On John Street in the Northern Quarter, and around the corner on Tib Street, you may have spotted these ornamental birds and their neighbouring ceramic parrots. There’s no shortage of street art to be found in this area yet it’s surprising how few people know the motivation behind each installment.
As Manchester moved into the Victorian Era this particular area transformed from a poorly maintained, muddy lane that was characterised by poverty to a much more amiable community. The cotton trade had brought some riches to the area and the radical, publisher and eventual major of Manchester, Abel Heywood, had brought education and free speech. The residents of Tib Street began to shape the trading community and, once where pigs roamed the lanes raiding side streets for discarded offal, there stood a thriving hub of enterprise. In true Victorian fashion, the shops pulled a crowd because they provided entertainment for the consumer and the speciality of Tib Street became a form of natural history.
Almost every shop featured live animals on display inside the window or tethered outside in the street and often the shops would remain open well into the night pulling a larger crowd still as food prices dropped as the clocks approached midnight. At one point it’s believed that almost 20,000 people descended on the area in a single evening to take in the sights and pick up a bargain.
Began in 1907 and completed in 1912 by A.H Stott & Sons, this is Stockport’s Pear Mill. The mill is Grade II listed and was one of the last cotton spinning mills to be built and to go into production. It ceased operation as a textile mill in March 1978.
Although an usual feature to gaze upon now, the pear that nestles on the water tower wasn’t particularly out of character at the time. These Edwardian mills were often adorned flaboyantly and during the design of the twenty-four A.H Stott & Sons mills, meticulous attention was cast upon the water towers and parapet of the main mill block. A signature style of the architects’ was the use of horizontal bands of yellow bricks above the windows, Accrington brick and terracotta ornamentation.
This behemoth of a pear isn’t the only fruit you’ll find up on the roof,