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.
This image, dating from 1930, shows a stretch of Oxford Road that will be well known to Manchester students past and present.
Ackers Street is on the left and the gates of the Holy Name Church are just visible. The spire of Manchester Royal Infirmary can be seen in the distance.
No trace remains of the overhead tram cables, shops or rows of terraced houses. The tram system in 1930 was one of the largest in the UK with more than 160 miles of track crossing the city.
Now the car is king and Oxford Road is one of Manchester’s most traffic-laden thoroughfares. It’s also the busiest bus route in Europe with vehicles heading for Fallowfield and Didsbury and many more destinations besides.
The Oxford Road area is the heart of the Student Quarter. The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Northern Ballet School all have campuses on or around Oxford Road.
As well as the hustle and bustle, there are two more tranquil green spaces on Oxford Road. Whitworth Park dates back to 1890 and Grosvenor Square, once a church, is a favourite place for students to read and relax.
This is Levenshulme station in Albert Road in 1909. The photographer is looking under the railway bridge towards Stockport Road.
Rain glistens on the cobblestones and the steam from the horses’ breath is just about visible on the overcast autumn day.
The solitary man standing by his horse-drawn cart is a far cry from the traffic on the busy carriageway of today.
Like many areas of the city, Levenshulme was transformed in the years after the Industrial Revolution. It became home to many of the workers who toiled in the local mills.
Terraced houses were built in the late 19th and 20th centuries to house workers’ families – and some still stand today.
There is now a wide range of traders and businesses near the station, although the area has long been noted for its antique and furniture shops.
The original railway arch, visible in the main image, was replaced in 1950. Before then, only single-deck buses were allowed under the bridge.
The London and North Western Railway operated from 1846 to 1922. In the late 19th century it was the largest joint stock company in the world.
The main A6 Stockport Road dates from 1724 when a turnpike was built between Manchester and Stockport.
Then and Now - Wilmslow Road
This Week's Then & Now looks at the Didsbury Village stretch of Wilmslow Road. Much has changed since the late 1800s with restaurants and bars standing in place of the former railway station. The memorial clock and drinking fountain, built in 1910, is dedicated to Dr J Milson Rhodes.Posted by iNostalgia on Wednesday, 5 September 2018
Wilmslow Road, Didsbury
This is Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, in the late 1800s. The red-brick Victorian buildings that are now The Stoker’s Arms and Dog and Partridge pubs look almost new!
Offices and shops, including a barber’s, line the street. Traffic consists of horse-drawn carriages and hand-carts plying their way under the prominent gas lamps.
The memorial clock tower and drinking fountain dedicated to Dr J. Milson Rhodes at the centre of Didsbury village would not be built until 1910.
Standing at the edge of the former railway station forecourt, the clock tower is Grade II listed and forms an architectural group with the war memorial and public library on the opposite side of the road.
Wilmslow Road, running through the centres of Didsbury, Withington and Fallowfield, is one of Manchester’s major thoroughfares.
Didsbury was largely rural until the mid-19th century. Like many parts of Manchester, it was transformed during the industrial revolution.
The opening of the Midland Railway in 1880 accelerated Didsbury’s development, connecting the area to Manchester Central. The line closed in 1967, but the station survived until its demolition in the 1980s.
London Road Station Warehouse
Here’s the London Road station warehouse (near Piccadilly Station) in Ducie Street in 1966.
At the time, the station was just completing a major rebuilding programme as part of the modernisation of the West Coast Main Line. It was given its current name – Manchester Piccadilly – in September 1960.
The station was rebuilt at a cost of £1.75 million to host electric train services to London.
The Victorian train sheds remained mostly unaltered, although the two spans built in the 1880s were shortened at the concourse end.
A new entrance replaced the 1860s buildings and the approach to the station was redeveloped.
Piccadilly remained open throughout the rebuilding programme, which saw services diverted to Manchester’s Mayfield and Central stations. These were closed once the work had been completed.
Manchester Piccadilly was opened as Store Street station in 1842 and was renamed Manchester London Road in 1842.
