Let’s Take A Walk In Manchester!
Let’s begin in Piccadilly Gardens. This is where the buses and trams from the MetroLink system arrive and is a 5 minute walk from both Piccadilly and Victoria train stations. This is a natural starting point for our trip. This busy interchange was totally re-designed in 2001- 02. When a huge redevelopment campaign was implemented in Manchester city centre. Much of the redesign and re-building investment the came from the Millenium Fund and as Manchester prepared to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
The 4 Statue
Historically, Piccadilly Gardens is the original site of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (hospital) from 1755 until its relocation to Oxford Road in 1910. There are 4 statues surviving today that were erected on the original infirmary site: Sir Robert Peel 1788-1850 (founded the modern Police force.) James Watt 1736- 1819 (whose improvements to the steam engine helped to drive the economic growth during the cotton centred industrial revolution, Queen Victoria 1819-1901 (she was our Queen for 63 years and 7 months she was the longest reigning female monarch) The Duke of Wellington 1769-1852 (a famous political and military figure most famous for the Battle of Waterloo in 1815).
Market Street and Corporation Street
Walking away from Piccadilly Gardens down Market Street, one of Manchester’s principal shopping areas, you will pass the Arndale Centre. The Arndale was originally constructed in the 1970s. At the crossroads at the bottom of Market Street we turn right into Corporation Street. Passing the Marks & Spencer store on the opposite side of the road, we walk under the bridge linking the store with the Arndale.
On the corner of Corporation Street and Withy Grove you will find a modern entertainment venue named “The Printworks”. Up until 1996 this was the home of a huge printing press owned by newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell. The complex contains mostly bars and night clubs, including the Hard Rock Cafe’, a leisure centre and a 23 screen Odeon Cinema. On the other side of Exchange Square we find another shopping complex called The Triangle, on the front of which facing the street is a huge tv screen showing the BBC news.
URBIS, Chethams College and Manchester Cathedral
Continuing along Corporation Street and crossing Fennel Street, we arrive at Cathedral Gardens and URBIS. URBIS is a huge futuristic building that is the home to the National Football Museum. The building opened in 2002 and was part of Manchester’s Millennium Quarter redevelopment. The National Football Museum is spread over 5 floors.
Chetham’s School of Music
Opposite URBIS is Chetham’s School of Music or “Chet’s”. The school motto is “Learn To Love And Play”. This building was originally an orphanage founded by Humphrey Chetham in 1653. In 1969 the music school was launched and now hosts up 245 young people. Entry to Chetham’s is open to all but is very competitive. Selection is based purely on musical ability. As well as having an excellent reputation for musical tuition, Chetham’s also has a very good academic record. It is one of the top schools in the UK.
At the other end of the triangle that is Cathedral Gardens, you will find Manchester Cathedral. The church was extensively reconstructed during the 19th century. However, its origins go back to 700 CE. The cathedral is a beautiful building and it is well worth visiting. Its Visitor Centre guides you around the building and shows its history. It is free to enter and there are volunteer guides available to help you enjoy your stay.
This is the collective name for what are two separate buildings: The Old Wellington Inn dating back to the 16th century and Sinclair’s Oyster Bar originally constructed in 1720. These two buildings were almost totally demolished in the early 70s inner city developments. However, many people at the time complained that this new scheme hid the buildings from view. Sinclair’s Oyster Bar is now an excellent pub serving fresh oysters and a wide range of interesting beers. This is a good point to stop for a break on your tour of the city.
The Royal Exchange
We now walk past the large “Harvey Nichols” store towards St. Anne’s Square. This is the home of The Royal Exchange Theatre. The theatre is a seven-sided, glass-walled capsule, suspended from very large marble pillars in the Great Hall of the former Cotton Exchange. The unique design means all seats are less than nine metres from the circular stage. This gives great views from any seat in the theatre. It is a very well respected theatre. Looking up high at the St Anne’s Square side interior wall, you can still see the old prices displayed from the cotton markets all over the world: New York, Alexandria and Liverpool. This shows the importance of the cotton industry in Manchester in the past. The cafe bar is a really pleasant place to have a drink and look around the art and craft shops within the Royal Exchange.