The totems of Salford University’s Allerton Building, and other works by William Mitchell.
"I don’t give a hoot if you don’t like them, just as long as you look at them"
Whilst on The Crescent in Salford, continue towards Salford University’s Allerton Building and there you will find the striking Minut Men by William Mitchell.
Perhaps the first critique of this concrete trio was by Prince Philip, in 1967 when he opened what was then the Technical College, and exclaimed ‘What the hell is that?”.
The Arndale Centre’s lofty lookout
Recent news that Zhuzhou, China had built villas on the roof of a shopping mall sparked excitement across the world with the concept being labelled as the future of urban planning, however, this future had already been realised, in 1981, on top of Manchester’s Arndale Centre.
The Arndale Centre from above, circa 1980
Cromford Court, known to tenants as ‘the podium’, was a housing association venture by Manchester City Council. In all there were 60 flats on the rooftops of the Arndale Centre
Photos by Jennifer Brookes.
To celebrate Lowry’s 125th birthday; an article about the Chapel Street area of Salford originally published in May 2012 as the introduction piece for Skyliner From the Other City, an alternative venue guide for annual music festival Sounds From the Other City.
Despite the obvious dereliction, beneath the surface Chapel Street is bustling. What it lacks in most everything you’d except from a city’s main throughfare, it makes up for with the vibrancy of its residents and visitors. On the face of things the street is barren but for the bricked up pubs and a constant stream of traffic; always passing through, and never stopping.
During the late 50s, to make way for redevelopment of the area, the facades of the independent businesses that stood here were saved and preserved as a sort of toy town. Named Lark Hill Place this ghost street
Last week I was asked to curate the Northern Spirit theatre company’s new project A Wondrous Place. The project is a collaborative piece from some of the best writers in the north of England and I am over the moon to have been chosen to be part of that. In the build up to a new show by Northern Spirit a collective of writers, whose own blogs and projects are fundamentally based upon a love for where they live, have come together to celebrate the north.
The theme for my week was Cottonopolis: A Skyline Reimagined, a journey through the skyline of Manchester with architect Joseph Sunlight as head of the city’s planning department. I cover proposals that the city denied and buildings we demolished, but with Sunlight at the helm approving these visions and denying demolitions. It’s a fictional account of actual plans and buildings and it’s Manchester as Cottonopolis - a Chicago-inspired, noir novel of a city.
Inside the Albert Hall, Manchester. A site visit, September 2012.
Photos by Andrew Brooks
The Albert Hall and Aston Institute, built in 1910 by W J Morley, was home to the Manchester and Salford Wesleyan Mission, though today it stands empty awaiting renovation.
The ground floor was occupied as Brannigan’s bar for several years and many people have passed through these doors but did they realise just how ornate the building is, did they know about the organ one floor above that’s big enough for a dozen people to climb inside?
The building is vast, spread over four huge floors with the basement
Photos by Shirley Bainbridge
Stretford Arndale was renamed Stretford Mall in 2003 and modernised throughout, only it looks as though they missed a spot…
Set within Stretford Mall is the market square, still gloriously sixties in appearance though sadly dying in trade. But there’s more than just these units who are struggling on despite everything; there’s a mezzanine level that houses something of a time warp.
It was whilst stood admiring the textured frieze surrounding the market, a leftover of the 1969 decor that once covered the entire centre, that the mezzanine level above became apparent. It was like staring through a tear in the fabric of time; it wasn’t altered, it wasn’t hidden yet it wasn’t paid attention to either. Totally isolated and hidden in plain sight.
Looking at an archive image of that old interior still present here in the square there’s that tinge of glamour, the same tinge evident when looking back at Manchester airport when the departure lounge was framed by enormous Italian chandeliers (these chandeliers are now in various homes: one at
St Philips Church is perhaps the architectural highlight of the city of Salford, its beautiful bell tower beckoning you in off the road to take a closer look. The building is unassuming yet classical and unlike any other church in the region.
The church was designed by Sir Robert Smirke in 1825 in a Greek revival style unique to the area, and taken from a design Smirke had done previously for St Mary’s Church in London.
