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.

Rochdale Canal at Ancoats Then Rochdale Canal at Ancoats Then

Rochdale Canal at Ancoats

This is the Rochdale Canal at Ancoats in June 1971. The water level is so low that children could paddle in it in relative safety.

Today’s scene, taken from exactly the same angle by photographer Nicola Mazzuia, tells a different story. Water in the canal is back to its normal level, the saplings of 1971 are now fully grown trees and new buildings have sprung up on left bank.

The Rochdale Canal, runs for 32 miles from the Castlefield Basin in Manchester across the Pennines to Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire.

It links the Bridgewater Canal in Manchester with the Calder and Hebble Navigation in Yorkshire.

When it was officially opened in 1804, the Rochdale Canal had 92 locks. After years of restoration, locks three and four were replaced with the Tuel Lane deep lock, reducing the number to 92.

As it was 14ft wide, the Rochdale Canal became more popular than traditional waterways like the Huddersfield Narrow Canal as a route between Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The canal carried 539,081 tons of cargo a year from 1830 to 1832. Major items transported included wool, cotton, coal, limestone, timber and salt.

On July 1st 2002, the Rochdale Canal was once again opened for navigation along its entire length.

Jacksons row then jacksons row  now

Jackson’s Row

Here we have Coronation Street star Anne Reid’s wedding to television producer Peter Eckersley in Jackson’s Row.

The couple had just been married at Manchester Register Office and were happy to pose for press photographers.

Reid had only recently left the popular Granada TV soap after playing Valerie Barlow for a decade from August 1961 to January 1971.

She later went on to appear as Jean in the sitcom Dinnerladies and was nominated for a BAFTA award for her portrayal of Celia Dawson in Last Tango in Halifax from 2012 to 2016.

The imposing buildings of Jackson’s Row remain mainly unchanged in Nicola Mazzuia’s 2019 photo, although redevelopment has taken place on the left of the street.

The headquarters of Manchester Fire Brigade were built in Jackson Row in 1866. The previous fire brigade building in Clarence Street was demolished to make way for the new Town Hall.

The fire brigade moved again in 1906 when the new headquarters building on London Road was opened.

Jackson’s Row fire station and the warehouse building on Southmill Street were then replaced by the new police headquarters, whose foundation stone was laid in 1934.

new Bailey bridge then new Bailey bridge now

New Bailey Bridge

Here are crews competing in the annual Two Cities Boat Race between Manchester and Salford universities.

The date is 1974 and the setting is the New Bailey Bridge or Albert Bridge spanning the River Irwell.

Photographer Nicola Mazzuia has captured precisely the same angle and perspective in his modern-day photograph taken a few weeks ago.

The Two Cities Boat Race, established to boost local charities, was first rowed on the Irwell in 1972. Many Victorian buildings are still standing along the route, although substantial development has taken place on both river banks.

The original two-arched New Bailey Bridge, linking Salford and Manchester, was built between 1783 and 1785. An inspection in 1843 revealed it was in such a poor state that it needed to be demolished.

The new bridge, designed by engineer George W. Buck, was opened in August 1844. Consisting of a single arch spanning 106ft of water, the stone structure cost £9,000 to build.

Four cast-iron lampposts lit the bridge which rose to a height of 30ft above the river bed at its centre. At the apex of the arch, and still in place, was the three-ton keystone.

After an elaborate opening ceremony, attended by the mayors of both cities, the first vehicle to cross the renamed Albert Bridge was a donkey cart from Manchester!

beech mount then beech mount now

Beech Mount

This shows the massive hole that unexpectedly opened up on the A464 at Harpurhey on a quiet Sunday in January 1969.

Fortunately, few cars were on the busy Manchester to Rochdale road when the 40ft stretch of tarmac caved in so no-one was hurt.

Engineers were quickly on the scene of the subsidence which may have been caused by heavy rain.

The buildings in the middle ground have changed little in the past 50 years, but the trees and bushes to the left have grown considerably.

As a refuge to the traffic on the A464, Harpurhey boasts one of Britain’s first municipal parks. Designed by Joshua Major in 1845, Queen’s Park was laid out around the original Hendham Hall.

The park once featured a labyrinth and extensive greenhouses. Today it’s an important venue for community events.

The MANCAT sixth form college and community library now occupies the site of the former Edwardian swimming baths on Rochdale Road.

Comedian Bernard Manning bought his World Famous Embassy Club on Rochdale Road in 1959. It was formerly the Harpurhey Temperance Billiard Hall.

piccadilly rocket then piccadilly rocket now

Piccadilly Rocket

Here’s a sinister reminder of World War II displayed in Piccadilly at the height of the Cold War in December 1951.

Civil Defence units brought the Nazi V2 rocket to Manchester as part of a recruitment drive as fears over communist Russia were mounting.

The Unites States was in the grip of its Second Red Scare. In February 1950, Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin produced a list of more than 200 State Department employees he claimed were communists or communist sympathisers.

This heralded in seven years of political repression, purges and hysteria in all aspects of US life. People lost their jobs on the flimsiest of evidence.

Crowded Piccadilly is more peaceful now. There are more open spaces for pedestrians even though the overall shape of the area remains the same.

New green space was created when Piccadilly Gardens was extensively revamped in 2002. Fountains and a pavilion designed by noted Japanese architect Tadao Ando were installed.

The redesign was part of the build-up to the successful staging the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

oldham st then oldham st-now

Oldham Street

This is Oldham Street in 1900. There’s a real hustle and bustle about the place as people flock to its shops and stores.

