On Friday 19 February 2016, English roots musical collective Edward II release ‘Manchester’s Improving Daily’, a collection of rare and historic songs, known as the Manchester Broadside Ballads, dating back over 200 years to the Industrial Revolution.
The culmination of a 15-month project, ‘Manchester’s Improving Daily’ will be accompanied by a book, written by social archaeologist David Jennings, explaining the history of the songs and providing an informative commentary to these rare glimpses into the lives of working class Mancunians in the Victorian times.
The Broadsides are believed to be the main way news was circulated to the working classes, printed on cheap paper often with music suggested, they would be performed in the pubs, markets and streets across Manchester and Salford.
Edward II has selected a range of the Broadsides for Manchester’s Improving Daily. ‘Peterloo’ and ‘Kersall Moor’ reflecting the troubled, and tragic struggles workers endured in the fight for improved conditions and the right to vote.
‘Victoria Bridge on a Saturday Night’ celebrates the hustle and bustle of the busy market on the bridge over the Irwell which links the modern cities of Manchester and Salford.
‘Mr Sadler’s Balloon’ celebrates the first balloon flight in the country by James Sadler in 1785 (just two years after the Montgolfier Brothers invented flying air balloons). Recently the NOMA development in Manchester named its new public square Sadler’s Yard after the aviation pioneer and Edward II performed the song at the opening event.
Mixed in with Edward II’s modern arrangements for the songs is Bury-born balladeers Jennifer Reid’s performances of several of the ballads as they would have been originally sung.