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Remembering Lee Rigby nine years on from the devastating Woolwich terror attack

Nine years ago today, Lee Rigby lost his life in a sickening terror attack that haunts the nation to this day

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Gov.uk & Wikimedia Commons

It was an attack that shook the nation: On May 22nd 2013, Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered in a violent onslaught as horrified passerby’s watched on.

Lee, twenty-five, was a drummer in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and had served in Cyprus, Germany and Afghanistan before becoming a recruiter with ceremonial duties at the Tower of London.

The father-of-one, from Middleton, had been an avid supporter of charity Help 4 Heroes, and was even wearing one of the foundation’s hoodies when he was targeted in an unprovoked and savage attack.

The father-of-one was outside his barracks in Woolwich, London at around 2pm, when he was hit by a car driven by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, both said to be influenced by extremist group al-Muhajiroun.

Gov.uk

The pair didn’t have any former knowledge of Lee, and it was believed to be his Help 4 Heroes hoody that alerted them to his connection with the military.

After hitting him with their car, the men leapt out and unleashed a brutal attack on the defenceless Lee, before a brave passer-by – later identified as Ingrid Loyau-Kennett – attempted to shield him from any further harm.

Ingrid was later nicknamed the ‘Angel of Woolwich’, but revealed that witnessing the attack had ‘ruined her life’.

ITV News

Speaking to The Sun three years later in 2016, Ingrid said that while she was glad she stood up for Lee, she could feel nothing but ’emptiness around me’.

And Ingrid wasn’t the only passerby to get roped into the atrocity; another member of the public was approached by Adebolajo, who instructed him to start filming on his phone as he attempted to give an explanation for the brutal murder. 

In the now infamous footage – which was controversially aired by ITV News later that day – Adebolajo can be seen soaked in blood and brandishing a meat cleaver as he blamed the British military’s murder of innocent muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Adebolajo was heard saying: “The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one…”.

Wikimedia Commons

Nine minutes after the first 999 call, armed police swooped upon the scene and opened fire. London Ambulance Service later confirmed that a man had been found dead at the scene, while two other men were taken to hospital, one of them in a serious condition.

In September that year, Adebolajo and Adebowale were found guilty of the murder of Lee Rigby, and were both sentenced to life imprisonment. They remain behind bars to this day.

In the wake of his death, Lee’s parents Lyn and Ian founded the Lee Rigby Foundation in his honour to support other grieving families of deceased military members by paying for holiday breaks and excursions. 

They also worked tirelessly to open the Lee Rigby House in Staffordshire as a permanent retreat for bereaved Forces families and veterans.

Lee’s family told the Manchester Evening News on their grief:  “It doesn’t get any easier with the passing years.

“But we are more determined than ever before to do right by him and honour his life, his memory and his enduring love and spirit.”

For more information on the Lee Rigby Foundation’s mission and to donate yourself, visit the official website here.

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FORGOTTEN MANCHESTER: The rise and fall of Tommy Ducks

From coffins as tables and knickers stapled to ceiling, there wasn’t a lot that didn’t happen at Tommy Ducks…

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Salford_66 / Flickr

Out of all of Manchester’s weird and wonderful institutions, the legacy of Tommy Ducks remains today as one of the all-time greats.

 But what exactly happened to this infamous boozer?

Tommy Ducks stood proudly down what is now Lower Mosely Street, and is known to have roots dating all the way back to the 1800s. 

While it is widely believed that it was originally named The Prince’s Tavern, the pub underwent a name change at some point in the 1870s after its egotistical landlord Thomas Duckworth wanted to name it after himself. 

Manchester Libraries

But rumour has it that the painter-decorator hired to replace the pub’s sign either ran out of paint and supplies or found he didn’t have enough room to fit in the full name, so improvised and come up with the name Tommy Ducks, instead.

Of course, there’s no solid evidence for this mishap actually happening, but it is certainly one of the more believable rumours about the pub’s namesake.

Anyway, the pub settled with its abbreviated name and went on to quietly serve the good people of Manchester throughout the 1900s.

But then the 1970’s arrived, and Tommy Ducks started to gain a different kind of reputation, with it quickly becoming one of the most sought after boozers in the city – quite the accomplishment considering it was stood in the middle of a recently-demolished estate.

Rose McGivern / Facebook

One of the pubs more popular legacies is its makeshift tables – for reasons unbeknown to most Mancunians today, someone had the bright idea of using glass-topped coffins as tables, one of which was kidnapped by a rival pub for a while.

One of the coffins even featured a skeleton, which many people were adamant was a real one.

