READER MESSAGES April May 2002 Page 1 | Page 2
Panorama of the new Piccadilly with curved concrete wall, March 2002 Piccadilly panorama 1996
'The Wall' Piccadilly
'The Wall' Piccadilly with genuine graffiti from the Berlin Wall
The Pavilion Piccadilly

From: Andrew Page
Subject: Piccadilly Concrete Pavilion

Aidan - completely agree with your comments on the appropriateness or otherwise of Tado Andao's work in Manchester, but it won't start to look crappy and rain-streaked till after the Commonwealth Games, which is all the people responsible for the present reconstruction of Manchester care about.

Sure, we'll benefit in many ways from new structures like the coach station and ventures like the re-paving of many areas in the city centre, but it's a pity it takes a commercial opportunity for the council to improve the environment in which ordinary people exist, rather than a concern for the everyday quality of life of the people they should represent.

What do you think about the plethora of apartment buildings in the city now? Like you, I find the Whitworth Street development architecturally impressive, and I am very much in favour of developing older buildings and of the idea of city living in general; however, I'd love to see affordable city centre housing, and families re-claiming the city. I fear, instead, that the only people who will be able to afford to live in the city will be like the irritating media type on my train the other day who was bellowing loudly into his mobile in broad cockney about his new "200k pied-a-terre" off Deansgate! What, for example, is going to happen to the local people in Ancoats when that area is redeveloped into apartments?

I continue to really enjoy your work. Many thanks for the pleasure it gives to your many readers/viewers! Best wishes Andy

Apartments in Manchester city centre are almost all priced well above what the majority of local people can afford. There are no schools in the city centre or other amenities for families. So it looks like the city centre will be the exclusive domain of mostly younger people, probably couples with no children, in highly paid jobs. Ancoats has yet to be developed, though work is starting - A new apartment complex is under construction on the former car park next to the canal and Great Ancoats St. Urban Splash have started to renovate one of the mills - in fact the Manchester Civic Society criticised them for making alterations without planning permission. Ancoats ought to be a true urban village in the city, with schools, shops and amenities for families. Whether it will turn out like this remains to be seen. Right now I am disillusioned with the way Manchester city centre is being developed, and I wouldn't want to live there. See my March 2002 City Centre update for more views.

The original Piccadilly Gardens in 1999
From: Keith Littler
Subject: Stockport tech

Hi Aidan

Hardly a week goes by without my logging on to your webpage.We've been living in Perth WA for 3 years now and are very settled. I must say I'm not very impressed with some of the "goings on" around M/cr and in particular the images of Piccadilly. I accept thatsomething had to be done with the area as it was tatty and if my childhood memory serves me right , always was.

Why did it not cross someones mind that the concrete wall running thro' Piccadilly was an obvious target for the graffiti brigade - Idespair!!!

Also I'm trying to contact any students who were at Stockport Tech 1982 - 1984 studying for the B/TEC Higher Business and Finance (Marketing) qualification.

I was the mature student in the class and I would love to make contact with any others from that class to find out what they are all doing now. It would be interesting if any were in OZ.

Hoping I hear from somebody

Nice to hear from you - Keith worked at the same college as me South Trafford College, in Altrincham - Actually, Piccadilly in the 50's and 60's was an extremely nice place. It was clean, wide, open, well-maintained. It had beautiful flower beds, and the trees weren't overgrown. It was quintessential Manchester. This can be seen photos in the Central Library Local Studies Unit. Hope you make contact with your fellow ex-students.

From: Terry McAloon
Subject: Piccadilly Wall

Aidan, How about this suggestion for the controversial wall: Engage a noted artist to paint a 'murial' (sic) the whole length, illustrating Manchester's long history from Roman times to the present. It should be illuminated after dark for security as well as aesthetic reasons. You might say that this would be one tasteful method of pre-empting the inevitable grafitti 'artists'. What do you think? Regards, Terry McAloon, Ontario.

