Rainswept Britain October 1998

RAIN, RAIN AND MORE RAIN, THEN HAIL - It never seems to stop - October will go down in records as the wettest month for years! See also my six drizzly car windscreen views of Oxford Road. The forecast: Scattered showers, some heavy! Current EWM temperature 43 degrees fahrenheit - 6 degrees celsius. Next scheduled update: Monday night.

Hail over Hale!  Hale storm Thursday 29 October


Rainy Manchester collage

IT'S BEEN A RAIN AND WIND-SWEPT WEEKEND ROUND HERE, and now that the clocks have been put back by one hour, the afternoons have suddenly got darker. But I'll start on a lighter note...

A MANCHESTER MAN WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH AN AMERICAN WOMAN ON THE INTERNET AND LATER MARRIED HER is now to donate a kidney to her. Ian Fleming married Teresa in Pennsylvania on September 19th after a 12-month courtship via e-mail. Teresa unfortunately suffers from kidney problems, and needs dialysis. It was only after their wedding that they discovered that Ian is a perfect match for her - and soon he'll be having an operation to donate a kidney. Ian's parents Sylvia and Brian live in Newton Heath, so here's a photo taken on my recent visit there. If you're out there, Ian, please let us know how you're getting on!

Parish Church Newton Heath

NINE OUT OF TEN POLICE STATIONS in Greater Manchester are to be closed outside normal office hours, under proposals put forward by Chief Constable David Wilmot. It's part of a cost-saving plan which also calls for the shedding of 220 civilian support jobs. The reason given by the police, as I understand it, for reducing walk-in facilities, is that nowadays, they use mobile facilities like police vans, and use radio & phone more extensively than they did in the past. But critics regret the loss of old-fashioned face-to-face police contact, especially out of hours, and even today, not everyone is on the phone. Greater Manchester Police have to move with the times, I suppose, but I still miss the old-fashioned British bobby helmets, still worn by forces in other parts of the country.

MOST NURSES FEEL SAFER IN THE STREET THAN IN THEIR OWN HOSPITALS. This alarming state of affairs is the subject of ITV/Granada's World In Action programme, screened this evening. Charge nurse Steve Walker appears in the programme. He planted a secret camera to film incidents at Hope Hospital's Accident and Emergency Department where he works. "Nurses have been punched, kicked, bitten and spat on. I was punched 18 months ago by a patient. He just got off with a fine."

Recently in a local pub, we got talking to a security guard who works at a well-known Manchester hospital. We were amazed at what he told us: All doors are locked at night except for the Accident and Emergency entrance - The worst times are at the weekend, after the pubs close. "Loony" behaviour tends to peak at the full moon, he told us. I was in Stepping Hill Hospital around 30 years ago for an appendicitis operation, and don't remember seeing any security guards there. Nowadays, you'll find them at DSS (Department of Social Security) offices, schools, colleges and university halls of residences as well as hospitals. No wonder there are adverts on the bus for security personnel. I don't think I'm cut out for the job!

CORONATION STREET HAS BEEN SCRAPING ROUND IN THE GUTTER for plots - That's the opinion of Jean Alexander, who played Hilda Ogden for 24 years. Other ex-stars including Peter Baldwin/Derek Wilton, Bill Waddington/Percy Sugden and Thelma Barlow/Mavis have voiced criticism. Too much sex, drinking and violence are the main complaints. Despite all this, the programme attracts in excess of 16m viewers, though I'm not one of them!

PLANES BELONGING TO AN ICELANDIC-BASED charter company operating from Manchester, have been grounded after CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) officials told them to stop flying after a disagreement over maintenance standards. Air Atlanta and CAA officials met today to resolve the dispute, but passengers on a Peach Air aircraft, leased from Air Atlanta, bound for Tenerife, had to wait while another plane was found. Record numbers of people have been jetting out of Manchester for the school half term, to escape the bad weather.

WORK ON THE SECOND RUNWAY PROCEEDS, and not much has been heard about protesters at Arthur's Wood, part of Styal Country Park, affected by the new runway. But critics of aviation protested last week when Professor Callum Thomas, head of environmental solutions at Manchester Airport, was appointed as a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University. The professorial chair in sustainable aviation is funded by Manchester Airport, but Green activists suspect a conflict of interests. Professor Thomas emphasises that the research will be independent.

