Looking at Manchester, what we see around us today, is definitely interesting. It’s a subject I’ve pursued for many years now, what was there in other eras – the past- perhaps even more so, but the ‘What Might Have Been’, now that’s a subject I’ve always found fascinating.
The Infra_MANC exhibition focuses on four infrastructure projects – two that were completed, two that weren’t.
The Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange, the Mancunian Way, the Picc-Vic tunnel and the Rooftop heliport are showcased at CUBE in the form of documents, maps, photographs, films and other realia, many only recently discovered.
I personally am still shocked at some of the plans that were put forward in the 1950s, particularly the proposals for roads which would have torn through the fabric of inner city Manchester in a way that actually happened in the United States.
Of the grand inner city motorway network planned for Manchester in the post-war era, only the Mancunian Way was built, but traces of the plans still remain in road layouts today. Find out where they are at Infra_MANC.
The Guardian Tunnel makes you think about another ‘What if’ scenario, that’s to say, what if there had been a nuclear attack on Manchester. It never happened but the Guardian bunker still serves Manchester today as a conduit for telecom infrastructure.
From Victoria to Ringway in 15 minutes. That’s how long a passenger helicopter would have taken to get from the city centre to the airport, according to an article in the Manchester Guardian, part of the exhibition. In the fifties, a number of sites were proposed for a city centre heliport. It never materialised, but the drawings and plans are fascinating!
The Picc-Vic line, I remember getting excited about it in the 1970s. I had always wanted Manchester to have an underground like London. Part of me still wishes it had. But the railway line under the city centre was never built, stymied by the economic upheavals of the 1970s. Today we have the Metrolink instead and on balance I think it’s better! What would it have been like for Manchester to have a ‘Tube’ albeit a little one. Find out at Infra_Manc.
As I walk around the exhibition I keep making sharp intakes of breath and tut-tutting sounds. I even worry about destructive road projects that, though never built, might easily have been built if the economic situation had been better. At yes, what I like to call the ‘hätte sein können’ or the ‘aurait pû être’, fascinating and frightening.
Maybe a depressed economy is better for the development of Manchester.
Infra_MANC is curated by Richard Brook and Martin Dodge.
Definitely a thought-provoking exhibition that makes you think about how past plans could have had a negative impact on Manchester, and how present plans still could.
More info at www.cube.org.uk
This article, including photos, created entirely on the iPhone 4S