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Aidan, It has been a while since I have corresponded with you.

The new Parrs Wood cinema is interesting to me as I went to Parrs Wood High. Through my parents, I had heard of rebuilding of the school in conjunction with a private leisure group. Is this part of the "deal"?

Although I don't remember the names, there was a cinema on Kingsway, approximately 1.5 miles North of Parrs Wood. Last I heard it was a Bingo hall(I think). Is it still there??

I also remember going to see "Zulu" as a young boy(7 or 8) at the Farmplace(?) cinema. It was a small one screen cinema just off Stockport Rd in Levenshulme. It may have become a Bingo hall too.

The old cinemas, or movie theatres as they are called in the US, are also a rare find over here. We have become a herd of cattle in and out! The latest development, about two miles from my home, is to include a 20 screen cinema with stadium seating and digital sound. There are some small towns with the old cinema still functioning though.

The demise of the drive-in has been a sad happening in the US. It was a unique occasion to head to the drive in to watch a couple of films. Or to drive down a road where the screen was visible, after midnight when they played the porn flicks.....maybe this is why they closed!!

Rich Cook Ft. Wayne, IN

The Virgin Cinema Parrs Wood is part of a new leisure complex being built on the site next to Parrs Wood High School. The land was sold for use by the developer on condition they build a new school - in July 2000 this new high-tech school building is well advanced, and the old school is being taken down. The cinema at Green End Road was until recently a Kwik Save store until it was partially burnt down by a fire. Right now, the entrance is still there, though boarded up, and the rear of the building has been removed, revealing part of the interior of the former cinema. I'll be including pictures of these locations soon in Eyewitness in Manchester.

Hello Aidan, I enjoyed your feature on Cinemas very much.

Once again brought back a lot of memories. The Apollo has been a venue for pop concerts since the mid 60's. I saw the Beatles there!. The Roxy in Hollinwood used to have a restaurant upstairs which could be hired for weddings etc. Going back further still, I vaguely remember my mother taking me to the Empress to see an Al Jolson film (must have been a babe-in-arms!).

Best wishes Lynda

Yes, I read in 'Magic in the Dark' that the Beatles played there in 1963.

I thought you'd like some feedback re your old cinemas piece. Well, even if you don't, here it is:

I rather like the looks of the Ambassador. Yes, it looks like it's a worthy building that people should try to preserve. But... Yeuch, the Salford Cinema looks like a real old fleapit. Go on, I dare you now after all these years to go in there and bare some flesh. The fleas will be like mad vampires by now, and absolutely ravenous.

Talking of fleapits.. I remember the Grosvenor Cinema from 1974, when I was a student living at Grosvenor Place, the 5-story 5-shaped block behind it. I thought it was an eyesore then, and judging from the picture, it's an eyesore now. Pass the sledgehammer.

In my second year I lived in a house in Stretford, and remember the Roxy. Lovely building. It's a hit with me. It would be nice if it stayed.

Gor blimey guv, that Empress doesn't even look like a cinema. It looks like some tacky old train shed, only not so well built. How could you shed even half a tear for it!

Before I found out I you were forty twoish I thought you were about ninety, you like old buildings so so much. I rather like the new block of flats in Didbury, and reckon it's an improvement on the Capitol.

And The Playhouse Miles Platting looks much better now it's been flattened.

But best of all is the Virgin Parrs Wood. Now that's what I call a cinema!


John Duffield

Ah yes, a bit of confrontational feedback for a change!

I didn't say I liked the Empress on Oldham Road - it's just that this one was picked out for an article in the Evening News about the preservation of old cinemas. You have to look beyond their present state and imagine how they were when they were new, or if they were restored. I don't only like old buildings - it's just that so many of the new ones are totally mediocre and uninspiring, with a few notable exceptions. One of the best new cinemas is the Warner Village near Ellesmere Port - it's an amazing piece of updated high tech art deco - I'll include a photograph of that soon.

Hi. Although they are both run down, Middleton still has two cinema buildings. The first, The Palace is in the centre, next to the gardens. It is now a closed-down bingo hall. The second is what used to be the Hippodrome Nightclub before it closed down also. What this cinema used to be called I am unsure (only 27 years old!) Middleton used to have a third cinema I believe, but this disappeared long ago.