Tommy Ducks was also renown for having ladies knickers and bras stapled to the ceiling above the bar, with female punters allegedly been invited to remove their undies upon arrival (yes, before their first drink!).

The pub played home to these kind of shenanigans for the next couple of decades and, by the 1990s, it was one of the last standing buildings in the area, which lay in ruin following a mass demolishment.

Andrew Simpson

However, in 1993 the pub’s temporary preservation order – arranged by punters and supporters back in the 1970s – expired, plunging its future into uncertainty and doubt.

Greenalls Brewery, which ran the pub, was also coming under increasing pressure by fat cat developers to sell up and shut shop.

Tragially, the temporary preservation order expired on a Friday, meaning that the council offices were closed for the weekend. And because the order couldn’t be renewed until Monday morning, demolition began in the early hours of Saturday.

While Greenalls was eventually fined £150,000 for their act of destruction, it was still too late – Tommy Ducks and its abundance of coffins and bras was gone forever.

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Feature

It’s 26 years since the devastating IRA bomb and the people of Manchester are still waiting for justice

Why was no one ever arrested for the attack on our city?

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Manchester Fire / Flickr

Twenty-six years ago on this date, Manchester fell victim to one of the biggest bombs ever exploded in the United Kingdom. 

It was a beautiful, unusually sunny morning in Manchester on June 15th, 1996 – England were about to take on Scotland in Euro ‘96, football fans were swarming the city centre for the next day’s Russia v Germany fixture at nearby Old Trafford, and the Arndale Shopping Centre – built just twenty years prior – was heaving with weekend shoppers. 

However, the festivities of the warm summer’s day were all set to change when a security guard on the other side of the city received an anonymous tip off. 

Sometime after 9:38am, Gary Hall – a security guard at ITV’s Granada Studios – took a phone call from a man with a ‘very calm’ Irish voice, as per The BBC.

The anonymous man went on to inform Gary that he had planted a bomb in the city centre and it would be exploding in one hour. Following the phone call, the police were immediately notified and they sprung to action locating the bomb and evacuating 80,000 people from the area. 

However, this proved to be quite the task. At first, people were not keen to go; it was the 1990s and Mancunians had become seasoned to bomb scares.

One hairdresser allegedly refused to let his clients leave because they still had chemicals in their hair, arguing it would be ‘too dangerous.’ Alternatively, a group of workmen wanted to stay put because they were on weekend rates.

Slowly, though, the severity of the situation began to sink in, and authorities were able to successfully evacuate the centre, with some people screaming and running for their lives. 

Amid the chaos, police spotted a stationary white lorry parked on double yellows outside of Marks & Spencer with wires running from its dashboard. A bomb squad was swiftly dispatched from Liverpool; however, their attempt to dismantle the device using a remote-controlled robot failed.

At precisely 11:17am, the 3,300lb device exploded.

Smoke mushroomed above the city as the explosion shattered glass windows and rained building debris onto the people below. In the aftermath, emergency services scrambled to deal with the injured civilians – around 220 of them, to be precise – and fire crews searched shops and offices for casualties.

Yet despite the horror and the devastation, not a single person was killed in the explosion.

Nevertheless, Manchester’s city centre lay in ruins. Historic landmarks such as Manchester Cathedral and the Royal Exchange Theatre needed what has been estimated to be billions of pounds worth of repairs and renovations and, most gravely, hundreds of people were left with life-changing injuries, both physically and mentally. 

And yet, over a quarter of a century on from the devastating attack, the people of Manchester are still waiting for justice.

Quite remarkably, an arrest for whoever was responsible for the bomb was never made – it is widely believed that, while both Greater Manchester Police and Special Branch investigations identified the prime suspect, he was never actually arrested because of fears it could derail ongoing peace negotiations in Northern Ireland.

Graham Stringer, who led the council between 1984 and 1996 and who is today MP for the city’s Blackley and Broughton constituency, told The Independent: “I am sure the security services know who did this and I think it got caught up in the peace process.

“It’s appalling. In a democratic society, for someone to blow up the centre of a major city and injure hundreds of people, and then get away with it? It is wrong.”

In a 2006 review, GMP said there was no longer any ‘realistic possibility’ of a prosecution. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole said: “The Manchester bomb affected many people which is why the case has remained open and has been kept under constant review. As the 20th anniversary of the incident approaches, it is now the right time for another assessment of the case in order to identify and explore any possible potential investigative opportunities.

“If new information comes to light it would be considered, and I would urge anyone with information relevant to the investigation to get in touch with police.”