Pedestrians avoid the trams as they carefully make their way over the tracks and cobbles in the middle of the busy thoroughfare.

Oldham Street was in its heyday in the early 1900s and was part of Manchester’s commercial heartland. It was later the home to retail giants Marks and Spencer and C&A in the city.

But, over the years, the street fell into decline and became a run-down area.

The opening of the Arndale Centre in the late 1970s accelerated its demise. Many businesses moved away and ‘to let’ signs became common.

Now Oldham Street has been rejuvenated and is the home to alternative music and fashion stores. New apartments and businesses have been created alongside the traditional chip shops and pubs of old Manchester.

The street is now at the heart of the Northern Quarter, which stretches from Piccadilly to Great Ancoats, and has benefited from millions of pounds of investment.

Oldham Street has a unique place in cinema history as Julie Christie was filmed walking down it in the classic kitchen-sink drama Billy Liar in 1963.

Albert Square then Albert square-now

Albert Square

Here’s Albert Square in September 1958. Cars and buses make their way through the open space as pigeons gather round the Albert Memorial and statues of Sir John Bright and Sir Oliver Heywood.

As well as the bus shelters, the scene is dominated by the imposing Albert Memorial itself, which was unveiled in 1867.

The Grade I listed monument, commemorating Queen Victoria’s consort who died in 1861, was designed in the medieval Gothic style by architect Thomas Worthington.

Sculptor Matthew Noble was commissioned by Manchester’s mayor Thomas Goadsby to create the statue of Prince Albert – and the designs were personally approved by Queen Victoria.

The area occupied by the square was once derelict land bordering on dense housing near the River Tib and Town Yard.

Clearance work on the site started in 1864. Eventually, more than 100 buildings were demolished, including the Engraver’s Arms pub and a coffee-roasting works. A smithy and coal yard also disappeared.

The magnificent new Town Hall, which replaced the old building in King Street, was built in 1877.

The immediate vicinity around Albert Square became a conservation area in April 1972. The newly created Lincoln Square was also included in 1981.

ancoats-hospital-then ancoats-hospital-now

Ancoats Hospital

We take a look at the former Ancoats Hospital building on Great Ancoats Street, photographed in October 1975.

The handsome Victorian structure was still very much in use as a hospital at the time, providing much needed relief for Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Now the building is barely recognisable, covered in scaffolding after the campaign to reopen it as a community centre has finally been conceded. Special thanks to Nicola Mazzuia for taking the ‘now’ photograph.

The dispensary has now been handed back to Manchester City Council to be developed as affordable housing. It has been promised that many of the structure’s original features will be retained.

The imposing Gothic-style building was opened in August 1828 as the Ardwick and Ancoats Dispensary – a voluntary hospital funded by middle-class benefactors living in the area.

From 1875, its official name was Ancoats Hospital and Ardwick and Ancoats Dispensary, which is still inscribed over the main door.

The hospital had a history of innovation. It housed Manchester’s first X-ray department from 1907.
In 1914, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Harry Platt opened the world’s first fracture clinic there.
The dispensary was mentioned in Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life and the artist L.S. Lowry painted a picture of the outpatients’ waiting hall in 1952.

The hospital was closed in 1989 after plans to turn it into a specialist orthopaedics unit were shelved.

More than £770,000 of Heritage Lottery funding was secured by the Ancoats Dispensary Group to reopen the building as a community centre with offices in June 2014. But a second round of funding was not awarded and the former hospital was handed back to the council.

eastwood-then eastwood-now

St Peter’s Square

Here’s St Peter’s Square on a sunny day in June 1967.

The man trying to overshadow the war memorial obelisk, since moved to another part of the square, is 6ft 3ins American actor Clint Eastwood.

The veteran of many Spaghetti Westerns, as well as the Dirty Harry detective movies, was in Manchester to promote his latest film.

He’s towering over little Antony Rixon, aged just 18 months, whose mother may well have been a fan. Other people in the square are also stealing a glance at the visiting star.

The square has undergone many changes since Eastwood’s arrival. The Central Library and Library Walk link were extensively restored from 2010 to 2017 and the Cenotaph war memorial has been relocated to the rear of the Town Hall.

A new extended tram stop was created and two office blocks were built to the south of the square.

The history of the square includes the August 1819 Peterloo Massacre, when 15 people were killed and 400 injured in a protest about poor working and living conditions.

Local magistrates ordered mounted cavalry to disperse the crowd, which included textile workers who had walked long distances from surrounding mill towns.

deansgate-then deansgate-now


This is Deansgate in 1895 at its junction with John Dalton Street and Bridge Street. The building on the right of the photograph has since been replaced with a bank.

There is little change to the front of most of the buildings – but the amount of traffic using the main road through Manchester city centre is certainly different.

More than 100 years ago, cyclists and pedestrians were able to amble casually along Deansgate. But that has changed as commuters and shoppers flock into the city.

At night Deansgate remains just as busy as people enjoy its restaurants and bars.

Historians are unclear about the origins of the name Deansgate. It may have a connection with the deanery of the village church near Parsonage Gardens.

Alternatively, it could date from when the Danes seized Manchester in 870 AD.

By the 1840s, Deansgate was a prosperous road with shops and fine houses fronting it. But it was
a different story behind the façade as visitors took their lives in their own hands with criminals
lying in wait.

When social writer Frederick Engels toured these streets he was warned to take a guide with him.

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