Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look now.

Victoria Square Then Victoria Square  Now

Victoria Square

This is a view of the Victoria Square dwellings on Oldham Road in 1906.

The square is just past New Cross, with Sherratt Street on one side and Bengal Street on the other. The photograph was taken from the left hand side of Oldham road going out of the city.

The five-storey block was built by the Manchester Corporation in 1897 as model housing for the workers of Ancoats. It was part of the Manchester Labourers’ Dwellings Scheme.

Along with similar blocks at George Leigh Street and Sanitary Street (later renamed Anita Street), it was probably among the first council housing built in England.

Originally there were 235 two-room dwellings plus some single rooms. The block also featured communal laundries, drying rooms and rubbish chutes.

Two dwellings shared a sink and water closet, but there were no baths or even a hot water supply.

Rents were high as the corporation had to pay a high price for the land – so not everyone was able to benefit.

A row of shops, including Scotts’ Vegetable and Fish Market, occupied the ground floor of the dwellings block. There are also familiar cobblestones and tram lines.

Old Trafford Then Old Trafford Now

Old Trafford

Here’s Old Trafford Cricket Ground in 1959. The crowd walking down the street are on their way to watch a cricket match.

Warwick Road runs from top to bottom across the picture. The photographer is standing in front of the station.

Ahead in the distance is Old Trafford football ground, the home of Manchester United.

The cricket ground, now known as Emirates Old Trafford, opened in 1857 as the home of Manchester Cricket Club. Lancashire County Cricket Club have played there since 1864.

Old Trafford hosted the first Ashes Test in England in July 1884 and is England’s second oldest Test venue.

In 1956, it saw the first 10-wicket haul in a single innings when England bowler Jim Laker returned figures of 19 wickets for 90 runs in the Fourth Test of the Ashes series against Australia. It famously became known as Laker’s Match.

Old Trafford was used as a supply depot and transit camp for troops returning from Dunkirk during the Second World War.

It was hit by bombs in December 1940 and several stands were damaged. In spite of this, the Victory Test between England and Australia was played there over three days in August 1945. More than 76,000 came to watch.

St John St Then St John St Now

St John Street, off Deansgate

This is St John Street, off Deansgate, in 1900. St John’s church, dating from the 18th century, dominates the view.

St John’s was completed in 1770 by Edward Byrom, co-founder of the first bank in Manchester. It was a memorial to his father John Byrom, the famous writer, poet and diarist and inventor of shorthand.

The church was the first major Gothic Revival style building in Manchester. The church bells, described as being among the best peals in Manchester, were rehung in 1832 and 1883.

A declining congregation at St John’s church led to it being merged with nearby St Matthew’s in 1927. It was demolished in 1931.

The site is now occupied by St John’s Gardens. The graveyard is commemorated by a stone cross and plaque which states that 22,000 bodies are buried in the vicinity.

The houses along the street are very fine examples of Georgian architecture and have been expertly restored and maintained as part of the city’s heritage.

In 1963, the Civic Trust for the North West sponsored a scheme to improve the buildings. Windows were replaced, the houses were painted and brass door knockers and plaques added.

Chorlton Then Chorlton Now


Our photo evokes the bygone days of motoring when there were far fewer cars on the road and the world seemed to turn at a more leisurely pace.

It shows the Shell petrol station opened in June 1959 on the corner of Mauldeth Road West and Alexandra Road South in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Two ladies, smartly attired in floral dresses, are enjoying a chat on a roadside bench while two cars are waiting for the garage attendant to appear.

Private car ownership was about to take off in 1959. UK car sales topped 680,000 for the year and the Ford Popular, on the left in the image, was one of the cheapest on the market at £444.

Petrol rationing had been reintroduced earlier in the decade due to the Suez Crisis. The canal was closed from October 1956 to March 1957.

The impact on the UK was huge. At the time, Europe was importing about two million barrels of oil a day, more than half of which came via Suez.

With the canal shut to shipping, tankers were forced to take the long route to the UK round the Cape of Good Hope.

Crumpsall Then Crumpsall Now


This shows post-war Crescent Road, Crumpsall, complete with babies and toddlers in prams and bicycles propped up outside the grocer’s shop.

The red-brick Victorian houses stretching into the distance have been replaced by a cut-price corner store.

Crumpsall gets its name from Old English and means a crooked piece of land beside a river.

Part of the land was sold to the Guardians of the Poor in Manchester in 1855 as the site for a new workhouse. This was later known as Springfield Hospital.

Rural in character for most of the 19th century, Crumpsall became increasingly built up as an area to house Manchester’s growing population of mill workers. It was incorporated into the City of Manchester in 1890.

The Crumpsall Biscuit Works in Lower Crumpsall was opened by the Co-operative Wholesale Society in 1873.

The North Manchester General Hospital, part of the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, is located in Crumpsall.

It is an amalgamation of three hospitals – Crumpsall general hospital, Delauney’s geriatric hospital and the original Springfield Hospital which included specialist mental health services.

Oxford St Then Oxford St Now

Oxford Street

Here is Oxford Street in 1938 with Reno’s music shop in the foreground. To the right of Reno’s is the well-known Oxford Café.

As the advertising hoarding clearly says, there was a huge selection of instruments at Reno’s – one of Manchester’s most famous music emporiums.

Hire purchase terms were reasonable too, starting at one shilling and five pence a week.

The site of Reno’s is now occupied by a new apartment building on the corner of Whitworth Street.

Right on the corner of the original photograph is St Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children, whose main frontage was on Whitworth Street. Just to the right of the picture is the Rochdale Canal.

On the left of both images, old and new, is the projecting sign from the Palace Theatre.

Originally known as the Grand Old Lady of Oxford Street, the Palace opened in May 1891. It was designed by architect Alfred Darbyshire and cost £40,500 to build.

Two years after the first image was taken, the theatre was extensively damaged by a German bomb in the Manchester Blitz of 1940.

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