About the project

Showground of the World is a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of Manchester Histories Festival (MHF), 2014. The aim of the project is to celebrate the heady days of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens through a series of elements including:

Belle Vue: Showground of the World exhibition

MHF and the National Fairground Archive bring you a unique exhibition celebrating the heady days of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens.

Attracting 2 million visitors a year and larger than Disneyland, people flocked to the Gorton site for the zoo, circus, fair, speedway, dancing, boxing, wrestling, fireworks and music for over 140 years.

Combining items from over 6 different collections, the exhibition aims to remember the days when Belle Vue was the country's centre of mass entertainment. Come and see the hand prints of Gracie Fields set in concrete, look at World speedway bikes and stand amazed at the life-size sculpture of Omi the tattooed man.

An event programme runs alongside the exhibition where you can listen to live music, share your tales during oral histories interviews, be entertained by schools or dance to the tunes of an original DJ.

Belle Vue Roadshow

Sunday 23rd March - 11am to 6.30pm
Gorton Monastery

Bring your memories and memorabilia to Gorton Monastery for Manchester Histories Festival's Belle Vue Roadshow to celebrate all things Belle Vue.

Find out more from the experts, bring down your own memorabilia for recording on our digital map, see speedway demonstrations, join in the craft sessions, watch film screenings, listen to talks from local and national historians, preserve your memories in a recorded interview and then end the day with our very own Belle Vue Tea Dance.

You can also take a free return bus from the Monastery into Manchester to see the Belle Vue: Showground of the World exhibition as part of your day.

Belle Vue walking tour

Relive the wonderful histories of Belle Vue as part of this bespoke walking tour led by Emma Fox from Manchester Guided Tours and created especially for Manchester Histories Festival.

Tread in the footsteps of Belle Vue's most famous and infamous characters on the land where Belle Vue once stood. See history come alive as local actors join you on parts of the tour to share untold stories and fascinating tales of times gone by. Meet the characters from Belle Vue including ringmaster George Lockhart and World Speedway Champion Peter Craven. The script for the tour has been devised by the wonderful ‘Lip Service' who have just won a prestigious Manchester Theatre Award.

To find out more about other Belle Vue related events taking place during the festival, please click here.

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