AND AIRPORT OFFICIALS WERE CALLED HYPOCRITES for trying to block the expansion plans of the Romper Inn, which I believe is the most southerly pub inside the Manchester City Council boundary - it's situated just south of the Airport, near the A538. The Airport objected to the pub's modest expansion plans as they might damage the Bollin Valley's "special landscape status". But a spokesman for Brewers Greenalls said this was "rich" as the Airport have buried part of the River Bollin under the new runway. And anti-R2 activist Geoff Gazzard said: "The idea that the airport is a guardian of the environment is laughable". To offset the impact of the runway on the environment, the Airport say they are putting back more ponds and trees than before, and many other efforts are highlighted, including special tunnels to allow wildlife to move from one side of the runway to the other.

AS I WRITE I CAN HEAR LOUD BANGS echoing around the neighbourhood - they sound like gunshots, but it fact it's youngsters letting off fireworks - they've been doing so for the past couple of weeks, even though Bonfire Night is still quite a few days off. South Manchester features in the tv programme Here and Now, being broadcast live at the moment from the BBC studios on Oxford Road. On the Internet, they say, it's possible to find instructions on how to make home made fireworks. 500 people a year are injured by home-made fireworks, and many children suffer horrific injuries through shop-bought fireworks. A 14-year old boy from Old Trafford suffered burns while playing with a firework last Tuesday. Last year, less people were injured by fireworks than the year before, but half of them were children. The message has to be: Take care.


Market St in rain

MANCHESTER'S INFAMOUS ROCKSTARS have been in the news over the past few days. On Friday, Ian Brown, formerly of the Stone Roses, was sent to prison for four months for causing a disturbance on a plane. He's going to appeal against the decision. And that other "bad boy" Noel Gallagher of Oasis, no strangers to in-flight disruptive behaviour , said he'd given up drugs as they're "boring". Setting a good example, at last! But ginger-haired Mick Hucknall should be "dunked" - that's the result of Key 103's phone in poll - I featured the billboard poster last week. Perhaps that other famous ginger nut Chris Evans, who used to present the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show from Manchester, should be dunked - he decided to ban Cliff Richard records from 240 Virgin Radio stations. He can do this, as he owns them. In Tuesday's MEN poll, 94% of readers said Cliff shoudn't be banned.

AN OUT OF THIS WORLD POP EVENT TOOK PLACE AT JODRELL BANK RADIO TELESCOPE not the weekend just gone, but the one before. Stars included Run DMC and Republica and Space. But L Carson of Manchester wasn't impressed with the deodorant advert that was projected onto the giant size dish, as featured in last Monday's MEN. "That says a great deal about our national pride, doesn't it?" he wrote to Postbag. But if funds raised are put directly into astronomical research, why not?

ROCHDALE'S BEST LOVED STAR GRACIE FIELDS was born one hundred years ago, and to celebrate the event, a ceremony was held, attended by comedy actors Norman Wisdom, John Inman and comedian Frank Carson among others. A plaque commissioned by the charity Comic Heritage was unveiled, bearing the words: "Dame Gracie Fields 1898 -1979 'Our Gracie' - Comic Heritage". Celebrations to mark neighbouring Oldham's 150th anniversary were officially launched last Tuesday.

MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL has come up with some innovative ideas to bring people into the City Centre this Christmas. Today, they announced the introduction of "Rangers" who will patrol the centre and give helpful advice to shoppers. I was in town today, but I didn't see any. It'll be a white Christmas this year in Manchester - they're bringing in "real" snow and laying it on Albert Square, where there'll be a ski slope. The snow is provided by a company who use a "snow machine" it sprays air, water and liquid nitrogen under pressure. Father Christmas will be peering over the roof of the Town Hall this year and waving, rather than climbing up the tower, as he did in previous years.

Cook St BreweryTHERE WILL BE SNOW IN ABUNDANCE at the SnoWorld complex, which is to be built on the 17 acre site in Salford across the river Irwell from Granada Studios. It will have two ski slopes, a 24 screen cinema, sports facilities, bars, restaurants and shops. But a disused canal will have to be filled in - the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal Society objected, but Salford city councillors gave the go-ahead for the 60m complex. In the picture is another development not far from the Irwell, - the conversion of that famous Salford landmark, Threlfall's Cook St Brewery, but not much seems to be happening there at the moment... Does anyone know what's going on?