And in Rochdale in the centre, you have the old cinema that might be a Bingo hall now (I don't visit Rochdale much nowadays). I remember this from my childhood - garish orange seats I think! Anyhow, keep up the excellent work on the site - I work for a multi-national company and often refer work colleagues from Asia and America to your site to show them "true Manchester"

Regards Derek Bates

Thanks - I'll try and photograph those cinemas - there are scores I could capture all round Greater Manchester! Thanks for your comments!

Dear Aiden,

Have been keeping a watchful eye on your site for quite sometime now.

Really enjoyed all your photographs of Manchester and surrounds. It is quite a nostalgic trip for me each time. Have been in Australia for 38 years now, but I always enjoy coming home via your site.

Today I received the book of Manchester Memories for my library, sent to me by my brother who I recently met in U.S.A at my sister's home after 22 years. Now I've had a taste of adventure I'd like a trip back home. Hope they don't change Manchester too much before I get there.!!

Really upset at what they may do to our old Piccadilly Gardens, and they will call it progress !!

Cheers & Keep up the great work. Your keeping a whole lot of Mancunuans HAPPY.!!

Sincerely Brenda & John Bright. 03/07/00.

Thank you very much for your message - You'd better get here as soon as possible, otherwise you won't recognise Manchester as the same city you left!

Hi Aidan,

It's been a while since I've written, but I regularly tune in to your
still excellent missives on the 'Eyewitness in Manchester' page.
Cinemas certainly did play a major role in the lives of countless
thousand Mancunians in their heyday. 'Going to the pictures' was a
regular highlight of the late WW2 years of my youth, especially on
Saturdays. My Grandma and Granddad Greatbanks lived on Spire Street,
Ardwick, I may have mentioned this in a previous letter I wrote you, and
they never had electricity installed. My Grandma used to bake bread on
Saturdays in the side oven of her highly polished fireplace, stoking the
fire under the cast iron oven and using her hand as a thermometer, she
created the most mouthwatering aromas on fresh baked bread and I always
managed to grab the first crust, still piping hot and smother it with
dairy butter. I should point out that my Grandfather worked for, I
believe it was Markendales, a wholesale food supplier, so we managed to
get some of the things that others couldn't during the war, butter was

He also used to bring me a 1lb bar of Palm toffee and treated me to the
pictures at the Queens, which was on Ashton Old Road, opposite the large
goods yard alongside the viaducts. There were a lot of movie theatres
on the Old Road, going along the Old Road towards Openshaw you had the
Roy, behind which a land mine destroyed many homes in the latter years
of the war, later replaced by prefabs. Then you had the Metropole,
which held a particular significance for me. I had just broken up with
my girlfriend of 3 years and was walking down the Old Road to go to the
Queens. Outside the Met, where her father worked part-time was my wife
to be, June Robinson. We had been childhood sweethearts from age 9, but
had gone our separate ways, only to meet again outside the Met. I
walked up and said, 'Are you going to the pictures?' she replied 'Yes I
was thinking of going in here.' I retorted, 'I'm going to the Queens,
want to come?' She said yes and rest, as they say is history.

I also used to frequent the Saturday Matinees at the 'Met' on an
irregular basis. They were fun. Packed with kids who came to watch
their heroes fight the bad guys. They were noisy affairs, and it seemed
that every time the bad guy was creeping up on the goodie, the kids
would all cry out ' Look out behind you!' and the Good Guy always seemed
to turn around just at that point.

Further up the Old Road was the Rex just below the canal bridge, a real
flea hut that showed mainly 'B' grade movies, then last but not least
was the Alhambra where Ogden Lane met the Old Road. It had a dance hall
above it called Chick Hibberts, that always had a rumble as the dance
turned out and the immediate area was regularly patrolled by police
expecting trouble. The main battles came in the era of the Teddy Boys,
a group I never emulated in dress style, but did have a lot of friends
among them.

The Met and the Alhambra were both old Music Halls, with an Upper Circle
we always called the 'Gods,' an area we used to love and sit in so we
could lob all kinds of debris on the audience below. The usherettes
never seemed to catch us doing it, but we often got turfed out for
looking guilty.

Regarding the book, 'Magic in the Dark.' you're right, it is a good
read. My sister sent me a copy and boy, did it bring back memories. As
I've told you before, I attended Manchester Central Grammar when they
were on Whitworth Street and was lucky enough to be able to grasp what
was being taught on the first presentation. I would take many days of
to travel on a 'Platform Ticket' to various railway stations to collect
engine numbers, or to attend soccer games played on weekday afternoons
before the advent of floodlights, as well as to go to the movies,
financed by my little racket of buying and selling toffee coupons
outside our school Tuck Shop. The book shows many I have visited while
'at school,' such as the Gaumont, the Odeon and the Regal on Oxford St.
the Tatler on the Oxford Road station approach, and the Continental on
Market St., which I sometimes managed to get into, but was often turned
away as it only showed naughty movies.

