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READER MESSAGES Late May 2001 (early May)


Gateway to Parsonage Gardens Didsbury

Name: Alan R. Black
E-Mail: lbar@idirect.com
Website:
From or connections with: Didsbury
Present Location: Toronto Canada
Subject: Jen Richardson's message from N.Z. April Edition
EWM Photo:
Reader Message:
Dear Aidan, I noticed that Jen Richardson, from N.Z., who lived inbetween Fog Lane and Mauldeth Road referred to a small park in Didsbury that she remembered has having a "costume exhibition." That park Aidan was The Old Parsonage. You will know that it was and is next to Fletcher Moss. I can remember as a small boy, 1930's going for a Sunday walk with my parents. A great treat was either an ice cream from the shop in Fletcher Moss or a visit to the Old Parsonage to view its contents and the grounds. I visit Manchester quite fequently, I am a brass band enthusiast, Played in Burnage Band in the 40's before I was conscipted into the coal mines as a Bevin Boy. Love your programme.
Best Regards,
Alan Black

I stand corrected! The Old Parsonage is not currently used as a museum, though it's possible to walk through the old gateway. I frequently go to Fletcher Moss Gardens - they are unique, with a fascinating collection of plants and flowers. Thanks for your interesting reminiscences.


Livsey Street Collyhurst
Sudell St & Rochdale Road

Name: Mike Tarpey
E-Mail: mike.wendy@xtra.co.nz
Website:
From or connections with: Collyhurst/Miles Platting
Present Location: Auckland-New Zealand
Subject: Very homesick.
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
It's always fascinating looking through the photos and reading the messages on Eyewitness. We have lived in NZ for 5 years now and an "old" house over here is 35-40 years old. It's great to see the old buildings around Manchester that were there well before I was born and will still be there long after I'm gone (hopefully)
There was one particular subject I wanted to raise. I was born in 1962 in Tebbit St Collyhurst and attended St. Patricks School on Livesey Street. I remember with very fond memories the Whit walks across Livesey Street, down Rochdale Rd, Shude Hill and finally down High street into Albert Square. It was a mass procession with bands and walkers from other parishes meeting up en route to form one long parade. Obviously I was only very young at this time, it would be interesting to read of other peoples memories of these walks and maybe to see some old photo's of Rochdale Road (around the area where the police station is now) in the sixties. I seem to remember a lot of pubs in this area, The Spread Eagle, The Queens, The Kings.
Anyway thanks for the memories keep it coming.
Mike Tarpey

Well here's a photograph of Livesey Street and St Patrick's Church. The subject of the Whit Walks is is a fascinating one and an important aspect of local history. Here's a picture of a Whit Walk sent by EWM Reader Pauline Shirley. The area along Rochdale Road bears little resemblance to how it used to look before post war redevelopment, in fact today it's a bit of a wasteland, like many inner city areas in Manchester. Do you remember the old building in the right hand photograph? Everything else around it has disappeared and nothing much has replaced it.


Name: DORIS HALL
E-Mail: eledor@bigpond.com.au
Website:
From or connections with: Hulme
Present Location: Adelaide South Australia
Subject: St. George [Hulme Church] St. Gabrial Hulme
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I would like a picture of Hulme Church for my mother who was christened there in 1914 and she was married at St. Gabriels she is now 87 and living here in Australia, I also would like to see it again as I used to go past there in my teen years on my way to Salford to go dancing on Regent Rd. I hope this is possible as I believe it is now in disrepair what a pity, if this is so,
Regards
Doris

Hulme Church, or St George's - which gives its name to the surrounding area - is currently being converted into upmarket apartments. I have my reservations about redeveloping a church for residential purposes - it just doesn't seem right. In Priestley's book of tram photographs of the UK, there is a 1930's picture of Chester Road next to St Georges church. It is virtually impossible to tell that this is the same place today. Just next to the church there is a big roundabout marking the end of the Mancunian Way. I don't have a photograph to hand at the moment, but I"ll take one soon showing the conversion work on the church.


Good postcard? Greetings from Under the Mancunian Way!Name: Stuart Gilles
E-Mail: stuart.gilles@btinternet.com
Website:
From or connections with:
Present Location:
Subject: Oldham Rd junction postcard
EWM Photo: Oldham Road postcard
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Tickled pink by the postcard of the breathtakingly beautiful Oldham Road junction. am now using it as the wallpaper for my desktop. chiz, Stu.

Oh yes, there are plenty of other scenic views to capture as photographs - Greetings from underneath the Mancunian Way, Greetings from the old gas works New Viaduct Street - Actually, I find these places much more interesting to look at than chocolate box cottages and villages!


The future of Piccadilly, as created by Manchester City Council plannersName: Michael Livsey
E-Mail: nina.michael@btinternet.com
Website:
From or connections with: Rusholme
Present Location: York
Subject: Piccadilly
EWM Photo:
http://www.aidan.co.uk/eyewitness-in-manchester/001ewm/md/XPIC2002.jpg
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
First of all, thanks from this other ex-Xavarian lad for a wonderful website. I come back to Manchester every few months or so to see the family, but don't always have time to wander as I used to about the city which spawned me. Now living far away in exile in darkest Yorkshire, your photographs and information help to fill the gaps.
Reading about the new developments in Piccadilly prompted me to rifle though my postcard collection. I've got a lot of Mancunian scenes, pride of place going to 9 different views of Piccadilly, ranging from 1907 to the 70's. It's fascinating to see how the space developed over the 20th century, and taken in sequence, an object lesson in how pictures show so much that words leave out. If you're interested, I'd be happy to scan them and email them to you.
Cheers,
Michael

Thanks - actually I have a collection of old Piccadilly postcards. There are also some fascinating views of Piccadilly in the Central Library Local Studies Unit. Piccadilly was a great place in the 1950's and 1960's. Only in the 70's 80's and 90's did the place start to deteriorate through through neglect by Manchester City Council. Glad that my photographs manage to reach across the Pennines as far as York!


Name: Norrie Sutherland
E-Mail: nrrsth@aol.com
Website:
From or connections with:
Present Location: Ayrshire
Subject:
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I came across your site by 'accident'. I don't know Manchester very well but I have met some very friendly people from there. They are rightly very proud of their city and I can see why when I see some of the lovely and interesting photographs.
Keep up the good work!
Warmly
Norrie

People say that I make Manchester look good - All I do is use my eyes and capture what's there. That's why it's called Eyewitness in Manchester. I'm especially encouraged when I get nice comments from people not from Manchester. I haven't been to Ayrshire, but I hope to visit and take some photographs there! Thanks again.



New York Empire State Building seen from New Jersey across the Hudson River with cruise liner passingName: Mark Bates
E-Mail: bates@massed.net
Website:
From or connections with: Harpurhey, Blackley, Moston, New Moston
Present Location: Westborough, Massachussetts, USA
Subject: Piccadilly
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I agree with Andy Aisworth that Piccadilly has long been due for a make-over. I do question, however, the suitability of the current plans. They strike me as timid and unadventurous--in a word, as boring! I prefer your idea, the skyscraper. But not just any old skyscraper, but one with the kind of distinctive look that would make it a city trademark, an instantly recognisable shape on the city skyline, as the Chrysler building is in New York, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Hancock in Boston, the Space Needle in Seattle (and like the examples from the mid-east you show on your Eyewitness page, though it need not of course be on that kind of scale). What Manchester will get, on the other hand, is no doubt the usual dreary blocks.
Poet Ezra once famously said, "Make it new." He was speaking of, or rather to, poets, but his instruction might equally be applied to architects and developers. As you yourself have pointed out Aidan, some developers in Manchester have heeded this message--or at least have made some attempt to break with old and tired styles. I fear, however, that the "new" Piccadilly will have a depressing quality of deja vu, of "seen that, done that (and hoped never to see it again"), about it.
Mark Bates

I think I agree. Looking at post-war development in British cities, whether Manchester Liverpool, Birmingham or Newscastle-upon-Tyne, I'm always struck by the sheer mediocrity of most newer buildings. In the United States, however, stunning city skylines have been created alongside the older city. The only place this seems to be happening in the UK is in the London Docklands. You could argue that British cities have a much older heritage than American cities and shouldn't go high rise, but I think that high rise development could be promoted in specific areas outside the historic city. Here's my photo of the Empire State Building, seen from across the Hudson River in 1981.


Name: Richard Legault
E-Mail: rlegault@webtv.net
Website:
From or connections with: none
Present Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Subject: Nice pictures
EWM Photo:
Reader Message:
Dear Aidan
I'm Richard, a citizen living in Montreal, Canada but as I communicate steadily with a person living in Britain via email, I got interested in the geography of Britain. I'm more more and more interested to your country. I went in Britain in 1978 but at that time there was no Internet. Now with the Internet, we can get in touch with anybody and any place in the world. To finish, I want to tell you that your pictures are very nice and interesting. Thank you. Richard from Montreal, Canada.

That's very kind of you, thanks. I like it when people not from Manchester respond to my photographs. I hope that through my photographs and articles you can gain a sense of what Britain looks like and discover more about it.


Northcliffe House towerName:
E-Mail: garnet@nsrc.or.th
Website:
From or connections with: Salford
Present Location:
Subject:
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan,
We've lost so many buildings and will lose more. It would be interesting if you gave your opinions on why this has happened. It is simple short sightedness, or just pure greed, or ....?
Garnet.

It's a combination of the profit motive, ignorance and other factors. Often there may be a conflict of interests between developers and local authorities on the one hand, and heritage campaigners on the other - It's frequently more expensive and inconvenient to save an old building than to demolish it and build a new one. That's why the listing system was introduced. A listed building is protected and can only be demolished with special permission from national government. There are many listed buildings in Manchester, but not every building of value is listed - Northcliffe House for instance, the former Daily Mail printing works on Deansgate is not listed, and is to be demolished to make way for a hotel of mediocre design.


Northcliffe House side viewName: FRANK PEARSON
E-Mail: f.pearson@worldnet.att.net
Website: N/A
From or connections with: Born Moss Side 1933.Lived there until approx 1952
Present Location: Charlotte North Carolina U.S.A.
Subject: Your Update on Central Manchester
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Your update was/is superb, your photo of Northcliffe house brought back a memory/incident I had forgot. My Father worked in the tower from the mid 30's through the mid 40's, when it was the Daily Mail Offices (What is it now ) He worked various shifts and one night when the Luftwaffe paid Manchester a visit, he was supposed to be on the night shift but my Mother persuaded him not to go as she was not feeling well, lucky for him he stayed home, that night an incendairy bomb went right through the window of the office he worked in and destroyed the office.
I am puzzled about something you wrote about the old Gaument Cinema on Oxford Road, You say it was previously the Manchester Hippodrome, Surely if my memory is correct the Hippodrome was in Hulme (Cannot remember the Street Name) but it was very close to Alexandra Road in Moss Side. The 62 80 82 Buses used to stop outside it. This building in the mid 60's I believe became a casino, The only other Hippodrome I can remember was at Ardwick Green and I'm not to sure if they called that a Hippodome. The Gaumont in those days was famous for the Long Bar beneath the Cinema, this was a favourite haunt of U.S. Servicemen from Burtonwood Airbase, it was also popular with the ladies of the night for obvious reasons.
Where MacDonalds is on Oxford Road did this not used to be the Tatler Cinema and just round the corner near the Station was another Cinema which only showed the News and Cartoons. Hope this is'nt too long and boring. Keep up the good work, I will be 68 this year and your newsletter keeps my little grey cells working.

Thank you for your message. I'm sure Northcliffe House may be haunted, I've heard a few stories of goings on there. It has been empty for years and is to be demolished under the Spinningfields development. The Manchester Hippodrome stood on Oxford Street and was demolished to make way for the Gaumont Cinema, completed in the early thirties. The Gaumont met its demise in 1976 and has only just recently been replaced by a multi-storey car park. I think that the Manchester Hippodrome must have moved in the 1920's to a new location in Hulme. The Tatler Cinema wasn't the one where the MacDonalds is now - it's the one further down Oxford Street next to Oxford Road station, now Cornerhouse Screen One.

 


Centre for Understanding of the Built Environment CUBE Portland St ManchesterName: Chrissie Gibson
E-Mail: c.gibson@mmu.ac.uk
Website:
From or connections with: Central Manchester and Stockport
Present Location: Manchester Metropolitan University
Subject: 1960s Manchester
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
The current exhibition at CUBE (Centre for the Understanding of the Built Environment) on Portland Street is very interesting. It displays photographs of many 1960s buildings, predominantly in Central Manchester, but also other locations in Greater Manchester.
Certainly worth a visit.
Chrissie

I will get along to see it as soon as I'm back in Manchester. CUBE is an excellent resource for anyone interested in town planning and architecture. As well as changing exhibitions, there's a bookshop with an unrivalled selection of books on an architectural theme. CUBE located at the Oxford Street end of Portland Street.


Emirates Towers DubaiName: Kesser Mohammed
E-Mail: knightrider786@hotmail.com
Website:
From or connections with: Levenshulme
Present Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Subject: New development
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Firstly I would like to say that I think your website is excellent, and I visit it often.
I was born at St. Marys Hospital and grew up in Levenshulme. I loved my childhood and teenage years in Manchester, and it's
great news to see that the city is starting to modernise and develop. The only thing I'm worried about is Manchester getting
left behind in this modern world.
There are more than 25 skyscrapers planned for London and even Birmingham has set aside an area in the city for skyscrapers. The tallest building in the UK is planned for Birmingham. It would be nice to see Manchester doing something on the same lines. I read about how there is a shortage of viable office space in the city, surely the council could come up with some kind of high rise policy.
Although there is a lot of development in the city centre, Manchester has got a reputation as a very rough place to live. Maybe the council could start to look at this.
Anyway keep up the good work and hopefully we will see some real skyscrapers soon.
Mr K. Mohammed (Burnage high school)

Some good suggestions there - Personally I think Salford Quays is the place to develop skyscrapers. One of the tallest buildings in the Manchester area is currently under construction there next to the Lowry centre. Of course, it makes it much more difficult to co-ordinate a high rise policy when Manchester is split up into separate and competing local authorities, rather than having a unified local government system like other major cities across the world. I'm always astounded when I go to London and see some of the amazing things going on there, particularly in the Docklands area. Manchester, and particularly Salford Quays seems to have missed out on the best of modern architecture, so far at least. Thanks for your support and interesting comments


View north west towards Manchester from Werneth LowName: Peter Cheney
E-Mail: cfocht@goucher.edu
Website:
From or connections with: Rusholme
Present Location: Baltimore Maryland USA
Subject:
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
As a born & bred Mancunian now living in America I love looking through the photographs. My wife, who was born in the States, can sit here for hours listening to me explain to her about what's in the different photographs and how quickly you can go from an inner city to the beautiful countryside that borders Manchester.
There are times, like now, looking through your photos I realise how much I miss the city & people of one of Britain's greatest places. Thank-you very much for your hard work & dedication at keeping these memories alive.

