Review of “My Guide to Manchester”

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.

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The Dublin suburb of Rathmines photos and impressions

Eyewitness - Finné súl Photos & editorial by Aidan O'Rourke

Houses on Palmerston Road Dublin with ornate street lamp

Houses on Palmerston Road Dublin with ornate street lamp


 
I’ve always been fascinated by the Dublin suburb of Rathmines. To English ears it’s a strange-sounding name. There are no coal mines in Rathmines, the name just means ‘Ring fort of Maonas’. To anyone who knows Dublin, the name in the past might have conjured up various images: ‘bedsit’, ‘dormitory’, ‘sleepy’, ‘students’ and ‘old-fashioned’. But today the words we might think of are ‘property’, ‘upmarket’, gentrified, ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘residential’.

I lived at Trinity Hall just to the south of Rathmines for two years as an undergraduate. I regularly took the 14 (now 140) bus along Rathmines Road and Palmerston Road. The area left a deep impression on me.

Rathmines is located in south Dublin, around two miles (3km) from the city centre. To get there it takes around 15 minutes on the bus from O’Connell Street or you can take the Luas tram to Ranelagh. Like many parts of Dublin it has a strong feeling of the past. Everywhere there are houses from the 18th and 19th century. There are relatively few modern buildings. It seems like a vast conservation area. There are some listed buildings.

Rathmines Road at dusk 22 Jan 2016

Rathmines Road at dusk 22 Jan 2016

Rathmines Road in afternoon sun 27 Nov 2004

Rathmines Road in afternoon sun 27 Nov 2004

The former Rathmines Town Hall was completed in 1898. In 1930, the township was incorporated into Dublin City. The town hall dominates Rathmines Road with its clock tower that seems too large in proportion to the rest of the building. Today it’s occupied by Rathmines College and on my January 2016 visit the clock was not working! Other landmarks include the imposing Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners with its large and distinctive dome. Like many Catholic churches it was in the past symbolic of the dominance of the Roman Catholic church. Now it seems to symbolise the opposite.

Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners, Rathmines 27 Nov 2004

Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners, Rathmines 27 Nov 2004


 

Rathmines Road is a busy street, long and quite narrow, with a variety of shops and supermarkets including Aldi and Lidl. The well-loved ‘Stella’ cinema is still there but it’s empty and has a ‘to let’ sign. In the centre of Rathmines, Rathgar Road leads off to the right and Rathmines Road Upper continues to the left. The post office is still there, and there’s a Tesco supermarket opposite. Tesco wasn’t in Ireland when I was at Trinity. There seemed to be few ‘foreign’ influences then. Nowadays you’ll find many people from other countries – women with headscarves, men with Middle Eastern accents. I stopped at the Carnegie Library, opposite the town hall, to check my e-mail. In the past it might have been full of people from other parts of Ireland. Today it was full of people from other parts of the world.

Rathmines is first and foremost a residential suburb. It has every variety of house from tiny terraced cottages to grand Georgian residences. There are impressive squares, wide roads, residential streets, narrow alleyways and tiny footpaths. Here and there there are modern apartment blocks but they generally seem to blend in with the 19th century edifices.

In the past many of the houses in Rathmines might have seemed fairly average and affordable for anyone with a good salary. Today, parked outside the houses, you’ll find expensive cars and SUVs with the current year on the number plate. Rathmines has become a place of great affluence. Properties are now priced beyond the reach of most people, even those on the best salaries.

Rathmines town hall visible over rooftops

Rathmines town hall visible over rooftops


 

In my opinion the most impressive part of the suburb is Palmerston Road. It’s a wide nineteenth century tree-lined avenue lined on both sides with beautiful Georgian terraced houses set back behind gardens. The ornate street lamps date from the late 19th century. This area looks virtually unchanged for well over a hundred years and this is definitely a selling point.