Yes, 'going to the pictures' was always a highlight of my teenage years,
where you would go with your girl and sit on the back row. Some of the
movie theatres had double seats which really helped with your kissing
and cuddling, not that I ever did such things. Tsk. Tsk!!

Talk to you again soon rather than later.


Some great reminiscences - Cinemas hold a lot of memories for people!

Cross Lane Salford. It was the winter of 1940. We as teenagers used to parade up and down the lane bumping into the girls, who usually walked in pairs. We never heard or used drugs, life was simple ,but happy. We never said we were bored, worked hard and played hard. Yes we even looked forward to eventually getting into uniform which a lot of us finished up doing. Salford in many ways has changed for the better, trees now abound the area, but somehow the spirit and comradeship which we knew then, I fear is no longer there.

I feel your doing a fine job Aidan , and I wish you well for the future.

Jim Quigley

Cross Lane has changed completely, but nearby Langworthy Road (below) is still recognisable - Further down this road on either side are some of the most blighted and crime ridden areas in the UK, but in Salford Quays, the former Docks, visible in the distance, you'll find prosperity and the latest in contemporary houses - There's good and bad everywhere today as in the past.

Langworthy Road

I share your view re building on part of Piccadilly gardens to pay for a refurb of the remaining green area.

It's wrong. In five years time will they want to repeat the process?

I also greatly share your sentiments about the city council boundary. Manchester City council is poor because it occupies only a small portion of the Manchester area.

Keep up your protestations, and carry on urging others to make a noise about this.

Do you know if the surrounding authorities are paying the City anything towards the Commonwealth Games? Isn't there a bit of needle about this?

Maybe the Piccadilly development is to raise some contingency funds for the games?

Re making money, I think one answer is skyscrapers. There have been no new significant tall buildings in Manchester since 1974 when the Arndale Tower was built. If you go back to the time of the CIS and the Sunley building, it's almost 40 years.

Skyscrapers are seen the world over as a sign of a City's importance and vigour. People sniff at them, but they always end up on the postcards. If the council are in the business of granting planning permission for money there must be some way they can make some dosh out of residential condo type blocks, say 40 stories high, big enough for a manned lobby, sports facilities, pool, and views. The City must own some worthwhile land to sell with planning permission, or they could allow a developer to straddle a road


John Duffield

There is a residential skyscraper planned for the site next to the Great Northern Warehouse complex, behind the Free Trade Hall. Skyscrapers would be a good idea, but I think it would have been a good idea to locate them outside the immediate city centre, as in Paris and Dubai. The Arndale office block should be pulled down to free up the skyline again.

As far as I know, The City of Manchester is paying for the Games, with some support from central government. As for the machinations of Manchester City Council's finance department, I'm definitely not privy to any inside information - in fact, I think I'd rather not know what they do with my £63 per month council tax!

Here's another idea for you. The City of Manchester should suggest that Man U should change its name to Stretford United. Or that Manchester might as well be called Miles Platting because of all the divide-and-rule gerrymandering keeps the wider city diminished, underepresented, and poor, without a mayor and without a GMA. I imagine some rumblings of home rule and the Lothian question would help, along with a mention of the Oxbridge elite and the Daresbury lab and Rolls Royce going south. Alternatively the City could say its going to sell Heaton Park for a private walled development.

Yes, yes yes!

Hi Aidan,

Answering your question about Edenfield Road Crumpsall is easy! You caught my old house right in the middle of the picture. We used to live at 14 Edenfield Road until the height of the property boom in 1989, when we moved around the corner to Park Road, Prestwich. Before that I lived for six weeks in Moston on Egbert Street, but since I was only six weeks old at the time I don't remember that too well!

