British Pop Archive – one year on

One year on from the launch of the British Pop Archive (BPA), there have been several significant additions to the national collection which is dedicated to the preservation and research of popular culture.

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, where the BPA is housed, offers these collections as both an important academic resource for research and teaching and a public resource for exhibitions and public events. The first exhibition, Collection, which ran between May 2022 and February 2023 and featured iconic items from the Manchester pop culture scene (many of which had never been seen by the public) attracted over 135,000 visitors.

Honouring the commitment to build on the collection and create a comprehensive representation of British popular culture, notable additions over the last 12 months include:

Anthony Wilson archive

Representing the whole of Wilson’s life and career (Tony Wilson died in 2007), the archive covers his education at Cambridge through to early journalism, work as a reporter, journalist and presenter at Granada, the set-up of The Factory Club, Factory Records and its off-shoots and projects including The Haçienda, The Festival of the 10th Summer and In The City.

'Excavating The Reno’ and Linda Brogan archives

Memoirs of those attending or connected to the funk and soul basement club in Moss Side, ‘The Reno’ - that ran from 1968 - 1987, plus relics excavated from the site of the club in 2017. Linda Brogan, a writer and playwright who was born in Moss Side and who went to ‘The Reno’ led the collection of memoirs and the site excavation and the archive also contains examples of her own written work and correspondence, much of which was connected to the Reno (as inspiration).

Pete Shelley archive

Pete Shelley was born in Leigh, Greater Manchester and formed the Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto in 1976. Shelley and Devoto were responsible for arranging the famous Sex Pistols concert at The Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976 that ignited a new Manchester music scene of which Buzzcocks were at the forefront. Shelley died in 2018 and the collection includes items from his childhood, rare photographs, lyrics, posters, ephemera and recorded materials.

Norman Frisby archive

Norman Frisby was Chief Press Officer at Granada Television between 1959 and 1988, he died in 2022. The archive includes scrapbooks from the 1960’s of Coronation Street promotional tours as well as correspondence, photographs and mementos of Frisby’s time at Granada.

Mat Bancroft, Curator of the British Pop Archive

We are proud to add these important archives to the British Pop Archive and continue the steady growth of the project and collections. The next 18 months will see us expand the collection both geographically and culturally outside of Manchester to begin to represent and reflect the wider impacts of UK popular culture. Many of these archives are already in the pipeline and we are looking forward to announcing these further additions very soon.

Mat Bancroft, Curator of the British Pop Archive
Professor Christopher Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library

The British Pop Archive is establishing itself as an important part of The University of Manchester Library. The response from the public, researchers and from within the University has been incredibly positive and as we continue to grow the BPA we further enhance our world-renowned Special Collections.

Professor Christopher Pressler, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library

Find out more

For further information about the content of the BPA or to access the archives directly, contact the team at Rylands: