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Subject: Stone concrete glass steel and more glass and even more glass
From: Gordon SIMPSON

When in Manchester it's hard to miss the Arndale centre, a construction to localise commerce in the inner city resembling in many eyes a public convenience, what with its soon to be removed cladding. This I understand is to be replaced with glass frontages akin to the new Selfridges building, Urbis and lots of recent city constructions.

Victoriana gave us stone which was used in architecture in the 19th century and beforee. We then had brick and metal and now in the 21st century the medium of British architecture is glass. The city is becoming overrun with modern glass and not a brick in site (just as well with so much glass). I not only think that this cheapens the old style of building to the extent that people don't notice it anymore because they are dazzled by all the glass. Or is it an incitation to a load of smashing times ahead. Whatever the reasons I think it is bad planning to rely on this medium so much when real beauty of the aesthetic kind comes from other mediums. Is glass less durable than stone and brick etc. In another few decades, when our Victorian fathers' edifices are still standing, will not countless amounts have to be spent on picking up the pieces. Literally!

It's true that a lot of glass is being used, in fact there has been a return to 'traditional' modern architecture. The CIS Building is the longest standing example of a glass building. If it's cleaned and maintained very well glass is very durable. The only thing that could damage it would be a terrorist bomb. I wonder how well Number One Deansgate would be able to withstand an explosion as powerful as the one of 1996. Let's hope and pray we never have to find out.

Subject: Manchester
From: Helen McGrath


My name is Helen McGrath, a third year geography student at the University of Manchester. I have found your website very useful with my dissertation work. However, I was wondering if you had any infromation regarding the Millennium Quarter, specifically Exchange Square.

To shed some light on what I am trying to ask for, my dissertation is about peoples perceptions and feelings towards the new regenerated public space, Exchange Square. I know that you have alot of photographs, information and letters from people who view your website, so thought it may be useful to contact you.

Any photographs of buildings and achitecture in the area before the bomb would be very useful, as I am finding it hard to get this information on what exactly used to be there before the walls and seating area. Also any letters you may have recieved from people with regards to this area would be of tremendous help.

Thankyou so much for your time in this matter. Any information at all would be of great help with my work I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks, Helen

Euan Kellie's excellent website Rebuilding Manchester is a very useful resource. As for my views on Exchange Square and the Millennium Quarter, I have a lot to say, too much to include here. Many students have met up with me in Manchester city centre and interviewed me - the Cornerhouse is a good venue. They usually record the interview and use my comments in their dissertation. No charge for this service, except to buy me a cup of tea and a bag of crisps!

Subject: Xaverian College
Hi Aidan
I attended Xaverian College from 1964-1970 and have vague recollections of a number of O'Rourkes, Cunanes , etc. I wonder if we ever met? As an expat now living in Kent I enjoy your work on Manchester Online and the image of Ward hall brought back memories. I remember there was a story at Xaverian that Ward Hall had been used during the war years by Military Intelligence. I seem to recollect that the dinner queue passed by what seemed to be cells in the basement. Do you know if this was just a rumour or had some basis in fact?
Best wishes,
Henry Mantell

Yes, I believe it was. For more info go to David Boardman's excellent site on Victoria Park:

Subject: Music and Manchester
From: Constable Philip J
You maybe were too young for Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders , WF and the Jets when they played at St Richard's youth club in Longsight although funnily enough that is not listed on his web page. Music meant the Oasis Club, was it Lloyd St off Albert Square, no alcohol and no pass-outs, where we saw lots of big name groups and solos. It meant concerts at the Odeon, the Rolling Stones finishing off the first half of a Roy Orbison concert. Some lunchtime music and dance sessions upstairs in a place just up the road from the Odeon
Philip J Constable,

I was too young to have gone to see Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders but their music still entered my psyche! Probably overheard in a snack bar. That's where I heard 'River Deep Mountain High' and I also have a memory of scantily clad pin-up girls on a brightly lit pin-ball machine being used by a grease-haird Teddy Boy! Such are the things that stick in the mind of an 8 year old boy! The Oasis Club on Lloyd Street? I'd love to know the exact location, can anyone help?