If you'd have done your cycling trip on bin day you would have seen that the houses in the picture of Edenfield Road are in Manchester. The houses on the left are in Bury. It used to be obvious to us because Bury houses had the new weehly bins for about ten years before Manchester houses got them. I think that the geographical boundary is an underground stream, which is probably why it seemed to run a nonsensical path! I have seen it on a map from 1850. It runs underneath Danesway, and then continues as what we used to call "The Sewer" (because it was pretty rank) which runs between Cavendish Road and Kings Road on the Salford side of Bury Old Road. My school used to back onto it and I remember getting in trouble for helping to dam it up with some of my school-pals! I think the source would have been a spring. We used to have one at the bottom of our garden in Edenfield Road, but that was probably just the stream surfacing.

The houses in the area are all of a fairly similar design. I heard a tale that the designer or planner was remembered in some of the road names - principally Edilom Road, but I've found nothing to back that up but here-say. There obviously used to be a brook in the area - the big old house next to "The Woodthorpe" pub was called "Brooklands" - the playing fields near where the house stood are similarly named and there is a "Brooklands" Road.

I'm told that before development into housing took place the area was a golf course and there are still a couple of overgrown bunkers on Brooklands playing fields which are owned by Bury MBC. The Woodthorpe was originally the home of the Holt family who founded the Manchester brewery bearing their name.

The Metrolink Station at Bowker Vale isn't really in Bowker Vale at all. Its on Meade Hill. Bowker Vale is a little down the road - properly a valley where the river Irk runs. Its much cleaner now, but suffered because of the dye works in the area and towards Middleton. More recently detergent spillages have caused the roads around here to be overflowing with foam. The MEN archives might have some pictures of cars driving through walls of soap bubbles in the early 90s.

There is a new Sainsburys supermarket on the site of what used to be Heaton Mills at the Three Arrows M60 junction. If we hadn't moved to Park Road, we would have moved to Boothroyden Terrace which is being torn apart by the new motorway. If you can find it behind new housing developments its probably worth a visit as it has good panoramic views over the new motorway site, Heaton Park, Higher Blackley and Middleton.

Chris Lomax

Boothroyden Terrace - yes, I'll be passing there on the next leg of my tour around the City of Manchester boundary. Your contribution is very interesting - it's great to have the insight of a true Crumpsalian! The River Irk photo above is taken a little lower down the river, not far from Herristone Park.

In your article about Dovestones, you say that there are two reservoirs - there are actually three reservoirs in a row., going down in size the further back you walk. I know this as I walk round them every Saturday or Sunday afternoon with my dog. Thanks.

I've looked at the map and yes, you're right - we didn't get as far as the highest of the three reservoirs. Thanks for putting me right on that one!

I enjoyed the pictures taken along the Manchester boundary so far, especially the ones of North Manchester.

I am originally from Higher Blackley, actually I lived almost literally right behind the Sainsbury's, off Heaton Park Road (Branksome Drive), opposite the Three Arrows Pub.

The Three Arrows Pub has to be one of the best, if not the best pub in North Manchester. I remember walking along the brindle road (Old Hall Lane) alongside Heaton Park many many times as a child.

I used to walk through the woods in Heaton Park through the gate, or rather the old gate before they moved it due to the recent construction of the M66. I suppose it was as close to a walk in the countryside as I could get in those days.

I also used to love to sit on the lions in Heaton Park as a child. Then we'd go and get an ice cream in the cafeteria of Heaton Hall (since demolished due to fire damage). In the winter when there was snow we'd take the sledge into Heaton Park and sled down the big hill of the 1st tee of the golf course. Your pictures brought back some good memories although I miss being able to walk in Heaton Park almost daily as a way to 'lose yourself'.

I hope to soon be able to take my wife to show her all my childhood favourite places,


Paul Bainbridge Charlotte, NC USA

I'm very glad to have recaptured locations from your childhood, even if they aren't part of mine! One day I'll do a feature on my own childhood haunts.

From: Marilyn Littler (nee Jones)

When I saw the Lions it reminded me of when I was a child.My sister and I used to sit on them whenever my Mum and Dad took us to the park (circa 1955). In later years (1966) I worked at the Orangery, next to the cafeteria, as a waitress on Saturdays where they used to hold wedding receptions.

Last year we moved from the Manchester area and emigrated to Perth in Western Australia, so it was very nostalgic to see your photos.

PS - if anyone remembers the "Jones Twins" - Marilyn and Jacqueline, born 1950 of Crumpsall (Sedgley Road, off Oak Road - now Ash Tree Road), would love to hear from you. Thanks.

Dear Aidan,

My heart leapt when I saw your feature on "Bike ride around" Manchester and found my old stamping ground. I lived in Hightown until 1967,when I came to Melbourne, and began my school life at Marlborough Road Primary School.

