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.

The Edwardia boutique - Then The Edwardia boutique - Now

The Edwardia boutique , Manchester

This week our main image shows Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger George Best outside the Edwardia boutique he opened with his great pal Mike Summerbee in March 1967.

Best is snappily dressed – as befits a fashion icon. Dubbed ‘El Beatle’ by the press, he was always seen in the smartest places in the latest styles.

To complete the image of 60s’ chic, a Fiat 500 is parked a little precariously on the kerb.

Little did the footballing friends know that the opening of the shop would cause uproar as hundreds of fans flocked to the event.

The opening was only announced in a small newspaper advert, but traffic on the A56 was brought to a standstill as cars slowed to catch a glimpse. They couldn’t see much though as a crowd of teenagers and press jostled excitedly outside the shop!

The area around Motor Street looks very different in photographer Nicola Mazzuia’s modern image. A pizza parlour occupies the spot where Edwardia once stood with the Manchester bee strongly in evidence.

When he wasn’t opening boutiques, Best made 361 league appearances for United from 1963 to 1974, scoring 137 goals. He was capped 37 times for Northern Ireland, netting nine goals for his country.

Summerbee, also a winger, played 357 league matches for Manchester City from 1965 to 1975, scoring 47 goals. He was capped eight times for England, scoring once.

St Ann's Square - Then St Ann's Square - Now

St Ann’s Square , Manchester

This week we feature St Ann’s Square, the open space at the centre of Manchester’s shopping heartland and home to St Ann’s Church and the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Cars are banished from the square nowadays, but there were none around at all when our original photograph was taken in 1878. Horse-drawn carts and carriages were the main threat to pedestrians then!

The origins of St Ann’s Square date back to 1227 when Henry II granted Robert Greslet, the Lord Mayor of Manchester, the right to hold a fair on St Matthew’s Day.

In 1708, an Act of Parliament granted that St Ann’s Church could be built and that a space 30 yards wide should be reserved for the fair. The church was consecrated four years later in 1712 – and still stands proudly in the square today.

The area was renamed St Ann’s Square as a tribute to the reigning monarch, Queen Anne, and Lady Ann Bland who was a patron of the church. She wanted to see the church built as a protest against the High Church teaching of the city’s cathedral.

St Ann’s Church was fortunate to escape damage in the Manchester Blitz of December 1940 and still has a burnt-out incendiary bomb that fell on to the roof.

Like many parts of the city, St Ann’s Square suffered from the IRA bomb of 1996, but has now been restored. The upstairs windows were blown in on both sides of the church.

Liverpool Central Station - Then Liverpool Central Station - Now

Central Station , Liverpool

Our main image this week shows the approach to Liverpool Central Station, photographed 60 years ago in February 1960.

Women chat nonchalantly on the cobblestones as a double-decker bus passes by on Ranelagh Street.

The bus carries an advert for the well-known Threlfall’s Brewery, which operated in Liverpool from 1888 until it was bought out by Whitbread in 1967.

Behind the pedestrians is the impressive three-storey entrance building that fronted the 65ft high iron and glass train shed.

Central Station was opened in March 1874 at the end of the Cheshire Lines Committee railway to Manchester Central. It replaced Brunswick Station in Toxteth as the committee’s Liverpool terminus.

As well as Manchester, trains to London St Pancras, Hull and Harwich ran from the station’s six platforms.

The ground-level station was demolished in 1973 – a victim of the Beeching Report into rail modernisation – but some buildings remained as work went ahead on the Merseyrail underground station.

The site occupied by the train shed is now part of the Central Village development.

The Merseyrail station, on the Northern Line and Wirral Line, is now the busiest station in Liverpool – and the seventh busiest outside London.

Empire Theatre, Liverpool - Then Empire Theatre, Liverpool - Now

Empire Theatre , Liverpool

Our main image this week shows the approach to Liverpool Central Station, photographed 60 years ago in February 1960.

Women chat nonchalantly on the cobblestones as a double-decker bus passes by on Ranelagh Street.

The bus carries an advert for the well-known Threlfall’s Brewery, which operated in Liverpool from 1888 until it was bought out by Whitbread in 1967.

Behind the pedestrians is the impressive three-storey entrance building that fronted the 65ft high iron and glass train shed.

Central Station was opened in March 1874 at the end of the Cheshire Lines Committee railway to Manchester Central. It replaced Brunswick Station in Toxteth as the committee’s Liverpool terminus.