Subject: thanks
From: Jeff L. Hall
Dear Mr. O’Rourke;

Greetings from America. My name is Jeffrey Lyn Hall and I am a professional theatrical director in Ohio in the U.S. I came upon your site because I a directing a production of A Taste of Honey and needed some background. Much of my family is from that area, though more are from Stoke-on-Trent, so when I ran upon your site it was not just the pictures (which were great) but the story.

Thank you so much for that story of your growing up days. It was wonderful.

Jeffrey Lyn Hall
Director-Beatnik Lingo Entertainment

Very nice, that, very nice indeed, thank you!

Subject: re: Ardwick/West Gorton
From: Andy Newcombe
Hi, have just found your site and have enjoyed browsing through it. I am currently a resident of West Gorton (Benedict Court) and I find that it's actually quite a fascinating place - it has a lot of problems but it also a lot of history. Its main problem though seems to be the fact that it's continually overlooked. West Gorton is in the Central ward for MP's, Ardwick for the local authority etc. Basically a sort of in-betweeny place (e.g. It is completely overlooked by the East Manchester Regeneration plan - although it did get a mention in the footnotes.)

I would be interested in knowing more about the history of the area etc. (Especially about the patch of grass outside my building - was probably a former chemical works).
Andy Newcombe.

West Gorton certainly has a lot of history and a unique church, however it's not exactly No 1 destination on the tourist map. Much of the industry and housing has gone. If anyone has any info please contact.

Ashton Canal at Piccadilly BasinSubject: Piccadilly Basin
From: Ben Saunders
May I bring your attention to the following scheme in Piccadilly basin by Leeds developers TCS:

The plan consists of flats, retail units (similar to the industrial sheds already on Ancoats e.g. 'Toys r Us') and very low density office buildings circa 4 storeys.

This is one of a very few select areas in Manchester that is easily reachable by a large number of workers using public transport (circa 2 minutes walk from Piccadilly train station). As a result it's one of the few areas that could support large scale office development (e.g. 40-50 storey buildings) without the widespread use of cars. This is demonstrated by the viability of an unappealing 18 storey office at 111 Piccadilly. It's also one of the few areas that is very secure as it is bounded by canals and slightly away from main roads and thus is desirable to modern business (like Canary Wharf/Paddington Basin in London). If the current scheme goes ahead the opportunity to build such large scale office development near to a public transport hub, will be lost. Manchester can easily support Spinningfields as well, even if that devlopment is remote from public transport.

The TCS scheme plans suffers from a total lack of vision and seems to be promoting car use by having much ground level parking, despite being next to the station. I feel that this development is hampered by TCS lacking the ability (or will) to fund the scale of buildings that are viable for the site, which is shown by their unwillingness to build even a four storey building without pre-letting.

The only other alternative, for such a site, is for the London government to fund an Underground facility like Canary Wharf tube somewhere else in Manchester, and that'll probably never happen.

I'd also like you to note the retail element of TCS development which seems to be replicating the eyesore on the other side of Ancoats (Ancoats retail park). The surrounding area is being developed to a much higher standard by Artisan and Urban Splash (Pollard Street and Ancoats) and I feel that the TCS plan to place industrial shed type retail buildings, more suited to out of town industrial estates, reduces the viability of the other higher quality developments. I feel that this site is a fantastic opportunity for a forward thinking 21st century scheme to attract International investment by being near a sub 2 hour train link to London and the Airport. What TCS are planning is not good enough for a suburban site never mind the transport hub of one of the largest conurbations in Europe.

Dr. Benjamin Saunders

It sounds like you ought to be playing a role in planning the development of Manchester! The points you make about the Piccadilly Basin area are very valid - Close to Piccadilly people could walk from the station. It's probably too late to change what's happening in and around the Piccadilly Basin area now. I have grave misgivings about the way Manchester is being redeveloped. The opportunity we have been waiting for for over a century is, I fear, being squandered.

Manchester Resident.
Subject: Photographs
From: Jacques Gholam

Mr O'Rourke I am emailing to say that I think your Manchester photography is excellent. I lived in Manchester between 1958 and 1973 and many relatives still live there. I lived in Withington and grew up during the Beeching era, so I still have memories of the local train stations before closure. Indeed, sad person that I am, whenever I visit Manchester with my sons, I walk along the disused lines! I particularly like your pictures of Burton Road, Wilmslow Road and especially Old Fallowfield Station.
Many thanks for showing your art on the internet.
Jacques Gholam

I also like to walk along disused railway lines, including the South Manchester Loop Line. However it has to be said that all those disused railway lines ought to be still in use. The act of self-destruction carried out on our railway system in the post war years is something we are only now seeing the full consequences of, with roads increasingly jammed and rail passenger levels rising. The South Manchester Loop Line can never be used again as it has been filled in near Fairfield and built on at Fallowfield. My friend the railway author and historian Eddie Johnson has written many books on the subject of Manchester railways. Please e-mail me for more info.

Re: Victoria Baths win
Another informative piece Aidan. I remeber swimming there as a kid at Birchfieds SM school, I won my lifeguards certificate there way back in 1954. Lots of happy memories for me. Keep it up mate. Ray

It's extraordinary the number of people who have connections to the Victoria Baths.

Subject: Re: Chorlton
From: Patricia O'Driscoll
Hi Aidan
I have just read my email to you on your reader's page. It is great that I had the chance of going to Manchester recently and met a friend that I had not seen since I left Manchester in 1969. I knew her straight away. Her name is Jean Greenwood of Stockport. We had a great chat about old times, and had lunch in the Old Wellington Inn. It was supposed to be just a sandwich, but the size of the contents was magnificent and the quality superb. I wonder if any of your readers can help me. When I was five years old I went to the Loretto Convent which is situated on Upper Moss Lane, Moss Side, just across from St. Mary's C of E School. At that time it was a primary school and I left there after sitting the 11+. It is now a Secondary School, as Friend's Reunited keep telling me, but I wonder if there is anyone who knows when the school changed direction so to speak? Everything in Manchester has changed some for the better and I am afraid some for the worse. We had a great night in the Ardri Irish Club in Chorlton on the Thursday. There was a 'mature disco' on, and we had a fantastic time. I have taken some great pictures, but my camera is not that great. I will have to invest in a good one at some stage, and go back and take better one's. Any excuse for a return journey!!!!

We were to leave Manchester on Friday 8th August, but due to heavy fog in Dublin the plane could not leave Ireland to come to Manchester to pick us up. There is a whole story there that is much too long and boring. Sixteen hours in an airport trying to stay awake is not very rewarding -eight in Manchester and eight in Ireland. Robbie Williams was playing in the Phoenix Park Dublin on the Saturday and there wasn't a room to be got anywhere.

Thanks again, Patricia O'Driscoll

So when did St Mary's C of E Primary school become a secondary school? Can anyone help? As for pop stars and flights to Dublin I saw legendary singer songwriter and leader of the Pretenders Chrissie Hindes on the flight from Manchester to Dublin.

Subject: Submarine visit, Barton Dock approx. 1950.
Aidan, Born in Davyhulme, Urmston 1940's, I have vague memories of being shown round a submarine berthed on the Manchester side of Barton swing bridge but so far cannot find any record of this event. Can you please help? I am now in Warrington and use the library computer. I shall keep
checking to see if you have any news.
Thank you in anticipation, David Barker.

A good place to check would be in the local newspapers of the time, though you may have to look through many copies if you don't have the exact date. Other than that, perhaps someone can help?

Subject: Pictures of Manchester
From: Mrs Marjorie Gibson

Dear Aidan, I feel as though I have had a trip home looking at your photos, what a different Manchester from the 50's. I would love to see it all in person especially the Lowry Centre, Salford Quays and the view from the 95ft observation platform must be spectacular, a ride on the Metrolink would be just great too but just dreaming. Age is catching up now and travel difficult, so I thank you very much for a glimpse of the place I was brought up and where my roots are you are doing a great job and much appreciated . Thanks again, Regards Marjorie Gibson.

Sorry you can't come and visit. There is no substitute for actually being there, but if my photographs help to bring it all closer, then that's great. Thanks for your comments

Subject: ARDWICK
From: Jean A. James International
Hi Aiden
I enjoyed your photos on Manchester Online about Ardwick.

We have communicated once before. My great grandfather moved to Ardwick from Winsford in Cheshire in the early 1900s.  My Dad was born in Buxton Street in 1914, and I believe a lot of his family lived in neighbouring streets.  His house has since been knocked down and is now the site of an engineering works (or it was in the 70s).  I am sure he mentioned he had relatives in Temperance Street.  Would this be close to Buxton Street? Also was Temperance Street where the Mothers’ Union was, do you know? His mother belonged to a Mothers’ Union. Maybe this was something done through the church, I don’t know, but Temperance Street is certainly ringing a bell.

Jean james
Subject: RE: ARDWICK
From: Jean A. James Internatio

Thanks for the info.


I ’m not sure – I don’t recognise the name Buxton Street – if it’s been demolished. Ardwick isn’t very big, so Temperance Street isn’t likely to be far away. The only way to find out is to look on the old maps in the Central Library Local Studies Unit. Have you been in contact with them? They are very helpful. You can find them via Please let them know I referred you to them..

Subject: a thank you
From: kevin

I would like to thank you Aidan and everyone who helped me in my request for information on Hulme through the 20th century. It has been very touching to hear many of the story's of Hulme through this period of great change it will be forever in my mind some of the stories some happy some harrowing of how life was for the families and workers of this area. It is very difficult in Hulme to imagine how it may have been in the past such has been the extensiveness of rebuilding not one brick has been left standing. Unlike many other areas of Manchester suburbs such as Middleton where I have also carried out studies into the changes in land use and their impact. There has been many older buildings left standing and build around or improved however Hulme didnt follow this ethos and so it makes it very difficult to gain a good pictures from persent day Hulme of how it may have been in the past.

However I think it is important to note the present wave of urban and suburban regeneration in much of Manchester is unsustainable and bound to fail. The council are replacing cheaper council or private association housing with more upmarket flats this will only lead to the residents being priced out of the market and so displacing the problem. In the long term it will create a game of cat and mouse that will unnecessarily cost the council millions of pounds. I look forward to carrying out further studies in East Manchester around the new stadium in the near future and have plans if possible to launch these papers onto the internet for people to read and comment upon. Many thanks

Kevin O' Connor

A stark warning there for the council from someone who sounds like he knows what he is talking about! Local councils are made up of people and people make mistakes. In the current wave of redevelopment in Manchester are they repeating the mistakes of the 60's? In recent years I've noticed a number of areas in Manchester and Liverpool where attempts to revers the trend of decline and dereliction have failed, a phenomenon I call 'Regeneration Blight'.

Subject: Re: Thanks

I am currently in Austin, Texas (USA). I work for a large computer company and I don't have many years of qualifications, except that I have worked extensively in education volume sales, used production software like SAP and Siebel, using other forms of groupware. My last job here at the company was working with data correction and process analysis. I basically improve internal processes.

I 'm actually only 22 but have been working at this company for 2.5 years, and worked for General Motors before that (Vauxhall to you.) I know that the job market in Manchester is not as great as London might be, but I would like to find some kind of easy way to be granted a semi-permanent residency there. I also have most of a degree and could probably get certified before coming over.

I think what I liked about Manchester is that it actually represents the real England that I like so much. Having spent several trips in London I have realized how London is as unfair of a representation of England as New York is to America. It is a generally more liveable city, and the people are much nicer. My parents are both European so I have wanted to move away for as long as I can remember.

Manchester has an attitude that is bigger than life. People in America recognize it more than any other city except London. Granted, it's usually in the form of a stereotype but sometimes a good one. The underground culture here is indebted to Manchester-based bands from the late 70's or maybe the Madchester craze 10 years later. You'd be
surprised to know that 24 hour Party People sold out on its opening night here in Austin (movies rarely sell out in America.).

Basically I have wanted to live in England for as long as I can remember, despite the fact that it's extremely overpriced, economically sluggish and idiosyncratic. But I think that's why I like it.

