Urban Fantasies In Downtown Manchester

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This is the wheel that was, aka the Wheel of Manchester, a version of the London Eye, which was sited in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester until  2015 when its licence with the City Council expired. This photo was taken in April of that year. It finally came down in the following June. I’m not sure what my camera was doing to produce the washed-out, somewhat retro look, but I rather like it. In fact everything about it says ‘urban’ to me – the sense of detachment/isolation/alienation/coldness; an environment overwrought to the extent of being pointless.

You can tell I’m a country lass.

Though having said that, generations of my maternal ancestors worked in the Manchester cotton trade that created the city and all its wealth: hand loom weavers, yarn winders, blouse finishers, machine weavers, bleachers, fustian cutters, fly and spindle manufacturers, cotton merchants and one mill owner. And then there were the bricklayers who helped build the place. So perhaps, after all, I do have some investment there – at the cellular level.

Here are more odd photos taken on that visit…

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Last walls standing: the facades of the old wholesale fish market, preserved as the perimeter entrances to an apartment block courtyard garden.

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Not sure what’s going on here – Steam Punk meets Mary Poppins the musical?

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A tribute to city high-rise window cleaners perhaps?

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The Bridgewater Hall international concert venue. We were there to see Buena Vista Social Club on their farewell tour.

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Affleck’s in the Northern Quarter – an indoor market specialising in alternative clothing and music and retro-gaming

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The Palace Hotel where we were staying (now The Principal Manchester). It was a long climb to find our room in the converted former Refuge Assurance Office built between 1891-1895.

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Lens-Artists: Urban environments  Sofia has set the theme this week. Please pay her a visit.

35 thoughts on “Urban Fantasies In Downtown Manchester

  1. It’s not a city that’s ever reached out to me, Tish, but I’ve mostly only seen it from the coach, coming or going. I like your Steampunk offering though, and the pipeleaner window cleaners.

    1. I nearly went to Manchester Uni so I remember visiting then. So yes, it’s undergone huge changes and is v. exciting – if you are in the right frame of mind. The Northern Quarter is especially arty and alternative.

      1. The Northern Quarter wasn’t even dreamed of back in the day, and the city centre these days, for all many of the older buildings are the same, is unrecognisable.

  2. I love those first two shots and the window washer tribute sculpture? is a hoot. I can appreciate photos of the city while being glad I’m not in any of them or at least for long. We don’t live in the country but the suburbs are much more relaxing. 🙂

  3. LOL Tish, you’ve got a bit of the cynic in you I see!!! I was thinking Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but maybe Mary Poppins too? Loved the window washers. One thing for sure, your post will be a first Manchester visit for many of us including yours truly

  4. You have a great eye for urban settings, even if you are a country girl. Never been to Manchester myself but it looks interesting. I love the one of the old fish market, or what’s left of it (never quite understood why they do that, leave a tiny bit behind when they clearly couldn’t care less about the building itself) and also the window cleaners. Great finds all, and I might get to Manchester after all.

  5. Manchester isn’t a city I’ve ever warmed to but you’ve captured some fascinating details of art and architecture here. I’m glad those old gates were saved and repurposed – they are lovely!

  6. I don’t know what was going on with your camera either, but it produced some wonderful effects along with your eye for detail! Love the fish market wall. I used to visit Manchester fairly regularly when I was teaching as I had exam meetings there, but never really had a look around – more of in and out as quickly as possible, but I do recollect some interesting Victorian buildings along my bus route to the university. And I also remember taking my boys to the Science Museum on a tram many years ago. As a Yorkshire lass though my cities were mainly confined to Wakefield, Leeds and Sheffield.

    1. There is some amazing architecture – Victorian onwards. And lots of rescuscitation of areas along the canal basin that runs through the city. And yes, the museums are pretty exceptional.

  7. Never been there, but WOW how I loved your choices here! All of them just gorgeous. Loved the steam punk and the Wheel of Manchester especially.

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