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.

chets Then chets Now

Chetham’s School Of Music

Medieval Chetham’s School forms our main image this week. The photograph, from 1900, was shot from the cathedral across Fennel Street.

The mullioned stone frontage of the school is overshadowed by buildings, now largely demolished, dating from the mid to late 1800s.

The hansom cabs, drawn up on the cobbles, evoke the turn-of-the-century atmosphere.

Chetham’s Hospital and Library was described by Leland in 1538 as a ‘fair builded college’. It was about 100 years old when he put quill to paper.

It is probably the oldest continuously inhabited place in Manchester, possibly dating back to Saxon

The internationally renowned musical education institution was originally a baronial manor house, converted to a college and later dissolved with the monasteries in Tudor times.

It was refounded in 1651, thanks to the legacy of Manchester merchant Humphrey Chetham, as a free public library and free school for 40 poor boys.

Specialising in music since the 1950s, the school now caters for almost 300 students, aged between eight and 18, selected by audition for their musical excellence.

The modern photograph from the present day see the school obscured by trees of the park – the green open space now known as the city’s Millennium Quarter.

Withington Then Withington Now


This image from 1912 shows the domineering Victorian façade of Oak Bank Building on Wilmslow Road.

The imposing corner building is still in place, but the businesses plying their trade have changed dramatically since the start of the 20th century.

Grocers, watchmakers and milliners have given way to takeaways, restaurants and estate agents on this busy south Manchester street.

Back in 1912, the stretch of the road running between Davenport Avenue and Queen Street West in Withington was home to tailors, hairdressers, greengrocers and confectioners.

Now the shops include Indian and Chinese takeaways, estate agents and a pub. Out of shot is the Withington Library which caters for readers and researchers six days a week.

The north side of Davenport Avenue was originally parkland, bounded by Rippingham Road and Moorfield Street.

The original tall chimney stacks have lost some of their stature today as the rigours of wind and rain forced owners to partially demolish and reseal the brickwork.

The tramlines running from the centre of Manchester through Withington are unmistakable, as are the horse-powered trams. The first of these were introduced towards the end of the 19th century.

By the 1930s, Manchester trams were carrying more than 300 million passengers a year. The last of the old breed of trams made its final journey in 1949.

City Art Gallery  Then City Art Gallery Now

City Art Gallery

Dating from 1905, our image this week shows a policeman on duty in the middle of the road as the hustle and bustle of city life goes on around him.

Trams, the main form of transport at the turn of the 19th century, line up behind him.

Dominating the view is the impressive City Art Gallery on the corner of the junction with Princess Street.

The building was designed by Charles Barry, who was also responsible for the Houses of Parliament, and constructed between 1827 and 1835.

It was built to house the Royal Manchester Institution, which sought the “promotion of Literature, Science and the Arts.’’

The institution regularly held art exhibitions and collected works of art from the 1820s until 1882.

However, dwindling funds led to the Manchester Corporation taking possession of the building in
1883 and running it as the City Art Gallery.

The building was handed over on the condition that £2,000 per year would be spent on art for the next two decades.

The Art Gallery Committee needed little encouragement. By the end of the 19th century, they had built up an impressive collection of fine art thanks to gifts and bequests from city industrialists.

The gallery was attacked by three suffragettes in April 1913 and two paintings by Millais and one by George Frederick Watts were damaged.

iNostalgia is a small publishing company based in Manchester. We’re a group of experienced publishers, editors and writers who believe passionately in recording local heritage


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