played an important role in the life of Manchester and provided a base for much social, campaigning and voluntary work.
18th & early 19th Centuries
In the 18th and early 19th centuries Manchester Quakers were prominent in the campaign against the slave trade and also prison reform. Manchester Friends contributed to the local community in a significant way through the provision of adult schools.
1914 - 1918
Manchester Friends have also been active internationally. During the First World War the Emergency Committee, responsible for organising and carrying out international relief, worked with refugees and carried out many peace meetings. After the war young Manchester Quakers were among those who fought the typhus epidemic in Poland.
1920 - 1923
From 1920-23 the Meeting House was used to pack and send relief supplies to Austria, Germany, Poland and Russia and during this period over £20,000 was collected at Mount Street for refugee work.
In the 1930s during the economic slump, Quakers organised various forms of relief for the unemployed including workshops where unemployed people were given the opportunity of paid work. At this time the Meeting House was also used as a base for helping Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.
1939 - 1945
This work continued during the Second World War. International relief work continued after the war and Mount Street was used as a collection point for clothes and other items to be sent to other countries in war ravaged Europe.
During 1994 Mount Street was the base from which Women’s Aid for Peace in former Yugoslavia took aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
Manchester Quakers continue to be involved in work on local, national and international projects. The Meeting House provides a base for both local and national conferences and meetings, is a hub for action towards social and economic justice and peace building and is used as a night shelter for destitute Asylum Seekers over the winter months. Local Friends actively participate in Manchester Pride and are also engaged in a project called the Quaker-Congo Partnership helping to alleviate ill-health and poverty in the war-torn Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.