THIS IS PART TWO
OF MY WALK THROUGH NIGHT TIME MANCHESTER started back in March,
and continued here. Click here to see Part
FAULKNER STREET CHINATOWN is seen here, with the Chinese
Arch in the centre right.
This district was once earmarked for a redevelopment plan
in which all the old warehouses would have been pulled down
to make way for a series of office and leisure developments
similar to Piccadilly Plaza, stretching from Piccadilly to
The plan was never implemented and in the meantime, the old
warehouses, with their atmospheric back alleyways like Kowloon
in miniature, became a piece of China in the heart of Manchester.
Chinatown is now one of city centre Manchester's main nighttime
attractions, and is a Chinese cultural and residential district
MANCHESTER CENTRAL LIBRARY looks magnificent in floodlighting
since its exterior cleaning job in 1999.
During weekdays, the main library is open until 8pm - the
building is also open at night to allow access to the Library
Theatre, (formerly the Intimate Theatre), located in the basement.
An all night event was held in Autumn 1997, with tours of
the stacks - said to be haunted - in the early hours of the
It would be great if the Library were open 24 hours a day,
but I'm not sure if the Library staff would agree with me.
THE BRIDGEWATER HALL is regarded by many as Manchester's
jewel in the crown, as far as cultural amenities are concerned.
It's an impressive building - especially at night, when the
front lobbies are lit up and visible through the exterior
curtain windows - concert goers can be seen silhouetted against
But it's not the Sydney Opera House or the Bilbao Guggenheim
- Some people say Manchester City Centre needs a truly 'wacky'
public building in order to attract international attention.
I'm not sure.
THE MIDLAND HOTEL, now owned by Crowne Plaza and known as
the Crowne Plaza Midland, is regarded as Manchester's most
prestigious hotel. It's true, many VIP's and visiting dignitaries
stay here, and it was the base for the 1998 In The City music
These gas-powered braziers were added during 1999 and are
an eye-catching feature at night. It's nice to see real fire,
rather than those imitation braziers at the Trafford Centre,
which use an orange light, ribbons and a fan.
Unlike the gas lamps of the 19th century, these braziers
THE THEATRE ROYALE is located on Peter Street, next to the
Free Trade Hall. This is Manchester's oldest and most distinguished
theatre. Shakespeare can be seen on the front facade, leaning
on one elbow. In 1927 it fell from grace and became a cinema
- a use which continued well into the post-war years - I saw
Dr Doolittle and 2001 a Space Odyssey there as a child. After
that it became a bingo hall.
Now it's the Discotheque Royale - I'm sure architects Irwin
and Chester would turn in their graves if they saw the masses
of Sharon's and Darren's gyrating to loud music and swilling
vodka and Red Bull or endless pints of lager.
And Eyewitness in Manchester has to confess that he once
had a heavy night out here one time, and he wasn't imbibing
the eternal spirit of The Bard.
GRANADA STUDIOS TOUR is a major tourist attraction in Manchester,
though I personally think it's over-rated and over-priced.
The tour is not of Granada Studios themselves, but of a purpose
built exhibition area. Visitors do get to see the set of Coronation
At night, the main entrance looks great, with the American
style neon signs. In 1999, the attraction was closed for redevelopment
- I wonder what the newly revamped Granada Studios Tour will
be like and if it will live up to expectations.
LAS VEGAS LANCASHIRE, can be experienced at Granada Studios
Tour, in city centre Manchester.
This sign, along with others, looks to have been imported
from the United States. We need more neon signs out on the
streets of the city centre.
THE HARD ROCK CAFE is one of the most famous names in showbiz
eateries. A new restaurant will be opened in Manchester in
the Printworks complex.
In late August 2000, a giant neon guitar sign mounted on
the Printworks facade was switched on, providing advance publicity
for the restaurant. It's nice to see neon signs returning
to Manchester, and I hope to see more.
There's no more powerful symbol of an exciting nighttime
city than neon signs, as visitors to New York, Hong Kong and
Piccadilly Circus London, will testify.
TOPKAPI is synonymous in Manchester with the best in Turkish
This is the Topkapi restaurant on Deansgate.
The original Topkapi restaurant was quoted by music guru
and broadcaster Tony Wilson as one of his top ten favourite
restaurants in Manchester.
