Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main image this week shows bomb damage to Manchester Cathedral caused by the Luftwaffe raids of December 1940.

The medieval Lady Chapel has been destroyed along with the cathedral roofs and the Stanley chantry chapel. All the stained glass windows were blown out.

Ancient stonework and charred timbers are piled high in our picture as stunned civilians walk round the wreckage. It was little wonder that repairs took almost two decades to complete.

The cathedral was not the only building damaged in what became known as the Christmas Blitz of December 1940. The Royal Exchange and Free Trade Hall were also badly hit.

Heavy raids on the nights of December 23 and 24 saw more than 2,000 incendiary bombs dropped on the city along with 467 tons of high explosive.

An estimated 684 people were killed and another 2,000 injured in the raids, which mainly targeted the industrial complex of Trafford Park.

Much of the current cathedral dates to 1421, when it was built as the parish church of St Mary, St George, the patron saint of England and St Denys, the patron saint of France.

The church maintained a college of priests who were housed in new buildings that survive today as Chetham’s Library. The parish church became a cathedral in 1847.

Our modern image shows the cathedral gardens in more tranquil times with leaves falling in November.

*Many more images from Then and Now are featured in The Changing Face of Manchester published to mark the 150th anniversary of the M.E.N.

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