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THE AGE OF STEAM LIVES ON JUST HALF AN HOUR'S METROLINK RIDE FROM THE CITY CENTRE on the East Lancashire Railway, which runs between Bury and Rawtenstall. And on Wednesday the ELR received some excellent news: They are going to receive £1.2m to extend the line from Bury to Heywood. The money comes from a partnership between Pilsworth Environmental Trust, Rochdale, Bury and Rossendale councils, English Partnerships and ELR's own fundraisers. The Bury to Heywood stretch will provide a link to the national railway network, and the line may be used for freight. They ought to extend their steam services onto the main lines - I'm sure they'd do a better job than the commercial operators. For more info on the ELR phone 0161 764 7790 or write to East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society, Bolton Street Station, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0EY.
THEY'LL STEAL JUST ABOUT ANYTHING NOWADAYS, so people say, but surely trains can't be stolen? Not so, as we found out today, when rail supervisor Barry Daly of Crewe admitted selling engines and coaches under false pretences to a railway museum - He told the museum (unnamed in media reports) he was going to sell them old engines and carriages, but pocketed the money instead. The rolling stock never belonged to him. He also stole £43,000 from prospective customers. This bizarre case of a railway employee with a sideline in dodgy trains was heard by Chester Crown Court today. Even Manchester-based record producer and railway buff Pete Waterman was caught out Daly. Next time you buy a vintage steam engine, make sure you've checked the paperwork!
THE FURORE OVER THE FREE TRADE HALL has more or less died down now. The building continues to lie empty, and Councillor Richard Leese is still very upset at the decision by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to reject the multi-storey hotel idea, though the Liberal Democrat opposition on the City Council have told him to stop "whingeing". He has a point though: It's a difficult building to find a use for, as it can't easily be converted into shops or apartments, and is not viable as a convention centre or concert hall. The City Council's plan would have secured £4 in funding and provided 300 jobs. But the Civic Society and other objecting groups remain optimistic that a new use can be found. Interesting fact: Manchester City Centre still doesn't have a five star hotel.
I STILL HAVEN'T SEEN ANY OF MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL'S new rangers, in their sprightly uniforms. Their job is to patrol the streets of the city centre, offering help and guidance to the general public, as well as, in the words of Cllr Pat Karney, Chairman of the City Centre Sub-Committee, acting as the Council's "eyes and ears". If I do run into one, I won't bother asking "How do I get to the Trafford Centre", as they've been trained not to give out this information! The City Centre looked busy and bustling on Saturday, and today I saw workmen making the final adjustments to the Christmas Tree in Albert Square.
A HORRIFIC ACCIDENT TOOK PLACE AT PATRICROFT RAILWAY STATION on Tuesday of last week, when 21 year old James Leonard was killed by a passing freight train. He had apparently been sitting on the edge of the platform with a girl and two friends, when the freight train approached. The girl was pulled back from the train, but the victim failed to move, and was killed instantly. Passengers should take care and stand well back from the platform edge.
AN OLDHAM TEENAGER DIED after he accidentally inhaled anti-perspirant spray, it was revealed on Wednesday. The post-mortem indicated Jonathan Capewell had lethal amounts of butane and propane in his body. The case raises many questions - the 16 year old was apparently obsessed with smelling good, and used large amounts of deodorants. But wasn't this behaviour an indication that something was wrong? His parents think manufacturers should print bigger warnings on the cans. Should they, or are the warnings sufficient?
THE MANCHESTER ACCENT is the least favourite accent in the UK, according to a telephone poll just carried out by the BBC programme Here and Now, broadcast live to the UK from Manchester. The most favoured accent in the UK was that of the town of Strabane, which sits on the northern side of the Irish border. I put it down to a recent appearance by ex-Stone Roses leader Shaun Ryder on Jo Wiley's BBC pop chat show - I haven't heard to many f's and b's since the last time I sat upstairs on the back of a bus at school going home time.
