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Friday 22 February 2008

How will Manchester fare if there’s a recession?

Walking around Ancoats recently I noticed how many of the buildings (many old cotton mills) are still empty. Some are semi-derelict, in other cases the shell has been tarted up a little, but not much done inside. It’s hard to know how many apartments in the converted and newly-built blocks are occupied. If it hasn’t been possible to ‘regenerate’ this area completely during the property boom of the last few years the question is: will it ever happen now?

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Filed under: Manchester,Politics — GS @ 12:58 pm
Monday 18 February 2008

Manchester Then and Now: Sackville Street, St. Luke’s Church, Chorlton On Medlock

In Victorian times, the southern part of Sackville Street was called Zara Street. The road used to run right into the north-eastern part of Chorlton On Medlock and, after crossing Mount Street, was called Rutland Street.

Later, Rutland Street was renamed St. Luke’s Street. Then, in the 1960’s, the Mancunian Way (motorway) was built and sliced across the area from east to west, cutting off this part of Chorlton On Medlock from the city centre to a degree.

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Filed under: History,Manchester,Photography — GS @ 9:14 pm
Sunday 13 May 2007

Help needed after the fire in Lever Street, Manchester on 30 April

On 30 April, just four days after I wrote about the Basement Social Centre in Manchester city centre and said what a unique and absolutely spiffing place it was, a huge fire ripped through a building to the rear of it. (more…)


Filed under: Buildings,Documentary,Manchester — GS @ 11:14 am
Saturday 31 March 2007

The loss of more trees and historic buildings in Manchester city centre

There has been a big drama lately about the area of land on the corner of Princess Street and Whitworth Street, which is just across the canal from the New Union pub in the gay village.

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Filed under: Buildings,Environment,Manchester — GS @ 11:51 pm
Tuesday 7 November 2006

Why Guy Fawkes night is dreaded by many in inner-city areas of Britain

In Britain, 5th November is Bonfire Night. When it’s traditional to let off fireworks and burn a dummy of Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up Parliament in 1605.

It’s supposed to be fun. A colourful spectacle. But for many people in inner-city areas this has become a time of year that they dread.

The other night, on some spare ground close to where I live, youths and children lit a large bonfire. It was close to houses. They used fireworks like guns, pointing them at head height and shooting them across the neighbourhood. Some of the kids were very young indeed and, though fascinated, were obviously afraid that they would be targeted and ‘shot’ by others.

The fire brigade arrived to put out the blaze but they seemed to be intimidated by the abusive youths. The fire crew didn’t leave the fire engine. In other areas there have been incidents where fire fighters were attacked.

They left and, soon after, returned accompanied by the Police.

The BritishPathe website has some vintage newsreel footage of children celebrating Bonfire Night in 1957 and 1959 at a cinema that is just a few hundred yards from this location. How things have changed.


Filed under: Documentary,Manchester — GS @ 3:18 am
Tuesday 31 October 2006

A true story for Halloween

A couple of weeks ago I made a final visit to the house where I grew up. My dad had decided to sell and I had to pick up a few remaining bits and pieces.

Though I was actually born in hospital, I spent my years from zero to 20 living in that 1950’s semi-detached. In a small cul-de-sac alongside the former A1 — the main London to Edinburgh road — and just a couple of miles from Newcastle city centre.

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Filed under: Buildings,Personal — GS @ 6:00 pm
Wednesday 23 August 2006

Birdlife

One of the things you notice when you come from Manchester city centre to a small village out in the country is the birdlife.

Sure we have magpies, pigeons, starlings and even parrots where I live in Manchester. But here there is just so much more variety and so many of them: swifts, swallows, thrushes, blackbirds, finches, wrens, occasionally geese and birds of prey and, unlike some parts of Britain, there is no shortage of sparrows here. All of these can be seen from the house. Recently I posted a video of a woodpecker that was outside my window.

When I lived here fulltime I had two cats and there were many others in the neighbourhood, with inevitable consequences. Now there are no cats and the birds are thriving. But it can still be harsh at times.

Last year I was watching a beautiful thrush hopping about on the lawn. An hour later I found it dead. It had either choked to death on something (a slug pellet from one of the other gardens?) or maybe it had just happened to drop dead for some reason.

I arrived to find the swallows nesting in the passageway between the houses, as they have done for decades. I could see three or four little beaks peeking over the edge of the nest and they were a few days from fledging. One year I got this great shot of them just after they left the nest.

Swallows just after leaving the nest

Sad to say, last week, I found all the chicks dead on the ground below. I don’t know what happened. There was no sign of any damage to the nest. But we did have workmen outside the house cutting up the pavement with one of those noisy saws. I wonder if that kept the parent birds away and when they returned the baby birds were dead, so the parents threw them out of the nest?

Nature can be tough. I’m starting to feel like the vet in The League of Gentlemen!


Filed under: Wildlife — GS @ 3:21 am
 
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