A VARIED ASSORTMENT OF PHOTOGRAPHS, starting with central
Manchester in heavy rain on Monday the 9th, and the unusual
weather conditions we encountered on Sunday 8th of October
2000 - Heavy rain followed by sunshine, then more rain, then
more sunshine, and so on. I also meet an artist from Suffolk
who has come from London to do drawings of Manchester. I visit
Liverpool and look at some old lamp posts, and take a last
nighttime look at that controversial M&S poster. There's
also good news about an old Salford cinema...
HEAVY RAIN poured down on central Manchester on Monday 9th
of October 2000. I took this photograph at around 5.10pm from
the 7th floor window of Gateway House, next to Piccadilly
We are looking towards Manchester Town Hall - the main clock
tower is silhouetted on the right - the smaller pyramid-shaped
tower on the eastern facade is visible on the left. The tall
chimney stacks are very striking, and not normally visible
from street level. The taller block on the right is the Bank
House, on Portland Street.
Photographs like this are normally banished from promotional
material about Manchester, but Andreas Feininger's smoky,
steamy photographs of New York are famous, and Manchester,
like New York, looks very striking in the rain, so what's
THESE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE WHITWORTH ST DISTRICT of central
Manchester were taken during heavy rain on Monday 9th of October
2000, looking from Gateway House, Piccadilly Station Approach.
We are looking west towards the tower of the Palace Hotel
(former Refuge Assurance Building), on Oxford Rd. To the right
is the smaller tower of Lancaster House on the corner of Whitworth
Street and Princess St. Over to the left is the main building
of UMIST. In the lower part of the picture, we see Shena Simon
College, which was formerly a secondary school.
This part of Manchester is very much a product of the 1890's
and 1900's, a time of great prosperity in Manchester following
the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894.
During weather conditions like these, we can imagine Manchester
as it was around the turn of the 20th century, when Adolphe
Valette painted street scenes using a similar colours to the
ones in these photographs.
WE ARE LOOKING ACROSS THE CHESHIRE PLAIN from Teggs Nose
Country Park, above Macclesfield. It is Sunday 8th of October
2000, and the time is about 4.30pm.
Today's changeable weather conditions are visible here -
rain clouds hang in the sky in the foreground, but in the
distance, the hills are shrouded in haze, lit up by the sun's
These are the Peckforton Hills, in south east Cheshire, about
30 miles (50km) away. Visible beyond them are the foothills
of Wales, some 50 miles (80km) from here.
AN AIRCRAFT ON ITS FINAL APPROACH TO MANCHESTER AIRPORT flies
through a rainbow - or so it seems.
In fact, the plane is about three miles from here. Our viewpoint
is at the junction of School Lane and Kingway, Burnage, and
the plane is flying over Stockport.
As for the rainbow, it's difficult to say how far away it
is, as it is an optical effect of sunlight reflecting in raindrops,
but to our eyes, it appears to be a few hundred yards away.
Like the perfect photo opportunity, it's always fleeting
and often disappears before you can grab your camera. This
time, fortunately, I managed to capture the moment.
RAINBOW OVER KINGSWAY - This is what we saw on the afternoon
of Sunday 8th of October - and a very impressive rainbow it
is too, due to a number of factors: - thick high clouds producing
rain that's both fine and heavy, plus intense late afternoon
sunlight shining from just above the horizon.
Even the fainter outer ring is visible - this only happens
when conditions are optimal.
I took this photograph from the car window, parked on the
pavement on Kingsway, about 100 yards from the junction with
School Lane. We are on the northbound side of Kingsway, looking
They say there's gold at the end of the rainbow, so there
must be two lots of it, somewhere in Burnage, probably in
the back gardens of those houses. If anyone finds it, please
Whilst rainbow-chasing, we passed this shop on Burnage Lane.
Sadly, the pot of gold appears to have eluded the owners as
it has recently closed.
THE MANCHESTER AQUATICS CENTRE, also known as the Commonwealth
Games Pool opened its doors to the public in late September
It's a high-tech building with state of the art pools, a
fitness centre, a health spa and other facilities. Opening
hours are early morning till late at night.
It's a welcome addition to Manchester's sports facilities
but... (there had to be a but, didn't there!) there will be
a price to pay: The swimming pool at the MMU Didsbury campus,
used by many local residents, is set to close. Reason given:
It's not needed now the Manchester Aquatics Centre has opened.
A campaign is in progress to save it.
Also: When I visited the centre late afternoon, the pool
had been divided off, leaving only the central portion open
to the public, and very full. You might as well save the bus
fare and go to your smaller local pool - unless it's been
MANCHESTER TOWN HALL has been drawn, painted and photographed
innumerable times since it was opened in 1874 (architect:
Alfred Waterhouse). It's one of Manchester's most magnificent
buildings, a Victorian exercise in neo-Gothic splendour.
The exterior stonework was cleaned in the 1970's, though
weather and air pollution have started to darken it again.
Here it is seen through the eyes of artist David Downes,
who on 6 October 2000, I saw working at one of the outdoor
tables of Via Vita restaurant, on Albert Square.
DAVID DOWNES is artist in residence for the BBC - He's originally
from Suffolk but now lives in London I noticed him drawing
the Town Hall on Friday 6 October 2000, and decided to feature
him in Eyewitness in Manchester.
So how does he like Manchester? "I'm very impressed
with the centre of Manchester. The architecture is excellent
and there's a great atmosphere. It feels more like a city
than London - the height of the buildings gives it a European
feel, the trams too. I'd definitely like to come here again."
LIVERPOOL CITY CENTRE is seen here from the steps of the
Walker Art Gallery.
On the left is the legendary Liverpool Empire theatre, which
is still in use. Next to it is the hotel which was converted
after many years of disuse into student residences. Lime Street
Station is behind it, and over to the right, we see the magnificent
St George's Hall.
Liverpool is 35 miles (50km) west of Manchester. There are
regular train services, but the National Express is the cheapest
way of getting there - only £4 return.
QUEENS DRIVE LIVERPOOL is the location of the only remaining
pre-war lamp standards anywhere in the north west and possibly
the UK (please contact
if there are any more you know of).
This stretch of road passes under a railway bridge marked
'1926' so these lights probably date from that year.
The cables are still strung from lamp post to lamp post,
rather than buried underground. These lamp standards may also
have supported tram cables.
With their ornate wrought ironwork and double support struts,
they represent the design values of another age. Street lamps
of this type were seen all over Liverpool right up till the
1950's when they were replaced with a more modern design.
Well done Liverpool for protecting its urban design heritage.
WILMSLOW ROAD BY NIGHT - here illuminated by street lights,
pasing traffic, and a backlit advert.
The reflections on the wet road surface caught my eye, as
well as Marks and Spencers controversial advert - the campaign
came ended late September 2000.
Whitworth Park is across the road to the left. Further up
the road to the left, behind the trees, is the Whitworth Art
Gallery, and opposite it, Manchester Royal Infirmary.
On the empty plot to the right, a new shopping centre is
to be built, so this scene will change soon - though luckily
I've caught it for posterity in Eyewitness in Manchester.
THE AMBASSADOR CINEMA IS TO BE SAVED, it was announced in
early October 2000. A campaign by local residents, backed
by Salford-born actor Christopher Eccleston led to the building
being listed, and so it cannot be demolished.
Click here to see the EWM feature