AND FORMER STONE ROSES SINGER IAN BROWN lost his appeal today against a four-month prison sentence for threatening a female flight attendant and banging on the cockpit door as the plane was landing. He had appealed on the grounds that he had only been joking. Brown said to British Airways stewardess Christine Couper: "Don't wave your hands at me. I'll chop your hands off." The question of disruptive passengers was the main story on "Granada Tonight". The pilot of the plane, interviewed for the programme, didn't treat the incident as a joke however, and approved of the four month prison sentence. Operators would like a register of disruptive passengers, and members of the public suggested stronger measures, such as taking away the passports of offenders. I used to work at Manchester Airport, on the information desk, and experienced one or two nutcases in my time there. Most members of the public, however, were quite pleasant and courteous.
SALFORD IS SINKING LIKE THE TITANIC - This is the disturbing headline arising from a report in last Friday's edition of the top medical journal, "The Lancet", which identified Salford having one of the highest UK rates in both mortality and population decline. The number of residents in Salford fell by just over a third between 1971 and 1991. But leader of Salford City Council, Bill Hinds said the Titanic comparison wasn't appropriate. I agree with him - Dr Mary Shaw, one of the researchers, made the comparison in order to illustrate the how the more affluent always have a better chance of escaping - whether from a stricken vessel or inner-city deprivation - leaving the poorer people behind.
As ever, Salford is branded as "sink city", while the reality doesn't justify so negative a label. I've been visiting various areas recently after a friend and Salfordian lent me a copy of a book of old pictures of Salford, from the "Britain in Old Photographs" series. Most of the present-day City of Salford is an attractive, pleasantly hilly, green and mostly residential area, including such desirable spots as Buile Hill Park, Worsley, Salford Quays, the University, Monton Green, Ellesmere Park and the River Irwell. The blighted areas are confined to the central districts, especially the Langworthy Estate (picture lower down), visited recently by Home Secretary Jack Straw.
Salford features in today's MEN leader, under the title: "Community in Crisis". The editorial advocates urgent measures to halt the decline of the inner city area. Looking at the book of old photos of Salford, it's chilling to see how a whole city district was destroyed to make way for the 8-lane highway and looming high rise estate that characterise downtown Salford today. Only the pubs stand as a reminder of what might have survived and been renovated, if the sixties planners hadn't had their way. And I know. I lived in the block in the photo below - Thorn Court - for a while, in the corner flat, fourth floor from the top, but moved out within months.
And over on the other side of the River Irwell, in Manchester, a blighted street is going to be demolished. Only a handful of houses are still occupied on Redvers Street, Beswick, on the left off Ashton Old Road, just half a mile from Piccadilly Station. It was once called the "worst street in Manchester.", along with the surrounding rows of terraces. The City Council has decided to pull the whole lot down. And the canal running through nearby Ancoats is going to be restored using £23m from the Millenium Commission. The Rochdale Canal was built in the 1790's and was the main transport artery between Yorkshire and Lancashire until the arrival of the railways in the 1840's. It became derelict in the 1960's. The canal should be fully restored again at the end of 2000.
IF YOU'RE HEADING ROUND THE EAST SIDE OF THE M60 don't be confused if you see a sign pointing to "Droylsdon" - the signs were supplied by the Highways Agency, who put a "don" instead of a "den". Don't their sign-makers have a spell-checker? It's almost as bad as pronouncing Blackley to rhyme with the colour black! The higgledy-piggledy and badly sized zero's stuck onto signs around the recently renamed orbital motorway (to be completed next year) have all the design appeal of a Sex Pistols album cover. Maybe they should have done like another well-known pop act and called it "The Motorway Formerly Known as the M66/M63/M62"!
BODDINGTONS MAY NOT BE DRINKABLE VIA THE INTERNET YET, but a firm in Wigan is gaining lots of inquiries from round the world after they opened up a website to sell their own particular product: ice cream. The website is at www.arden-supplies.co.uk. I've had a few comments concerning the Pool Cam operated by the Manchester Institute for Information Delivery - it doesn't seem to be working with some browsers. I called round to their office in the same MMU building as the Multimedia Centre, and spoke to them. The hardware/software set up is proving to be a little unpredictable, but the advice is to keep trying. The MiiD offer courses in IT and Internet subjects, delivered via the Web. They're free for UK residents - if you're interested, have a look at www.idea.org.uk/GO/introduction.
EYEWITNESS PAGE DELIVERIES INCREASE BY 67% That's the welcome news I got last week on a "stats" memo from the Manchester Online server. As each week goes by, more and more people out there are accessing more and more pages. So thanks very much for your support, and please keep visiting - new and exciting developments are coming soon, including a search facility for the newsletter pages, to be added in the next few days!
