British Pop Archive at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library

British Pop Archive

The British Pop Archive (BPA) is a national collection dedicated to the preservation and research of popular culture, counter-culture and youth culture.

It is the first specifically designated, large-scale popular culture archive in the UK. The collection's launch was supported with a major exhibition at the Rylands, featuring iconic items from the Manchester pop culture scene.

The BPA aims to celebrate and preserve all aspects of British popular culture, recognising its pivotal influence on the world stage.

Manchester's vibrant cultural scene is a global symbol of innovation, creativity and social progress. This history, rooted particularly within music, TV and the arts, distinguishes the city as unique. It makes it the perfect setting for a collection that preserves and tells the stories of popular culture on a national scale.

grayscale photography of crowd at concert

About the collection

City life cover (magazine)

The collection comprises major archives of individuals and organisations involved in British popular culture and the creative industries: from the business records of managers, music venues and TV companies to the personal papers of iconic musicians, artists, designers and photographers, to the recorded experiences of audiences and fans.

Any queries relating to the use of the collection or donations to the archive can be directed to the Special Collections Team:

Current archives

Poster from Tony Wilson archive of festival programme

Anthony Wilson archive

The personal archive of Anthony Wilson (1950-2007), also known as Tony Wilson, journalist, TV and radio presenter, Factory Records co-founder and director and In The City music conference partner.

Handwritten lyrics for She's Lost Control from Ian Curtis archive

Ian Curtis archive

The archive includes Ian Curtis’s original handwritten lyrics to Joy Division classics - Love Will Tear Us Apart, She’s Lost Control, Atmosphere and many of the bands best loved songs.

Joy Division vinyl

Rob Gretton archive

The complete personal archive of Rob Gretton (1953-99), manager of Joy Division, New Order, instigator of The Haçienda and Factory Records partner.

Festival post Cities in the Park from Andy Spinoza archive

Andy Spinoza archive

The personal archive of the cultural journalist, public relations specialist and founder of City Life magazine.

Type written notes from Kevin Cummins archive

Kevin Cummins archive

The personal archive of award-winning photographer Kevin Cummins (b. 1953), known especially for his work with rock bands and musicians.

Corporate archive of Granada television

The corporate archive of Granada TV. Containing working paper materials, correspondence, programme notes and documentation.

Anarchy in the UK tour poster

Bob Dickinson archive

The personal archives of the cultural journalist Bob Dickinson (b. 1955).

Fanzine cover from Jon Savage Situationist archive

Jon Savage's Situationist materials

Jon Savage's own collection of Situationist writings helps connect and support some of the content from other archives, specifically those connected to Factory Records.

Item from Terence Pepper archive

Terence Pepper collection

The Personal Collection of the Former Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery who curated over 150 exhibitions and displays at the Gallery from 1978-2015.

Handwritten note from CP Lee archive

C P Lee archive

The personal archives of the musician, writer and educator C P Lee (1950-2020), described as the scaffolding that the Manchester music scene was built on.

Item celebrating Coronation Street's 21st birthday from Stephen Kelly archive

Stephen Kelly and Judith Jones archive

The working materials of ex Granada Television research and producers Stephen Kelly and Judith Jones.

Norman Frisby archive

Materials from the archive of Norman Frisby (1928-2022), the Granada TV Press officer from 1959 - 1988.

Linda Brogan archive

Working materials, scripts, plays and correspondence by the Manchester based writer and playwright.

BPA digital design

'Excavating the Reno' archive

Objects excavated from the site of the legendary Moss Side club. The archive also includes documentation, reports and information and subsequent exhibition and promotional materials.

BPA digital designs

Ray Fitzwalter archive

The archive of the journalist, writer and Bafta winning Granada TV editor. Noted for his work on the current affairs programme 'World in Action'.

BPA digital designs

Pete Shelley archive

Materials covering the careers of the Buzzcocks co-founder, lead singer and songwriter.

BPA digital designs

Gary Herman archive

The archive of the writer and journalist and one of the co-founders of Let It Rock magazine Gary Herman.

Flyer from Mike Pickering archive

Mike Pickering archive

DJ and musician Mike Pickering’s personal archive of materials relating to Factory Records, The Haçienda and M People.

BPA digital designs

Trevor Key archive

The archive of Photographer and Graphic Designer Trevor Key, containing iconic work for Peter Gabriel, Sex Pistols, New Order and Mike Oldfield amongst many others.

BPA digital designs

Richard Scott

Richard Scott was the third employee at music store and label 'Rough Trade' and developed the independent music network, known as ’The Cartel’ which revolutionised music distribution in the UK.

Jon Savage

Jon Savage

Working with celebrated author, broadcaster and Professor of Popular Culture at The University of Manchester Jon Savage, the British Pop Archive will build on its current collections to create a comprehensive representation of British popular culture.  

Associated collections

There are further pre-existing archives and materials held within the Library's Special Collections that share common ground and connect with the British Pop Archive and may also be of interest. 

Please contact the Special Collections and Services team for more information or links to the relevant department curators. 

  • Delia Derbyshire archive (music)
  • Mark Warner collection (photography)
  • Martin Parr collection (photography)
  • Li Yuan-chia artworks and photography (counter-culture)
  • Jeff Nuttall papers (Counter-culture)
  • Dave Cunliffe collection (counter-culture)
  • Dom Sylvester Houébard (dsh) archive (counter-culture)
  • Robert Banks papers (counter-culture)
  • Jim Burns collection (counter-culture)
  • Dick Wilcocks collection (counter-culture)
  • Priscilla Staples (Beecham) papers (counter-culture)
  • Portrait of a Living Archive - 2013 photography work which explored the connection between our archives and 'living' writers and artists through portraiture. 
  • Popular music maps (maps collections)
  • 'There is a Light that Never Goes Out' - An exhibition by Rock Archive (photography)
selective focus photo of DJ mixer

Photo by Alexey Ruban on Unsplash

Photo by Alexey Ruban on Unsplash

Display of pin badges of various bands

The University of Manchester

Oxford Road
M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Royal Charter Number RC000797, M1192 02.15