Altrincham and Sale Located in the relatively wealthy South West outskirts of the city, Altrincham is a pleasant suburb of leafy avenues and fashionable bars and shops including Rackhams and Strada. To the east neighbouring Sale offers many attractions of its own, particularly of a sporting persuasion, with Sale Sharks Rugby Union Club and the popular Sale Water Park nearby offering all kinds of water sports from sailing to windsurfing.
Bolton and Bury On the Northern limits of the city, Bolton and Bury are traditional Lancashire towns with their own independent and distinctive personalities. Bolton has a bustling town centre with excellent shopping, culture and entertainment such as the Octagon Theatre. While for the tourist there is the quaint Victoriana of Last Drop Village and the attractive West Pennine Moors. Bury has one of the most popular and renowned weekly open air markets in the North of England and a proud sense of its past reflected in the East Lancashire Railway, Bury Art Gallery & Museum and many other historical attractions in the area.
Castlefield and Deansgate The regeneration of the Castlefield Basin has added an extra dimension to the already highly popular shopping and entertainment area of Deansgate (along with King Street & St Ann’s Square). In Castlefield, you can enjoy a quality meal at one of the city’s premier gastro-pubs such as The Ox or a pleasant drink at one of the ultra-fashionable bars on the Waterfront like Barca or Dukes 92. For family entertainment, there is the Granada Studios Tour and Museum of Science & Industry close by. Deansgate itself is home to some of the best shopping in Manchester from the famous Kendals department store to Waterstones Books, while King Street and St.Ann’s Square has in Hugo Boss and Emporio Armani some of the most exclusive names in fashion.
Chinatown Manchester has one of the largest ethnic Chinese populations in the country and Chinatown ‘ located just of Portland Street – is an expression of their place within the cultural diversity of the city. There are some superb restaurants, you could try the nationally renowned Yang Sing and New Emperor for example, while their art and culture is celebrated at the Chinese Arts Centre. The Chinese New Year Street Celebrations are considered a major annual event in the city’s social calendar.
City Centre The IRA bombing in 1996 has had a fundamental and generally positive effect on the city centre. The subsequent re-development has created a major shopping area to rival anywhere in the country. Showcase stores such as the largest Marks & Spencer in Europe, the wide-open spaces of Exchange Square and a refurbished Arndale Centre all help to create a perfect environment for the avid shopper. To the west, the administrative hub of the city is located in the area around St Peter’s Square and Albert Square where you can find the imposing Victorian gothic architecture of the Town Hall . Culturally G-Mex Centre and Bridgewater Hall are the places to enjoy all kinds of events from rock concerts to opera and classical recitals.
Didsbury, Chorlton and Withington Just a few miles South of the City Centre are some of the most fashionable and highly sought after residential areas in Manchester, the verdant environment and the superb eating, drinking and shopping largely creating this demand. Didsbury is home to some of the city’s best restaurants such as the Lime Tree and pubs like the Metropolitan. Chorlton has an equally cosmopolitan if slightly more bohemian character and you can enjoy urban café bar society on Wilbraham Road, with the Polar Bar, Purveyor, The Bar and Saints all in close proximity. Withington is a slightly more student-orientated area with a vibrant main Street that includes some excellent bars and shops including the popular Solomon Grundy.
Fallowfield, Rusholme and Whalley Range Close to the southern edge of the City Centre this area of Manchester is both one of the most culturally diverse and home to a large percentage of the city’s massive student population, these factors obviously shaping the unique character of the area. Fallowfield contains a number of University Halls of Residence and the many lively pubs and bars such as the Orange Grove reflect this, while Platt Park is an enjoyable focal point for local residents with its funfairs, fishing lake and regular events. Rusholme is famous for its large Asian and African-Caribbean community and the ‘Curry Mile’ with superb restaurants including the Sangam and Royal Darbar. Whalley Range is a place in transition, shaking off its previously tarnished image with a host of excellent new restaurants and bars opening up and an influx of more affluent new residents.
Gay Village Located west of Piccadilly and centred on the pleasant, pedestrianised Canal Street. Although obviously orientated towards ‘ and originally created for ‘ the gay community, the ‘Gay Village’ has an excellent range of mixed bars, restaurants and clubs – try Via Fossa, the exclusive Mash & Air eatery for superb food or Manchester’s first multi-million pound super-club Essential.
