A BOWDON woman has written a book about Abel Heywood, the man behind Manchester Town Hall, who spent his last 20 years in Bowdon.

Since retiring as a history teacher at Altrincham Girls Grammar School three years ago, Joanna M. Williams has spent her time researching and writing her book, Manchester’s Radical Mayor.

Abel started work in a warehouse, aged nine, after moving to Manchester in 1819. At 15, after leaving the Bennett Street Sunday School, he was earning enough money to study at the Mechanics Institute and he became a printer and publisher in 1830.

Joanna said: “Shortly afterwards, he got arrested for smuggling copies of the Poor Man’s Guardian from London and illegally selling them without tax.”

He was imprisoned for four months.

She said he remained a radical even after becoming Mayor and chairman of the committee which commissioned and oversaw the building of Manchester Town Hall.

“He wanted working men to have the vote; he campaigned for free, compulsory education; he supported the right of women to join professions and, one day, to vote.

“He was appointed Mayor during the cotton famine because, although he was outspoken, poor people trusted him. He raised money to help the unemployed workers.”

Abel oversaw the building of the town hall. Ten years before completion, he had seen the statue of Prince Albert erected in Albert Square and yet could not persuade Queen Victoria to the opening ceremonies of either the statue or the town hall.

He visited the building site every day for more than 10 years and, when he was 65, climbed to the top of the tower and laid the last stone.

Joanna said: “The biggest bell in the tower is inscribed with his name.”

*The book, priced £14.99, is published by the History Press, and available from leading booksellers.