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The Newsletter, Week 48Monday the 1st of December 1997

Planet Hollywood comes to Manchester - That was the news on Wednesday when developers announced that the Great Northern Railway Goods warehouse (left), currently used as a car park, is to be converted into "The Great Northern Experience", a brand new leisure complex with a varied and exciting mixture of attractions, including a 140,000 square foot cinema and a Planet Hollywood dining complex. A new piazza will be created at the corner of Peter Street and Deansgate. The development is to open in late 1999.

On the same day, a planning application was unveiled for a new 228 bed hotel development on the corner of Oxford Street and Portland Street.

So as Manchester City Centre's development boom continues, just a few miles to the south west, the new mega-shopping mall in Dumplington, alias the Trafford Centre, is going to suck the life out of towns all over the north west - at least that was the conclusion of the "Project Sunrise Report", commissioned by the Association of Town Centre Management. Altrincham, Stockport, Warrington, Wigan, Ashton-under-Lyne and other towns will lose out, as people get into their cars and drive on the M62 to the Trafford Centre, which has 11,000 free parking spaces. A Metrolink line will also be built, but not in time for the opening next year.

So will shoppers desert the charms of Manchester City Centre, as pictured above, for the glitzy, American-style newcomer? According to the report, Manchester city centre will only lose out by 5%, and other commentators predict that after an initial honeymoon period, shoppers will return to their local shops.

As far as I'm concerned, mega-malls are great, but they'll never supplant the varied attractions and real historic character of Manchester and surrounding towns. Some councils, including Manchester, originally opposed the Trafford Centre, but in my opinion, competition can only raise the standard of shopping.

Have mega-shopping centres led to nearby "ghost towns" where you are? Please e-mail.

Students in Manchester have been on their guard since the tragic killing of Chin Yu Chang, a student at UMIST (not Manchester Metropolitan University, as I erroneously reported last week). A sixteen year old youth was charged with the murder. Students have been advised to walk in groups at night, stay on the outside of the pavement and cross the street if any potentially dangerous looking characters appear (I've been doing this for years!).

A 92 bus was hijacked at Littleton Road, Salford on Tuesday by a man apparently armed with a gun. He ordered the driver and passengers off and drove off in the First Bus Greater Manchester double decker. The driver alerted the police using the emergency alarm system, and the police followed the bus, which hit cars and another bus at Cheetham Hill Road. Police said that "a man" (I presume they mean the the man who hijacked the bus) was arrested. Onlookers said it was a miracle that no-one was injured. The badly damaged bus was taken to Queens Road garage.

At the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport - located in the former bus depot at the top of Queens Road - there was a bus event yesterday, and a late-sixties Leigh Corporation double decker was brought out of retirement to ferry people between the Museum and New Century Hall, Corporation Street, where a model railway exhibition was held.

Did any of you go to school on a bus like this?

There were problems in the air today when a British Airways Boeing 767 en route to New York had to return to Manchester Airport after a warning light came on in the cockpit. In an uncanny repetition of the Knock flight a couple of months ago, the plane circled over the north west, undercarriage down, for three hours before landing safely.

A court heard today how an Irishman who was given 6000 by a business associate to buy a steamroller, spent the money on Guinness and horse racing. James Long, from Levenshulme, said he would repay the debt using earnings from work as a construction worker on the Second Runway. Sentencing was adjourned to see if he was lying. If he is, he may face a prison sentence.

Work on the runway is proceeding steadily - the new road layout on the Wilmslow side of the tunnel has been put in place, and the first concrete foundations are starting to appear.

Lottery money has helped various causes in the Manchester area this week: The Whitworth Art Gallery were able to buy a painting by Alexander Cozens for more than 200,000 - the Lottery award paid for three quarters of the cost, and the rest came from grants. Lottery money will also pay for renovations to Holy Trinity Church, Bardsley and All Saints, Newton Heath..

And at Sotheby's, London, a painting by Salford artists LS Lowry sold for 386,500 to an anonymous bidder.

The recent mild spell has come to an end, with sub-zero temperatures outside tonight. Low pressure and northerly winds are causing the seasonal conditions. There was rain in Manchester this afternoon, though by 4 o'clock, the sky was clear.

Fifty years ago it was cold too, even colder than today. Private cars were about to be garaged indefinitely - the basic petrol ration had been withdrawn. See Manchester Eyewitness 1947, which this week includes two pictures.

  • Fox hunting may be banned by the millenium, after a large number of MP's voted in favour of an anti-hunting bill
  • Michael Hutchence of INXS was cremated.
Have a look at the BBC for today's UK and world news.

MANCHESTER PUB QUIZ sponsored by Vini Maguire (
Duncan Corns, a Salford expat currently working in the beautiful city of Prague, correctly named last week's pub, which was of course, the Sawyer's Arms, which stands on the corner of Quay Street and Deansgate.

This week's establishment is small on the outside, but big on character and traditional charm on the inside. I was there last week and found the bar staff to be exceptionally friendly. They also had great food and an interesting selection of ales. But can you guess the name? If there's anyone in Japan reading this, the name might sound familiar.

Yes, that was your clue!


From Duncan Corns in Prague:

This week's pub - The Sawyer's Arms

Keep up the good work, it's great to keep up with Manchester's news here in Prague.

It's a shame it's taking the M.E.N. so long to start up their page, lagging behind the Bolton Evening News in fact!

Duncan Corns

The Evening News site is up and running. Take a look and tell me what you think! (AOR).

Hello Aidan, I`ve been living in Florida since 1993, I`m originally from Blackley. It`s my first time on the web and I am delighted to find your home page. I always get a bit homesick around this time of year, so its nice to know I can still experience Oxford Road in the rain when I feel the need!
Ann Marie Wood
Hey Aidan, I really enjoy your site , I just wanted to drop you a note and say thanks for your effort. I can really appreciate since I was born in the shadows of Maine Rd, and owned a toffee shop on Claremont Rd in the late sities. If you know where I could find some pics of Maine Rd or Rushholme from this era, I would really appreciate it ........Thanks
Pete Fanning
Maryland, USA

Look out for my new "Then and Now" photo features - coming soon on this website! (AOR)

Hi Aidan, I came across your page recently , and have become an avid reader. I hail from Manchester many years ago, 119972. I am now domiciled in Perth Western Australia. I have attached a pic of a group of Ex pat Mancunians, all living in WA with a brew your readers will recognise.

John Kellett cheers from the West coast of OZZ Manchester United Alaskan malamutes

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
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