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Eyewitness in Manchester masthead
Issue number 6 Saturday the 22nd of February 1997

Cross St/King St intersection
Friday afternoon crowds at the intersection of King St and Cross St

The successful lift off of "Lexx", the home-made rocket designed and built by Dukinfield resident Steve Bennet, got the week off to a flying start. Though the launch was successful, the team were unable to locate the projectile after it had fallen back to earth somewhere near the launch site in Northumbria.

On Tuesday came reports of mixed financial fortunes for two districts of Greater Manchester: Wythenshawe is to receive nearly two million pounds of government grants for development purposes, while in Bury, council budget cuts will lead to teacher redundancies, and a scaling down of services. Local residents staged a demo outside the Town Hall to protest against the cuts.

There was good news for Manchester on Wednesday, with the announcement that Richard Branson's Virgin Rail have been awarded the 15 year franchise to operate Inter City West Coast Services, so the bright red livery of Virgin locos and carriages will soon be a familiar sight between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston. Major improvements are promised to the line, which for many years has suffered from a lack of investment. Airline style on-board service is planned, and a new fleet of tilting trains will bring journey times to and from London to below the two hour mark.

A new biological research unit is now under construction at Manchester University. Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine was there on Wednesday for a ceremony marking the commencement of building work.

The centre will bring around 900 new jobs, and further enhance the city's excellent reputation in the field of higher education and scientific research.

On Thursday the Manchester Evening News ran an intriguing story on their front page concerning the IRA bombers who caused last June's devastating explosion. According to the report, the police already have the men in custody in connection with other offences, and, subject to approval by the Crown Prosecution Service, the men will be charged with conspiracy within the next four weeks.

Friday brought news of a drug ring at St Bede's College, Britain's largest Roman Catholic independent school. Several individuals were reportedly caught dealing during a break from lessons, and subsequently two boys were expelled and fourteen sent home. Headmaster John Byrne sent a letter to all parents explaining the situation. The police were said to be dissatisfied that they hadn't been notified immediately of the incident, which occurred the previous week.

The past seven days have been exceptionally windy and stormy, with gusts up to 60 and 70 mph. On Wednesday the match between Stockport and Middlesborough at Edgeley Park had to be postponed. By Thursday the weather had calmed down, and Friday was bright, but still quite windy. Saturday was dull and cloudy again, with temperatures around 9 degrees celsius, or 50 degrees fahrenheit.

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke


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