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Name: Joanna Day
From or connections with: City Centre / Withington
Present Location: Liverpool
Subject: Piccadilly Gardens
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Reader Message: Dear Aidan
New building to be put on Piccadilly Gardens - architectural visualisationThis is less of a comment than a request for any relevant information. I am an architectural student researching a dissertation on public space. I am very interested in the many responses to the Piccadilly Gardens scheme, which I am focusing on as a case study.
I wonder if anyone knows when the council gained full ownership of the land following the sale of the Infirmary in 1910. I understand a portion of the land had been donated for public use by the Mosley family when the Infirmary was first built?
Obviously there is a strong feeling that there is a real need for green space in the city centre. I wonder whether people will not welcome the idea of a 24 hour, usable open space in the city. Perhaps people see this predominantly as a marketing exercise for the city and more evidence that our cities are becoming increasingly privatised?
Will this be a successful public space if it clears the tramps out and attracts investment to the area encouraging property values to rise?
I welcome any comments.

Some excellent points raised there. If you'd like to help Joanna with her dissertation, by addressing these questions specifically, then please e-mail her directly at the address above. As for ownership of the land, I am not sure of the exact date when it was transferred to Manchester Corporation, but the Mosley family designated that the land in front of the old infirmary, roughly the north east side of Piccadilly Gardens, was always to be usedfor public purposes. A new block to be used for private offices will shortly begin to arise at the Portland St end of what was Piccadilly Gardens, so the current council would appear to have gone against the spirit of Mosley's wishes.

The plot of land at the Portland St end was sold off by Manchester City Council as they didn't have enough cash to pay for the expensive make-over on the remaining part of the Gardens. Now that the structure is about to be erected on our Gardens we have finally been given the opportunity to see what it will look like. I wonder if crowds of tourists will be flocking to Piccadilly Gardens to admire this building? I wonder if in New York they would consider covering the lower end of Central Park with a building of similar design only ten times bigger? The gardens should have been renovated maintaining and enhancing their existing character, which was a quintessential aspect of Manchester.

Name: Peter Foy
From or connections with: Oldham but Policed the North side of Manchester
Present Location: London Ontario Canada
Subject: North Quarter of Manchester
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Reader Message: Dear Aidan,You seem to have missed out one the most important Older Building in the North Quarter of Manchester.That being the Old Newton Street Police which is now the Greater Manchester Police Museum.The GMP Museum is at present being operated by retired members of GMP mostly those who served in the Old Manchester City Police.
I personally visited the museum during July 2000 and learned lots of things about the Old Police Forces in the Greater Manchester Area
than I ever knew or thought I knew before,and I was a Manchester City Bobby prior to emigrating to Canada.
What is the possibility of doing the Old Greater Manchester Area Police Stations and what they are being used for now.I know that many of them maybe reduced to nothing but there have got to be several still around.One I know of for sure in the old Oldham Borough Police behind and below the disused Oldham Town Hall.There is also another old Lancashire County Police Station on Butler Green Chaddertonfacing Fields New Rd Chadderton.

Yes, the police museum is an important place in the Northern Quarter, though the exterior of the building isn't very noticeable. For many years the headquarters of Greater Manchester Police has been in a most unremarkable but functional 1970's office slab situated close to Old Trafford.

Name: June Shepley
From or connections with: Ashton-under-Lyne
Present Location: Ashton-under-Lyne
Subject: Your wonderful website!
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Reader Message: Hi Aiden,
The Hyde Road Hotel shortly before demolitionI have been a fan of your website for ages now, I love the pictures and the history and info that you add.
I only live 'up the road' from Central Manchester here in Ashton, but I have learned a great deal from your site.
I have family scattered all over the world, and we keep in touch through a family web-site that I host, needless to say, the link to your Eye-Witness Manchester site is one of the more popular features!!
One of your readers recently said that he didn't like the pictures of the 'crappy old buildings' - shame on him, they are the history that we are rapidly losing, you are doing a brilliant job of keeping that history ( and peoples memories) alive.
Keep up the wonderful work Aiden,
It is very much appreciated,
June Shepley.

Thank you very much. The 'crappy old buildings' contributor is however making a valid point that we perhaps tend to focus too much on the past and not enough on the future development of the city. The conclusion I'm coming to however is that although the city as it was a couple of generations ago was smoky and decrepit, there was a lot of character and 'magic' which didn't survive redevelopment from the sixties onwards. Even today, the mosaic of Manchester is being chipped away piece by piecel. A good example is this pub, formely the Hyde Rd Hotel, birthplace of what later became Manchester City Football Club. When I took this photograph I had no idea of what it was or if it had any significance. A week later I was driving down Hyde Rd and found it was surrounded by scaffolding. By the following month it was a vacant piece of ground. Something has gone wrong in the development of our city when things like this happen.

Name: Norman Stewart
From or connections with:
Present Location:
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan. As a newcomer to your website I have to say thank you for the great pictures of Manchester and surrounding districts. Also thank you for your updates. It feels good to be able to come home through the internet. Keep up the good work.Norman & Hilda Stewart.Sarnia Ontario Canada.

Thank you very much indeed - I enjoy it!

Name: Harold Barbour
From or connections with: Harpurhey, Blackley, Moston, Collyhurst, Bury
Present Location: Llandrindod Wells
EWM Photo:
Reader Message: Dear Aidan.
Came across your web site by chance yesterday looking up Willert Street Police Station where I one time served.
I have been spending much time on my PC of late, having been house-bound after the removal of a section of bone from my left foot (Nothing to do with Christy Brown!). I have already sent e-mails to Mr. Foy in Canada and to Terry Minshull in Oz. Relations on my mother's side of the family were all Minshulls.
Collyhurst 'Flat Iron' building former Balmoral public houseLooking through the letters from your many followers I note the Collyhurst "flat iron" building which was of course The Balmoral public house on Rochdale Road at the corner of Collyhurst Road as it was then before Collyhurst Road was re-routed.
Before moving here over two years ago my wife and myself lived in Bury for 27 years. There was a photograph of the Balmoral on the wall of the Rose & Crown on Ainsworth Road, Bury. I don't know it the photo is still there. Also The Alliance pub on Rochdale Road opposite the library, that is the old Alliance and not the new monstrosity. I have imbibed in both these pubs. In those days Boddingtons beer was something else. Now its left to Holts to carry the flag! Incidentally Holts publish a history of their pubs and this should be available from the brewery in Knowsley street, Cheetham.
When I was born my parents lived at 42, Lathbury Road, Harpurhey. They moved to Cobden Street, Blackley and this was where I lived until I married. My relations on my fathers side of the family lived at 12 Ashville Terrace, Moston, and I moved between the two addresses where I made many friends. One of the friends from my early years was Peter Jones whose family lived in Bute Street, Moston. Peter's mum had an off licence on Rochdale Road opposite the Palladium cinema (take note Berne Leng) and his father worked for the CWS.
Peter is now one of the richest men in Britain and has a fortune greater than Branson's. Peter Emerson Jones-Emerson the builder that is. And no, I have not been in touch with him since 1947-ish.
Passing my eleven plus intervened as did National Service.. What else? I recall riding on the trams down Market Street with an aunt; the barrage balloons which were positioned on the David Lewis Recreation Ground in Blackley; being carried to an air raid shelter on the shoulders of an ARP warden and seeing the German bombers passing overhead; a huge crater left in Boggart Hole Clough as a result of German bombing; the following cinemas in North Manchester- The Fourways demolished to make way for high rise flats, the Avenue cinema now a supermarket, the Adelphi on Kenyon Lane which now serves as a market, the M. I. P. Moston Imperial Palace also a market as is the Princess on Conran Street. The Empire which stood on Factory Lane and The Palladium on Rochdale Road which I think is a club. The Essoldo cinema on Rochdale Road, Collyhurst, now demolished as is the Playhouse on Oldham Road.
I have some photographs of The Playhouse and a Wilson's pub which stood up from the cinema near to Cary Springs. Also of some back to backs at the bottom of Gould Street and Collyhurst Road, which have long since been taken down. Also several of the Salvation Army Hostel at 2, Francis Street, Strangeways, before it too was demolished.

The Playhouse Cinema - Before The Playhouse Cinema - after

How many of your readers remember Mary Turner who was a historian and worked as a typist for the City Crime Squad of Manchester and Salford Police? Oh, lest I forget also have some photos of The Roundhouse in Ancoats before it too was pulled down. I recall the novelist Patricia Cornwell telling me that "you have some wonderful buildings in Manchester". Let's heed her words and not pull down our heritage and our history.
Could go on and on but enough of me. Look forward to logging on again to your most fascinating site. My wife and myself come up to Manchester approximately every six/eight weeks to see our son and do some shopping.
If there is anything I can do for anyone whilst up in Manchester let me know and I will do my best.

Fascinating! With your contributions and those of others, we can rebuild a hidden Manchester that still exists - in peoples minds! It's amazing just how many cinemas there were, and yet today new cinemas are being built frequented mostly by younger people, as in the past. I wonder if in the year 2151 people will be sending messages saying "Ah, do you remember the old UCG cinema at Parrs Wood?"

Name: Gary Morris
From or connections with: Bury, Walshaw & Tottington
Present Location: Toronto, Ont. Canada
Subject: Awesome stuff
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Reader Message: Dear Aidan
I've said it to you before and I will say it again, I love the stuff you do! Sounds like you do not have too much local recognition over there, well don't worry you obviously have tons of appreciative fans outside of M/C and of UK. I left UK in 1986, and finally thru' your lens I have been able see how much Manchester has changed. Personally, as I now live in a large modern city like Toronto, I welcome all the new buildings. It is refreshing and makes Manchester more attractive to visitors from outside of UK.
Anyway I noticed a lot of your readers are asking the "if anyone out there knows me" question. For all those people looking to contact old friends and school pals, you should put a link to the FriendsReunited website
I went to Bury Grammar School from 1968 to 1981 and thru' this site, I have been in contact with over a dozen old pals that I have not heard from in 25 years. Its amazing - Just an FYI.
If you are ever in Bury, Walshaw or Tottington, would love some photo's. Keep up the good stuff !!!
ps. If you would like to see some shots of Toronto, go to my ClubPhotowebsite and visit album #11 at
Once you get past my kid shots, there are some nice cityscape shots of this city of 4 million people

Thank you very much for your appreciative words. It's true I have very little recognition here, but that is shortly going to change! Keep visiting Eyewitness in Manchester and my home page to find out more about this.