Hmmm, an interesting and constructive suggestion but I think Manchester City Council's idea was to have Tadao Ando's minimalist, bare, spartan, zen-like expanse of bare concrete, rather than pictures - The graffiti artists may have other ideas. Sadly for us council tax payers, the only solution as I see it will be the removal of the pavilion and its bare concrete walls - I expect to see this happen before long. We'll wait and see. There are murals in the banqueting hall of the Town Hall depicting the history of Manchester up to the time the hall was built, the 1870's. Thanks for your suggestion.

From: Mike A Clark
Subject: Foreign viewers

Aidan, just to let you know you have at least one expat fan. I was based in London but in the process of buying a flat in MAN when I was transferred to Nigeria (voluntarily, even though it's like a punishment). Anyway I went ahead with the purchase but let it out. I occasionally pop up when back on leave to see the students renting haven't burned me down!

I hadn't been for a while but came up a few weeks ago for the Lowry exhibition. I was amazed at all the building that's gone on, much of which I had no idea was happening. The retail outlet, new flats and War Museum were all new to me. Also new I think was the Hard Rock Cafe and flats going up everywhere. Makes me want to retire and settle up there. It all looks swish and high tech but a bit soulless; at the risk of being a dinosaur to me steel and glass buildings don't have the same appeal as refurbished mills and canalside properties. BEST RGDS, MIKE

Many people consider modern buildings soulless, for reasons which I've touched on in previous updates of Eyewitness in Manchester. I think the developments in Salford Quays and neighbouring Trafford Wharf are great, as they are creating a new environment that previously didn't exist. In the centre, many old mills are being torn down - the latest one is the mill next to the River Medlock, behind the BT Building on London Road. The work Urban Splash have done on the old factory buildings next to the Bridgewater Canal near St Georges is quite impressive, though not everyone will like the minimalist 'International Style' design. Thanks for your kind comments

From: Elsie Cox
Subject: Ancoats

Looking forward to the hot summer (hopefully) to come, my mind for some odd reason turned to the thoughts of Ice Cream ( I hate the stuff).Not all this modern Haagen Daas? nor Tom and Jerry's ( my joke ) not even Walls. No,my thoughts took me back to the 1950s when ice cream really was ice cream. Have a wander to Ancoats Lane ( Gt Ancoats St ), walk to the canal bridge at Union St ( Redhill St ), look east and notice the footbridge over the canal, it is now painted a reddish colour, but it used to be black with splashes of rust and it used to have a gas lamp on the top and a gents toilet at the base of the steps on the Redhill St side.

Cross over Ancoats Lane and walk to the steps of the bridge, and if possible climb the steps and stand on the top of the bridge looking towards those abominable sheds that pass as architecture nowadays. This used to be Dawn St in the fifties. Now cast your mind back and imagine it is the mid 1950s. Out of the gloom of the smog on a Saturday evening you will just be able to make out on the right hand side a woodyard belonging to Parkers of Ancoats ,on the left hand side you will dimly make out a small row of terraced houses. From these 'houses' came some of the best ice cream in the North West. Names that spring to mind are 'Carlos' and 'Rea's, but of course there were others such as 'Granellis' and the ever famous 'Sivoris' operating in the area , but there were other well known names as well, such as Burgon's, Scappaticci's and Rocca's, all scattered around the area known as Little Italy.

'Carlos' is the ice cream I have fondest memories of.

Living in a very very obscure part of central M/c we were bypassed by all ice cream men except for 'Carlos'. Although he only ever came round our street on a Sunday afternoon the few kids that lived in our area waited patiently for him to arrive after Sunday dinner, what glories......... cornets, wafers, twists and the unreachable 99s, not to mention raspberry sauce or flake bits all over your 3penny cornet. Our ice cream man who we called Carlo seemed to be a benevolent old man who took joy in providing us kids with a once weekly treat (only during summer ) even if we couldn't pay for it. He seemed to have the air of a mid summer Father Christmas bringing treats to all. Forget all these high decibel, ding a ling, homogenised, artificial flavouring, super smooth Mr Slippy type rubbish (no matter what exotic flavour ) confection that they pass off as ice cream nowadays, the real thing seems to have vanished with the real 'industrious' Manchester ,it has gone the same way as that symbol of our once great city the 'Bee'. Our ice cream man 'Carlo' had a horse and cart, not some super loud state of the art vehicle that pollutes the atmosphere in the area that they are meant to make folk happy. How many times on the wettest, coldest, darkest, most depressing Sunday or any other freezing day have you heard those dreaded chimes.How has it come to this? Where did it all go wrong? Do we all have to force feed our kids with beefburgers, GM food, or ersatz ice cream before we realise that natural unmessed with products are best?.......But I digress......I wish I could remember the name of Carlo's horse, we used to line up to feed it a carrot or a turnip and some neighbours used to collect the waste products for growing rhubarb.