Although Rathmines grew and developed into its present form during the 19th century ‘British’ period of Irish history, and had a Unionist (pro-British) majority until 1922, to me it seems to have an unmistakable sense of Irishness. I can’t quite explain it. It’s said that Eamon De Valera wanted to have the Georgian terraces around Merrion Square demolished as he regarded them as ‘foreign’. But he was wrong. This uniquely Irish style of architecture and town planning would have emerged no matter what the arrangements for Ireland’s government had been. Ireland became independent but the ‘British’ influence has remained and is part of the country’s unique character.

During the Second World War, Ireland was neutral, and so unlike British cities, Dublin was wasn’t bombed, apart from a few mistaken raids where the Nazi pilots thought they were flying over Belfast. Metal railings were never removed. In Britain most railings were needlessly cut out for the war effort and to this day have never replaced. The result is that Dublin has preserved its past much better than most British cities, and Rathmines is a prime example of this. You’ll see many wonderful, original iron railings in Rathmines!

My favourite place is Palmerston Park, situated next to my former place of residence, Trinity Hall. I often used to go for walks there.

Palmerston Park Dublin, 1981-2016

Palmerston Park Dubin, 1981 and 2016


 

It’s a beautiful Victorian park with lawns, a waterfall and tree-lined footpaths. Looking through the trees, at the houses, if you ignore the modern cars, you could almost imagine yourself back in the era of James Joyce or Oscar Wilde. That’s the great thing about a place with a strong historic character. The past doesn’t go out of date, quite the opposite: a place that has preserved its heritage is future-proof.

880 words

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Architectural towers on the skyline of Manchester

Eyewitness blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Lancaster House and Shena Simon College, the Manchester Colleg on the right

Lancaster House and Shena Simon College, the Manchester Colleg on the right


 
This article appeared in the Manchester Evening News dated Thursday 14th of January, 2016. I have always loved rooftop views whether in Paris, Berlin or Manchester. I still have a vivid memory of the stamp that I discovered on a letter to my mother from her Polish friend, Janina Ciesielska. Though it was tiny, it seemed densely packed with architectural details. It depicted a mysterious idealised eastern European city but in my mind, I transformed it into Manchester. Prague, Kraków, Dresden and other central European cities have many architectural towers. Manchester has only a few but they are a striking and often overlooked feature of the city skyline.<
As a child I was captivated by a stamp on a letter to my mother. It displayed a tiny line drawing, packed with buildings and towers. I thought it was Manchester but then I found out it was a city in Poland. Manchester has architectural features on its skyline comparable with a grand city in central Europe, though there are not as many as in Budapest or Kraków. Overshadowed by newer, taller buildings, these ornate and beautiful structures are often overlooked. The towers of Manchester town hall, HMP Manchester (Strangeways) and Manchester University John Owen Building on Oxford Rd – all the work of Alfred Waterhouse – need no introduction, but what about the lesser known ones, at least in the eyes of visitors? The east tower of Manchester town hall is as impressive as many civic buildings in smaller cities and towns. Manchester’s classic architecture is a connection with Europe. It’s featured in the work of emigré painters such as Adolphe Valette and Georg Eisler. If you’re lucky enough to live or work at roof level you may be familiar with them. If not, look high above the rooftops! My next photo walk is on Saturday 13 February. www.aidan.co.uk
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Sights along the A62 from Manchester to Oldham

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Seed sculpture by Colin Spofforth, Central Park Manchester

Seed sculpture by Colin Spofforth, Central Park Manchester

Here’s my editorial and photo feature on Oldham Road that appeared in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday 7 January, 2016. It was the first article of the year. On Monday 4th, I took the bus to Oldham and then walked from the town centre back down the A62 as far as Failsworth. It was an interesting journey. On foot you notice a lot more than you do in a bus or car. I discovered the Music Rooms in Werneth Park, currently awaiting restoration, and the excellent statue of Ben Brierley next to Failsworth Pole It was created by artist Denise Dutton. There is history all around us, offering hidden stories and glimpses into a local area that felt very different in past times.