A HUGE NEW 100m hotel, office and residential complex is to be built next to the Old Trafford ground. It will be shaped like a giant ship, and the tower will be Manchester's tallest building. But the Trafford Park mural painted by Walter Kershaw will have to go -and presumably the warehouse building it's painted on. I'll have to get a photo the next time I'm there. And Bolton Wanderer's Reebok Stadium near Horwich is one of five buildings chosen for the British Construction Industry's 1998 Building Award.

FOOTBALL WORLD, A FUTURISTIC international football centre may be built near the Trafford Centre. It was originally going to be built in Sheffield, but if all goes will, it will be sited near the regional sports complex being built near Dumplington. Talking of Dumplington, jams in and around the giant shopping centre have been horrendous lately - Jo Blakeway, the chatty radio reporter who reports on "views of the queues" from a plane, advised rush-hour drivers to avoid the area.

SAM'S CHOP-HOUSE IS TO CLOSE - I was in there one lunchtime recently, unaware that the chop was about to fall on one of Manchester's oldest eating establishments. It's situated in a basement on Back Pool Fold, just off Cross Street. The place has a feel of a gentlemens club, and is mentioned by tour guides on account of its long history and olde worlde charm. But competition from trendier places, whether continental-style cafe bars or American diners, has led to the demise of a yet another genuine piece of Old England in the centre of Manchester. Mr Thomas's Chop House, on nearby Cross Street will, I trust, be continuing as normal.

EXTREME WEATHER BROUGHT FLOODING AND DISRUPTION to the Manchester area over the weekend. The first wave of rain arrived while I was out taking photos in Salford on Friday - after a sunny day with blue skies, droplets started to fall around 5.45 and turned into a downpour. On Saturday there was more heavy rain and gale force winds. There was an emergency alert in Rawtenstall, as the River Irwell threatened to burst its banks, but this didn't happen. The Mersey was high and flowing furiously at Northenden on Saturday afternoon. Downstream, the road from Carrington to Flixton was reported closed for a while. The Bollin at Wilmslow was high too. 50 years ago, parts of Salford suffered regular flooding - in the 1950's the river was rerouted and high banks were built - you can see them in the picture below. The Mersey between Stockport and the Ship Canal was also secured in this way, so flooding isn't as big a problem as it used to be. Today the weather was changeable - sun then rain, then sun again. Things are calm now, and the EWM temperature is 45/7 degrees.

River Irwell, Salford


From: J Burns
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 12:03:21 -0500
Subject: New Picture of Hyde from Werneth Low

Dear Aidan,
    Sorry you have had the 'flu - miserable, particularly at this time of year. I really missed your updates.
    Thanks so much for the new picture of Hyde from Werneth Low. I guess you used a "zoom" and I just can't get my perspective right - I don't recognize anything! Have a feeling I've been away too long which makes me feel sad. Anyway, thanks again.             JB

It's often difficult to recognise a place when viewed through a powerful zoom lens, but you should be able to make out Hyde Town Hall clock tower. More photos from Hyde soon

Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 07:34:37 -0800
From: Ken Steele
Subject: Whit walks.

Welcome back, we missed you.
Years ago the city used to come to a halt for large parts of the whitsuntide weekend for the whit walk processions. Different religous denominations used to walk in procession through the city with banners and bands on the Friday, Sunday and Monday. The processions would take up several hours to go past and the crowds who came to watch were unbelievable.
Does this still go on?
I remember reading in an exported copy of the M/C evening news that someone was going to make an archive video of the event. Do you know if this is still available from anywhere?
Keep up the good work.
Ken Steele

The Whit Walks no longer take place. There are books and videos - I believe books may be available soon in the Manchester Online shop. More info on these and other books/videos soon.

From: Richard Dougherty
Subject: Thanks
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 13:54:01 +0100

Thanks for the Failsworth pictures, you just managed to miss my mother in laws house :).

All the best and thanks again


You're welcome!

Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 10:20:31 -0700
From: Margaret Dwyer
Subject: Taylor Caldwell

Do you have any background history on Taylor Caldwell, the famous writer who was originally from Manchester before coming to the states? Maybe she should be included in Famous Manchester people.

Thank you Margaret Dwyer

I'm not familiar with her. Does anyone else have any information? I'll have a look in the Central Reference Library.

Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 17:28:17 +0100
From: Steve
Subject: Salford photies

Hello Aidan,

Have you got any pictures of downtown Salford skyline ? Especially my block of flats just behind Renault Manchester.
If you have...are they available on the web?
If they are...could you please tell me the URL for them.

Is that your block above in the second River Irwell picture?

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
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