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Issue number 40Monday the 20th of October 1997

Crowds converged from all directions on Manchester city centre to enjoy the fine weather.

The Imperial War Museum is to have a new outpost by the Manchester Ship Canal. The location for the 40 million development is Trafford Park, just across the water from the Lowry Centre, currently under construction on the Salford side of the former docks.

The design of the new building has aroused controversy due to its bold silhouette, which will radically change the skyline to the west of Manchester. War is symbolised by a massive globe, broken into huge fragments, or, in the words of the architect, Daniel Liebeskind, "shards". At night, there will be projections onto the white coloured surface of the structure, which, according to Liebeskind, will have a "pearl luminosity". The museum will bring prosperity to the area, and further enhance the Ship Canal as a major feature of the city.

In the centre of Manchester on Tuesday, the building housing the famous Yang Sing Restaurant caught fire. Lunchtime onlookers, including myself, stood in awe as flames lapped from the top of the building, and a plume of thick black smoke rose high above the city centre (left). The fire apparently started in the basement, and quickly worked its way right up to the top floor. It didn't take long for Manchester's firefighters to bring it under control. Only two people suffered minor injuries. The owners of the restaurant, one of the city's grandest, are now looking for an alternative venue - the Town Hall is a possibility - it offers sufficient space, and the Council have offered their assistance. Fifty years ago there was a potentially serious fire at a site belonging to Manchester University.

The Shambles, currently waiting to be dismantled and re-erected next to the Corn Exchange, is at the centre of controversy. Many people, including representatives of the Civic Society, are opposed to Manchester's one remaining medieval building being uprooted from its historic location. Some feel so strongly they have left flowers in the doorway (right), to express their sadness the building's impending fate. A Civic Society member has drawn up an alternative plan, which revives the 18th century street layout. A reprieve seems unlikely now, but while the building still stands, the "Save Our Shambles" campaign will continue.

There has been a fall in crime rates in the region - in Manchester it was 6%, Lancashire 5% and Cheshire 8%. Nevertheless, crime stories continue to dominate the local headlines. There was a bizarre development in the case of the missing schoolboy Jamie Lavis this week. Darren Vickers, driver of the bus on which Jamie was last seen, has been arrested and charged with abduction. When the boy first disappeared, Vickers visited Jamie's family, and apparently tried to support the family. Then he came under police suspicion and was questioned, but without charge. Now he is in custody, but police have stressed he has not been charged with the boy's murder. It all sounds like the stuff of police thrillers. Police are still looking for clues, and have switched the search to south Manchester area. Let's hope for sake of Jamie's parents, the uncertainty will soon be brought to an end.

The trial of Louise Woodward, the nanny from Elton, near Liverpool, charged in Boston with the murder of a baby, is being followed very closely here. BBC Northwest Tonight's Stuart Flinders is reporting live from outside the court. Teachers and pupils from her school have flown over to plead in her defence. Even OJ Simpson is watching the trial, and has said she ought to be given "the benefit of the doubt". To me, she seems an unlikely murderer, and appears to be caught up in a set of very unfortunate circumstances. The trial is scheduled to end next week.

Is there anyone out there in Boston who can give some local feedback?

The words "sex beast" appeared again on the Evening News stands on Friday - this time in reference to an attack in the Gatley area, which was followed by another shortly after. The first victim managed to struggle free and escape, but the second was raped. Police think that the same man may well be responsible for both attacks.

Police in the region are caught up in controversy thanks to a World in Action programme screened this evening showing home video footage of members of the Lancashire constabulary being entertained by a stripper on police property. Commentators believe there is a link between such behaviour and sexist treatment of both women police officers and female members of the public. 50 years ago, Salford got its first women police officers. Read about it in Manchester Eyewitness 1947.

There has been a meningitis outbreak among students in residence at a hall belonging to Salford University. All the students at Oaklands Hall are to be immunised after two young people were taken to hospital suffering from the disease. Now that winter is closing in, many old and infirm people are being given flu innoculations. The weather has certainly turned cold today, in sharp contrast with the weekend, which was gloriously sunny and warm.

Many people went out of the city to Greater Manchester's wonderful parks and gardens to enjoy the good weather.

In the city centre it was like summer again, and St Anne's Square was full of people, including many Mancunian girls in daringly unseasonal outfits. Street performers provided continental style entertainment for the crowds. The night life was especially busy. All in all, it greatly impressed Eyewitness in Manchester reader Ian Yates, over here for a short visit, and who I met up with over the weekend.

Earlier in the week, it was gloomy, with mist fog and drizzle. Coming back to tonight, the temperature is going to fall to 39 degrees fahrenheit, four degrees celsius, causing ground frost. Daytime temperatures tomorrow should be around the 54/12 mark.

I have acquired some interesting pictures of old industrial Manchester. Click here to see them.

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke


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