I was there until age 7, when I went to Manchester Jews School, since demolished, which was in Strangeways at the bottom of Waterloo Road.

I knew the prison well,as I used to walk past it daily on my way to school. I used to wonder who was in there and I have to say my imagination ran riot! We used to shop on the Village on Bury old Road.

As for Heaton Park, we spent much time there, cups of tea at the kiosk, feeding the ducks and swans on the lake, and riding on the ferry which used to be there. You've brought back many memories for me.

I loved your description of 65 degrees as hot.We're in winter here and having that temperature today. I must admit, I wish we did have that in summer rather than the 30s/40s we do have.

Thanks Aidan, you've made a former Mancunian very happy! Sonia Morris.


I am a late visitor to your site (I only discovered it about a week ago!) but think it's wonderful. My special interest is in the archive pages - this is something of a hobby of mine and I spend literally hours at the Local Studies Unit in Central Library looking at the photos they now have on computer.

I have approximately 40 prints on my wall at home of old Harpurhey, Moston and Blackley (my stomping ground) but still have room for many more! I lived in Wythenshawe between the ages of 4 and 27 so it was interesting to read the archive news about the building of the 'new' Civic Centre and the Woodhouse Park estate.

I have noticed that there doesn't seem to be many photos of the North Manchester area (apart from the ducks in Boggart Hole Clough and the odd church) but perhaps it's because there's not too much that's of architectural interest now - certainly since Bellway Homes and the like got hold of the area!

The Clough itself is a beautiful area though - have you seen the 'angel' (actually a war memorial) on the top fields - might make an interesting photo. I look forward to keeping in touch with your pages now I've discovered them. Sue

Keep up the good work.


Glad you liked the 1947 and 48 reports - I haven't had very much feedback about them. I'll be posting more pictures from north Manchester, including Boggart Hole Clough, very soon.

Hi Aiden, Looking at the photo of OXFORD RD dated may10th00 I am reminded of when I was a kid back in 1941, age 11,the traffic was just the same then, and crossing the road was, even then, a nightmare, so time has not changed a thing, nor me-thinks will it.

I was born & bred in LONGSIGHT ,lived & worked in LEVENSHULME till I joined the navy in 1948. then I met & married my wife of 47yrs [ this coming August 1st] & lived again in LEVENSHULME & later FALLOWFIELD till 1964 when with my wife & family of three emigrated to Australia where we've been for the past 36yrs.

Now my family is four children who have produced for us 12 grandkids & 4great grandkids. But!!! Home is still home & I read your news quite frequently. You have some great photos to help us to remember.

Thank you. Regards. Bud [my wife] & Ken

Thanks very much indeed for your message - Recently I was looking in the 1950 edition of the Manchester Evening News, and it mentioned the vexed issue of bollards, which were just then being installed - there was a picture of the junction of Grosvenor Street and Oxford Road, All Saints. Drivers were complaining as their road space was being reduced, to the benefit of pedestrians. Nowadays, it's bus lanes and speed bumps and drivers are equally as annoyed!

Very nice to hear from you and congratulations on your big family!

I went to Mcr. Central High School from 1939 to 1943. My office wall has the front page of the Evening Chronicle dated Dec. 23rd.1940, properly framed, with the headline "HISTORIC BUILDINGS HIT IN BLITZ ON MANCHESTER'. This occured when we returned from our evacuation to Blackpool !!!

I have some memorabilia of the period including my ARP messenger button, Halle orchestra programmes, etc. etc. Is there some historical society who would be interested in this ? I articled for the surveying firm of Cross & sons, Ashworth & Morris in Century House.

I am blessed with an almost photogenic memory and can recall many facts about places and people. I left England in 1948 for Montreal, lived there for 30 years and have lived in Florida for the past 22 years. My address 555 Oaks Lane #211, Pompano Bch. FL 33069 (I am an immigration attorney !!)

I think you ought to send your message to In Touch - they can publish it in the Manchester Evening News on a Saturday - you may make contact with people you know, and hopfully find someone who would be ineterested in your memorabilia. I've worked in Century House myself - doing freelance work for CLB, the firm of chartered accountants. The City Engineers have a great photograph of Century House taken during the war, in snow, with an ARP or some military vehicle in the picture. The Central Library have this photo now, I think. The picture above is taken from CLB'S offices, on the top floor of Century House, and shows the Central Library.


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