THE VICTORIA FOUNTAIN was officially re-opened in June 1997,
when I took this photograph.
First installed in 1897, it was removed in the 1920's and
languished in Heaton Park until restoration in the nineteen-nineties.
Just beyond it to the left is Cross Street. Albert Square
has been a pedestrianised area since the 1970's, so the setting
of the fountain looks different today from what it was in
WE ARE LOOKING UP AT THE VICTORIA FOUNTAIN and beyond it,
the clock tower of Manchester Town Hall on Albert Square.
This is one of the earliest photographs in Eyewitness in Manchester,
taken in December 1996, but the scene has remained unchanged
in the intervening years.
Albert Square is filled with the reverent atmosphere and
stern values of the Victorian era. The Town Hall is a recreation
of the Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages and the magnificent
town halls of medieval Flanders.
This character is perhaps more noticeable at night, when
the square is quiet and empty, than by day, when it is filled
with traffic and people.
NIGHT TIME MANCHESTER at the weekend is a place where you'll
encounter lots and lots of young people on their way from
or to some nightclub, cafe bar or pub.
More often than not, they've had quite a lot to drink, like
these three Irish girls. They asked me to take their picture,
but I told them I'd already taken it and showed them on the
digital camera monitor.
The blurred outline is partly because of the long exposure
and partly because the subjects are rather unsteady on their
Behind, we see the attractively floodlit facade of Kendals
department store, opened in 1939.
AN ILLUMINATED CITY CENTRE MAP and Kendals department store,
are seen here at night from the end of King Street, looking
These maps, put up by the local authority, Manchester City
Council, differ from the previous ones in that they have included
the university district to the south east.
Kendals still looks sleek and ultra-modern, with its groovy
floodlighting, even though it was built in the year that World
War Two broke out.
THIS IS THE NEW CORPORATION STREET at night. On the left
is the new Marks & Spencer store, looking like an airport
On the right is the redesigned facade of the Arndale Centre.
The yellow ochre tiles have been replaced by brown brick,
metal and lots of glass, with cylindrical corner towers.
The two buildings are linked by the futuristic new footbridge
- like the Arndale Centre closed outside shop opening hours.
Just under the bridge is the Victorian post box which withstood
the full force of the IRA bomb, which exploded on 15 June
1996. It's amazing to think that this futuristic new street
has taken shape in only a couple of years.
MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL is dark at night - at the moment (Summer
2000), there is no floodlighting. I assume that when work
is completed in the cathedral area, it will be lit up at night.
So for the time being, the clock face is the only part of
the Cathedral that's relatively bright at night and visible
to the digital camera.
The glass clock face was badly damaged by the IRA bomb of
1996, but here we see it restored to pristine condition and
- checking the time on my mobile phone - I see it's correct.
WANDERING down the back streets, and under the old railway
viaducts of Manchester, we get a strong feeling of the 19th
century, when this drab and depressing, but atmospheric, urban
landscape was created.
Above this bridge is the former Exchange Station - closed
in 1969 and demolished, the platforms are now used as a car
Buses from Salford used to terminate in this dark and dreary
place - Nowadays people walk along here from the MEN Arena
to return to their cars, which they've left in a private car
park just around the corner.
WE CAN SEE 'OLD' MANCHESTER in this photograph, taken on
Collyhurst Road, next to the railway viaduct leading to Victoria
Station. Charter Street Ragged School is just under the bridge
on the right, and through the centre left bridge is St Michael's
flags, next to where the church of the same name used to stand.
I've changed the colour of the lights from the orange of
contemporary street lamps to the dim blue of the ones I remember
from before the 1970's.
At night, this area is laden with the atmosphere of the 19th
century. People used to live in back to back terraced houses
in the side streets very close to here. They were some of
Manchester's worst slums and were pulled down in the 1930's.
I hope this area remains as it is, a grim but atmospheric
reminder of Manchester as it was until quite recently.
THAT CONCLUDES our walk around the seedier parts of nighttime
Manchester. For another Eyewitness update, I'll take a more
conventional view, and focus on the livelier parts of the
city at night, and perhaps taking a look outside and inside
some of the night clubs - accompanied by two bodyguards I
The next update will follow soon.