From or connections with: Unsworth, Bury
Present Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Subject: Tennis
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Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Coming to Unsworth, Bury. Sept 18. Belong to Phoenix Country Club (Arizona). Is there a reciprocal tennis club
in the Unsworth area.? Originally from Cheetham Hill. Really enjoy your website. Thank you for all
your efforts
J. J. Guerin

I don't know - if anyone out there knows, please contact the e-mail address above. Glad you enjoy my website!

Name: Di Norton
From or connections with: Grosvenor Street
Present Location: Manchester
Subject: Great Article on Grosvenor Street
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Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Nice article on Grosvenor Street!
This area also has a secret -
shows access to a cold war tunnel just off Grosvenor Street!!
Best wishes

Yes, I know that spot very well - there is an electricity substation there, just next to the Mancunian Way. 'Tunnels under Manchester' - now there's an idea for an Eyewitness in Manchester special. I'd have to bring my flashgun with me, and my anorak. And I'm not sure how many postcard piccies I'd bring back from underground but who knows! The air raid shelters in Stockport are now a popular tourist attraction. And just while I remember, whatever happened to that underground market which used to run from the street off Market St down to the street behind Boots, the Market Centre?

Name: Gerard Townley
From or connections with: Cholton-on Medlock
Present Location: Ajax. Ontario Canada
Subject: Grosvenor area is where I was born October 1930
EWM Photo: Upper Brook Street
Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Looking at your latest creation it took me back many years, in fact I was born in a Street called Stockton Street (long gone) in October 1930 and grew up in the Grosvenor area so I have lots of memories.
Looking at your pictures and the many names of streets made it feel like yesterday when I lived there rather than 60-70 years ago.
In my teens (again a long time ago) I used to go to a dance hall called "The Astoria" which was on Plymouth Grove not far from Upper Brook Street. They had some wonderful bands in those days and the drummers were my favorites, boy could they drum, maybe some of your readers could remember those days and the dance hall?
But now things have changed and places have gone to be replaced by more modern buildings, but we can only remember the good old days.
Is there a swimming pool being built near where the Grosvenor picture house used to be, I thought I saw it many years ago when I was over on vacation in Manchester.
Thanks once again for your email look forward to your next selection.

The new Commonwealth Games pool is next door to the Grosvenor Picture Palace and was opened in 2000. That dance hall on Plymouth Grove may later have become the Carousel, an important music venue for the Irish community. They also had pop music concerts there and in the 1980's I saw a performance by Nico - an artist you probably won't have heard of, but was legendary in her time and milieu. Blonde, young and attractive she came to New York from Germany and sang with Lou Reed in the Velvet Underground during the 1960's.

In the late 80's, with her health and appearance degraded due to hard drug use and cigarettes, she made Manchester her home. Sadly she died a few years later, probably as a result of her lifestyle. I witnessed this unique and mesmerising artist in what I think was the dance hall you mention - the Astoria. Can anyone confirm that the Astoria did indeed become the Carousel which, incidentally, was demolished some years ago.

Name: Florence Grady
From or connections with: West Disbury, Hulme, Fallowfield/Rusholme
Present Location: Feilding New Zealand,
Subject: Cinemas. Pub
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Reader Message: Dear Aidan
Hello again Aidan as usual your work is inspiring.Re talk of cinemas in Withington. I have never seen a mention of our Sunday night out cinema, The Palatine cinema on Palatine road, it was a great meeting place, as there was a coffee bar just by the side where we all went after the pictures had finished. There was a Golden Lion pub too in Withington as well as the Red lion and white Lion. Whilst I am on about nights out how many of your readers spent Saturday at the skating rink at Birchfields (sadly long gone) what fun we used to have racing around. Well just wanted to say hello again and to let you now I am still an avid reader of your web site. Hello to all ex Ducie Central girls school or as it used to be called or Miss Healeys school for young ladies. Bye keep clicking and we'll keep watching.

Palatine cinema? Golden Lion? Skating rink at Birchfields? Sometimes I wonder if I'm living in the same city as the one which many people write to me about. Today we have the Red Lion and the White Lion, but where was the Golden Lion? There's a skating rink in Altrincham - the only one in Greater Manchester as far as I'm aware. There is a Ducie High School not far from the old one, but it's no longer a girls school. How times change, but thanks to you and all the other contributors on these pages, we can help ensure that the Manchester that was is kept alive in our mind's eye, and in the eyes of future generations.

Birchfields Park

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