Review of My Guide to Manchester by Jonathan Schofield

This is a review of My Guide to Manchester, the complete guide to the city, written by tour guide and author Jonathan Schofield, published in early 2015 by Manchester Books.

Book My Guide to Manchester by Jonathan SchofieldJonathan Schofield is probably the best known tour guide in Manchester and he has written extensively about the local area and region. I’ve known Jonathan for many years and I’ve contributed photos to some of his previous books.

My Guide to Manchester provides a comprehensive view of the city in 2015. It has 22 sections including an introduction to the politics and economics of the city and region, and the new opportunities that will be provided by The Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which will come into force in 2017.

The book will be of interest to visitors and to people who live here. Every major tourist attraction in the city centre is described. There are several interesting city walks, plus features on nightlife, where to eat and places to go.

The 242 pages are packed with over three hundred contemporary and archive photographs, paintings, drawings, maps and diagrams.

My favourite is the bird’s eye drawing of Manchester from 1889 and the cityscape photo showing Manchester Cathedral. I also like the set of drawings by Neil Dimelow which give a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. From cover to cover, the design and layout of the book are excellent

Some of the famous people connected with the city are listed, including Anthony Burgess, Emmeline Pankhurst, Anthony Wilson, Morrissey and Professor Brian Cox. Also featured are Richard Lees and Howard Bernstein, the two men from Manchester town hall who in recent years have profoundly influenced the development of the city. There’s an overview the architectural styles in Manchester, and a very useful index – not all books of this type provide one.

I was invited to the book launch at Manchester Cathedral on Monday 16th of February. I saw many influential people there and met a few of them as well. I asked Jonathan what’s special about this book

Jonathan Schofield
I think what’s special about this guide book is that it’s all mine. This time I can have complete editorial control, recommend that to the publisher, put the stuff in I want, take some of the stuff out I didn’t want to put in last time. And I think also I’m more mature so actually I’ve left room now for three or four other guidebooks.

What I always wanted was a compromise between a practical guide and a souvenir, so I hit two markets. And this one I’m trying to make sure… there’s two or three pictures, sometimes three pictures nearly on every page, and colourful and bright, and vivid and all that, and then also loads of content. And it seems to be working because Waterstones and W H Smiths and Blackwells the rest are selling huge amounts of it, so I’m very very pleased.

So to sum up, My Guide to Manchester by Jonathan Schofield is a compact guidebook that provides a wealth of information, small enough to carry on a trip. It’s packed full of interesting useful historic but also up-to-date information on Manchester. It’s written in Jonathan Schofield’s chatty and anecdotal style. It’s as if he’s talking directly to you on one of his guided tours. It’s published by Manchester Books, a new and enterprising publishing house based in Manchester, and it’s priced at £9.99, great value when you consider the depth of information and the very high quality of the presentation.

For more information, visit www.mcrbooks.co.uk or just go into any of the major bookshops in Manchester and you’ll find it.

Tony Wilson interviewing Aidan O’Rourke & guests Cornerhouse Manchester 2007

In June 2007 Tony Wilson interviewed Adele Loch Arlene McCarthy and me at the Cornerhouse Manchester. It was on a BBC Radio Manchester programme called Talk of the Town.

Businesswoman Adele Lock founded the Gentry grooming company in Manchester. Arlene McCarthy was at the time Labour Euro MP for the North West. She stood down in 2014.

Adele talked about her experience on the BBC TV programme the apprentice. Arlene McCarthy spoke about her experience of being in politics.

Tony Wilson introduced me as freelance photographer and said that I was perhaps one of the greatest chroniclers of the city, a very flattering introduction and whether it’s true not he said it!

After asking about my website address and correcting the spelling of my name, he asked me the question: Do we care about Scotland? In mid-2007, the SNP had had success in elections in Scotland. At the time people were asking the question: Is the union in danger? Six years later people in Scotland voted in a referendum and rejected independence.

Finally Tony Wilson remarked that Glasgow was one of the first cities to start to come alive, to experience a revival in its economy and development. Arlene McCarthy agreed with him and mentioned the European capital of culture title, which has been held by both Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008.


Sadly, only just over two months after this interview, Tony Wilson died at the Christie Hospital South Manchester. Like many people in the city I was devastated.

