IN THIS UPDATE OF EYEWITNESS IN MANCHESTER we take a tour through the Manchester conurbation from north to south and into the countryside. The common theme is daffodils, or similarly-coloured yellow flowers, which in March and April appear along many of the highways and byways of the Manchester area.

I'm trying out a new quiz format - this time it's a gapfill exercise - the blanks are non-functional links, move the mouse over the blank to see the answer. You can work through the feature and check the answers as you go along, keeping your score on paper, or you can print out the pages and complete the answers in pencil, checking on the web page later. The total is 66.

Many of the answers concern geographical location, particularly with regard to the local authority districts created mostly in 1974, which divide and define the Manchester conurbation. I'm also keen to promote awareness of the ancient counties, whose boundaries were obscured in 1974, but which still exist in addresses, on older maps and in peoples sense of local identity.

WE START OUR JOURNEY 12 miles north of Manchester in the town of [BURY]. This is Whitehead's Clock Tower, which commemorates an important mill-owning family of the 19th century. That's not the right time, by the way, it's actually around 2.40 in the afternoon.

We are in local authority [Bury] Metropolitan Borough, one of the 10 districts of [Greater Manchester]. The ancient or geographical county is [Lancashire]. This monument is at the southern entrance to the town on the main road from Manchester, the A[56].

EWM says: The East Lancs Railway begins close to here - that's a reason in itself to visit this town - and you can get there by Metrolink from the centre of Manchester.


A WIDE ROAD overlooked by semi-detached houses on one side, and a grassy border with daffodils on the other. A main road typical of many in the Manchester area - this one is called Manchester Road - but where are we exactly?

Yes, this is of course the A[56] - this road takes us from Bury to Manchester, and we are north of a town with a colour in its name, not yellow but [Whitefield].

EWM says: A sign says that the daffodils were planted by the local Rotary Club in support of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

THIS CHURCH is unique due to its tower built above an entrance porch, its scale, wider and grander than many similarly-designed churches in the local area. In front of the church is a graveyard with trees. In spring, it's covered in flowers, including daffodils, as here.

We are located of course in the town of [Whitefield], situated within the Metropolitan district of Bury, and this is [Stand] church.

EWM says: Here we have a scene virtually unchanged for nearly two centuries. You could easily film a historical drama here - that's how I judge the quality of historical locations such as this - the greater the number of modern lamp-posts, road signs, satellite dishes and mobile phone masts, the less attractive the location.

THE HOUSE OF THE SKULL is a name given to [Wardley] Hall because it contains a human skull said to be that of the Catholic martyr, the Blessed Ambrose Barlow.

Owners included the famous Duke who built canals, the Duke of [Bridgewater]. In 1930 the house became the official residence of the Catholic Bishop of [Salford], which is also the name of the local authority district.

The house is situated next to two main highways of the 20th century - to the south is the A[580] also known as the [East Lancashire] Road, and built in the 1930's. To the west is the M[60] formerly M[61], first opened in the early 1960's.

EWM says: Two intersecting highways are just a stone's throw of this house, and yet it preserves the tranquility of centuries past when this was the heart of the Lancashire countryside.

MANY ROAD INTERSECTIONS have grassy areas where flowers appear in spring and summer. This spot is important in the local road network, as three main A roads come together close to here. They are the A[580] from Liverpool, the A[6] from Swinton and the A[666] from Bolton.

We are located in the local authority district situated next to Manchester, the City of [Salford].

EWM says: In the Gulf countries, they have roundabouts on the theme of local history and culture - giant coffee pots, fishing boats, falcons and perfume bottles are just some of the decorations you'll find on roundabouts. Maybe we should follow their lead, and adorn our roundabouts with old steam trains, machines and other things symbolic of our heritage.

NEW DEVELOPMENT continues in and around Manchester city centre. In the space of a few years, locations have changed, then been transformed yet again with the latest wave of redevelopment. Often it's difficult to recognise familiar places.

Once a side street, this road became a key link between Manchester and Salford when the Mancunian Way was built in the mid-1960's. A sign in the central reservation says "Manchester and Salford Inner Relief Route".

