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THIS IS THE VIEW ALONG AYTOUN STREET IN MARCH 2001, looking towards Piccadilly Gardens, with the beautiful art deco outline of Debenhams on the right, and the monolithic yellow-tiled hulk of the Arndale Centre tower to the left. Just up Aytoun Street on the right is the former Grand Hotel, now converted into prestigous apartments.

The office block to be built on Piccadilly Gardens will obscure this view towards Market St, filling up the field of view to a line above the roof of the Grand Hotel.

SIR ROBERT PEEL, founder of the police force, former local MP and British Prime Minister, is represented here in a statue which was put up on this spot around 1855.

On either side of the base are figures which symbolise the greatness of Manchester.

Peel, Watt, Queen Victoria and Wellington form a group of statues arranged along Piccadilly esplanade. All except Queen Victoria will be moved - I'm not sure exactly where to - as part of the redevelopment plan.

WE ARE STANDING AT THE ENTRANCE GATE to the site on the Oldham Street side, looking over towards Piccadilly Plaza and the now defunct Lewis's. It's about 4pm on Monday 12 March 2001.

Passers-by are kept unaware of the drastic changes which are about to take place here, as the local authority have neglected to put up any displays or visualisations showing how this area will look when work is completed.

On this spot there will be a hump back bridge leading over an oval-shaped pond with walk-through fountains.

On the roof of Piccadilly Plaza, scaffolding envelops Bernard House, alias Eagle Star House, which is currently being dismantled.

BERNARD HOUSE, also known as Eagle Star House, is here being dismantled as part of the renovation of Piccadilly Plaza. It's 31 January 2001.

Standing next to it is Sunley Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Manchester. Piccadilly Plaza was completed in 1965 but proved a failure as a shopping centre.

EYEWITNESS SAYS: Bernard House, with its unusually shaped roof, was one of the few modern buildings in Manchester with a distinctive character. It also formed an integral part of the original concept of Piccadilly Plaza, which the developers have now chosen to revise.

LEWIS'S DEPARTMENT STORE, which overlooks Piccadilly, closed its doors for the last time at the end of February 2001. The closure marked the end of a long period of decline. These photos were taken shortly before it closed.

For well over a century, Lewis's was one of the most familiar and best-loved attractions in Manchester.

EYEWITNESS SAYS: Like many people, I have fond memories of the store both as a child and an adult. I purchased my first LP here in 1972, and right up to the time it closed, I regularly visited the food section - greatly diminished in size from times of old.

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