I live in the North West of England approximately halfway between Liverpool and Manchester so both are easy for me to reach,usually by train. Yes it’s the big kid in me. I like travelling on the railway. The header image above was taken in one of the staircases that leads down from the carpark that sits over the roof of Manchester Victoria station. For a long time this was the poorer relation to Manchester’s Piccadilly station, about a quarter of a mile away on the other side of the city centre. Piccadilly has the glamour of handling the London train services but at last after many years of being the city’s Cinderella station, the sleeping beauty is being awoken, I like my metaphors mixed not shaken, by a massive rebuilding program which is mercifully preserving some of the Victorian/Edwardian features that have survived to the present.
Building survival is a useful topic to keep in mind, whenever I visit Manchester I am never far from the shadow of cranes and other building works. The city seems to be in an almost constant state of metamorphosis and development. New springing up amidst the old, the old changing into the new or just disappearing altogether. I’m not for preserving cities in aspic so they they never change but can we slow it down a little sometimes? The above shot was taken from the courtyard outside of the HOME building. This is the replacement for the long established Cornerhouse, a centre for the arts and film. Home is a new building, the old Cornerhouse building is still there but yes, it’s changing into something else. In Manchester the caterpillars that change are made of concrete and bricks.
One building that hasn’t changed is the Withy Grove Stores, tucked away on Withy Grove, which leads down from Shude Hill behind the ever expanding Arndale Centre.
Across Corporation Street from Withy Grove you will find the newest street in Manchester, New Cathedral Street, which was born out of the redevelopment of the city centre in the aftermath of the bombing in June of 1996. A pedestrian thoroughfare it links the Triangle shopping area with St. Ann’s Square and is the haunt of some of Manchester’s tres chic shopping.
A very useful feature of Manchester is it’s ever busy tram network with the bright yellow trams buzzing regularly through the city centre and onto the suburbs. The network covers about 48 miles at present, with a couple more extensions on the way. The Metrolink as it is called is one of the better ways to get yourself around and about Manchester.
Also threading through the city but in a less obvious way are canals, perhaps not as romantic or extensive as Venice’s they have nevertheless contributed greatly to the prosperity of the city, especially in Manchester’s heyday as ‘Cottonopolis’ when it was the centre of the Lancashire cotton industry. One of the city’s major theatres, the Royal exchange sits in it’s futuristic pod on the trading floor of the former Royal Exchange where raw cotton and it’s products were traded.
A late Victorian building the Exchange dates from the 1870’s with extensions in the 1900’s and rebuilding after wartime damage. Closed to for trading in the late 1960’s it face the prospect of demolition but survived and prospers and from personal experience is an excellent theatre to experience.
One of Manchester’s canals is the Rochdale Canal which slides gently past the Deansgate Locks, now home to the Comedy Club and fashionable places to eat and drink.