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Newsletter 1997 Week 51Monday the 22nd of December

With Christmas only 41 shopping hours away, the city centre has been thronged with people making their last minute purchases. It's been the same story at out of town shopping complexes such as Tesco in Prestwich and Sainsbury's at Cheadle, which are staying open through the night until 5pm on Christmas Eve. Those who prefer to stay at home can shop online via a new website:

And Manchester's Arndale Shopping centre got some festive good news today when Prudential announced they would purchase the centre from P&O for 325m. The 15 acre Arndale Centre, whose infamous yellow tiles are shortly to be removed, has 230 shops and is said to be visited by 750,000 shoppers a week.

Details of the city centre's new civic space, Exchange Square, were also given in the news today. The square will occupy the area in front of the Corn Exchange at the intersection of Cannon Street and Corporation Street - just near where the IRA bomb went off a year and a half ago.

Work has started on the dismantling of the Old Shambles. The contractors say the buildings will be reconstructed exactly as before, crooked bits and all, but the Civic Society, and other other groups critical of the plan, say the pubs should have been left in their historic location. 9 miles south of Manchester city centre, another half-timbered house standing in the path of the city's economic expansion, is being dismantled and moved. See it how it was "then" and how it looks "now".

A new railway line has been built from the existing airport line, leading to a railhead at the top of the Second Runway site, allowing stone to be transported by train directly from quarries in Derbyshire. The link will keep a large number of lorries off the road, and is one of the many eco-friendly aspects of the R2 plan - or so say the Airport authorities. Environmental campaigners continue their criticism of the runway, complaining on BBC GMR radio this week about contractors who have carelessly destroyed hedgerows.

One thing is certain: Runway 2 is well under way, and barring world economic collapse or an act of God, will be fully operational within a couple of years.

Crime figures go down at Christmas - so say the statistics - but in the run up to the festive period, two horrific incidents ocurred in the Manchester area this weekend: In Bolton, an Asian taxi driver fleeing on foot from passengers said to be threatening him, was knocked down by a car and killed. Dean Kirkman of Bolton is in police custody in connection with the death.

And after an incident in Wythenshawe Park, during which a 12 year old girl was drugged with alcohol and raped, Wythenshawe resident Kevin Hunt has appeared before magistrates, and will be kept in custody over Christmas.

On the railings of Whitworth Park, next to the art gallery, origami birds in plastic bags have been left by Chinese compatriots in memory of the Taiwanese student murdered there a couple of weeks ago.

The weather in the past seven days has varied from seasonally freezing to mild and wet. Another short sharp cold spell in the middle of the week brought a band of snow from the south. But the white stuff had hardly fallen on Cheshire and Lancashire when it thawed - and that's the last we'll be seeing until well after Christmas. Yesterday was foggy - quite thick on the M56 and M62, but today was clear and mild again. As I write, it's drizzly and cool outside and the temperature is 5 degrees celsius, 41 fahrenheit.

That news I was expecting hasn't come - yet. But don't worry, as long as my Macintosh computer and Nikon scanner continue to serve me - I will go on doing Eyewitness in Manchester! So have a very pleasant Christmas week, wherever you are, and don't forget to download and print your "Then and Now" Manchester Christmas card (old picture courtesy of the Manchester Transport Museum) available this week only.

50 years ago this week there was an inquest into the train crash which nearly sent Victoria Station up in smoke. Also find out how many transatlantic telephone calls were made from the Manchester area - more than can be counted on one hand or less? Find out in Manchester Eyewitness 1947.

  • The IRA lorry bombers are jailed for 62 years. They failed, but those who caused the Manchester bomb are still free
  • .
  • The Labour Party come under constant fire for their plans to reform Welfare payments
  • Passenger planes crash in Indonesia and Greece
  • President Clinton visits Sarajevo
Have a look at the BBC for today's UK and world news.
MANCHESTER PUB QUIZ sponsored by Vini Maguire (
Last week's mystery pub was Barça - owned by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. The bar is built under a railway arch, and a pint of Hoegaarden - the Belgian wheat beer - costs 3. The Spanish ambience isn't very noticeable at the moment, in the cold and rain!

The Rain in Spain stays mainly on the Plain - or moves across the Bay of Biscay to Manchester - but this week's pub isn't on a plain, despite the name, in fact it's in a hollow next to Oxford Road - with the street of that name up a slope on one side, and the station up some steps on the other. But what's it called? Answers by e-mail please!


Hello Aidan,

Well, the pub belongs to Mick Hucknall but I can't remember the name. Another excellent newsletter this week. I look forward to reading your Civic Society page. Even though there is another week before the big day, I would like to wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas and may 1998 bring you many blessings. Thank you for all the hard work you have put into your Newsletter this year, I'm sure you have made us all better for it and I hope the news you are waiting for is the news you wanted to hear. To all expat Mancunians, wherever you are, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Manchester For Ever!

Best wishes,

Lynda and Bernard Youel and family


Can you tell me if there is still a tiled map of Lancashire on a wall in Victoria Station?

Rich Cook

Yes, there is. Have a look at it via Manchester Eyewitness 1947

All my very best wishes to you and all the expat Mancunians. Have a safe and happy time and once again our sincere thanks to you for maintaining a link to the city of our birth and to our loved ones back home. God bless.

Stan Mc Tighe

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
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