Rebuilding Manchester was written by Euan Kellie. It’s a full colour, hardback edition with 255 pages, 467 images and graphics, of which 384 are photographs. 105 of those photos are mine. Over 40 of them are displayed at half to full page. My Manchester Mega-Photo is on the cover.
Rebuilding Manchester tells the story of how Manchester responded after a massive IRA terrorist bomb devastated a large section of the city centre on 15 June 1996. Euan has assembled a fascinating selection of photos taken just after the explosion. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to witness the immediate aftermath as I didn’t arrive back from teaching abroad until the 15th of July of that year.
From the 16th of July, 1996 onwards I started to document the city and in 1997 set up my website Eyewitness in Manchester, later published under the aidan.co.uk domain and from 1998 on the embryonic Manchester Evening News website. Euan has included a good number of the photos I took during the nineties as well as many taken up to the publication year of 2010.
There are 13 chapters or sections including the introduction written by Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council. He was at the launch of the book at Beluga Bar just next to the town hall.
Euan Kellie and Sir Howard Bernstein at launch event 1 July 10
Other chapters focus on commercial, residential, historic and retail. The penultimate chapter looks to the future.
Most fascinating – and alarming – are drawings from the 1945 City of Manchester Plan, which proposed the demolition of Alfred Waterhouse’s neo-gothic town hall as well as most other buildings in the city centre (though not the town hall extension or the Central Library).
The book addresses that frequent remark that people like to make, namely that the IRA did Manchester a great favour by exploding the bomb. I disagree totally with this statement. From my reading of the book it seems clear that the bomb accelerated a process of regeneration that was already underway, but it also caused huge destruction and could have taken the lives of hundreds of Mancunians if it had gone off prematurely.
Euan is a chartered surveyer and has worked in the property industry both in the public and private sector. So as well as observing, he has played an active role in the process himself. He gives an industry insider’s point of view but the account is very readable and uses only a minimal amount of planning and development jargon.
I feel very proud to have been able to contribute more than a quarter of the photos in the book, many displayed at larger size, occupying both half pages and full pages. Apart from the Manchester Mega-Photo on the cover, front and rear, the image of mine that seems most striking is the night view of the Civil Justice Centre on page 90.
Rebuilding Manchester is an attractive coffee table book you can enjoy dipping into again and again, studying the photos and perusing all the maps, charts and diagrams. But it’s also an authoritative account of a key phase in the development of Manchester. In years to come people will refer to Rebuilding Manchester to get an accurate view of this period and I’m glad that many of the photos they will be looking at were taken by me!
Euan’s website www.rebuildingmanchester.co.uk remains his original oeuvre, the one that he founded around the same time as I began publishing my own Eyewitness in Manchester site.
If you’re interested in a copy of Rebuilding Manchester that has been signed by me, please contact.