The A62 to Oldham is like a barometer of the times. In old photos we see a busy road, with shops, trams, industry and working class homes. Today it’s a post-modern mix of regenerated flats, new offices, and housing from the 19th and 20th centuries. Off to the left, Central Park is futuristic with its Metrolink stop and ‘seed’ sculpture. At the municipal boundary, Oldham Road becomes Manchester Road and soon we see the timeless tableau of St John the Evangelist church, the Royal Oak pub and Failsworth Pole. There’s a garden with a statue of the weaver and writer Benjamin Brierley (1825-1896). At Hollinwood we cross the M60 and the land rises. To the right is Werneth Park, where the mid-19th century Music Rooms are to be restored. From here there are magnificent views down onto the plain and over the West Pennine moors. On the top of the hill stands Oldham with its modern Civic Centre. The town centre offers an interesting mix of old and new. There’s always something new to discover when you go out and explore. Why not come on one of my photo walks, next date Saturday 13 February, full price £35, MEN readers, £25.

 

Statue of Ben Brierley by Denise Dutton

Statue of Ben Brierley by Denise Dutton

 

Failsworth Pole

Failsworth Pole

 

The Music Rooms, Werneth Park awaiting restoration

The Music Rooms, Werneth Park awaiting restoration

 

View of the West Pennine Moors from Oldham Road,, Werneth

View of the West Pennine Moors from Oldham Road,, Werneth

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The fate of 1930s buildings in Manchester

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Kendals / House of Fraser

Kendals, now House of Fraser store on Deansgate Manchester completed 1939


 
This article appeared in the Manchester Evening News that appeared on New Year’s Eve, Thursday 31 Dec 2015. In the first line I made a reference to the famous character Shrek and what he said to Donkey. Unfortunately the editors had to remove it! Presumably for brand usage and copyright reasons. Other than that the article that appeared in print is the same as here. The article has a sting in the tail, as I remember Library Walk, once a unique and atmospheric spot that was ruined in 2014 with the insertion of a clumsy and unnecessary glass cylinder.

As Shrek said to Donkey: ‘Ogres have layers!’ and so do cities. Their fascination lies in the many facets left over past decades and eras. The 1930s is an interesting period in Manchester but much of its legacy is disappearing. This year Century House on St Peters Square was demolished and the impressive 1930s facade of Bootle St police station may go the same way. The striking art deco Northcliffe House (1931) was taken down over a decade ago. Other 1930s buildings stand proud : Ship Canal House, the former Midland Bank, Sunlight House, Arkwright House on St Mary’s Parsonage. The former Kendals, now House of Fraser, was completed at the end of the 1930s, as was the Daily Express building. A year later, 75 years go, a firestorm rained down on Manchester that would change its character forever. But the inter-war period is still alive. If you look up, it’s as if time has stood still. One of the most precious things is when a corner is left untouched. This was true of Library Walk between the Central Library (1934) and the town hall extension (1937) , until a modernist style glass structure was placed within it, the controversial link building which opened in 2015. Let’s hope Manchester’s ‘layers’ remain in 2016 and beyond.

Century House St Peters Square 1 Oct 2012

The 1930s office building Century House overlooks Peters Square and helps to give St Peters Square a strongly inter-war character. It was built for Friends Provident, set up by the Quakers. Demolished 2015.


 
Former MIdland Bank Building, Key St Manchester

Former MIdland Bank Building, King St Manchester


 
Arkwright House, off Deansgate, Manchester

Arkwright House, off Deansgate, Manchester


 
Northcliffe House just before demolition and Sunlight House (left) 26 March 2002

Northcliffe House just before demolition and Sunlight House (left) 26 March 2002

Ship Canal House, King St Manchester

Ship Canal House, King St Manchester built in the early 1930s

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The magnificence of Lime Street Station past, present and future

Liverpool Lime St Station, August 2005 with office block, now demolished

Liverpool Lime St Station, August 2005 with office block, now demolished


 
Lime St Station is probably the best known and most used building in Liverpool. People from the suburbs and beyond take the train to Lime Street and so do those travelling from further away, such as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and London.

There are two parts to Lime Street Station, the main line terminal at ground level and the underground station on the city centre loop line.

It’s not widely acknowledged that Liverpool Lime Street is one of the oldest stations in continous use anywhere in the world. When the Liverpool and Manchester railway opened in 1830, the terminus was at Crown Street to the east of the city centre. The site is now a green area. Lime Street Station opened for passengers in 1836. The present train sheds date from 1867 and 1879.

