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.

king street then king street  now

King Street, Manchester

This image shows people trudging down a snowy King Street in the 1970s, probably seeking cover in one of the many shops.

Modern King Street is now home to some of Manchester’s smartest outlets, boasting well-known designer names. A few can be glimpsed in photographer Nicola Mazzuia’s 2019 picture.

But back in Manchester’s Victorian heyday, the street featured the grand Town Hall, which in turn became the Central Library. The original Town Hall was replaced by a new building in Albert Square.

The Central Library was then relocated to St Peter’s Square and the neo-classical columns of the original building were moved to Heaton Park in 1912. The site on King Street is now occupied by the Lloyds Bank building.

Big brands have replaced the barber’s shop and hair studio in our original image, but the handsome Victorian buildings and shop fronts remain much the same. Gone, however, are the distinctive cast-iron street lamps.

There are no less than 11 Grade II listed buildings in King Street as well as the Grade I listed former Bank of England building at No. 82. It was designed by Charles Robert Cockerell and opened in 1846.

King Street is now widely regarded as one of the most exciting retail areas of the UK, earning it the title of the Bond Street of the north.

rodney street then rodney street  now

Rodney Street, Liverpool

This is Liverpool’s Rodney Street in February 1976, where a new model agency had just opened alongside the stately houses and offices of architects, doctors and professors.

To celebrate, five models from the Faces agency strode down the street past the parked Minis and Ford Anglias. They are, from left, Lyn Farington, Julia Higgins, Carole Fiddies, Anne Boyland and Hilary Mawer.

The Faces Model Agency were certainly in good company on Rodney Street. They shared a house with the offices of the High Commissioner of India.

Sometimes referred to as ‘the Harley Street of the North’, Rodney Street is well known today for the number of doctors and cosmetic surgeons practising there.

Along with Gambier Terrace and Hope Street, it forms the Rodney Street conservation street area, which boasts more than 60 Grade II listed buildings.

The street was designed primarily by Liverpool historian and abolitionist William Roscoe and built in 1784. It was named after George Brydges Rodney, who secured a memorable naval victory against the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782.

Additions to Rodney Street were made up to the 1820s as the area proved increasingly popular as a refuge for the affluent wanting to live away from the city centre.

Most of the houses have three bays, but some have five.

Some famous people were born in Rodney Street. British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone was born at No. 62 in 1809 and poet Arthur Clough was born at No. 9 in 1819.

Gaumont Cinema then Gaumont Cinema  now

Gaumont Cinema

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

That’s certainly true of these two images of Bernard Manning’s Embassy Club in North Manchester. The entrance is almost exactly as it was in 1985.

But the club couldn’t be more different. Stand-up comedy and cabaret stopped when Manning retired in 1999 and his son Bernard Junior took over. The latter’s forte was functions and events.

Manning Senior opened the club on Rochdale Road in 1959. In its heyday it was one of the most popular venues in the North West, with Manning delivering his own brand of humour at the microphone.

After becoming a household name on the Granada TV show The Comedians, Manning brought his own touch of flamboyance to the place. This included the Rolls Royce and limousine with their personalised number plates parked outside.

When Manning died in 2007, his son added a mosaic of his father to the front of the club. The grouting contained the comic’s ashes as a memorial.

The mosaic is still in place, but a lamppost now stands where Manning parked his flashy motors. The saplings in the background have grown into full trees in photographer Nicola Mazzuia’s modern image.

There is a belief that the Embassy Club was the inspiration for Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights. Kay certainly performed there in 1999, the last time Manning took the stage before retiring.

The Embassy Club - Then The Embassy Club - Now

The Embassy Club

This is the Gaumont Cinema in Oxford Street, a popular venue for moviegoers from its opening in 1935 until its closure in 1974.

The 2,300 seater cinema was built in the Italian Renaissance style by the Granada Group on the site of the former Hippodrome Theatre. It included one of the longest licensed bars in the north of England.

The first film shown at the Gaumont on its opening night on October 21st 1935 was Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, starring Manchester-born actor Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll.

The opening ceremony was conducted by movie stars Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale, with Stanley Tudor playing the Wurlitzer organ.

In the 1950s and 60s, the Gaumont hosted long runs of popular films. These included the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals South Pacific, which ran there for two years from 1958, and the Sound of Music from 1965 to 1967.

After its closure in January 1974, the ground floor and basement of the Gaumont became Rotters Nightclub. The building was demolished after Rotters shut down in 1990.

Standing in its place, as can be seen from photographer Nicola Mazzuia’s modern image, is a multi-storey car park. The neighbouring three-storey Victorian building remains intact and is now partially occupied by a fast-food restaurant.

Church Street - Then Church Street - Now

Merseyside streets, Church Street

Our main image this week shows Church Street in January 1962, with shoppers hunting for a bargain outside Marks and Spencers. On the corner are well-known furriers Swears and Wells.

People are queuing for buses as cars mill down the busy street, carefully avoiding pedestrians who cross between them.

There are far fewer vehicles now, but Church Street remains as bustling as ever. It is still the city’s prime shopping area.

The street gets its name from the former St Peter’s church which was consecrated in June 1704 and demolished in 1922. A bronze Maltese cross now marks its location.

The church, to the south of Church Street, was designed by John Moffat. Its single tower, octagonal at the top, was 108 feet high and housed a peal of eight bells.

Church Street was not paved until 1760 and was once the site of a weekly cattle market.

On the south side of Church Street is the Liverpool One complex – a combination of leisure and retail outlets as well as residential areas. Opened in October 2008, it takes its name from the district’s L1 postcode.

Also to the south is Church Alley which includes the Bluecoat Chambers, the oldest surviving building in central Liverpool. It was originally built as a charity school in 1717.

On the north side of Church Street is Williamson Square.

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


Progress Centre, Charlton Place, Manchester, M12 6HS
0161 273 2800

Get in Touch