First pop culture archive to open in Manchester

The archive contains gems from across the North West's pop scene, including invitations to The Hacienda's first birthday and an acetate from Joy Division's Unknown pleasures from 1979. Credit: Peter Saville/University of Manchester

A new archive preserving British pop music is being launched in Manchester.

The British Pop Archive (BPA) which is being housed at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, is the first of its kind dedicated to the preservation and research of popular culture.

Highlights include personal items relating to The Smiths, New Order, The Haçienda, Factory Records, Granada Television and Joy Division - many of which have never been seen by the public.

Items in the exhibition include: singer Ian Curtis' handwritten lyrics to Joy Division classics such as She's Lost Control and Atmosphere.

The lyrics were inspired by Curtis' time working with disabled people. Credit: BPA

The archives also houses original posters for the Sex Pistols' legendary gigs at The Lesser Free Trade Hall Manchester.

Sex Pistols 'Anarchy In The UK' tour took place in 1976 Credit: University of Manchester

Away from music, an invitation to the 21st anniversary party of Coronation Street holds a prominent place in the collection.

Corrie's 21st birthday party was held at Granada Television's studios. Credit: University of Manchester

Hannah Barker, Professor of British History at The University of Manchester and Director of the John Rylands Research Institute, said: “The British Pop Archive is a fantastic resource for a university with strong links to the creative industries.

"It provides unique material for a growing range of research and teaching at the University on popular music, TV, film, history, counter-cultural movements and youth culture from the twentieth century to the present day, linked to our brilliant Creative Manchester research platform.”

Jon Savage, Professor of Popular Culture, said: “Britain’s pop and youth culture has been transmitted worldwide for nearly sixty years now.

"As the most fertile and expressive product of post war democratic consumerism, it has a long and inspiring history that is in danger of being under-represented in museums and libraries.

"The intention of the BPA is to be a purpose-built, pop and youth culture archive that reflects the riches of the post war period running to the present day. We are launching with Manchester-centric collections but the intention is for the BPA to be a national resource encompassing the whole UK: it is, after all, the British Pop Archive.”