The view from the main entrance at the front of Lime Street is one of the most magnificent in any UK city, with St Georges Hall on the right.

This is the place where I meet the people who come on my photo walks, at the top of the steps outside the main entrance.

Liverpool Lime Street front entrance and new steps

Liverpool Lime Street front entrance and new steps, meeting point for my photo walks.


 
Inside the station near the front entrance there are two statues by Tom Murphy representing Liverpool personalities, the comedian Ken Dodd and the former councillor Bessie Braddock. They were unveiled in 2009.

The north train shed is fronted by an ornate former hotel. This was the North Western Hotel, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, architect of Manchester town hall. Now this building serves as as a residence for students at John Moores University.
 
Next to the former hotel is the impressive main facade of the station. For many years, this frontage was spoilt by a row of shops that stood in front of it. In the 1960s an office block – Concourse House – was built on the corner. It was typical of the 1960s that a modern office tower could be constructed within a few feet of a precious heritage building from the 19th century. It also cast a shadow on the front of the station for much of the day.

Liverpool Lime Street Station at night

Liverpool Lime Street Station at night with floodlighting.


 

In the 2000s, the building was demolished, along with the row of shops and a new area at the front was created with steps and ramps. It is magnificent and allows us to admire the magnificence of the architecture. It looks particularly good at night, when floodlighting is switched on.

Whilst the exterior has been beautifully renovated, the interior has remained less attractive, but in 2016 a new renovation is set to go ahead. The station will be closed for a period during the works.

I look forward to seeing the newly renovated Lime Street Station and to continuing to arrive and depart from one of the oldest and most magnificent railway termini in the world.

Virgin Train to London at Liverpool Lime St 30 Oct 2003

Virgin Train to London at Liverpool Lime St Station Platform 8, 30 Oct 2003


 

Virgin Train to London at Liverpool Lime St 27 Apr 2009

Virgin Train to London at Liverpool Lime St Station, Platform 8, 27 Apr 2009

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Shadows and open spaces in Ancoats Manchester (MEN article)

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Marina, Ancoats Manchester

Marina, Ancoats Manchester


 

This article appeared in the Manchester Evening News in late 2015, along with a selection of photographs. I’ve been following the development of Ancoats, Manchester for many years. It’s a place with a unique history. It was the first urban industrial district in the world. It has a unique collection of warehouses and other buildings. Some lie inside the conservation area, others further south lie outside and many have been lost. Today Ancoats is developing but there are problems with the filling in of empty spaces.
Ancoats has been in the news recently due to objections to a proposed car park next to Cutting Room Square. Local residents say it will cast a shadow over the open space. It’s not the first time that buildings considered to be over-sized and out of place have been proposed in Manchester. A glass structure for Castlefield was rejected after a residents’ campaign. An apartment building in Northenden was found to be six feet too tall. Development means building and filling spaces, but when you do that, inevitably shadows are cast, sightlines are blocked. This 1998 view of the Royal Mills in Ancoats is now hidden by residential buildings. There’s no easy answer. In Berlin they like to leave gaps, maybe we should do that here. In another part of Ancoats, you’ll find New Islington Marina, a newly created stretch of water, a canal basin, with footpaths, trees and grassy areas around it. It’s very photogenic though there’s been criticism of it. You’d think you were a long way from Manchester and yet it’s just a 10 minute walk from Piccadilly. If you’ve not been to Ancoats recently it’s worth a look. You can explore the area on one of my photo walks More information at www.aidan.co.uk
Ancoats 1998 prior to renovation of mills and construction on neighbouring sites

Ancoats 1998 prior to renovation of mills and construction on neighbouring sites

Ancoats St Peters 1999

Ancoats St Peters 1999

ManAnctsCarPark-FX01

Ancoats Card Room Square

Ancoats Card Room Square

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Manchester’s magnificent Old Fire Station – soon to be renovated

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

The Old Fire Station, London Rd Manchester in sunny weather

Over a period of many years, London Road Fire Station has been without doubt Manchester’s most magnificent disused building. Every day, thousands of people pass by it on the bus or going in and out of Piccadilly Station, but not everyone notices its faded grandeur.

