Book of the Month, July 2023 – Indispensable by Andy Hickmott

For July’s book of the Month I have chosen in:dispensable, a collection of poetry by Andy Hickmott (2015). Andy is a Manchester based poet and writer who originally came from rural Kent. He published this 40 page collection as poet-in-residence tin support of the recent campaign by the Ancoats Dispensary Trust to save the historical Ancoats landmark in Manchester from demolition. The listed building, which had been founded in 1874, has now been converted to 39 modern apartments in a new lease of life.

This thought-provoking collection of poems places the hospital and dispensary in its original surroundings, among the impoverished industrial terraces and mills of the original community, following it through the ages with simple snap-shots of different events in poetry form. The collection is effectively bound together by four poems following nurse Mrs Coates through her career and retirement. The result is a haunting tribute to the Victorian philanthropists who ensured the healthcare of industrial workers long before the foundation of the NHS which later elected to close it in the name of progress.

After reading this book, I felt sad about the tendency of our urban planners over the last seventy years to destroy well-loved buildings in the name of modernisation. It was good to know that an organisation like the Ancoats Dispensary Trust was able to stop the listed building from being demolished, through the efforts of many dedicated people, including this poet who produced this little gem to remind us how important this city landmark had been in the lives of those who had lived and worked in its shadow.

So there we have it, July’s Book of the Month! Be sure to check back in August as I’ll be revealing another must read.

Take care,

Maggie x

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