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By Jan Hicks on

Tied to the City – Peter Saville and Factory Communications Ltd

In 2016, the museum commissioned Peter Saville, a designer with strong links to Manchester, to design a range of glassware celebrating Manchester’s three rivers and the dancefloor at the Haçienda.

The museum has links to Saville through a collection of objects and archives that tell the story of Factory Communications Ltd (FCL). FCL was the company that ran Factory Records, the Haçienda nightclub and Dry Bar. Saville’s first job on leaving college was to design a poster for Factory’s original club night at the Russell Club in Hulme. He became a director of the company and produced most of its iconic graphic design, developing a set of brand values that are still recognisable today.

To enhance the display of glassware in the museum shop, and to advertise to visitors that we own the FCL collection, the museum archive team has worked with the shop and exhibitions teams to put together a series of three mini-displays of archive material.

We wanted to highlight the hazard stripe theme of the glassware, so looked through the archive collection to find examples of similar designs. We thought it would be fun to link the glassware to food and drink at the Haçienda. In the archive are some early designs for cocktail menus that feature the hazard stripe design.


Peter Saville's design for the Hacienda's cocktail menu in red Peter Saville's design for the Hacienda's cocktail menu in blue and yellow


We also found a press release presented in a hazard stripe frame. The release talks about the introduction of cask conditioned bitter to the bar at the club, with the words “No more will clubbers have to settle for a lukewarm gaseous froth”. Anyone who prefers real ale to lager will understand what a momentous change this was.

We love the style of the Haçienda’s membership application form and the different membership cards issued by the club over the years. We think that the original membership cards that came in embossed sleeves were only issued to honorary members. Regular punters were usually given a temporary card, cut from the bottom of the application form, which is in keeping with the DIY punk ethos of the club.


Peter Saville designed Hacienda membership form Peter Saville designed Hacienda membership cards


The displays will run from the beginning of February to the end of May, changing once a month. For any Factory fans out there, this gives you three good reasons to come to the museum.

Putting the mini-displays together has been an interesting opportunity to promote one of the museum’s significant contemporary collections, and link Peter Saville’s current design work with his past work for Factory. It’s the first time the archive team have worked with the shop team, and we’re hoping that visitors will have as much enjoyment looking at the displays as we’ve had putting them together.

The FCL archive is available for anyone to look through. You can find out how to make an appointment to visit the archive here.

Click here to read more of our music-themed blog posts. 

2 comments on “Tied to the City – Peter Saville and Factory Communications Ltd

  1. Factory was a record label that really placed Manchester on the musical map for me when I was a teenager in Germany way back in the 1980s. I went on to spin their releases on my show at a small private radio station in Germany, and when I spent some time at a university in the North of England, I even had the pleasure to actually experience a club night at the Hacienda around 1991/1992. Unfortunately, by the time I came to live and work in Manchester for a couple of years, the club had already closed its doors.

    In the spring of 2017, when I came to visit Manchester again after all those years, the only hints at the museum’s FCL collection were a rather small, but promising display at the entrance (a promise the meusum did not keep) and a couple of items in the shop.

    Disappointed, I spent most of the time at the café, waiting for my friends to return from their round of the museum, thinking about the many interesting things we could have done on a Manchester morning and asking myself why the museum should hide all those treasures in the archive that would be most interesting for visitors of my generation.

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