Now back to the bridge.....turn around and look in the opposite direction along Henry St.

On the right hand side you will see the red brick structure of the Royal Mill (that's what we knew it by) on the left is or used to be some spare ground (probably a car park now) this spare ground once upon a time used to be known as Flatleys Mill.This long gone building used to manufacture Flatleys Driers one of the first affordable 'white goods' that housewives could afford, with one of these you could dry your washing indoors in a small cabinet without having clothes dripping from the clothes rack suspended in the kitchen. Ask any middle aged person brought up in Ancoats where they were when JFK was assasinated and most probably 50% will know, then ask these same people where they were when 'Flatleys' burnt down and that figure will jump considerably.What a night that was, I wonder if any of your readers can remember what date it happened


99 just after purchase from Granelli's ice cream van, Alderley Edge car park

Anyway back to my subject.....Beyond the Royal Mill the first junction you come to is Jersey St. Look left along Jersey St and you should see ( if it's still there ) the Green Dragon, almost opposite used to be another ice cream maker on the corner of Pickford St and Jersey St. I remember that for some reason or other my older brother used to have access to this palace, and just to spite me never allowed me in. I believe it was owned by the Burgon's but I am not certain. Then of course there was the wafer and cornet makers. These essential parts of any good ice cream were made by Greco Bros on Mill St (now Bradford Rd) and I believe a family called Antonelli also used to make them as well but once again I'm not to sure. A particular favourite and one not easily affordable to our family was the Twist (not the dance), This was a cornet made out of something resembling a brandy snap, that is the only way I can describe it but hopefully some reader will describe it a lot better than I can, but the taste was heavenly. I believe these luxurious goodies were made by the Scappaticci family but I could be wrong. Jersey St had more than its fair share of ice cream makers, from my recollection there must have been at least a dozen at least. So next time you buy a wafer or cornet just remember the pioneers who worked hard long hours just after the war to make ice cream one of the worlds favourite confections.

I remember the Sivori's cafe at the top of Castle St Edgeley, near my primary school Our Lady's. Granelli's ice cream is going strong - they are based in Macclesfield and have a shop and museum with vintage vehicles. Their ice cream is delicious. Thanks for a superb and absorbing contribution that's also of great documentary value.

From: Keith Bowen
Subject: Eyewitness in Manchester

Just found your Manchester site and had to say what a great site it is. As an exiled Mancunian living over in the enemy's county [Leeds] it brought back many memories especially as I lived in Levenshulme and worked as a police officer in the 60/70's in Ancoats/Bradford. Thanks, Keith Bowen.

Many thanks, glad you like Eyewitness in Manchester

Back alley in Langworthy Salford, seen from Chimney Pot Park
From: Paul A Mycroft
Subject: Picture of Old Salford

Hello Aidan, I am looking for old pictures of Salford and its streets. As a boy (circa early 1970s), I used to go there to visit my grandparents and want to find a picture of the old housing that they used to live in. They used to live in Treble Street in Salford—cobbled streets, outdoor toilets, tiny back yards, that sort of thing—near a truck yard. My Grandad worked at the docks. The start of Coronation Street where the cat sleeps reminds me of it. Why am I telling you these things? Well maybe you know the area, maybe you don't. But any help is appreciated.

All the best, Paul Mycroft.