To me it has been a potent symbol of Manchester’s failure to make the best of its architectural heritage. It was given Grade II* listed status in 1974.

At night I often visualise how it would look if its shiny, butterscotch-coloured exterior were illuminated by floodlights. There would be an upmarket restaurant behind the doors that were once used by fire engines. Inside the main entrance would be a hotel reception by the main entrance and there would be an art exhibition inside the inner courtyard.

The exterior of the Old Fire Station in afternoon sunlight

The best time to photograph it is on a sunny morning when the sun is shining from the south east along Fairfield Street, lighting both its main facades. It’s also possible to take it in the afternoon when the light reflects off the smooth, reflective surface of its tiles.

London Road Fire Station was built in 1906 around the same time as the Victoria Baths. The Victoria Baths is often called Manchester’s Water Palace. The fire station also looks like a palace but it’s devoted to another element – fire. On the exterior there above the door there is a frieze with women symbolising the elements fire and water.

Fire Maidens - sculptures on the exterior of the Old Fire Station

It served Manchester for most of the 20th century, including two world wars and the uncertain post war years.

It was vacated by the Fire Service in 1986 and most of the building has been empty since then.

Former owners Britannia Hotels had planned to redevelop the building but for various reasons they were unable to proceed. They were criticised for allowing the building to deteriorate, though I have heard that they carried out some work on parts of the building to prevent further damage.

In late 2015, the building was purchased by Allied London who have plans for restoration. Shortly after purchasing it, they announced a new name: ‘Manchester Fire House’.

The Friends of London Road Fire Station have been campaigning for long time to save and restore the building, and are said to be very happy that the building has been sold to Allied London. As I understand it, the Friends would like it to be restored as a combination of a hotel and perhaps an arts centre, with other possible community uses. Manchester City Council would like it to be re-opened as a hotel.

Manchester coat of arms Old Fire Station

Standing in the shadow of the Old Fire Station is the site of the building that from the early 70s to 2012 was the home of the legendary Twisted Wheel night club, famous for Northern Soul. Club nights took place in the basement with its arches, similar to the Cavern Club in Liverpool.

With their irregular facades, the buildings reminded me of Amsterdam. With the approval of Manchester City Council the buildings were demolished in 2012 to make way for a modern style hotel. In my opinion, they should have been retained.

Site of the Twisted Wheel club - Before

Site of the Twisted Wheel club – Before

Site of the Twisted Wheel club - After

Site of the Twisted Wheel club – After

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Hidden facts about the Liver Building and the Liver birds

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Liverpool Liver Building and Pier Head with St Nicholas church

Liverpool Liver Building and Pier Head with St Nicholas church

In addition to my Eyewitness articles on Manchester, written for publication in the Manchester Evening News, I also write articles on Liverpool. That’s because I am interested in the history and heritage of Liverpool, and I run photo walks there. This article is written solely for the Eyewitness blog on the aidan.co.uk site.

The Liver Building is Liverpool’s most famous building. It’s a symbol of the city and home to the two Liver Birds that stand at the very top at both ends. It’s said that if they ever fly away, Liverpool will cease to exist.

It’s well-loved landmark in Liverpool but if you ask people “When was the Liver Building built?” “Who was the architect?” “Who designed the Liver Birds?” not everyone will be able to tell you, so here are a few facts:

It was built from 1908 to 1911 for the Royal Liver Assurance Company.

It was designed by architect Walter Aubrey Thomas.

The style is similar to buildings in Chicago and Shanghai.

It’s made out of reinforced concrete.

It was the tallest building in Europe from 1911 go 1932 and the tallest in Britain until 1960.

The Liver Birds were designed by German sculptor Carl Bernard Bartels

It is 322 feet tall. (98 metres)

The clock faces are 25 feet (7.6 metres) in diameter, bigger than Big Ben in London.

I have photographed the Liver Building many times from a number of different angles. From the distance, the clock towers are often seen above the skyline, silhouetted against the sky.