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Feature

The most stunning glamping spots with summer availability near Manchester

There are some real beauty spots in this neck of the woods…

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Coolstays & Canopy & Stars

With summer fast approaching and the ongoing chaos in Manchester Airport showing no sign of subsiding, now is the perfect time to embark upon a humble British staycation.

There’s a lot to love about a holiday at home; instead of lengthy airport queues and days of jet-lag, there is an abundance of beautiful English countryside at your disposal, and all on your doorstep.⁠

And luckily for you lot, there’s a massive selection of fantastic staycation glamping spots just a stone’s throw away from Manchester.

So without any further ado, here’s some of the best spots to book this summer…

Airbnb

Beechwood Nook, Rossendale

Nestled within the heart of the Rossendale Valley, Crown Lodge’s brand new Beechwood Nook chalet boasts everything you’d need for a local staycation.

Guests will have full use of a luxury kitchen, luxury bathroom, log burners, a free standing bath next to the bedroom area and their own private hot tub overlooking the valley.

And for those wanting to get out and explore, the site is situated just next to Rawtenstall, a quaint town boasting regular food markets, local pubs and cafes.

Beechwood Nook is just a fifty-minute drive from Manchester, and is easily accessable via public transport routes from the city centre.

Book here.

CoolStays

The Domes at Ream Hills, Weeton

Sitting along a lake in the picturesque Lancashire village of Weeton, The Domes at Ream Hills provide stunning waterside views, making them the ideal spot to hunker down for a little time out of the city.

The pods, which are fully suspended over the water, come complete with transparent windows that boast spectacular views of all their wonderful surroundings.

They also feature both single and double beds, a home cinema system and central heating for those colder nights and mornings.

There is also a cafe and bar on site, and those wanting to explore further afield will find a decent pint, tasty food and a beer garden at the nearby gastropub Eagle at Weeton. The domes are also within driving distance of Blackpool and Lytham St. Annes.

Book here.

Airbnb

Meadow Head Orchard Hut, Lancashire

The magical Meadow Head Orchard Hut is the perfect spot for those looking to de-stress away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Found within the grounds of the Meadow Head Farm in Lancashire, this cosy cabin comes complete with a wood-fired outdoor bath and communal fire pit, perfect for huddling around while watching the stars.

The hut itself is equally as rustic but comes with some modern touches, including induction hobs and an ensuite bathroom. Guests will also find local breakfast essentials in the fridge, with eggs from the ducks and fresh juice from the apple trees in season.

There’s also an abundance of wildlife to be seen within the grounds, including deer and even the hut’s own resident owl.

Book here.

Airbnb

The Shepherd’s Rest Glamping Pod, Lake District

Surrounded the stunning Lake District countryside, The Shepherd’s Rest glamping pod gives guests the opportunity to truly get back to nature.

The pod is completely secluded and boasts panoramic views of the Dunsop and Ribble Valleys. One side holds a log burner, sofa bed and kitchen unit, and the other holds the bedroom and bathroom, complete with double bed, toilet, sink and shower.

But perhaps the most appealing part of the pod is its own private hot tub, which is perfect for sipping a glass of bubbly and enjoying the breathtaking views.

The campsite is within driving distance of pubs, restaurants and the local market town of Clitheroe for those wanting to explore.

Book here.

Canopy & Stars

Foxglove, Preston

Hidden away in a beautiful Lancashire woodland, Foxglove is the ideal escape for couples wanting a little seclusion and relaxation.

The pinnacle feature of Foxglove is the wood-fire tin bath tub and log burner, which has proven to be a huge hit among couples enjoying the night stars with a bottle of bubbly.

Inside, the cabin comes with everything you could need for a glamping trip, including an electric hob, outdoor barbecue, and a fridge-freezer. Guests can also buy and cook local produce from the onsite farm shop, as well as seasonal fruit and vegetables from the owners’ walled garden.

And for those wanting to get out and about and sample some authentic pub grub, Foxglove is situated just one mile away from a local village.

Book here.

Canopy & Stars

Van Goff, Powys

This 1970’s converted ‘time-warped’ caravan could be the most unique glamping experience yet, boasting vintage and pre-loved features and facilities.

Van Goff is hidden away within the wooded grounds of Bodynfoel Hall, and features a raised decking with a table, chairs and barbecue, all overlooking the lush Welsh hills.

The caravan is completely secluded with its own private facilities, and even features a little rowing boat by the lake, which guests are all welcome to use.

Van Goff is accessible by car, and can be found around a thirty minute’s drive away from the Gobowen train station.

Book here.

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