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.

Withy Grove Then Kingsway Now

Withy Grove

This week our main image 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.

Kingsway Then Kingsway Now


The main image this week 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 Then Hyde Road Now

Hyde Road

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 Then Boggart Hole Clough Now

Boggart Hole Clough

This week our main image shows 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!

Chorlton Road Then Chorlton Road Now

Chorlton Road

This week’s 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.

Deane Lane Then Deane Lane Now

Deane Lane

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.

Portland Street Then Portland Street Now

Portland Street

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.

Tib Street Then Tib Street Now

Tib Street

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.

If any of the photographs in the Then and Now series bring back any memories for you, please share them with iNostalgia on our website inostalgia.co.uk or our Facebook pages. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

King Street 1909 King Street 2006

King Street

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.)

Oxford Road 1900 Oxford Road 2005

Oxford Road

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.

Canal Street 1963 Canal Street 2005

Canal Street

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.

London Road 1913 London Road 2003

London Road

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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