BBC'S NORTHWEST TONIGHT IS THE BEST REGIONAL MAGAZINE PROGRAMME IN THE COUNTRY: It was voted Best Regional News Programme for the second year running. The best regional broadcaster was Stuart Flinders, who I saw crossing Deansgate last week. He reported extensively on the Louise Woodward case both here and in the United States. Dave Guest won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Technology. Granada also gained some awards: Coronation Street's Roy Barraclough won Best Actor In A Drama, and the MEN sponsored Brian Redhead Award for best programme reflecting life in the region went to the excellent Granada documentary about the Busby Babes.
I wonder if digital television will allow us to see regional programmes from other parts of the country. North west tv programmes feature Liverpool, Lancaster, the Isle of Man and the Lake District, but nearby Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield could just as well be on another planet - we can't receive their local tv and they can't receive ours. But the technology to enable North West expats in other regions, countries and continents to watch Northwest Tonight and Granada Tonight is on its way - I reckon just a few years.
WHO DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE THE MANCUNIAN OF THE YEAR? Noel Gallagher? Joe Royle? Alex Ferguson? David Beckham? Sean Ryder? Ian Brown? Or perhaps a less well-known person who's done work for charity? The Manchester Junior Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for nominations for this year. You can call 0161 205 6261 if you'd like to make a suggestion.
CONTINUOUS RAIN LAST WEEK CAUSED SERIOUS FLOODING IN BOLLINGTON, near Macclesfield. But it wasn't the river that caused the problem, it was culverts unable to cope with the extra volume of water. And Diane Oxberry on Northwest Tonight told us that in the North West, this October has been the wettest this century. And the rain goes on - today it was dull and grey, though the sky cleared later as the winter night drew in later in the afternoon. Current EWM temperature 45 fahrenheit/ 7.5 celsius.
Please see pictures high water levels, hail over Hale and six drizzly views of Oxford road, if you didn't see them already in the previous update.
PREVIOUS EYEWITNESS UPDATES MONDAY 26 & FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER 1998
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 19:54:16 EST
Subject: From: Ian Fleming
Dear Mr O'Rourke
Thank you for mentioning my wife and I. I am doing well at the moment we now have a date for the transplant which is November 10th. Everything else is going well and with the major TV, Radio, Newspapers in America and England we are being kept very busy.
Thank you Ian Fleming
Great to know you're out there reading this! Readers, send Ian your bestwishes for the transplant operation which will hopefully free his wife from dialysis
From: P Flanagan
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 07:39:47 EST
Subject: AGAIN !
I WAS WONDERING DO YOU HAVE ANY
PICTURES OF NORTHENDEN, I WAS BORN THERE MANY YEARS AGO.
Yes, I'll be taking some pictures of Northenden soon. I used to live close by, in Didsbury and rode my bike along by the River Mersey
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 16:07:56 -0700
From: Pam Mee
I was surprised when I saw the picture of the River Mersey, I lived about five minutes walk from there. Not too far was the Tatton Arms pub, it really is a very nice place.
If you have any more pictures of Northenden, that would really be great. I lived many years in Lingard Road before moving to Pennsylvania, and then to Arizona which is where I have lived since 1982.
It gives me so much pleasure reading and looking at the pictures. Keep up the great work
Pam Mee, Scottsdale Arizona USA
A friend of mine used to live on Beech Road. More pictures of Northenden coming soon (when the rain goes and the water level goes down!)
From: Lucy E
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 11:18:39 PST
I'm going to be living in manchester. i'm from canada. I don't know much about manchester. i know it's not london, in all kinds of ways. i have already been advised of the rain, and the dark, dreary, cloudy skys etweatherforecastcetera. there's this manchester united team my nephew thinks is cool; and from what i understand, this team is very, how shall we say, in the money. it's supposed to be the wannabe music centre, but isn't london the rock and roll center of the universe? and you have universities and you have great clubs and you have and you have and you have. as you can see - all heresay.
so, i ask of you to set the record straight. in a nutshell, what can you tell me about manchester (that you haven't already told me on your, quite-good-by-the-way, website)? what's to do, what's to see yadda yadda yadda
In a nutshell? Well, have you got a few hours to spare??? Let's just get one thing straight - the weather in Manchester is no worse than other parts of north west Europe. We have the biggest student population of any city in Europe - that means the night life is great. London is the centre of the music business, but Manchester is a centre for new talent - there's a great village atmosphere here - even though it's a city - London is far too big for this. Living here is cheaper and easier than in London. There are plenty of great things to do here, and the countryside is only a short distance away. The rest... well, come on over and see for yourself! We all look forward to welcoming you - and if there's anyone else out there that would like to tell Lucy more about Manchester, her e-mail address is at the top of the message!