The Liver Building is one of the three magnificent buildings known as the ‘Three Graces’. Many people don’t know that the three buildings were built on three former docks, part of St Georges Dock, which was filled in to allow the waterfront to be extended out into the river. The ground plan of the building is the same shape as the dock.

In past times, the the Liver Building and its neighbours were blackened by smoke and pollution. In the late 1960s and early 70s they were cleaned. The Liver Building has a darker tone, which some people say makes it look rather drab. I disagree, its distinctive colour is part of its idenitity and makes it unique.

When I was taking the photographs for Liverpool Then and Now, I had the opportunity to go inside the Liver Building and unfortunately I was very disappointed at what I saw. Much of the original interior had been modernised. The walls on the inner courtyard have been covered with a modern glass facade.

I felt it was sad that such an important building has been compromised on the inside, even though it’s not visible from outside.

Despite that, the distinctive features of the building are much the the same as they were when it was first built and it continues to fascinate visitors and local people.

I would love to go up into the clock towers but I don’t think there is a tour of the interior of the building.

For me, the Liver Building is symbolic of Liverpool’s maritime heritage. Its very shape and location are influenced by the docks which were there before. It looks out towards the river and the sea, reminding us of Liverpool’s connections with other parts of the world, whether the Isle of Man, Ireland or across the Atlantic to North America and beyond.

Liver Building sketch by Aidan O'Rourke

Liver Building sketch by Aidan O’Rourke

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Scenic wonders along the A664 Manchester to Rochdale

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Misty sunset over Salford from Collyhurst 2001

Misty sunset over Salford from Collyhurst 2001


 
Here’s my editorial and photos that appeared in the Manchester Evening News on Thursday 17 September 2015. Recently I’ve been tutoring at a company in Castleton, the town that lies in the Borough of Rochdale to the north of Manchester. It’s not a tourist spot and yet it’s a very interesting place. I used to travel to the assignment by train but I switched to the number 17 bus, operated by FirstBus, as it’s cheaper and more frequent. I became interested in the sights along the way, and came up with the idea of an article showcasing the interesting sights along the way. I realised a sunset photo I took back in 2001 would be ideal for the piece, and presented it alongside some old and newly taken images.

Like spokes on a wheel, the main roads around Manchester extend to the surrounding towns. I like to ride on the top deck of the bus, observing landmarks along the way. This week I feature the A664 from Shudehill to Rochdale, around 10 miles along the 17 bus route. People may not think of Collyhurst as scenic, but this misty Salford sunset from Rochdale Rd railway bridge proves otherwise. Past Harpurhey on the left is a quaint Victorian post box, and down the hill on the right, mysterious Boggart Hole Clough. After Middleton Town Centre, look out for St Leonard’s Church on the top of the hill. The Rochdale Canal crosses under the A664 in Castleton, a town with a fascinating hidden heritage. Hopefully soon the East Lancs Railway will be extended to Castleton Station. As we approach Rochdale, we see Broadfield park, restored to its original glory a few years ago. Other attractions include the newly uncovered bridge and the Pioneers Museum. People need to open their eyes to the hidden attractions all around. Photography is a good way of doing it. Why not come on a 3 hr photo walk around the city centre? £25 for MEN readers, standard price £35. www.aidan.co.uk

 

Victorian post box Harpurhey Manchester

Victorian post box Harpurhey Manchester


 

Gates to mysterious Boggart Hole Clough, Manchester

Gates to mysterious Boggart Hole Clough, Manchester

Middleton St Leonard;s Church

Middleton St Leonard;s Church


 

Rochdale Blue Pits Highest Locks no 51

Rochdale Blue Pits Highest Locks no 51


 

Rochdale Broadfield Park and town hall clock tower

Rochdale Broadfield Park and town hall clock tower


 
Here’s how the article looked in the Manchester Evening News, dated Thursday 17 December 2015. The headline reads ‘Bus journeys – A window to our worlds’. The headline, introduction and layout are done by staff at the Manchester Evening News.

MEN Thursday 17 Dec 2015

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