Probably the best source of photographs of that area is at Salford Museum and Art Gallery - They have a local studies unit with photographs of old Salford. Most of the area round the former Docks has been rebuilt, so you won't find any cobbled streets and slum houses there now. By the way, some of the scene-setting images used on Coronation St are taken in Bolton - On one of the shots, look for the clock tower of Bolton Town Hall in the distance!

Jutland St at dusk

From: Dallas D'Angelo-Gary
Location: Olympia WA U.S.A.
Subject: Thank you

Aidan, I've never been to the UK, although my wife and I are both of British ancestry (Wicks in my family, and Bruce in hers). We are both writers, and members of a writing community online, called The Amazing Instant Novelist.

Recently, my wife started a mystery series, and asked me to participate. She had written the initial story, but had not decided on a location yet. After a great deal of research, I found the Manchester website, and your column. You have given me a virtual plethora of information about Manchester, and your photographs help me to get a "feel" for your wonderfully diverse area.

I believe my favorite photograph so far, is the night scene of cobblestones on Jutland St. It sets a mood for mystery. ;-) Photography is one of my dearest hobbies, and your work has been of keen interest to me.

Thank you for your presentation. Sincerely, Dallas D'Angelo-Gary Olympia WA U.S.A.

I really appreciate your comments, and I'm very glad that you are finding that the photos and information give you a feel for the Manchester area - That's exactly what I am trying to do.


St Michael's flags before disappearance of flagstones

From: Mrs C McKenzie
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Subject: Collyhurst Road, Manchester

Dear Mr O'Rourke, I wonder if you could advise me where to post a request on a message board relating to Collyhurst Road, Harpurhey in the 1800's/early 1900's. My great grandfather John Edwin Thompson and family lived at various addresses on this road - nos 450/465 and in Conran Street, Lathbury Road. He was 'J E Thompson, Italian Warehouseman and Provision Dealer' with a shop at 450 Collyhurst Road in 1881. I went to Collyhurst Road recently to find it all completely changed and re-routed. He also had a laundrette in the area (address unknown) and his mother in law had a store on the corner of Collyhurst road and Egginton Street (now there's no trace of it). I wish to find any photos at all of the houses and shops in Collyhurst Road, any publications which might detail the family, local tradesmen , any maps etc. Hoping you can help, Mrs C McKenzie (Newcastle upon Tyne)

Edgington Street is, I think, still there - there's a school there - St Malachy's. The best place to find local history material is at the Central Library local studies unit. They are very helpful and provide an excellent service. There is also a fantastic collection of old photographs accessible via computer terminal. Worth a trip to Manchester, I think. Their website is at Just near Collyhurst Road is St Michael's Flags, an important plague burial ground. Last year I noticed that the flagstones had all disappeared. Has anyone any idea of what happened to them?

From: john galuardi
Subject: Irish in Manchester

I am researching my family and I trace them to my great grandfather James O'Dowd who was born in Manchester about 1850 and his wife Catherine Clark who was born about the same time in Manchester . Their parents must have come over from Ireland about the time of the Famine.Where in Manchester would they have been located? Obviously not the best area since they left in 1882 to come to Jermyn Pennsylvania. Are there any websites which may be of assistance? Jack Galuardi

Many Irish people lived in the area known as "Little Ireland", off Oxford Road and Whitworth St West, next to the River Medlock. In the mid-1800's this was a notorious ghetto of slum dwellings, poverty and disease. Many of the people had come over from Ireland, and moved into the poorest areas of the city, and accepted the lowest level of wages. The area was visited often by social reformers and benevolent individuals, keen to see the worst urban squalour with their own eyes. The area was sanitised I believe in the 1880's, and the people moved to other, better areas. Your relatives might have lived here, or possibly in other areas where Irish used to live, including Angel Meadow and Ancoats. An expert on Irish history is Mervyn Busteed, who teaches at Manchester University. Just do a search for him in your favourite search engine and you'll find him! I attended his walking tour of "Little Ireland" during the 2000 Irish festival. Thanks for your message.

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