From: R Taylor
Subject: Great site Your photos are fantastic. It's like a trip down memory lane for me. Do you have any photos of Middleton or know where I might see some? Thanks for the great pics of my home town, I haven't seen her in 27 years. Rob Taylor
Oh dear, you ought to come and visit - in person. I have a couple of photos of Middleton - go to the Image Collection and do a search for Middleton!
Date: Sat, 31 Oct 1998 17:16:51 -0800
From: Barb Burrows
Subject: Hi from Canada
Happy Halloween - the weather here in Niagara Falls is just gorgeous
warm, sunny and DRY - the kids are trick and treating while I browse
your pictures and ready the news for over home!!! Love all your articles
keep up the good work.
Thanks. It's NOT dry here at the moment! (But I don't mind)
Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 07:43:59 +1100
Subject: Thirteen Arches , Clifton .
Hi Aidan , I am once again thinking of times past. It's 1938/9
and my family are on our way to "Bluebell Glen ". We crossed the
river Irwell at the junction of the Manchester , Bolton and Bury
canal where it joins Fletchers canal near Clifton. I recall
clambering over a stile and stopping at , I think , Rhodes farm to
pick up some milk. I am guessing that Bluebell Glen was in fact
Snape hill Wood though it might be Nuttall Wood . The most
powerful image is of the thirteen arches bringing the railway across
the valley. They may no longer exist but if it were possible I would
appreciate a photograph of that area .
Best Wishes Arthur Hanlon
I went down that direction yesterday - the paths down to the river are very muddy. The arches are visible from the M60 motorway, but a train hasn't travelled over them in years. It's now the Irwell Valley Way - a footpath along the Irwell from the centre of Salford right the way up to Rawtenstall and beyond. Pictures coming soon
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 21:24:12 -0600
From: Stephanie Kelly
Subject: Thank you!
My name is Stephanie and I live in the United States, but my husband and I lived in Manchester for five years in the early nineties. He is from Glasgow, but moved to Manchester when he was in his teens. I found your photographs through the Evening News website and then went to your site. There I found a photograph of Monton Green and the Unitarian Church where my husband and I were married! Even after seven years, it was really nice seeing it again.
I have e-mailed some friends and given them your website address and instructions on how to find this photograph along with the one from Worsley and the Bridgewater Canal - where my father in law lives. My husband and I are planning on moving back to Manchester within the next year. We just miss the city, its people, and his family too much. It's like they say, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
Your photographs are fantastic! You are also QUITE talented as you made Salford and the River Irwell appear almost idyllic! :o) Seriously though, I'm about to go back to your site to continue my trip down memory lane... Thanks again!
What are you talking about? Salford IS idyllic! Well, parts of it. Thanks for your message, and please keep visiting!
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 10:59:28 -0500 From: Eliz Malcolm
Organization: maritime reporter
Subject: Abe Lincoln statue
Dear Mr O'Rourke,
I was very pleased to see you had a couple of photos of the Abraham Lincoln statue in Manchester. I was in Manchester last week (I'm in New York) and tried to get a photo of it myself but the weather was so awful I failed. Anyway, the reason I wanted the photo was to help out someone who is researching a book on the American Civil War. Long story short - you wouldn't happen to know where I could find info on the statue and specifically the inscription on the base?
No worries if you don't, but it's worth a try to ask! I love the site and all the photos. There's nowt better than a nice rainy view of Manchester.
I'm going to photograph and transcribe the text, which by the way talks about the "working people" of Manchester. Abraham Lincoln's words were actually "working men" but were changed by Manchester City Council to "working people"! Plenty of rainy views of Manchester at the moment, but don't forget all the sunny ones too!