The Mancunian Way forms part of the inner ring road, which only now, in the year 2002 is nearing completion. This road was recently widened in preparation for the completion of a new bridge over the River Irwell.

The name of this road is Egerton St, part of the A57, the main road which Manchester from east to west, linking Salford and Manchester. We are situated in the local authority district the City of [Manchester].

EWM says: It has taken nearly sixty years to complete the inner ring road from the time it was first proposed in the 1945 'Manchester Plan' to the final construction work we see today. But will it bring relief to Manchester's traffic problems or create new ones.

THIS SCENE PROVIDES an illustration of the U-turns and dead ends left by unresolved and uncoordinated post-war planning. This is the top of (Upper) [Brook Street], a street once used by trams and lined with two storey houses and shops, now a five lane dual carriageway with modern buildings either side. This is part of the A[34] which runs from the south via Birmingham and the Potteries to Manchester.

Something strange happens when you reach the top of this street - you have to do a u-turn through traffic lights, and are taken on a detour through the nearby [UMIST] campus and onto Sackville Street. The reason for this diversion is because post-war planners had intended an extension of the 5-lane road to run into the city centre, but changed their minds. Instead the street which runs from the Town Hall, [Princess] Street was made one-way street which meets a two-way street at this point, just near the River [Medlock].

And that's not all - a slip road from the flyover - part of the [Mancunian] Way, is cut off and finishes in a dead end. The stump is partially hidden behind a billboard advert.

EWM says: What would Manchester have looked like if that five-lane highway had been extended into the city centre? Don't ask! Just be thankful for the flowers which adorn this monument to the meandering nature of post-war development in Manchester.

IT'S FUNNY HOW FAMILIAR LOCATIONS look different in photographs - or maybe the photographs show the changes which have taken place since you last visited that place, making it unrecognisable.

This park should be familiar to thousands who drive past here - it stands on Manchester's south eastern gateway - next to two main A roads - the A[57] to Denton and Sheffield, and the A[6] to Stockport and Buxton.

Clues to the location are the church on the left, just visible through the trees, and the white stone monument on the right. The name of this park is of course [Ardwick Green].

EWM says: The park and adjacent road are in Spring 2002 benefiting from a makeover. New houses are under construction on the far left - Hopefully this spot, which means a lot to me, will regain its former elegance.

THE FABRIC OF URBAN MANCHESTER is a rich and often unlovely tapestry, revealing layers of development stretching back two centuries and beyond. Making sense of this patchwork is often difficult. Take away the background, and you might think this was a hillock in the countryside, but in fact, this one of those roadside mounds replacing areas of slum clearance.

We are in the suburb of West [Gorton] on the main road from Manchester to Sheffield, the A[57], Over to the left once stood the 'Showground of the North' which drew thousands of visitors. It fell into decline and closed for good in 1981. This was of course [Belle Vue] fairgrounds. The former baths on the right remain as a monument to Victorian Manchester and are now used as a sports facility.

EWM says: It's sad that these fairgrounds had to close. Many Mancunians have fond childhood memories of them. Had they survived, they would be a major attraction today, situated not far from the Commonwealth Games site.

WE ARE LOOKING ALONG [HYDE] ROAD, named after a town to the east of Manchester, not to be confused with a town of a similar name on the south coast.

On the right is the pub named the [Midland], after one of the great railway companies. It stands next to [Belle Vue] railway station, still open but little used nowadays. The pub is boarded up and said to be haunted.

In the distance, just under a mile along the road, is the steeple of Brookfield Unitarian Church, in the district of [Gorton].

EWM says: Those grassy mounds may be a modern and convenient way of covering over the site of demolished buildings - this one is a dividing strip between a modern slip road and the main road, built in 1830 - but to me they are like tumuli in which are buried the remains of Manchester's past. I wonder what secrets they would reveal if you dug into them.

Page 1 | Page 2 | EWM home page

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
Eyewitness in Manchester Home Page | Aidan O'Rourke on Twitter and Facebook | Contact