I know of quite a few people from the other side of the Atlantic who have come to settle here. Your comments are very interesting. Manchester Online has an extensive jobfinder service. You could register your CV with various recruitment agencies. Another possibility would be to find yourself a nice single attractive Manchester female and get married - I know of a few likely candidates. Many romances have blossomed over the internet. Either that or hide in the undercarriage bay of the American Airlines Boeing 767, but I definitely wouldn't recommend that! Thanks very much for your comments and good luck. When you take up residence here give me a call and we will go for a couple of pints of Boddingtons in the Peveril of the Peak!

Subject: Ardwick
From: Brendan Fox
Great series of pictures . I stopped by last year in the course of some family history research . Was much impressed by the "good" bits around St Thomas and the Green. Seems a lot better than I remember it 20 years ago. Hopefully, the rest will improve as prosperity spreads from the University side- it could be a handy place to live close to the City Centre. Amazing that so much survived in some ways.

Yes, there are a whole number of reasons why Ardwick ought to be the Number One desirable place to live close to Manchester City Centre, but the fact is that it isn't! I hope to witness the renaissance of Ardwick in the coming years!

Brendan Fox
Subject: Boggart Hole Clough
From: telmac
Aidan, I enjoyed your latest vistas of M/cr, especially the one from Winter Hill. One of the best skyline views of M/cr can be seen from Boggart Hole Clough to the north of the city. There was a website for North Manchester Regeneration which I think must be discontinued and their opening page featured this photo (it may have been one of yours). It was taken around dusk on a clear day, the foreground was a mass of trees and above the trees you could see the taller buildings Portland, Sunley, CIS, Arndale, Town Hall, etc. It was very impressive, I think it may have been taken around the 80's so I think a more current panoramic one should look even better.
Any chance on your next batch? Regards, Terry McAloon
Ontario, Canada

Yes, I took a few for a photo commission for Engaging Arts. They used some of my photos in the Manchester Art Show at the Urbis Centre in November. They wanted that very view which they saw in an old photo of mine. Here's the one I took.

Subject: Visit to Manchester - Chorlton-cum-Hardy
From: Patricia ODriscoll
Hi Aidan
I have made my visit to Manchester, and my, what a change there has been in fourteen years. The Arndale Centre is magnificent, and the shops are wonderful, holding a cornucopia of merchandise to tantalise and tempt. We stayed with relations in Chorlton and met other relations that we had not met who live in Old Trafford. The Trafford Centre is the last word in elegance and style, we have taken many photographs. I used to live on Ivygreen Road in Chorlton and the change from when my father owned it and the present occupiers taste, leaves a lot to be desired. Our only problem was the stay was too short, but definitely sweet. The highlight of the stay was visiting the Ardri Irish Club in High Lane, having been a former member along with my first husband, R.I.P. this was a great night out, dancing the hours away in such a friendly atmosphere where people chatted to you, asked you where you were from and all the rest. Keep up the good work, and if you can, please let me know if and where I can get a copy of the calendar that is featured in your Eyewitness page.

Thanks for all your help and encouragement.

Patricia O'Driscoll

Thanks very much, glad you had an enjoyable trip. To obtain a copy of the Manchester Calendar, which features my Urbis Centre photo on the front cover, please e-mail me.

Subject: 13 Arches - Prestwich and Salford Racecourse
From: Dorothy Messer
Hello Aidan, Its a while since I contacted you. As always I love your site. Sorry to hear about Berne Leng - I live in Prestwich so was really interested in his letters to you.

Just noticed a letter about the arches in Prestwich - we call it the 13 Arches - it's still there as you have shown in your photograph. All the places the person mentioned were places I remember from when I was a child - we certainly roamed about in those days! I also saw a letter from someone about the racecourse and she was asking whether anyone had ever been to the races there - I have - I was only a child but my Dad was very keen on horse racing and took me a couple of times to the November Handicap - very exciting!!

Cheers for now - hope your family is doing okay.

Dorothy Messer

Thank you very much for your kind wishes. My father was interested in horse racing - in fact he worked as a jockey and stable hand in Ireland during the 1930's. I never went to the races as a child. Haydock Park is the closest racecourse to Manchester, though there are plans for a new one near Worsley.

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