February 2014 marks the closure of the Cornerhouse and the move to the new arts centre HOME, so I decided to republish excerpts from the interview. I believe it’s very important to keep the voice and spirit Tony Wilson alive. I’m proud to have known him as a friend. The square in front of HOME will be named Tony Wilson Square.

This is the first of three excerpts from the interview. The second and the third will appear when this page moves to the new AidanEyewitness website, online early to mid 2015.

For the first time on any of my websites, I am providing a printable transcript and a gapped transcript with questions, for learners of English. The new site will be fully subtitled, with extra materials to make it useful to learners as well as a general audience.

Printable Transcript

Gapped transcript with questions

Photo-Essay – Silhouetted scenes of Stockport, Merseyside and Manchester

Wellington Grove off the A6 in south Stockport, silhouetted rooftops and street lamp at dusk

I love the effect of dusk light, when street lights, buildings are cast into shadow and appear silhouetted against the sky.

In the urban landscape of northern England, many of these buildings remind us of the past. Modern elements such as cars and fashions are excluded. We can only imagine what is in the black areas, it could be from the present or from our memories of the past. The sky is full of atmosphere, enhancing the nostalgic effect.

In this photo, taken from bus stop near where we live, a 50s style street lamp appears on the left, whilst the rooftops slope down from the corner of the picture. The chimney stacks look mostly as they did 100 years ago, except that there is no smoke.

Aerials are pointed north towards Winter Hill. Cables stretched over the street carry phone and internet communications. In a few minutes time the pink sky will have turned dark.

When photographing for silhouettes, it may be necessary to reduce the exposure compensation to minus one or possibly two. Here, there was an area of sky in the centre of the picture, so it wasn’t necessary. If the are had been dark, the camera would have tried to lighten the picture.

Silhouetted shapes generally look better when sharp, and so a narrower aperture will be better. This photo was taken at aperture f11, shutter speed 125th of a second, ISO800.

Atmospheric sky with street lamp and telegraph pole, Cheadle Heath, Stockport

The light in this photo was especially atmospheric, with dark clouds above and bright sunlight peeping below the clouds behind the house.

Even in the age of satellites, wireless hotspots and fiber-optic cables, 19th century telegraph poles continue in use. The street lamp almost looks as if it has already switched on, but it’s just a trick of the light.

This photo is taken in Cheadle Heath, on Kensington Road, near where I grew up as a child.

Stockport Edgeley spire of St Matthews church silhouetted against a rainy sky

This is the view from Platform 4 at Stockport’s Edgeley Station. I took the photo of the spire of St Matthew’s church, Edgeley after a heavy shower.

The spire of St Georges Church south Stockport silhouetted against a dusk sky

When silhouetted against the dusk sky, the spire of St George’s Church, Heaviley, Stockport looks exactly the same as when it was completed, in 1897. The angle emphasises the flying buttresses at the base of the spire. At the very top, the weather cock faces to the west. The spire is 238 feet high.

The tower of Birkenhead town hall silhouetted at dusk

Birkenhead Town Hall ahs a distinctive shape with a dome at the top. Nearby are the rooftops of the houses on Hamilton Square, and there is a flag, though it’s impossible to make out what flag is is. A visually fascinating element of the clock tower is the clock face, lit from behind. The time is 6.20pm.

Capture details: 1/125s f5.6 ISO800, 31 Dec 2005, 18:11:26.

Liverpool Municipal Buildings and the Unity Building silhouetted at dusk, seen from St John's Gardens

The view from St Johns Gardens, Liverpool faces towards the west and often the skyline is silhouetted. Here the tower of the Municipal Buildings on Dale Street points up into the dusk sky. On the right, a modern element is introduced.

It’s the Unity Building, the prestigious residential building, completed 2007. In the middle one of the high level lights illuminating the entrance to the Kingsway Tunnel.

Manchester Holy Name Church, Oxford Road seen against a dusk sky with tree branches

Manchester’s Holy Name church is seen here through trees and silhouetted against a reddish-purple dusk sky. The tree branches look like lace. The outline of the church is similar to a French cathedral.

I added a black border to enhance the silhouetted effect. It recaptures the excitement of viewing Kodachrome transparencies against the light. On the reverse side it was possible to see the imprint of shapes in the picture, caused by unevenness of the emulsion. This photo was taken on a digital camera, probably the Nikon Coolpix 990, on 22 March 2003.

It is impossible to take this view now. University buildings were constructed on the car park behind the trees.

Thoughtful comments are appreciated. Please send via the contact form.