Northern Quarter This fashionable part of the City Centre is bounded by Piccadilly to the South and Ancoats to the North and contains some of the trendiest shops and live music bars like Fat City Records and Night and Day Cafe along with many fine old Victorian buildings housing many small media businesses and alternative ‘shopping centres’ from Afflecks Palace to the Coliseum with their jewellery stalls, tattoo parlours and second-hand clothes shops.
Old Trafford and Salford Home of some of the region’s most famous sporting institutions like Lancashire County Cricket Club and of course Manchester United Football Club. This whole area has been the subject of huge investment and re-development over the last few years with the most obvious example being the imposing Trafford Centre, a £600 million shopping, restaurant and recreational complex, including the only Selfridges & Co department store outside London. White City Retail Park is in Old Trafford, offering American-style bowling and eating while across the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford, the Lowry and Quays have brought a whole new sense of purpose to an area previously in decline.
Oxford Road This is an extremely busy thoroughfare into the heart of Manchester and most importantly, the city’s three main universities are located here. As well as the expected plethora of student friendly bars including Revolution and Sandbar, more traditional cultural pursuits are expressed at the recently renovated Manchester Museum, The Palace Theatre and the Cornerhouse art house cinema and gallery.
Rochdale, Oldham & Ashton The North Eastern sector of Manchester has been less touched by the overall economic and commercial regeneration of the city as a whole but still contains many places of interest, Portland Basin and Rochdale Pioneers Museum being good examples. The area also has the good fortune to be located close to the scenic foothills of the Pennines and Northern Peak District, a place of considerable beauty and highly popular with tourists.
Stockport, Cheadle & Wilmslow South Eastern Manchester is renown for its prosperity. Outlying and exceedingly affluent suburbs such as Bramhall, Marple and Prestbury being home to professional footballers and captains of industry attracted by the pleasant surrounding countryside, major transportation links and location conveniently close to Manchester International Airport. Stockport itself is a busy, town with a large central shopping center and plenty of excellent places to eat, drink and stay including the Britannia Hotel. Cheadle still has a very distinct ‘village’ feel with a bustling main street still attracting many independent shops and businesses while Wilmslow is home to the ‘Cheshire Set’, Stratstone of Wilmslow Porsche and Ferrari car showroom and many other superlative, and expensive, shops and drinking establishments.
History of Manchester
The very earliest origins of Manchester can be traced back to the establishment of a Roman outpost called Mancunium in AD79, the remnants of which are still to be seen at Castlefield. While the fort was maintained and developed subsequently by the Saxons, it was not until 1301 and the grant of charter that the town ‘ in a modern sense ‘ began to develop.
Through the following centuries, Manchester developed a thriving textile industry, initially based on wool. Culturally too there were significant steps forward such as the establishment of Manchester Grammar School in 1515.
Undoubtedly the main factor that transformed the town into one of the countries leading industrial centres was cotton. From the 1720’s onwards there was an enormous upsurge in both international trade and technological development, culminating with the invention of Hargreave’s Spinning Jenny and Crompton’s Mule during the latter decades of the century. Manchester was rapidly becoming a hub of the burgeoning industrial revolution.
The 19th century was a period of unparalleled growth and cultural endeavour. In 1821 the Manchester Guardian was first published, 1830 saw the world’s first purpose built passenger railway ‘ the Liverpool to Manchester ‘ opened, in 1863 the Co-operative Wholesale Society was formed and in 1887 work on the Manchester Ship Canal began.
Into the last century, the textile industry was ultimately to decline but its legacy reverberated through the decades helping to form the bustling, vibrant city we know today. Many things that have been fundamental to the social history of this country were to occur in Manchester during this time. In 1903 Emmaline Pankurst created the Women’s Social & Political Union, 1919 saw Rutherford first split the atom and in 1948 the world’s first electronic stored programme computer was developed.
Of course, many other factors have had a bearing on the city. Sport is crucial and Manchester can boast arguably the biggest football team in the world in Manchester United FC. Our music is also hugely influential, from the world famous Halle Orchestra ‘ formed in 1857 – to Factory Records who captured the zeitgeist of a generation with Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays.
The final years of the 20th century have also had an enormous impact on contemporary Manchester. 1996 saw a huge IRA bomb devastate much of the city centre and the subsequent financial aid and support has helped to remould it as a confident, modern, cultural centre. Many prestigious developments such as the Bridgewater Hall, Exchange Square and the re-development of Salford Quays and the Castlefield Basin have created a worthy new environment.
Now as we enter the new millennium, the focus is on the 2002 Commonwealth Games and as further investment and development continues apace, Manchester can look forward to the future with pride and great optimism.