As well as Manchester, trains to London St Pancras, Hull and Harwich ran from the station’s six platforms.

The ground-level station was demolished in 1973 – a victim of the Beeching Report into rail modernisation – but some buildings remained as work went ahead on the Merseyrail underground station.

The site occupied by the train shed is now part of the Central Village development.

The Merseyrail station, on the Northern Line and Wirral Line, is now the busiest station in Liverpool – and the seventh busiest outside London.

St George’s Hall, Lime Street - Then St George’s Hall, Lime Street - Now

St George’s Hall, Lime Street

Our main image this week shows the majestic St George’s Hall rising above a heap of collapsed scaffolding in Lime Street in July 1964.

Spectators have gathered to get a closer look at the debris and scaffolding poles strewn across the road, while buses are parked up at the hall’s portico.

Although blackened by soot and pre-restoration pollution, St George’s Hall exhibits its full neo-classical grandeur. It remains, to this day, one of the biggest public buildings in the country.

Plans for the hall were drawn up in the early 19th century when the expanding city of Liverpool desperately needed an imposing civic setting for festivals, meetings and concerts.

Designs were submitted by architect Harvey Lonsdale Elmes before it was decided to include the assize courts in the same building.

So Elmes went back to the drawing board and the foundation stone for the grand project was laid in 1838 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria a year earlier.

Elmes supervised the building work until 1847 when he left England for Jamaica where he died of consumption. The baton then passed to Corporation Surveyor John Weightman and structural engineer Robert Rawlinson.

Designer Charles Cockerell took charge in 1851 and laid out most of the building’s impressive interiors. The hall was officially opened in 1854.

As imposing now as it was 160 years ago, St George’s Hall has rightly been described by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as one of the finest neo-Grecian buildings in the world.

Upper Lloyd Street, Moss Side - Then Upper Lloyd Street, Moss Side - Now

Upper Lloyd Street, Moss Side 

This week our classic main image shows Stockport tram No. 35B travelling down Upper Lloyd Street in Moss Side. The date is March 1934.

Tram No. 15 is close by and a hardy cyclist is braving the rain that glistens off the pavements and cobbles. Red-brick Victorian terraces line either side of the street and gas lamps are still in evidence.

The modern picture, taken by photographer Nicola Mazzuia, is very different. The terraces have long since been demolished and tarmac and speed-humps have replaced the cobbles. Trees have grown where tall iron tram poles once stood.

Trams have operated in Manchester since 1877 and were originally drawn by horses.  There were 515 tramcars by the 1890s, each requiring six pairs of horses per day.

The first electric tramcars were seen on Manchester streets in 1901 – and had replaced all horse-drawn vehicles by 1904.

The Tramway Corporation continued to build more lines until it reached its peak in 1928. At that time, more than 1,000 tramcars carried 350 million passengers a year over 292 miles of track.

Tram services were gradually run down as the conversion to buses gathered pace. The Second World War slowed down the process, but the final tram ran on January 10th 1949.

Manchester Metrolink became the UK’s first modern street-running rail system in April 1992. The only first generation tram system still in operation was the Blackpool tramway.

Walton Hall Park, Liverpool - Then Walton Hall Park, Liverpool - Now

Walton Hall Park, Liverpool 

Our main image this week shows the newly laid-out 130-acre Walton Hall Park in all its splendour in February 1934.

There is a stillness about the place, whose pristine paths and lakes lay undisturbed and ready to receive visitors.

Trees that are now full grown were only saplings 86 years ago – and much more of the park was visible from the photographer’s vantage point.

A popular attraction for the people of Walton for decades, the park was officially opened to the public by King George V on July 18th 1934. He was visiting Liverpool to open the Queensway Tunnel.

The origins of the park date back to the 12th century and Henry de Walton, who was steward of the West Derby hundred.

The hundred covered the Merseyside region north of the River Mersey as well as parts of the modern boroughs of West Lancashire, Warrington and Wigan.

Walton Manor was held by the Walton family until the 15th century and was subsequently owned by the Breres and Atherton families before being sold to Liverpool banker Thomas Leyland in 1804. It became part of Liverpool Borough Council in 1895.

Particular features of Walton Hall Park are the two lakes which are popular with anglers due to the number of carp, bream and tench.

The perimeter path is an ideal place for fishermen to set up for the day, expectantly perched on their seat-boxes.

There is also a 3.25km fitness trail for the more energetic, with a range of keep fit stations and suggested exercises. Children can enjoy swings, roundabouts and a games area.

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