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Newsletter 1998 Week 5Monday the 2nd of February 1998


Lots of interesting links

Chorlton Web
Community Website

Rebuilding Manchester
With pictures before and after the bomb


Home Page of the author

It was celebration time yesterday in Manchester's Chinatown. The streets around the Chinese arch were teeming with people braving the bitter February cold, some eating spring rolls, hot dogs, noodles, curry and other Sino-Mancunian delicacies. A temporary funfair behind the Art Galleries provided more stomach-churning thrills, a gyrating Chinese dragon performed a street dance to the sound of a banging drum, while on a temporary stage set up in the car park, a large crowd watched Chinese music and martial arts performances. Members of Manchester's Buddhist community invited everyone to offer a joss stick to a Buddha statue sitting in front of multi-colour lotus flower lights while nearby, hawkers stood with bundles of shiny helium balloons for sale.

Last year, the Chinese New Year co-incided with the Muslim Eid - this year the end-of-Ramadan celebration fell around 11 days earlier (as it does each year). There were festivities in the Rusholme district, with heavy attendance at the Central Mosque in Victoria Park, and a funfair in nearby Platt Fields Park.

There are huge numbers of Asian students in Manchester, and now that the economies of South Korea, Hong Kong and other Asian "Tigers" are facing difficulties, colleges and universities here are trying to make things easier for cash-strapped Oriental students by offering deferred fee arrangements and cheaper accommodation. Let's hope those economies pick up again quickly.

Manchester University's Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope will be listening for signs of intelligent life from other worlds - that's the big announcement today on local radio and tv. Last year a similar story featured on this page, Monday 7 July 97. The 250 foot Lovell Telescope will provide support to the 1000 foot telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Scientists working on the project hope to find clear evidence of extra-terrestrial life within 15 years. So if there are any alien life forms out there thinking of visiting Manchester, please send an e-mail to this address......

Manchester University is also gearing up for the 50th anniversary celebrations of "Baby", the first stored program computer, as mentioned last week. If you'd like more information, go to the website at . I spoke to members of the team organising the event at the Business Computer Systems Show. Have a look at my reports and photos from the show.

Cine City, the picture house in Withington that closed and re-opened last year under new ownership, is doing well. Proprietor David Babsky is bringing back the golden age of cinema by showing classics like Singing in the Rain and My Fair Lady. And in the city centre, refurbishments were completed recently to Cornerhouse Screen number One, on Whitworth Street. Tonight's screenings are Ridicule, Gummo and, appropriately enough Chinatown. I wish I could give you a website address for the Cornerhouse, but there isn't one! Their address is 70 Oxford St M1 5NH if you'd like to write and ask them why not!

The Halle Orchestra is on the front page of this afternoon's Evening News: The world famous orchestra, whose home is now the Bridgewater Hall, are running a huge deficit, and it appears they only have three days to go before going bankrupt. Commentators blame bad financial management and cuts in official funding. It's not the first time the Halle has had money problems. See Manchester Eyewitness 1947, 1st of November 1947.

Manchester featured in the national news during the week with the announcement that the trend-setting London department store, Selfridges, will open an outlet at the Trafford Centre. According to decision-makers at the store, Manchester has a buzz at the moment that fits in well with the Selfridges ethos. We were in the London store on Saturday, and saw comedy, now soap actress Barbara Windsor shopping. I wonder if the Manchester outlet will attract celebs.

More shopping opportunities are coming to a development near Bolton. The Middlebrook Leisure and Retail Park is predicted to create 4000 new jobs. The project already includes shops, restaurants, cinemas, and the Bolton Wanderers Reebok Stadium, now a spectacular landmark visible from the M61 (picture to come soon!).

And in the heart of Manchester, construction continues. The first concrete has been poured into the foundations of the new Marks and Spencers store, and work has started on dismantling the Shambles. From the temporary pedestrian way along Corporation St, you can peer through windows at the work. If you'd like a peek, click on the image. The Manchester Civic Society website has a new feature on the regeneration of Piccadilly Gardens, as well as info on the Free Trade Hall. Are both these Manchester landmarks going to have multi-story office blocks built on them? Find out at the Civic Society Website

Legal controversy has featured in the news this week, including a petition for the acquittal of the seven homosexual men convicted of sex offences in Bolton last week. Gay campaigners say it was a victimless offence. A few miles away in Bury, the town council has decided to uphold its ban on performances by stage hypnotists. And in Wilmslow, a couple have lodged a complaint after they were struck off the list of patients at their local health centre because they called a doctor out at night to see their 8 year old daughter, who they thought was suffering from meningitis.

Unlike Manchester United, police in Manchester have scored notable victories this week: A racket known as the "French Connection" reached the end of the road when their leader, Noel Murray was found guilty at Minshull St Crown Court. They had apparently been importing luxury cars from Europe, but had actually been stealing them locally to order and "ringing" them (falsifying the serial number): Their speciality: Porsche's. And at Manchester Airport, officials intercepted a huge haul of cocaine concealed in hollowed out avocado pears. I was once stopped by customs at Manchester Airport, but the only herb I had on me was a large gift pack of Sri Lankan tea.

Forty years ago on Friday, the Munich Air Disaster plunged millions into grief, and the after-effects continue to this day. Last night, I watched the excellent Granada documentary, "The Busby Babes: End of a Dream" directed by Alan Brown. I hope they show it where you are. The Evening News has a supplement with the newspaper this week. Next week I'll include an Eyewitness in Manchester Flashback to the day of the tragedy. If there's any aspect you'd like me to look out for in my research, please let me know. .

The weather today has been cold and clear, with bright sunshine in Manchester, and snow in other parts of the UK. The rest of the last seven days has been mostly cold, overcast and dry. Temperatures for January in the UK were 1.5% above normal, with 121% the amount of sunshine expected for this time of year. So don't believe the cliche's about British weather and especially not Manchester weather!

  • As allegations against President Clinton continue, confrontation with Saddam Hussein mounts: Even Iraqi newspapers are accusing the President of being a cad, and one carried photos of his latest girlfriend. What they didn't realise: the woman on the beach was Hilary Clinton.
  • In Derry/Londonderry, Bloody Sunday commemorations take place.
  • An eight year old boy is recruited as consultant for the Millenium Dome.

Words & pictures ©Aidan O'Rourke

Hi Aidan

Just discovered your excellent site after it was recommended to me by an old mate of mine - ex mancunian but now living in Australia!. Haven't seen it all yet but will bookmark it. Good stuff - I must get around the town a bit more myself.

Vincent Lowe ARPS, Droylsden

Readers! Do have a look at Vince's excellent photographs, including an atmospheric study of now-demolished Chadderton Power Station

How do I go about getting all the up to date news going on around Manchester ? I am new on the web and don't know my way around yet. Your help would be greatly appreciated, It is very hard here in Houston, Tx getting this info yours sincerely.

Mark O'Brien

Well, a good start would to hit this page every Monday night around midnight GMT, and take it from there!

Happy New Year, Aidan..... I still love your website and all the articles contained herein. Susan Pescatore (LA BONNETERIE) Thanks! Local expat Susan is heavily into American Civil War reenactment. Visit her website at
I see you mention "Heartbeat" in this weeks news report. You might be interested to know that the newest episode of Heartbeat, where Nick and his new wife move to Canada, was filmed here in Cochrane, where I live.

If you go to you can see a couple of snapshots, one is of my two kids with Nick. Damn, he's good looking!

Melanie McCluskey

I prefer his flaxen-haired spouse Jo myself!


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