Manchester’s Oxford Road – chaotic but fascinating

Eyewitness 2015 photos and editorial published in the Manchester Evening News

Oxford Manchester 3 July 2015

Oxford Road begins at the River Medlock under the rail bridge and extends to Moss Lane East by the Curry Mile.

Oxford Road and the area on either side has a remarkable assortment of facilities: Four third level educational institutions, five hospitals, a strangely shaped theatre, two Catholic churches, one of which looks like a French cathedral, two parks, one of which is the site of an Anglican church after which surrounding area is named, several music venues, two former cinemas, a neo-Gothic Victorian building containing a natural history museum and opposite it, a thing that looks like a fuel storage tank.

There are two bridges over Oxford Rd and a 50m swimming pool. It’s said to be Europe’s busiest bus corridor and possibly its smokiest, as there are still many older diesel buses in operation. The BBC was here but now the site is a car park.

Oxford Road is chaotic but fascinating, a piece of pure Manchester and I love it just as it is. But soon general traffic will be diverted away to make more room for bikes and buses. Will it retain its character? We’ll see. In mid-2015 my Victoria Baths videos are still showing on the Corridor Manchester Digital Screen opposite Grosvenor Street.

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Futuristic buildings in Manchester

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke

Urbis Manchester, 2002
Manchester has been called the ‘shock city’, where the future arrives early, and this is reflected in some of its buildings. When Urbis was under construction in 2001, I thought its roof would make an ideal launch ramp for UFOs, the ‘spike’ at the front used to moor them, like airships.

The CIS tower was revolutionary in 1962, and since 2004 it has been the UK’s biggest solar project. The newly built One Angel Square across the street has the qualities of an intergalactic spaceship, with a ‘bridge’ at the front. I can imagine it with a curved glass bottom travelling to another galaxy and floating above a lush planet. As a child on the 92 bus, I was astonished by a monolithic new white building next to the Mancunian way.

I didn’t understand the big white letters UMIST at the top; something to do with ‘Interplanetary Space Technlogy’ I thought! There’s a striking similarity between this now disused 1960s building and Manchester’s newest skyscraper, the Student Castle. And at the western end of the Mancunian Way is the ‘lunar pod’, actually a property rental and sales office. I love modern architecture when it’s wacky and fires the imagination, but what I’d like to see most is an observation tower.

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