That's very nice of you to say! Getting out and about, taking the photographs and doing the writing is fun, though making up the pages is often tedious. But it's great to see them eventually online and to get feedback like yours. I'm motivated by the desire to capture and enthuse about what I see around me. That goes for Manchester or anywhere else I find interesting. When other people give me positive feedback, then I know it's all worthwhile

 


Arndale Centre before...
Arndale Centre after recladding, with M&S building, left

Name: Rod Flanagan
E-Mail: rflanaga@bigpond .com.au
Website:
From or connections with: Newton Heath
Present Location: Perth WA
Subject: Arndale Centre
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I have to agree with your view of the Arndale, however I fear that we could could make the same mistake as previous years by drastically altering something that could one day become an outstanding example of this architects work (or maybe the last example of it). What we consider ugly now may not be the case in the future. Who would have thought dark satanic mills would be so treasured, or even old warehouses, and who could ever have envisioned railway stations as being architectural gems. As we never know what the future brings lets learn by the mistakes of the past and make decisions in the future with that in mind.
R. Flanagan
Ps.
I'd still knock bloody thing down.

That's a very good point, but I would be very surprised indeed if future generations regarded the Arndale Centre as a prime piece of 20th century architecture. Knocking it down is impractical, and anyway, it is a commercially successful and highly popular element of the city centre. What ought to happen is that it is completely remodelled on the outside and inside. This would transform the building into something new. Many shopping centres in the United Arab Emirates are superbly designed pieces of architecture - more tasteful than the Trafford Centre with its kitschy garden centre statues and colour-by-numbers wall paintings - more glamorous than the Arndale Centre with its bare concrete and tacky tiles. The Arndale Centre is to be redeveloped with a Winter Garden where Cannon St is now, and new exterior cladding, but the work seems to be taking ages. The Arndale Centre could be transformed. Perhaps the final flourish would be to give it a new name. Any ideas?


Name: Ray O'Neill
E-Mail: rayopint@aol.com
Website: ?
From or connections with: Cheetham Hill and Cheadle.
Present Location: Portland Oregon,USA
Subject: Manchester That Is etc.
EWM Photo: .
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I was taken by all your pictures Aidan. I cannot pick any particular one. You have once again surpassed yourself. I have copied every page you put in and will be passing it around the pub for all the Mancs there to read.
Well done once again Aidan.

That's very kind of you to say! Maybe one day I'll visit your pub in Portland Oregon and meet the Mancs!


City of Manchester local authority sponsored office block to be built on Piccadilly GardensName: Stuart Gilles
E-Mail: stuart.gilles@btinternet.com
Website:
From or connections with: Prestwich, Sale, Altrincham
Present Location: London
Subject: As below
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Although a Londoner, I worked for the MEN for 30 years in its London office, until it was closed in 1967, and through my work got to know the city fairly well. I thought my connection with the city was finished when, a couple of years ago, my daughter became a student at Manchester Uni. On a visit to see her a month or so ago, I was shocked to see the state of Piccadilly. It wasn't the most beautiful of sites but at least it provided a rare bit of greenery in the centre of the city. While, from what I have read in your column, much of that greenery will be returned, albeit in another form, I think it wrong that a bit of it should go under concrete for yet another office block. Surely Manchester has more than enough office space to fill all its needs? An eyeopening trip through the refurbished Trafford Park left me with the impression that there were enough offices there to supply all of England! I suppose it is too late to do anything about stopping the new Piccadilly block now. All I can say is I hope they put up a damn good fight before the council gave its final approval.

I was one of a group of campaigners who objected to the proposal using obscure legislation relating to 'Town or Village Greens'. The law states that if a sufficient number of people can prove that they use a green space for sports lawful pastimes, then it can't be built on. My claim was legitimate, as I regularly used Piccadilly as a place to walk through, relax or take photographs. I completed the objection and submitted it to Manchester City Council. I eventually received a large brown envelope full of stapled pages in which all my objections were overruled by MCC's lawyers using standard legal arguments. I understand that MEN reader polls indicated that a large majority of the people of Manchester oppose the decision to put an office block on Piccadilly Gardens, but the councillors pressed ahead with their plans regardless. We can only wait and see what the outcome is, but as far as I am concerned, the heart has been ripped out of Manchester.


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