This is an archived website and is no longer updated. Click here to go to the home page
EWM Home Page | Aidan O'Rourke on Twitter and Facebook | Contact
click to go to Eyewitness in Manchester home page 2000

Umist MSS Building from Downing Street


Under the Mancunian Way at Upper Brook Street


The new "super-roundabout" at Chester Road




THE MANCUNIAN WAY (A57M) is a section of motorway with flyovers, situated just to the south of Manchester city centre. It's familiar to thousands of motorists who drive along it every day. With some of the hairiest sliproads and best views of the city, driving on the Mancunian Way is often quite an experience.

I created a videoclip recording a drive along the Mancunian Way in 2000. Unfortunately the videoclip is no longer available. More on the Mancunian Way in the September 2004 edition of Eyewitness in Manchester.

It was completed in 1968, forming part of an inner ring road scheme which was never completed as planned. It's only now that the inner ring road around the city centre is finally being built, diverting huge amounts of traffic away from city centre roads, particularly Deansgate.

The curved concrete design, with its tapered pillars reminiscent of a 1960's coffee table, was applauded at the time of construction - Next to the bridge at Upper Brook Street you'll find a plaque bearing the words "Concrete Society Award 1968". Those were crazy times, it seems to us now. Also under construction at that time were the disastrous Hulme Crescents, which were finally demolished in the mid 1990's.

Another interesting feature of the Mancunian Way is an eastbound exit sliproad which comes to an abrupt halt at the Brook Street mini-roundabout. After construction of the Mancunian Way had commenced, someone, somewhere appears to have changed their mind about Princess Street/Upper Brook Street, deciding it was to be a south bound one-way street, making the north bound slip road unnecessary. Yes, they certainly knew how to make a mess of things in those days. Today, the cut-off slip road serves as a site for an advertisement hoarding.

In May 1999, environmental protesters climbed the overhead gantry and daubed the signs with paint. They were protesting against the use of cars and caused major traffic jams. In March 2000 the daubed sign still hasn't been replaced.

At either end of the Mancunian Way, new features have been added - at the western end, coming from the A57 Regent Road Salford, a new wider section has recently been opened, crossing over the Bridgewater Canal and River Irwell, and under the railway and Metrolink line. In the mid-1990's, the rickety old flyover at the Hulme roundabout (A556 Chester Road) was removed and replaced by a new 'super-roundabout' and underpass.

At the eastern end, at Downing Street (A6 leading to Stockport Road), a new flyover was opened in 1994, built in solid contemporary style with cylindrical pillars. The road continues here, passing under the Manchester to Stockport railway viaduct

Our drive takes us in an easterly direction, starting at the section between Chester Road (A556) and Princess Rd (A5103). We drive up onto the flyover, which curves gently to the left, taking us towards the reddish brown block belonging to Manchester Polytechnic on the right. It's about 4.50pm and we can see the shadow of the car in front of us.
The Mancunian Way cuts through the campus of Manchester Metropolitan University - another of its buildings is on the left as we cross over Oxford Road The road starts to go downhill. On the right we see the recently renovated flats along Grosvenor Street, Chorton on Medlock and on the left, the Maths & Social Sciences Building. UMIST.
Now driving up and over the new flyover, crossing Downing St/Stockport Rd, we see the end of the British Telecom building on the left and just beyond it, the old warehouse currently used as studio space by Manchester artists.
The road goes downhill again and snakes gently to the right and left. We pass industrial buildings on either side and come to the railway viaduct of the Manchester to London railway line, constructed in 1842, where we come to a halt. After the viaduct it's a right turn for the A635 east to Ashton or straight on to Great Ancoats Street for all routes north.

There are great views over the south city centre from the Mancunian Way, but it's probably better to keep your eyes on the road if you're behind the wheel! Happy driving.


Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
Eyewitness in Manchester Home Page | Aidan O'Rourke on Twitter and Facebook | Contact