It now hosts intercity services to London, Birmingham, Bristol, Wales and Scotland as well as cross-country services to the north of England.
This is the John Owens building on Oxford Road before the neighbouring Whitworth Hall was opened in 1902.
Horse-drawn carriages line up outside the college buildings which now form an integral part of the University of Manchester. Gas lamps are still in evidence and a trolleybus can be glimpsed in the distance.
The Gothic-style John Owens building, opened in 1873, was the first on the Oxford Road university site. It was designed by Manchester architect Alfred Waterhouse who was also responsible for the city’s Town Hall and the Natural History Museum in London.
The Grade II-listed Whitworth Hall was built between 1895 and 1902 to a design by architect Paul Waterhouse. It is named after Mancunian industrialist Sir Joseph Whitworth.
The hall was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King George V and Queen Mary) on March 12th, 1902.
Built of sandstone with red-tiled roofs, the hall has two corner towers with octagonal belfries at the south end. Each tower is crowned by a small spire.
The hall holds up to 675 people for meetings and is used for all graduation ceremonies at the university.
Our image, dating from 1915, shows the imposing Church and Friary of St Francis, known locally as Gorton Monastery. The photograph was taken from Gorton Lane.
The Gothic frontage of the church soars above the two-storey Victorian terraced homes and shops. It still dominates the skyline today.
The Franciscans came to Gorton in December 1861 and built the friary themselves in four years from 1863 to 1867. The church was completed in 1872.
Gorton Monastery is an outstanding example of High Victorian Gothic architecture. It was designed by Edward Welby Pugin, the son of the famous Gothic revivalist Augustus Welby Pugin.
The church was Grade II listed in 1963, but closed for worship 20 years later in 1983.
In 1997, Gorton Monastery joined the likes of the Taj Mahal and Pompeii by being placed on the Monuments Fund Watch List of the 100 most endangered sites in the world.
The church and friary buildings were extensively restored in a £6 million project backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the European Regional Development Fund.
The buildings re-opened as a venue for conferences, meetings and community events in June 2007.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
This shows Withy Grove in 1901 looking towards Corporation Street with Milner Street on the left.
Horse-drawn carts are still the main means of transport across the cobblestones although a trolleybus can be glimpsed in the distance.
Withy Grove was once the centre of newspaper publishing in Manchester. The Printworks entertainment venue now occupies the site of Edward Hulton’s original business established in 1873.
Kemsley House, at the corner of Withy Grove and Corporation Street, grew into the largest newspaper printing house in Europe from the 1930s onward. There was a press on the site until 1986.
Publisher Robert Maxwell bought the property for £1 and then closed it down. It lay derelict for more than a decade.
Kemsley House was redeveloped as part of the city’s recovery programme after the IRA bomb attack in 1996.
The Printworks leisure and entertainment complex was opened by Sir Alex Ferguson and singer Lionel Richie in 2000.
Withy Grove, or Wythengreave as it was known, takes its name from a grove of willow trees that grew nearby when the busy street was just a country lane.
Here is a view of Kingsway dating from 1935. The photograph shows the junction with Wilmslow Road on the left near the tower with Parrs Wood Lane on the right.
The tower is part of the former bus depot and is in front of the Tesco supermarket. Parrs Wood High School is on the right.
One of the major routes out of Manchester, Kingsway was constructed in stages from 1928 to 1930. The early dual carriageway was named after King George V and was one of the first purpose-built roads for motor vehicles.
The central reservation included a reserved track for trams until 1949 when Manchester Corporation Tramways ceased operation.
Kingsway was extended south across the River Mersea in 1959 to bypass Cheadle.
Parrs Wood High School was opened in 1967 as a co-educational comprehensive. It was completely rebuilt in 2000.
There are now 1,500 pupils at the main school with a further 400 Sixth Form students based at the 18th century Georgian villa Parrs Wood House.
Hyde Road and the Showcase Cinemas complex were built on the site of the former Belle Vue zoo and amusement park.
The Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium is just down the road while Gorton Park is opposite.
It was all very different in our original image taken at the turn of the century when horse-drawn carriages were still a common sight.
Tram tracks are still evident at the centre of the photo, although the cobblestones of Hyde Road clearly saw far less traffic than the tarmac of today.
A sign for Ashbury’s Station can just about be made out next to the horse and carriage. The station was opened in 1855 on the line from Manchester Store Street to Sheffield.
The 14-screen Belle Vue Showcase cinema opened on October 17th 1989. The neighbouring greyhound stadium staged its first race on July 24th 1926. It was the first oval track meeting held in Great Britain.
The stadium was the home of motorcycle speedway team Belle Vue Aces from 1988 to 2015.
Boggart Hole Clough
This is Boggart Hole Clough, Blackley, as it was in 1910. It’s a postcard view looking down towards the Refreshment Rooms.
The land at Blackley, which now forms an urban country park, was bought by the Manchester Corporation in 1894 for the use of the people of the city.
The lake was created in 1909 at the same time as the lake in Platt Fields. One of the main reasons for carrying out the landscaping work was to provide employment in an economic slump.
Socialist leader Keir Hardie addressed open air meetings at Boggart Hole Clough and 15,000 attended a women’s suffrage demonstration there in July 1906.
The name may have come from the boggart or imp who haunted the family of Thomas Cheetham. He lived in a farmhouse on the Clough near White Moss.
The family decided to move out after a series of disturbances and packed all their possessions on a wagon. When a neighbour asked the farmer where they were going, a tiny voice from the milk churn said ‘We’re moving house.’
The farmer realised the boggart was going to follow them so he stayed put!
This image is taken at the junction of Chorlton Road and Stretford Road in Hulme. The photographer is standing on Chorlton Road looking north towards the Mancunian Way roundabout.
The street on the right is Hyde Street. Today Yew Street stands in roughly the same place.
The area has been transformed since the original photo which dates from after the First World War. Gone are the cobblestones and tram tracks, as well as the Victorian houses and shops.
On the left a boy has just fallen over on the pavement outside the barber’s shop. A little girl is avidly reading a newspaper outside the newsagents.
Theatre bill posters are prominent on the left on Hyde Street. There were two theatres in Hulme – the Hippodrome and the BBC Playhouse.
Electric trams replaced horse bus services in Hulme in the early 20th century. The tram connected Hulme with Moss Side, Whalley Range and Chorlton-cum-Hardy.
The trams were withdrawn in 1949 and replaced by Manchester Corporation motorbuses.
Here’s Dean Lane in Newton Heath. Our original image dates to the turn of the 20th century.
Cobblestones, tram tracks and gas lights are still strongly in evidence, as are the terraced houses and a policeman on the beat.
A handcart, once a familiar sight around shops in Manchester, is propped up outside Parr’s Bank. Next door is the Freize independent furriers and ladies’ fashion shop.
Parr’s were a major clearing bank in the North West and Staffordshire. By 1890 there were 22 branches and 21 sub-branches.
By 1914, Parr’s had grown to almost 400 branches and sub-branches. The bank amalgamated with the London County and Westminster Bank in 1918, to become the forerunner of NatWest.
Dean Lane railway station, opened in May 1880 by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, was one of three stations in the Newton Heath area. The others were Newton Heath and Park. The station was on the Oldham Loop Line.
Dean Lane closed in October 2009 to be re-opened as Newton Heath and Moston Metrolink station in June 2012.
This is a scene from Portland Street in 1955. The photographer is looking towards Piccadilly with Watts Warehouse, now the Britannia Hotel, behind the row of buses.
The impressive building was constructed in 1856 as a textile warehouse for the drapery business of S & J Watts. At the time, it was the largest single-occupancy textile warehouse in Manchester. The sandstone warehouse was built by local architects Travis and Mangnall at a cost of £100,000. It is designed in the form of a Venetian palazzo.
Each of the five storeys is decorated in a different style – Italian Renaissance, Elizabethan, French Renaissance, Flemish and Gothic. The Grade II listed building was derelict for years after World War II, but was reopened as a hotel in May 1982.
There is a memorial in the entrance to the Watts’ employees who lost their lives in the First World War. The company of S & J Watts was founded in a small weaver’s cottage in Didsbury by successful cotton trader James Watts. He went on to become Mayor of Manchester and was a leading industrialist of the time. Politicians, churchmen and society figures were all entertained at his Cheadle home, Abney Hall.
Prince Albert stayed with Watts when he came to Manchester to open the Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857.
Here we feature a scene from what was once described as Manchester’s pet shop paradise – Tib Street in the Northern Quarter. It was said you could buy anything from a goldfish to a monkey from the street’s numerous pet shops which were always buzzing with activity. Two pet emporiums can be glimpsed in our original image along with the well-known White Seal Café. Walter Smith’s pet shop was the last to close down in 2013.
The tower of the New St. Paul’s Church on Oldham Road rises up in the centre of the original photo. Built between 1876 and 1878 to a design by architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, the church was demolished in the 1960s.
Tib Street’s origins date from the 1780s. It was the central trading district of Victorian Manchester and the city’s main shopping district in the late 1940s and 1950s. The street is now a vibrant mix of shops, businesses, bars and restaurants. It’s also the home of the Manchester Fashion Market which sells work by the city’s up-and-coming designers.
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We are standing in King Street, looking down towards Cross Street, with Cheapside crossing over in the immediate foreground. And what’s that classically-porticoed building on the right-hand side in front of us? That’s Manchester Town Hall, no less.
Before the present town hall was built in 1877, the city’s hub was on this site. Built in 1825, it was for some years the home of Mr Hallé’s Classical Chamber Concerts, a series which in its time was the entertainment of choice for Manchester’s social elite, attracting novelist Mrs Gaskell and her husband, the minister of next-door Cross Street Chapel, among others.
The old town hall became a library, and the site today is occupied by a building erected for Lloyd’s Bank. But little of the remaining vista has changed. The columns of the old town hall façade were re-erected in Heaton Park in 1912. (Photo from: Computerised Image Collection. Manchester Archive & Local Studies Unit, Central Library.)
One hundred and five years ago, this busy part of Oxford Road, Manchester was known as All Saints – as it is today. Then, of course, the cobbled road was full of horse-drawn wagons and trams, one of which was making its way to Withington, judging by the picture.
The area to the left of the picture was Grosvenor Square, with the classical portico of Chorlton-on- Medlock town hall in Cavendish Street – now part of Manchester Metropolitan University, as is the building alongside it, the Manchester College of Art, where L S Lowry was a student. Picture courtesy of Computerised Image Collection, Manchester Archive, Local Studies Unit, Central Library.
Here is one of Manchester’s most famous streets before it achieved its iconic status. Canal Street – in 1963, then a nondescript back street alongside the Rochdale Canal. Canal Street today, one of the most vibrant entertainment areas in Manchester – albeit at night – and the heart of the city’s Gay Village.
Not much has physically changed in the 40-odd years between the two pictures. Industry and businesses have moved out of the buildings and bars, clubs and restaurants have moved in, but the street scene remains largely the same. However, note that the tarmac in 1963 has now been ripped up to expose the cobbles which the city father of the 1960s obviously thought were rather old-fashioned.
This area of London Road, in city centre Manchester, has undergone plenty of changes since the photo was taken in 1914. However, as one of the main thoroughfares out of town, it has always been a busy place. Today, of course, the trams that made their way into Piccadilly have been replaced by Metrolink trams, and the horse and cart that can be seen trotting above wouldn’t stand a chance against the buses and cars of Manchester in 2006.
It’s interesting to see that the building just behind the traffic policeman’s head is still standing; today it houses the Rossetti Hotel. The companion building to its right has long gone, replaced by a modern and architecturally inferior row of shops that lead to Piccadilly Station approach. Photo from Computerised Image Collection. Manchester Archive & Local Studies Unit, Central Library.
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