Inside the church you’ll find a Renn and Boston organ, a rare example of British 19th century organ making with most having been destroyed or altered. Made in 1829, the organ has been restored twice, and now includes pipes taken from a dismantled organ from New Jerusalem Church on Peter Street, Manchester. It is regarded as the finest surviving example of Renn’s work.
There’s also something waiting to surprise you beneath the church, for down below is a crypt.
The crypt houses around 8 bodies though could hold many more. Three aisles run beneath
For a short stretch of the city centre it’s possible to bypass the crowds and the traffic and to walk across several pedestrian areas and finally down a series of alleyways. In fact you can walk almost traffic-free from Victoria station all the way to Lloyd Street, and in doing so you might spot some rather unusual artwork.
To walk this route you begin at Cathedral Gardens, down Cathedral Street and New Cathedral Street then cut through St Ann’s Square. At the heart of St Ann’s Square stands the only surviving 18th century church in the city (celebrating 300 years in 2012), the tower of which is said to mark the geographical centre of the old city and the surveyor’s benchmark can be seen carved into the stone by the tower door.
The connecting road from the church to Deansgate was once known as Toll Lane as this is where the lord of the manor would collect tolls for the animals on their way to fair after they had gathered here and been pelted with acorns by the locals!
From the back of the church the route through the city continues in a relatively straight line from here. First you cut through St Ann’s Passage, built as a temporary home for the Corn Exchange and then you meet with King Street. In 1976 King Street became the first city centre street to be pedestrianised and it’s here that you find yourself opposite Boardman’s Entry.
photos by Andrew Brooks
These days a modern urban environment often makes it difficult to realise the origins of a town, of how it was formed, why its location was vital to its survival or even to properly step back and see the lie of the land. Stockport thrived because of the standstone cliffs it was formed around and there’s plenty of evidence of this all around you to this day.
At one particular location on the edge of town there’s a sandstone cliff face and if you’d peered through the trees here until very recently you’d have also noticed there was once a door.
That was until now - the doorway has been sealed up and what lies behind it is documented here for the very last time. This is Dodge Hill.
with photos by Andrew Brooks
If you’d ever looked closely enough at the shrubbery around Talbot Road you may just have uncovered an emergency entrance to Trafford Town Hall’s cold war bunker.
The entrance, pictured above, led to a series of rooms and passageways with concrete walls and steel doors but is now just an open space devoid of any fixtures or fittings and, at the time of our visit, flooded.
In November 1980, Manchester City council declared the city a nuclear free zone, and when this bunker was proposed a few years later, despite Trafford itself not being part of the zone, the anti-war feeling amongst the community led to opposition from the residents of Trafford borough.
With photos by Andrew Brooks
Although you’d never know it from the rather dowdy, reclad exterior, inside this Hulme building you can time travel.
On October 10th 1901, exactly 110 years prior to our visit, the Hulme Hippodrome as it is now known opened its doors as a spectacular melodrama venue.
Originally named the Grand Junction Theatre and Floral Hall (which explains the neighbouring pub; the Junction Hotel, which has an unexplained missing third floor as illustrated in the video below),
What we now know as the premises of Primark (the largest Primark in the world in fact) was originally built to house a Lewis’s Department store. By virtue of housing such a spectacular venture the building has some wonderful features that you wouldn’t expect to find when you’re fighting through the crowds on a sticky Saturday.
What’s hidden on the rooftop isn’t actually visible from the street but you can see on the Google image below there’s a large glass dome, an ornate feature that is no longer in view whilst in the building but once was an integral part of the magic of the Lewis’s store.
On the corner of Market and Moseley Street this particular branch opened in 1877 and closed as a Lewis’s in 2001 (though Lewis’s had actually gone into adminstration ten years prior to this). The building is by architects Horton and Bridgford and was built in a French renaissance style with a grand corner tower (now removed).
The shop applied for an extension in 1915, buying up the Royal Buildings (the site of the Royal Hotel, where the football league was founded in 1888) and with the expansion two back streets were absorbed into the buildings and covered over by a glass archway. This was the Lewis Arcade and is briefly featured in the film ‘Hell Is a City’.